Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oliva Angel 100 O.T.C.

Oliva Angel OTCThe Oliva Angel is not made by the Oliva family (the one you see at the cigar stores with the cute bands and the big "O"). It's made by the Oliva tobacco family-apparently they own a massive amount of tobacco and all the major brands use it to make cigars. They themselves have only made one cigar that I know of, the "Angel", and it is supposed to be honoring their patriarch-at least that's what I hear.

Apparently this cigar once retailed for around $9 but, when you can find it, it's discounted heavily. It's got a lot of Nicaraguan in it but also has some Peruvian tobacco in it-I think that's what gives it the unique taste that I enjoy. It could be the Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper though too. Hard to say. This one is a 6 x 48 corona and is a good size for me. I'm starting to realize that there are some really great cigars in the "smaller" ring gauges.

These sticks are a great bargain. I was very impressed when I got my first five pack-they come encased in a fairly nice little black wooden box where they snugly await your inspection. I have read that many fault this sticks on appearance (apparently some believe they are fugly sticks) but I have had no issues. They are box pressed and feel good in the hand.

The flavor is a little peppery and very rich. The burn is always solid. I've had about a dozen of these and have found them very consistent. My only complaint might be that the flavor doesn't change much but since it's a good flavor, I can live with that . To me, the Angel is one of those "good but not great" cigars that you can enjoy without having to commit to-It's the kind of smoke I enjoy when I'm working or when I'm watching something on the laptop on the porch.

At the price I pay ($2 a stick) they are a steal.

Solid 7.0 rating on it; 7.7 when you consider its value.

Here's my stick in my new "stinky" cigar ashtray. They finally came back in stock and I've been wanting one for awhile. I really like it. Designed by a cigar smoker. Love the deep bowl and little stirrups to hold the cigar-keeps the mouthy part of the cigar from getting ash all over it when you have to put it down, even if the cigar in question is very small...

There she is 1/2 way gone.

Here I am, enjoying Rescue Me on the porch with my Angel 100.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Gran Habano, Corojo #5 (Red label)

So, Saturday was a good day for smoking. Later that night, Kellie and I met up with her friend Amanda Fuhrer and her boyfriend at their new apartment in Lincoln. We talked till the wee hours of the morning and I smoked another Gran Habano, this time the #5 red label Corojo. I didn't get much in the way of pictures, but I was reminded how much I love this cigar. Definitely one of my all-time favorites, and my second favorite among the Gran Habano Mega-Sampler from Cigars International. (See previous entry on the #3 black label).

So here are my ratings on this bad boy:
  • Appearance - 6 \ Classy double band label. Nice size, just looks a little small. Medium thickness.
  • Burn - 5 \ Needed some touch-ups.
  • Draw - 7 \ Great. Used a punch cut.
  • Plummage - 10 \ Amazing plumes of thick haze, with a strong rich aroma.
  • Flavor - 9 \ Awesome. Bold, with hints of other flavors mixed in.
  • Overall - 9.5 \Just a knock-down great smoke to enjoy.
Good stuff!

Gran Habano, Habano #3 (Black label)

I like all of my Gran Habano Mega-Sampler pack from Cigars International other than the Connecticuts. This is probably my third favorite of the 4 different types, though... Meaning that although I still dig these, they are somewhere between an everyday cigar and a really good cigar, to me. Generally I like the character of the 3 Siglos the best, then the red label Corojo (#5) is a very close second, and then this somehow more powerful Habano. It sort of seems like it has less nuance. Just -- boom -- here's your smack of strong taste and smoke clouds.

It was a beautiful day smoking this little guy. You can see that the size for the sampler stogies is modest -- but I think this size has become one of my favorites. It still can last you awhile, but it feels good in the hand and the mouth and fits easily in traveling cases.

I enjoyed this smoke out on the back porch of Dennis and Tammy Culhane's house in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was a refreshing day of cool breezes and modest sun. A real change of pace from the torrential rains and humid scorchers in Kansas City the past many weeks. After we returned from Rib Fest (where I enjoyed some "Extremely Farking Hot" BBQ sauce, ribs and shrimp from an Aussie stand), I found Dennis and Tammy's back deck paradise. It looked like someone had landscaped it for some beach cottage getaway. Very cool place to sip some Evan Williams bourbon and smoke a stogie.

Kellie and her family occasionally came out and chatted me up or played with the dog. Dennis and I talked about his landscaping over the past 13 years at the house and he showed me pictures of how bare the yard was when they got it. Various people took turns throwing the soggy tennis ball around for the dog Aspen to energetically fetch it and return for more.

Here are my ratings:
  • Appearance - 6 \ Classy double band label. Nice size, just looks a little small.
  • Burn - 5 \ Needed some touch-ups.
  • Draw - 5 \ Fine.
  • Plummage - 8.5 \ I gave this a handicap at first for the cool breeze. When I got to the more enclosed part of the deck, this proved to be true, as the stick produced billows of hearty smoke.
  • Flavor - 6 \ Bold, but largely without character.
  • Overall - 6.75 \Likable, but not excellent.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tres Hermanos, Numero Dos

The Tres Hermanos, Numero Dos, is produced and sold by the New Orleans Cigar Factory. They describe it as "52 x 5 3/4' A full bodied robust smoke with a Mexican Maduro wrapper." I don't know where the filler comes from, but I'm a fan.

I smoked this one last night after a good meeting with a training company yesterday afternoon. After really enjoying a couple of these down in New Orleans, purchased right from the shops where they are made in the French Quarter, I decided to order a 10-pack last January. I gave several away at a game with the fellas, but have let the last of these age for 8 months now. They cost $5.30 apiece before the rather exorbitant $13 shipping charge. Although I don't normally pay that much for a cigar outside of retail, and certainly not several of them, I was charmed by these heavy-hitters and the fact that they're hand-rolled in New Orleans.
Anyway, I partook of this stogie with a Boulevard Pale Ale on the Twilight Lounge. My new rattan screen was in play to help allay the heat, which thankfully was not at full force anyway. My guest star is Kellie, who took a couple of tokes and agreed it was a good cigar.

Here are my ratings for this Nawlins darling:
  • Appearance - 7 \ Bold dark wrapper with a rough look that I like. The band is a simple but offbeat black and reflective silver. No real logo other than the letters themselves.
  • Burn - 6 \ had a bit of a runner that never really self-corrected, even after I slowed down on smoking it. However, one touch-up fixed my problem for the rest of the experience.
  • Draw - 5.5 \ a little too tight for the first half of the smoke. I did use a punch cut, which for this thickness seemed desirable, but it may have been a little long not to have clipped it. It definitely improved halfway through.
  • Plummage - 8.5 \ Produced likable little, dense clouds of smoke. Very nice spicy aroma gave it that something extra.
  • Flavor - 10 \ Rich, heavy, layered flavor.
  • Overall - 9.5 \Loved these on our New Orleans trip and at a few games. Plus the flavor has been consistently awesome for me, even if some of the other areas vary a little.
Overall, I'd describe this rough gem as a relaxing, full-bodied smoke with a spicy thick flavor. Better than Maxwell House, these puppies are good to the last drop.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Vegas Cubana Generoso by Don Pepin Garcia

Vegas Cubana Generoso (6 x 50)
(purchased on sale, $2)

Here's the setup...winding down a hot Dodge City day...still 100 degrees in the dusty dusk shade. For some reason, Michelle decided to join me in the furnace on our back patio to help me enjoy/review this stogie. Given the temperature, I felt a Red Stripe beer would be a good choice...and I was right. Red Stripe hits the spot when it's hot and it never competes with a stogie for attention.

The wrapper is smooth and attractive. It has a slight reddish tint and is a corojo. It's supposed to be a Nicaraguan puro and is the cheapest of Don Pepin Garcia's personal line...I have had several (purchased on a special for $2 apiece) and all have tasted/performed the same.

DPG's marketing engine spews out a bunch of info about the cigar being made from the "top primings" of the tobacco plant and aged an extra year, as well as the fact that they are made by Cuban rollers living in Miami, at the DPG factory there. I have also read that this cigar is the first one that DPG made for his own company after coming to the USA.

This smoke starts off with a mild blast of pepper and then quickly settles down. I can taste a mixture of mild pepper and occasionally a mocha flavor at several points during the smoke. The smoke is consistant, fairly tasty, and undemanding. Although this smoke either gets overlooked or dogged by the Don Pepin fans out there, I think it's a great bargain...and should be compared to other smokes in general, not to his "better" smokes specifically. Though I would like to get his top of the line stuff at his bottom of the line prices, I think that's probably asking a little much.

Here's a pic of Michelle "guest-tasting" the cigar. Though she would not officially review this, she did sneak about six puffs, which is a goodly amount for her. She also commented "It is sharp but sweet at the same time". I tried to get more info from her but I suppose one cannot push the Oracle too much for clear answers...there is something to be said for mystery!

The aroma on these is very nice and is actually superior to the flavor. It's full of "big smoke" and the puffs are creamy. I imagined myself as a godlike "cloud generator", filling the sky with puffy bits of cloud-fun...then I smacked myself and assumed a more proper, manly posture.

The cigar burned a little roughly but only needed one touch up-just didn't look too pretty.

I think that this cigar is pretty solid-I'd buy more for $2-though I'm not sure I'd pay much more. My final thoughts, are that this cigar might be best enjoyed in a smaller format (robusto)...though it is tasty, has good smoke, doesn't change flavor much and by the 1/2 way point I'm wondering if I want to commit to the other 40 minutes of smoke...

This smoke rates 7.5 on my scale with value, construction and plumage/smell being the best parts of the experience.