If there is such a thing as a "Cigar Designer", Matt Booth of Room 101 and Pete Johnson of Tatuaje come to mind. They are true artists when it comes to bringing a well-blended cigar to the market with the swagger and packaging that allure.
Matt stunned everyone last year with his artistic renditions that accompanied the Namakubi release, and, again, has released what seems to be his most ambitiously designed cigar to date,... the "One Shot One Kill". Using Edgar Hoill's artistic Latino inspiration, Matt Booth continues to marry cigar hobby and art with this new release. In a cigar landscape that seems stuck in tradition, Matt seems to break the mold and push the envelope of what a cigar maker can do within the industry.
So let's see if the cigar can bypass good looks and great packaging and deliver more than just intrigue,...
Any cigar enthusiast knows that Cigar Aficionado magazine has become the cigar industry’s standard when it comes to cigars. Cigar smokers and manufacturers alike refer to it as the bible when it comes to the cigar lover’s lifestyle and culture. A high rating in this publication can make your sales soar, while at the same time negative feedback can often leave your cigars collecting dust on the back shelf of the walk-in humidor.
Perhaps no list is as eagerly awaited each year than their list of the year’s best cigars. One cigar gets to be crowned “Cigar of the Year” and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been making it a point to ensure that I get my hands on the number one so that I can see for myself what the hype is about. On some occasions I had already smoked their top rated cigar while on others I hadn’t. The last cigar to be crowned Cigar Aficionado’s cigar of the year was the Alec Bradley Prensado. Many ‘aficionados’ found this selection surprising/controversial. In fact, I had never paid much attention to this cigar before, having tasted some of Alec Bradley’s other offerings and not being too pleased with them. However, because this cigar won 2011’s cigar of the year, I was compelled to give it a go. I often agree with the magazine’s overall impressions. While I may not think as highly or as lowly as they do in some of their ratings, usually, I can agree on a good smoke or a bad one only disagreeing with the rating itself. Can we really crown something “the best” given that taste is so subjective?
Needless to say, the winning cigar, especially if it is a non-Cuban, can pretty much be assured of selling out their supply in short order. Cuban cigars are different because they cannot be purchased in the United States, one of the biggest markets for the aforementioned publication.
Having set my eyes on the Prensado, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one during my frequent visits to the United States. Thankfully I live a short drive to the border and normally pick up a few non-Cuban cigars when I cross the bridge. Living in Canada, the demand for non-Cuban cigars is not that great but we also have to contend with some hefty tobacco taxes. I was uneasy about spending over $20.00 one of these cigars here in Canada so I waited until one of my trips to the U.S. to pick up a stick.
I picked one up in early February, paying $10.75 for it. Buying them by the box will save on the per-cigar price, a practise that is against the law here in Canada. That is, you cannot offer a discount if you buy the box but instead must pay the actual cigar price multiplied by the number of sticks.
With all that said and out of the way, the other night was a perfect mild evening with little to no humidity and no breeze. It was the perfect outdoor condition to enjoy a cigar, and a Churchill at best given that I would need some time to get through this 7 inch smoke. Therefore, enough rambling... time to dig into the review. Is the reigning champion worthy of the its title?
Origin : Honduras Format : Toro Size : 6 x 56 Wrapper : Nicaraguan Criollo '98 Filler : Nicaraguan/Honduran (Criollo '98 & Corojo '06) Binder : Nicaraguan Hand-Made Price : $10 each More info about purchasing Cruzado cigars...
The Cruzado is a line of cigars released by Dion Giolito, owner of Illusione cigars. They are the only cigars that are not Nicaraguan puros in his portfolio. Cruzado means "bearer of the cross" and the bands are gilded in gold, silver, and black with the Cruzado name aside the Crest of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Much like the Illusione MJ12's, the Domenicos Extra is wrapped in gold foil instead of silver.
It seems that availability of the Cruzado line is fairly more limited than his other popular lines (Epernay & Illusione). And among the Cruzados, the Domenicos Extra is the rarest. Several of the other vitolas have been discontinued over time only leaving a few sizes left. It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the Illusione & Epernay lines, and the former seems to be the overall favorite cigar amongst my circle of friends. The Domenicos Extras I smoked for this review are the first I have had of the Cruzado line. So here goes,...
It was also one of the most popular Exclusivos to hit the market ever. In 2009 and 2010, Viaje really lit the U.S. on fire with some great small batch releases, with the Double Edged Sword being one of them. The last 2 years have been totally hit or miss for Viaje in my opinion. So for those of you that may still have these aging in your humidors, let’s see how they are coming around.
J. Grotto Series Reserve is the latest release from Rhode Island's Ocean State Cigars, Inc. Ocean State is just two years old, and the J. Grotto Series Reserve is their second line, following the original J. Grotto Series. The Reserve comes in four sizes, 5 5/8 x 46, 5 x 52, 6 x 52 (with a pig tail cap), and 6 x 60. The tobacco used in the Reserve line is aged three years, and then the finished cigars are rested an additional three to four months before shipment. Ocean State claims that "the Reserve has power, but no spice."
Origin : Honduras Format : Original/Cheroot Size : 5 x 44 Wrapper : Nicaraguan Colorado Filler : Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo Binder : Nicaraguan Criollo Hand-Made Price : ~$2 each More info about purchasing J. Fuego cigars...
J. Fuego is one of a number of relatively new, "boutique" cigar brands that are taking the cigar world by storm. Founded just a few years ago in 2006 by Jesus Fuego (whose familial involvement in the cigar industry extends all the way back to 1876 in Cuba), the J. Fuego brand has quickly expanded to include five different lines, as well as the spin-off 777 brand. Sangre de Toro (which translates to "Bull's Blood") is the newest line, released in Spring 2011, and the Original is the newest vitola, released at ICPCR 2011. Jesus Fuego has described the tobacco used in the Sangre de Toro line as "heavy and well-aged stuff," and the Original vitola showcases all the richness that this tobacco can deliver. The Originals come five to a soft pack, and the very attractive design on the pack mimics the design on the Sangre de Toro bands; however, the Originals themselves are unbanded.
When I first started smoking fine cigars, this was one of the first cigars that I ever had. The beginning of my college career is right about the time this world opened up to me. There was a little cigar shop a couple miles from campus that I would go to occasionally. As I would walk around that shop, they carried the Robusto size of the Gurkha Black Dragon. One day I picked it up, and fell in love with fine cigars. So, in fact, this is the one cigar that opened up the cigar world for me. Now, five years later, I revisit this stick to see if it still has the same feel to it.
Origin : Honduras Format : Gordo Size : 6 x 58 Wrapper : Honduran Corojo ’99 Rosado Binder : Honduran Criollo ’98 Filler : Nicaraguan Corojo ’99 and Criollo ‘98 Hand-Made Price : $11.55 each More info about purchasing La Palina cigars...
I would like to thank Courtney from La Palina for sending me these cigars. Disclaimer: La Palina is an advertiser on CigarInspector.com.
La Palina was a cigar line originally manufactured by Congress Cigar Company way back in 1896. The line existed until 1926; when company founder Samuel Paley passed the company down to his son William, William took an interest in radio broadcasting and switched entirely away from cigars, creating the Columbia Broadcasting System. Congress Cigar Company ceased to exist. But now over a century after the founding of Congress Cigar Company, William’s son has decided to revive the original La Palina cigar line of his grandfather. Having had an opportunity to review the delightful La Palina Alison (Torpedo) earlier this year, I jumped on the chance to try the La Palina El Diario, a new blend. El Diario translates to “The Daily”, which is the intention behind this cigar — that this would be a great smoke for everyday. El Diario is available in five vitolas: Churchill (7x50), Torpedo (6.125x52), Gordo (6x58), Toro (6x50), and Robusto (5x52). Today I’ll be having a look at the gordo.