H. Upmann Noellas (LCDH Exclusivo)

H. Upmann Noellas (LCDH Exclusivo)

Origin : CubaH. Upmann
Format : Corona (Cosacos)
Size : 5.3 x 42 (135 x 17 mm)
Ring : 42
Hand-Made
Price : ~$20 CAD
More info about purchasing H. Upmann cigars...

Now that the warmer weather is melting away the snow, I have had the chance to smoke the last of three sticks I wanted to have before writing this review. Without risking frostbite of course. The H. Upmann Noellas were discontinued some time in the 1980s, but at one point were regular production cigars. They were sold in beautifully presented glass jars of 25. In 2009 they were re-released as a LCDH Exclusivo. I have read they were not actually available until 2010 and some places didn't see them until 2013. I am not sure when they were released in Canada, I just know I purchased mine at the LCDH Toronto in May of 2014.

I am a big fan of the H. Upmann marca. I can't say I have smoked every stick in the line-up, but I have yet to have one that was not to my liking. One of the first Cubans I ever smoked was an H. Upmann Corona Junior. Although it is a bit pedestrian as far as Cubans go, it was with this that I realized what all the fuss was about with cigars. So let's see how the Noellas stacked up for me.

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Can We Now Legally Import Cuban Cigars into the US?

Can we now legally import Cuban cigars to the United States?

We have been getting a lot of questions lately from readers about the status of Cuban cigar imports. With the US finally normalizing relations with Cuba, restrictions are already beginning to loosen, although not too quickly. Here’s the skinny on bringing Cuban cigars into the country so that you know what you currently can and cannot do!

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

If you are authorized to travel to Cuba, you may purchase alcohol and tobacco products for personal use (not to re-sell) totaling up to $100 in value. That is a combined total. You may personally bring the alcohol and tobacco products back to the USA when you return to the country.

One thing you still cannot do legally is purchase Cuban tobacco or alcohol products online or in another country. So you cannot for example buy Cuban cigars in Nicaragua and then bring them back with you to America. But if you are visiting Cuba, you can buy up to $100 in Cuban cigars, and bring them back to the USA.

As for the future, hopefully restrictions will continue to loosen. In order for full trade to be restored, however, Cuba is requiring that the US return the base at Guantanamo Bay, stop broadcasting anti-Castro messages into Cuba, and also pay millions of dollars for damages due to the embargo. Odds are none of this will be happening any time soon. These are some pretty hefty demands. It is hard to say for sure that Cuba is serious about moving forward. So for now, keep purchases down to $100 or less while you are visiting the island. We will update you if there are any more changes—and we sure hope there will be.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

These days, it’s hard not to be familiar with Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, at least in passing. It was only available in Canada for a long time, and wasn’t very well-known anywhere else. Over the past few years its popularity has exploded around the world. It’s now quite well-known in the US and the UK, and of course remains a favorite for Canadians.

According to the marketing story that goes with Fireball, originally developed as part of a line of Seagram flavored schnapps in the 1980s, it was created by a Canadian bartender trying to warm up in the wake of an Arctic blast. In 1989, the Sazerac Company purchased the rights from Seagram and started marketing the drink as Dr. McGillicuddy’s Fireball Whisky.” In 2006, it was rebranded with its current name, “Fireball Cinnamon Whisky.”

Now, Fireball is everywhere. In 2013, it became one of the ten most popular liquors in existence. This has perhaps caused a lot of whisky connoisseurs to avoid it, including me. Why? Well, when something gets to be that popular, that fast, it’s hard not to think of it as anything other than a passing craze. As real whisky aficionados, those of us who love the drink tend to think of ourselves as being above passing trends. On the other hand, just because something is hugely popular doesn’t mean it isn’t great, so I thought it was time to check out Fireball for myself.

The bottle features a simple design; the Fireball label has a “charred” look around the edges, suggestive of the whisky’s hot flavors. The liquid inside is a clear, bright gold. Opening the bottle, I don’t even smell whisky at all. All I smell is cinnamon. In fact, that is literally all I smell. No other notes, no nuance, just straight-up cinnamon. It smells a bit like Big Red gum.

On the palate, it is syrupy and sweet at first, and then comes a big punch of cinnamon. The hot cinnamon flavor sticks to your palate for a long time on the finish. Once again, I don’t really taste whisky. The taste is no more nuanced than the smell. It’s just cinnamon.

If you really, really love cinnamon, I can see where this could be an enjoyable drink. And I can see why the young people are all crazy about it. It’s definitely the addicting kind of drink you can just chug down. Since there’s nothing subtle about it, there is nothing to slow down and really appreciate. And for that reason, I can see the justification for avoiding it if you are a real whisky aficionado.

Price-wise, you are going to pay around $18 for a bottle. While this is hardly expensive, it is not exactly cheap either. I would say that makes it pretty overpriced for what you are getting. There are so many better beverages you can get in this price range. And yes, there are better flavored options out there too, if that is what you are into. I am glad I tried it, just to know what everyone is talking about, but I can safely say that I was right the first time; Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is not a serious whisky enthusiast’s drink.

Summary: Fireball Cinnamon Whisky

Color: Bright gold.

Nose: Cinnamon.

Palate: Cinnamon.

Illusione Fume d’Amour Viejos

Illusione Fume d'Amour Viejos

Origin : Nicaragua
Format : RobustoIllusione
Size : 5 x 50
Wrapper : Nicaragua
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : ~$9.50 each
More info about purchasing Illusione Fume d'Amour...

Illusione isn’t a brand that adds several new cigars to its line every year—and that’s a good thing. The pressure to release a new cigar every year can lead to compromises in quality, and personally I think it’s best when a company puts in as much time as it needs to in order to make something really excellent. At the time of its releae at 2014 IPCPR, the Illusione Fume d'Amour was the first new cigar line from this brand in three years, which makes it a very exciting release.

The name Fume d'Amour uses French words but according to a friend it doesn't really make sense to French ears (it should have rather been called fumée d'amour). I guess it could be translated to "love smoke" or "to love to smoke". It’s a Nicaraguan puro manufactured at the TABSA Factory in Jalapa. As a matter of interest, no ligero leaves were used in its construction, only seco and viso leaves. It’s available in four sizes: Lagunas (4.5 x 42), Clementes (6.5 x 48), Viejos (5 x 50), and Capristanos (6 x 56). For this review, I smoked the Viejos.

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Cuban Cigars in the United States? Don’t hold your breath.

The Nic-Cuban hybrid…a dream or reality?

When President Obama announced he was opening talks with the Cuban government, cigar smokers across America rejoiced. After five decades of an embargo, there was finally hope that Cuban cigars would soon become available to consumers in the US. Would we finally be able to buy CCs without looking over our shoulders? Unfortunately, at this time, the terms of the negotiations indicate that legal Cuban cigars may be a long way off for Americans.

In order for full trade relations to happen, Cuba is demanding that:

  1. The US Naval base in Guantanamo Bay be returned to Cuba;
  2. The US stop broadcasting anti-Castro radio/TV into the island;
  3. The US pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for losses due to the embargo.

These demands illustrate that the Castro regime has no real interest in rapprochement with the US. Additionally, the Helms-Burton act of 1996 states the embargo can only be lifted by Congress. Under this act, Cuba must hold free elections, release political prisoners, guarantee worker’s rights, and allow freedom of the press. But the Castro brothers have as much revolutionary zeal as ever, and no interest in promoting democracy and privatization. Unless there is a regime change, the terms of Helms-Burton will never be met. And history has shown that only overt war can bring about such a change. No one wants that.

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Monte by Montecristo Jacopo No. 2

Monte by Montecristo Jacopo No. 2

Origin : Dominican RepublicMontecristo
Format : Square-pressed Torpedo
Size : 6.1 x 54
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Habano
Filler : Dominican
Binder : Dominican Olor and Nicaraguan Corojo
Hand-Made
Price : ~$9
More info about purchasing Monte by Montecristo cigars...

Monte by Montecristo was released in 2013, billed as the strongest cigar in the Montecristo line. It is a fresh twist on an old concept. According to Altadis, “The Monte’s signature feature is the inclusion of two binders: a spicy Dominican Olor combined with a strong and aromatic Nicaraguan Corojo, which adds strength, firmness, and complexity.” There are three different vitolas available: the Conde, measuring 5.5 x 48, the Monte measuring 6 x 60, and the Jacopo No. 2, measuring 6.1 x 54. I smoked the Jacopo No. 2. You have probably noticed this is a unique name for a vitola. As a note of literary interest, the name “Jacopo” is taken from a character in The Count of Monte Cristo.

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Fuente Fuente Opus X The Lost City

Fuente Fuente Opus X The Lost City 1

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Robusto
Size : 5 1/4 x 50
Wrapper : Dominican Republic
Filler : Dominican Republic
Binder : Dominican Republic
Hand-Made
Price : ~$30 each
More info about purchasing Arturo Fuente Lost City cigars...

This week I really had some deep pockets. I typically do not spend over $15.00 on a cigar unless I know it to be eccentric, however I really wanted to try this Opus X blend, so I splurged. Let's find out if it was worth it.

In 2004 Hollywood actor/director Andy Garcia wanted to produce a film telling the story of a Cuban tobacco family’s struggles during the Castro revolution. In one of the movie’s scenes Garcia wanted to duplicate a Cuban tobacco farm. After being introduced to Carlito Fuente, owner of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia, Garcia proposed the idea of shooting a scene with the tobacco plants in the background. Carlito was in favor of the idea however harvest was right around the corner making it impossible to film. Being the gentleman he is, Carlito offered to plant a field of tobacco after harvest and by June Garcia would have a field of three-foot plants to shoot in his scene. When asked what he would do with the tobacco Fuente replied “If it is good, I will use it.” That’s when Garcia suggested the idea of making a special blend bearing the logo from the movie, “The Lost City” which would later become the name on the cigars. The rest from there is history. The tobacco, seen in the movie, is the same used in The Lost City blend.

Read the full review of Fuente Fuente Opus X The Lost City...

Amazon Contest Winner

Amazon

The winner of the $35 Amazon gift certificate is Joseph (21:25 comment). Congrats! Please get in touch to claim your prize.

Long ashes everyone - and stay tuned for more contests in future!

PS If you would like to support CigarInspector.com, feel free to make your Amazon purchases through this link. Thank you!

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