Probable Cause Lancero

Cubariqueno Cigar Company recently held a soft release of the newly added Themis, and the Probable Cause Lancero in May. Unfortunately I was out of town and could not attend the event but I was able to meet up with Juan Cancel and discuss the new releases. He was nice enough to allow me to try them before their official IPCPR release.

If you aren’t familiar with Cubariqueno Cigars, Juan Cancel or Bill Ives,you owe it to yourself to check them out. http://www.cubariqueno.com/ They released the Protocol, followed by the Probable Cause and now the Themis joins the ranks. The Protocol was released in a lancero version and it was Cigar Federations Cigar of the Year, and for good reason. With the success of that cigar, it only made sense to follow it up with a lancero version of the Probable Cause.

Cubariqueno is making a big name for themselves in a relatively short amount of time. Making their debut at IPCPR 2015 in New Orleans and working with Erik Espinosa and the La Zona Factory, they have come out swinging and it looks like they have no intention of slowing down.

I reviewed the Themis yesterday and I looked forward to the Probable Cause all night. It is a beautiful, warm, sunny day here in NE Pa and a perfect day to get outside and review a cigar. So let’s jump in here and see what we got.

Probable Cause Lancero

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Factory: La Zona Esteli, Nicaragua

Size: 7 1/2 x 38 Box Pressed (Also available in 5 x 52 Robusto and 6 1/2 x 48 Churchill Box Pressed)

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Appearance:

Right away the Red, Silver and Black logo and dual bands catch your eye and really work with the rustic look of the cigar. A nice medium brown maduro wrapper contrasts nicely with the artwork of the bands. There are some small veins, and tight seams throughout. You notice the box press on the slender, long body. This is a 38 ring gauge which is not often seen in a lancero. Most of the lanceros I have are a 40 ring gauge so this is a bit different. Overall, I really like the look of this stick. It has an open foot and a rounded cap.

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Pre-Light:

The cigar is firm with no soft spots. I pick up notes of barnyard, dry hay, earth, light notes of chocolate and black pepper from the barrel and foot. I used a straight cut to open things up. The draw is nice with a slight resistance. I pick up earth, hay, and cedar from the cold draw.

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1st Third: Once I get the foot nice and toasted, the initial draw reveals sweet cedar wood, some grassy notes, black pepper and chocolate notes. The first 1/4 inch is all about trying to process the many complex flavors I am picking up. It is a combo of sweet cedar wood, spice and sweetness. It is much like the larger sizes but dare I say…even better? The draw is open with the right amount of resistance, the burn is even, and the ash is holding on nicely. I am getting a nice amount of smoke from this cigar. I pick up notes of dried fruit about mid-way through the first third. There is a nice amount of pepper on the retro-hale. I am really enjoying this smoke so far.

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2nd Third: As I move into the halfway mark, the pepper tones down but still lingers in the retro-hale. I pick up more of earthy notes mixed with a nice charred wood and that subtle sweetness that hangs around. This is a complex blend that really shines in this vitola. The blend stays consistent with the first third but a few notes change place from time to time coming to the forefront and then falling back. It makes it tough to put this cigar down because it is really good.

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Last Third: More of the same notes make their way into the final third of this cigar. It is still mostly cedar wood, earth, some spice and dried fruit. I pick up a hint of chocolate from time to time along with some grassy notes. As I come to the end of this cigar, I am really enjoying it as much as when I first lit it. I nub this one after 1 hour 45 minutes.

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Final Thoughts: I have been a fan of the Probable Cause since it was released and I have smoked both the Churchill and Robusto sizes a few times. This lancero edges them out for me because it really showcases the flavors of this blend and it works very well in this vitola. I was curious about the smaller ring gauge (38) and the cigars performance but that was a non-factor. This cigar was on cruise control with no touch ups, a nice open draw, and even burn lines. This cigar is complex, consistent, and delicious. It ended as a more medium-full strength, full bodied cigar. Tons of flavors that remained throughout the entire cigar but enough changes that keep you coming back to it. I would recommend this for anyone that wants to move into a more med/full experience but I think even the most experienced smoker would find this cigar highly enjoyable. Juan told me this was his new favorite cigar and I can see why. Sorry Juan but I am afraid a lot of people are going to buy this in bunches so you can’t keep them all for yourself.

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**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: A really rustic, good looking lancero. The bands and artwork work very well against the wrapper and the construction was solid. I score this almost perfect at 19/20.

Performance: From start to finish this cigar was on cruise control. No issues at all with the draw or burn. No touch-ups were needed and the smaller ring gauge was a non issue. You can see by the pics that the burn got slightly wavy but not really enough to matter. I score this a 24/25.

Flavor: This is where the lancero version of this cigar really stands out for me. The flavors are just bursting as you move through this stick. Complex, rich and smooth. I don’t see how this cigar gets better. Perfect score of 25/25.

Overall Experience: I enjoyed this cigar as much or more than the original Protocol lancero and I wondered if I would. This cigar really stands out from the rest, for me anyway. Not to take anything away from the others because they are great. La Zona is doing some amazing things. I really enjoyed my time with this stick. I score this 29/30.

Final Rating: 97

100 – 97: A class of it’s own. Top of the summit.

I hope that you enjoyed this review. Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, reviews, etc here. I want to thank Juan Cancel for allowing me the opportunity to check out this great cigar before the official release. All I can say is, when these are available to you, Grab ‘Em by the P! These guys are making some amazing cigars!

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

 

 

Flor Del Valle …Warped

Created in the renowned Casa Fernandez factory, Flor Del Valle is a revived old Cuban brand produced with 100% Aganorsa tobacco, a rare and extremely rich Cuban seed strain grown in Estelí, Nicaragua. Covering this exquisite filler leaf is an aged Jalapa Valley grown Corojo 99′ wrapper. Utilizing true Cuban production techniques such as entubado bunching for a smooth draw and slow even burn, and the classic Cuban triple cap you are in for an amazingly robust and flavorful smoking experience. (Credit JR Cigar website)

I decided to give this one a try based on recent Warped cigars I have tried. La Hacienda really stood out to me as a great stick so I picked up a couple of these.

Blend Profile: 

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 Aganorsa (Jalepa)

Binder: Nicaraguan Aganorsa

Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 and Corojo ’98 Aganorsa

Size: 5 1/2 x 50 Robusto Gran Valle

 

Appearance: Medium, leathery, oily brown that is bumpy, a little rough with small veins and a tight seam. The wrapper is cracked a bit due to me dropping it. It had no effect on the performance. It feels firm with no real soft spots. The band is very ornate with gold and light blue. The combination makes it fairly hard to read.

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Pre-Light: I pick up notes of leather, pepper, barnyard hay, and some cedar notes. Draw is nice and open and I get some herbal notes, hay and some faint wood notes after opening the cap with a V-cutter.

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First Third: After toasting the foot I get notes of wood, subtle sweetness of dried fruit, and then a big burst of pepper. I wasn’t expecting that. It is a good amount of pepper but I am good with that. A little more in and the pepper really fades and I pick up more cedar, oak, and a little bit of the lingering spice. The draw is nice and open, the burn is good, ash is holding tight. Not much changes the remainder of the first third.

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Second Third: As I transition into the half way point I am getting notes of grass, somewhat floral notes that mix in with the cedar. The pepper has all but disappeared. The strength is a solid medium. The flavor profile is certainly different. A bit of cocoa, toasted nuts and a touch of sweetness appears. This blend continues to surprise me. New flavors appear in the blend and then disappear. There are notes of citrus that appear and then fade. It certainly makes it intriguing.

Final Third: Moving into the final stretch everything sort of comes full circle. A bit of all the flavors come and go in a nice mix and a smooth, medium strength blend. No real flavor overpowers or stands out. It’s a nice combination of flavors on the palate. It can be a bit floral or grassy at times, then a little sweet, then smokey and woodsy at others. The draw and burn were perfectly fine throughout the hour and 35 minutes.

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Final Thoughts: This was a different cigar for sure. Lots of complex flavors that made for an interesting smoke. I did enjoy it a lot and I would smoke it again. Of the recent Warped cigars I have tried, La Hacienda is my personal favorite so far. This one is unique enough to bring me back to it but I am not sure it would be a go to for me. If the pepper had stuck around for longer, maybe. It became a bit grassy and floral at times but overall it was a very enjoyable cigar to try. Strength is a steady medium. Very flavorful and smooth. The performance was solid with no issues at all. I would recommend this cigar for anyone.

Thanks for checking out the review. Hope that you enjoyed in. Long ashes and full glasses friends. New things coming soon. Take care everyone.

 

 

A trip to the Amazon…

I saw the CAO Amazon Basin a few months back and I was super hesitant to pick one up. For me personally, CAO has been asleep at the wheel in terms of new blends and creations. They have some cigars that I enjoy but to truly say they have cigars that I just keep going back to, no. They have been in need of something new and different for some time in my opinion. Regardless, I did pick one up and had it in my humidor for probably 3 months or so now. I decided to review it today and I am regretting my previous decisions now.

Let’s take a look at the CAO Amazon Basin

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Brazilian  Amazon Braganca 40% and Nicaraguan

Size: 6 x 52 Toro

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This cigar is produced by CAO and General Cigar company and because this tobacco is very rare, it is only produced every 3 years. Only 5,000 lbs (roughly) of the Braganca tobacco was purchased so this is a very limited production cigar.

Appearance: This is a rugged, dark brown, oily, toothy cigar with nice veins and tight seams. It is bumpy in spots but is firm with no soft spots anywhere. There are braided strands of tobacco that form the “band” around the cigar. They are on there pretty tight so removing them may become a chore. This is a rustic looking stick with a lot of character.

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Pre-Light: I pick up notes of hay, earth, pepper, sweet cedar wood and dried fruit. From the foot I pick up hay, cedar, pepper and earth. Using a V-cutter, the cold draw is smooth with a little bit of resistance. I get notes of hay, slightly floral or grassy notes, leather, and a slight citrus twist. This is a really intriguing combo. Not what I expected.

1st Third: Using matches to kick things off and we are good and toasted, I get a flavor overload and I struggle to figure out what the hell is going on. So many different things hitting my taste buds from every angle. I can definitely pick out sweet cedar, mesquite wood, leather, cocoa, and a grassy maybe basil like spice undertone. As I get into it a bit further, I pick up coffee bean, a woodsy blend of different woods (mostly oak, cedar and mesquite), some citrus notes and earth. This is a super complex blend with a overload of combos. The draw is a little resistant but not bad, the burn is a bit wavy but of no concern. Lots of smoke coming off of this cigar. I am really blown away by the flavor combinations and complexity. Not at all what I expected. I want to put it down but struggle as I try unsuccessfully to pinpoint each different flavor.

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2nd Third: As I make the transition into the halfway mark, the blend changes a bit and I get more black pepper, some grassy notes, hay, earth and cedar. Still very good but not nearly as complex as it first started. It is a very intriguing blend profile and I am still trying to nail down certain things. The draw and burn remain the same. I did touch it up once mainly to straighten out the burn that got a bit out of line. It is very gusty outside today so that isn’t helping. The ash does not hold on past a half inch or so. The wind could be effecting it but twice it dropped on me pretty quickly.

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Final Third: Moving into the last third, things change up a bit again. There is a bit more spice and red pepper towards the back end. It is still very woodsy and notes of cocoa blend nicely with the wood and grassy notes. As I make my way towards the end of this cigar, I am deeply regretting not picking up more of these. 3 years is a long time for a new release and I could have used a box of these to get me through. I tried with no success to remove the braided tobacco band so I used a razor blade to cut through them and extend the life of this smoke a bit.

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Final Thoughts: I really had no expectations from this cigar going in. As stated, CAO has not really been on my radar over the past couple of years. I was hopefully but cautious and man was I shocked when I put flame to foot. The complexity of this cigar really blew my mind. I could not really pinpoint any one exact thing before another flavor begged for attention. I would have loved for the profile of the first third to carry through the entire cigar as it was my favorite third but the rest was solid. I was not disappointed by this cigar at all. As stated I am on the hunt for more so if anyone comes across some they want to part with or let me know, I would appreciate it greatly.

I forgot to mention in the review but this was a solid medium strength, full flavored cigar. It was smooth, flavorful, performed well and at the end I was left wanting more. You can never go wrong with that. I would certainly smoke more if I can get my hands on them. If you can find them, grab em!

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Pairing and time: As always, when I try a cigar for the first time I always drink water. I would pair this cigar with a bourbon, or scotch. The woodsy profile would really compliment the wood in a bourbon like Woodford Reserve. I would be very interested in pairing this with a nice glass of Lagavulin. Total time with this stick was right over 2 hours.

So there you have it. I wish I had done this review sooner and grabbed more. Keep this one on your radar for the next release. If they keep things the same or close, I will grab a box for sure. I am always open to donations or trades if you find some. Lol.

Working on something Warped and an interview with a beautiful SOTL that will be released soon. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. 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!

Local Spotlight. Ford on Fifth, Scottsdale, AZ.

I am very happy to introduce my first local cigar lounge spotlight feature. This is something that I have wanted to do for some time and it is finally starting to come together. Local shops are the heart of the industry and are so vital to the cigar community. I try to visit local shops every time I go to a new place. When I travel for work I have found some great shops that I visit almost every chance I get. You get the opportunity to talk with new people, try new sticks you may not find at your local shop, and just take in the experience in a new environment. There are some places that I go just to escape and enjoy some quiet time and I know what shops offer me that chance. Others I know it’s going to be a large group of regulars and the conversations will range greatly. It all depends on the mood. One thing you will always find in any lounge, is like minded people wanting to hang out and enjoy that one equalizer, quality cigars. No matter what your background, social status, income, ethnicity, religious belief, sexuality, etc. once you step into a lounge and light up a smoke, I have found that all the rest simply does not matter. I have seen it, said it and heard it so many times “If the world was a cigar lounge, it would be a beautiful place”. There is so much truth to that statement. Have you ever seen the need for bouncers in a cigar lounge? I haven’t. Why? Because it’s just not that type of environment. I have had total strangers give me some great cigars, I have given cigars to total strangers, and made total strangers friends. This is why I love this community and being involved, if only a very small part, and doing things like this is my small contribution and a way to give back.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a few days down in Phoenix, Az and from the minute I knew I was going, I started making plans to visit Ford on Fifth. Anthony and Melanie Cantelmo are well known throughout the cigar industry and Anthony recently took over Ford on Fifth. If you are not familiar with them, follow them both on Instagram and Twitter. Unfortunately, Anthony and I’s schedules just didn’t match up and we did not get the opportunity to sit down, have some sticks and do the interview but we still managed to make it happen.

So here we go. A few questions with Anthony Cantelmo of Ford on Fifth.

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 When did you personally get into cigars?

I smoked my first cigar on my 18th Birthday, back in 2000, and have been part of the industry ever since. My first job in the industry was in 2006, I started as a retail night guy at my local B&M.

 What is it about cigars that you enjoy the most?
I love the aroma, the flavor, and the craftsmanship of cigars, but to be honest it’s the camaraderie that I really love about cigars. The friends and people I have met, because of my love of the leaf has been a fantastic journey. I think there is such a richness in conversation that generally happens when people sit down and unwind with a good cigar.
How long have you been involved in the industry?

I have been involved since 2006. In the beginning I was a teacher, so it was only as part time work that I participated in the retail side, but in 2010 I transitioned full time and also ran a news blog for the industry too. In late 2012 I started my first position as a rep for the manufacturer’s with La Flor Dominicana and worked with them plus a couple others until November of 2016 when the shop opportunity presented itself.

 What made you decide to open your own shop?

I think for me it’s always been a dream to do it, but it wasn’t something I was actively pursuing. To be honest I was content with my sales brokerage and doing well in that field. The shop opportunity fell into my lap though and it was too good not to go after it. The life balance it provides for me and my family is priceless and it’s great to be part of a shop community again.

 Tell us about your shop.

Our shop is a fantastic small retail spot in the middle of historic downtown Old Scottsdale in AZ. One of the most unique aspects of our shop is that it’s the oldest shop in AZ for tobacco. It was founded in 1958. Our philosophy is “a new tradition” which embraces the past, but also looks forward to modernizing some elements and building our community.

 What’s the best part about being a shop owner?

Being part of the community is my greatest joy. Our shop is truly a “Cheers” environment where everyone know’s your name. I always tell people how thankful I am for our community and the great guys that we have. Nothing is better than that!

 What are some of your favorite cigars?
My favorites are always changing, but some of my current favorites are Villa Sombra by Warped, Muestra de Saka by Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust, La Rosa by HVC, and Bishop’s Blend by Black Label Trading Company.
 What’s it like having a spouse that is so recognized throughout the industry?

It’s great to have a spouse in the industry because you have a common ground when you talk about the in’s and out’s of the business. From a notoriety stand point it’s has its up’s-and-downs, but the best part is having a voice and reach when we want to talk about or share information about our business. My goal is to have a global community with our BOTL’s and SOTL’s for our shop and Mel is a large part of that.

Anything else you want to add.

We Ship to Canada and Australia right now, and have a website that we are constantly working on at www.fordonfifth.com

 

I want to thank Anthony for taking the time to work with me on this and I want to thank Ben for helping me when I stopped in and hooking me up with some great sticks. If you are in the Phoenix, Scottsdale area, do yourself a favor and stop in. They are in a great area with a lot of shopping all within walking distance so if your spouse doesn’t want to hang out, there is plenty for them to do.

Check out some of the great specials they have available online right now also. Be sure to follow them on social media as they are doing some outstanding giveaways as well.

I hope you enjoyed this piece. If you have a local shop that you visit that you would like me to feature, drop me a comment and let me know. There are many great shops out there and we really need to give them some support. I will always make it a point to support them here.

Until next time everyone, long ashes and full glasses friends. If you stop in at Ford on Fifth, tell them you read about them here. Thanks in advance!

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.”

 

Aging Room Cigars… Solera

So today we take a look at a new cigar for me. I have seen Aging Room Cigars around different places but never really made it onto my radar. I’m not exactly sure why.

“We are not producing cigars for everyone.  We are introducing new blends for educated consumers that are looking for cigars with complexity and character.”

Rafael Nodal (Taken from the Aging Room Website)

The Solera method of aging has been used for centuries in the making of wine, sherry, rum and brandy.  Now, for the first time, we are using the Solera system by combining different vintages of tobacco at different stages of the aging process to obtain a fuller flavor and more complex cigar. (Credit AgingRoom.com)

Aging Room has taken the position on a full boutique blend company and when you learn more about them, they have some highly rated cigars in their portfolio. The Aging Room M356 was in the Top 25 Cigars in 2011 and the F55 Concerto was the Number 2 cigar in 2013 by Cigar Aficionado.

I picked up this cigar on the recommendation of my trusted friend Sean at Famous Smoke Shop. For $7.50 I figured why not. So let’s jump right in and see what we come up with.

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Dominican Sun Grown

Filler: Dominican Habano

Binder: Dominican Habano

Size: Fantastico 5.6 x 54

Appearance: Medium brown with small veins and tight seams. This is a very full cigar with some weight to it. It is very firm with no soft spots. I am hoping it is not too full and leads to a split or crack in the wrapper. The 2 bright yellow bands really stand out. One covers most of the cigar with the word SOLERA running horizontal down the cigar. The second band has Aging Room on it. Open foot with a pigtail cap.

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Pre-Light: After removing the large band, I pick up notes of pepper, wood, and a unique sweetness that I cannot really pinpoint. The foot offers more of the same with a earthy, sweet, pepper and cedar. It is an interesting combination that is really intriguing. I hope I pick up some of these notes once I light it.

Cold Draw: I picked up notes of dry hay or straw, pepper and earth after using my V-cut to open the pigtail cap.

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First Third: I used a dual flame torch to kick things off because the wind is ridiculous today. Temps are great for early April in Pa and the sun is shining bright but the wind is crazy! Once I get things toasted nicely I pull in a nice open draw with a little bit of resistance and I get a citrus like bitterness mixed with strong cedar wood and a mix of what I can only describe as dried fruit and cocoa. This is a complex smoke. I am getting a lot of smoke off of this cigar. Every now and then I get brief hints of black pepper added to the mix. The ash is super flaky and is blowing all over everything. As I move more into the first inch or so, this is a good medium strength, complex cigar. A very nice smooth blend that keeps you coming back to it.

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Second Third: Making the transition into the half way mark I get more of a woodsy blend, cedar and maybe oak mixed with a sweet almost mocha like note. Unfortunately the wrapper did split on me but other than not looking great, it smoked just fine and burned with no issues. The flaky ash issue continued and with the wind it is swirling all around me. I wouldn’t want this happening in a social setting for sure but for me at home on my back deck, it’s not a big deal.

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Final Third: Moving in to the last third, I get more of a woodsy, charred, nutty blend. It is a different smoke that what I first started with but it has been an enjoyable, complex blend throughout. I am not a big fan of huge flavor changes or transitions but this one works. It has remained a medium strength stick throughout. The draw has remained open and produces a lot of smoke. The burn has been a bit off but with the winds we are having today, it is to be expected. No touch ups were really needed other than to straighten out what the wind is messing with even with a split wrapper.

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Final Thoughts: I really didn’t know what to expect from this cigar or Aging Room. It started out very sweet, borderline infused but not quite, then moved into a woodsy cedar and finished with a charred nutty blend. There is a subtle sweetness and some pepper that appear here and there. Overall this was a complex, enjoyable smoke. I had some wrapper issues and the flaky ash was a bit annoying but overall, I really liked this cigar. At the price point around $7.50, I would certainly smoke it again. I think it would be a great cigar for beginners to advanced smokers. It is mild enough but complex enough to hold your interest. This is a great morning cigar to pair with a cup of coffee or easy after dinner smoke.

Pairing: I paired this with water as always when I try a cigar for the first time. I am boring I know, but I do things the same way for a reason. It gives me the truest representation of the cigar as a stand alone without any foreign flavors added into the mix. I would pair this with coffee, red wine, and probably a easy sipping bourbon like Angels Envy Port or Rum blend.

I picked this one up at Famous Smoke Shop (https://www.famous-smoke.com)like I said. As always, my man Sean didn’t steer me wrong. The crew there take great care of me and know what I like. Tyler, Sean, Allie and Nicole are truly great at what they do. They are also great people so that always makes the experience fun.

I hoped you enjoyed the review. Feel free to drop some comments, thoughts, or your own review here. I love to hear what other people thought of it. 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.”

Its not a cigar…its a 1502. Blue Sapphire review

“Global Premium Cigars is a tobacco company Proudly Nicaraguan, which owns the most renown and prestigious brand 1502. Truly a Nicaraguan treasure.

In our Premium brand 1502, you will find three tobacco lines with the highest quality, where the sowing process, harvest, curing, aging and selection of each tobacco leaf is our major concern. It takes more than five years from the time of its sowing until the time you can enjoy one of our fine cigars; this is why patience is one of our greatest virtues in the art of tobacco production.

In our brand 1502, you will find three lines totally different from each other, being 1502 Emerald the “Fina Fuerte” (Fine Strong), 1502 Ruby of medium strength and 1502 Black Gold with strongest character. Three spectacular bindings that exclaim the Nicaraguan flavor, which will delight at all times and will make an unforgettable experience. So Why 1502? When Christopher Columbus discovered Nicaragua in 1502, he not only discovered a paradise land where natives with their rich cultures lived, he also discovered a new world full of riches.”  (Taken from their website.)

I was unfamiliar with 1502 in the sense that I had not tried any of their cigars until the past few months. I purchased the Emerald, Rudy, Black Gold, and Blue Sapphire. I tried all of them with the exception of the Blue Sapphire in a short amount of time and I can say that 1502 makes a great cigar.

I let the Sapphire age a few months in the humidor and I finally decided it was time. Looking at it, it is a beautifully constructed cigar that is completely Nicaraguan. Wrapper, Binder and Filler are all Nicaraguan which I found very intriguing. Unlike the other 1502’s the Blue Sapphire is not a box pressed stick.  It is a 6×52 Toro Gordo and retails for around $13. It is nice dark brown which really makes the beautiful blue and silver band stand out. There are some medium veins and I pick up faint notes of earth, straw and cocoa from the foot.

I decided to try a new cut with this one. I used a v-cutter and made 2 cuts making the X cut. It worked out well and the draw was open with a touch of resistance. The cold draw produces notes of earth and cocoa. I used a match to start and touched it up with a dual flame torch.

The first draw provided woodsy, earthy and cocoa notes. I picked up a little pepper but overall the flavor was nice and medium in strength. As I moved into it a bit, the wood and pepper picked up a bit and made for a nice mixture. This wasn’t something I picked up on the cold draw so it was a nice surprise.The burn line was uneven in places but evened out in time and the ash held for about 1 inch but was prone to dropping off without much notice.

As I moved into the second third, it was very much consistent with the first third of this cigar. The burn and draw were great. Moving into the final third, the flavor really revealed itself.

The final third produced a combination of woods (maybe cedar and oak) with a nice pepper, earth, and a subtle cocoa. The pepper and wood really take over through the final third making this more of a medium-full strength.  As I closed in on the 1 hour 50 minute mark, this cigar ends with a nice woodsy cedar, cocoa and pepper. 20161218_151829-011

Overall this was not a very complex blend with a ton of crazy changing flavor profiles as you transition from third to third. It stays relatively consistent with some subtle back and forth from the cedar/oak taking the forefront to the cocoa/earth moving up with a subtle pepper in the background. I thought it was a solid cigar with a nice flavor and a medium to medium-full strength. I would smoke this cigar again. The price point of this cigar makes it hard to be a box worthy or rotational cigar for me. I think beginners could transition into this cigar pretty easily and more experienced smokers would enjoy it for what it is. A medium to medium-full Nicaraguan cigar.

I paired this cigar with water for the first half and Angels Envy bourbon for the final third which really brought out the pepper in the bourbon and the cigar. As a fan of spice, I enjoyed the pairing.

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As the man Enrique Sánchez says, “Relax and Enjoy” this cigar and let me know what you think. Drop your comments, reviews and thoughts here. Be sure to follow us here and on social media. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses. Peace.

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2016 Top Cigar List. And the problem with them.

Its that time again. Yep, now is the time for everyone to publish their top however many cigars of the year. I read through them, and without a doubt there are some really great cigars that make those list. My biggest problem with them however, is that virtually no one includes boutiques on this list! Seriously? How can anyone simply leave these terrific cigars out of the competition? Money. Plain and simple. I am not going to call out publications or other platforms by name because that isn’t my style, and as a consumer, and an Ambassador for CRA I have to be very politically correct because I could potentially have interactions with some of them.

I know that to be included for consideration or even featured in some publications, manufactures are faced with hefty fees, some I have heard are around the $25,000 mark. If anyone wants to send me a check for 10% of that, well, we can talk about making you #1 on my list as well. Money talks right? Wrong. I do not accept money, but I will gladly accept cigars to review and give my unbiased opinion on. Don’t judge me.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the top 25 that I have seen truly have some great sticks that are deserving of those kind of accolades, but to leave out boutiques is really unfair to not only the manufacturer, but even more so to the very people that read these list. As a consumer you should really find blogs and sites that offer a wider look into cigars. Some people could very well say that I am doing the exact same thing because I typically only feature boutiques on my blog. I wouldn’t say that you are wrong. I would simply say that this is a choice I have made to give smaller companies that cannot fund huge marketing campaigns and feature pages in the big publications a platform. The reason behind this is simple. If you want to read about big cigar brands, a simple web search will provide you with countless reviews and articles about almost any big brand you want. But if you want to read an unbiased look into lesser known cigars, brands and the people behind them, well you have to come to a place like this.

The other thing that I find amusing, but also annoying is the sheepeople posting photo after photo of them with the Top Cigar of 2016. We have all seen it, especially over the past few days. I have never been a big fan of bandwagons because it looks really silly when you fall off of them. It’s so funny to see the numerous post of the flavor of the day and in 3 months time, you never see them smoking it again. If it was so great, why don’t you have more than that 1? I guess I just don’t fit the mold of needing to be part of the “in crowd”. It’s great for the cigar company however, so smoke on and hashtag away with #1cigar and #topof2016, and most of all enjoy your cigar.

So the dilemma is, to do a top 2016 list or not. For the purpose of the blog I feel a strong obligation to do one, but at the same time, I feel there have been so many great cigars put out by so many great brands and I have enjoyed so many, how do I even begin?

I played with the idea of including viewers Top 10 list and I would love to see what cigars top your list. For the purpose of the blog, I have decided that I will list the top brands I have enjoyed this year. I will not limit it to a particular cigar because many of the cigars I loved over the past year did not get released this year.

So here we go with mixed emotions I present my Top Boutique Brands for 2016.

#10 Balmoral: This one was tough to put into this list. I have only had the Anejo XO and it was one of the best cigars I have tried period. Hands down, this 18 year aged work of art is outstanding. Because I only had this one, I had to put it lower on my list of brands but for single cigars it is easy top 5.

#9 Ezra Zion: I have more to try from them, but the cigars I have tried are all great cigars. All my Ex’s, Tantrum PA and the FHK, were very impressive. Perfectly constructed and great blends. I see myself trying more of these soon.

#8 1502 Cigars: This is a brand I tried later in the year and I must say that I was very impressed with them. The Ruby, Black Gold, Emerald were all very good. I have a Blue Sapphire in the humidor waiting for the right time to try it. I can see these becoming a part of my regular rotation.

#7 Nomad: From Fred Rewey and the Fabrica Oveja Negra factory (Black Label Trading/Black Works Studio) The Martial Law and the C-276 are outstanding cigars.

#6 Nat Sherman: This was an under the radar brand for me. I saw a few things about them from time to time but never decided to pick any up. I went into a local shop and they had the, so I inquired and purchased. Once I smoked one, I knew I had to try others and that I did. Very good brand and everything I have tried, I have truly enjoyed. Great smokes.

#5 Leaf by Oscar: From the famous Leaf and Bean in Pittsburg, the Oscar brand was by far some of the most enjoyable sticks I tried all year. The original 4 were the Maduro, Sumatra, Corojo, and Connecticut were terrific. Most recently the Oscar Habano hit the market and it was everything the first 4 were but turned up a notch.

#4 Crowned Heads: This one was tough because I am very partial to this brand. There are so many great cigars that Jon Huber and crew have put out over the past few years, many of which I have either a box or 5 pack samplers of. I love the feel of this brand, the stories behind the names, and the cigars themselves. They have teamed with My Fathers Cigars for a few sticks recently and they are really great. I will say that I have many Crowned Heads in the humidor and they are very much a BIG part of my regular rotation.

#3 Black Label Trading Company: From James and Angela Brown and the Fabrica Oveja Negra factory, this is a brand that I am truly a fan of. I stumbled upon their website one day and fell in love with the dark, edgy vibe that came from them. I sought out numerous shops to find them and once I did, I haven’t looked back. With the recent additions to their lineup, I am more of a fan today and they have a shelf in my humidor dedicated to their cigars. Last Rites, Santa Muerte, Lawless and the highly rated (although excluded from all major list) Bishops Blend sealed the deal this year. If you told me I had to pick a top cigar from 2016 the Bishops Blend would likely take that spot.

#2 Black Works Studio: Until very recently this was my number one brand and I never thought any brand would top it this year. The cigars coming out under this label are truly outstanding and the flavors being blended are mind-numbing. The Green Hornet, NBK, Killer Bee, and Rorschach are unique, flavorful blends that I truly love. All of these cigars are some of my favorite sticks from this year.

#1 Felix Assouline Cigars: Who? Yeah, that’s what I said a few weeks ago. And then I placed an order and Felix reached out to me to let me know the online store was down and he would personally take care of my order. True customer service and what a great guy. Then I got my cigars. Beautiful, hand crafted works of art. The quality and construction of each one was top notch. Then I put flame to foot and WOW! The tobaccos he uses in his cigars rival anything on the market. He included a 17 year aged cigar from his private stock for my “troubles” with the online store and if you haven’t read the review of the CSB Vintage Habano, check it out. Hands down the best cigar I have had. I still have a few more from his portfolio to try and review but the 5 I had (CSB, 2 Saints, Ego, Havana Sunrise Reserve, and the CSB Vintage) although very different, each were on a different level. I cannot say enough about these cigars. As much as I love the other brands I listed, the bar was raised with these. I am 100% sold that everything Felix puts out is world class and I am excited about things to come from FAC. Rumor has it something could be in the works soon. Stay tuned…

So there it is. MY personal opinion about the top brands I enjoyed. Personally I would take a cigar from any on this list and compare it to the big brands in a blind test and I think people would be very surprised at the outcome. Do not sleep on these boutiques! You are missing out on some of the best cigars on the market.

Hope you enjoyed the read. Please drop your comments and your list for everyone to review. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses. Peace!

Cigar Review. Ezra Zion FHK

Admittedly, Ezra Zion is a brand that is fairly new to me. Not to say that I haven’t tried some of their other cigars (Tantrum Pa and All My Ex’s) were both very good cigars but I did not review them at the time of enjoying them. I will eventually go back and do that for sure. After having the 2 previously mentioned sticks, I was impressed enough to pick up the FHK without knowing anything about it. I ordered this through the great folks at www.cigarfederation.com/store with a few other brands that were unfamiliar to me. Couldn’t beat the price and the free shipping at the time.

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The Ezra Zion FHK (Fathers of Hoover and Kelly) pays tribute to the 2 owners fathers which I respect and tells you a bit about who they are. I have not been in contact with them other than brief likes and comments on social media but researching the brand reveals a lot of great comments and reviews. This cigar is available in 4 different sizes. I had the box pressed 6 x 52 Belicoso. This cigar features a Mexican San Andreas wrapper with an Indonesian binder and Brazilian/Indonesian filler.

First impression is that this is a beautiful cigar. The dark brown wrapper has small veins and barely visible seams. There are 2 bands on this cigar. Both are black and gold and add a touch of elegance to the cigar. I picked up notes of wood, barnyard, leather and coffee from the foot. This wasn’t a very fragrant cigar and initially I didn’t pick up much from the cigar until I cut the cap. I used a straight guillotine cut and lit it with a match. I did touch it up with a dual flame to get it nice and toasted.

Right off the bat the draw was extremely tight and this continued to be a problem from start to finish. This almost always ruins the review process but I stuck with it. I got very little air through it, and the smoke production was almost zero. This surprised me because I know that Ezra Zion is known for it’s quality and construction. That being said, I have had bad draws from almost every cigar manufacture I have tried and these things happen. It makes for a frustrating experience but the show must go on right?

The initial notes I picked up were primarily woodsy, leather, a little pepper and a dark chocolate bitterness. Not bitterness in the sense of bad, but the bitterness that is found in rich, dark chocolate which I enjoy a lot. I fought through the draw with multiple small, quick puffs and finally got a bit of smoke to flow. I broke down and ran a draw poker through it and not much changed unfortunately. As I continued through the first third, the blend stayed pretty much the same without any radical changes in flavors. This was not a bad thing as the blend was flavorful and smooth. The ash held tight for over 1 inch and the burn was almost perfect. I was inside my garage with the heater blowing and it had little effect on the performance. Take that away and I would say the burn would be razor sharp and even all the way around.

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As I started into the second third, I picked up some subtle variations with a little more of the chocolate, maybe even coffee notes, with some pepper and the same woodsy flavor from the start. It is medium in strength and is very smooth. Nothing harsh and the profile is very consistent with a few shifts. The draw opened up for a bit and was a nice change from trying to suck the ash through the cap, but sadly returned to being tight again shortly after. I ran the poker through it again and it helped a little.

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As I started the final third, the draw finally broke and made the last bit of this cigar very enjoyable. I was able to pick up more of the pepper notes which blended well with the wood, leather and coffee. I read other reviews that claimed to pick up a ton of different notes that I certainly didn’t but that doesn’t mean much. We all taste things differently.

Overall, taking the tight draw out of the equation, this was a very good cigar. I enjoyed the blends a lot and I am a fan of the woodsy flavor that holds throughout the entire 1 hour 50 minutes. The strength increased a little in the final third but this could be due to the tight draw opening up and allowing more flow. This is a great cigar for beginners who want to increase their palates and move into a more complex blend. I also think that experienced smokers would enjoy this cigar. It isn’t super complex and there are no huge shifts in flavors but it is interesting enough to hold your attention.

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I would smoke this cigar again and I think it is certainly a cigar that I would be comfortable buying a 5 pack of. The appearance, construction and burn on this cigar was top notch. Another solid stick from Ezra Zion.

As you can see from the last 2 pics, the draw opened up and I smoked this stick to a nub.

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Las Mareas…The Tides.

I’ve tried surfing a couple of times in my life when I lived in Eastern Alabama or as most people refer to it Pensacola Florida. I can tell you that the beaches there are not know for their huge waves but it was a nice thing to try now and again. I can certainly understand how people get passionate about it.

If you know anything about Crowned Heads cigars and Jon Huber, you know that cigars is certainly a passion for him. Many of their cigars are named from inspiration, be it music, places or in this case, surfing.

The Crowned Heads Las Mareas is made in the My Fathers Cigars factory in Nicaragua. This cigar features tobaccos from the Garcia family farms in and around Esteli, Nicaragua. The wrapper is Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 with Nicaraguan binder and filler. I have the tuberia 4 1/2 x 48 size but it is available in 4 sizes.

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The cigar has a rustic look with a black band with white writing which contrast nicely with the brown of the wrapper. It is well constructed and looks great. From the foot I was able to pick up some earth tones with light hints of straw and leather. I used a straight cut and the cold draw was good with little resistance and notes of wood and hay.

I used good old wooden matches to get things moving and the first draw brought notes of cedar, some pepper and a sort of floral flavor that I can’t quite pinpoint. I am getting a nice amount of smoke off of this cigar. First third is a solid medium in strength and flavor. Nothing too complex but very smooth.

The second third I get a little more cedar notes with leather, grain and a hint of chocolate or cocoa. The flavor profile is enjoyable, nothing really complex or over the top but smooth and creamy.

The final third really brought more of the same until the very end of the cigar where the spice really came back to the forefront and finished strong. Nothing to harsh but certainly noticeable.

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Overall, I enjoyed the Las Mareas by Crowned Heads. This was a solid cigar that took me just over 1 hour and 10 minutes to finish. I only had water while trying this stick but I think it would pair nicely with a nice bourbon or rum. The spice from either would compliment this cigar well. I have a couple of the other sizes in my humidor and look forward to seeing how they compare.

I would say this is a good medium-full bodied cigar that is worth trying. Another solid cigar from Crowned Heads.

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EGO…Good or Bad? Find out here

What is an Ego? By definition it’s a person’s sense of self esteem or self-importance. We all know someone that has strong ego and it’s pretty much seen in a negative light by others around them. Not often does the word carry a positive connotation. Sometimes we could all use an ego boost or have someone stroke our ego. When it happens, you feel great, you feel a lift in your spirit, and overall demeanor.

When I saw the EGO cigar from Felix Assouline, I thought man that is ballsy. It takes a strong belief in a product to associate it with something often seen in a negative light and seen as cocky or arrogant. Sometimes you are just very confident and it comes across in the wrong way. I decided to keep an open mind when I purchased this stick. I was intrigued by the name and I wanted to see what it was all about. It was either going to silence the critics in my head or prove them right. Don’t judge me, you have those same voices in your head. If you say you don’t, one of you is a liar! 🙂

I decided to save the EGO Spirit for last. No real reason for it, it sorta just played out that way. This is the last of the bunch that I purchased and obviously this will be the last review of the brand until I get the Ringo and Something Special in my possession. I will say that everything I tried was absolutely top notch and FAC is doing it right!

So without further ado, let’s spark this EGO and see what we get…

The Spirit is a 6 1/2 X 54 (Belicoso) box pressed Nicaraguan cigar with a Habano Criollo 98 wrapper, Indonesian binder, and filler from Honduras and Nicaragua. It is available in 7 sizes and priced between $1.96 (Shot) and $10.30 (Passion).

The cigar is simply an elegant looking cigar. The box press is very nice, the color is a rustic, reddish brown with some nice veins. There was a minor defect in the wrapper (you may see in the photos) that was visible but had 0 impact on this cigar or the performance. The band is really nice. The red and gold really stand out and it has an Indian feel to the artwork. With the Indonesian binder, it fits for sure.

From the foot I pick up heavy barnyard notes, with a mix hay, cedar and cocoa (almost a dark chocolate). I use a straight guillotine cut and only matches to get this one started. (It was so cold out that the butane in my lighter would not ignite)

Immediately I am flooded with a woodsy, cedar like flavor, spice and cocoa. The Jamastran and Jalapa come through nicely. If you are familiar with Felix Assouline, these tobaccos are noticeable standouts throughout the portfolio. The process he uses to age these tobaccos are something I have only tasted in his lineup. No other cigar that I am aware of taste anything like this. I am a big fan of the flavor profile it gives to his cigars. That being said, they are on display nicely in this blend. It almost has a cedar, pine or evergreen flavor and I cannot pinpoint it but its distinct and it is good! The draw is perfect and the burn is straight and even (until I cranked up the heater in the garage and the swirling hot and cold air mixture created a small issue as you see in the pic). The ash hangs on through the first third and falls off with a little encouragement.

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As I transaction into the second third, the pepper and spice are on display but not harsh at all. The dark chocolate profile ramps up a bit and this settles into a nice medium strength with a medium-full flavor profile. The cigar is performing nicely and even under extreme cold and swirling winds from a propane heater blowing hot air all around the garage, I only have some minor shifts in the burn line. The flavor profile is complex enough to make it very interesting. I am about 45 minutes in at this point and so far, another great cigar. I am starting to think that Felix might just know a thing or two about making great cigars. 🙂

When I review a cigar for the first time I typically only “pair” it with water because I like to get a feel for the cigar and only the cigar. As I transitioned into the final third, I decided to take a chance (and because it was freezing outside) to break out some Woodford Reserve Double Oaked Bourbon and see how things changed.

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The cigar changed back to more of the pepper and spice with some earthy tones and a creamy smoothness but with more of a cinnamon or nutmeg spice addition. When I added some bourbon into the mix things got very interesting. The pepper notes flooded my taste buds and it really amped up the spice in the bourbon. Things got hot but I wasn’t complaining. I am a fan of hot and spicy things but not to the point of pain like people that love having tears in their eyes from peppers. Being from Louisiana, cayenne pepper and flavor are a part of what we do with everything.

The more I got into the final third, things calmed down and the sweetness took the forefront and really leveled out the heat from the bourbon. The draw stayed perfect throughout the entire smoke and the burn (had it not been for the swirling air being forced around by the heater) stayed relatively even. Take away the heater and the burn stays even throughout. The ash held for each third and I needed no touchups at all.

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Overall, this was a very good cigar and worthy of its name. This is a cigar I would smoke on a regular and a great addition to any rotation. It was roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes total and I enjoyed my time with it. I am curious to try the other sizes as I have heard others say they got more of the sweetness from one of the others making it almost a dessert cigar. I did not find that in this one but I could easily see it as there are certainly notes of it to be found.

After 5 wonderful cigars from Felix Assouline Cigars, I can say without a doubt that I am sold on the brands. I have 2 others left to try and I want to try these same 5 in different sizes for sure. For me, FAC belongs in the top 3 of my all time favorite cigar brands. I encourage all of you to follow them on social media and visit the website. Make sure you let them know you heard about them on the blog and feel free to come back here and leave your comments, photos and reviews. I would love to hear what you think about all of the cigars I review. I hope you enjoyed it.

Don’t be afraid to put your EGO on display and share it with the world! Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!

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