The Exile line of cigars is made in Esteli, Nicaragua at the Nicaraguan American Tobacco Factory (NATSA). They come in two wrappers: the Ecuadorian Sumatra or a USA-grown Connecticut broadleaf. This cigar comes wrapped in a copy of the front page of the New York Daily Mirror from the day the Cuban embargo started (1962). In looking at websites that sell the cigar, it seemed that they do not use the newspaper wrapper anymore. The Exile Rosado comes in a few sizes: Perfection No. 1 and No. 2 (both perfectos); a Robusto, and today’s featured cigar, a Churchill.
Now that 2010 is in swing and things have settled down at home, I finally have time to enjoy one of my all-time favorite pastimes – enjoying great, flavorful smokes and sharing that happiness with all my fellow cigar lovers out there. Today we will review the Padilla Series 68 Robusto.
Martin, a good friend of mine, recently asked me to help him set up a blog about whisky, his long-time passion. The result is available at WhiskyCritic.com (check it out!) and Martin will be writing monthly whisky reviews for CigarInspector.com. Enjoy!
An Cnoc (which was known as Knockdhu until 1994) has a history which I think summarises the Scottish way of thinking beautifully. John Morrison, who founded the distillery, discovered several springs at the bottom of Knock Hill. What was the first thing that came to mind upon discovering freshwater springs? Why, whisky, of course! And so he bought the land and opened a distillery, heartwarming stuff (poor pun very much intended, I’m almost ashamed to say). Like Aberlour, and many other distilleries, Knockdhu were forced to put production on hold during WW2 due to restrictions on barley supplies.
An Cnoc have decided to approach the market with a focus on being modern, almost a bit Americanised if you will, which sets them apart from most other Scottish distilleries who put heavy focus on tradition. While their whisky is indeed traditionally distilled, their website contains something as controversial as cocktail recipes – you wouldn’t find that on Laphroaig’s website. Now, me being a traditionalist myself, I’m not generally one to mix my whiskey with anything but ice or water – I leave that to the kids. That said, I did try the ‘Apple Mac’ (50ml An Cnoc, 30ml Ginger wine, topped with pressed apple) and I have to admit it was quite nice.
Inspired by the Apple Mac cocktail, I decided to make some homemade apple & whisky sauce – bloomin’ gorgeous! If you want to try it for yourself, I used a basic apple sauce recipe from James Martin which I found on the BBC website and added 50ml An Cnoc during step 1 in the recipe. Try it in a roast pork sandwich, it’s to die for.
I have, of course, tried it neat as well. The nose is elegant with a peachy, heathery sweetness and hints of citrus/orange and herbs. On the palate there are hints of chewy toffee, vanilla and haulm – as well as what you would expect from the nose. A decent whisky by all means, but nothing spectacular.
Eye: Medium golden.
Nose: Elegant, peach, heather, citrus and herbs.
Palate: Same as nose with added hints of vanilla, toffee and haulm.
The name Davidoff is nearly synonymous with luxury. The name also has a reputation for quality and excellence. There is a lot of great information about the man and the company on their website Davidoff.com. One other commonly held perception of Davidoff is mild cigars and there are many smokers in the cigar community that mistake “mild” to mean “flavorless”. The Special R is the first Davidoff cigar I have had the pleasure of trying. No matter what line of Davidoff Cigars you might be interested in, the fact is they are all pretty expensive, almost universally costing more than $10 a piece. With my predisposition towards strong robust cigars, I admit that I allowed their mild reputation and lofty price tag keep me away up until now.
I have a friend who is a fan of Davidoff and more precisely their blender Henke Kelner. I have listened to him rail against the the idea that Davidoff only makes mild cigars and one of the lines he liked to use as an example of a more robust offering is the “Special” line of Davidoff cigars. So I was happy to be able to review this particular Davidoff. The Special R is not a mild cigar. I found it to be a solid medium bodied smoke with robust flavors balanced by excellent subtleties making for an engaging smoke. A core of smooth and chewy flavors of espresso and earth were complemented by more subtle notes of oak and nuts and an almost buttery feel on the palate. At times I picked up flashes of slightly sweet, almost caramel like notes on the finish. The construction was exquisite with a perfect burn, nice ash, and a spot on draw. I found the Davidoff Special R to be a very enjoyable, elegant smoke.
As the assortiment of non-Cuban cigars in my local stores is quite limited, I seize every opportunity to pick up cigars I haven't tried yet. I stumbled across this half-empty box of La Aurora 1495 Robusto back in November, purchased and buried it quite deep in my humidor. One week ago, I thought it was finally time to review this cigar, I smoked 4 cigars since then and they all had the same flavor profile and construction properties.
1495 is the first line created by La Aurora and its master blender Jose Blanco. It is named to celebrate the founding of Santiago de los Caballeros, a city in the Dominican Republic.
One week ago I posted about a very special whisky tasting event called The Single Malt & Scotch Whisky Extravaganza, during which one can taste over 100 different whiskies (sounds crazy, right?) and enjoy a cigar afterwards. We had 2 tickets to the event to be given away to one lucky commenter, and the winner is armayor. Congrats! An e-mail has been sent to you regarding your prize. Big thanks to The Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America and Gabby Shayne for making it possible. Remember, CigarInspector.com readers get a $15 discount on their ticket. More details here.
Ever since it came out in 1999, the Ashton Virgin-Sun-Grown (VSG) blend has been a huge success for the PA-based company. Cigar smokers generally agree that this is the tastiest line from Ashton, and this has been confirmed this year in Cigar Aficionado's top 25 list, where it earned the #9 spot.
I was highly impressed with the Ashton VSG Illusion (it's a lonsdale). Full-bodied, it mixes both spiciness and sweetness in a very rich palette of flavors.
Rob from PuffingCigars.com says that one has to have the VSG in his or her regular rotation and compares it to an Opus X in quality.
Born in Havana, Cuba in 1936, Benji Menendez smiles when he says that tobacco is in his genes. His grandfather, father, uncles and great uncles were considered the royalty of the cigar business during the pre-revolution heyday of Cuban cigars, having developed world-class puros including Montecristo, H. Upmann and Por Larrañaga.
At the heart of it all, Benji simply wants to be known as a good cigar man.
I first had the BM Series at the Benji Menendez Social in New York City. I have had a couple more since then.