Sunday, September 27, 2009

Padilla Miami Churchill (7" x 48)

It's a lazy Sunday morning...enjoyed a big breakfast of french toast, eggs, and jalapeno laced hash browns at the Golden Pancake...and Michelle and I decided to enjoy some sun on the patio. For such a relaxing and perfect morning, I knew I needed something special to mate with my Roasterie Columbian coffee so I reached for the first of my new box of Padilla Miami stogies...

The stogie is long and lean and very attractive. The stick seems thinner than the advertised 48 ring gauge, coming closer to a lancero to me, than the advertised Churchill form factor. It looks good and feels good in the hand and before even lighting it I knew I was in for a treat.

This is the "new blend" of this stick, with the newer label. Prior to this incarnation the stogie was blended by Don Pepin Garcia and made quite a stir. They parted ways before I was able to sample that version of the Miami and this stogie is made from Nicaraguan tobacco and is created in Honduras.

The band is tasteful and reminds me of the other Padilla bands, though perhaps a little less ornate. I find this band attractive and classy. Additionally, the band has a number on it, identifying the stogie with a serial-always a sign of quality in my opinion.

Upon first light, the cigar greeted me with a small blast of mild pepper-and not much else. I was mildly concerned that it might continue that way for the duration but after a few puffs, it settled into a flavor profile that lasted for most of smoke. I cannot pick out individual flavors but I can say that the flavors are mildly sweet and I "maple like". Or maybe "raisin like"-kind of a natural sweetness that is pleasant and satifsying. The flavors were paired with an aromatic aroma that was rich and enjoyable. Of the Padillas I've enjoyed, it reminds me most of the 1968, but with a rich sweetness and sophisticated creamy smoothness-damn this is a good cigar.

The burn and contruction were perfect and the plummage was good as well-even with the gusts of wind that swept across our porch from the North. The end of the cigar "firmed up" a bit, with the medium flavors and strength moving closer to the full edge of the spectrum.

As I am writing this review and nursing the tiny nub of the Churchill, I'm struck with the realization of just how good this cigar is. On my 4 point scale, it's a solid "4", truly an oustanding and high quality smoke.

They retail for around $8 a stick (by the box, online) or $12 at a cigar store-and at that price they would be a worthy "special occasion" stogie for me. At the $5 a cigar price I got them at, they are outstanding and I would recommend them to anyone who enjoys fine medium to full cigars.

Here's a photo of my sweet Michelle who decided that a big breakfest and the warm September sun should be best enjoyed by a catnap on the patio!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary Toro (6.5" x 52)

Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary Toro (6.5" x 52)

It's one of those great Kansas Fall days...last night it was in the 40's and now it's 80...warm and nice. I broke out a cold Harp, my Swiss Army bottle opener/cigar scissors, and grabbed a "single" I bought in KC about a year ago at Fidel's: the Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary Toro.

Here's what online retailers say about it:

The Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary by Rocky Patel celebrates Rocky's decade of excellence in the premium cigar industry. The tobaccos are grown and the cigars are manufactured in Nicaragua by Joseph Fernandez, a rising star in the business. This is the company’s first Nicaraguan Puro using binder and filler tobacco from 3 different regions in Nicaragua: Jalapa, Esteli and the Condega Valley. The Wrapper is a Cuban seed corojo, also grown in Nicaragua. The cigar is flavorful and elegant with a spicy flavor and complexity.

The "Joseph Fernandez" they're referring to is "A.J. Fernandez", the blender who is doing a bunch of stogies pimped by C.I., including Man O' War, La Herencia, and the Sol Cubano barber pole soloman that Ryan really enjoys. Though the cigar is one of Rocky Patel's, I'm more excited about A.J. Fernandez's hand in it, since most of Rocky's creations seem kind of average to me these days.

Here's a close up. Nice double band-certainly projects a lot more class than the regular Indian Tabac. The cigar itself has a nice leather colored wrapper-the prelight smells like sweet tobacco.

This stogie shot out some major plummage, pleasing me for over an hour while Thane and I and one of his buddies played Munchkin Fu, a card game that my buddy Seth introduced me to a year or so ago. Good times! The cigar was sweeter than most and somewhat leathery with a few chocolately notes. Each draw was kind of sweet and very clean but left behind a deep cigar flavor that was pleasing.

I wouldn't call it a complex cigar but what it did, it did well and I found myself happily puffing on it while I used my Hong Kong Bong of my Ancestors and my Ninja Clown Fu to wreak Asian havoc on the young'uns!

...And then disaster struck! The wrapper turned out to be very thin and fragile and cracked and when bad on me. I was worried the whole thing would slip off but, to my surprise, it hung in there and smoked through it...with no negative affect.

I'd rate this cigar a 2-primarly because it wasn't quite potent enough for me (mild to medium strength, medium flavor). I also dinged it a little for the wrapper. I think anyone who smokes Gurkhas or most of the Rocky Patels would really enjoy this, as I think it is a step up in flavor. It's a far cry from the normal Indian Tabacs, which I once enjoyed but have since kind of moved away from. I paid $8 for it and I think you can get them online for $5 apiece, by the box.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Legends Nestor Plasencia Maroon Label (5.7 x 54)

Legends Nestor Plasencia Maroon Label (5.7 x 54)

I had a good relationship with Cigars International's "Legends" series of smokes when I first started lighting up stogies. They were thick, made by well-known makers, and CI's marketing juggernaut made them so darn cool sounding. Plus the "color coding" branding made the confusing world of cigars so much more accessible. At the time, I really gravitated towards the thick stogies and these bad boys were all right up my alley. I enjoyed the red label (Perdomo) white label (Camacho), the Orange (Rocky Patel), the Yellow (Don Pepin Garcia) as well as a few Blue (Matasa) and Purple (Graycliff)...

As time went on, I found myself less enchanted with them. The White label didn't seem to age well. The Red was good but kind of one dimensional. The Yellow seemed to vary a lot in flavor (some were too damn peppery even for me!). I enjoyed the Orange but I recall it having issues with it staying lit. The Black and Purple never did it for me and the Blue smelled like perfume!

So when the Maroon label by Nestor came out, I was curious but enjoying my other smokes too much to try them out...

...And that's where my little brother rides in on his white horse (Red Buick) and offers me this thick black log of a smoke. Since I had just finished an Oliva G and he was on the phone with me, I figured I'd try out the Nestor...glad I did.

Here is what Cigars International has to say about them on their website:

Legends Nestor Plasencia - Maroon Label: Nestor Plasencia was a natural fit for the Legends Series. He is one of the world’s leading tobacco growers, owning fields throughout Central America and beyond. In fact, most of the cigars you enjoy on a regular basis contain tobaccos grown by him and his father, Nestor Senior. His supply and variety of fine tobaccos is limitless, granting him the potential to blend masterful cigars, which he has down with the Maroon Label. Dressed in a rich, redolent, and oily broadleaf maduro wrapper from Honduras, this fine cigar utilizes a long-leaf mixture of aged, Nicaraguan-grown ligeros bound by a dark Nicaraguan leaf. The result is remarkable, a medium to full-bodied array of flavor, including leather, earth, and coffee delivered throughout the smooth, chewy core. A pleasant sweetness finishes each savory puff, completing an eventful and memorable smoke.

The wrapper is dark and uniform-and feels like a well-packed, solid stick. The stick took the flame well and burned like a champ. The flavor was a mild to medium maduro type flavor-not too complicated but very enjoyable. It lacked the pepper that so many maduros that I enjoy possess but I enjoyed the absence. The best thing about this stogie is the really pleasant and sweet aroma-I kept finding myself pausing and enjoying the fragrance.

These run around $3 apiece right now on CI-not sure what Eric paid. For that price, the cigar is a great deal, especially if you like thicker stogies like this. I'd rate it a 2 (which, on my 4 point scale is a good and enjoyable smoke). It almost edges its way into a 3-keeping it down would be the lack of flavor transitions and the the thick ring gauge, which I'm not always appreciative of-and the band. Damn it, I hate to be that way, but the Legends band is a big part of the "2" rating instead of the "3". The band is gawdawful and has no...character. I may buy a five pack, pull the bands, smoke another and rereview it to see if it slides into a 3!

I think that this cigar would be a good one to keep around-for my own enjoyment and also as a relatively affordable "hospitality" cigar to hand to an infrequent smoker-they'll enjoy the mild to medium flavors without having their butt kicked!

Damn good cigar, Bro. Thanks!

Oliva G Maduro Perfecto (5.5 x 54)

Oliva G Maduro Perfecto (5.5 x 54)

It's a beautiful Fall afternoon/evening so I decided to light up this maduro beauty...before I get started, here is what Famous Cigars website says about this stick:

Oliva Serie G Maduro Perfecto cigars present an affordable, all box-pressed puro selection with a dark and oily Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. Each cigar is skillfully handmade with a blend of Nicaraguan Habano long-fillers and binders that are carefully selected to complement the robust flavor and sweet aroma of this specially-aged wrapper. The smoke is rich, earthy, and medium-to-full in body. If you're MAD for maduros, and want outstanding quality at a fair price, order a box now.

The stogie is on the budget side of Oliva's stable...runs around $5 apiece. It has a dark and alluring maduro wrapper and the prelight reaks of that "barnyard" odor that I associate with many (good) Nicaraguan cigars. The shape is unusual-kind of a boxed press lopsided torpedo...difficult to dscribe and a little awkward looking.

The stogie lights up nicely and gives up lots of yummy maduro flavor and smoke. No burn issues. No odd flavors. no negative issues of any kind.

The stogie is solid-though not a standout. For the price it's a good bargain, though. Everything is good but nothing is what I'd call exceptional.

I'd rate this stogie as a solid 2 on my 4 point scale. I'd smoke it anytime. Of the six or so I've had, they'd all had remarkable construction and consistancy. What's keeping them from greatness is the lack of transition to other flavor types. I plan on enjoying more of them, perhaps as a 2nd or 3rd cigar of the day or when I'm smoking with others (and afraid that an exceptional cigar would be wasted in the haze of "other guys' smoke"!)

Here's a bonus pic of some of our family enjoying Thane's birthday meal. Good times!

And here's another of our new cat!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

La Flor Dominicana Factory Press II (6.25" x 64)

La Flor Dominicana Factory Press II (6.25" x 64)

This is a special brother Eric bought me two of these for my birthday about six months ago...additionally, it's a limited edition cigar by Litto Gomez (who I think creates some really great powerful cigars)...and it's...distinctive. The stogie is oily and dark and has a severe box press. Additionally one of the flat and wide sides seems wider than the other, reminding me of something from geometry class more than a cigar. The overall dark oiliness combined with the shape reminds me of a very high end chocolate bar...yummy! Lastly, this cigar is special to me for it's price-I think Rico paid $15 apiece for these babies (he got me two!). With this price, I'll probably never get any more, even if I could find any more.

A little background on these (courtesy of Rocky's Cigars):

The blend is exquisite and required years of planning and expertise by Litto. The Cuban-seed Corojo filler tobaccos from 1997, were selected from Litto’s private farm in the Dominican Republic. The binder, a dark, Dominican-grown Sumatra leaf, has been aging for 8 years. The wrapper dark and rich looking as any we've ever seen, is hand selected also from Litto’s farm.

I enjoyed this stogie on a short Family jaunt to Horsethief Canyon, a new lake that is being built in our area. I paired it with some Roastarie coffee (Ethiopian Harrar blend)-which complimented the cigar well.

The stick has a nice double-banded variant of the typical La Flor Dominicana band (always tasteful and attractive). The prelight smelled of mild tobacco-nothing special, really. Putting torch to the stick yielded hints of what I'd experience for the next two hours-a smooth chocolatey/cocoa treat with rich aroma.

Initially, I was a little worried because the flavor and strength seemed a little mild for a Litto Gomez stick. Then, I was distracted by the shape-it reminded me of a kazoo in my mouth. Later, as the stick opened up and the flavors and strength intensified, I started to realize I'd have to be careful or the thick bastard was going to cause me a jaw cramp! The overall flavor profile is very similar to the La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero (Maduro) stogies that I've enjoyed and I view the Factory Press as kind of the "Deluxe Model" of the Double Ligeros.

A quarter in the cigar started throwing up some black pepper flavor and the flavors and strength intensified (which it continued to do for the whole cigar). The aroma did the same the end, my mild disappointment (that the flavor hadn't varied much) was replaced by awe at the smoothness of this stogie and the carefully delivered increase in flavor. This is the only cigar I can remember that produced one basic flavor profile and somehow gradually amped it up from almost mild all the way to full without any bitterness or negative elements...really cool. By the end of this cigar, I was glad I was driving because I'm certaint that standing would have made me light headed.

I'd rate this cigar a "4"-based on its appearance, its great aroma, its endurance, and its great construction. I think it would make a great special event cigar for those that like some strength in their maduros...and I'm saving its twin brother for just such a happy moment!

Thanks Rico!

Here I am finishing this bad boy up!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Padilla Lancero (7.8" x 42)

Padilla Lancero (7.8" x 42)

I caught a deal on these stogies (1/2 price) and since I have enjoyed the Padilla 1932 and the 1968, I figured I'd take a chance on these 1948 lanceros (at around $3 each). I'm glad I did.

From Cigars International:

Lush and luxurious. Padilla 1948 combines a vintage blend of Cuban-seed Nicaraguan Corojo and Nicaraguan Criollo long-leaf tobaccos with a thick and buttery Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper to complete another high-end Padilla blend for you to savor. Like all of Ernesto Padilla’s fantastic blends this creation is meticuously hand-rolled using extreme quality control measures and comes layered with flavor. Expect a rush of spicy, woody undertones to awaken then palate, only to be soothed by a smooth bouquet of deep, earthy nuances. A tasty, medium to full-bodied morsel.

When I opened the box, I was very impressed-the lanceros were oily and striking, longer than many lanceros I've enjoyed. Yummy!

The lanceros have a nice even burn (which I've come to expect and appreciate from this form factor) and a rich and spicy flavor-occasionally throwing a strong earthy flavor up. One strange thing is the ash-it's a grey "dirty" color as opposed to the white/gray ash I normally see.

I smoked this one with a Boddington on the back porch of Mom and Dad's house after a full day of digging for salt crystals near Cherokee Oklahoma. See photos below for a taste of it but suffice it to say I was tired and windblown and the beer an stogie hit the spot!

I really enjoy this cigar-good plummage, good flavor, good constructions...but it's missing something that would propel it to greatness. I'd rate it a 3 on my 4 point scale and will probably buy another batch, if I see another good deal on them. I am hoping to age a handful of them in the hopes that a year or two will alow these guys to reach their full potential.

Here's Thane by the sign for the crystal digging area...

And here's Michelle and Anne-Marie digging for the dirty fragile little things...

...and here's what they look like after you clean them up just a little.

El Triunfador (lancero, 7.5" x 38)

El Triunfador

It's Labor Day so I thought I'd break out a cigar I really enjoy to celebrate...the El Triunfador!

The El Triunfador is a limited edition Pete Johnson stick (maker of Tatuaje), blended by Don Pepin Garcia. It has Nicaraguan filler and binder and a Connicticut maduro wrapper). It was a limited edition stick and relatively difficult to obtain-retailed around $10 a stick. I bought these when I started my "lancero kick" and smoking it reminds me of why I rank the lancero as one of the best form factors...they can be damn fine cigars with really sharp flavors.

I picked a box of these up at a Pete Johnson event at the Outlaw in Kansas City about a year ago, hanging with my bro, his fiance, and my sweet wife.

At the time, I enjoyed the stick and have had about one of them a month since then...I've found them enjoyable...but now, I think the additional age has really brought them into their own. They remind me a lot of the Cubao, another dark DPG stick...and when these run out, I guess I'll have to pick up some of those to "get my fix".

The stick is dark, thin, and a little rustic looking-but still attractive. The band is an understated tiny brown oval with white text.

The first few puffs give up warm cocoa aromas and the stick burns it adds a small amount of pepper and an appealing "nuttiness". The burn is perfect, as is the draw...and the plummage is full and pleasant. At times, I find myself really enjoying the underlying tobacco flavor, usually on the aftertaste.

I'd rate this stogie as a 4-it's a really great stogie, suitable for evening or morning smoking (medium to full on flavor and probably medium on potency). My only (tiny) complaint is that the stick seemed to burn a little faster than I like (about an hour long smoke).

Here's a bonus photo of Dad and Anne-Marie in Old Red, getting back from feeding the sheep!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Oliva Master Blends #3

Well, although I don't expect my absence from the blog to have been noted, it's been a busy several months since my last review. Lots of wedding prep. I've still been smoking (even joined the The Kansas City Cigar Aficionado Club last month) but been too busy to write and post pix.

I picked this up in a trade or a gimme with my bro in July 2009. It had been aging in his humidor awhile before that. I paired it with a cup of KC Roasterie coffee, City of Fountains blend, with a splash of French Vanilla creamer.

This cigar had an intriguing appearance. Its rounded box press, with wide flat sides on the top and bottom, reminded me of a stubby tongue depressor. The band was intricate with lush green tropical imagery I took to be Central American tobacco plains, a gold leaf pattern on burnt brown and red, the Master Blend script logo, as well as a portrait belonging to (I believe) Fernando Oliva.
In addition to a strong start, it picked up steam and had a powerful, tasty finish.

The stats:

  • Appearance - 9 \ Very cool label and the form factor grew on me.

  • Burn - 10 \ Fantastic

  • Draw - 7 \ Fine.

  • Plumage - 8 \ Thick and satisfying with a creamy aroma.

  • Flavor - 9 \ I found this to be medium-heavy flavor, with a few moments pepper surprise.

  • Overall - 9 \ This was really a smooth and classy treat on all levels.

  • RT Scale (1-4) - 3 \ A really great smoke I'd enjoy picking up again somewhere along the way.
In personal news, I'm including a few random shots from our visit to St. Louis last weekend, where we visited the City Museum. It's really interactive and difficult to describe -- great for adults and especially kids. Imagine if someone had grown up loving jungle gyms and Goonies or Indiana Jones, was really artsy, and decided to make an interactive amusement park of mazes and stuff to climb through.