Help Out Cigar Artist Darrel Morris, Get Free Cigars!

Viaje Limited Edition Print

Many of you will remember the feature and giveaway we ran for cigar artist Darrel Morris late last year. It was a very popular feature that garnered a lot of wonderful comments and participation. For those of you who might have missed it, Darrel Morris is an amazing artist who works in scrimshaw, which is engraving into bone or ivory. His drawings are remarkable in their detail and realism. They capture not only form, but texture, and most importantly, his love for cigars.

Darrel is in something of a jam. Six years ago, he and his wife lost their jobs in the recession. While they’re working again and finally starting to make ends meet, they’ve been served up a foreclosure notice on their home—despite their payments being current. They can still save their home, but they need to raise a ton of money fast to make it happen.

You can help out!

Darrel is holding another giveaway. His goal is to make 100 artwork sales. Entering is easy—you just go to his website (here's the link to the available works) and order something. At the time of writing, Darrel was approaching 20 sales. Or you can just spread the word about this contest, it will also help.

When he hits 100 sales, Darrel will select 10 random contestants to receive cigar bombs! Each package will include at least five premium cigars. If he goes over 100 sales, he will increase the number of bombs proportionally. We at Cigar Inspector will also send a 5-pack to one of the contestants to support Darrel's project, so this makes 11 bombs in total.

Darrel is a great guy and an amazing artist, and I know a lot of you here love his work. So please consider purchasing some beautiful art for your home and help Darrel save his. No matter what happens, you’ll get some great art, AND you’ll have a chance to win free cigars!

Best Cuban Cigars of 2014

This year we're as usual a bit late with the 'best of' Cuban list, sorry about that. On the bright side, this delay gave us a chance to smoke all of these cigars again in the beginning of 2015, which confirmed the ratings.

Like last year, the list is composed of cigars that we smoked in 2014 (with mostly recent box codes). Without further ado, here's the list.

1. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe

Surprisingly, the Hoyo de Monterrey brand secures the #1 spot again! This time it's a LCDH-exclusive release called "Epicure de Luxe". It's definitely the best Cuban cigar I smoked in 2014 and I finished my first box in January 2015. Planning to open my second box this fall!

2. H. Upmann Connossieur A

H. Upmann Connossieur A

The H. Upmann Connossieur A is another quite exclusive release which is available at La Casa del Habanos but also in Habanos Specialists shops around the world. Flavor-wise, this cigar is as good as it gets, if you like the delicate and balanced Cuban profile, you'll be in for a treat. Overall there were a few construction issues (mainly burn) in these cigars though, otherwise they could have easily made it to the very top of this list!

3. Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto

Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robustos

Unfortunately, overall in 2014 I had way less time to dedicate to smoking than I wished, due to work and health issues. In this context, small cigars like Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto really shine and I'm fairly sure that this was my most smoked cigar in 2014. If properly aged, it packs everything Cuba has to offer in a rather small format.

4. Cohiba BHK 52

Cohiba BHK 52

Reliable, consistent, posh: the Cohiba BHK 52 is just as good as last year, and is a perfect special occasion smoke all-around. This is my first choice for informal meetings with business partners.

5. Vegas Robaina Famosos

Not really a mainstream cigar, the Vegas Robaina Famosos box that I kept in my humidor since 2012 gave me some very pleasant moments on the rare occasions I could enjoy a cigar indoors in winter.

What were the best Cuban cigars that you smoked recently?

Cigar Release: Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011

Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011

Gran Habano announces its newest release from their Gran Reserva line, the Gran Reserva #5 2011.

The Gran Habano Gran Reserva line offers a bold new experience in full-bodied premium cigars made with vintage tobaccos. Expect a remarkably smooth, earthy and spicy smoke accompanied by notes of sweet wood and espresso of this aged smoke. The Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 comes in boxes of 10 cigars with a brand new look to its packaging. It is the fourth installment to follow the #3 2008, #3 2009 and #5 2010 vintage blends.

Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2011 : Cigar Stats

Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: G.R. Tabacaleras Unidas, S.A.
Distributor: Gran Habano
Body: Full-bodied
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Size: Corona Gorda 75 5/8 x 46, Gran Robusto 6 x 54, Imperial 6 x 60, CZAR 6 x 66, Grandioso 7 x 70
Box Count: 10
MSRP: $7.50 - $10.00
Release Date: Available Now

Whisky Review: Talisker Skye

Whisky Review: Talisker Skye

A couple years back I reviewed the Talisker 10 Year Old, a Scotch whisky with flavors of peat, seaweed, fruit, spices, wood, and … peat. Lots of peat. Just what you would expect from a Scotch whisky. I enjoyed it quite a bit, so when I found out that Talisker released a new whisky earlier this year called the Talisker Skye, I knew I wanted to try it. While I enjoy peat in my whisky, I can see where a lot of Talisker whiskies might be overwhelming for other drinkers. The Talisker Skye has been aged in refill and toasted American oak casks so that it will have a milder peat flavor.

The Talisker Skye is named for the beautiful island of Skye where the Talisker distillery is located. You can see an image of Skye on the box as well as on the label. It looks like cold, beautiful, rugged country—a stark kind of paradise. Is the Talisker Skye paradise in a bottle? Let’s find out.

This whisky is exactly the same in appearance as the Talisker 10 Year Old, with a warm golden color. On the nose, I am picking up peat (as expected), honey, spices, toffee or caramel, and orange. There is a smokiness to the scent. Taking a drink, a lot of the flavors on the palate are similar to what I remember from the 10 Year Old. There is orange and spice in there, probably cinnamon and nutmeg. The toffee or caramel I smelled actually tastes more like chocolate with a hint of vanilla. There is a long peppery finish. The orange lingers on the tongue for a while. The peat is definitely there, but as I expected, it is a lot less pronounced than I am used to with Talisker. In fact, if I didn’t know it was a Talisker, I might not have been sure.

Like the 10 Year Old, the Talisker Skye sells in the $45-$60 range. This puts it in the somewhat expensive price bracket, especially if you cannot get it at the lower end of that price range. Should you get it? Overall, I found it a very enjoyable whisky, well blended with some delicious flavors. Your expectations definitely should play a role in your decision, however. If you are a big peat fan and that is why you usually flock to Talisker, you may be disappointed by the Skye. If you enjoy peat whiskies but wish they were a little less overpowering, the Skye may be exactly what you have been searching for, and a very good purchase.

Talisker Skye : Summary

Colour: Bright, rich gold.

Nose: Smoky honey, peat, spices, caramel, toffee, and orange.

Palate: Peat, chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, pepper.

HR “Hirochi Robaina” by Cubanacan

HR Hirochi Robaina Cigars by Cubanacan

Origin : Nicaragua
HR CigarsFormat : Toro
Size : 6.5 x 54
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Habano (Colorado Maduro)
Filler : Nicaraguan
Binder : Nicaraguan
Blenders : Hirochi Robaina, Omar González Alemán
Hand-Made
Price : ~$75 for a 4-pack sampler
More info about purchasing HR Hirochi Robaina cigars...

Avid cigar smokers are never bored. We keep busy by “trolling” for information that could lead to our next great cigar. Searching the Internet, reading cigar reviews, or simply word of mouth can point us in the right direction. Over time, we learn to recognize names and brands we associate with cigars we’ve liked. Recently I became aware of a new cigar made by someone whose name I recognized… Robaina. In this case it was not the legendary Alejandro Robaina, the master Cuban tobacco farmer, but rather his grandson Hirochi.

Read the full review of HR “Hirochi Robaina” by Cubanacan...

Cigar Release: Zander Greg New World 20th Anniversary

Zander Greg New World

Zander-Greg, Inc., is celebrating its twenty years as a national distributor of tobacco products with a new, special edition New World boutique cigar line. The circumstances in which this cigar is offered are a rarity … it is a brand manufactured and owned by AJ Fernandez, but with a slightly “tweaked” blend that is solely Zander-Greg’s.

The New World/20th Anniversary cigar is manufactured by the Tabacaleras Fernandez factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The company is operated by third-generation tabacalero A. J. Fernandez, whose grandfather first grew tobacco in pre-Castro Cuba.

Zander-Greg’s 20th Anniversary is available in the same four shapes as the New World … all are classically Cuban, but with 5/64” larger diameters. They are: Robusto (5" x 55), Belicoso (5½" x 55), Toro (6½" x 55) and an extra-brawny Gordo (6" x 60). The cigars are Nicaraguan puros … dark Nicaraguan wrapper, Jalapa binder, and a filler of Nicaraguan Ometepe, Condega and Esteli. The cigars are full-bodied, and have a flavor profile that includes coffee, pepper, wood and chocolate notes. An extraordinary shifting of nuances throughout the smoke reflect the complexity of this five-tobacco recipe.

All shapes are box pressed, even the tapered-head Belicoso. An eye-catching gold “20th” adorns a second band below the Fernandez “New World” band. The cigars are presented 21 to a traditional Cuban dress-up box. Manufacturer’s suggest retail pricing falls between $5.00 and $6.00, and they will appear in tobacco retailers’ stores this September.

Room 101 Ichiban Ranfla Doc James Exclusive

Room 101 Ichiban

Origin : Honduras
Room 101 cigarsFormat : Salomon
Size : : 6 1/2'', 30x50x19
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Habano
Filler : Nicaraguan Criollo
Binder : Nicaraguan Criollo
Hand-Made
Price : $10 each

Room 101 Cigars, the well-known luxury brand maker based in Los Angeles has recently come out with a new cigar line that is named Ichiban. With this series of cigars they will be awarding exclusivity of each vitola to only one retailer. A high honor to say the least. This third addition to the line is called the Ranfla, resembling a bit of a cross between a perfecto and a salamon, and has been awarded to Doc James Tobacconist located in Shrub Oak, NY and Mamaroneck, NY.

In addition to its exclusivity, this line is also a limited run, so if your interest is peaked after reading this it is time for you to stock up your humidors. Now on to the review…

Read the full review of Room 101 Ichiban Ranfla Doc James Exclusive...

Plasencia Reserva Organica Robusto

Plasencia Reserva Organica Robusto

Origin : NicaraguaPlasencia cigars
Format : Robusto
Size : 4.75 x 52
Wrapper : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Filler : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : ~$7 each
More info about purchasing Plasencia Reserva Organica...

This cigar caught my interest because it’s a Nicaraguan puro, but I heard that it was a lot milder than most. It’s also part of a “certified” organically grown and cured line, and those were both points of interest. It comes in seven different sizes: 6×50 (Toro), 6.25×44 (Corona), 6.25×52 (Piramide), 4.75×52 (Robusto), 7×48 (Churchill), 4.5×36 (Nesticos), and 4.25×40 (Tins). I gave the Robusto a try to see if it would be as interesting as I hoped. And guess what—it was.

Read the full review of Plasencia Reserva Organica Robusto...

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