An Inside Look at the Room101 Conspiracy

There are three things that are certain in this world – death, taxes, and the fact that Matt Booth is a f’ckin ROCK☆… Check out this video to get an inside look at Room101’s Global “Conspiracy”

Cruzado Dantes Cigar Review

Another one of Dion Giolito’s masterpieces is under review this week. The Cruzado.

Cruzado

Cruzado

I have heard of these cigars, but most shops locally in El Paso, Texas don’t even carry Illusione cigars, so unless I was to receive these as a gift or trade, I probably never would have got my grubby little paws on one.

Luckily, a great little shop by the name of Tobacco Road recently jumped on the Illusione bandwagon and not only started stocking Illusione cigars, but Cruzado as well. Adam, the owner of the shop, actually gifted me a few of the Cruzado cigars in hopes to spread word of the brand. If you’re ever in town, Tobacco Road is a must-stop.

The Good Stuff: As stated earlier, the Cruzado line of cigars is another line blended by the mastermind himself, Dion Giolito. The Cruzado line was released in mid 2008. With the success of Dion’s Illusione lines the Cruzado had quite a bit of hype to live up to. Unlike the full-bodied Illusione cigars the Cruzado is best described as a medium to full, with complex flavors, soft spices atop leather and general creaminess. The size I have recieved is the Dantes Robusto. The Cruzado is blended by Dion, and then rolled in the Raices Cubanas along with the rest of the Illusione line.

Size: 5 x 48 –  Wrapper: Nicaragua Criollo  –  Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan/Honduran  – Strength: Medium

Cruzado

Cruzado

Prelight: The Cruzado’s wrapper is very firm to the touch. There were no soft spots whatsoever, actually quite the opposite. The wrapper was nice and oily, but at the same time it seemed a bit firmer than what I was used to. As most of Dion’s cigars the Cruzado sports a nice, rounded triple cap. I really wish more cigar manufacturers would take a que from Cuban construction and triple wrap their caps. The cap seems to be the only portion of the cigar I ever really have any problems with. not only is the wrapper a nice, milk chocolate shade of brown, but it also carries with it chocolate scents with hints of spice. The foot of the Cruzado smells very leathery with notes of nutmeg.

Cruzado

Cruzado

Cold Draw: I cut this particular cigar using my Palio double-bladed cutter. The cut was very clean, and there were no signs of misconstruction upon the slice. The cold draw was very spicy, with timid hints of what I could only categorize best as German pastry.

First Smoke: The Cruzado was wrapped a bit too tight for my liking. I was able to pull a decent draw off of the cigar but it took far more hits than I am used to. Almost instantaneously I was smacked in the face with a burst of pepper I wasn’t expecting. Other flavors were oats, bread, spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, leather, and again the German pastry. The Cruzado didn’t leave much of an aftertaste, just the slight lingering tobacco taste that is expected when smoking cigars. The burn started off well but is beginning to get slightly wavy. It’s still too early into the cigar to tell how this will affect the overall experience. The Cruzado is a great retro-hale cigar, clean, non-burning. I got about and inch and a half into the Cruzado before the ash gave way for the first time.

Cruzado

Cruzado

Halfway There: Shortly after I reached the halfway point the draw began to open up a whole lot more. I was no longer having to hit this cigar three or four times to get the massive burst of smoke I wanted. The burn line did get a bit wavy and I had to touch it up, I don’t see any further issues with it though. The flavors are holding their own. At this point the pepper is no longer in the mix, more spice, vanilla, oats, and bread. I’m really quite surprised how slow this cigar is burning. The smoke is thick and very light in color where as the ash is a whole lot darker than what you would normally expect out of any cigar. It’s not really flaky, but it isn’t really packed either.

cruzado5

Cruzado

Finish: There was a slight harshness to the nub of the Cruzado, but not anything serious. It may be in part to the massive smoking I did early into the cigar. The Cruzado finished very smooth otherwise. There was no nicotine feel. Overall the Cruzado was an incredibly smooth smoke. The pepper made a quick return towards the end of the cigar, but just enough to effect the aftertaste. After the halfway touch-up I had no further burn issues at all. The flavors finished off very Vanilla Coffee Creamery, with Oaky Leather and hints of pepper.

Cruzado

Cruzado

Overview: Although the Cruzado had great flavors, and was extremely smooth, it was just a little on the light side for my taste. This isn’t to say I won’t have it again. I actually think the Cruzado will be one of the few Medium smoke I will have in my regular rotation. This is a perfect cigar for novice and casual smokers.

Cruzado

Cruzado

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

I have been MIA the last week, its been a heck of a busy week at the office. This week I will be review the Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo.

Tatuaje Cabaiguan

Tatuaje Cabaiguan

I’ve been interested in these smokes for quite some time, unfortunately Tatuaje is one of the few brands that my local B&M shops do not carry. Luckily, The Great Torpedo from stogiereview.com sent a few with a handful of other sticks earlier this week. Big thanks Jerry!

Now onto The Good Stuff: Tatuaje is a brand created by Pete Johnson. Pete Johnson is a very experienced tatoo artist hence the name Tatuaje (“Tatoo” in spanish). Tatuaje is actually one of the many brands that Don Pepin has his hand in right now. In fact, Cabaiguan is actually named after Don Pepin’s hometown in Cuba. Tatuaje is currently under fire by Altadis for his use of the le fleur de lis symbol on his cigar. I won’t go into that though.

The Cabaiguan Guapo is a limited edition cigar with very similar characteristics as the normal Cabaiguan with the exception of the wrapper. The standard Cabaiguan carries a Shade Grown Wrapper where as the Guapo carries a Sun Grown Wrapper.

Size: 5 5/8 x 54  –  Wrapper: Sun Grown Equador Connecticut  –  Filler/Binder: Nicaraguan  –  Origin: Nicaragua

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Prelight: Tatuaje’s Cabaiguan Guapo is a hefty looking cigar. It’s very heavy and tightly packed compared to most cigars similar in size. The Guapo sports a very deep, rounded cap, with a small, tied nub at the end of it. I could only describe this as looking similar to the top of a chinese kids head, you know, in movies and video games. There are no softspots at all, this cigar is like a brick. The wrapper itself is quite a bit darker than the normal Connecticut that I’m used to, and it seems pretty hard, and fragile with tons of oil. I’ll have to handle this one with care. The wrapper omits almost no smell at all, the only real scent I could pull off was very light scents of cocoa. The foot was similar in absence of smell but i did give off a very hay-link aroma. It just wasn’t very powerful. There were quite a few veins, but nothing that will hinder the smoke of this cigar. The cold draw produced very earthy tastes, the cocoa didn’t come through on the the cold draw. The band, like most Tatuaje’s remains very simple and straight forward. It sports and Old English style “C” with the word “Cabaiguan” underneath accompanied by the words “CUBA” and “MIAMI” on either sides. The back carries the simple Tatuaje logo, and the Guapo has with it a small lacing of silver metallic on the edges of the band. This is something the standard Cuabaiguans do not have.

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

First Smoke: The draw was a bit tedious to get going at first, but once I did it was non-stop. The guapo started off with a punch of pepper that only lasted to first couple of draws, then soon faded into a more soft, complex mixture of grass, leather, and what tastes like white meat. The draw itself was pretty massive, and smelled very similar to burnt grass with hints of oil. I don’t think this would be too annoying to your company. The smoke itself is very hefty, slightly brown, and lingers like there is no tomorrow. The Guapo produces mass amounts of stationary smoke, more so than most other cigars I have had. The burn line was pretty consistent once I got the entire foot going. I had a bit of trouble at the beginning but I evened itself a few puffs in. I got well over an inch and a half of ash before it dropped.

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Halfway There: outside of the vanquishing pepper, the Cabaiguan Guapo’s taste is remaining pretty consistent. I would best describe the taste as burning corn husk with hints of passion fruit. This is a very smooth and creamy cigar, and I don’t feel any nicotine in it at all. Honestly the Cabaiguan is turning out to be an incredible smoke. Perfect for that relaxing day. It’s great to be able to give my palate a rest. The burn began to get a bit wavy a little more than halfway though, but not enough to need any touching up of any sort.

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Finish: The pepper left and never came back. There were more hints of fruit towards the nub of this cigar. The fruit best resembled passion fruit or pomegranate, a bit citrusy, and very sweet. There were also subtle hints of vanilla and honesy towards the very end. The wavy burn line corrected itself almost right away and I didn’t encounter another burn issue again. The draw was just loose enough to produce massive amounts of smoke and flavor, but tight enough to smooth the experience out all the way though, and not get hot towards the nub. The band came off with ease.

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Overview: I feel ashamed that I let this cigar fly under my radar for as long as I did. This was one of the most enjoyable smokes that I have had recently. The flavors were just complex enough to keep me on my toes, but not slammed in there to overload my taste buds. The strength was very mild and smooth, with a great massive draw. Smoking time was about an hour and a half. I would, and will get more of these cigars. They are limited edition but according to Pete J. he is doing everything in his power to get the line back out on the market.

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

Tatuaje Cabaiguan Guapo

This Taguaje Cabaiguan Guapo was paired with North Coast Brewing’s Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale.

Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale

Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale

Camacho Room 101 702 Cigar Review

I finally got my hands on another very anticipated cigar for review. Camacho’s Room 101 702.

Camacho Room 101

Camacho Room 101

A big thank you again to @cigarsthomas for shooting a few of these over to me. There are six local B&M shops here in El Paso, Texas. But out of the six, only two carry Camacho cigars. The Room 101 has been on order with them for quite a bit, but I’m too impatient, and I wanted to get my grubby little paws on one ASAP. The cigar community has been buzzing applause directed towards the Room 101 even way before it’s release date. The anticipation has been killing me.

The Good Stuff: Room 101 is a joint operation between Camacho Cigars and famous jewelry designer Matt Booth. “Room 101” isn’t just a blend of cigar but a “Global Conspiracy”.  Everything related to Room 101 boasts strong symbolism, and deep meaning. I won’t go into it too much, but if you feel inclined there are plenty of resources out there, but a lot of the symbolism behind the Conspiracy are kept secret. This only adds to the character. From my understanding Matt Booth met up with Camacho Cigar’s Director of Marketing Dylan Austin as well as a few others from the Camacho Family, words were exchanged, and before anyone knew it there was a proposition on the table of Camacho and Matt Booth teaming up to create a cigar that supports The Conspiracy. I can’t think of another cigar manufacturer that could pull something as interesting as this off.

After all was said and done, The Room 101 cigar was amongst a handful on anticipated new release cigars announced at this year’s ICPCR in New Orleans. The Room 101 wasn’t released to the public until a few months later in early October. The Room 101 is a medium bodied cigar manufactured with tobaccos produced in Honduras and the Dominican Republic. The wrapper itself was labeled as “Semilla 101” and was grown especially for the Room 101. The Room 101 comes in 6 sizes (I think), each one named after different US cities area codes. This particular shape is labeled the “702”, after Las Vegas, Nevada.

Size: 48×54×48×6  –  Wrapper: Semilla 101 from Honduras  –  Binder/Filler: Honduras/Dominican  –  Strength: Medium – Full

Camacho Room 101

Camacho Room 101

Prelight: The Room 101 702 has many unique characteristics that you won’t see from a lot of other cigar manufactures. We’ll start with the band. The band represents the Jewelry very well with is all black ink, supported by all silver prominence. It’s clear from the secondary band that this wasn’t produced by Room 101 for Camacho, but the other way around. Camacho is supporting Room 101 and the conspiracy with this special blended cigar. The band is covered in symbols. If you want to discovery on what these symbols actually mean feel free to browse over to www.room101cigars.com to find out more. The shape of the 702 is very unique as well. It starts off quite bulky on the head, with a nice rounded cap. And just after the band booms from a 48 ring gauge into a boasting 54 gauge through a little more than half the body before returning to a 48. Hopefully this meaty area produces a complex, powerhouse smoke. The wrapper is a dark, chocolately color, very leatheresque with lots of lighter brown areas. There were really no large veins, and absolutely no signs of misconstruction. the foot of the cigar carries lots of loosely wrapper filler tobacco. I honestly think this, from the prelight, is one of the finest constructed cigars I have seen. The wrapper didn’t really carry a lot of strong aromas, but what a did pick out were A graham crackery, cocoa smell with what I could only describe as a tart grape.The cold draw was very similar to the scents I pulled off of the Room 101.

Camacho Room 101

Camacho Room 101

First Smoke: The Room 101 702 releases a nice, smooth draw, with lots and lots of thick tobacco/cocoa scented smoke. The smoke itself wasn’t too pungent, it won’t be as annoying to non-smokers as most other cigars will be. There was a lot let of a pepper taste pulled off the Room 101 than I expected. I think most of the newer Dominican cigars have boasted large pepper tastes and the Room 101 doesn’t follow that guideline making for a much smoother experience. Outside of an incredibly smooth smoke the Room 101 sports a chocolate, cocoa taste with hints of almond and black current. The room 101 is burning very evenly leaving behind a very nice white ash.

Camacho Room 101

Camacho Room 101

There is some flaking from the ash, but nothing that will cause the ash to fall off quickly. The burn itself is a bit faster than I expected, but I have a feeling that will change once I make it into the sweet spot of the cigar. I made it almost 2 inches in before the Room 101 finally ashed off for the first time.

Camacho Room 101

Camacho Room 101

Halfway There: Ahh, the sweet-spot. Almost immediately after hitting the 54 ring gauged portion of the cigar the experience switched up on me. The flavors remained constant, very Ovaltineish with hints of raw coffee. Where as the draw increased significantly. The Room 101’s draw became much looser, and increased in flavor as well as density of smoke. The burn didn’t actually burn slower, but I didn’t need to hit the cigar as hard or as often as I did to produce the draw I was looking for. The burn line got a bit wavy at this point, but no touch ups are needed. The ashed increased in flakiness a bit, but that was mainly due, and expected from opening up the ring gauge of the cigar.

Camacho Room 101

Camcho Room 101

Finish: Towards the end of the smoke the head itself cracked, and unwrapped a bit. I think a lot of that was due to me babysitting this cigar. I didn’t want it to end and actually smoked it quite a bit slower than I would normally. The flavors throughout the entire smoked remained very consistent and the finish was no exception. The chocolate undertones carried through to the finish, and the favors became a bit more tobacco/earthy based. The burn line never got out of hand, and I never felt the need to touch up this cigar, nor did it require any relighting. Considering the size of this cigar I was surprised to see that I had almost no light-headedness or any signs of nicotine for that matter.

Camacho Room 101

Camacho Room 101

Overview: This cigar was well worth the wait in every way imaginable. From the remarkable construction, to the flavors, I feel Camacho knocked this one out of the park. The Room 101 is a direct representation of the hard work, and research that goes into each one of Camacho’s cigar blends. The Room 101 will be in my regular rotation for a long time, and I would recommend everyone else to add it as well. This cigar will be a huge consideration in not only mine, but everyone elses list of top cigars for 2009.

Camacho Room 101

Camacho Room 101

The Room 101 by Camacho was paired with a Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. One of my favorite Belgium beers. The dark, coffee based double bock beer accompanied the Room 101 every step of the way and even helped distinguish some of the fruity notes of the cigar.

Camacho Room 101 with an Ayinger Celebrator

Camacho Room 101 with an Ayinger Celebrator

Rocky Patel 1961 Robusto

I have heard many mixed review about Rocky Patel’s 1961 smoke. You either love it, or you hate it. I personally am not a huge fan of Rocky Patel cigars, but I will try anything once, and the salesman at my local shop seems to be pretty crazy about this smoke, so I picked one up.
Rocky Patel 1961

Rocky Patel 1961

The Rocky Patel 1961 was amongst an array of anticipated cigars released in 2009 at the IPCPR show in New Orleans.

The Good Stuff: The year 1961, from what I gathered, is Rocky’s actually birth year. These limited production cigars were among the first cigars manufactured at the new Tabacalera Villa Cuba, Rocky’s newest factory.

Size: 5 x50  –  Wrapper: Ecuadorian  –  Binder/Filler: Honduran/Nicaraguan  –  Strength: Medium – Full

Rocky Patel 1961

Rocky Patel 1961

Prelight: The first characteristic I noticed was the triple cap. I’m a huge fan of the triple cap as most of my wrapper problems usually occur at the head of the cigar. The cigar itself sports top-notch construction, with absolutely no signs of soft spots, or flaws in the construction. Rocky is known for being a stickler when it comes to the perfection of all cigars manufactured under his rule. The wrapper is very smooth and there were no real noticable veins as far as I could see. The band was remarkable, and unlike anything that I have seen come from Rocky Patel. The 1961 showcased a massive, double band. The top band is black, with light watermarked “wallpaperesque” textured, presented by a large “1961” label positioned over a halftone tobacco plant. The secondary band fits snuggly into the primary band and sports a red shimmer with the “Rocky Patel” label.  There isn’t really a lot of noticable scent coming from the wrapper of the 1961. I picked up light notes of sweetness and cocoa. The foot of the cigar smells very similar, with a touch of grain, and what seems to be something that smells similar to paint thinner. Tom from Tom’s Cigars nailed it in a recent review when he acclaimed that you should NEVER trust a cigar by its smell. Many of the best cigars I have had smelled like complete crap.

Rocky Patel 1961

Rocky Patel 1961

Cold Draw: I was able to pull the paint thinner taste off the cold draw. Not a good sign. Let’s just hope this taste doesn’t carry into the actual smoke. I got a bit of pepper, and mixed almond as well.

First Smoke: THANK GOD the paint thinner taste didn’t make it to the actual smoke. If so, I would have never even went into the cigar for fear of throwing up. The 1961 starts off with a massive burst of pepper and spice. What a wake up call. I wasn’t expecting much taste as I couldn’t really pull anything off of the 1961 on the cold draw. The pepper even got to a point where it started to make my lips, and back of the throat tingle. Most of the undertones at this point were masked under the pepper, but there was a mixed bunch of almond and cocoa in there. The burn line became wavy, and unstable right off the bat. The ash itself was very light colored, and flaked off every chance it got. The 1961 produced an awesomely large draw with thick, almost brown smoke.

Rocky Patel 1961

Rocky Patel 1961

Halfway There: And just as quickly as the pepper came, it went away. The pepper literally just dropped off the face of the cigar. Halfway through the smoke balanced out and became very smooth and creamy. The flavors weren’t as complex as I’m used to, Cracker/grain, cocoa, a bit of sweetness, a bit of cherry/grape, mostly earthy tones. The smoke itself smelled much like the paint thinner I pulled off the cold draw. I wouldn’t recommend smoking the 1961 around people. The burn line is getting more and more wavy as I burn through this cigar. Halfway though the 1961 went completely out on me and I had to relight before the ash actually fell off itself. Classic case of the filler burning faster than the wrapper itself.

Rocky Patel 1961

Rocky Patel 1961

 Finish: The pepper taste I craved never made it’s comeback. Why do you tease me so 1961?! By the time I got the cigar down to the nub I reached a total of 3 relights, and countless touch-ups. For the sake of the review I wouldn’t have bothered to touch up the cigar, but it got to a point where there was more un-burnt wrapper than actual cigar left. The only characteristic that really stayed consistent throughout the smoke was the awful aroma of the smoke. I can’t imagine what made it smell that way. The 1961 started off as a powerhouse cigar. I could feel the nicotine almost instantly. But it finished as gently as a puppy. I just wish this cigar was more consistent.

Rocky Patel 1961

Rocky Patel 1961

Overview: At the beginning of my review I stated that I wasn’t impressed much by Rocky Patel’s cigars. I hoped that the 1961 would renew what little faith I had in the company. Alas, it only made it worse. The 1961 was very bland for my taste. It lacked complexity, and consistently. I do however, see why some may find this smooth smoke attractive. I however, will probably never purchase it again.

Rocky Patel 1961

Rocky Patel 1961

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970 Consul

This has been a heck of a week, and due to this I fell a day behind. But alas, I’m back at the blogging seat this time reporting back on the Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970 Consul.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano Consul

Joya De Nicaragua Antano Consul

I have actually never smoked a Joya De Nicaragua before, so this is my first. I have heard nothing but great things about this cigar, and I stumble across it just about everywhere I go. So I finally decided to give it a shot.

The Good Stuff: Joya De Nicaragua’s Antano 1970 is a lasting tribute to the comapany’s stability. Joya De Nicaragua’s cigars were first released back in the mid 1960’s where it was one of the first cigars ever produced in Nicaragua. In 1970, the cigar gained mass acceptance in the U.S. and actually became the tradition cigar of the White House. Shortly after, Nicaragua became fairly unstable, and all of Joya De Nicaragua’s production came to a standstill. After more than 30 years, Joya De Nicaragua came back into play in 2002 with the Antano, to celebrate the company’s hard work.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Size: 4.5 x 52  –  Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano  –  Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan  –  Strength: Full

Prelight: I’ve read a review or two on the Antano so I know better than to let it’s small stature fool me. This cigar is supposed to pack a mean punch. The Wrapper is a very dark habano, almost maduro looking leaf. The cigar itself is very chunky, and has a pretty good weight to it. The wrapper smells of light earth tones with hints of almond. The foot of the cigar has a strong woodsy smell, with a touch of pine. There were a few soft spots close to the foot of the cigar. We will blame these on the handling, and I don’t forsee any problems with them. I should be able to burn right through them. The band is very bright, and inviting. There is a great use of metallic gold ink, with greens and reds spread out across the ring making the Antano stand out amongst most other cigars in any humidor. I used a double-bladed cutter, and a cheapy little 3 torch flame (my lighter is being repaired) to smoke this cigar.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano

Joya De Nicaragua Antano

Cold Draw: The pine taste didn’t come through with the cold draw, I must have picked that out of the air somewhere. The Antano’s cold draw had a very woodsy/leathery taste to it, with touches of spice and almond. The cold draw was pretty tight, and I am hoping this doesn’t transcend into the rest of the smoke.

First Smoke: The Antano lit up right away, and took literally just a few seconds to light completely under my 3 flame torch set to low. The first couple of puffs were very tight. I’m not a big fan of tight draws, so it was very welcomed when out of the blue the draw unleashed with huge clouds of thick smoke about 4 or 5 puffs in. Despite the massive draw, the smoke itself wasn’t all that bad smelling. If it wasn’t for the huge clouds of smoke I would recommend smoking this around other people. The taste pallete was very soft and invited. Peppery, spice was the dominant flavor backed by a bit of pine, cedar, and hints of almond.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

The burn line is nothing less of stellar at this point, and the Antano is producing very thick, almost white ash. The pepper taste is matching up well as this cigar is paired with an Avery Hog Heaven barley-wine style ale. Astonishingly enough, I got almost 2 whole inches of ash (keep in mind how short this cigar is) before finally giving way. I really couldn’t predict when it was actually going to give out.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Halfway there: I know this is a strong cigar, but at this point I have yet to feel it. The smoke is smooth, and incredibly creamy. The pepper taste has mellowed out some, and now its become more “bready”. I’m not sure if  “bready” is the term, or even a word for that matter, but it was the best way I could describe it. The draw hasn’t let up at all, it’s still as big as ever.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

The Antano’s burn line has taken a small turn for the worse as it became pretty wavy on one portion of the cigar. I’m not sure if this one will actually correct itself. The Antano is getting pretty warm. I usually smoke pretty fast, however this one is burning a lot warmer than most other cigars I’ve had as of late.

Finish: After standing up, and walking around my back yard A bit I was pretty surprised to find that I have felt no light-headedness, nor any signs of nicotine. Towards the end of the smoke the pepper taste came back, but it wasn’t nearly as strong as the beginning of the smoke. The questionable burn line actually did in fact correct itself, and the warmth of the draw only increased. I was really surprised how the taste of the Antano was so consistent throughout the entire smoke. The only addition were soft hints of sweetness I picked up towards the very end.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Overview: I would have to give this cigar 4.5 stars out of 5 (I am working on a custom rating system, no worries.). Outside of the small stature, the hot burn, and the fact that I don’t have more of these in my humidor, I can’t think of anything bad to say about this smoke. It was extremely smooth, and well balanced with soft kicks just where you would expect them. I WILL be getting more of these, and I recommend anyone who enjoys cigars to do the same.

The Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970 Consul was paired with Avery’s Hog Heaven Barely Wine Style Ale.

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Joya De Nicaragua Antano 1970

Illusione Epernay Le Elegance

Right on schedule this week I set time aside to site back, relax, and enjoy an Illusione Epernay Le Elegance.

illusione_epernay_1

This Epernay was actually gifted to my by Agent 24 over at cigarspy. I have been trying to get my hands on a few Illusione’s for quite sometime, but no local shops anywhere near me whatsoever carry the line, nor do they plan to in the near future. (so if you have a few extras, let me know, we’ll set up a trade). I honestly couldn’t wait not only to smoke the Epernay, but to get a review done on it as well. Dion has a massive following, and his strength as a cigar manufacturer is quickly building up.

The Good Stuff: Illusione is a company founded by Dion Giolito, who started the company with hopes of creating a cigar that resembled old Nicaragua. Dion produced the Illusione line of cigars with only the best tobacco grown from Jalapa Valley, and Esteli Nicaragua. These cigars are perfectly constructed using Corojo from 1999, and Criollo from 1998 seeds that are then wrapped in Cafe Colorado with a near perfect cuban style triple cap.

Size: 5 3/4 x 40  –  Wrapper: Café Rosado  –  Filler/Binder: Corojo/Criollo  –  Origin: Nicaragua

Illusione Epernay

Illusione Epernay

Prelight: The Illusione Epernay is a bit different than most vitolas. This cigar sports a very long, slender shape. Honestly, I forsee this as a possible problem for the draw. It has a long way to travel, and not a lot clearance to go by. Luckily Dion knows his stuff and to compensate the Epernay is very loosely wrapped. The cigar is a bit soft, but nothing to be concerned about. I found one small soft spot directly in the center of the cigar, hopefully it won’t be too much of a pain once I get there. The Epernay is very light, and creamy brown in color. It looks similar to a pecan sandie, and even smells a bit like one too. The first scents I pulled off of this cigar were grassy, earthy, with hints of nuts, vanilla, and honey. The triple cap is completely evident, you can even see it through the blur in the above picture. 99% of the time this is where I personally run into issue with wrapping, so a triple cap is more than welcomed. Outside of the soft spot I mentioned earlier the cigar seems to be constructed perfectly. There is only one really visible vein, but it’s tucked nicely it and shouldn’t cause me any problems. The Cold draw was a bit surprising. I picked up on massive notes of spice right away. Seemed almost a bit Christmasy with hints of nutmeg, honey, and cinnamon. This cigar was cut using a Cuban Crafters double bladed “perfecto” cutter, and lit pretty quickly under my single flame colibri torch.

Illusione Epernay

Illusione Epernay

First Smoke: The one thing on my mind was the draw. How was the vitola going to affect it?! Honestly, if anything, it improved it. The Epernay produces a massive, massive, draw accompanied by very thick, large clouds of smoke on the exhale. This is a perfect cigar for retrohaling. It’s smooth enough not to bother you, yet flavorful enough to be worth the effort. Right from the start The Epernay starts to produce a very strong, spicy, pepper taste. Paired with the pepper are grassy, woodsy, flavors with touches of honey, and caramel. This Illusione is producing a slight pepper after taste that is actually tickling the back of my throat. The burn line is quite consistent, and the Epernay produces almost no stationary smoke. The smoke itself isn’t the best of aromas so it’s not going to be a very welcome cigar by non-smokers. The ash is very pepper colored, and fell off about an inch into the cigar.

Illusione Epernay

Illusione Epernay

I thought the ash would hold on longer than it did, so I didn’t get my usual snap just before it ashed. But, you get the idea.

Halfway There: Halfway through the Epernay there is a drastic change up in flavor. The pepper has simmered down quite a bit, and there is a slight chalkiness overpowering it. Don’t take that the wrong way, it is in no way dis-tasteful and actually brings a great balance to the cigar. The honey is a bit stronger and there are small hints of grassy/floral/nature mixed in with it now. I am starting to get waves in the burn line but, for sake of the review, I refuse to correct them unless it’s a matter of life or death. Along with the burn line the draw itself is acting up a bit. It seems as though the filler is burning a bit faster than the wrapper thus, making it harder to get a good draw after the cigar has been stationary for some time.

Illusione Epernay

Illusione Epernay

Shortly after snapping this picture the Epernay actually put itself out. I wasn’t babysitting this guy either. The wife wanted me inside to watch a movie so I wasn’t taking it lightly. After ashing before the relight, I realized it was in fact the filler burning much faster than the wrapper. I burned a chunk of the wrapper and continued on.

Illusione Epernay

Illusione Epernay

Finish: As I got further and further into the smoke, the pepper diminished more, and the cigar became much smoother, and creamier. This is how I wish all cigars would end. The honey/floral arrangement of flavors remained consistent through the end, and after the relight I didn’t have any further problems with the burn. The Epernay did get me slightly light headed upon standing up, but until that point I felt little, to no sign of any nicotine in the smoke.

Illusione Epernay

Illusione Epernay

Overview: Dion came through just as I hoped he would. The Epernay is an incredible cigar that I would LOVE to have in my regular rotation (if I could just find them). This cigar is complex enough to recommend to any cigar afficianado, and smooth enough for even the most novice of smokers. I’m not too sure on the price point on these bad boys so I can’t talk about value, but if it’s anything less that $8  a stick then you’re golden.

Illusione Epernay

Illusione Epernay

Drew Estate Natural EGG Maduro

I’ve had a Drew Estate EGG Maduro sitting in my humidor for a while now, just waiting for its turn on the chopping block. This week his day has come.

Drew Estate Egg Maduro

Drew Estate Egg Maduro

This is a pretty interesting cigar. Unlike most standard cigar shapes, Drew Estate’s “egg” actually bubbles out in the middle to form an egg looking vitola.

Drew Estate Egg Maduro

Drew Estate Egg Maduro

The Good Stuff: If you can look past the extremely strange shape of the Natural Egg Maduro you will notice that it, alongside all cigars produced by Drew Estate sports flawless construction, as well as a complex blend of only the finest natural tobacco leaves farmed in Drew Estate’s own tobacco farms in Esteli, Nicaragua. I am not entirely too sure why on earth they came up with this cigar, maybe just for novelty? I’m not convinced outside of a “different” experience that there is actually any science in the shape. Drew Estate is the king of  different and unexpected.

Size: 6 x 42/70/42  –  Wrapper: Natural Maduro  –  Origin: Esteli, Nicaragua

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

Prelight: The first thing I noticed what the weight of this cigar. I expected it to weigh a lot more than it actually did due to the massive build up of tobacco in the center. But alas, it weighed slightly more than a similar length standard cigar. Hopefully this means it’s loosely packed and will have a nice, wild draw. The wrapper is a very dark, creamy chocolate color. The head and foot sport an extremely small ring size. There is no doubt on my mind that this will be an interesting smoke. The wrapper smells very natural/dry/leathery with a touch of cocoa. The cold draw is VERY loose, with slight tastes of mocha, and caramel spice.

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

First Smoke: I’m pretty excited about the EGG, its not every day that you get to smoke something as interesting as this. I’m also a big fan of Drew Estate’s Natural line, so if its anything similar, it won’t be less than stellar. The foot of the cigar took to my flame rather well, lighting up really quickly. Getting the first draw off the EGG however was a chore in itself. I had to hit the crap out of this cigar to get my first draw. You could actually hear the wind ripping through the center of the EGG. Once the draw came however, it was on! The EGG produces a massive freakin’ draw with plenty of lingering thick smoke. Retrohaling this cigar was a breeze. The EGG carries with it a very sweet, natural taste, with hints of cashew, coffee, graham cracker, and leather. The cap is extra sweet on this one. I enjoy sweet caps, but I know a number of cigar smokers do not. The burn line is extremely wavy straight from the start, but with a construction such as this you can’t expect it to burn perfectly. This is a pretty tasty cigar, it resembles the “Natural Root” to a tee. The EGG smokes more stationary than any other cigar I have ever seen. Not to mention each time I go in for a draw the front of the EGG blows smoke rings. It’s actually pretty interesting. The smoke isn’t bad smelling at all. Very creamy tobacco/coffee scent.

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

The picture above is entitled “the dying crane”. There has been rumors going around that you can actually make it through a whole EGG without the cigar ashing. As you can see above almost instantaneously I am having an ash issue. The foot of the cigar is already trying to break free. We’ll see how the rest of the cigar holds up.

Halfway There: As soon as I started to actually hit the “egg” part of the EGG I am smacked in the face with a strong, spicy, pepper taste. It literally comes out of no where. It’s accompanied by a subtle citrus flavor. Each time I put the EGG down it takes about five to six extremely strong puffs to get my first draw. This is semi-annoying but it comes with the territory, and the massive draw almost makes up for it. Because you have to hit the cigar so hard you can feel it heat up VERY early on a lot more than it should, not to mention the EGG is already pretty awkward to hold. Just after I passed the center of the cigar the pepper flavor balanced out and almost disappeared. We are back to natural/graham cracker/ coffee. This cigar is incredibly smooth.

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

The above picture is entitled “the elephant and the empty bottle of Chimay”. I am really surprised that the ash is still holding on. Even the foot that was giving me problems is hanging in there.

Finish: Oddly enough, there was no plugging, no tar build-up nothing. The cigar smoked creamy, smooth, and consistent all the way though. There was little no signs of any aftertaste. What resided was only that of a faint cardboard taste. And with cigars, a soft cardboard after-taste isn’t bad at all. I felt little to no signs of nicotine. The coffee notes carried all the way through, but the consistent graham cracker, natural taste is what won the flavor war. One of the most interesting characteristics of this cigar is this:

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

Drew Estate Natural Egg Maduro

That’s right, the ash actually lasted the ENTIRE length of the cigar. Pretty interesting, even the troubled foot is still on there. About 3/4’s of the way through I stopped resting the cigar on the ashtray. I really just wanted to see how far this thing would go. Very surprising.

Overview: Drew Estate’s Natural Egg maduro is a fun smoke. It’s very smooth, sweet, and pleasantly scented. The cigar itself too about two hours and ten minutes to smoke, so prepare to ge acquainted with this cigar. I would smoke another one for sure if I happen to stumble across it. This cigar is really just the novelty. You can get similar draw, tastes, and burn out of the Natural Dirt Torpedo, and the Natural Root. I would recommend this to a seasoned smoker looking for something a bit different to have a some fun with. But I don’t see this becoming part of my regular rotation anytime in the near future.

Natural Egg Maduro and Chimay Blue

Natural Egg Maduro and Chimay Blue

This Natural EGG maduro was paired with a nice bottle of Chimay blue, trappist ale.

CAO La Traviata

Up next for review is the long-awaited La Traviata by CAO.

CAO La Traviata

CAO La Traviata

Jon Huber, Director of Lifestyle Marketing for CAO cigars in Nashville TN, sponsors tons of contests almost daily from his twitter account (@caocigars). I was fortunate enough to have won a contest and have a few of these pop up on my door step. If you’re on twitter, and aren’t following him, I suggest you jump on the ball. Not only will you be able to capture great  CAO news, but if you’re lucky you may be able to grab a few sticks before they even hit stores.

The Good Stuff: “La Traviata” is a brand that originated in Cuba over a hundred years ago at the Tabacalera Cubana, Agramonte no. 106 in Havana. CAO basically took this appeal and created am incredible cigar alike closely resembling “La Traviata’s” taste, construction, and Cuban roots.

As stated before La Traviata is just now barely hitting stores. The cigar itself was announced by CAO at this year’s International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association Trade Show in New Orleans. The CAO La Traviata is a full bodied cigar constructed of two different ligero fillers, one from the Domincan Republic and the other from the Pueblo Nuevo farm in Nicaragua. La Trivata uses a Cameroon binder and is then tightly wrapped with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

Size:  5 x 50  –  Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano  –  Binder: Cameroon  –  Filler: Nicaragua/Dominican Republic Ligero

CAO La Traviata

CAO La Traviata

Prelight: La Traviata is a very toothy, darkly wrapped cigar. The habano wrapper is actually quite darker than most habanos that I have seen. Following CAO standards there are absolutely no blemishes, soft spots, or wrapper misconstruction. In fact, this cigar is very tightly pressed and hard to the touch. La Traviata divino sports a very round cap, and the foot gives off a pre-light aroma of cocoa, and cashew. There were a few noticable veins, but nothing that will affect the overall smoke. The band itself differs quite a bit from what you normally see out of the CAO factory. Strong, romanesque marr0on and gold, with a very powerful font, and texture. I think they were hinting on to something.

CAO La Traviata

CAO La Traviata

First Smoke: As usual, the Ligero in the Traviata took quite sometime to light. The first draws were extremely tight, and I was forced to hit the crap out of the cigar before actually getting a decent draw. The first tastes were very smooth cocoa mixed with maple syrup and subtle grassy nutty flavors. La Traviata starts off very smooth, not boasting the outrageous strength and spice that ligero usually gives off. The burn is pretty even, there is a small trouble spot following one of the veins but I suspect this won’t be a problem. La Traviata is very tightly packed, and is giving me slight complications trying to get the massive draw that I am looking for at first. Withing about five minutes the cigar finally starts giving off a good smoke, and I’m extremely pleased. I really hoped the draw wasn’t going to ruin it for me. I got almost an inch and 3/4 off La Traviata before it gave way.

CAO La Traviata

CAO La Traviata

Halfway There: At the halfway point La Traviata is producing massive amounts of thick smoke, in an almost perfect draw. The flavors are extremely subtle, and well balanced. I’ve noticed a lot of that cocoa flavor has tapered off and its more of a leathery, walnut, syrup, cedar, smooth tobacco taste. Although La Traviata is full-bodied and packed full of ligero, it isn’t quite giving me the shakes you’d expect. It’s a much more enjoyable experience. Don’t be fooled by the size of this CAO, this cigar is burning incredibly slow, this may be an all nighter. The burn is dead on and I have yet to have to relight, or touch up.

Finish: Overall La Traviata Divino took well over 2 hours to smoke, which, for its small size, completely caught me off guard. There was no harshness at all towards the end of this cigar. I did however, notice a slight increase in strength, but nothing overwhelming. The flavors finished just as complex as they started with just a tad more raw tobacco flavor. The burn? Amazing. No relights, no touch ups. That’s incredible for ligero.

CAO La Traviata

CAO La Traviata

Overview: This is an incredible cigar. Needless to say I will buy it again, I will recommend it, and I will recommend it to anyone from novice to the most experienced cigar smoker. The rich tobacco, smooth smokability, and creamy flavors make a perfect mixture. And one last thing. Rumor has it these cigars will be priced in ranges from $4.95 to $6.00. How incredible is that. This means they will be about $13.oo at my local shop, if they even get them. But I am just happy I had a chance to have just one.

Oliva Nub Maduro 464t

This week I was finally able to sit down and enjoy the NUb Maduro that was sent to me a while back. Needless to say I’ve been pretty anxious not only to try the maduro, but this is my first actual NUb cigar. Let’s hope it can live up to the hype.

NUb Maduro

NUb Maduro

This cigar was sent to me along with a pre-release Cain Habano by cigar maker Sam Leccia a while back. Ever since, I have been wanting to try it, but I knew I wanted to do a review on it and just hadn’t had the upcoming time to sit down and hammer one out. So here it is, finally. I am also completely aware that there are already 230942839402 reviews of this cigar already out there, hopefully my take will be a little different than the norm.
The Good Stuff: The NUb cigar was invented by the cigar genius Sam Leccia in his garage in 2006. The idea behind each NUb cigar is simply capture the true essence of a cigar. Every experienced cigar smoker knows that the cigar matures as it is smoke, making the final few puffs of each cigar a whopping powerhouse of strength and flavor. What NUb cigars bring is the same mature flavors, up front. No waiting hours to hit that sweet spot. NUb cigars a the “sweet spot” the whole way through.

Size: 4 x 64  –  Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro  –  Binder/Filler: Nicaraguan

NUb Maduro

NUb Maduro

Prelight: First of all this cigar has some massive weight to it. Not to mention the famous NUb shape. At a 64 ring gauge this is a pretty fat cigar. I had never even noticed until it was time to light it up. The wrapper is a smooth, creamy maduro. The one i smoked was literally about 4 shades lighter than the ones I’ve found at my local B&M shop. There is only one visible vein, but it is very small and out of the way. The obvious torpedo shape extrudes through the head of the cigar while the foot is crisp and clean. The cigar itself is very hard and has no soft spots. The NUb maduro is extremely tight wrapped, which makes for awesome NUbStands! The first scents were very earthy/leather with soft notes of almost dirt, and tobacco.

NUb Maduro

NUb Maduro

First Smoke: This cigar took a really long time to light under my single flame torch. A lot of that probably has to do with its think ring gauge. The first draws were extremely weak, which REALLY disappointed me. The cigar wasn’t plugged at all either, I was receiving lots of airflow on each puff. Then, as if the NUb read my mind I was smacked in the face with not only the largest, but the thickest smoke I have ever pulled off a cigar. I smoke outside with the wife a lot of times, and even she got all excited and followed the smoke cloud as it drifted across my entire back yard. The taste of the NUb maduro is magnificent. There are very soft spices, mixed with earthy, leather tastes with small hints of cocoa, caramel, and straight up tobacco. This is a VERY smooth smoke. The burn is absolutely gorgeous and there are no signs of wrapping flaws.

On most reviews i follow up with a sentence like “i got about an inch of ash before it gave way”. The NUb is different. Different in a way that there were no ash droppings. I literally smoked the whole cigar from start to finish before it ashed the first time.

Nub Maduro

Nub Maduro

Halfway There: Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever had a cigar that kept such a balanced taste, smoke, and texture through its smoke like the NUb maduro has. The peppery spice is so well balanced with the tobacco, cocoa, and earth tastes. This is such an enjoyable cigar. The burn is still rocking perfect, and the draw is still massive.

NUb Madruo NUb Stand

NUb Madruo NUb Stand

Finish: That’s right. Tony’s first NUb stand. You see it all the time in pictures, and magazines, but you don’t realize what a feat it is until you actually do it for yourself. The whole smoke down I had been trying to be as careful as possible as to not knock off the ash until I could get this shot. And then when it came down to it the ash was just crooked enough to set the cigar off balance and it tipped over as I tried to snap the shot. Much to my surprise the ash held on. On the second shot i serious just smashed the ash into my ashtray. Sure enough, it held on just fine. Try doing that with any other cigar.

The finish of the cigar literally tasted just like the beginning. The NUb maduro is a VERY well balanced and well thought out cigar from the draw to the shape. All in all the NUb Maduro took about an hour and a half to smoke. A lot longer than expected. Bigger isn’t always better.

Nub Maduro

Nub Maduro

Overview: The NUb Maduro is a spectacle. It’s a great tasting cigar, extremely well balanced, and very affordable. I would not only try this cigar again, but I would honestly recommend it to any cigar smoker. The complex smoke and flavors are enough to stun any experienced smoker while the soft spice, smooth draw, and cocoa flavors are vivid enough to entice even the novice cigar smoker. This is definitely a box-buy considered cigar.

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