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Cigar Review: Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto

27 Aug 2014

In February, Sam Leccia of Leccia Tobacco announced he was “looking to put the cigar industry in a headlock” with a new blend called Luchador (Spanish for “wrestler”). In keeping with its Mexican wrestler theme, that blend was formally introduced on Cinco de Mayo.

LuchadorLuchador is the third line to come out of Leccia Tobacco, which is distributed by Toraño. It’s hard to believe the outfit has only been around for about a year. I know many people who consider Leccia’s Black and White blends to be regulars in their rotations. Time will tell if Luchador performs as well as those inaugural lines.

Luchador features a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around an Ecuadorian Habano binder with filler from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and Honduras. “I wanted to create something fun, yet different and exciting,” said Leccia. “With Luchador being a combination of exotic blends and flavors with a Mexican wrapper, I thought it was time to tap into my childhood fascination of Mexican pro wrestling.”

Four regular-production vitolas are available: El Hombre (5 x 54), El Castigo (6 x 60), El Guapo (6 x 50), and Loco Perfecto (6 x 58). Each bears a red, white, and green band (think Mexican flag) adorned with the image of a Mexican wrestling mask.

I paid $43 for a five-pack of Loco Perfectos ($8.60 per cigar). This is the most unique size of the bunch with a pointed cap, a tapered foot, and a firm, bulging midsection stuffed densely with tobacco. The exterior is toothy, moderately oily, and rustic. The pre-light notes include leather and syrup, and the cold draw is easy.

After using a few wooden matches to light the narrow foot, a spicy flavor of black pepper, leather, black dirt, and cinnamon emerges. The texture is bready, and a subtle cocoa sweetness adds balance. Even before Loco Perfecto reaches its widest point, the draw is very airy—and it will verge on a little too easy for smokers who prefer some resistance. The smoke production is excellent.

Towards the end, the sweetness is more pronounced and the spice more restrained. All the while the burn line remains true and the gray ash builds solidly off the foot. The draw couldn’t be more effortless.

I’ve grown to appreciate the fact that Mexican San Andrés wrappers are somewhat divisive. Some love them, some hate them, and some are content with the diversity they afford. I count myself in the latter category. Truthfully, the Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto is a nice smoke that’s a good representation of the San Andrés flavor profile, albeit unremarkable. I score it 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: Tatuaje Pudgy Monster Chuck

26 Aug 2014

Two months ago, Tatuaje shipped its Pudgy Monsters sampler, a follow-up to its Little Monsters sampler, which was comprised of smaller versions the Monsters Series Halloween cigars.tatuaje_pudgy_monsters The $95 Pudgy Monsters sampler features ten cigars, six being smaller versions of the prior Monsters, with the remaining four comprised of two each of two new blends.

tatuaje-chuckThe two new cigars are both based on the Child’s Play villains: “Chuck,” after the main character Chucky; and “Tiff,” after his bride, Tiffany. Last month I reviewed and enjoyed the Ecuador Connecticut-wrapped Tiff. Now I turn to Chuck, four of which I smoked (from three different Pudgy Monsters sampler boxes) for this review.

Chuck features a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler. It’s a petit robusto size (4 x 50) with a sky blue band with Tatuaje in white centered and “Pudgy” and “Monsters” in blotchy red typeface on the sides. Like virtually all new Tatuajes, Pudgy Monsters are all made at the My Father Cigars factory in Estelí.

Once lit, I found lots of milk chocolate, damp earth, cinnamon, and notable pepper spice flavors. It’s a medium- to full-bodied cigar with a decent amount of spice and a powdery finish. It’s hardly the most complex cigar around, although it’s a robust, flavorful blend.

Construction was solid in the samples I smoked. My only complaint was the draw was a bit tight, though nowhere near plugged, but there was still a decent amount of resistance, especially in two of the samples. The ash was notably solid.

When I first smoked Tiff and Chuck, I was a far bigger fan of Chuck, but my thoughts have reversed over time. Chuck is a solid, tasty cigar, but Tiff is more refined, more elegant, and more balanced.

Still, Chuck is a fine cigar. And since you can’t buy Chuck by itself, only as part of the Pudgy sampler, I can definitely say that at $95 it is worth seeking out the ten-pack of Pudgy Monsters. (My favorite Monster blend remains The Face, and this sampler is no exception.) As for Chuck, it’s a very solid cigar, which earns it a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Room 101 HN 615

25 Aug 2014

About one year ago, Matt Booth’s Room 101 Cigars—which is affiliated with Camacho and manufactured and distributed by Davidoff—launched a new line called Serie HN.

HN 615The line derives its name from its Honduran Criollo ’98 wrapper (the “H”) and the use of Dominican Navarette tobaccos (the “N”). Room 101 describes the unique HN recipe as follows: “Honduran Criollo is widely-known for its signature taste—rich, rugged, and filled with intense spice. By itself, Criollo can be slightly one-dimensional. However, when expertly combined with tobaccos such as Mata Fina from Brazil and a creamy Dominican Navarette, the richness and spice of Criollo comes to life in an unimaginable way.”

HN comes in five formats: 213 (5.5 x 44), 305 (5 x 50), 615 (7 x 48), 808 (6 x 60), and Papi Chulo (4 x 42). (The numbered sizes are named for the area codes of Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, and Hawaii, respectively.) Each vitola is made at the Agroindustrias Laepe factory in Honduras with a production run of 20,000 cigars.

I smoked three 615s for this review. This Churchill-sized smoke costs $7 and comes complete with a milk chocolate-colored, moderately oily wrapper that has tight seams, few veins, and a well-applied cap. Firm to the touch, the 615 shows a solid cross-section of tobaccos at the foot, yet it has an easy cold draw. The pre-light notes remind me of baking spices.

Room 101 describes the HN as “multi-dimensional and full-flavored” with “medium intensity” and “a level of balance unmatched by most.” While such advertising copy is usually an exercise in hyperbole, my experience with the 615 is pretty much in line with that description. I would agree the skinny Churchill has moderate strength with full flavors, and the balance is quite harmonious—especially for a cigar that often retails below $8.

The flavors themselves range from roasted nut and woody spice to sweet cream and white pepper. I’ve grown to really enjoy smokes that have a creamy nut characteristic, and the HN 615 has that in spades. The quicker you smoke, the more a cayenne pepper spice reveals itself. In the final third, the sweetness loses ground to earthy, leathery tones.

Throughout the lengthy seven-inch smoke, the 615 performs admirably in the department of construction. I found a straight burn, solid ash, smooth draw, and good smoke production across all of my samples.

I have two more Room 101 Serie HN 615s left from the five-pack I bought, and I plan to try to set them aside to see how age might impact the cigar. More realistically, I’ll likely fire both up before the summer is over. Because right now, in my book, this smoke is worthy of a commendable raring of four stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Flores y Rodriguez Habano Magicos

20 Aug 2014

I often get asked by occasional cigar smokers something along these lines: “What’s a good, respectable brand that isn’t too expensive but delivers on quality?” In these situations, Pinar del Rio (PDR) invariably comes to mind.

FyR Habano Magicos 1Consider the many blends in the PDR portfolio (kudos, by the way, to PDR for maintaining an attractive, easily navigable website to help you peruse these offerings). There are many winners—Classico Exclusivo, 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Natural, Habano Sun Grown, etc.—and almost all compete in the affordable $5-6 range.

Another example is Flores y Rodriguez, the first PDR to bear a different name (it’s named for partners Abe Flores and Juan Rodriguez). Handmade at the Pinar del Rio factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Flores y Rodriguez comes in three varieties: Maduro, Habano, and an Exclusivo that’s only available at a handful of tobacconists. The latter is essentially the same blend as the Maduro, but the binder is swapped for a Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 leaf and the filler includes Ligero from Estelí.

The Flores y Rodriguez Habano is made entirely from Dominican Habano Vuelta Abajo leaves. The available sizes include Magicos (5 x 52), Genios (6 x 52), Unicos (6.5 x 52), and Canonazo (6.75 x 58). The cigar is described as mild- to medium-bodied with “a touch of sweetness and a soft cedar flavor.”

I sampled three Habano Magicos cigars for this review, all of which had been resting in my possession for two years. The robusto-sized smoke—which can be found for as little as $4 if bought online—has a clean, oily wrapper, a firm packing of tobaccos, a neat cap, and pre-light notes of sweet hay off the foot.

After setting an even light, the Magicos introduces itself with a spicy detonation more characteristic of a Nicaraguan-heavy cigar than a Dominican puro. The spice is dry, salty, and there’s an abrasiveness that lingers on the lips. Rather quickly, though, the spice settles and a more balanced profile takes shape that includes cream and cinnamon.

At the midway point and beyond, the Magicos is even more subdued as the spice seems to fade with each puff. Floral notes and a taste of leather come and go. All the while, the construction is excellent, including a straight burn and a solid gray ash. And, due at least in part to the entubado fashion in which the cigar is rolled, the draw is clear and the smoke production above average.

If you’re looking for a medium-bodied cigar with a dry, cedary spice and an approachable price tag, the Flores y Rodriguez Habano Magicos is a solid choice. This PDR creation earns 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: Paul Garmirian Reserva Exclusiva Churchill

14 Aug 2014

Not long after I lit my first PG Reserva Exclusiva, I thought to myself, “I’ve found my newest favorite cigar.” It’s a smoke that you can get lost in and enjoy from beginning to end. And when you return for another, the journey begins again.

PG-reserva-exclusivaLike most Paul Garmirian cigars, the Reserva Exclusiva is created with well-aged tobaccos blended to bring out their flavors with just the right strength, which, in this case, I’d call medium. What set this cigar apart for me was the subtlety and complexity, along with a delicate finish that lingers lightly on the tongue.

The 7-inch, 48-ring gauge Churchills I’ve smoked were as consistent as a handmade product can be. Thick, rich smoke; fine, slow burn; even, deliberate draw. I paid about $11.50 for each one, a bargain, really, for a super-premium class cigar.

The filler is Dominican and Ecuadorian, with a Dominican binder and an Ecuadorian wrapper. According to the website, the tobaccos are 10 years old and they come in nine sizes.

Describing the flavors doesn’t do the cigar justice. It’s the way they intertwine and play off each other that creates the experience. Take just one component as an example: the grassiness frequently found in Dominican tobacco. In the Reserva Exclusiva it is never overpowering but rather comes and goes as a complement to the sharper and sweeter flavors, winding through them to produce something unique.

About seven years ago, one of my colleagues found the robusto (pictured) in this line a bit lacking. Perhaps he stumbled on a dud, or perhaps that vitola doesn’t match the Churchill. Or maybe our tastes for this line are just different. That wouldn’t be particularly surprising. After all, if everyone’s tastes were the same there wouldn’t be hundreds of different blends.

And, honestly, I’m not sure I would have been so enamored with the Reserva Exclusiva earlier in my cigar smoking days or later when I was drawn to ligero-laden powerhouses. I think I have become more attuned these days to smokes that repay attention, though I still enjoy a tasty strong cigar. Like the Opus I had the other week that beat me like a rented mule.

Right now, the Reserva Exclusiva is, for me, a great smoke. In fact, it gets my first five-stogie rating this year.

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

-George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Bon Chasseur

13 Aug 2014

Every year, many new cigar releases are so-called “anniversary smokes” that commemorate some event that happened years ago. The birth of a cigar maker. The date a family fled Cuba for freedom. Or perhaps the year a cigar company was founded. There are far too many examples to even begin listing them here.

Tatuaje 10th AnniversaryWhile it can be hard to keep all the numbers straight, the subject of today’s review is a standout. It’s a cigar that’s not only one of the best anniversary smokes to come out in recent years but, in my opinion, it’s simply one of the best new releases in recent memory.

The Tatuaje 10th Anniversary was launched in 2013 to celebrate a decade of Tatuaje—as well as 10 years of partnership between Tatuaje’s Pete Johnson and Don Pepín García. Back in the early days, Tatuaje was García’s first client when he operated El Rey de los Habanos on Calle Ocho in Miami. Johnson recalls placing orders for cigars he didn’t need just to keep García’s business going.

Obviously, things are much different these days. Tatuaje consistently ranks as one of the hottest, most sought-after cigar brands in the market, and García is at the helm of a veritable cigar empire, with a nucleus at the My Father Cigars factory in Nicaragua.

So it would only be appropriate to mark the ten-year milestone with an excellent smoke that lives up to the lofty expectations the duo has set over the past decade. And that’s just what they did in creating the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary cigar.

For this review I sampled three in the Bon Chasseur format, a vitola that measures 5.4 inches long with a ring gauge of 52. I purchased these cigars at my local shop for $10 apiece. Each Bon Chasseur sports an incredibly oily, milk chocolate-colored wrapper, an unfinished foot, and pre-light notes of cocoa.

The Nicaraguan puro, which is a refined version of the Tatuaje Brown Label, kicks off with a balanced profile of coffee bean, black pepper, cream, and warm tobacco. Spice lingers on the tip of the tongue. The aroma of the resting smoke is sweet and nutty. The body falls between the medium and full spectrums, and the nicotine strength is moderate to mild. It’s hard to remember a cigar with such a rich, velvety texture. The smoke almost feels like silk as flavors of red pepper, woody spice, and sweetness come and go.

With top-notch construction befitting the reputation of My Father Cigars—including a solid ash, good smoke production, easy draw, and set-it-and-forget-it burn line—the Tatuaje 10th Anniversary Bon Chasseur is a true gem. Even at $10, I think it’s a steal. It has been a long time since I’ve personally awarded a cigar our heralded five stogies out of five score, but I can think of no rating more appropriate for this remarkable smoke.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Aquitaine Mode 5

6 Aug 2014

Last year, two of my favorite cigars happened to be Abaddon and Ouroboros, both of which are made for Blue Havana, a tobacconist in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. They are crafted at Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño in Estelí by Skip Martin of RoMa Craft Tobac.

Aquitaine The ModeI was so impressed by these cigars that I decided to better acquaint myself with RoMa Craft and its core lines: CroMagnon, Intemperance (EC XVIII and BA XXI), and Aquitaine. If you haven’t already done so, you should do the same. After all, Skip Martin’s Estelí operation may be small with limited production, but he’s undoubtedly making some of the best cigars in the world.

Aquitaine is the last RoMa Craft line I haven’t yet fully delved into. It has the same filler blend (Estelí, Condega, and Pueblo Nuevo) and binder (Cameroon) as CroMagnon. But instead of featuring a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, Aquitaine has an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper. “This eighth and ninth priming Ligero leaf is thick, oily, and has amazing texture,” according to RoMa Craft.

Only in February did Skip Martin add the Mode 5 vitola to the Aquitaine portfolio of sizes. A short perfecto measuring 5 inches long with a ring gauge of 50, Mode 5 is a favorite of his in the CroMagnon line—and it’s often in short supply—so adding it to Aquitaine was probably not a tough decision. The Aquitaine Mode 5 costs $7 and sports a velvety, oily wrapper with minimal veins. It has a well-executed, sharply pointed cap at the head, a tapered foot, and bready pre-light notes. The cigar feels firm with no soft spots and has a clear cold draw.

As one might expect given Mode 5’s makeup (Ligero wrapper, plenty of Nicaraguan tobacco), the initial flavor is full-bodied and spicy with rich notes of black pepper and espresso, which are accented by a background sweetness that I attribute to the Cameroon wrapper. A smoky mesquite taste joins the fray approximately where the burn line passes the gentle taper. There’s also a noticeable nicotine kick (which is worth mentioning, especially since I rarely notice the nicotine in a cigar).

Into the midway point, some of the spice dissipates and a creamy nuttiness becomes prevalent. But espresso and pepper are still at the core, and I don’t think the body ever meanders into the medium spectrum. All the while the combustion qualities are nearly perfect: a straight burn that only requires a light touch-up here and there, a solid ash, smooth draw, and good smoke production.

Let me put this plainly: At $7, the Aquitaine Mode 5 is an incredible buy. That should come as no surprise since I seem to love almost every RoMa Craft cigar I get my hands on. Do yourself a favor and snag some of these when you can. This short perfecto is worthy of a stellar rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

-Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys