Saturday, January 23, 2010

La Joya de Nicaragua Clasico (6.6" x 44)

La Joya de Nicaragua Clasico (6.6" x 44)

I grabbed this long and lean smoke to enjoy while helping my dad and Anne-Marie feed the sheep. It was a little chilly and, on these kinds of adventures, you never know when you'll be called upon to toss your smoke and have to help corner a ewe or grab up a frisky lamb-so I grabbed a smoke that I had low expectations fors: the LJN Clasico.

Eric had given me a pair of these faux-lanceros a few weeks ago. I had backed out of the chance to share a box of these and some Antanos-reviews I had read had made me think that they were probably not going to be too great...but I'm really glad I had one because it hit the spot!

Here is what an online vendor has to say about these sticks:

Joya de Nicaragua Clasico cigars are a smooth, medium-bodied Nicaraguan selection from Tabacos Puros de Nicaragua. The filler and binder are all high-quality Cuban-seed Nicaraguan tobaccos wrapped in high-grade Nicaraguan Criollo capas. With a fine aroma and flavorful finish, the flavor has a dry, woody, herbal character to it. While full-flavored, they're never overpowering.

It lit up quick and hit my palette with a peppery taste that reminded me a lot of the LJN Antano, though not as full and not as deep. I puffed on it while scooping hay, walking with Anne-Marie to the Pond to look for ducks, and while trying to help Dad separate some sheep from the herd. It held up much better than expected and I smoked it for at least an hour, almost to the nub.

Here is Dad after grabbing up two of the lambs.

And here I am enjoying the La Joya amidst my "siblings".

I give the La Joya a "2" on my 4 point rating. It was not a great cigar-kind of one dimensional (pepper, mostly). The rustic band didn't do much for me either, and the aroma was unremarkable. However, the construction was impressive-while smoking it outside and doing a variety of low-impact farm work, it held up well, requiring only the most minor of touchups. I think it is a good bargain cigar, a good deal for around $2 or $3, especially suited for times when one wants to enjoy a cigar but still needs to be active (walking a dog, doing minor work, etc).

Here are two hard working sheep herders!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Rosado (toro, 6" x 60)

Nestor Miranda Special Selection Rosado (toro, 6" x 60)

Here is the Nestor, along with my tools and beverage of choice (coffee).

Eric and I picked up a box of these when they showed up on Cigar Monster. Since its made by Nestor (who created some maduros that Eric and I both have some fond memories of) and blended by Don Pepin Garcia (whose stogies are almost sure to please me), I knew that I had to bite on this deal. Add to that the fact that Eric and Scott both have enjoyed these and mentioned several times how good they were and...I had high expectations for this stick. Since today MLK Day (and I'm off) and it is another warm day (50 degrees and no wind) I grabbed up the Nestor and headed for the back patio!

The box that these guys came in was more of a "chest"-thick and stout. Upon opening, I saw that the cigars were surrounded by tobacco leaf. It's a little weird but a nice touch, I think.

The Nestor 20th Anniversary appears to have a rosado, an oscuro, and a maduro variant-the one I am smoking is the rosado.

Here is a close-up of the band. The copper is a little washed out-it is more vivid in person.

Here is what an online vendor has to say about the smoke:

A bold handmade from Nicaragua.

Nestor Miranda Special Selection is a tasty new handmade named after its creator - that’s Nestor Miranda for those of you not paying attention, maker of Don Lino cigars. Carefully crafted by hand in Nicaragua, the Special Selection is available in two choice varieties: a silky Rosado wrapper or a dark Nicaraguan-grown maduro. The long-filler mixture of Nicaraguan and Costa Rican tobaccos is extensively aged, and promises an eventful medium to full-bodied bouquet of flavor. The smoke is rich and woody, with a delightful coffee component and a unique touch of sweetness on the finish.

Nestor Miranda Special Selection received a healthy 90-point rating, which noted:
"Skillfully rolled with a dark, oily wrapper and a neat cap. The draw, while a bit loose, produces beefy, nutty smoke balanced by some sweetness and earth."

The label is what always attracts my attention to this smoke-I love the copper. Once I get past that, I can't help but marvel at its size-a real "Biggun'". So big, in fact, that not only did my cutter struggle with clipping it but my it also gave my Blazer lighter a real workout getting it lit!

The first few puffs imparted a nutty flavor with a small amount of pepper-reminding me a great deal of a milder version of the Don Pepin Garcia Black label (but with a thicker, more resilient wrapper). As I puffed away for two hours, I did have relight at the 1/2 way point but other than that the burn was great.

The stogie continued to impart similar flavors for the duration of the smoke...never really varying but becoming more powerful in flavor and strength as I approached the last inch or so. Finally, after almost two hours of puffing pleasure it was through-and I was getting a bit light headed! As I puffed my last puff I realized that these things remind me a great deal of the Tatuaje Gran Cojonu-but they're easier to obtain and about half the price!

RTR Review: solid 3. This is a great cigar, especially for those who like their cigars large and in charge.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

601 Blue-Box Pressed Maduro (Toro, 6.2" x 54)

601 Blue-Box Pressed Maduro (Toro, 6.2" x 54)

I received this Don Pepin Garcia gem from my oldest son Ryan-as a Father's Day gift from about two years ago. It came from Sosas at Downtown Disney and I'd been saving it for a special occasion. Today was the warmest and nicest day in over a month-and I knew that this was it!

The Blue label, by 601, is a Nicaraguan puro. It has a maduro wrapper and a colorful red, blue, and gold band. The one I had was slighly boxed pressed but not quite squared off.

Quick review: At Wright Park when I smoked this, I lost track of time and space. I remember a full flavor and body and a consistent "tart and peppery flavor". The stogie burned perfectly and produced solid grey ash. Plumage was impressive, even outside. I've smoked a half dozen 601 Blues and this stogie has never disappointed. For around $8 a stick (by the box), this is a fantastic stick, and probably my favorite Don Pepin Garcia made maduro. RTR Rating: 4 of 4.

Here I am enjoying the second half of this guy.

And here's a picture of my sweet and long-suffering wife!

Bonus picture 1: Anne-Marie helping Grandpa with sheep feeding this weekend.

Bonus Pic 2: The Shepherd himself.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Adrian's maduro robusto (5" x 50)

Adrian's maduro robusto (5" x 50)

A month or so ago, while I was smoking at the Cigar Chateau, a rep for Adrian's offered me a handfull of his brand of stogies. He told me how good that they were and that they were from Costa Rica and that they run around $6 apiece in a store. Rarely one to turn down free stogies, I snatched them up and put them in the humidor to to make sure that they'd be ready when the time came...

...and it did, today. I grabbed up the Adrian's Maduro and hopped into the Fit to chat on my phone and hit the SW Kansas highways-just me and my Costa Rican maduro!

The band is quaint (kind of a tropical beach motif) and the stick is very attractive-dark and a bit oily but very "natural" looking-not at all like some of the glossy black sticks that one sometimes sees.

As I smoked and talked and drove I realized more and more that this stick was both milder in flavor and in potency than I'm used. I also realized I really liked it. It gave off a mellow and clean maduro flavor that builded slighly in intensity at the nub. Through it all, it gave off good plummage and burned straight as an arrow.

I rate the Adrian's maduro at 3 (on my 4 point scale)-it's a great morning smoke for me and I'm glad I have one more freebie to enjoy before I have to try to find out where I can buy a few more.

Here's a link to Adrian's website, in case you'd like to check them out.

Ashton VSG Spellbound (7.5 "x 54)

Ashton VSG Spellbound (7.5 "x 54)

Wow. This cigar has skyrocketed towards the top of my favorite stogies. Though, sadly, I cannot afford them, I have found that they really hit the spot when I have something to celebrate or when I just really want to reward myself...

RTR, bereft of a real camera (laptop webcam only)-enjoying the Spellbound at the Cigar Chateau in Wichita, KS last week.

Here is what Ashton has to say:

(Image borrowed from a website)

For those who desire a powerful and intoxicating flavor with a complex rich finish, look no further than the Ashton VSG. The VSG is blended exclusively for Ashton by Carlos Fuente Jr. using 4 to 5 year old aged Dominican tobacco taken from the finest and most fertile plants. The distinct flavor of VSG comes from its wrapper grown on a private estate in Ecuador owned by the Oliva family where this proprietary wrapper leaf is grown for the Fuente Family exclusively for Ashton VSG. The leaf is taken from the higher primings and matures slowly by sunlight filtered through the region¹s natural cloud covering. The result is the rich intoxicating wrapper which has made the Ashton VSG the most in demand cigar on the market today.

I paid $20 for this stogie, and it was the biggest VSG that was available. I will admit, that price is high; in fact, I spent ten minutes debating the purchase in the humidor, thinking "well, going to a movie tonight and having candy and soda would cost me $16 easily so..." and other similar thoughts to justify the purchase. Finally, I thought about how rare it is for me to get to smoke inside a real smoking room indoors and I bit the bullet and lit that sucka up.

First off, it's a big stogie-larger than I normally enjoy. A light grey film was sprinkled on the dark wrapper of this stogie-not sure if it was dust, "plume", mold or what. A bunch of the VSGs in the boxes on display had them so I wasn't worried-though it was a bit odd.

The initial flavor is tangy and peppery and the smoke has a luxuriously rich aroma. I cannot describe it but it is very pleasurable. The smoke burned straight and true with great ash and great plummage.

This cigar is a solid 4-a real super premium. If these were 1/2 the price, I'd buy a box with little hesitation. As it is, I'll be lucky to experience one a year-and so far, they are my first choice for a celebratory smoke.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Montage, best of 2009

1st Annual 2009 Stogie and Life Montage

2009 has been a great year for me and my family. It's been filled with new opportunities, great health, and lots of great family time. Here are some highlights, as well as some photos of and a list of my favorite cigars of 2009.

*Shannon got her Bachelor's degree and her and Todd have a new son, Thomas!
*Eric & Kellie's beautiful wedding in KC
*Ryan moved to his own place in Wichita
*Thane performed in a Depot play, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"
*Michelle started her Library Science graduate program
*Anne-Marie made a great new friend in our neighborhood and got TALL!
*We had a great Texas vacation at Lake Texoma

And here is my list of favorite smokes of 2009 (not in order!)

Oliva V
Don Pepin Garcia Blue
Ashton Virgin Sun Grown
Casa Magna (rosado) (The Official Smoke of Eric J. Reid's move to his new house!)
La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero and similar LFD smokes
601 (any of the four blends)
Padilla 1932
Padron 1964 (the Official Smoke of Eric J. Reid's Bachelor Party!)

Every one of these smokes delivers, and most have some great memories attached to them!

I hope that 2010 is half as great as 2009, for me and for all of my friends and family.

La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero "Chisel" (6"x 54)

La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero "Chisel" (6"x 54)

It's been cold, ladies and gentlemen...real damn cold. Every smoke has been a luxury, especially those few that I've been able to enjoy inside, away from the frigid wind that does its best to turn my blood to when Michelle suggested we go to Garden City to grab some Italian food at Napoli's (at the GC Airport), I grabbed a stogie that I knew would not disappoint: the LFD DL Chisel...

Note: sorry about the photo quality-my cell phone was really struggling with the lighting (or maybe the cold!).

From a cigar vendor's website:

The La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel cigars are very full - bodied cigars meticulously handcrafted with powerful ligero fillers and rich - tasting, Ecuadorian sun - grown wrappers. Like the regular La Flor Dominicana cigars, this selection is considered to be among some of the finest cigars made in the Dominican Republic. This is a highly reputable label that cigar smokers really should experience, especially if you love full, dark tobacco flavor. La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero The Chisel Maduro Cigars 6x54 Box of 10 La Flor Dominicana.

Here's the band-photo doesn't do it justice. Really like this band-new ones are bright red and black.

Highlights: The smoke is really potent, and really rich. The aroma is probably the thing I enjoy the most about it-sweet and spicey and very aromatic. The flavor starts out with lots of charred wood/meat flavors and hot peppers (jalapenio?). Later on I picked up some expresso and cherry notes.

Overall, the smoke is consistant and doesn't vary on the flavor much, but the flavor it does have is full and it definitely keeps my interest. I'm very glad I had it after a full meal because I this stogie packs a nicotine punch!

I started out by using a punch on the top side of the flattened, "chisel" head but decided I really didn't like it-opted after a few minutes to chop it off with my trusty Cuban Crafters cutter. After that, it was all gravy.

RTR quick review: 4 (of 4). This is a fantastic smoke-like almost all of the Litto Gomez/LFD stogies, I recommend it fully-though it may be too potent for mild stogie lovers.