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Cigar Review: Partagas Legend Toro Leyenda

5 Sep 2018

The latest Partagas line extension takes its name, Legend, from the notable men associated with the brand, from its Cuban founding in 1845 to the current versions from General Cigar.

Introduced at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, Legend features a three-country blend: Dominican Piloto Cubano filler, Honduran Olancho San Agustin binder, and Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

The medium-strength cigar has a light finish, which is somewhat surprising given its thick, smoky mouthfeel. There’s a little spice, but more predominant are flavors of leather, earthiness, and coffee.

I smoked several and found the performance generally good. One had a bit of a tight draw, which opened up a third of the way down. All produced a lot of smoke, burned slowly and evenly, and held a tight, white ash.

Legend is box-pressed and offered in three sizes: Corona Extra Leyenda (5.25 x 44, $11.49); Fabuloso Leyenda (6.5 x 48, $12.49); and Toro Leyenda (6.25 x 54, $14.49).

The ornate white band is set off by the oily, dark wrapper and has little of the traditional Partagas look. The boxes of 20 are also white.

Over the years, has reviewed a lot of General’s Partagas cigars. Nine,  in fact. Many received high ratings.

Now, some smokers have an almost visceral negative reaction to a non-Cuban cigar that bears the name of those still being produced in Cuba. They see it as a crass effort at exploitation.

Others, especially those whose companies were nationalized after the revolution and who fled the island, say the trademarks belong to the owners. They believe the Cuban versions are unlawful expropriations. One of those men was Ramón Cifuentes, who owned the Partagas brand when Fidel Castro seized power.

Perhaps all this will be sorted out if and when the U.S. embargo on Cuba ends. In the meantime, I’m not sure it’s fair to judge a cigar by its name. I prefer to take cigars as I find them and try to evaluate without considering baggage.

In this case, I found the Legend to be another fine Partagas addition and give it three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: MBombay Corojo Oscuro Gordo

4 Sep 2018

Mel Shah, owner of an upscale cigar and wine lounge in Palm Springs, California, is the man behind Bombay Tobak. You may be more familiar with the name MBombay, though, which is his small-batch brand of high-end cigars made in Costa Rica.

When I think of MBombay, I think of Gaaja and Gaaja Maduro. I love both cigars—especially Gaaja Maduro, which earned a rare five stogies out of five rating in February 2017. The original MBombay line, however, is probably what first comes to mind for most. It includes Classic, Habano, KẽSara, Mora, and Corojo Oscuro.

The latter sports a beautiful, dark, oily, mottled, slightly reddish Ecuadorian wrapper around tobaccos from Ecuador, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. It is adorned with an ornate, eye-catching band.

I smoked a handful of Corojo Oscuro Gordos for this review. This vitola retails for about $11 and measures 6 inches long with a ring gauge of 60. The cap clips cleanly to reveal a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos, yet the cold draw is nice and smooth. At the foot, I find pre-light notes of dark chocolate and molasses.

The initial flavor is full-bodied and aggressive with strong notes of espresso and black pepper spice. Quickly, though, the breaks are pumped and the Gordo settles into the medium-bodied range. Here, I find flavors ranging from roasted peanut and cereals to coffee and cedar. In the background, there’s a gentle cayenne spice and a sensation that reminds me of sunflower seeds.

I’ve never been a big fan of the over-sized gordo format. For one, the ring gauge is too thick to be comfortable, and that same girth can also water down the flavors that would otherwise be more concentrated. Additionally, many of these cigars tend to overstay their welcome. And they can also suffer from combustion issues.

The physical properties of the Corojo Oscuro Gordo, however, are admirable. The burn stays even and requires only a few touch-ups. And the ash holds firm.

But the other disadvantages I mentioned are present here—and I think that’s more of an indictment of the size (generally speaking) than this particular cigar. Still, MBombay chose to offer the format, and I must review the cigar as it is presented. Taking into account my dislike for the size, as well as my enjoyment of the balanced, complex blend, I’ve arrived at a rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: My Father La Gran Oferta Robusto

29 Aug 2018

Almost like clockwork, the My Father Cigars adds a blend to its namesake line each summer around the annual IPCPR Trade Show. This year’s addition is La Gran Oferta, which translates to “the great offering.”

Made at My Father’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, La Gran Oferta employs tobaccos from the company’s Nicaraguan farms along with an oily Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. While La Gran Oferta may be a new offering, it is inspired by an old cigar brand sold under the same name over a hundred years ago.

Five formats are available: Robusto (5 x 50), Toro (6 x 50), Torpedo (6.1 x 52), Toro Gordo (6 x 56), and Lancero (7.5 x 38). All come in boxes of 20 with individual cigars sold for around $8. I smoked two in the Robusto size, though the inclusion of a Lancero as a regular production vitola is notable.

The firm cigar features an open draw and pre-light notes of wood with a hint of mint. Once lit, it produces loads of smoke and medium- to full-bodied flavors. Construction is flawless, with a sturdy gray ash.

Dominant flavors are toasted bread, rich espresso, and slightly gritty earth. As it evolves, subtle red fruit and citrus notes enter the equation, along with some creaminess. The finish is short with dry, slightly chalky notes.

In comparison to lines My Father Cigars makes for other brand owners, including Pete Johnson’s Tatuaje and Ashton’s San Cristobal, the My Father brand might be a bit overlooked. That’s a mistake. Top to bottom, My Father cigars are excellent, and La Gran Oferta slots in nicely as more full-bodied than the original line, but less so than the Ecuadorian Sumatra-wrapped The Judge or the Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro-wrapped Le Bijou 1922.

Particularly if you are a fan of Ecuadrian Habano-wrapped cigars, this is one to try. With a complex mix of medium- to full-bodied flavors and excellent construction, the My Father La Gran Oferta Robusto 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: CroMagnon Cranium

27 Aug 2018

We’ve been operating since May 2006. As a result, for over twelve years, much of what I’ve smoked has been dictated by necessity for this website. And while I’m sure you won’t shed any tears in my honor (despite being a lot of work, running a cigar site is a rewarding, entertaining endeavor), you can probably appreciate my predicament. Sometimes I just want to smoke—and, yes, write about—an old favorite.

So today I’m reviewing a cigar that most certainly did not debut at the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show. It’s also not new to this website (we previously wrote about it here and here). In fact, there’s no good reason for me to publish this—other than I simply want to, and that I’m secretly hoping to inspire a few readers to pick up a CroMagnon Cranium who maybe haven’t grabbed one in a while.

In the event you’re unfamiliar, the CroMagnon line from RoMa Craft Tobac is handmade in Estelí at the Fabrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A. factory. It sports a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper around a Cameroon binder with Nicaraguan filler tobaccos.

The toro-sized Cranium (6x 54) retails for about $9. It has a dark, reddish exterior leaf with moderate oils, plenty of tooth, and a few large veins. The feel is firm and the foot exhibits a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos. The pre-light notes remind me of molasses and cocoa power. The rough cap clips cleanly to reveal a moderate cold draw.

Appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes they can be telling. If you were to judge the CroMagnon Cranium based solely on its intimidating looks and menacing presentation, you’d probably expect it to be a full-bodied powder keg. The initial puffs would validate those expectations. The thick, leathery profile is packed with char, black pepper, espresso, and chalky earth.

To write this toro off as a power-bomb, however, would be to overlook the expert blending that so clearly went into the cigar’s creation. There’s a complexity and balance here that’s often missing from many straightforwardly strong cigars. Creamy peanut, dark chocolate, and hickory add layers. And the strength level dips and surges—an effective strategy that ensures interest is not lost.

Along the way, the physical properties are consistent with what I’ve come to expect from RoMa Craft. The white ash holds well off the foot, the burn is straight, the draw is smooth, and the smoke production is above average.

Trying new cigars is important—especially if you write about cigars. But there’s so much out there, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. So don’t overlook the tried and true blends that have performed consistently well for years. Your palate, and your wallet, will thank you.

This solid, fairly priced, full-bodied cigar is best enjoyed with a full stomach and a side of brown liquor. I continue to be a fan, and award it 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: Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto

20 Aug 2018

In early 2014, 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.

Luchador was the third line to come out of Leccia Tobacco, which also includes White, Black, and Desnudo. It features (as you’d expect) a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around an Ecuadorian Habano binder with filler from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and Honduras.

“Centering the blend is a distinctive tobacco from Ometepe, Nicaragua,” reads the Leccia Tobacco website. “Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua… Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains. It is the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world.”

“I wanted to create something fun, yet different and exciting,” said Leccia in 2014. “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 a Mexican flag) adorned with the image of a Mexican wrestling mask.

A box of Loco Perfectos retails for $180.60 at the Leccia Tobacco store. The cigar I sampled for this review had been in my humidor for four years. It had potent pre-light notes of cocoa, salted caramel, and earth. The pointed cap clipped easily to reveal an impressively smooth draw (especially when you consider the firmness of the cigar).

Given the narrow foot, a single wooden match is all that’s needed to establish an even light. The initial profile is one of black pepper spice, espresso, dark chocolate, and the gritty earthiness that’s so often associated with San Andrés tobacco.

Past the half-inch mark, the core flavors remain the same, but the spice becomes more subdued and a creaminess comes to the fore. From there, as the Loco Perfecto progresses, the profile shifts here and there not because of new flavors, but because the flavors rise and fall relative to one another. The journey concludes with a finale that’s very similar to the beginning.

Notwithstanding its solid construction and consistent combustion properties, the Luchador blend is unlikely to wow. It is enjoyable and serviceable, but falls a little short in terms of complexity or richness if you’re hoping for something memorable. That’s ultimately why I’ve landed the respectable rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Interlude Maduro Carrillitos

13 Aug 2018

I’ve been working my way through the Interlude line from E.P. Carrillo this year, thus far writing reviews on the Natural Rothschild Jr. and the Maduro Rothschild Jr.

At first, my attraction to the pint-sized cigars was inspired by the temperatures of a Chicago winter; more recently, I’m drawn to the cigars for their ability to pack a premium cigar experience into a short time period—a plus when you’ve got two small children and a third on the way.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo launched Interlude in 2016. There are two blends each presented in two small formats: Carrillitos (4 x 38) and Rothschild Jr. (3.75 x 48).

The Natural version of “Ernesto’s shortest cigar ever made” sports a Connecticut wrapper (same as the New Wave Reserva) around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Maduro boasts a Mexican San Andrés wrapper (same as La Historia) around an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler.

Both were hard to blend “because the dimensions limit the amount of tobacco that can be used,” Ernesto Perez-Carrillo shared via email. “So the proportions have to be just right to get the flavor profile sought.”

I smoked a handful of cigars in the Interlude Maduro Carrillitos format for this review. This cigar is neatly presented in a regal five-pack that retails for $15 (or $3 per cigar). The beautiful packaging is offset by the rustic, wrinkled appearance of the wrapper leaf. It is veiny, toothy, and mottled with moderately loose seams.

The firm, lumpy Maduro Carrillitos has a stiff cold draw and pre-light notes reminiscent of cocoa powder and damp earth. A single match is all that’s needed to establish an even burn. Once underway, I find a medium- to full-bodied profile of black pepper spice, cherry sweetness, dark chocolate, and cedar.

After a quarter-inch or so, the draw mercifully opens up nicely. At the same time, there is a shift in flavor away from spice and towards creaminess. Here, flavors include dry oak, marshmallow, and café au lait. This is where things remain until the final third, which is characterized by a reprise of black pepper and cedar spice.

The physical properties are outstanding. All of my samples exhibited straight burn lines, sturdy ashes, and good smoke production. The only blemish is the tight draw at the outset.

When I started to get serious about cigars about 12 years ago, the most challenging scarcity was the cost of the hobby. Now, the biggest constraint is time. I can’t seem to carve out 90 to 120 minutes nearly as often as I would like.

That’s why the Interlude series strikes a chord with me. E.P. Carrillo found a way to deliver much of what I love most about cigars into more manageable formats. For that, I’m thankful. I’ve especially been impressed with the San Andrés-wrapped Maduro Interlude cigars. Like the Rothschild Jr., I’m awarding this one 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: Villiger Flor de Ynclan Lancero Especial

8 Aug 2018

Last summer, Villiger Cigars introduced the Flor de Ynclan line. Actually, it was more of a re-introduction. Villiger originally debuted the line, which takes its name from an old Cuban brand, back in 2007.

Eleven years ago, a “small batch” of La Flor de Ynclan was crafted by Villiger with unsatisfactory results, leading to a decision to cease production. The 2017 re-introduction, therefore, wasn’t merely a second go-around with the same recipe. It had been re-blended by José Matias Maragoto—overseer of all Villiger-made product in the Dominican Republic—to feature an Ecuadorian wrapper, Indonesian binder, and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

Villiger got it right this time, according to Heinrich Villiger, chairman of Switzerland-based Villiger Soehne AG: “The La Flor de Ynclan cigar has been an ongoing labor of love for us. We feel that there is a difference between a good and great cigar, [and] Matias Maragoto and I hope you feel the same.”

La Flor de Ynclan is handmade at the ABAM Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic. It has three regular-production formats: Robusto (5 x 50, $11), Torpedo (5 x 52, $12), and Churchill (7 x 48, $12).

In addition, this year a limited edition Lancero Especial (6.75 x 43, $11) was added; only 500 boxes of 25 will be made annually. This vitola has a pigtail cap and, like its 2017 predecessors, sports a metallic band of silver, blue, red, and black (in case you’re wondering, the 2007 La Flor de Ynclan band depicts an enrobed woman posing with two spears and one hand atop a globe).

In terms of flavor, the Lancero Especial can be thought of as a more concentrated, slightly stronger version of the Toro I reviewed over a year ago. The core profile of oak, cream, and cinnamon is very similar, though the body is decidedly medium instead of mild- to medium-bodied. In the background, attentive smokers will notice hints of citrus, vanilla, and almond. The texture is bready.

The cinnamon spice becomes more prevalent toward the midway point. Here, I also find a taste of white pepper. In the final third, there is a shift back to oak and citrus, and the spice is more reminiscent of black pepper.

Across both samples I smoked for this review, the physical properties left little to be desired. Despite being spongy to the touch, the Lancero Especial exhibits a near-perfect burn behind a sturdy ash. The draw has some resistance but is mostly clear. The smoke production is average.

All told, I give the slight edge to the Lancero Especial over the Churchill—but not enough of an edge to change the overall score. I’m sticking with my (very admirable) rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys