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Cigar Reviews: Fable Fourth Prime Mersenne

30 Oct 2017

Like many of you, I’m sure, I’ve been a huge fan of RoMa Craft Tobac for years. In my estimation, the entire portfolio is well-made, expertly blended, and relatively easy on the wallet. What’s not to like? So when I came across a cache of smokes from Fable Cigars at my local tobacconist, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a few.

For the uninitiated, Fable comes from the RoMa Craft’s home factory in Estelí, Nicaragua: Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. The brand debuted in early 2016 and is made for owners Sean Kremenetski and Mitul Shah.

Fourth Prime is Fable’s inaugural release. (There is only one other line listed on Fable’s website, Fourth Prime Limited Production; but, again, the brand has only been around for less than two years, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a small portfolio if that portfolio is really solid.) The line “is the story of the number seven and the significance it holds in our world,” according to the Fable website.

Fourth Prime is described as “medium to full strength” with “full flavor” and “full aroma.” It is available in four sizes: Sapta (6.25 x 54), Mi (5.75 x 46), Doc (4.25 x 52), and Mersenne (5.25 x 56). The recipe includes a dark Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper, an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Mersenne (5.25 x 56) is named for Marin Mersenne, a French monk who lived in the 17th century and is known for his work on prime numbers. It is adorned by a simple white band with a curious black emblem. On the Fable website, you’ll find the following: “The triangle logo is a minimalist representation of the fourth prime number—seven. Seven lines that form the letter P when turned sideways.”

The cigar’s exterior leaf is toothy and textured yet devoid of anything but the slimmest of veins. It is rectangle-pressed and fairly firm to the touch. Despite that firmness, though, the flattened cap clips easily to reveal an ultra-smooth cold draw.

Once lit, the introductory profile is full-bodied, full-strength, and spice-forward with a meaty texture. Individual flavors include a sweet gassiness, espresso, cayenne heat, and cedar.

After an inch, the spiciness tones down considerably, but the flavor remains full. The retreat in spice makes way for some new notes, including caramel and dark chocolate. At this point, the core is a bold combination of earth, black coffee, dry oak, and burnt marshmallow.

As expected, the finale is characterized by a reprise of spice and strength from the outset, plus a grittiness that reminds me of San Andrés tobacco.

The combustion properties are impeccable, as one would expect from NicaSueño. The burn line is perfect, the white ash holds well off the foot, the draw is super-clear, and the smoke production is ridiculously voluminous.

To put it plainly, the Fable Fourth Prime Mersenne is an intense cigar that’s loaded with flavor. I paid about $10 per single, which seems entirely reasonable given the quality. I suggest you give it a try. In my book, it earns four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: El Galan Dona Nieves Negra Macha

18 Oct 2017

Cuban cigarmaker Felix Mesa created El Galan Cigars in 2010 and makes the half dozen El Galan blends in his factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. In an interview last year, he explained why he left Cuba and started his own cigar company:

“I am Cuban, 41 years old, son and grandson of the third generation of a humble peasant family from the former province of Las Villas, today called Spiritus Santis in the Cabaiguan town where I was born and grew up in a field called the Purial, which is a tobacco region in Cuba. I left Cuba with a dream which could not realize there for the reasons that many know; there you can’t do registration marks, much less sell tobacco and to be able to pay tribute to a family who deserved it as many others to achieve experiences and wisdom in this beautiful tobacco industry.”

El Galan’s Dona Nieves cigar is named after Mesa’s grandmother, who worked in Cuban tobacco fields until she was 86 years old (and clearly remains a strong influence on Mesa). Even the three vitolas—including the box-pressed Negra Macha (5.5 x 54)—are all nicknames for Mesa’s grandma.

The cigar uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. It isn’t easy to find, but you can locate it online for around $6.

The cigar features intense pre-light aromas, including barnyard with light fruit. It is densely packed with a light box press and a light brown, slightly splotchy wrapper.

Once lit, the Dona Nieves produces a complex array of flavors that include burnt toast, shortbread, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper, and cafe-au-lait. It’s full-flavored and medium-bodied. Construction is excellent with a sturdy ash despite a slightly wobbly burn line.

If I’m being honest, I picked up these cigars on a complete whim just because a Nicaraguan-heavy, Ecuadorian Habano-wrapped cigar made by a Cuban sounds a lot like some of the other cigars I’ve liked over the years (e.g., early Don Pepin and A.J. Fernandez).

I’m glad I did. This is a flavorful, complex, well-made, balanced smoke at a very fair price. If you’re looking for something new to try, check out El Galan Dona Nieves Negra Macha (since you probably haven’t smoked it yet). It was a pleasant surprise for me and earns four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Black Petit Lancero

16 Oct 2017

In 2010, a Minneapolis-area cigar shop called Tobacco Grove introduced a store-exclusive Tatuaje Black in a Petit Lancero (6 x 38) format. Only 200 boxes of 25 were made for a total production run of 5,000. They sold out almost instantly.

Later, Pete Johnson turned the vitola into a regular release. The only difference between the two cigars—aside from the production numbers, of course—is the Tobacco Grove Petit Lancero had a pigtail cap and a closed foot.

For those unfamiliar with Tatuaje Black, the line was launched in 2007 in a Corona Gorda size that came in ceramic jars. Known as Johnson’s personal blend, some consider this cigar to be one of the best ever made.

But all cigars change over time due to uncontrollable variables. And Don José “Pepin” Garcia-made cigars, including Tatuaje 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 de 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 and expanded. Of all the different Tatuaje formats over the years, though, the Petit Lancero is one of the best.

This wonderful cigar is a mottled, slightly reddish Nicaraguan puro that’s not without its fair share of veins. It is moderately spongy in firmness. The wrinkled, textured wrapper leaf is incredibly oily; it’s almost velvety. The cold draw is smooth. At the foot, pre-light notes include cocoa and molasses.

At the outset, the spice-forward flavor is medium-bodied with well-balanced notes of oak, cinnamon, chocolate, and white pepper. The texture is thick and leathery. After half an inch, the spice recedes a notch to make way for a little sweet cream. The retrohale is occasionally characterized by a flourish of roasted nuts.

At the midway point, the Petit Lancero calms considerably in terms of both body and spice. Then, in the final third, there is a reprise of strength and spice, along with peanut, dark chocolate, and dry cedar. All the while, the construction is excellent. Expect a straight burn line, easy draw, solid white ash, and good smoke production.

It’s hardly a surprise to me that I really like this Tatuaje Black. I love the size—it’s enough to be satisfying without overstaying its welcome, and the narrow ring gauge helps to concentrate the flavors—plus most Johnson/Pepin creations tend to resonate well on my palate (I’m not the only one). This classic-tasting, medium-bodied cigar scores very well due to its ample complexity and harmonious balance. I rate it four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: El Rey del Mundo Maduro Robusto

15 Oct 2017

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.”

El Rey del Mundo is a famous Cuban brand with an often overlooked non-Cuban counterpart. This non-Cuban version was made at the Villazon factory in Honduras for many years, but apparently is now made at STG/General Cigar’s Danlí factory. Made with a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and Honduran binder and filler, the five-inch Robusto has a thick ring gauge of 54. The cigar features black coffee, roasted nuts, sour bread, and cedar. Not overly complex but well-constructed, it’s a good value at around $6.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Elencos Don Rubino

9 Oct 2017

Back in 2011, about two years after Ernesto Perez-Carrillo ended his nine-year tenure with General Cigar to establish his own family-operated boutique, he introduced the Elencos Series. This three-vitola line had the same blend as the E.P. Carrillo Edición Limitada 2010, and its production was likewise limited by the availability of the requisite tobaccos.

E.P. Carrillo re-released Elencos at the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, this time as a regular production line in the company’s Elite series. The blend consists of a Brazilian wrapper, a Dominican binder, and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. (Of note: You may see the binder listed as Ecuadorian elsewhere; this is an error, as confirmed via phone Lissette Perez-Carrillo, Ernesto’s daughter.)

Elencos is Spanish for “cast,” as in the cast of a theatrical production. It is offered in the same three formats as it was in 2011 with prices in the $8.25-9.25 range: Don Rubino (5.25 x 50), Elites (6 x 54), and a figurado called Acto Mayor (6.25 x 52). The first shipments of the line are expected to start arriving at retailers later this month.

As you may have noticed from my pictures, the attractive, intricate band of silver, black, and red says “Elenco,” not “Elencos.” Lissette Perez-Carrillo confirms the name of the line remains “Elencos” and that the bands and boxes are being corrected as such.

I smoked several Don Rubinos for this review. This robusto-sized smoke has a dark, oily wrapper that’s devoid of any large veins or imperfections. It is firm to the touch, yet the cold draw is clear. The pre-light notes are rich and reminiscent of molasses and nougat.

After an even light is established, the profile is incredibly full-bodied right from the get-go. The bold, spicy flavors include espresso, black pepper, cayenne heat, and dark cherry. The texture is thick and syrupy. Then, about a half inch in, the strength pulls back a bit and additional notes of sweet cream and roasted nuts help add balance. Towards the midway point and beyond, the cigar mellows further. It’s still medium- to full-bodied, mind you, but the flavor is more balanced and harmonious, and a thick, syrupy sweetness combines with the roasted nuts to help offset some of the heavy-handed pepper and espresso.

The construction is flawless. The gray ash holds well, the burn line is straight, and the smoke production is excellent.

The Elencos Don Rubino from E.P. Carrillo packs a ton of bold flavor and Nicaraguan strength for just north of $8. I recommend seeking it out, especially if you crave a rather intense experience. In my book, it earns a very solid rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Hoyo La Amistad Silver Robusto

4 Oct 2017

Cuban-born cigar maker A.J. Fernandez is nothing if not prolific. In addition to making his own cigar lines, he has collaborated with numerous brands big and small including Rocky Patel, Foundation Cigar Company, Aging Room, La Palina, and Altadis (Montecristo, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta, and Gispert).

Fernandez burst onto the scene with cigars made for catalog and online giant Cigars International, including Man O’War and Diesel. More recently, he’s been creating cigars for General Cigar, which is owned by the same parent company as Cigars International. In 2016, he made Time Flies under the Foundry brand and Hoyo La Amistad.

At this year’s IPCPR Trade Show, General Cigar followed up Hoyo La Amistad with Hoyo La Amistad Silver. (The original features bands with gold trim while the Silver line has, as you’d expect, silver trim.) Both cigars sport an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Silver has filler tobacco from Estelí and Condega (while the original uses tobacco from Condega, Estelí, Jalapa, and Ometepe).

Made at Tabacalera Fernandez S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua, Hoyo La Amistad Silver boasts delicious pre-light aromas with classic dark chocolate and rich earth wafting from the cigar as soon as it is removed from its cellophane. The dark, nearly oscuro wrapper surrounds a firmly constructed cigar that produces a sturdy light gray ash, even burn, and flawless draw.

The three Robustos (5 x 50) I smoked for this review all had a flavor profile characterized by dry chocolate, oak, pepper, and black coffee. Flavors are medium- to full-bodied with minimal variation, except an occasional slight bitterness.

More than once, I was reminded of San Cristobal made by My Father Cigars. That’s a high compliment, as it’s a cigar I enjoy quite a bit and is priced a bit higher than the Hoyo, which has a suggested retail price of $7-8 per cigar.

All around, despite the infrequent bitterness, this is an excellent, well-made cigar that will appeal to fans of classic Nicaraguan flavors. That earns the Hoyo La Amistad Silver Robusto a rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Cornelius & Anthony Aerial Robusto

2 Oct 2017

If your idea of a Connecticut cigar is an Altadis Montecristo or an Ashton Classic, this new offering from Cornelius & Anthony should be on your give-it-a-try list.

While there is a bit of the typical grassy Connecticut (though this wrapper is from Ecuador rather than New England) aroma on the pre-light, the first few puffs are bursting with spice and a strong finish. By the start of the second third, the spice has backed off and tobacco sweetness moves to the fore. In the final third, the spice amps up again, mingling with leather and a light earthiness.

Strength is firmly in the mid-level area. I smoked two for this review and each performed flawlessly, producing lots of thick smoke.

The Robusto (5 x 52) has a suggested price of $9.25 and is one of four sizes in the new line. The others are Gordo (6 x 60, $10.75), Toro (6 x 50, $9.75), and Corona Gorda (5.5 x 46, $8.75). All are made at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The filler is Nicaraguan, while the only identification for the binder is that it is grown in the U.S.

Aerial is presented similarly to other Cornelius & Anthony cigars: a relatively large, ornate band identifying the company with a plain secondary band specifying the line. Also familiar in the packaging is the woodcut-style illustration—this one a hot air balloon that looks like it escaped from a Jules Verne tale.

I was curious about the name, and reached out to Cornelius & Anthony director of brand development, Courtney Smith. She said it began with “some beautiful aerial photos” she discovered in the company archive.

“The family has been growing tobacco on the same land in Keysville, Virginia, since the 1860s… and the photos were so interesting and informative, because they were a visual of the expanse of their property,” she wrote in an email. “As we talked about the land and the land’s history, the name and concept organically grew from there.”

Aerial was introduced at the summertime IPCPR Trade Show and began shipping recently. So far, it’s my favorite new release of 2017 and becomes my first five-stogie cigar this year.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys