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Cigar Review: Tatuaje Series P Miami P1 Corona Gorda

7 Feb 2018

Perhaps our well-informed readers will know of another but, off the top of my head, I can think of only one mixed-filler, hand-rolled cigar made in America: the Tatuaje Series P Miami. Last year, without much fanfare, the cigars began appearing in limited numbers at some Tatuaje retailers.

Via email, Tatuaje owner Pete Johnson describes the cigars this way: “Made in Miami using only picadura from Brown Label Miami. The Ecuador Habano wrapper is the same wrapper on Brown Label. Two binders like everything else we make. Very small production with only one roller making them.”

The cigars are available in two sizes: P1 Corona Gorda (5.6 x 46) and P2 Robusto (5 x 50). The cigars sell for about $6 each in foil-wrapped bundles of 25. I smoked four in the Corona Gorda size for this review.

The cigar features a nipple cap (just like the Tatuaje Black Corona Gorda) and the dark Ecuadorian wrapper extends around the closed foot. About that wrapper, Johnson says the Miami Series P uses the same wrappers as the Brown Label cigars rolled in Miami, which is a mix of the lighter shade original six sizes and the higher priming wrappers used on the Cojonu, J21, and K222 vitolas.

The cigar features medium- to full-bodied flavors with rich espresso, light cedar, black pepper, and cocoa. Additional notes of sweet cream, toast, and charred oak are prominent, especially towards the second half.

Despite being mixed-filler (a combination of long-filler and picadura cuttings from other long-filler cigars), I found construction to more than adequate. Though the draw is perhaps more open and the ash less stable than regular, higher-priced Tatuaje Miami cigars, combustion overall is still good.

I’ve always found the foil-wrapped Tatuaje cigars to be among my favorites and, once again, I’m impressed by a Miami-made, wet-packed Tat. Despite the 100% long-filler Brown Label Tatuajes not being all that more expensive than this mixed-filler offering, I recommend this cigar, if you can find it. The Tatuaje Series P Miami P1 Corona Gorda earns 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: Bandolero Traviesos

29 Jan 2018

Havana-born Nelson Alfonso is the graphic designer behind Selected Tobacco, an ultra-premium outfit that produces cigars under the Atabey, Byron, and Bandolero brands. Even if you’re unfamiliar with these cigars, you’ve almost certainly appreciated Alfonso’s work; his firm, Golden Age Visual Developers, has contributed to the packaging and design of many iconic Cuban brands, including Behike (which explains why Atabey looks so Behike-esque).

Bandolero is handmade in Costa Rica with an undisclosed blend. Here’s the origin of the Bandolero name from United Cigar (Selected Tobacco’s distributor in the U.S.): “Between 1717 and 1817, the Spanish Crown prohibited cigar production in the Caribbean and the rest of the American colonies, and although its precious leaves continued growing on the other side of the ocean, the ‘puro’ cigar rolling that we all know today could only be done at the Sevilla Royal Factory [in Spain]… [This] led to the rising prices of tobacco and the birth of the bandolero, an intrepid figure that hid on mysterious roads with tobacco leaves rolled in other countries…”

The Bandolero Traviesos has the dimensions of a standard robusto (5 x 50), but it actually smokes more like a shorter, stouter cigar given its long torpedo cap. It retails for $12 for a single. The cigar has a dark, mahogany-colored wrapper with moderate tooth and ample oils. The seams are tight and the veins are thin. Once the well-executed torpedo cap is clipped, I find a smooth cold draw. At the foot, the pre-light notes remind me of molasses.

After setting an even light with a couple wooden matches, a woodsy, slightly spicy, medium-bodied profile emerges with flavors ranging from cedar and espresso to black cherry and cocoa powder. The overall first impression is one of harmony, depth, and smoothness of delivery.

As the Traviesos progresses, the flavors remain fairly consistent, save for a cayenne-like heat that comes and goes at will, as well as the introduction of a taste I can only describe as natural tobacco. At times, there’s a roasted peanut flavor that’s borderline brilliant—but it’s very fleeting.

While the ash holds well and the draw is clear throughout, the burn line leaves something to be desired. I didn’t have to perform any touch-ups along the way, but I certainly thought about using my flame to correct the wavy burn a few times. The smoke production is about average.

Of the Bravos size (5.25 x 52), I wrote the following in May 2015: “Given the cost, I was hoping for a memorable, complex experience that would make me reach for this cigar to celebrate special occasions. The Bandolero Bravos falls a little short of those lofty expectations. While I enjoy the flavors, I think the complexity isn’t quite there, and that results in a rating of three and a half stogies out of five.”

My experience might have been a little different with the Traviesos, but my conclusions are identical. I award this cigar 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: Crux Epicure Robusto

24 Jan 2018

The first thing that stands out about this cigar is the wrapper, a beautiful light brown Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf stretched over Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The large band around it has Crux’s trademark medieval-reminiscent typface on a red background balanced by a white strip below with the cigar’s name in gold. It is an impressive presentation.

The next strong impression comes after lighting up. There’s none of that typical Connecticut grassy characteristic. Instead, the dominant flavors are natural sweetness and toast. Around the second third, light pepper and cedar mingle in and remain through the rest of the Robusto (5 x 50, $10).

Though it will certainly appeal to the large segment of cigar smokers who prefer milder cigars, Epicure is by no means an old-school Connecticut. Rather, it’s what I think of as a “millennial Connecticut”: a blend that manages to create smoothness and flavor without a significant grassy component in a mild- to medium-bodied smoke.

Like other Crux cigars, this one is rolled by Plasencia. Performance is first-rate. In both of those I smoked, the burn was slow and straight, the ash held tightly, and there was a lot of smoke production.

The line was introduced in 2016 but didn’t ship widely until last year. It comes in three sizes in addition to the Robusto: Corona Gorda (5.375 x 46), Robusto Extra (5.75 x 54), and Toro (6.25 x 52).

With a milder blend, Epicure fills a spot in the expanding Crux lineup that’s been highly praised, including numerous strong ratings at StogieGuys.com for many of their smokes.

This one is no exception. And I would urge anyone to give Epicure a try, even if you primarily smoke high-powered cigars. With the right circumstances and attention, I believe this cigar will satisfy most smokers. I rate it four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: CruxStogie Guys

Cigar Review: Illusione La Gran Classe Rex

17 Jan 2018

In 2012, Dion Giolito introduced La Grand Classe as a small-batch exclusive for his Fumare store in Reno, Nevada. The project appeared short-lived, with only one follow up, La Grand Classe Rex, which appeared in 2013.

Then, at last year’s IPCPR Trade Show, Giolito, who also owns the Illusione brand, announced La Grand Classe Rex was returning as part of an Illusione-branded La Grand Classe line.

The cigars feature a reddish-brown Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. It measures 4.9 inches long with a ring gauge of 40 and sells for $5.50 per cigar. It comes un-banded in gold foil bundles of 25.

Flavors include roasted cashews, dry earth, and light leather in a medium- to full-bodied blend. The profile also features cinnamon and nutmeg spice, which starts out light and builds after the midway point.

It’s a balanced cigar that provides surprising nuance in such a small vitola. The draw and burn are excellent, although keep in mind that the ash produced by small ring gauge cigars has a tendency to fall off unexpectedly.

If you’re looking for a smaller cigar to enjoy this winter (because you don’t have the time or warmth for something longer) this is one to try. For providing pleasing flavors and excellent value, Illusione La Gran Classe Rex earns a rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Aurora León Jimenes Prestige Churchill

15 Jan 2018

“La Aurora was founded on October 3rd, 1903 by Eduardo León Jimenes, a hard worker who was son and grandson of tobacco growers [who]… decided to go a step further with the creation of a cigar brand,” reads the La Aurora website. “The founder was then 18 years old, inherited some ‘tareas’ of land and, with a reduced roster of six employees, a great enthusiasm, and much effort, began to build his dream.”

La Aurora honored Eduardo León Jimenes and his brother, Herminio León Jimenes (the man who “kept alive the family legacy and tradition when Eduardo died in 1937”) with a cigar brand called León Jimenes. While the line has been around for decades, you could be forgiven if it’s unfamiliar to you. The Connecticut-wrapped blend has enjoyed much better sales in the international market, where smokers, generally speaking, tend to prefer milder smokes.

León Jimenes Prestige was introduced as an offshoot in 2011 with intentions of revitalizing the León Jimenes brand in the U.S. It includes a recipe that’s supposed to be spicier and fuller-bodied than its predecessor (though is by no means built to be a powerhouse): an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper surrounds a Dominican binder and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Three sizes available in the U.S.: Robusto (5 x 50, $7.20), Corona (5 x 38, $6.20), and Churchill (7 x 47, $8). There are other sizes listed on La Aurora’s website, but these are only for outside the U.S. All are made at the E. León Jimenes Tabacalera factory in the Dominican Republic.

This cigar’s modern-looking band of black, gold, and red makes no mention of the name “Prestige,” though it is easily distinguishable from the original León Jimenes and the Doble Maduro, both of which have red bands.

I smoked several Churchills for this review. This size has a pale, moderately oily wrapper. Thin veins are fairly common at the surface, and don’t be surprised if there’s a thicker vein protruding from the binder. The feel is moderately firm and the cold draw is smooth. At the foot, there are sweet, delicate pre-light notes of hay and grass.

After setting an even light with two wooden matches, a toasty, bready profile emerges with notes of oak, roasted nuts, coffee bean, and vanilla. There’s a fair amount of spice on the finish courtesy of white pepper and cinnamon. Towards the midway point, flavors of cashew, butter, and cream become more prominent. Things ramp up a bit in the final third, but the strength never crosses the mild- to medium-bodied end of the spectrum.

The physical properties are in line with what I’ve come to expect from La Aurora. The burn line is straight with no need for any touch-ups along the way. The draw is clear. The ash holds firm off the foot. And the smoke production is above average.

Put plainly, the León Jimenes Prestige Churchill is an enjoyable, well-made, laid-back cigar with some spice, good balance, and smooth, enjoyable flavors of cream and roasted nuts. For that, it 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: Cornelius & Anthony Señor Esugars Robusto

10 Jan 2018

 

I approached this cigar with trepidation. I’m a huge Cornelius & Anthony fan. I recently awarded the Aerial robusto five stogies, and I’ve rated others highly as well.

I’m not, however, a fan of Mexican San Andrés tobacco, the leaf used as wrapper on the Señor Esugars line. But there have been a few cigars with San Andrés in the blend that I’ve enjoyed, usually because they haven’t had what I think of as the tobacco’s typical taste.

So, I had to wonder how this would turn out.

The line comes in four sizes, ranging from a Gordo (6 x 60) down to a Corona Gorda (5.5 x 46). The Robusto has an MSRP of $9.75.

Aesthetically, this 5-inch, 52-ring gauge robusto is stunning. The dark wrapper is virtually flawless with a slightly gritty feel. Its pre-light aroma did seem pretty typical of Mexican tobacco.

That was confirmed when I lit it up; along with a bit of spice was the dirt taste I so often associate with San Andrés. As I smoked down, there was also some coffee, nuts, and, occasionally, spice and sweetness. At about the halfway point, the Mexican dominance dropped a few degrees and the flavors became more balanced.

The filler is Nicaraguan and the binder is an undisclosed U.S. leaf. Like other Cornelius & Anthony smokes, they’re rolled in Estelí, Nicaragua, at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory and feature double bands.

And, like other C&A cigars I’ve smoked, Señor Esugars perform flawlessly. The two I tested burned evenly, had excellent draws, and produced lots of smoke.

The cigar’s unusual name has a somewhat winding origin. Brand owner Steven Bailey’s dog is named Oscar, but nicknamed Mr. Sugars. Señor Esugars evolved from that. The cigar box showcases a fine line drawing of Oscar (sporting a derby and holding a cigar lengthwise in his mouth) and a smiling Bailey in the background.

This, for me, is the toughest sort of cigar to review. It’s definitely well made and utilizes quality tobacco. For someone who’s a fan of San Andrés tobacco—and, obviously, lots of folks are, judging by the leaf’s popularity boom in recent years—I think Señor Esugars should definitely be on the try-it list.

But, for my palate, the flavors just aren’t quite there. I rate it three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: C&A CigarsStogie Guys

 

Cigar Review: Avo Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Special Toro

13 Dec 2017

With its name so closely linked to burning wood, you might expect Fogata to resemble the smoky presentation of fire-cured tobaccos in cigars from Drew Estate or Sam Leccia.

It doesn’t. In fact, in a statement when the cigar was released last year, Avo Uvezian said an outdoor fire (fogata is a Spanish word that can be translated as bonfire, campfire, or wood fire) was among his “favorite settings to share unforgettable and intimate moments with my closest of friends.” So it’s the surroundings, not the burning, that served as inspiration.

Another assumption for which a smoker could be forgiven is also tied to the name: Like its older sibling, the Avo Syncro Nicaragua, Fogata is far from a Nicaraguan puro. It sports an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 clara wrapper, a Mexican binder, and a mix of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

The Nicaraguan filler does not include any leaves from the volcanic island of Ometepe, and Fogata is round, not pressed. Both characteristics are different than the Avo Syncro Nicaragua.

Lastly, on the expectations front, Fogata also pleasantly surprised me with an absence of the disagreeable dirt taste I so often find in Mexican tobacco.

Fogata comes in four sizes, with an elegant Short Torpedo, Robusto, Toro, and the Special Toro. The 6-inch, 60-ring gauge Special Toro continues the trend of including a larger stick in releases. The MSRP is $11.90.

I had no complaints about construction or performance, though the burn tended to be a little fast and a bit uneven at times, even if it didn’t require any significant touch-ups.

The flavors of Fogata are an interesting and well-balanced mix. There’s not an abundance of pepper or spice, but when those ramp up a bit they blend nicely with the overall experience. Significant flavors along the way included a fruity sweetness, coffee, and leather.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar, perhaps not quite as much as the original Avo Nicaragua line, but certainly enough to recommend it highly. And to give it four stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Avo CigarsStogie Guys