Cohiba Coronas Especiales ’98 (Vintage Review)

Cohiba Coronas Especiales

Origin : Cuba
Format : Laguito No. 2Cohiba
Size : 6 x 38 (152 x 15.08 mm)
Box code : EL – March '98
Hand-Made
Price : roughly $12/cigar for current production
More info about purchasing Cohiba cigars...

Cohiba Coronas Especiales are regular production cigars, but difficult to find in aged or vintage condition. I purchased this box about 8 years ago for a little under $400. I have no idea what these would be worth today, but I’d guess significantly more.

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Choosing a Humidification System for Your Humidor

Humidification systems for a humidor

If you’ve bought a humidor, why would you need to add a secondary humidification system? It may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re in this situation, you know that humidors don’t always do their jobs perfectly. Sometimes they simply are not very efficient. As a rule, you want your humidity level to be somewhere around 68-72%.

Some humidors will run a little lower than that, and may need a boost. Other times, they may run around the lower end of that range, and you might prefer a bit more humidity (72% instead of 68% for example). Or you might have a humidor with a seal that isn’t perfect, and lets some of the humidity leak out. Perhaps you have an older humidor that you bought or inherited, and it simply doesn’t work as well as it could. You also may have dryness problems if you suddenly add a big batch of dry cigars to your humidor. Those cigars will suck all the humidity right out of the air, which can then ironically cause all your stogies to dry out.

Whatever your situation, you can give your humidifier a boost (or simply a replacement...) by adding a humidification system. There are a number of low-cost products you can buy which will help you to maintain the humidity level that you want. These are all cheap, easy solutions, and they can save you money if you don’t want to replace your humidor. Let’s take a look at some popular products and their pros and cons.

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Aging Room Maduro Mezzo

Aging Room Maduro Mezzo

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Toro
Size : 6 x 54
Wrapper : Nicaraguan Maduro
Filler : Dominican
Binder : Dominican
Hand-Made
Price : ~$8-9 each
More info about purchasing Aging Room cigars...

The Aging Room Maduro was one of five new blends from Rafael Nodal’s Boutique Blends in 2013. Nodal specifically created the Aging Room brand in order to produce small batch releases using rare tobaccos. The Aging Room Maduro is quite a popular and critically acclaimed cigar, and could easily become the mainstay blend for the line. It is available in five vitolas, the Presto, Rondo, Mezzo, Major and Alto. For this review, I smoked the Mezzo, which measures 6 x 54.

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H. Upmann Super Corona

H. Upmann Super Coronas

Origin : CubaH. Upmann
Format : Corona Gorda
Size : 5 5/8 x 46 (143 x 18 mm)
Box date : SCO – August ’00
Discontinued in 2002
Hand-Made
Price : Roughly $6/cigar in 2000, now approximately $20-25/cigar
More info about purchasing H. Upmann cigars...

With the 2014 Bolivar Editión Limitada resurrecting the “Super Corona” name, I decided to try the long discontinued H. Upmann Super Corona (“HUSC”). I really like the H. Upmann line and I always enjoy an aged H. Upmann. I had one remaining single HUSC from a fiver as well as an unbroken box (same box code). I reviewed the single but have included photographs from the unbroken box. As these are smoked and become very hard to find, I think we could see market values rise to $700/box in the next few years.

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A. Flores Serie Privada Capa Habano

A. Flores 1975 Serie Privada Capa Habano SP52

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Box-pressed RobustoPDR Cigars
Size : 5 x 52
Wrapper : Ecuador
Filler : Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
Binder : Nicaragua
Hand-Made
Price : $9.75 each
More info about purchasing A. Flores Serie Privada...

Abe Flores is a big name in the cigar world, but may not be a name you know well, because he has spent a great deal of his career doing contract work producing cigars for other brands. He has become known for his own Dominican boutique cigar brand however, Pinar del Rio (PDR). In 2012, he decided to craft a cigar under his own name. The result was the A. Flores Serie Privada.

All the A. Flores Serie Privada cigars include Nicaraguan Habano binders and a combination of Nicaraguan Habano and Dominican Corojo as the filler leaves, but two different wrappers were produced: the Ecuadorian Habano (“Capa Habano”) and the Maduro Habano Ecuador (“Capa Maduro”). According to PDR, “The Habano wrapper delivers great complexity and a creamy, cool, medium-body cigar. Best way to describe this is creamy sweetness with a touch of spice at the finish … The Habano Maduro wrapper is a medium-body cigar that starts with some natural sweetness, then delivers some spice.” For this review, I smoked the Capa Habano.

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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.

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