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Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr.

16 Jul 2018

I recently moved from the city to Oak Park, a close suburb of Chicago. The whole process, to say the least, has been stressful and time-consuming. Under normal circumstances, it’s hard enough to find time for a cigar when you’re working full-time and raising two small children (with a third on the way). When you add in the daunting task of unpacking about 75 million boxes… well, you can see where this is going.

I know I’m not the only one with a challenging schedule. Chances are you, too, find it difficult to set aside the requisite time to thoroughly enjoy a fine cigar.

Fortunately, if you need to pack a premium cigar experience into a short amount of time, cigar legend Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has your back. In 2016, he launched Interlude, a line of two different blends, each presented in two time-friendly formats: Carrillitos (4 x 38) and Rothschild Jr. (3.75 x 48).

The Natural version of “Ernesto’s shortest cigar ever made” sports a Connecticut wrapper (same as the New Wave Reserva) around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Maduro boasts a Mexican San Andrés wrapper (same as La Historia) around an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler. Given their small size, both were challenging to blend “because the dimensions limit the amount of tobacco that can be used,” Ernesto Perez-Carrillo shared via email. “So the proportions have to be just right to get the flavor profile sought.”

I smoked a handful of cigars in the Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr. format for this review. This cigar is neatly presented in a regal, compact five-pack that retails for $16.25 (or $3.25 per cigar). Unlike the Maduro version—which has a rustic, highly mottled wrapper that’s wrinkled, veiny, and rough around the edges—the Natural has a clean, dry surface. A standard guillotine cut reveals a smooth cold draw. At the foot, I find pre-light notes of honey and graham cracker.

A cigar of this size needs to get off to a fast start. The Natural Rothschild Jr. does just that. The first few puffs are a medium-bodied burst of white pepper, dry oak, and cereals. The texture is bready. A bit of cinnamon spice helps to add balance.

Into the midway point, while the cigar settles a bit in terms of body and spice, the core flavors remain the same. Not much changes in the finale except for an increase in intensity and heat. Throughout, the combustion properties are excellent. The burn line is straight, the smoke production high, and the draw is easy. Notably, the light gray ash holds really well off the foot; on average, I only had to ash once per cigar.

As expected, the Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr. is a solid choice if you’re low on time but high on desire for a premium cigar experience. I’m not rating the Natural version quite as high as the Maduro—which, in my opinion, is more interesting from a flavor perspective—but this cigar still earns an admirable rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: El Titan de Bronze Gold Lonsdale No. 1

14 Jul 2018

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

A few months ago, I visited El Titan de Bronze, a factory on Calle Ocho in Miami that’s small in size but big in prestige. El Titan crafts cigars for such clients as Drew Estate, Warped Cigars, La Palina, Cornelius & Anthony, Padilla, El Primer Mundo, Cremo, and many others. Less well known are the operation’s house blends. Gold, for example, sports a Connecticut Shade wrapper around an Ecuadorian binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. As I recall, I paid about $8 for the Gold Lonsdale No. 1 (6.5 x 44). I love the size. The expertly constructed cigar boasts a medium-bodied profile of honey, cinnamon spice, oak, almond, and white pepper with a bready texture.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Gran Habano La Conquista Robusto

9 Jul 2018

Over two years ago, I examined a pre-release sample of the new La Conquista line from Gran Habano. I found the Gran Robusto to be well-constructed but a little flat.

Flash forward to this spring when my colleague favorably wrote about the same cigar. His conclusions prompted me to revisit the blend, this time in the Robusto size.

La Conquista was introduced in 2016. At that time, it had an understated band of black, cream, and gold with a simple image of a cross. Now, the band is larger and considerably more ornate, featuring a depiction of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. It is further accented by a cedar sleeve emblazoned with “La Conquista” and a foot ribbon.

The golden, toothy Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper comes into full view once the cedar is removed. On its surface you’re likely to find at least one thick vein and perhaps some harmless green splotches of discoloration. Otherwise, though, the wrapper is attractive.

At the foot, the Nicaraguan Corojo binder combines with filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Colombia to yield sweet, grassy pre-light notes. The well-executed cap clips cleanly to reveal a smooth cold draw.

After using the cedar sleeve to establish an even light, the Robusto (5 x 52, under $7 when bought by the box of 24) starts with a medium-bodied, spice-forward profile of dry cedar, cinnamon, and cereals. The texture is bready. In the background, I find a pleasing, balanced note of café au lait.

As the Robusto progresses, the bready, cedary core remains while new flavors come and go. They include vanilla bean, oak, cashew, and a fleeting, incredibly sweet, bright taste that reminds me of candied cherries.

All the while, the construction is impeccable. Even under windy conditions I found a straight burn that required no-touch ups, along with an easy draw, solid ash, and good smoke production.

Gran Habano offers two other sizes in the La Conquista portfolio: Gran Robusto (6 x 54) and Imperial (6 x 60).

I’m glad I gave this blend another try. Either my tastes have changed, the difference in format (Gran Robusto vs. Robusto) has a big impact, the tobaccos have been treated differently, or perhaps all three. Whatever the case, I’m awarding the Honduras-made La Conquista Robusto an admirable score of four stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: La Aurora Preferidos Ecuadorian Sungrown Robusto

30 Jun 2018

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

This creation from La Aurora sports a gorgeous sun-grown Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper around barrel-aged Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The result is a well-balanced, bright array of often hard-to-find floral and citrus flavors with background notes oak, cedar, and cinnamon. The well-constructed Robusto (5 x 50) will run you about $10 for a single. I recommend giving it a try.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Dunhill Heritage Robusto

23 Jun 2018

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

In 2015, the year of its debut, this box-pressed cigar earned a spot on Cigar Aficionado’s best-of list. It isn’t hard to see why. The Dunhill Heritage Robusto (5 x 50) has excellent combustion properties with a full-bodied, oily profile of roasted peanut, coffee bean, leather, and cinnamon. It sports an Ecuadorian wrapper around a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and Honduras. While Dunhill—a storied, historic brand owned by British American Tobacco and distributed in the U.S. by General Cigar—is exiting the cigar and pipe business, you can still find this cigar if you keep your eyes open. Expect to pay around $6-7, and expect to be impressed.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Villiger San’Doro Maduro Toro

18 Jun 2018

About a month ago, Villiger unveiled a new 7,500-square-foot factory in Bahia, Brazil. Called Villiger Do Brasil, the facility makes Villiger puros for both the U.S. market (San’Doro Maduro) and the European market (Celebration and Corrida). More Brazilian cigars are expected from Villiger in the future, though I’m not sure they will all be puros.

Villiger has been making cigars in Brazil since the 1970s. This newer, bigger factory (30 rollers, with the capacity to add 20 more), however, signals a redoubled commitment to the country and its tobaccos. Villiger Do Brasil—along with the recent relocation of U.S. corporate headquarters to the Miami area—is further evidence of Villiger’s interest in expanding its presence in the premium cigar market (Villiger is a major player in the machine-made realm).

My colleague reviewed the Villiger San’Doro Maduro Toro a couple years ago, finding it to be well-constructed, tasty, and balanced. The cigar I’m reviewing today is the same in makeup—a Mata Fina wrapper, Mata Norte binder, and Mata Fina and Mata Norte filler—but this one is made at Villiger Do Brasil.

The single-vitola blend is presented in a Toro (6 x 50) format and retails for about $8.50—a price that is, as far as I can tell, unchanged since the cigar was introduced in 2015. The Toro’s dark, toothy exterior is complemented by dual bands of gold, green, and red. The cap is a bit sloppy, but it clips just fine to reveal a tight cold draw.

I find pre-light notes of cherry, cocoa powder, and molasses at the foot. After setting an even light, the sweet cherry shines through in the flavor, accented by leather, coffee, and roasted cashew. There is a bit of cayenne heat in the background, as well as a subdued cedar spice and a damp, musty taste that’s difficult to describe.

Towards the midway point, the medium-bodied profile enters a phase that can best be characterized as natural tobacco sweetness. The individual flavors, put plainly, seem to be rounded off. The taste stays in this ballpark until the finale, which has a reprise of cherry and coffee.

I sampled three Toros for this review. Each had a tight draw resulting in a low volume of smoke production. I found this to be both frustrating and intrusive, though two of the three seemed to open up a bit at the midway point. The burn line was always straight, and the ash held well off the foot.

Some may read this and conclude my samples were stored in conditions featuring excessive relative humidity. After receiving my five-pack in the mail from Villiger, though, I stored the cigars in one of my closely monitored humidors for a month.

I will let the remaining two San’Doro Maduro Toros rest for awhile before giving this cigar another try. I’ll be sure to post an update when I smoke another, probably in six months or so. For now, I would be remiss if I scored this Villiger cigar any higher than two stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Atabey Ritos

16 Jun 2018

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Here’s an elegant, well-made cigar with a price tag that will make you cringe. The current retail price for the Atabey Ritos (6.1 x 55) is $33. Yikes. Is it elegantly packaged with a tasteful, Behike-like presentation? Yes. Is the construction nothing short of flawless? Yes. And what of the flavor? It is complex, balanced, bready in texture, and mild- to medium-bodied with notes ranging from cream and oak to white pepper and roasted cashew. If money is no object, by all means; you will not be disappointed, unless you’re expecting a full-bodied flavor-bomb.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys