Southern Draw Cedrus "The Hogan"

I received the press release about this one just before IPCPR and was very interested in this project. Not to go back and recap the entire thing but this project was a very special one for Robert and Sharon Holt

CEDRUS – THE HOGAN, the origin of the name:

1. Faith: The Latin name is Cedrus libani or Lebanese Cedar trees were highly sought after for ancient woodworking. The woods high quality, pleasant scent and firmness made it a popular building material for Holy temples, palaces and sailing vessels. Cedars popularity endures today as it is the most utilized wood in the premium cigar industry and the image of the CEDRUS tree serves as the biblical inspiration for our brand art.

2. Flora: Western Red Cedar known as “the Hogan”, native to the Pacific United States, growing to 200’ tall and living up to 1,000+ years, this tree demonstrates the firm, reliable and beautiful characteristics of cedar. Our bridge to an ancient symbol and a wood that has proven valuable through the ages.

3. People: We offer tribute to Phil and Shelly Hogan, a relationship that began in 1996, a friendship turned “closer than family”. Their love and support of Southern Draw Cigars began in 2014 when they rallied family and friends to support our mission even in the face of uncertain risk. Their contributions have been as steadfast and enduring as the cedar tree even as they have humbly remained in the shadows of our early successes. Phil, U.S. Navy Retired, is the most honorable and accountable guy we know and someone who we could only aspire to be like and Shelly, has been a tireless supporter of all things we do, a helping hand of 20 years that has quietly contributed much to SDC’s early success. The gracious and generous Hogan’s will now be celebrated with their own incomparable hand crafted cigar. We offer you an opportunity to get to know them during IPCPR 2018, they will be available to share their stories of military service, international travel and a limited amount of their new cigar.

I was gifted the opportunity to try this one out so without delaying this anymore, let’s get to what you came here for.

Cedrus “The Hogan” Belicoso Fino

Blend Profile:

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: AJ Fernandez Cigar Co.

Wrapper: Besuki TBN – Sumatra, Indonesia

Binder: Habano 2000- Esteli, Nicaragua

Viso: Piloto Cubano – Dominican Republic

Criollo 98 – Esteli, Nicaragua

Seco: Habana 92 – Quilali, Nicaragua

Ligero: Corojo 99 – Jalapa, Nicaragua

Size – Belicoso Fino 5.5 x 52 (box pressed)

Number of Cigars – 5,000 total 10 count, numbered boxes, 1,000 total 10 count refill bundles (60,000 cigars 2018)

Price – $11.99 each MSRP, $118.99 10 count box

Appearance: This is a really nice looking cigar with a medium to dark brown wrapper with reddish hue in the sunlight. The wrapper has small veins and really tight seams. The tapered, pyramid shape comes to a nice box press. The Olive green and gold dual bands really make for a nice presentation. The artwork and bands really work well on this cigar.

Pre-Light: The cigar feel firm with no soft spots. Construction is very well done. I pick up notes of barnyard, wet hay, a touch of sweetness and a faint hint of pepper. From the foot I get more of the same and some wood notes. I use a straight cut and the cold draw is good. Open with some resistance but not tight at all. I get mostly earth, hay and a hint of wood notes.

1st Third: After I toast the foot, the first draw reveals a little pepper up front, cedar, straw, and earth. The draw is good, burn is great, and nice smoke output. As I move a little further in, I start to pick up some smoky charred wood notes, tobacco, and cedar. There is a touch of sweetness that might be dried fruit like dark cherries but I can’t pinpoint it exactly. Performance is on cruise control. The blend works well with a very earthy profile with notes of cedar throughout. Strength is medium for me.

2nd Third: As we move into the second third everything pretty much stays consistent. Subtle changes here and there as I move through the halfway point. I pick up some pepper, cedar, earth and a faint hint of a grassy/floral note. Not cut grass but not clove. It doesn’t hang around very long and is gone. The draw is perfect, great smoke production, the burn is a touch wavy. Strength is still holding at medium.

Last 3rd: Not much in the form of change. Consistency is very much in play here. A good earthy, woodsy profile that has not really switched up from the start. Because it has been so consistent, I decided to veer from my norm and try pairing some Witherspoon’s Texas Bourbon Whiskey (I had to go with something else from Texas, anything else seemed wrong) with it to see how it fairs. The combination works very well together is about all I am going to say about it. I am far from a bourbon expert and have not honed my skills on bourbon notes but I can tell you that the bourbon compliments the cigar and vice versa very nicely. As I get down to the nub on this one, performance has not been an issue. Slightly wavy burn but no touch ups needed. Strength towards the end is maybe medium plus.

Final Thoughts: Overall a very enjoyable smoke from start to finish. I would have liked to have had a few more changes in the profile along the way to keep me on my toes a bit but that’s my personal preference. If you like consistency, you will find that here for sure. It is a good blend that is earthy and woodsy. Performance was spot on the entire time. Very well constructed, easy to smoke and enjoy and stayed a solid medium strength until the very end. It’s a great project and I am very glad I had the opportunity to spend some time with it.

So there you have it. My opinion of the Southern Draw release Cedrus “The Hogan”. I hope that you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share it, leave comments, questions, suggestions here as well. Don’t forget to follow us on social media and join the fun in the Cigar Hawk Group on Facebook.

Until next time #LongAshesFullGalsses friends. See ya.

Mbombay Corojo Oscuro 4.5 x 50 Robusto

For those that have followed my blog for a while you have seen my reviews of other Mbombay cigars. For those of you that are new, go back in the blog and check them out. (Some of my older reviews are still up at http://www.cigarhawkblog.wordpress.com also)

If you want more information or where to find Mbombay cigars, please visit https://www.bombaytobak.com/ You can find out more about their impressive linup of great cigars there also.

Let get into this one and see what we get.

Photos Property of CigarHawk.com

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo Oscuro

Binder: Ecuadorian

Filler: Ecuadorian , Peruvian, Dominican

Country of Origin: Costa Rica

Appearance: Very dark brown wrapper that is almost completely covered by a Indian Mosaic band. Removing the large band reveals a dark wrapper with medium veins with tight seams. The foot is closed and the cigar feels firm with no soft spots anywhere.

Photos Property of CigarHawk.com

Pre-Light: I pick up strong notes of hay, pepper and earth. The foot is covered with the wrapper so no real change there. I used a v-cut to open the cap and I get notes of cedar, pepper and a slight sweetness. The draw has a bit of resistance. It seems like it will be ok as I go but something to keep an eye on.

Photos Property of CigarHawk.com

1st Third: Right away I get a nice burst of cedar, dried fruit and cocoa. Its a mix of sweet and floral, a bit earthy, grassy/floral with a hint of spice. The draw remains a slight bit tight, the burn is good and getting nice smoke production from it. Things remain about the same as I approach the 2nd third. Strength is medium.

Photos Property of CigarHawk.com

2nd Third: Grassy notes up front with some wood, earth and dried fruit notes. The flavors take turn taking the forefront and supporting in the background. As I move into the halfway mark, the sweetness fades and has more of an earthy, woodsy profile. The draw, although a bit tight, has not become a problem. The burn is wavy. Strength borders on Medium to Full

Last Third: Pepper takes shape and the cedar makes a nice return. The blend is a bit more smokey wood with a touch of that sweet cedar. The pepper is more noticeable at the forefront but not overwhelming. Draw and burn are both the same as before. I paired the last inch or so of this cigar with some Buffalo Trace Bourbon. I found that this particular combo sort of cancelled each other out. I didn’t find either really enhanced or diminished the flavor of the either which I found interesting. Strength is still Medium to Full.

Final Thoughts: Overall this is another solid cigar from Mbombay Cigars. My only complaint on this particular cigar was a tighter than preferred draw. That happens and I understand that. (I did order a PerfectDraw tool that should be here Thursday so I won’t have that issues again) The blend is complex with a lot of transitions and small back and forth changes throughout. This cigar is complex enough for more advance smokers but being Medium to Full beginner smokers should be fine if they take it slow. Overall it’s a very enjoyable blend to smoke. I would highly recommend trying these.

So there you have it. The Mbombay Corojo Oscuro Robusto.

Hope you enjoyed the review. Please don’t forget to share and follow us on social media. Join the #CigarHawkGroup on FB. Until next time, #LongAshesFullGlasses friends.

Coyaba Cigars Green Label

I have seen Coyaba on social media for some time now so I reached out to Mr Juan Nunez. What a great industry we are a part of. Think about that. What other industry can you simply reach out and interact with a Company/Brand owner and they respond almost immediately and they will have a conversation with you like you have known each other for years? This happens all the time and they are some of the most genuine people you will meet. Juan was certainly no different.

This is my first review of the Coyaba brand. For those of you that don’t know about them here is some info from their website.

“About Coyaba Cigars Tobacco

The meaning of Coyaba in the Taino language means Paradise. To the Tainos, this signified their Heaven. A place of ease and rest where time was spent feasting and dancing. They were free of diseases and the threat of hurricanes. With the creation of Coyaba Cigars, we have accomplished our own paradise.We welcome you to Coyaba Cigars. We produce premium handcrafted cigars that are sure to please the palate of diverse cigar aficionados and enthusiasts alike. We are confident that for years to come, you and your friends will enjoy Coyaba Cigars, the industry’s finest aromatic sensation which is available for your smoking pleasure. Our factory is located in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, and whose main purpose is the production of premium handcrafted cigars. The Dominican Republic is recognized internationally by the unmatched quality of its premium handcrafted cigars. We at Coyaba Cigars have the capacity to handcraft cigars in various emblematic classic and specialty vitolas with unique blends by our certified Cuban trained cigar rollers. We do so with the best specially selected materials available in the market today.This is all done under the direct supervision of our master blenders, whom are true perfectionists and pay special attention to detail as demonstrated in their consistency with blends and creation of our premium hand crafted cigars.We welcome our brothers of the leaf to Coyaba Cigars, where ‘We do not smoke the competition… The competition smokes us…’Salud and long ashes…Juan P ‘JP’ Nunez”

If you want more information on the company, brand and blends, please visit http://www.coyabacigars.club/home.html

Let’s jump in here and take a look.

Coyaba Green Label 7 x 48

Origin: Dominican Republic.
Wrapper: Negro maduro San Andres (Mexico).
Binder: Ecuador Connecticut natural, Peru (Viso).
Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano), Dominican Republic (Doble ligero), Nicaragua (Viso).

Appearance: This cigar is rugged in appearance with medium veins and tight seams. The stick has a few bumps but feels firm with no soft spots. The green, white and gold band really stands out against the wrapper. Overall a nice presentation.

Pre-Light: From the barrel I pick up notes of straw, barnyard a slight bit of pepper. From the foot I pick up fermintation, hay and a slight cocoa note. I use a v-cut to open the double cap and I get notes of espresso and some hay. The draw is open with a little bit of resistance.

1st Third: Right off the bat I get a nice woodsy profile. I pick up some grassy notes mixed with some sweet cocoa. A touch of light pepper in the background blends in nicely. The burn and draw are both good. As I move a bit more into it the blend turns a bit more earthy with some nice woodsy notes. This is a nice medium strength, very smooth and easy smoke.

2nd Third: No real big changes in transition. The profile remains earthy with nice wood notes (reminds me of a sweet cedar with some grassy notes) and a touch of sweet cocoa. This is consistent with the first third of the cigar. The draw has remained nice and open with a slight resistance and the burn has a slight wave to it. So far its on cruise control and no touch ups have been needed. Moving towards the final third, no significant changes. Sweet cedar still very much at the forefront with more earthy notes on the back end.

Last Third: A little touch of pepper comes back into the mix. Again no real changes. Still getting a lot of nice smoke production, draw and burn are both good. Still a nice, smooth, easy medium strength cigar. As I move to the last inch or so, no bitterness, still cool to the touch with no hot spots or burn issues.

Final Thoughts: This was my first from the Coyaba brand. As someone that typically smokes full bodied cigars I had concerns on this fitting my normal profile. The construction and performance are both very solid. The cigar remains very consistent throughout the entire smoke. If you are looking for something with drastic changes from third to third, this in not your go to cigar. It is a very solid cigar with a nice earthy, woodsy profile with notes of sweetness along the way. Strength was a solid medium start to finish. If you are more of a full bodied smoker, this would be a great first smoke of the day with a cup of coffee kind of smoke.

So there you have it. The Coyaba Green Label. I look forward to reviewing more of their cigars in the near future. Thanks to Juan Nunez for allowing me the opportunity to do this review. Until next time…#LongAshesFullGlasses friends.

Don’t forget to share and follow us on Social Media. Join the CigarHawk Group on FB.

2017 Las Calaveras…Crowned Heads

Ah the 2017 Las Calaveras. I picked up a few of these when they were first released last year. Excited to try one, I did right away and I felt like the cigar was too fresh and needed some time to relax and acclimate to the climate in Pa. I was not alone as I read numerous reviews, post and comments mentioning this same thing. I know this was a huge point of contention from co-founder Jon Huber. Sorry Jon. The intent for me, was not to be negative or to put down the cigar, I just honestly felt that the cigar had so much more to give than what I experienced. I still stand by that decision. I also stand by the decision not to post the review based on my experience at the time. I felt it would be best to let the cigar relax, age a bit and then revisit it. My goal was to go back to it before the end of 2017. Little did I know I would be transferring to a new state, selling a house, moving into an apartment, starting the home building process, etc. Needless to say this cigar, along with a number of others did not get reviewed simply because of my personal situation and trying to get settled in a new location.

If you have followed my blog for awhile, anyone that knows me knows a couple of things. 1) I am honest and will not bs anything in my reviews. 2) I am also respectful and tactful and would never bash anyone’s work. If I don’t like a particular cigar, that’s on me. I am not going to love every single cigar I try and neither will you. Just because something doesn’t review well by me or anyone else should never stop you from trying it if it interest you. This is a very opinionated, subjective thing I do and it is strictly my opinion. With all of that said, let’s get down to what we are here to do.

I have been a fan of Crowned Heads for some time now. Nothing has changed on that front. I was able to stop in and visit with Jon in Nashville for just a few minutes in 2016. I would have loved the opportunity to hang out with him and enjoy a smoke but it wasn’t in the cards. I always look forward to anything coming from Crowned Heads as they have been a staple in my humidor for awhile.

“Since we first introduced Las Calaveras in 2014, the marca has risen dramatically in popularity and notoriety,” said Jon Huber, Crowned Heads co-founder, in a statement to halfwheel. “One of the things I’m personally most proud of, however, is that the underlying message of the brand, i.e., to celebrate (rather than mourn) the lives of those who’ve passed on in the previous year, has been heard and received literally around the world.” (Taken from Halwheel.com)

Every from October 31 – November 2 in Mexico the country celebrates Dia de Muertos. The multi-day holiday focuses on gatherings of friends and family friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died, and help support their spiritual journey. Somewhere between 1910-1913 Jose Guadalupe Posada created a zinc etching called, La Calavera Catrina that has become synonymous with the holiday. It is from this etching and holiday that Crowned Heads found inspiration for Las Calaveras.

Let’s jump into this one shall we:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro

Binder/Filler: Nicaragua

Size: 5 5/8″ x 46

MSRP: $9.75

Origin: My Father Cigar Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua

Appearance: The wrapper is a dark brown color with a reddish/orange hue in the light. It is a rustic leaf with tight seams and a lot of small veins. The black, orange and gold band works really well against the rustic leaf and dresses it nicely.

Pre-light: The cigar feels firm with no soft spots. From the barrel I pick up notes of hay, natural tobacco, pepper, cedar and earth. The foot offers a bit more pepper and earth notes. I use a straight cut and the cold draw offers a good draw with a slight resistance, notes of hay, earth, wood and pepper.

1st Third: Once I get things toasted, the initial burst is a familiar pepper note mixed with cedar, earth, and a mocha like sweetness. The pepper fades fairly quickly but is noticeable on the retrohale. The cedar, spice and sweetness blend together nicely. The draw is nice, the burn is sharp. I did develop a split down the side of the wrapper but it did not present any issues with the performance. Moving towards the end of the first third the strength is medium plus. I am getting notes of cedar, leather, earth, sweet cocoa and pepper.

2nd Third: As I make the transition into the halfway mark, the flavor profile opens up a bit more and this is what I was waiting for when I first reviewed this stick. Time definitely made a difference with this cigar. People can and will say what they want but for me the difference is night and day. The cedar notes are pronounced and a smooth caramel, mocha sweetness takes shape. The earthy notes move into more a nutty profile. The performance is still the same. No issues with the draw, the split proved to be a non issue and the burn is sharp. I am getting a lot of smoke from this cigar. The strength is medium plus to full at this point but it remains smooth.

Final third: Moving into the final third, the transition offers no real change. The flavor profile remains pretty consistent with the 2nd third. The performance is on cruise control. I still get a nice cedar, coffee/mocha/caramel, with a touch of pepper and earth. A slight bit of bitterness starts to show up as I come to the end of this one.

Final Thoughts: I am really glad that I came back to this cigar. While I didn’t find this one to be my personal favorite of the Crowned Heads releases, it certainly was better than the first one I tried. This release was overlooked on a lot of list (mine included due to circumstances) but it really has proven to be a solid smoke. To be fair, the portfolio that Crowned Heads has produced makes for some tough competition. I was super happy to see my local lounge get a box of Luminosa in yesterday! I found this years release to be a solid medium plus to full strength cigar that had a nice flavor profile, nice draw, sharp burn and maintenance free performance. I encourage you to try it and see what you think about it. Blind Man Puff put it as their number 3 cigar this year.

Crowned Heads remains one of my favorite brands and I really enjoy what they are doing with the “Set List” series. If you have not signed up to receive it, visit http://www.crownedheads.com/set-list/

If you happen to find yourself in Nashville, reach out to Jon and the team and try to stop by and visit them. They have a very cool headquarters there and they are super down to earth people.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to leave comments, questions or review request. I am happy to try new cigars anytime I get the chance. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends.

Gloria Bendita – Golden Ashes

My wife hooked me up with a cigar sampler from my friend Garrett Johnson of Smooth Draw Cigars. If you aren’t familiar with Smooth Draw, check out the feature piece I did on them recently. If you want ultra boutique cigars, this is where you go to find them. This was one that was included in my sampler. When I say ultra rare, the ONLY place you can buy this cigar in the U.S. is at https://smoothdrawcigars.com/product/gloria-bendita-golden-ashes-box-of-20/

Like many of the cigars Garrett has, I had never heard of Gloria Bendita cigars. I had to do some research and what I found was this.

“GLORIA BENDITA produce three different lines which are Golden Ashes, Connecticut and Oscura. Currently, the Connecticut line is still in production and should be available soon.
Similarly, the company offers the service of personalized cigars which gives customers the ability to create their own cigars or brands according to their requirements (blends, vitolas or sizes, etc.) no matter if you are a retailer or wholesaler.
The company started operations in the year 2015 and its factory is located in Tamboril Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. The company is represented by Mr. Xavier Fernández who is a passionate lover of the world of tobacco and cigars.
They produce about 500,000 cigars per year.
All of their cigars are long filler and manufactured in Dominican Republic entirely by hand by skilled craftsmen with the finest raw materials aged between 3.5 and 4.5 years.” (Taken from Smooth Draw Cigars website)

Let’s take a look at this cigar and see what we get shall we?

Gloria Bendita – 5 x 52 Robusto

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano

Binder/Filler: Undisclosed Dominican

Origin: Tamboril, Dominican Republic

Appearance: Dark brown wrapper with a lot of small/medium veins and tight seams. The band is gold with a light purple color and white lettering. It is a very simple, clean band but it works well with the cigar. A rounded double cap tops it off.

Pre-light: The cigar feels firm with no soft spots and is well packed. From the barrel I pick up mostly earth notes with hay and natural tobacco. From the foot I get more of the same with a light barnyard scent. I am not sure what to expect from this cigar for sure. I use a V-Cutter to split the cap and the cold draw presents a nice open draw with just a touch of resistance keeping it from being too airy. I pick up notes of hay, earth, and tobacco.

1st Third: Once I get things nice and toasted, I pick up a cocoa like sweetness, heavy cedar, and a faint pepper spice. There is almost a floral/grassy note that I cannot pinpoint. It may just be the lingering of the sweet cedar but it is a unique profile. It has a very earthy, natural feel to it. The draw is open, burn is a touch wavy, ash is holding nicely and I am getting heavy smoke production from this stick. As I move more towards the end of the 1st third the flavor really open up and presents a very tasty blend of cedar, cocoa, and a touch of spice. The strength is medium.

2nd Third: No real change during the transition. The flavor profile remains pretty consistent as I hit the halfway mark. Nothing really jumps out at you with this cigar but the flavor is very nice. It is natural and earthy but the blend works very well. I enjoy the cedar and spice with hints of sweetness here and there. The performance is on cruise control. The draw is still open, the burn is slightly wavy and the ash is holding tight. The strength is still a medium to me.

Final Third: More of the same as I finish this one off. No major changes in the blend. I don’t consider this a bad thing at all. It isn’t super complex and sometimes as a reviewer it is nice to get one that you don’t have to try and unravel and decipher. It is nice to just be able to smoke it, know what you have and enjoy it. And enjoy it I did, all the way to the nub. No burn issues, no touch ups needed, draw remained good throughout. Strength ended medium plus for me.

Final thoughts: I wan’t sure what to expect from this cigar as I knew nothing about it going in. I have seen the cigar online via Smooth Draw but other than that, there isn’t much out there about it. Once I started smoking it, it had a very straightforward flavor profile that remained consistent from start to finish. The performance was great and there was no maintenance required. Light it and enjoy it. If you want a super complex cigar, look elsewhere. This cigar offers a very nice flavor profile that doesn’t change up much at all but as I stated, is not a bad thing. I like the flavor profile and found it enjoyable. It is a natural, earthy, woodsy cigar that is easy to smoke, easy to enjoy.

I would definitely smoke this again. This would be a great cigar to pair with a cup of coffee in the morning or anytime of day.

I would love to try the Oscuro blend and see how it fairs. I encourage you to check this cigar out along with the other ultra-rare cigars offered at Smooth Draw Cigars. Be sure to tell them you read about it here.

I hope you enjoyed the review of the Gloria Bendita Golden Ashes cigar. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends.

Morphine 2017…Black Label Trading Company

Thanks to Matt O’Hop at Cigars on State in Clark Summit, Pa for hooking me up with the newly released Morphine. I was able to get all 3 vitolas and plan to review each of them. Check out http://cigarsonstate.com/wp/ for all your cigar needs and great info. Matt does a nice job on his blog keeping you up to date with things going on in the industry.

For those of you that follow me on social media, you have seen my post of Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio cigars. It is no secret that I am a big fan of both brands and the cigars they produce. I also had the pleasure of sitting down with James Brown when he visited Pa last year. James is a great guy and he and his wife Angela live in Nicaragua  full time where they run Fabrica de Oveja Negra in Esteli that they opened in 2015. The following is from the BLTC website and talks a little bit about the factory.

Oveja-Logo

“As the name suggests, Oveja Negra (Black Sheep), will do things differently.

“Starting our own factory was a natural progression of the brand. We needed the freedom to be as creative as possible and to have ownership of every process that goes into making our cigars. We have always been involved in every aspect of our production but now we can take it to the next level and ensure 100% quality from seed to ash,” stated James Brown, creator of BLTC.

Oveja Negra offers its clients a factory where small batch production is the norm, and quality is the priority. At Oveja Negra smaller brands and retailers wanting private labels can make a cigar without huge minimum orders.

“This is a tough industry for small companies. Its hard to get the attention you need to create a premium product. Our goal is to help support other boutique brands and grow the premium-cigar market,” stated James Brown.

Black Label Trading Company is re-defining the standards for cigar making. With a less is more philosophy Black Label Trading Co. creates hand crafted premium cigars of the utmost quality in small batch, limited quantities.”

Oveja Negra is also responsible for producing cigars for the Nomad brand and is currently working on a project with Veritas Cigar Co. I can tell you that everything I have had so far from that factory is solid and consistent. It feels like every release that comes out is better and better. If you haven’t had any of their cigars, I highly recommend them. Be sure to follow them on social media and check out some of the amazing works of art they are creating.

So with all of that out of the way, let’s review a cigar shall we? Up first from the bunch is the latest release of Morphine. This is the fourth release of this cigar and I am anxious to try it. It was one of my favorite cigars of last year and I enjoyed all but 1 because I wanted to make sure I had one until I got the 17’s in. Well, mission accomplished and now I can go back and see what some aging did to it and compare. Win, win.

Morphine 2017 Corona 5 1/2 x 42 (18 count box)

MORPH

(Also available this year in Lancero 7 1/4 x 42 12 box count and Short Robusto 4 1/2 x 50 20 box count) 400 boxes of each will be available for 20,000 cigars total.

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Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro

Binder: Nicaraguan habano

Filler: Nicaraguan

Origin: Esteli, Nicaragua

Appearance / Construction: Keeping true to form, this years version is dark, rugged and rustic. The dark brown maduro wrapper presents a few bumps and veins with tight seams. The cigar feels solid with no soft spots. The foot is open and the cap is rounded with a small “nub” on the end. There are 2 black and white bands that blend nicely with the wrapper. One is the logo artwork band and the second has the name on it.

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Pre-light: I decided to keep this one in the cellophane until I was almost ready to smoke it. Once I remove it I am hit with heavy barnyard notes, manure, and hay. I let it sit out for a minute or so and breathe a bit. Once I go back to it, I pick up pepper, chocolate sweetness, much less barnyard, hay and earth. On the foot I get more of the same with a grassy undertone. Using a straight cut I remove the cap and the cold draw is open with a slight resistance. I get a nice pepper, wood and hay profile from the cold draw. Time to get this one toasted.

1st Third: Right away the old familiar sting of red pepper/spice hits the throat and nose. Ah….I take a few seconds to enjoy it. Once things calm down a bit I pick up a nice woodsy cedar profile. There is a subtle undertone that reminds me of the smell of damp, freshly cut grass. Crazy I know but that is the only way I can describe it. As I work through the first half inch or so, there is a lot going on here and it’s all really good. There is a little hint of sweetness here and there and the pepper still finds it way in at times. So far this blend is really enjoyable to me. The draw is good. Open with a little resistance but nothing too tight. The burn is good. A little wavy but nothing unmanageable. And here comes the rain! Damn, time to move into the garage. I was trying to beat it and I lost!

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2nd Third: As I move into the halfway point, more of the same great notes. This is a very consistent blend. Nothing that shifts and changes in crazy ways but complex enough to keep things interesting. Still very woodsy, earthy, spicy (though not as much as the start), and very smooth. This is a full bodied smoke. The strength is certainly in the full range. One thing about most BLTC is they often pack a punch. Thus the name Morphine! Takes all the pain away! I am getting nice smoke from this stick and so far I am really feeling this year’s release.

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Final Third: Again, no major shifts here. Consistent and delicious. As I watch the rain pour down, I am thinking back to last years release and for as good as that one was, I think this years blend has turned things up a notch. No real changes in the profile as I work my way down to the nub. More of the same cedar wood, grassy, pepper, earthy notes that started all blended together in a perfect presentation on the palate. The sweetness still makes an appearance here and there and the much more subtle pepper still lingers but not as forceful as before. I end this one 1 hour 15 minutes in.

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Final Thoughts: I really wished the rain had held out and I could have sat on the deck and really taken my time with this one. I didn’t rush it but being forced into the garage due to a downpour makes for a less enjoyable experience. That said, this cigar was really, really good. I have found that I am a fan of the San Andres Maduro and it is featured in a lot of cigars that I really enjoy. This one was no different. There is a sweetness to it and blended with the heavy wood and pepper notes, this makes for a great smoke. As I stated in the review, I think this years release turned out better than its predecessor from last year. I do not recommend this cigar for beginner smokers. If you tend to like more mild or medium cigars, ease into this. This is a full bodied, full flavored smoke with a punch. Another great release from BLTC.

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Scoring:

 Appearance / Construction: Rugged, rustic San Andres Maduro wrapper with the standard Black and White BLTC bands work for the look of this cigar. The construction is solid, no major flaws. For what this cigar is meant to be I score it 18/20.

Performance (Smoking Characteristics): The draw was open with a touch of resistance that kept things cool all the way down to the nub. The burn got a little wavy at times but no real issues. No touch ups required. I did have to relight it once, only because it went out as I scrambled to get moved into the garage during a heavy rain. Other than a wavy burn line I had no issues. I score this a 23/25.

Flavor: Complex, consistent and good. A well balanced blend of cedar wood, spice, earth and sweetness. I really enjoyed the profile of this cigar and appreciate that is wasn’t all over the place in terms of changes or transitions. Complex enough to hold your interest and not a one dimensional cigar. I score this a 25/25.

Overall Experience: I really liked this cigar. The corona size is that great in between size that you can pull off in an hour. I am anxious to try the lancero and the robusto but I enjoyed my time with this cigar. No real performance issues, great flavor, consistency. What more do you need? I scored this a 28/30.

Final Rating: 94

96 – 94: Excellent cigar. I would add this to my collection of must haves.

So there you have it. My review of the BLTC 2017 Morphine. I hope that you enjoyed it. I welcome your thoughts, comments and reviews. Feel free to share it and make sure to follow me on social media. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace.

 

 

Changes, Updates and Contest

When I started out doing this blog awhile back I really had no idea how I or the blog would be received. After all I am just a guy that enjoys cigars and decided to start doing reviews. Little did I know the response would be overwhelmingly positive and it has really taken off for me. I want to take a second to say “thank you” to all of you that follow me, share my reviews and my social media content etc. Without you, none of this takes place. To the cigar companies that have reached out to me, supported me and helped me along the way, it’s because of you that I do this. I am always amazed when I am contacted about doing feature pieces on a business or company or to do a review.

It has always, and will continue to be, my number one goal to provide my honest, PERSONAL opinion about a product. I am not going to absolutely love every single cigar I smoke. If that happens then you know this is all BS and it doesn’t matter. That said, I will never slander or destroy someones work simply because it wasn’t the cigar for me. I encourage anyone that read blogs, reviews, media releases, etc, to never fall into the trap of allowing ratings and popularity to guide your decision to try new cigars and products. What I have found is that what I don’t like, others may love. I would say that if you do base your decision on a cigar you read about here or other places, is to have the review at the ready when you smoke it and compare what is written to what you experience. From there you can quickly determine if your taste fall in line with the reviewer and you will know after a few times of doing this where to base your opinion. I have read reviews from people that have a huge following in the business and my palate and their’s are on totally different planets because I get nothing in the sense of what they are describing to me. Does that mean they are wrong? No, it means they experience things differently and that is what this is all about. So if you see a really high or not so high rating on a cigar, take the time to explore others thoughts and see why it is rated like it is, but above all, keep an open mind.

So with all of this said, I have been told that “success brings change” and that is certainly true. So it is time for some change here as well. In order for this blog to continue to grow and gain some traction in the realm of cigar reviews that matter, I feel it is only right to move towards a rating system. We all know that just about every site out there has a points or letter system assigned to a cigar review. I plan to move towards that as well but I am looking for some help. More to come on that later down the page.

I will be basing my review points on a number of things.

Appearance/Construction: The look and feel of the cigar. Wrapper quality, veins, seams, caps, artwork, etc. This is rated at a max of 15 points.

Performance: Draw, burn quality, is it too hot, does it burn to quick, does it require touch ups, etc. This is a big one for me because I don’t care how good a cigar is if I struggle to keep it lit, or if I have to suck my cheeks inside out to get anything from it. This is rated at a max of 30 points.

Flavor: Simple right? Not really. Liking the flavor of something or not is easy to say. But if we are being honest and fair shouldn’t there be more to it? Yes. Complexity of the blend, or not, consistency, transitions, huge swing in flavors, bitterness, does the blend flow well together, is it one dimensional, etc. This is rated at a max of 25 points.

Overall Experience: Summing all of this up into a total experience. Did I enjoy my time with this cigar? A lot of factors come into play with this one. I will always pair a first tie smoke/review with water so that it is a true reflection of the cigar itself and no outside influence. I have always done my reviews in a place where I am the only one smoking and it is not tainted my other lingering elements. For me, this is the truest representation of the product. Being in a lounge with other people smoking has effected my cigar experience before and you cannot be 100% truthful when you are reviewing a new stick and your buddy just lit up a Drew Estate Acid next to you. Let’s be honest here. While I absolutely love the aroma of said Acid cigar, it really takes over when I am trying to smoke a Padron 1964.

These point totals will add up to a total score with 100 being the highest obviously. Where I need your help is taking those point categories and pairing them in a way that continues with the Cigar Hawk theme. So basically, something that rates 1 97-100 is in a class on it’s own called “__________” and so on for the following:

100 – 97:

96 – 93:

92 – 87:

86 – 83:

82 or under:

Thinking Birds of Prey, or something around that thought process. Leave your comments and suggestions here and if I pick your suggestion, I will message you for your address.

I have some new companies reaching out to me so look forward to more things to get posted and reviewed soon. I have an event with the Master Steve Saka coming up this week that I am looking forward to, new reviews I am working on. A new pairing review coming up with the Protocol and Layne Coffee collaboration coming soon.

Again, Thanks to all of you for the continued support and following. I am open to new ideas, things you want to see, reviews you want to read, topics about cigars in general, topics outside of cigars, whatever. I am looking to start doing some joint reviews with a couple of people soon. We have discussed it a little but just haven’t really moved forward.

Don’t forget to drop your comments on the rating system here and social media. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses! Peace.

Themis…Lady of Justice

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Juan Cancel of Cubariqueno Cigar Company last weekend at Famous Smoke Shop. It’s always great talking with the people that bring these great cigars to the market and find out some of the back story behind it.

William Agathis is the third man behind the brand and they set out to make a blend that was more to his liking, true to his Greek heritage, and his taste. Preferring a milder strength and having a more delicate palate, he went to work with Hector Alfonso Sr at the La Zona Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The outcome was the Themis. From ancient Greek mythology, she was the second wife of Zeus and is described as the “Lady of Good Consel”. You will notice the Lady of Justice symbol on the logo. Keeping true to the Law Enforcement theme that started with the Protocol (Juan and Bill both work in law enforcement), the Themis comes to the market at IPCPR 2017.

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Juan told me they wanted a cigar that appealed to a larger number of people, because they are repeatedly asked if they have anything in the mild to medium range. Until now, the answer was no. If you have had the Protocol or Probable Cause you know this is true. I am not typically a Connecticut fan. Not to say that I haven’t enjoyed them or dislike them in anyway, I just typically smoke darker cigars. I always keep an open mind about any cigar and this was no different. So let’s jump in to this one and see how it turned out.

Protocol Themis:

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

Binder and Filler: Nicaraguan

Orgin: La Zona, Esteli, Nicaragua

Size: 5 x 52 Robusto (Also available in 6 x 52 Toro)

Appearance:

The look of this cigar is just really appealing. The medium tan color of the cigar really works well with the Gold foil bands and the orange silk foot band. The color combos really work perfectly with this cigar. The cigar has some medium veins, open foot, and a rounded triple cap to finish things off. I really like the look of this cigar.

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Pre-Light:

I pick up notes of barnyard, leather, and cocoa from the open foot. From the barrel I get more barnyard, mostly dry hay, and earth. The cigar is light but feels firm throughout with no soft spots. I used a V-cutter and the cold draw reveals a nice open, airy draw. I pick up notes of earth, hay, and roasted nuts.

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1st Third: Once I get the foot nice and toasted, I get a nice big pepper blast right out the gate. Juan told me about it and even with advanced notice, I did not expect that from this cigar. Being a big pepper and spice fan, this was a great treat. I also picked up some earthy, nutty, and woodsy notes but overall the pepper takes the forefront. I am getting a ton of creamy smoke from this cigar. About 1/4 inch in, the pepper is there but really tones down and becomes a nice, smooth mild-medium strength, full flavored cigar.

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2nd Third: As I move into the second third, the transition into more of a woodsy, grassy profile starts to take shape. Not full on but it’s subtle and it’s a nice change. The grassy note flirts with an almost mint like taste. Like if you burned a mint leaf from a plant. Hard to explain but that’s what I got. The pepper note still lingers but blends very well with the other flavors. I pick up some cocoa at times and it just adds to the mix. This is a very complex Connecticut and I am having a hard time letting it rest. It keeps pulling me back to it to discover new notes. Performance is on complete cruise control. Draw is open and great, nice, even, slow burn, tons of smoke and the ash is holding like a champ.

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Last Third: Closing in on the final third it transitions into a silky smooth, creamy blend that is more of a mild-medium strength but bursting with flavors. The pepper has really toned down and taken a back seat to the roasted nuts, cocoa/coffee, and sweet cedar wood. I am really amazed at how complex this cigar is and how well the notes just flow from one to the next.

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Final Thoughts: This review was a bit different because Juan and I talked about the cigar almost a week before me trying it. He was absolutely right about it. This is a mild-medium, full bodied Connecticut that has that Protocol punch to it. Like I said before, I am not a big Connecticut smoker but I will have these in my humidor. I see myself enjoying these as a first cigar of the day with a cup of coffee or at an event as a great, light after dinner stick. I was a little concerned about loosing what I love so much about the Protocol and Probable Cause when I heard about them doing a Conni, but rest assure, it does not lack that Protocol kick. I am really amazed at how complex this cigar is and how well the notes just flow from one to the next. Nothing is out of place and the blend just works. Great flavor profile, great performance, great smoke. Very well done gents!

This cigar is great for new smokers or those that prefer a milder cigar, but it is complex enough for even full bodied smokers to enjoy. Yet another winner from Cubariqueno Cigar Company. The Themis completes the trifecta for sure!

**Note** I did not originally rate this cigar at the time of this review. I started the rating process later in the week and thought it was only right to come back and rate this since it is a 2017 release and I want to score it.  6/18/2017

Rating:

Appearance / Construction: This is a beautiful cigar. The gold band really tie this cigar together and make for a great presentation. It is close to perfect. I score this a 19/20.

Performance: This cigar was on cruise control after I lit it. Slightly wavy burn but no touch-ups required and a nice open draw. I score this a 24/25.

Flavor: For a Connecticut to really get my attention and hold it there, it has to be a special cigar. This was complex, flavorful, full bodied, smooth and really just a great stick. I score this a 24/25.

Overall Experience: From the moment I set it up to take pics, this cigar really stood out. Once I got it lit and settled in a bit, it really began to show me what it was all about. Juan said it was a Connecticut with the Protocol flare and it was every bit of that. Certainly not your standard and I am happy to see a few really good Connecticut smokes hitting the market. I score this a 29/30.

Final Rating: 96 

96 – 94: Excellent cigar. In the hunt but just missing the top level. Worthy of more than a single for sure.

Total time was 1 hour 20 minutes. I paired this with water as I always do with a first time cigar. I see this cigar pairing well with coffee in the am or with a nice wine after dinner.

Speaking of coffee. If you like pairing coffee and cigars, then you will want to check this out!

Cubariqueño Cigar Company is excited to announce the release of three Protocol branded coffees in partnership with Layne Coffee Co. The Protocol Azul, Protocol Rojo, and Protocol Oro have all been methodically crafted to be paired with each prospective cigar. Cubariqueño Cigar Company teamed up with Layne Coffee Co., which is a ”small batch” specialty coffee roaster, because of their focus on quality and consistency. Working hand in hand with Layne Coffee Co., Cubariqueño cupped countless coffees in order to bring an experience which would enhance and complement each Protocol cigar. Each coffee uses highly rated specialty beans and is sourced from respected growers all over the world. https://www.laynecoffee.com/collections/protocol-coffee

Coffee

I want to thank Juan Cancel for allowing me to check out this cigar prior to their release and for always helping me spread the word of the blog. I always enjoy getting to hang out with you when I get the chance. We have to do some more Smoked Juleps and cigars soon. Can’t wait to review the Probable Cause Lancero next!

I hope that you enjoyed this review. I really enjoyed this cigar and I hope that you will check it out. Please feel free to share this on your social media pages. As always, I encourage comments, thoughts, or questions. Until next time friends, long ashes and full glasses. Peace!

Absinthe? Infused? Absinthe Infused? What the ????

Ok, let’s just get this out in the open now . When I first started getting into cigars I was strictly an infused guy. I really enjoyed the flavors of many Acid, Natural, Java, Isla Del Sol etc. Nothing wrong with them at all. There just came a point that I really made a transition over to non-infused traditional cigars and never looked back. Recently, I had a guest in our home that is following the same path and really enjoys Acid Toast cigars. As we sat outside, I can say that I really enjoyed the aroma of the infused tobacco from that blend. However, trying to smoke one was like licking a sugar cube and I just couldn’t do it. I do not judge or frown upon anyone that smokes them. You like what you like and that’s totally fine by me.

When I was contacted by Alpha Cigar Company asking if I would review an infused cigar, I was hesitant to do so but after reading about them, I was intrigued. They were generous enough to make this review possible and I sat down yesterday with the Absinthe Maduro for the review. Before we jump into that, let me give you a little backstory and some information.

What the hell is Absinthe? That was my first question also. I am not going to provide the entire history behind the mystery liquid but you can find great info here. http://www.absinthe101.com/history.html It is actually very interesting and very much demonized and misunderstood.

Absinthe  is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (“grand wormwood”), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs.

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Absinthe has often been portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and hallucinogen.[8] The chemical compound thujone, although present in the spirit in only trace amounts, was blamed for its alleged harmful effects. By 1915, absinthe had been banned in the United States and in much of Europe, including France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria-Hungary. Although absinthe was vilified, it has not been demonstrated to be any more dangerous than ordinary spirits. Recent studies have shown that absinthe’s psychoactive properties (apart from that of the alcohol) have been exaggerated. (Credit Wikipedia)

“Founded in 2014, Alpha Cigar Company is now one of the leading producers of premium, boutique Dominican Republic cigars. Leading the premium infused cigar category with its subtly aromatic Absinthe Infused cigar series, Alpha Cigar Company also offers traditional Cuban-style cigars of all shapes and sizes. Alpha Cigar company is dedicated to creating exciting cigars while respecting Cuban cigar making traditions.

To understand our philosophy better, we highly recommend you read The Alpha Cigar Journey Booklet.

Download the Alpha Cigar Journey booklet here

Founders Timothy Cavenagh and Justin Gao Mathson Hansen have created a company run by people that are truly passionate about cigars and spirits, with cigar lines that are smoked by true cigar connoisseurs around the world.

Founded on integrity and a desire to create an esprit de corps among cigar smokers worldwide, we extend a welcome hand to all who are curious about the world of premium cigars.” (Taken from the Alpha website)

So now that you know a little bit about Absinthe, Alpha and the story behind it, much like I did preparing for this review, lets get into it.

The Alpha Absinthe Infused Maduro

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro

Binder: Dominican Republic

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: 6.5 x 52 Belicoso

Appearance: This is a nice looking box pressed cigar that is a medium brown, oily cigar with small veins and very tight seams. There is a large band that is white with gold and features a 3 headed dog (Cerberus). There is a story behind that as well. The cigar feels firm and well constructed.

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Pre-Light: I pick up notes of wood, earth, and a slight sweetness. Not at all what I expect from a “infused cigar”. From the foot I get earth, cedar and floral notes. Using a guillotine cutter, the cold draw reveals a nice draw with a slight resistance. I am surprised that I am not flooded with sweetness or infusion. I do pick up a little oil from the cap. I get notes of cedar wood, floral notes, earth and just a touch of sweet. Not at all what I expected.

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First Third: As I get things started with wooden matches and the foot is nice and toasted, the first draw reveals a very earthy, woodsy, barnyard profile. I am very surprised at how subtle the infusion is. As I make my way through the first few draws it is almost as if there is no infusion but rather a very nice blend of the above mentioned flavor profiles. The infusion works that well with the blend that unless you knew it was infused, you may not even notice. The draw is perfect and the burn is even. The ash holds tight through the entire first third. As I work more into the first third, I pick up spice notes that are more floral like a basil maybe. There is a little sweetness that is more of a semi-sweet chocolate than sugar. I have never had Absinthe so I am not 100% sure of what the infusion brings to the table. I will say that this is a good cigar with a lot of nice subtle flavors that work well together.

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Second Third: As I move into the second third, I get a touch more of the floral, slight mint, and black liquorice notes. They are not overpowering and only stick around for a short period. I am getting a good amount of smoke and the flavors linger on the palate for a bit. The cedar wood works back into the mix and takes the forefront. Again, if I did not know this was an infused cigar, I would not be able to immediately say, this is an infused cigar. The subtle hints here and there remind you but overall it is very subdued and blending nicely into the profile.

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Final Third: Draw and burn are both still excellent. Ash is holding tight throughout the entire cigar. I dropped the ash a couple of times but you can see from the photos that this is a very well constructed cigar. Moving into the last third, I get some earthy, woodsy notes mixed with some leather hints. There are still floral notes mixed in but nothing overpowering. I did not need any touch ups throughout this cigar. There were really no huge transitions to write about. The profile gave you subtle changes from time to time but the last third was slightly different from the first third but not drastically. I really anticipated a heavy infusion and huge shifts in flavors throughout and that never happened. Their goal was subtle infusion and they certainly hit the bulls eye on that one.

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Overall thoughts: Totally not what I expected from an “Infused” cigar. I really had no gauge to compare as I have not had Absinthe before and I would really like to try another one of these in the future to compare it. They also make the Defuser series that uses the same blend without the Absinthe infusion and I would be very interested in comparing that to this one. I really enjoyed this cigar and the flavors I got from it. The performance was excellent from start to finish. I did have a small tear in the wrapper when I removed the band but nothing to really worry about.

If you want a great cigar that will prompt a lot of questions and conversations, this is a great one. The aroma is nice, the strength is a solid medium, and packed with flavor. I highly recommend trying this cigar. I would certainly pick these and the Defuser series to try. These would be a great addition to any rotation.

They are great for beginners and complex enough to hold the attention of an aficionado. Because the infusion is so well done and so subtle, I think everyone would enjoy trying this cigar. Very well done Alpha! Thanks for making this review possible.

Pairing and Time: I paired this cigar with water since I haven’t had it before. I did not make great note of the time as I should have but it was close to 2 hours for sure. I would think pairing this with Absinthe would work but since I never had it, don’t hold me to it. I could see myself pairing it with a nice red wine, or scotch. That’s the beauty of pairing spirits and cigars right? If you don’t like one, try something else.

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So there you have it. The Alpha Cigar Company Absinthe Infused Maduro Belicoso. I hope you enjoyed the review and the information. This one was fun because it made me do some research and learn about something I had no idea about. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments or questions here. Check out Alpha Cigars at https://www.alphacigar.com/ Let them know you read about them here.

Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!

Very Superstitious…Black Cat by Felix Assouline

I was a little late to the party at getting my hands on these but my friend Felix hooked me up this week as he always does. The man knows cigars and customer service for sure. I have reviewed Felix Assouline Cigars in the past and I have been a fan of his work every since. As I patiently await his next release, today we take a look at the Black Cat Habano. (Also available in a Connecticut version)

“The Toro 6×54 Honduran Jamastran Habano wrapper Habano with Honduran Jamastran and Nicaraguan fillers are carefully blended for a medium to full smoke. An incredible smoke at any price at any time of the day.

The Toro 6×54 Ecuador Connecticut wrapper with Honduran Jamastran and Nicaraguan Jalapa fillers are carefully blended for a sweet mild to medium body smoke. Great to start the day or at any time.” Felix Assouline (http://felixassouline.com/)

Black Cat – Habano

Blend Profile: 

Wrapper: Honduran Jamastran Habano

Filler: Honduran and Nicaraguan

Binder: Not disclosed

Size: 6 x 54 Toro

Appearance: This cigar presents a dark, reddish brown wrapper with a colorful band featuring a black cat with an Egyptian feel and ornate design. It is firm with no soft spots, medium veins and a tight seam, open foot and triple cap to round off the top.

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Pre-Light: I pick up heavy notes of barnyard, hay, wood and some pepper. From the foot I pick up more of the same with a unique sweetness I cannot put my finger on. I use a V-cutter to open things up and from the cold draw I find a nice open draw and notes of earth, tobacco, wood and a hint of sweetness.

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First Third: Jumping right in I used a wooden match to toast the foot and take a couple of puffs to draw in the flame. Right away I get a heavy note of what I can only describe as grass or wet hay, smokey wood, and a hint of spice and pepper. This is a very “natural” blend meaning it has a very nature based profile of grass, earth, wood and leather. As I move into it a bit more, I start to pick up a blend of different wood flavors coming together. Mostly cedar, hickory and maybe a hint of mesquite. This is a smooth cigar with a nice draw that offers just the right amount of resistance. The burn is slightly wavy all the way around and the ash is holding tight for the first inch. Good smoke production coming off of both ends and mild to medium strength.

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Second Third: As I transition into the half way mark there is not much change. Consistent, good flavor and nothing radically changes. I do start to pick up more of a nuttier, smokey wood, leather, grassy blend with a slight coffee bitterness. The little hint of pepper I had has faded away (I am a little disappointed as I am a spice guy but that’s strictly personal preference). This cigar is performing nicely with a solid, slightly wavy burn, nice smoke production and an open draw. There is a familiarity with the blend and I believe the link to the other FAC cigars I have tried is the Jamastran tobacco. It is very distinct and offers a very unique taste on my palate. I am picking up heavy cedar, grass, coffee hints mixed with earth and leather notes.

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Final Third: I will not say that I transition into the final third as nothing has changed. This is a very consistent cigar with subtle shifts in flavors here and there. The slight bitterness I pick up is more of a dark chocolate as opposed to coffee beans at this point. The performance has remained steady and unwavering throughout. I am a bit surprised at how consistent the blend has remained from start to finish. The blend is good through and through and it stayed very smooth and finished at a solid medium strength for me.

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Final Thoughts: Another great cigar produced by Felix Assouline Cigars. As I said, this is a very “Natural” cigar with a lot of earthy profiles. I found it to be woodsy, grassy, earthy, with some nuttiness, leather, coffee, dark chocolate and hints of pepper.

These are very limited and the Connecticut version is already sold out so if you plan to try these, order today. I am glad I have 4 left and 1 Connecticut to review. I want to age these a bit and see if the complexity changes some. Overall, I enjoyed my 1 hour 45 minutes with this cigar. I was rudely interrupted by a short rain shower which cut off about 10 minutes. Curse you Mother Nature!

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There you have it. I hope you enjoyed my review of the Black Cat. If you order, please let Felix know you read the review. He is great at staying in touch with his clients and is a great guy. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, or reviews here as always. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace

“The purpose of this review is to provide a true, honest opinion based on my own experience. I am under no obligation to provide favorable feedback for this product and receive no compensation for doing so. This cigar was purchased by me, for my own enjoyment.”

 

The Third and Final Round…The Rebel Signature

Hope everyone is off to a great new year and staying warm. I read that there was snow on the ground in 49 states. Crazy. Here in Northeast Pa it is your typical Jan. Temps have been in the teens for over a week with a little snow and wind chills in single digits or in the negative. This of course means the heaters are going around the clock and the air inside is very dry. Humidity for cigars in this climate is very tricky. I for one am ready to pack up and move further south. Birds are much smarter than us, they know when to head south!

Tonight I decided to brave the extremely cold temps and got the heater up cranked up in the garage for a bit so I would not become a frozen statue until Spring. I decided it was time to try the third and final cigar I received from The Rebel Cigar company. The Signature series is there premier cigar and looking at this cigar I can see why. This cigar has a very elegant look and feel to it. I love the twister style with the medium and dark brown swirling wrapper.

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The RC Signature – 6 x 52

An intriguing, complex, and hand-rolled mix of leaves derived from the remote regions of Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Infused with 100% premium Cuban-seed filler, our Rebel Cigars are flawless creations accompanied by dark and light Nicaraguan Habano wrappers, for an exotic and dangerously sophisticated experience.” (Taken from The Rebel Cigar website)

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The cigar feels light and firm throughout with no soft spots. It smells of barnyard hay, cedar and earth. Off the foot I pick up more of the same with a subtle semi-sweet cocoa. The combination of the light and dark Nicaraguan wrapper really comes together to make a very nice looking cigar.

I use a straight guillotine cut and the cold draw offers a little resistance and I get notes of cedar, hay, and earth. I used wooden matches to get things started and finished with a dual flame torch lighter. Once I got it nice and toasted the initial draw provides me with a very strong cedar wood profile and a little sweetness. As I move into it a little, the straw makes an appearance. The strength is on the medium side with a nice flavor profile. It is very woodsy with a nice smooth finish. The first third performs well with the draw still offering some resistance but not too tight, the ash is holding well and the burn is even.

As noted in other reviews, the extreme cold here plays hell on cigars and is far less than ideal for them. As a result of being in a propane heated garage the burn line is affected and when I go outside it straightens out very nicely however the brutal cold causes some issues with cracking because it is just far to dry and far too cold. Anyone that smokes in the cold knows what I am dealing with. I don’t care what cigar you have and what temp and humidity you store them at, once they get into single digit dry climates, there will be issues. This was no different. My cigars are kept in a humidor in an interior closet in the winter with a humidifier and typically stays at a constant 68 to 70 degrees with 69 to 71% humidity. I am very meticulous about caring for my investments. The issues I experienced with this cigar say nothing about the quality or construction of the cigar.

All that said, I did experience some small cracks in the wrapper. Nothing serious and it only effected the cosmetics of the cigar. I have mentioned before that I should go to a local lounge but I am pretty methodical about how and where I do reviews. I find doing reviews in a smoke filled lounge is not ideal as the other cigars tend to find their way into the cigar I am reviewing and it doesn’t allow for an accurate tasting experience.

Enough about the climate issues, I’m turning into John Kerry…Geez. As I made my way through the second and last third of this cigar not much changed. The flavor profile stayed very steady and consistent throughout with certain profiles taking the forefront and then falling back when another took its place. The main flavors of cedar, smoky wood, hay, earth and cocoa stayed consistent. I personally would have enjoyed a little pepper or spice blended into this to really open the profile up a bit more but that is only my personal preference. I am a big fan of spice and pepper. That’s my Louisiana heritage working it’s way in. Cayenne and spice are at the heart of everything we do so I never shy away from pepper and spice in a cigar. I understand that not everyone likes that. For many of you this blend will be perfect.

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Overall thoughts. This was a nice, smooth, well constructed medium bodied cigar that had a very woodsy flavor profile and mixed well with the other notes I described. I paired this cigar with water but this cigar would pair very well with a great bourbon, rum or scotch. Any of these would add that spice I mentioned and would really bring out the flavors in both the liquor and the cigar. The look of this cigar is elegant, and luxurious. I could easily see this being a go to smoke in a nice after dinner setting with cigars and drinks. It is mild enough so that you could smoke more than one and it looks terrific. Great for social gatherings or as a after dinner smoke. I enjoyed this cigar a lot. Smoke time was right at 2 hours. This is where that resistance in the draw comes into play. It never allowed the cigar to get really hot and burned nicely.

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So that completes the Rebel Cigar series for me. Overall, for a company new to the market they have potential. The only recommendations I would offer (as a consumer) is offer different sizes at some point and I would play around with the band colors. One thing I had a hard time with was taking a picture that showcased the brand and cigar name and it was always a challenge regardless of lighting. The dark red or maroon makes it very hard to display and the light always seems to reflect and takes away from the shot. As a new company, the one thing you want is attention and to stand out. If I took this band off in a social setting, someone would have to pick it up and find the right lighting to figure out what it was. The cigars themselves are really good. The price point for the size are good. The construction is solid, the performance is great, the flavor profiles are very consistent. Don’t expect radical changes throughout. The Light, Medium and Signature by Rebel are worth trying for sure. Visit them at https://www.therebelcigar.com/

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I would like to thank Rebel for giving me the opportunity to review their products and I wish them much success on their journey into this wild and crazy market. I think they will do fine with the right exposure.

I hope you enjoyed the review and I look forward to your comments and reviews if you care to submit them. Until next time friends, as always, long ashes and full glasses. Peace.

“The purpose of this review is to provide a true, honest opinion based on my own experience. I am under no obligation to provide favorable reviews or feedback for this product and receive no compensation for doing so.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Tabernacle by Foundation Cigars

I initially wanted to start this review with information taken from the Foundation website but this information is very easily accessible with a quick click here http://foundationcigarcompany.com/the-tabernacle/ You can find out all of the info behind this masterful blend. Nick Melillo is the man behind Foundation Cigars and is known as the “Chief of the Broadleafs” and for good reason. Being from New Haven Connecticut and working with farmers there for over 10 years, in his words “Broadleaf is more than tobacco for me. It is something sacred.”
You may recognize the name from many of the top selling Drew Estate cigars. Nick is the man behind those masterful combinations. Liga No 9, Dirty Rat, Nica Rustica, Feral Flying Pig, etc… Plain and simple, the man is one of the top blenders in the world.
I walked into Famous Smoke Shop a few weeks back and asked one of the guys I know there to pick out a nice quick smoke that wouldn’t cost me a fortune. I wanted something I could easily smoke in under or right at 1 hour in the very cold temps we have here in Pa. He picked out the Charter Oaks by Foundation for me and I was blown away. For a petite corona under $5.00 you simply can’t beat it. Of course this got me interested in learning more about the company, as I always try to do, and I found out why this cigar was so good. When I realized who was behind the brand, I felt like an idiot for not picking up the Tabernacle and the El Guegurnse “The Wise Man” (Pronounced El When When Say). So on the bright side, I made another road trip to Famous. When life hands you lemons…
Now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s get down to why you are reading this page shall we?
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The Tabernacle Corona- 5 1/4 x 46 Price $9.00
This work of art features Honduras (Jamastran Valley) Nicaragua (Esteli & Jalapa Valley) fillers, a Mexican San Andres binder, and wrapped in a beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.
This is a very dark chocolate wrapper that really stands out against the very unique and elegant black and gold band with super high quality printing. This thing screams elegance and produces notes of rich dark chocolate, almost espresso like, earth and pepper from the broadleaf wrapper. I pick up more dark chocolate (cocoa), a woodsy cedar, earth and pepper from the foot. I decided on a straight guillotine cut and the cold draw reveals a sweet blend of cedar, pepper and earthy notes. The draw offers some resistance. The wrapper is rolled very nicely with very tight seams. It feels firm and solid which explains the resistance on the draw.
I used regular wooden matches to get things going and immediately I pick the familiar cedar and a very smooth cocoa blend. The pepper makes an appearance about a quarter of an inch into it. It blends very nicely with the cedar and the sweetness. The blend is very good and I am enjoying this one a lot. The draw is still a little tight but not bad. It is producing some nice smoke. The ash is holding very tight and is white in color. At the end of the first third, the pepper fades a bit and the dark chocolate and earth notes come to the forefront.
The second third brings more of the same and I am good with that. No huge jumps in flavors moving through the transition. As I get more into the halfway point the full flavor of the blend comes together very nicely. The cedar, earth, pepper and cocoa really pull together and I am reminded of other cigars that utilize tobacco from the Jamastran Valley. The spice of the San Andreas really starts to come through but never enough to overpower the flavor profile.
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(Sorry for the lighting but it is under flood lights around my house) The final third is a continuation of the first 2 thirds. Sweet cedar, cocoa, pepper and earth close this cigar out. The draw remained a little tight throughout but helped to extend the burn time to 1 hour 40 minutes. I was outside in a damp, freezing rain (light drizzle) about 38 degrees for the first half of this cigar like a crazy person grilling steaks and burgers. Dedication is something I pride myself on. Lol. The ash held very tight for most of each third and the burn was a little uneven but this is due to the harsh outside conditions and breeze. When I went into my heated garage, it evened out very nicely.
Overall thoughts. This cigar was delicious. Almost dessert like in a sense. The rich dark chocolate mixed with the sweet cedar wood profile is very good and hard to put down. The strength is medium moving into full towards the end but never got harsh or bitter. It certainly ramped up towards the end and I was warned of that prior to having it so I was prepared. The flavor profile is full for sure.
The overall look to this cigar is simply elegant, the construction is great, the draw was a little tight for my personal liking but not bad, the burn was great, the ash held tight, and the flavor was just fantastic. This is an immediate box worthy cigar for me and I would put this into my rotation today. They come in 6 sizes and in boxes of 24 with the exception of the Lancero which comes in a box of 13. This is the second cigar I have tried by Foundation and I can say that I am more than impressed and I am a fan of Foundation Cigars. The hype behind this one was very well deserved which is rare these days. I highly recommend this cigar.
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I am going to start adding this declaimer here at the bottom in response to internet warriors that are cowards and hide behind the safety of their computer screen in mom’s basement in their underoos and find ways to try and troll people. If you met them in the streets they would want to buy you a cigar or if confronted, piss themselves. Either way, the more I thought about doing this or not, I decided it is actually a great addition to let people know that I am not being paid, or compensated by these companies to promote their product. I offer EVERYONE the same opportunity after EACH review to leave their own comments, thoughts, AND REVIEWS. No one has sent me one so I can’t post what I don’t have but I have made that offer since day 1. Will their review differ from mine? I certainly hope the hell so. I also don’t block people comments. I approve all of them regardless of content. People can disagree with my review, ultimately I am telling you what I experienced, not what you are going to experience. I would imagine your taste will be different than mine. Sorry for the rant, just felt like I needed to explain that some.
Leave your comments, thoughts and reviews here and as always, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!
“This cigar was purchased by me for the purpose of my enjoyment. I did the review on my own for the purpose of providing a true, honest opinion on the product. I am under no obligation to provide favorable reviews for this product and receive no compensation for doing so.” Cigar Hawk
P.S. If it wasn’t great, you would read that also. I just don’t bash peoples work, I can do it tactfully.