MOMBACHO CIGARS S.A. EXPANDS INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION AND DEBUTS NEW LOOK FOR LIGA MAESTRO

Great news from our friends at Mombacho Cigars. I am super happy to see this brand grow and expand in the industry. If you haven’t tried any of their stuff before, you should seek them out. Our friend Rob Rasmussen sent over some info for us to share with. Check it out!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Robert Rasmussen

Brand Manager Mombacho Cigars

E: rob@mombachocigars.com

P: 510-693-1714

MOMBACHO CIGARS S.A. EXPANDS INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION AND DEBUTS

NEW LOOK FOR LIGA MAESTRO

Germany, Japan, Mexico and Norway have been added to the expanding list of countries where Mombacho Cigars are available for purchase. New Liga Maestro boxes debuted at IPCPR 2018.

GRANADA, NICARAGUA. – (25 July 2018). Mombacho Cigars S.A. has broadened its international reach by adding distributers in four new countries. Germany, Japan, Mexico and Norway are now among the 16 countries where Mombacho Cigars are sold.

“Awareness of our brand is not only growing in the US, but internationally as well,” said Robert Rasmussen, Brand Manager of Mombacho Cigars. “Our cigars can now be found in 16 countries worldwide and we are working diligently to continue expanding into more nations.”

Mombacho Cigars S.A. is a Canadian owned company established in 2006 that entered the US market in 2014. The international interest in Mombacho has grown rapidly and Mombacho cigars are now available in Australia, Canada, China, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Germany, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Trinidad and Tobago.

“The recent IPCPR trade show was a success for Mombacho, both in terms of retailers in the US and our distribution worldwide,” said Claudio Sgroi, President and Master Blender of Mombacho Cigars. “It is beautiful to see the love for Mombacho spread across the globe.”

Mombacho also unveiled new boxes for their Liga Maestro line at the recent IPCRP trade show in Las Vegas. The new boxes feature a matte black finish with a gold embossed Mombacho logo and have already begun shipping to retailers. Tierra Volcán will be available in similar boxes later this year.

ABOUT MOMBACHO CIGARS

Mombacho Cigars, S. A. was founded in 2006 to provide premium handmade cigars through memorable experiences in select markets around the world, including Canada, China, Italy and, since 2014, the United States. Mombacho produces all of its products at its factory in Granada, Casa Favilli, where over 30 members of the Mombacho Family work. For more information, contact Robert Rasmussen, Brand Manager of Mombacho Cigars at rob@mombachocigars.com.

I am a fan of this brand and I hope that we can get more local retailers to pick them up soon. I look forward to building a relationship with them and wish them much continued success. Please make sure to share this and ask your local B&M to carry them.

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.

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Reserve Cigar Company Especial Toro

Well folks, it’s been quite some time since I have had the opportunity to sit down and do a review but finally that has changed some. The new house is finished, we are moved in and now it’s time to start enjoying life again. Today we revisit a company I reviewed back in Dec. Reserve Cigar Company from Atlanta. Check out the company spotlight and interview I did here on the blog page. This is my second review from this up and coming brand. I was impressed with the first one I tried so let’s see how this one stacks up.

The Especial 6 x 52 Toro is wrapped in a dark brown wrapper with medium veins and tight seams.

Blend is undisclosed other than Sun Grown wrapper and Dominican tobaccos.

The cigar feels firm with no soft spots. The construction looks and feels solid. The dark blue and gold band is simple and elegant but really dresses up the cigar nicely.

Pre-light: This cigar has been in my humidor since Dec. I am picking up notes of straw, barnyard and wood. I used a V-Cut to open this one up. The draw is very nice with slight resistance. I pick up notes of hay, wood and espresso.

1st Third: Very nice profile right off the first draw. Tons of thick smoke and notes of wood, sweet cocoa, and hints of spice. There is a nice, subtle sweetness of cedar wood and cocoa. The draw is perfect and the burn is nice with a slight wave to it. It is a very warm, beautiful suny day with a pretty gusty breeze here in North Carolina today. As I move further into the first third, the blend stays pretty consistent.

2nd Third: As I move into the halfway mark the profile changes slightly to more of an earthy, woodsy blend. I am picking up nice hints of sweet cedar wood, earth and cocoa. There is a very brief touch of bitterness that passes quickly. Not sure what that was but it came and went quickly. As I move further in the profile changes just a bit to more of a floral almost grassy note. The draw and burn are both still very nice. The strength and body is a smooth medium.

Last 3rd: As I move into the last third, the profile stays very consistent. This is a very easy cigar to smoke with a nice flavor profile. It is a nice woodsy, earthy, creamy smoke from start to finish. I decided to pair the final inch or so with a pour of Larceny bourbon. This cigar certainly brings out the sweetness of the bourbon and the bourbon enhances the cedar and wood in the cigar. This pairing works very well together.

Final Thoughts: I am really impressed with this cigar and the brand. Be sure to go back in the blog and check out the company spotlight and interview I did with owner Alexis Webber. This is a great cigar for any time of the day. It is easy and smooth to smoke. It is easy enough for beginner smokers but complex enough for advanced smokers. The profile does not change greatly from start to finish but it varies enough to keep it interesting.

If you are interested in ordering, I highyl recommend the 6 pack sampler so you can try the entire lineup. Visit https://www.reservecigarco.com/shopreserve/Buy-the-Box-c27902162

Be sure to follow us on Social Media, follow Reserve Cigar Company and join the #ReserveFamily.

Until next time, #LongAshesFullGlasses.

The Mova from Reserve Cigar Company

The following review is on the Reserve Mova Cigar done by my friend, SOTL and co-owner of Top Leaf Cigar Lounge here in Wintson Salem, North Carolina. I wanted to get a ladies perspective on this cigar and also to offer readers something different. I hope you enjoy.

First and foremost, I think it necessary to provide a little background on myself. My name is Bethany Miller. I grew up in a small town located in the foothills of North Carolina. The Village of Tobaccoville is home to RJ Reynolds Tobacco company and was in my childhood a place where tobacco was in large abundance. The smell of tobacco is as much of my childhood memory as the smell of my granddads after shave. Being raised in Tobaccoville, I am accustomed to the smell of tobacco growing, the steamy smell after a hard rain on a hot night, being stuck behind a tractor on the way to the warehouse, and have spent many long afternoons riding through fields of sticky leaves. Keeping that in mind, here is my review…

The Reserve Mova is a beautifully constructed Cigar. The wrapper is caramel in color and has a nice uniform feel as well as a velvety smooth wrapper.

Before lighting the Mova I spent quite a long time just smelling this cigar. It smells of earth and molasses. Closing my eyes this cigar flung me back to my childhood and I can picture myself barefooted on my bike riding though my hometown enveloped in the scent of home.

I chose to use a V-Cut (Colibri) and slowly toasted the foot of this cigar. Slowly. I took my time, not allowing the flame to touch the foot, but allowing the heat from the flame to deliciously roast. Scents of nuts began to fill my nostrils. Think roasted peanuts.

The first pull was an explosion of caramel, molasses, nuts, earth, and home. The creaminess is not overbearing but rather a great compliment to the nutty and slightly spicy filler.

As I made my way through the first quarter the ash is holding and the burn is even. No touchups have been necessary. This Cigar is burning like a dream and has me dreaming of my 10-year-old self, wandering through Tobacco barns during summer break. The flavors are mingling together and I’m picking up some notes of cinnamon and toast.

At the half way point I am in heaven. The longer I sit and smoke this Cigar the more I am catapulted back to my childhood. I am in a trance. The creaminess and delicious molasses continue to mingle together and tug at my memory. Never has another Cigar caused me so much emotion. I am literally taken back in time.

Three quarters of the way through and the burn is still even, ash is still solid. I didn’t think that the Mova could get any better but it has. The molasses and nuttiness has intensified. I am back in 1985. I am barefoot on a dirt road, I am walking through row after row of tall tobacco, I am chasing lightning bugs. I don’t want this experience to end.

Finishing up the Mova has been bittersweet. The experience of smoking the Mova has been mind-blowing. The construction is wonderful, the burn was even, the flavors are fantastic. Well Done! To me, this cigar tastes just like home. Bravo!

Thanks to Bethany for contributing to the website. I am sure the Reserve Mova will certainly be a great option for your Ladies of the Leaf nights at Top Leaf Cigar Lounge in the future. Contact Bethany at (336) 893-7307 for all the details!

Until next time, long ashes and full glasses!

Ciudad de Musica…Crowned Heads

Altadis U.S.A. recently added another great company to their collaboration list and this time it was Jon Huber and the folks over at Crowned Heads. The Montecristo Ciudad de Musica, Spanish for City of Music, makes perfect sense for the Nashville based company. This cigar is being produced by Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr at the Tabacalera La Alianza S.A, which is one of the factories that already produces Crowned Heads cigars regularly.

“The challenge for us was in taking such an iconic brand as Montecristo and putting our fingerprints on it all the while respecting the tradition and legacy that’s existed in the Montecristo brand since 1935,” said Jon Huber, in a press release.

Available in 4 sizes:

Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46)

Robusto (5 x 50)

Sublime (6 x 54)

Piramide (6 1/8 x 52)

The Piramide size will be exclusive to Casa de Montecristo lounges. Prices are $11.95 – $16 per cigar.

When I first heard about this project, I was anxious to give them a try. Fortunately for me, I have a Casa de Montecristo about an hour away from me and I was able to pick up the Piramide size. Without further ado, let’s fire this one up and see what we get shall we?

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Appearance: The wrapper has a medium brown color with medium veins and very tight seams. The wrapper has an almost reddish copper tint in the sunlight. The large black and copper band contains 3 logos. The Montecristo Fleur de Lis, the Crowned Heads “CH” logo, and the Ciudad de Musica logo all encased in circles. The cigar has a really nice oily sheen and the band really gives it an elegant vibe.

Pre-light: I pick up notes of hay, earth, barnyard, and cedar from the barrel. The foot offers more of the same with notes of cedar wood, earth, hay, and slight pepper. The cigar feels light in the hand but no soft spots anywhere. The piramide shape has been one of my favorite sizes for a long time. I used a straight cutter to open things up and the cold draw presents an open draw with slight resistance. I pick up notes of straw, cedar and earth. I get the foot good and toasted and away we go.

1st Third: I pick up spice and a very woodsy profile right from the jump. I get some pepper on the retrohale. I start to get notes of sweet cedar and pepper in the background. About 1/4 inch in I get a touch of mocha/espresso notes. This is a very complex blend and I start to pick up notes of roasted coffee beans. This is a really unique blend with a lot of subtle flavors going on. The draw is open, I am getting tons of smoke, the burn is slightly wavy, the strength is medium. This blend really works well together to form a nice flavor profile that is smooth and complex.

2nd Third: The transition brings some earth, mocha, nuttiness, sweet cedar and spice. About the halfway mark a sweet, subtle caramel note makes an appearance and adds to the complexity. The performance is the same. Good draw, wavy burn line, lots of smoke and medium strength. Not a ton of changes in flavors just a good, complex blend that is creamy and easy to smoke.

Final Third: As I move into the final third, the blend changes slightly and I pick up notes of earth, sweet cedar, wood, leather, and a slight grassy note. I still get faint notes of mocha and espresso. Everything else remains the same. I smoke this one down to about a half inch without it burning hot or being bitter. Total smoke time was around 1 hour 45 minutes.

Final Thoughts: The Ciudad de Musica was an enjoyable symphony of flavors that blend together like music from your favorite band. The blend really comes together nicely and provides a nice, smooth, medium strength, complex smoke that is enjoyable from start to finish. I really enjoyed the piramide size and I would like to try it in another size to compare. I think this cigar would appeal to seasoned cigar smokers more than newcomers. The complexity of the blend, in my opinion, would be best appreciated by an advanced palate. I am also curious to see what happens to this cigar as it ages a bit more. There were a couple of cigars I tried last year that just got better and better each time I smoked them. I can see this being one of those. The first cigar I ever tried was the Montecristo White Label. I really had no idea of what I was tasting at the time. Having revisited it after I had been smoking for awhile, I learned to appreciate what I enjoyed about my first Montecristo. Being a fan of Crowned Heads and hearing about this project I knew it would be interesting, and I was not disappointed. This is a great collaboration and overall a very good cigar. If you get the opportunity to try this one, pick it up and let me know what you think about it.

I hope you enjoyed my review. Please feel free to leave comments, thoughts, or questions here. Don’t forget to follow me on social media and join the CigarHawk Face Book group.

Be sure to visithttp://www.crownedheads.com for all the latest news and updates, along with some of the coolest swag in the industry. Sign up for their email list and look for the “Set List” for everything Crowned Heads.

Interview with Garrett Johnson of Smooth Draw Cigars

Today we are interviewing the owner of Smooth Draw Cigars, Garrett Johnson. For those that don’t know, Garrett reviewed ultra boutique cigars on this Smooth Draw Reviews site and recently expanded to an online store selling these ultra boutiques, some of which he is the only distributor for. Hope you enjoy the interview and will check out his site and cigars.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Oklahoma Native. I have a beautiful wife and two dogs. I’m an identical twin. To add more of a whoa factor, my dad is a triplet—no joke!

When did you get into cigars?

My dad gave me my first cigar when I turned 18. I remember not knowing anything about them but being very curious how they make them, the details and processes involved, and what makes a great cigar.

What was the first cigar you smoked?

I believe it was a Macanudo Court Tube.

Were you immediately hooked or did it grow on you?

Oh yeah! I smoked cigars on special occasions and occasionally with my dad and brother.

Before you opened your store, you did cigar reviews at Smooth Draw Reviews, what are some of the top cigars you have reviewed?

I’m going to sound like a typical business owner and say that all of them are top cigars to me. Going back to the brand recognition and exposure goal, I’ve had a lot of fun sharing Kolumbus Cigars—from Spain, Om Mani Gold Label, and Gloria Bendita from the Domincan Republic. These three are dear to me because of the relationships with the business owners. More importantly, they aren’t sold ANYWHERE else in the USA. That makes them very special to me as a business owner knowing the level of trust with the brands and their owners.

Exclusive cigars only at Smooth Draw Cigars. That’s awesome.

You are known for reviewing ultra-boutique cigars. How did that start and how do you find out about these brands?

The internet is full of cigar reviews. At that time, all of the reviews I was reading and watching on YouTube were all what I call “main-stream” cigars (the popular and well-known brands). Curiosity got the best of me a few years ago as I tried to search rare and unheard of cigars. One day after speaking to a few small batch cigar companies, I decided I wanted to review some rare cigars. My goal was two-fold. 1. I set out to discover amazing unheard of cigars. 2. I wanted to be able to provide more exposure for them. Build recognition and familiarity they might not otherwise have.

I literally just researched rare cigars online. I love the ease of Instagram and would often message these small brands, tell them about my blog and reviews, and tell them I’d love to review some of their cigars.

I knew I was doing something right after just a couple of months when I no longer had to reach out to these brands. Instead, they contacted me.

What made you decide to open your own online business?

After reviewing rare and ultra-boutique cigars for about a year and a half, I discovered several of these businesses relied on retailers. Many of whom did not sell their own cigars on their website. Several of the business owners encouraged me to become a retailer. We had developed a high level of trust and support for one another and it only made sense to take what I was doing to the next level. Reviewing the cigars was great, but I knew I could provide even more exposure and sales if I sold the cigars myself. Another huge factor was definitely the support from my friends, followers, and viewers. As I spoke with them, they were all very excited for me and probably more enthusiastic about the idea of me starting my own online store than I was! Many of them smoked the cigars with me and wanted to have an easy outlet to get their hands on the cigars.

When did you open?

The website officially opened June 1st, 2017

Tell us about Smooth Draw Cigars.

We are an online cigar store that specializes in the sale of rare, exotic, and ultra-boutique cigars. You won’t find any main-stream selections on our site. We are the only retailer in the United States that sells the following cigars: Kolumbus Cigars from La Palma, Spain, Om Mani Gold Label, and Gloria Bendita of the Dominican Republic. Unlike many online cigar companies, quality customer service is our #1 priority. All cigars we sell are 100% handmade, have long filler tobacco, and are shipped after being properly humidified to ensure they are in smoke-able conditions.

What makes your online store unique?

3 things:
Our Prices: One aspect of our company which all of our customers appreciate is our prices. Most companies who sale boutique cigars have bogus margins—that’s a new economic term 😊) They understand that what they have is rare and increase their prices and make you spend a minimum per order. My goal with our company was to offer super affordable prices and allow our customers to purchase single cigars—so they can mix and match and try new ones. In my mind, that puts my customers first.
Our selections: As mentioned before, we don’t offer any mainstream cigars. Our goal is not to compete with your local brick and mortar stores. We simply want to provide a new experience for them.
Our customer service: Two years ago, I purchased a cigar sampler on a very popular cigar website. The order came in the mail and the cigars were extremely dry, cracked, and not smokeable. After several attempts trying to rectify with their customer service line which just constantly rang and an email address that probably was never checked, I gave up. When I opened SDC, I vowed to have the best customer service. Sure, we’ve messed up—we’re human too, but we’ve been sure to correct the mistake plus one.

What are some of the brands you currently carry?

Alpha Cigars, Kolumbus, Gloria Bendita, Om Mani, Opalo 1979, Isabela, ChaliceGod13th, Providencia Cigars, and Monte Blanc. More recently added the Lincoln Bourbon by BattleGround Cigars and the Cala Habano by Cala Cigars.

The Alpha Cigar Company Absinthe Infused that you carry really made an impression on me. I had no idea about Absinthe and never really reviewed infused cigars. Do you have any cigar/s that caught you off guard like that and made a lasting impression on you?

That’s great to hear, Scott! The Absinthe Infused Maduro certainly caught me off guard as well. I want to have as authentic of a review as possible so I do not read anything about them prior to the review. So, experiencing that many notes and flavors in one cigar was quite a ride! The cigar has 15 different herbs and notes which is a pretty fun experience for the first time.
Isabela Guerrila had the same shock value for me. It’s a bigger ring gauge and packs a punch, flavor wise.

Some of these cigars are super rare in terms of U.S distribution. Can you talk a little about that?

I’d love to. We are thrilled to have three brands on our “shelves” so to speak that are not sold anywhere else in the US. That means no other store carries them and they are exclusive to SmoothDrawCigars.com. I’m not speaking for any particular brand, but something I found out early on in this business is that a lot of small batch brands don’t want to sell their cigars in stores. As crazy as that sounds, it makes sense if you think about it. Think about your personal experiences in a shop. Most consumers go to their brick and mortar store to pick up cigars they are familiar with. Even folks who don’t smoke on a regular basis typically don’t buy cigars they’ve never heard of before. This is the advantage we have as an online store. Many of our [future] customers have never heard of the brands we sell. We are confident that once they try them, they will fall in love and want to try them again.

Any cigars out there you are looking to try?

I’m always willing to try new cigars on a regular basis. I have a list of some cigars from Battleground Cigars that are in the que for reviews. I also have a few really rare cigars from Felipe Gregorio Cigars such as the Pelo de Oro Torpedo and the 1957 Series FG56 that are calling my name in my humidor.

What are some cigars you enjoy on a regular basis?

If I say all of them, am I a cop-out? Haha. I regularly smoke several of the brands we carry. Aside from boutiques, some of my go-to cigars are the Liga Privada #9, anything my buddy Jorge Nichols rolls from JNV Cigars, La Gloria Cubana Series N, and Nubs.

How have you been received in the community?

Let me ask my mom…. J I think most spectators are very skeptical. It’s challenging selling cigars no one has ever heard of before. It’s even more challenging selling rare cigars and competing with the mainstream brands. However, there is nothing more satisfying than having a customer contact us to let us know how much they enjoyed the cigars they purchased—which I can confidently say it happens all the time!

You have done some recent live events, care to discuss some of those?

Definitely! To create more exposure of our rare cigars, events are key. I’ve recently attended a clay shooting tournament for a local organization here in Oklahoma. They had nearly 300 shooters in which a sponsoring company purchased several cigars and allowed me to pass them out and talk to attendees about our cigars. Most recently, I teamed up with a local winery for a Cigar and Cabernet pairing event. We’re always looking for opportunities to get involved with the community. My goal is to get connected with a few golf courses in the near future to provide cigars for tournaments and charity events.

That’s great stuff. Wine and Cigars never really crossed my mind until I paired them and often I find myself pairing a great red wine with a nice cigar and it’s always been good.

What do you see happening in the future for Smooth Draw? Any projects you care to talk about?

We are currently working on a referral program that I’m extremely excited about. As a consumer myself, I love being rewarded for promoting businesses. So, we are working on a program that we think our customers will really love and truly benefit from.

We’ve also recently joined forces with a non-profit organization called Warriors for Freedom. They host events to help service members, veterans and their families reconnect with their community, provide peer to peer support and camaraderie. I’m really excited to announce we’ve added a way for our customers to donate cigars to the troops on our website. We are also assisting with their annual fundraiser in February. We’ll donate several boxes of cigars to hand out and allow all attendees to have a relaxing and enjoyable evening with a cigar.

I am personally looking forward to trying many of the cigars you carry. I have been intrigued by many of the cigars you carry for some time. What are some must try cigars in your opinion?

Definitely the ones you can’t buy anywhere else. I’d recommend trying all three of the Kolumbus Cigars. You can’t go without at least trying all of the Absinthe Infused and Defuser series from Alpha.

I appreciate your time and before we go, do you have anything else you care to discuss?

I’d encourage everyone who reads this interview to go to our site. Take some time reading the reviews, seeing what others have to say about them. If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me. Our contact information is on our website. We love answering questions for beginners or providing suggestions based on your personal preferences. As always, thank you for supporting us and all of the small-batch and boutique brands we work with.

I encourage all of you to visit www.smoothdrawcigars.com and check out the rare boutique cigars available. I want to thank Garrett for his continued support and doing the interview.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or contact Garrett on his site.

I hope you enjoyed the interview. If you have anyone that you would like to see an interview with, let me know. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends!

The Dark Lord has arrived

I have been a fan of Felix Assouline Cigars for some time now and I have reviewed one of every brand he has put out. During this time I have developed a friendship with Felix and we communicated back and forth months back about a new secret project he was working on. Of course I was completely intrigued because I know how good all of his cigars are. This one was going to different. Just from the vague info I was given you could just tell this was going to be a special project and cigar. As things got closer I was able to get little bits and pieces, a few pics of the packaging and more details. I was super excited as the release got closer…and then life happened. A job move, having to maintain 2 households, being apart from my wife, etc. I got super busy and did not get an opportunity to purchase a box ahead of time. Fortunately I was able to get my hands on one that I have been waiting to review. Today was finally that day. I was able to get a room at my local lounge before anyone else got there and set up to do this review. Without further ado, let’s take this one out of it’s coffin and see what the Dark Lord brings shall we?

“Ego Black is a labor of love since it is one of the first blends we created from our Tobacco farm in Jamastran Obraje, Honduras. Felix wanted to create a blend totally from one farm, with no other leaves from other regions. Ego Black comes in five box pressed sizes, from The Dark Lord, a Perfecto of 56×6.5 which comes in a box of 12 individual coffins. Ego Black is also available as The Twisted Mind, a 56×6.5 Gordo, The White Nights is a Belicoso size at 56×6, the next size is Amigo Fuerte Robusto at 50×5 and finally The Perfect Black is a Perfecto of 52×5. Ego Black is an extremely limited production and will only be available once per year.” Courtesy of Felix Assouline

Felix Assouline EGO Black – The Dark Lord Box Pressed 6.5 x 56

Blend Profile

Wrapper: Ligero Jamastran Obraje, Honduras (Top 1%)

Binder: Jamastran Obraje, Honduras

Filler: Jamastran Obraje, Honduras

Appearance: The Dark Lord has a medium – dark brown leather colored wrapper that has very tight seams, a few bumps and veins. The box press is symmetrical and feels firm with no soft spots. The cap is pointed and widens to a nice box press coming to a squared point at the foot. This is a unique looking cigar. The EGO band is black and gold metallic that really pops against the leather brown wrapper. Each cigar is presented in a black cedar coffin the The Dark Lord by Felix Assouline painted nicely on top.

Pre-light: I pick up mostly hay, pepper, and natural tobacco from the barrel. It is difficult to get much else from the foot due to its pointed shape. I use a straight cut to remove the pointed cap and the cold draw offers some resistance but not tight. I pick up notes of hay, natural tobacco and some faint hints of pepper. The moment I have waited for is now upon me. Time to put flame to this one.

First Third: After I get things toasted, I take my first draw. Immediately I get a lot of cedar, grassy notes, cocoa and a subtle touch of pepper. There is a sweetness here that is totally unexpected and provides an amazing flavor profile. This is a very unique blend. There is an explosion of flavors that cover the palate and a little bit of pepper that lingers on the tongue and lips. My mind scrabbles to unravel what I am tasting. The sweetness from this cigar is incredible. I am trying my best to pinpoint it but I cannot find the right description. I am getting good smoke production as it moves from the narrow pointed tip to the body of the cigar. The draw offers resistance without being tight. The burn is taking shape as it moves from the pointed foot. As I get further in the burn is a little uneven. I attribute this to the ventilation above me, the ac and fans in the lounge creating a lot of circulating air. This is a smooth medium-full strength, full flavored cigar.

Second Third: The transition from the first third doesn’t bring much change. Very consistent flavor. There is a very familiar, distinct flavor that I have found in all of the FAC brands. I believe it has to do with the Jamastran tobacco that is used. The valley in Jamastran, Honduras is known for its flavorful tobaccos which feature strength and sweetness. This is something I enjoy greatly about FA cigars but it is amplified in the Dark Lord. Felix told me people have told him “it’s a chocolate bar wrapped in Ligero” and I 100% agree. I pick up notes of natural tobacco, grass, cocoa, and pepper. The burn is a bit uneven and I did have to touch it up once (I had to take a phone call and let it sit for a bit). I am finding it very hard to put this cigar down. The strength has increased to full but remains smooth and creamy. A lot of smoke production and the ash holds nicely until I set it down and the ventilation plays havoc on it. (I didn’t get pics throughout the review. My apologies)

Last Third: Some subtle changes as I enter the final portion of this cigar. A bit more of the grassy notes appear in the front, cedar is still present with notes of natural tobacco. The sweetness had toned down a bit. The strength is certainly full at this point. As good as this cigar is, take your time with it. I did require another touch up and the burn is still a little uneven but nothing concerning. I still feel as if I smoked this cigar in a less ventilated environment this would be a non-issue. I take in the last few puffs and regret that I do not have more of these available to me.

Final Thoughts: This is a next level cigar in terms of flavor. I was simply blown away by the sweetness found in the blend and while it is full strength, it is very smooth. The previous comment of “a chocolate bar wrapped in a ligero” could not be any more accurate. This, in my opinion, is the crown jewel in an already terrific portfolio. The Jamastran tobacco is distinct and unique and this cigar showcases this wonderful tobacco in a blend that puts this cigar in the Top 5 cigars I have tried. Because it is high medium to full bodied, I would not recommend it for new smokers unless you really take your time with it. I think more experienced smokers will find this cigar to be on a different level. The Dark Lord is an impressive, delicious, unique cigar that is sure to impress anyone that smokes it.

Rating:

Appearance / Construction: The overall look and construction of this cigar is really nice. The box press, the wrapper and band really look nice together and the coffin packaging really work well together. There were no soft spots and the seams were nice and tight. I score this a 19/20.

Performance: This one will be tough to score accurately as I have to consider the heavy ventilation in the room I was in. There were a couple of touch ups needed and the burn was a bit off. I think in a different situation this would probably change the performance for the better. I score this a 23/25. (*This factor will be retested when I have the opportunity to smoke another one because this will alter the final rating)

Flavor: Off the charts in regards to flavor. This was unlike anything I have ever had in a premium cigar. I am not sure my palate did this review much justice as I struggled to identify the complex flavors I experienced. Complex, rich and smooth. I don’t see how this cigar gets better. Perfect score of 25/25.

Overall Experience: The anticipation I had for trying this cigar was really high and it did not disappoint me. Take away the touch up issues and this cigar scores higher. I really enjoyed my time with this one and I didn’t want to put it down. This is a cigar I could smoke time and time again and I feel it would only get better each time. If you have the opportunity to try this one, you need to do so. All of the Felix Assouline Cigars are good, but this one takes the crown. The Dark Lord is KING. I score this 28/30.

Final Rating: 95

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

The beauty of cigars

Cigars. Say that word around different people and watch the reaction you get from them. I find it fascinating to see the differences. It’s often the upturn of the nose or the look of disgust. I also get the comment of how much they stink, they are gross, they will give you cancer, etc etc. On the flip side, you may get the “I love the smell of a cigar” or “it reminds me of my grandfather/father”. And then you get the Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf that really light up (pun intended) and can’t wait to enjoy a smoke with you or just talk about it. The other type of people that I spent some time with this week in Dallas are the curious, eager, and clueless but willing (and I do not mean that as a negative, we were all there once).

I went to Dallas for training this week and people that work with me or have been to other meetings and training classes recognize me as a “cigar guy”. A couple I have smoked with before and others are true “cigar guys” that I had the opportunity to smoke with this time. Of course it was “hey man, did you bring any cigars”? Of course I did. No turning back now…my stash was about to be raided, I just didn’t know how hard. My travel humidor containing 10 beautiful works of art (more to come on that) was reduced to 2 cigars faster than a Donald Trump tweet going viral. Now some people would have an issue with that but I welcome it.

There was a mixed bag of players in this crowd and I welcome the opportunity to share with all of them. Some dabble in cigars, some were really new and others are frequent smokers as I said. One of the beautiful things about cigars that I am fascinated by and truly love about the culture is that cigars unify and equalize everyone. Think about that for a minute. With all the diversity in the crowd I was in (white, black, male, female, younger, older, colleagues at my pay grade and those up the chain) all brought together by a single item…a cigar.

For those that were new to cigars I had the opportunity to make or break the experience for them. For me it was about the proper selection of what I had available and taking the time to teach them just a little bit about it. Overall I received no negative feedback and the next night we took a trip downtown to a local B&M shop in Dallas that will remain nameless because the experience was absolutely laughable and terrible. Any request to know so you can steer clear of them can be asked privately but I will not bash them here. I will however ask the question here, and please feel free to leave your comments…Have you ever asked a shop owner or worker about their house blend and were told “I can’t tell you that. We have an agreement that we won’t discuss who makes our cigars”? Call me crazy and maybe this happens, but this was a first for me. Needless to say, I left laughing and without a purchase. I appreciated the people I was with wanting to replace the cigars from the night before but I won’t spend a cent in a place like that. Sorry. I am a huge fan of supporting local business but not this one. Moving on.

One major thing I consider when I bring cigars on trips with me is selection. Is this a trip that I will have time to really take my time, study and enjoy the cigar or will I be more focused on conversation, interacting with people, and having the cigar more of an accessory to the event? I consider this because as I have evolved into cigars as a passion and not just a thing I do from time to time, it matters to me. I have made a point to bring cigars I never had before on trips where I can take my time and I bring cigars I have had before when I know I won’t be able to sit and enjoy it. Doesn’t mean that I rush through it or don’t enjoy the experience but it’s more of a familiar taste that I don’t have to wonder about. It has proven to be something I enjoy. I also consider it for the exact situation I was in this week. I brought cigars with me that I knew other people, even new smokers could enjoy.

The thing often lost to many cigar smokers I meet and observe is the lack of appreciation for cigars. I see people light up a cigar and puff away and never fully understand what exactly they have in their hands. This isn’t necessarily true for more advanced smokers but I imagine it still happens. Whatever works for you is fine by me. I prefer to take it all in and savor the experience. After all, I will never get to experience it ever again. “What the hell are you talking about? Buy another one or get one out of your box”. Yeah sure, no problem right? Nope. No cigar is the same. Not one. That is the beauty of cigars. Each one is individual and unique, much like people. They should be treated as such. Cigars, much like people, fall into different categories. They can be beautiful, ugly, flawed, wonderful, interesting, disappointing, refreshing, and some I never want to experience again. Some you fall in love with and want to surround yourself with frequently, and others you prefer in short, limited engagements. Others just linger and are there in a pinch.

From a single seed, grown in soil often on foreign lands, the are grown, harvested, handled many many times using a variety of techniques and selected for their quality and traits. Ultimately they are combined with other leaves and skillfully blended and crafted into a single, unique work of art that will be consumed once and only once in its journey. This is a wonderful process that seems to get lost most of the time. When you select, cut and light a cigar, you are becoming a part of the story behind that cigar. Sure this is a much deeper thought into the process but its relevant to me therefore I choose to enjoy it. I am probably one of the slowest cigar smokers in any lounge on any given day and this is the reason. This is also why I choose to do reviews. It started as a detailed way for me to remember the experience.

Next time you get ready to light up that cigar, take a second to appreciate it. Think about it’s journey and the people behind it. You will never get the opportunity to do it again so enjoy the ride. I hope you enjoyed the article. Please leave your thoughts, comments, or questions here. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses.

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.

 

 

Umbagog: Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco, let’s get you up to speed with some info directly from their website. http://www.dunbartoncigars.com/aboutus

Steve Saka – Our master blender and catador de puros, Steve Saka, demands the most exact standards be honored at all times. Regarded as a cigar expert throughout the industry, he is credited as being an experienced cigar maker, a prolific author regarding cigars and black tobaccos, a forefather within the online media segment and a dynamic tobacco industry executive. In 2000, he worked directly for Lew Rothman, the former owner of JR Cigar, as an executive consultant for four years and he subsequently served as the President, then CEO of Drew Estate from 2005 through 2013. In 2015, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by establishing the family held Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust to craft cigars without any compromises.”

download

“Puros Sin Compromiso”

” Cigars without compromise: This is an expression of our closely held ethos and states in just three simple words everything we wish to accomplish here at DTT. Cigars are more than just a passion for us; they are our life. We want to create puros that pay respectful tribute to the long, vaulted history of handmade vitolas, honor the dedicated works of all the vegueros, torcedors and artists who dedicate their labors to this timeless craft. Our goal is to always offer the connoisseur an unparalleled smoking experience bar none.”

Steve has been in the industry a long time and is behind some of the best cigars on the market today in my personal opinion. The Umbagog is the third release following the Sobremesa and the Mi Querida. I have tried them all but this is the first review I have done of the three. The Sobremesa and Mi Querida will follow soon.

I had the pleasure of meeting the man himself recently at Famous Smoke Shop and it was an honor for me. If you follow cigars and the history of the industry, Steve is a legend in the business and has forgotten more about cigars than I will likely ever know.

That all being said, let’s jump into this review and see what we get.

The Umbagog is almost the same cigar as the Mi Querida except the wrappers did not meet the standards used on the Mi Querida. Is that a bad thing? Let’s find out.

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UMBAGOG – TORO TORO 6 X 52

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder / Filler: Nicaraguan

Appearance: Named after a lake, the rugged look of this “Seegar” is very fitting for what the cigar is. The rustic, reddish brown Broadleaf really shows some veins and tight seams. The Olive drab colored band with white lettering really stands out against the discolored wrapper. It has an open foot and rounded cap. The cigar feels full with no soft spots anywhere. The look works with what the cigar is. This looks like a cigar that should be smoked while outdoors hiking, fishing, or boating.

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Pre-Light: I pick up a really pleasant scent from the barrel of this cigar. It is like a mix of maple syrup, cedar and grass if I had to try and sort it out. That’s about the best I can describe it. It is earthy, very woodsy, some subtle sweetness and subtle pepper on the foot. I used a V-cutter to open the cap and the cold draw reveals a resistant but not tight draw. I pick up sweet cedar wood, hay and some pepper on the draw. The draw is a little tight for my personal liking but it could very well open up once I heat it.

1st Third:  I used a cedar spill, which is something I need to do a lot more often, and get things toasted. Immediately I get that maple/molasses sweetness followed by heavy cedar and some black pepper notes. Wow. This combo is really nice. It is earthy, grassy, very woodsy. The burn is a bit wavy, the draw is resistant but not so tight that I feel I need to work on it. The smoke production is nice. This is a complex blend with a lot of flavors coming and going. Overall it is, to me, heavy on cedar and earthy notes. Moving through the first third, the pepper is still around on the retrohale and some leather notes start to take shape. Strength is medium to full and very smooth.

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2nd Third: Moving into the halfway mark I find a shift more into earth, leather, wood, and less cedar and pepper. This cigar has a very natural, outdoor feeling to it. As I am enjoying this aspect of the cigar, how fitting is it that a whitetail deer decided to come over for a visit and lay in the yard. (Look in the background of the pic)  As I take in the flavors of this smoke, the draw has opened up nicely and performance is cruising along. No touch ups needed so far. The burn was a little off and wavy but has since corrected itself nicely. Strength is more medium plus – full.

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Last Third: As I move into the last third of this cigar, it has moved into a charred wood, nutty profile with hints of cedar, and grass showing up from time to time. About half way into the last third, the cedar and pepper ramp up a touch and take the forefront again. I am 1 hour 40 minutes into this cigar and overall I really enjoyed it. Strength finished at a medium plus – full for me.

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Final Thoughts: This was not intended to be a “pretty” cigar. It is everything it was made to be in my opinion. It is a rugged, rustic looking cigar with great flavors and a very outdoor feel to it. It won’t win any beauty contest but I would certainly add this into my rotation of go to smokes when I want something different. If you like the Mi Querida, for the price, you cannot go wrong with the Umbagog as a less expensive option. Packaged in bundles of 10, these are a great pick up for the money. They are available in other sizes, I have the gorda gorda to try next. Steve is quoted to have said “This is a cigar that doesn’t pretend to be special or seek to elicit the oohs and aahs of the cigar snobs.” I for one agree with him and I personally think he hit the mark with this one.

You can find this cigar at retailers across the US. I recommend Ford on Fifth and Famous Smoke Shop. You can click here for both.

https://fordonfifth.com/

https://www.famous-smoke.com/

Scoring:

Appearance/Construction Score: The look of the cigar fits what it is. Construction is solid. I score this a 13/15.

Performance Score: I had some issues with the draw being a bit tight and the burn being a little off but as I got into the cigar more, they both corrected themselves. I score this a 27/30.

Flavor Score: This is a complex smoke. Lots of natural, earthy, woodsy, sweet notes with enough pepper to make it interesting. I enjoyed the flavor profile of this cigar. I score this a 24/25.

Overall: I enjoyed my time with this cigar. The flavor profile works, the blend is nice. Performance was overall good with no need to touch up or fight with the burn or draw. I score this a 28/30.

Total Score: 92

93 – 90: Great Cigar. Worthy of a 5 pack or better. I would smoke this regularly.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this review. Feel free to share it on social media and follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace.

Rose of Sharon by Southern Draw Review

I reviewed this cigar a couple of days ago and I am finally able to sit down and type this up. I got the following info directly from http://southerndrawcigars.com/our-cigars/rose-of-sharon/

“HAND CRAFTED IN ESTELI, NICARAGUA – The Rose of Sharon embraces a unique blend that will enhance the current Southern Draw Cigars core line including the Kudzu – Oscuro and Firethorn – Rosado blends.  A very well-balanced cigar with Mild Body – Medium Flavor.

The natural cloud cover of Ecuador has supplied us with a prized wrapper, a velvety feel, gentle sweetness and a toasty burn, our beloved Nicaragua has gifted us with rich and elegant binder and filler tobaccos while the distinct Piloto Cubano of the Dominican Republic adds a dose of boldness and spice that allows this blend live up to its moniker. “She don’t know she’s beautiful!”

Besides the apparent beauty of The Rose of Sharon in its semi box pressed format, the release is a celebration of Grace and the devotion of Sharon Holt as she continues her daily service via strong faith and daily fellowship. “Much like a Rose, Sharon exemplifies our brand with her beautiful soul, humility and a “subtle” boldness which has made an incredible impact on so many lives.  We truly needed to acknowledge her.”

No better way to sum up this cigar than to get it directly from the source. Credit to Southern Draw for the write up. Let’s jump right into the review and see what we get. This will be the first cigar I review using the new point system.

ROSE OF SHARON 5 1/2 X 54 ROBUSTO
Also available in Toro 6 X 52 and Gordo 6.5 X 60

Blend Profile:

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown Connecticut
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Viso/Seco, Dominican Ligero/ Piloto Cubano
Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez

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Appearance/Construction: This cigar is wrapped in a very nice Sun Grown Connecticut that is tan/ khaki color with small veins and tight seams. The wrapper is very smooth with a nice oily sheen to it. The dual bands contrast nicely against the lighter color wrapper. It has the traditional red and gold Southern Draw band and a pink and gold Rose of Sharon band below it.  This is a semi box pressed cigar with a closed foot. This is a very nice looking cigar. There are no soft spots anywhere and the cigar is light in the hand.

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Pre-Light: I pick up a lot of barnyard hay and earthy notes from the barrel. The closed foot brings more of the same. I use a V-cutter to open the cap and the cold draw reveals a nice open draw with a slight resistance and notes of hay, earth, nuts, and a hint of pepper.

1st Third: I used a dual flame lighter to kick things off. Once we are good and toasted I am hit with an unexpected punch of red pepper. She looks like a lady but she packs a hidden punch. The pepper lingers in the throat for a bit. Shortly after I pick up so earthy, grassy, hay notes. A bit further in I start to get a light charred wood and nutty profile that takes shape. The pepper has really toned way back but can still be found on the retro hale at times. The draw is open and airy with a little resistance, it is burning cool and evenly. The ash is holding nicely and so far so good in regards to performance overall. As I move into the halfway point, this is certainly a mild-medium strength stick with a nice mixture of flavors.

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2nd Third: Moving into the transition, not much changes. I am still getting the earthy, hay, grass, nutty flavors with occasional charred wood and some brief notes of pepper sprinkled throughout. This is a nice Connecticut that packs a little heat in spots but has a nice, smooth blend profile that is on the mild to medium side but is enough to keep you interested. Burn and draw are still good. I am getting a nice amount of smoke from this cigar. The burn line is a touch wavy but it is gusty outside as I smoke this.

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Last Third: Again, no real changes going into the final third. This stick is consistent for sure. No major shifts in flavors or big changes as you go. The profile is still very earthy, with only subtle changes from time to time with certain notes swapping places from front to back on the palate. Still a lingering spice/pepper that holds on throughout. The only issues I had with the cigar was that the delicate Connecticut wrapper tore a bit when I attempted to remove the pink band. No real issue and it happens often. The red band came off with a little bit of effort. The burn is a little wavy but again, its really gusty at times today. I required no touch ups and the draw was easy and open all the way through.

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Final Thoughts: I have never been a big Connecticut cigar smoker. As I have said before, it’s not because I don’t enjoy them because I do and I have, I just tend to lean heavily, almost exclusively, towards cigars. This was an enjoyable, easy smoking cigar. The flavor was nice, consistent to the point of almost being one dimensional but finding a way to avoid it if that makes sense. Just when you thought the next drag would be exactly the same as the one before, you would find a little something different. It started mild and finished more on the medium side. This is a good cigar for those that prefer a lighter strength cigar but don’t want to sacrifice flavor. It has enough to keep it interesting without overwhelming the palate. Although I didn’t find it a very complex blend, I enjoyed it and I would certainly recommend that you try it for yourself. Don’t let the pink band fool you, it’s a good cigar and no one will pull your man card if they see you smoking it.

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Appearance / Construction Score: This is a well constructed, very nice looking cigar. The artwork works will with the wrapper. There were some rough touches with the seam and cap but overall I score this a 14/15.

Flavor Score: Though I am not a big Connecticut fan, the flavor profile of this cigar were good. I would have liked it to be a little more complex for my personal liking but I enjoyed it. I score this a 23/25.

Performance Score: There really were no issues with the burn or the draw. The wrapper did tear a little while trying to remove the pink band. A little glue stick on the delicate Connecticut but no major issue at all. I score this 28/30.

Overall Experience Score: I enjoyed my time with this cigar. At times I found myself thinking it was becoming one dimensional and then it would change up enough to make it interesting. I score this a 28/30

Final Score: 93

93 – 90: Great Cigar. Worthy of a 5 pack or better. I would smoke this regularly.

This is a cigar that I would smoke again. I think a little bit of age on this cigar will make it better and bit more complex as things settle in. This is an easy smoke to pair on a sunny day with a variety of cocktails and wines. 

So there you have it. The first cigar with the new rating system and my thoughts on the Rose of Sharon by Southern Draw. You can find them at many local retailers across the U.S. Including Famous Smoke Shop https://www.famous-smoke.com/search?kw=southern%20draw%20rose%20of%20sharon

I hope you enjoyed this review. I welcome your thoughts, comments or reviews here. Please feel free to share this review on social media and follow me on Instagram, FB and Twitter. 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.