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Cigar Review: Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation Corona

17 Oct 2018

Last month my colleague wrote an article that (among other things) sought input on what cigars our readers would like to see us review. I was somewhat surprised by one comment that noted we’ve only reviewed two blends from Curivari’s many offerings.

I’ve long appreciated Curivari’s offerings for the value they provide and, frankly, I expected that in our hundreds of reviews we would have visited the Curivari line more than just twice. But apparently we haven’t. So today we look at another Curivari blend: the Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation.

Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation comes in three formats: a lonsdale called Cazadores (6.1 x 44), a Petite Corona (4.4 x 42), and a Corona (5.1 x 44). I smoked three of the latter vitola for this review. Each of the sizes comes in boxes of ten (I wish more cigars were sold this way), which can be found for just $40-50 if you shop around.

The Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation isn’t listed on the dated Curivari website, but apparently the difference between the Coronation blend and the regular Curivari Seleccion Privada blend is the wrapper and size. The standard blend is frequently cited as using a Habano wrapper and it comes in sizes that are 50 ring gauge or wider, while the Coronation employs a Corojo wrapper and comes in the aforementioned thin sizes. Both blends, like most of the Curivari offerings, are Nicaraguan puros.

The Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation Corona features pre-light notes of oat bread, hay, and cardamom. Once lit, notes of leather, tannins, and toast dominate the medium-bodied smoke. As it progresses, more cedar, black coffee, and cinnamon spice develop. The finish is long and woodsy.

The band looks like a Cuban Partagas from a distance and, while the cigar won’t be mistaken for Cuban Partagas when smoked, it does have a Cuban-esque element. Construction is excellent with an easy draw and sturdy ash.

Like the Curivari Buenaventura, this is a cigar that offers a lot of flavor for the price (both can be found for around $4 per cigar). With complex flavors and excellent construction, the Curivari Seleccion Privada Coronation Corona earns a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Sobremesa Robusto Largo

15 Oct 2018

These days, when cigar enthusiasts think of Steve Saka’s Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust, the “marcas” they’re most likely to conjure are the ones Saka features in his frequent social media posts. Sin Compromiso. The Muestra de Saka iterations, including Nacatamale and (especially) Unicorn. Maybe a close-up of a lit Umbagog taken at Saka’s favorite fishing lake in New Hampshire.

But when I think Dunbarton, I think Sobremesa. Sobremesa was announced in July 2015 to almost instant excitement as the first line from Saka’s new independent cigar operation. It marked the culmination of a two-year non-compete agreement Saka had with his former employer, Drew Estate. Seemingly everyone was clamoring to see how the man who played a critical role in growing Drew Estate into a Nicaraguan juggernaut would fare in his first solo foray.

In my opinion, Sobremesa was—and still is—worth the hype. To date we’ve written about the Elegante en Cedros, Gran Imperiales, Corona Grande, El Americano, and—my personal favorite—the Cervantes Fino. All have received exemplary marks.

Today I look at a Sobremesa vitola that has thus far escaped my reach: the Robusto Largo (5.25 x 52). Like its brethren, the Robusto Largo sports an oily, velvety, toothy, slightly reddish Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper leaf with minimal veins and tight seams. It envelops a Mexican binder and a filler blend of Pennsylvania Broadleaf Ligero with four different Nicaraguan tobaccos (Gk Condega C-SG Seco, Pueblo Nuevo Criollo Viso, La Joya Estelí C-98 Viso, and ASP Estelí Hybrid Ligero).

The cap clips easily to reveal a smooth cold draw. At the foot, the pre-light notes remind me of cocoa powder, earth, and caramel.

After establishing an even light, I find a creamy, balanced, delightfully familiar profile of café au lait, gentle cinnamon spice, salted nuts, and a bit of cayenne heat. The finish has both black pepper and baking spices. The texture is bready.

As the Robusto Largo progresses, flavors like dark cherry, green raisin, cedar, molasses, and caramel come and go. The texture shifts to thick syrup around the midway point and thereafter. As I’ve written before about Sobremesa, “the complexity is palpable and highly enjoyable, and the sweetness of the resting smoke is mouth-wateringly intoxicating. Fortunately, the combustion qualities do not detract from the experience; rather, they enhance it. The burn line is straight, the smoke production above average, the draw easy, and the ash holds well off the foot.”

For me, the Cervantes Fino remains the flagship of the fleet. But don’t sleep on the other vitolas, including the Robusto Largo. It is worthy of another outstanding rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: El Triunfador (Original Blend)

8 Oct 2018

Since the brand’s debut in 2003, many, many Tatuaje cigars have been highly acclaimed. But few Pete Johnson creations have achieved such legendary status as the original El Triunfador.

Back when the line, which is Spanish for “triumphant,” was introduced in 2008, El Triunfador only came in one size: a Lancero (7.5 x 38). The blend consisted of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper around binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. Later, we would learn Johnson initiated this release to stake his claim to the old Cuban name, which he had registered in the U.S.

He re-launched the full El Triunfador line in March 2010. It had a different recipe (most notably, the wrapper was Habano Ecuador), a different band, and seven vitolas. It was marketed as an “Old World, medium-bodied, Cuban-style cigar.” At first, this line was only available in Europe, but it eventually came to the U.S. market.

I recently came across a stash of El Triunfador Lanceros at my local tobacconist here in Chicago and picked up a handful for about $9 apiece (not including outrageous Chicago taxes). While this is the original Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped blend, I harbor no hope that these cigars are from the 2008 production run (Johnson says he continues to have this cigar made).

This long, slender Lancero has all the rustic appeal you’d expect from a Connecticut Broadleaf creation. It is dark, oily, toothy, and not without its fair share of veins, wrinkles, and thick seams. The triple-cap is adorned by a pigtail finish, and the foot exhibits pre-light notes of cocoa and sweet hay. Despite the cigar’s thin ring gauge, the cold draw is smooth.

Once an even light is established, the introductory flavor is meaty, leathery, and oily with a delightful core of creamy roasted peanut. As the cigar progresses, attentive smokers will find cherry, citrus, earth, and molasses sweetness. The overall impression is of a finely balanced, well-rounded cigar with little spice and a short finish.

Complexity is the name of the game. There’s a lot going on here. In addition to the flavors I’ve already mentioned, at times I find cedar, oak, leather, butter, café au lait, warm tobacco, and dried fruit. Despite the lack of spice, the body is medium, the strength (nicotine content) is fairly low, and the texture is woodsy and bready.

The physical properties leave little to be desired. The three Lanceros I smoked for this review each had straight burn lines, good smoke production, clear draws, and solid ashes.

If you’re a fan of Tatuaje, and if you like lanceros, this is a must-try. And even if you are neither of those, I’d still recommend firing up at least one original El Triunfador. There’s just so much to like. That’s why I’m settling on an outstanding score of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Gloria Cubana Estelí Robusto

3 Oct 2018

Unlike the other La Gloria Cubana with which this cigar shares a name—the Serie R Estelí—this is not a Nicaraguan puro.

In fact, only the wrapper, a dark, oily leaf from the acclaimed Jalapa Valley, is from Nicaragua. The binder is from the southern Honduran area of Jamastran, while the filler combines tobacco from there and from the western area of La Entrada.

General Cigar says the name is “in honor of the artisans of our factory in Estelí who did a fantastic job creating the blend,” which General calls a “modern, fuller-bodied take on the classic La Gloria smoking experience.”

The Robustos I smoked are one of three sizes for the new release: Robusto (4.5 x 52, $4.99), Toro (5.5 x 54, $5.99), and Gigante (6.25 x 60, $6.99).

The wrapper, surprisingly, offers little pre-light aroma. It’s an easy light and the opening puffs have a deep, charred flavor. Soon, there is a good bit of spice and a little sweetness, which increases in the final third. Along the way I also picked up some cedar and earthiness. Strength was in the medium range.

Although I haven’t smoked the other vitolas, the Robusto strikes me as an excellent size. It is not a particularly complex cigar, and in 4.5 inches you can fully experience the blend.

The draw was good in each of those I smoked, and the ash held tightly. The burn did require a couple of minor touch-ups that weren’t significant enough to affect the experience.

If you go searching for the La Gloria Cubana Estelí, you might need a sharp eye. While the single band includes the word “Estelí” in all caps, a shopper could be forgiven for becoming confused by the brand’s seemingly endless lineup.

The non-Cuban La Gloria Cubanagot its start in Miami in the early 1970s and gained an enthusiastic national following during the 1990s cigar boom.

Since Ernesto Perez-Carrillo sold the brand in 1999, General Cigar has pumped out extension after extension, some influential and long-lasting, some limited editions, and some eventually killed. And though Perez-Carrillo left General in 2007 to start his own brand, last year he joined in creating La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva, which is rolled at his factory.

Over the years, has reviewed a dozen La Gloria Cubana cigars, with an impressive two-thirds of them receiving ratings of four stogies or higher. This latest iteration earns three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Palina Blue Label Toro (TAA Exclusive)

1 Oct 2018

Blue, according to numerous experts, is a soothing color. And that might just be how you feel about this limited edition available for sale from members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA).

With its light brown Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, my first impression of the La Palina Blue Label was that of an “everyman” cigar. Not too bold, not too mild, just the kind to appeal across the board.

It delivers as well. From the first puffs, the Blue Label reveals delicate flavors that range from coffee and citrus to baking spices, all in a well-balanced blend. Strength is in the medium range, with lots of smoke, a near-perfect burn, and an easy draw.

Rolled at the Plascencia factory in Honduras, the Blue Label features a filler mix of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco held by a Honduran binder. Available only as a 6.5-inch, by 52-ring gauge Toro, the MSRP is $10.

The Blue Label is one of several cigars La Palina has designated with a color, a process that would seem to offer an easy and nearly endless supply of names. Umber or Chartreuse, anyone?

TAA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is a trade group of about 80 retailers and several dozen manufacturers. While less visible than the much larger International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), TAA offers exclusivity, with membership only by invitation.

You can check the association’s website to see if there’s a TAA shop near you. And if not, quite a few TAA members maintain online sales operations.

TAA’s prominence has been boosted in recent years with the release of special editions available only to its members. La Palina Blue Label is one of a baker’s dozen TAA lists as 2018 limited editions.

Sometimes manufacturers elevate their TAA releases to later become regular releases. That happened with La Palina’s TAA Bronze Label, which was greeted last year with enthusiasm and went into standard production this year. Perhaps the Blue Label will move in this direction as well. If so, it would be another strong cigar in La Palina’s expanding lineup. I rate it four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Illusione Rothchildes CT

26 Sep 2018

The original Illusione Rothchildes is a cigar I recommend to a lot of people, for all the reasons my colleague laid out when he first reviewed it in 2014. A flavorful, medium-bodied profile, excellent construction, and a sub-$5 price tag. You can’t go wrong.

It’s a cigar I regularly keep on hand to give to guests since it will be appreciated by cigar veterans, but isn’t so expensive that I’ll resent it if they decide they don’t want to smoke the whole thing. Everyone can appreciate the classic look (the band’s colors and square shape remind me of Henry Clay) and the size is ideal for when you don’t have a lot of time. Plus, it’s not too intimidating for a newbie.

Needless to say, when in 2016 (almost certainly due to the upcoming FDA deadline) Illusione introduced a Connecticut version of the Rothchildes, it became a cigar I wanted to check out, especially since, although I enjoy the original, I find cigars that use Mexican tobaccos generally don’t hit my palate quite right. Although formally introduced in the summer of 2016, it wasn’t widely available for quite a while thereafter.

Like the Mexican-wrapped version, the single CT vitola (4.5 x 50) comes with an affordable price tag ($5.50 MSRP, though you can buy a box for around $200). The Rothchildes CT swaps out that Mexican wrapper for an oily, tan Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf, though it still uses Nicaraguan binder and filer tobaccos, and is made at the TABSA factory in Nicaragua.

Connecticut cigars carry an expectation for mild flavors, but the Rothchildes CT reminds us this isn’t always the case. Pre-light graham cracker notes are followed by significant pepper once lit.

The medium-bodied flavors include buttered toast, cocoa, and oak. It is (unusually) both creamy and quite dry on the palate, especially on the finish. Construction was excellent on each of the three cigars I smoked, with an ash that held for well over an inch.

Like the original, the Illusione Rothchildes CT gives smokers a lot of bang for their buck, which makes it an excellent cigar to have on hand to smoke yourself, or hand out to friends. Enjoyable medium-bodied flavors and excellent construction earn it a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto

19 Sep 2018

The prolific A.J. Fernandez made headlines with his collaborations lately, including with General Cigar’s Hoyo de Monterrey line. Largely unnoticed, however, is that A.J. Fernandez and General Cigar had been affiliated (albeit indirectly) for many years through A.J. Fernandez-made private label brands, including Diesel.

Diesel was originally a private label made for Cigars International (and its portfolio of sites, including and starting in 2009. Cigars International was purchased by then General Cigar parent company Swedish Match in 2007. Eventually, Swedish Match merged its pipe and cigar businesses with Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), putting General Cigar and Cigars International under the same umbrella, even after Swedish Match sold off its share in the company.

Those close connections explain the integration of some Diesel lines with General Cigar, something that started in ernest last year with Diesel Grind. That was followed up earlier this year by Diesel Whiskey Row, which uses binder tobacco aged in bourbon barrels that previously held Rabbit Hole Bourbon.

In addition to the bourbon barrel-aged Mexican San Andrés binder, Diesel Whiskey row uses a three-region blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos from Ometepe, Condega, and Jalapa, each aged five to eight years. Surrounding it all is an attractive, reddish-brown, five-year-old Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.

The three Robustos ($7.50) I smoked had rich pre-light aromas featuring wood and earth but, notably, little that is distinctly bourbon-y. That would be a theme throughout the cigar which, despite its full-bodied flavors, doesn’t showcase the bourbon barrel-aged tobaccos as much as you might expect.

Leather notes dominate and combine with white pepper, oak, and black coffee. The finish is long with tannic leather notes. From start to finish, the leather creates a slightly unbalanced element to the cigar’s full-bodied cigars.

I didn’t have any Rabbit Hole Bourbon (it isn’t sold in Virginia where I live), but I did have an excellent Four Rose Private Selection that paired well with Diesel Whiskey Row. It may have limited bourbon notes, but the Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto earns a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys