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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

Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente (TAA Exclusive)

4 Jun 2018

In April, it was announced that Joya de Nicaragua and Drew Estate would be collaborating to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA), as well as the 10th anniversary of their distribution arrangement, by launching a TAA-exclusive cigar.

Called Antaño Gran Reserva Presidente (6.75 x 50), the box-pressed Nicaraguan puro is made with five-year-old tobaccos and is Joya de Nicaragua CEO Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca’s favorite vitola. “When I requested the Gran Reserva blend in the Presidente size, it immediately became my private smoke,” he said. “I decided to share it only for special occasions. I can’t think of a better opportunity than this shared celebration of five decades of perseverance and companionship between TAA, its members, and Joya de Nicaragua.”

Presidente has been shipping since May. It retails for $12.50 and comes presented in gold-colored boxes of 20.

Regarding Presidente’s flavor, Joya de Nicaragua is marketing it as full-bodied and complex cigar that’s “similar to the Antaño line [introduced in 2005; reintroduced in 2017], but due to the age of the proprietary filler leaves it’s a much smoother smoke. It showcases the unique character of Nicaraguan tobacco with refined notes of spice, leather, and wood.”

The box-pressed cigar starts with a flash of red pepper, which transitions into a core profile of leather, dry cedar spice, and a chalky cocoa sweetness. It is full-bodied, yet smooth, creamy, and nicely balanced. At about the half-inch mark, the complexity is enhanced with the introduction of notes of roasted cashew.

The chalky texture continues to the midway point, which is characterized by less spice and more dry wood. There is no harshness, heat, and little spice, rendering the Presidente one of those rare cigars with full flavors that’s quite approachable.

Construction is downright perfect. Across the four samples I smoked for this review, all exhibited straight burns, sturdy gray ashes, clear draws, and generous smoke production.

In addition to Presidente, there are three other Antaño Gran Reserva sizes that are not TAA exclusive: Belicoso (6 x 54), Robusto Grande (5.5 x 52), and Gran Cónsul (4.75 x 60). I haven’t smoked any of those recently, but I can say the Presidente is well worth seeking out. It is masterful, and an excellent example of what a fine Nicaraguan cigar should be. In my book, it earns four 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: RyJ Toro

2 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 2013, Altadis expanded the Romeo y Julieta portfolio with RyJ—a Nicaraguan puro with a Jalapa Corojo wrapper, double binders from Estelí and Jalapa, and filler tobaccos from Jalapa, Estelí, and La Mia. I reviewed the Toro (6 x 52) shortly after the line’s release, finding a straightforward, moderately enjoyable core of dry, woodsy, spicy flavors and a draw that was too tight for my liking. In retrospect, my score of three stogies out of five may have been a bit generous. I fired up another Toro recently, hoping five years of age might have improved the experience. But the draw is still tight (no amount of time will ever fix that) and the profile is still flat. These days, you can find the Toro for less than $8—but your money is better spent elsewhere.

Verdict = Sell.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys