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Cigar Review: Davidoff Escurio Robusto (Pre-Release)

1 Jul 2015

In 2013, Davidoff launched a new line that was a stark departure for a brand so inextricably linked to the Dominican Republic: Davidoff Nicaragua, as it was (and is) called, a Nicaraguan puro crafted by Hendrik “Henke” Kelner.

Escurio Robusto“[Davidoff Nicaragua] is a major step for Davidoff to expand to a new territory,” said CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard at the time. “Davidoff’s mission is to bring aficionados delightful experiences regardless of territory.” For some, these statements hinted to further Davidoff expansion beyond its Dominican base.

Sure enough, this year Davidoff will be expanding to Brazil with a new line called Escurio. Escurio is intended to deliver “intense, spicy, sweet palate stimulation, coupled with the signature Davidoff refinement and sophistication.” It boasts an Ecuadorian Habano-seed wrapper, a Brazilian Cubra binder, and a filler blend that includes Mata Fina and Cubra tobaccos from Brazil paired with Dominican leaves.

Three Escurio sizes will make their debut at next month’s industry trade show: Petit Robusto (3.25 x 50, $8.50), Robusto (4.5 x 54, $15.90), and Gran Toro (5.5 x 58, $17.90). Each vitola will be sold in packs of 4 and 12.

Like Davidoff Nicaragua, Escurio sports a black Davidoff band, as well as a secondary band to denote the blend. Underneath is an oily, slightly reddish exterior leaf with a wrinkled texture and a plethora of thin veins. The pre-light notes at the foot are heavy on cocoa and sweet hay.

At the outset, the Escurio Robusto is airy, almost papery, with a very loose draw and tons of smoke production. Background notes consist of black pepper spice and espresso. After about a quarter of an inch, though, the cigar becomes more flavorful with a taste reminiscent of sweet cream, oak, dark chocolate, coffee, and natural tobacco. The resting smoke is particularly interesting, sweet, and mouth-watering.

Until the nub, the Robusto is silky—a sensation that’s offset by intense spice and red pepper. Construction-wise, the ash holds firm and the burn, while it meanders, is not an issue.

While the sizes are unfortunate—I’d prefer to see some narrower ring gauges—and the price points are intimidating, the Davidoff Escurio has much to offer in the way of flavor. Notably, it adds significant diversification to the Davidoff portfolio. I find it worthy of 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

Cigar Review: Nestor Miranda Collection One Life Edition Danno Habano

29 Jun 2015

One Life DannoThis is one enjoyable cigar. The kind you light up, sit back, and savor. The Danno Habano is one of three 2015 limited editions commemorating Nestor Miranda’s late son, Daniel, that are hitting store shelves.

Each of Miami Cigar & Co.’s Danno cigars has been special since they debuted in 2009. This is certainly among the best I have had. I’d rate the strength on the upper end of medium, with deep, rich flavors that shift several times along the 7-inch, 56-ring gauge frame.

The Habano wrapper was grown in Nicaragua and is nearly flawless, with a small pigtail cap at the head. The filler comes from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil. All three of this year’s Danno editions use a Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 binder. MSRP is $12.

The other two Dannos feature variations on the filler blend and sport different wrappers, one an Ecuadorian Connecticut and the other a Broadleaf Maduro. They’re rolled at Pepin Garcia’s My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua.

With only 1,000 boxes of each of the three blends produced, these will likely be difficult to find. In fact, Nestor Miranda had a six-shop East Coast tour in June to introduce the cigars and that undoubtedly put a dent in the inventory.

I smoked two for this review, both provided by Miami Cigar. The Danno Habano kicks off with pepper and cedar, joined by a sweetness that lingers into the second third. There, a toasty flavor comes on, with the pepper and cedar receding. In the final third, I picked up graham cracker as the pepper came back, smoothed out by tobacco sweetness.

The flavors are balanced, and the finish is silky. There’s no doubt concentration will pay off in what you experience with this complex cigar.

Construction generally was good, though the second one I smoked developed a small tunnel about halfway down that took a few minutes to run through and necessitated several relights. The white ash was incredibly tight, holding on both for nearly half the smoke before I tapped off.

I give the Danno Habano a high rating of four and a half stogies.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Drew Estate My Uzi Weighs a Ton Bait Fish

22 Jun 2015

As I was perusing the selection at a tobacconist recently, a five-pack of Bait Fish caught my eye. After all, you don’t see too many cigars packaged in brown paper bundles.

Bait FishI picked up a pack for several reasons. One, I know when I’m buying a Drew Estate product I’m going to have a good experience. Two, I don’t have enough smaller cigars in my regular rotation. Three, in most cases, I much prefer the concept of a five-pack to a full box of 20 or 25 smokes. And finally, the price point ($31.95, or $6.39 per Bait Fish) provides affordable access to high quality.

When My Uzi Weighs a Ton (MUWAT) was announced a few years back—presumably named for the Public Enemy song—MUWAT only came in three sizes, all with a 60 ring gauge (5, 6, and 7 inches long, respectively). Since, the team at Subculture Studios has released the smaller Bait Fish size (4 x 44). At first, Bait Fish was exclusive to online retailer New Havana Cigars, but in 2012 the line went national.

A quick refresher: MUWAT is made at the Joya de Nicaragua factory with leaf mostly from Drew Estate, including a San Andrés Negro wrapper, Connecticut Capote binder, and Brazillian Mata Fina filler, along with Nicaraguan filler from Joya de Nicaragua’s own tobacco stocks. It’s rolled at Joya de Nicaragua but was blended by Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate. This is probably why the Drew Estate name isn’t featured on the soft pack or the band; instead, you’ll find “Subculture Studios” and “by Subculture Studios and JDN.”

According to reports, the Bait Fish size in particular was tweaked to add more Ligero to create a stronger smoke. It certainly has the look of a little firecracker. The wrapper is oily and dark with a slight Colorado hue. The feel is moderately firm from cap to foot, and the pre-light notes feature cocoa, coffee, and earth.

After using a punch cut—the guillotine would likely remove too much tobacco from such a small smoke—and setting an even light, the Bait Fish opens with a medium- to full-bodied profile of chocolate, dry oak, natural tobacco, and faint white pepper spice. The taste remains mostly the same, but the intensity ramps up after only a half inch.

From there, this is definitely a full-bodied smoke, and a great way to get big flavor in a short amount of time. Construction is fantastic throughout, including an effortless draw, straight burn line, and massive smoke production.

When my colleague reviewed the Bait Fish three years ago, he called it “focused, intense, flavorful, and well-made.” I completely agree. I’d also add “good value” to the mix, even though some might say $6.39 is a lot to pay for a small smoke (I personally think that’s a fair price for this cigar). In my book, this little gem is worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Exactus Puro Ambar Legacy Gran Robusto

18 Jun 2015

This cigar attracts attention. The white and copper colors in its two bands—one of them extra large—stand out against the dark wrapper.

puro-ambar-exactusAfter lighting up, the first impression might be a little off. The Legacy begins a bit unpolished, presenting a little back-of-the-throat sharpness. Fortunately, that doesn’t last long, quickly replaced by much more pleasant flavors of pepper and coffee.

One of two recent offerings from Tabaclera El Artista, the Legacy is available in two vitolas. The Gran Robusto I smoked is a 5.25-inch stick with a ring gauge of 54. The other size is a 6.5-inch Gran Toro with a ring gauge of 56. Prices are extremely reasonable, with MSRPs just $4.50 and $5.50, respectively, according to the company.

The Dominican company started in the 1950s and uses its own tobacco. The filler in the Legacy is Dominican Criollo ’98 and 1900, an El Arista exclusive. The wrapper is also the 1900, while the binder is described as “Dominican wine-fermented Criollo ’98.”

Three samples were supplied by El Artista, and they’ve been sitting in my humidor for a few months. I was most impressed with the higher-priced sibling, giving the Exactus Puro Ambar a stellar rating in a review earlier this year.

The Legacy, while enjoyable, wasn’t up to that level. As you’d expect, the Legacy was not a complex cigar. Medium in strength, the dominant flavors remained fairly consistent throughout.

Performance was something of a problem. One of the three I smoked developed a tunnel and didn’t smoke right for about a third of the length, while another required numerous relights.

I’d recommend giving the Legacy a try. El Arista appears to be adding additional retailers so you should check its website to see if there’s one near you. I rate this cigar a respectable three stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Casa Miranda Chapter Two Robusto

17 Jun 2015

In the summer of 2011, Miami Cigar & Co. debuted Casa Miranda, a “small-batch, ultra-premium” line comprised of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan tobaccos. Shortly after the cigar was unveiled, the man responsible for blending the highly anticipated release, Willy Herrera, left El Titan de Bronze—the Miami factory where the cigar was made—for Drew Estate before Casa Miranda even came to market.

Casa Miranda Chapter Two RobustoNotwithstanding Herrera’s departure (and subsequent success with the Herrera Estelí line), Miami Cigar introduced Chapter Two in 2013. Unlike Chapter One, Chapter Two is made at the My Father Cigars factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. It boasts a Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper around tobaccos from Brazil, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.

Four sizes are available: Robusto (4.5 x 50), Corona Gorda (6 x 46), Toro (5.5 x 54), and Gran Toro (6 x 60). The Robusto retails for $6-7 and, like the other Chapter Two sizes, has a dark, beautiful wrapper that’s almost chalky in texture with a fair amount of oils. The feel is pretty firm throughout, which is interesting since the foot shows a less-than-tight packing of tobaccos. The pre-light notes are reminiscent of cocoa and earth. Overall, the Robusto looks and feels like a well-built smoke. And, for what it’s worth, I particularly like the band, which is understated and detailed.

The flavor gets off to a fast start with a medium- to full-bodied taste of espresso, dark chocolate, peanut, and dry wood right at the outset. There are also some sweet background notes of dark cherry and nougat. The texture is light and billowy, and the smoke production is excellent.

While the balanced flavors don’t change much—save for the introduction of leather in the final third—the intensity of the profile definitely evolves as the Robusto progresses. After the medium-plus start, the body is decidedly full-bodied by the midway point. And by the time you reach the nub, this little smoke has tons of Nicaraguan strength and spice.

With excellent construction observed across several samples, an approachable price point, and big, bold flavor condensed in a smaller format, there’s a lot to like about the Casa Miranda Chapter Two Robusto. It’s worthy of a very admirable rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Kuuts Miró Momentos

15 Jun 2015

Miró and its brethren brands—Placeres Reserva and Tabacalera Zapata—have only been in the U.S. market for about two years. But with longer histories in international markets, the brands are older and (globally) more popular than you might think.

Kuuts MiroAs the U.S. distribution arm for Compañia Hondureña de Tabacos, Kuuts is working to expand the reach of this Honduran factory in America. The strategy has included a new line that capitalizes on the popularity of Nicaraguan tobacco—simply called the Nicaraguan Blend—and a few new vitolas.

One of the new vitolas is Momentos (4 x 48), a petit corona Miró format that was released in May 2014. It is the sixth Miró size (the first to measure less than 5.25 inches long). The other Miró sizes include Robusto (5.25 x 50), Toro (6 x 52), Torpedo (6.1 x 52), Gordos (6 x 60), and a limited Lancero (7.5 x 38).

Miró is “a balanced cigar with dominant notes of earth and sweet cream complemented by cocoa, spice, and nuts,” according to the Kuuts website. “With fillers from Nicaragua and Honduras, and employing a beautiful Sumatra wrapper, this medium-bodied cigar offers a delicious bittersweet combination.”

It’s hard to examine the aesthetics of the Miró Momentos without first removing the large band that covers much of the wrapper. Underneath the band is a firm, sturdy cigar with ample oils and tooth. The pre-light notes are heavy on earth and walnut.

I was expecting the draw to be stiff given the firmness of the cigar, the somewhat narrow ring gauge, and the tight cross-section of tobaccos visible at the foot and clipped head. Fortunately, the Momentos draws easily.

Once an even light is set, the initial profile is a full-bodied blend of bold espresso, black pepper spice, and a meaty char. Soon, only about a quarter of an inch in, the cigar mellows into the medium-bodied range as flavors of raisin, leather, and oak take center stage. At times, tastes of peanut and cream appear, and this is where the Momentos is most balanced, complex, and enjoyable. When these notes are not present, the cigar can be bitter or a little too rough around the edges.

With decent construction—the burn line requires a touch-up here and there to stay even—the Miró Momentos is a nice little smoke that will run you only $5.50. If only those nutty, sweet flavors played a more dominant (or more consistent) role in the overall profile. All things considered, this petit corona from Kuuts is worthy of a rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Black Robusto

11 Jun 2015

tatuaje-black-robusto

It’s hard to think of a cigar company that has had the success in just over ten years that Tatuaje has enjoyed. Tatuaje has released numerous cigars that have had both commercial and critical success.

That makes the personal cigar blend of Tatuaje brand owner Pete Johnson worthy of extra consideration, which is what his Black Label blend is. The cigar was first released for sale in 2007 in a Corona Gorda size that came in ceramic jars.

I’ve been fortunate enough to smoke quite a few of those original Tatuaje Black cigars (which my colleague gave our highest rating). While (regrettably) I didn’t buy any when they were first available, I’ve been given more than a few over the years from someone who bought multiple jars.

Those cigars were outstanding and one of my personal all-time favorites. But all cigars change a little bit over time due to some uncontrollable variables. And Don José “Pepin” Garcia-made cigars, including Tatueje Black, have also changed slightly due to the lawsuit and falling out between Pepin and his former partner Eduardo Fernandez, owner of Aganorsa S.A. and partner in El Rey del Los Habanos. (Blends had to be tweaked when access to Aganorsa tobacco stopped.)

That hasn’t stopped Tatuaje, or Pepin (who makes Tatuaje for Johnson), from putting out excellent cigars. Nor has it prevented the Tatuaje Black from being reissued in 2011. In recent years a variety of sizes have been released, including this Robusto, which is offered in three-packs at Tatuaje events.

Currently, a Tatuaje Black Petit Lancero is a limited, though regular, release. A new Corona Gorda, this time in a melamine jar, was released last year to celebrate Tatuaje’s tenth anniversary, though you’ll still find that available at some retailers. The Black Label, according to reports, is a Nicaraguan puro with a Criollo wrapper.

The well-constructed Robusto features powdery medium-bodied flavors. Bread, oak, and sweet cinnamon dominate with underlying maple syrup notes. It’s superbly balanced, but the sweetness sets it apart, providing an extra layer of richness that resonates beyond the more traditional layering of earth, leather, and spice.

It has been a while since I smoked the original Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda, so it’s hard to compare the two, except to say (at least in my recollection) the original was superior to this Robusto. I did smoke both the Petit Lancero and Corona Gorda for comparison while working on this review, and I can confidently say I found the Robusto the best of the bunch. (A colleague rated the new Corona Gorda highly last year, although I probably wouldn’t have given it quite so high of a score.)

The Robusto, on the other hand, seems to be the best of the bunch when it comes to the recent-era Tatuaje Blacks. Given that it raises the already high bar, the Tatuaje Black Robusto earns a rating of five stogies out of five.

[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here. A list of other five stogie-rated cigars can be found here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys