Leave a comment

Small Smokes and Small Budgets, Part 2

Okay, so here we are 7 months later and I’m finally following up to my last post. I’m making no excuses this time: I just don’t blog that much. What can I say.

Anyway, small budgets… This is the thing, I love nice cigars but I’m not the wealthiest guy. I’m mostly a 5-pack kind of a guy. Guys like us take some risk putting hard-earned money down and finding out that the hot new cigar isn’t our thing. Buying a box is a rare if ever event.

Never fear, here are some box purchases which give you that great box-owning feeling, but allow you to eat for the month as well.

First up is the Ramon Bueso Genesis the Project robusto box.

Bueso Box

As far as I know, the Genesis (yeah, I’m cutting that name down) is a Cigars International conglomerate offering only. That means you can get the box under half price on auction. Do so if you decide to pick some up; don’t pay full retail. You’re basically getting 20 cigars for under $40.

DSC01333

The Genesis is almost like a poor man’s Liga Privada (I said almost). It’s a dense, dark stick, with a pretty oily wrapper. Of course the cap will fall off within a minute or two, but hey, relax, it costs the same as a candy bar. It doesn’t have the deep, dirty, earthy Liga thing, but it has enough earth, leather, cocoa to satisfy. Make sure it’s not too humidified, or it’ll just smolder at you. I think they do well with some time on them, so don’t smoke the whole box in a week.

Next up, we look at something completely different. The Curivari Buenaventura BV500.

DSC01265

The BV500 is a Cuban-styled Nicaraguan puro that comes in boxes of 10. The packaging is elegant and classic, and the cigar is amazing for the price. These are creamy, nutty, toasted cigars which I smoke earlier in the day. They’re often listed as a medium to full, and some of the retailer descriptions make you think they’re a powerhouse, but they’re actually much more subtle. They aren’t perfect; sometimes there’s a soft spot on the stick. They run about $50 for the box.

Back to the heavy end of the spectrum is the Man O’ War Puro Authentico which is an AJ Fernandez blend, also from the Cigars International conglomerate. I recommend getting these on auction as well.

DSC01211

These are a strong corona. I love the corona vitola and this thing packs a punch. Expect spice, espresso and cocoa. I love the closed foot and little pigtail. Just a note, I’ve read about people having trouble toasting the foot with a closed cap. The thing is, don’t: smoke it! It allows you taste the wrapper.

DSC01212

DSC01213

These are a great value at about $30 for a box of 10. Some of the sticks were obviously squashed when wet and come out a little bent, but what a cool little box! Just be aware, these are no joke strength wise. If you drink strong dark coffee, I can see this going well with that.

Anyway those are my bargain box recommendations. While you’re shopping look out for good deals on La Aurora. The more budget-friendly stick I like is the La Aurora 107, which is not a perfecto, like the classic La Auroras, but has nice, lighter flavorful Dominican profile.

DSC00134.JPG

I haven’t personally gotten a cheap box, but sometimes you see them or the 5-packs at a pretty reasonable price.

Happy budget smoking!

Leave a comment

Small Smokes and Small Budgets, Part 1

A lot of cigar blogs have a similar approach: they pick a hot new cigar and do a blow-by-blow review of it. As I’ve said before, I don’t have the same access to new releases as established reviewers and I also have a different approach to smoking. So this post is an attempt to encompass a little bit of what makes my cigar journey specific to me.

Smaller cigars are one of my interests. I like them. I like the balance of flavors and the feel of them. I like being able to smoke a full cigar without committing to a full 2 hour experience. They aren’t, however, the most developed sector of the market. To be clear, I’m not talking about cigarillos. Cigarillos are generally pretty unsatisfying for me.

In my journey through the small cigar market, I have tried various products, but not all. Some that I have yet to try are the Padrón Cortico Maduro and the MUWAT Night Crawler. I have tried the natural Cortico, and it just fell out of rotation, meaning that they’re not my thing. I’ve had the MUWAT Bait Fish and it was okay. I also tend to shy away from all the non-Cuban Dominican tins, like Romeo Y Julieta, since I never find them satisfying. For that type of cigar, I would go for the Quesada Petites, which are a long-filler Dominican cigarillo that come in a cool little box.

Below is a picture of me trying some things out.

minis

Out of that batch (ignore the Cubans), the little Crowned Heads Jericho Hill  Shots 4.5 x 42 stood out. The OBS is a regular production size, if those aren’t available. I used to smoke the CAO Brazilia Cariocas as a small work cigar and preferred it to the MX2, I think, although they seemed pretty similar.

Three of my top small cigars are these:

DSC01062

The Tatuaje Petite Cazadores Reserva is a Broadleaf wrapped piece of deliciousness. It has a covered foot for savoring that wrapper and a lot of rich earth and cocoa type flavors. The only caveat is that they are little inconsistent in the draw and burn from stick to stick

DSC01028

The LFD Carajos Oscuro are a great little Dominican. If you’ve tried some of the bigger LFD offerings, you know a little of what to expect. They are a solid, beautifully constructed, rich flavored mini, not like some milder Dominicans which can only be smoked in the morning.

I have had mixed feelings about the Papas Fritas. It is a short-filler cigar made from Drew Estate’s Liga Privada cuttings. They’re not cheap and as a short-filler cigar, you have to be careful to smoke them slowly, or they will burn hot and bitter. Sometimes I get mad that I’m smoking DE’s scraps for real money and then sometimes I think, wow, these are pretty good. However, they do have real full-bodied Liga flavor. You can drop these in a pocket and pinch off the little tail, no cutter needed. In the long run, I like ’em.

I have also tried a couple of the little soft packs of Tatuaje and L’Atelier, although not all. They seem to be hard to find. They are precut. Thus far, the Surrogates Cracker Crumbs are the most interesting and reminded me a lot of pipe tobacco, with some of that pipe spice and room note.

DSC01105

Worth a try if you can find them.

L’Atelier Travailleurs is the other offering I tried. It has an Ecuadorian Sancti Spiritus wrapper, rather than the darker Oscuro of the Cracker Crumbs. It’s got an odd vegetal spice to it. I’m going to reserve judgment; you can judge for yourself. DSC01149

Next on the list is the RomaCraft Intemperance BA XXI Intrigue Petito, which has very long name for a small cigar. It has an interesting, um, uncovered foot. You can see it in the  picture. It is, however, a killer smoke and ends up being added as the number 4 staple in my small smoke rotation. Really impressive and a must try from an un-hypey producer I respect. It seems that they recently added a band, so I made sure to get you a photo of that.

DSC01158_1

I am now trying something new which has popped up on the radar: Southern Draw’s Quick Draw combo, in Habano and Pennsylvania Broadleaf versions. They are manufactured by AJ Fernandez . I have had bad luck with the AJ Fernandez stuff (a whole other story), but these seem very promising and have a closed foot, which I happen to like.

DSC01155.JPG

Anyway, this is about the current state of my small smoke journey. I think all of them are worth trying.

I know it’s taken me forever to get back to blogging. I’ve tried to rearrange my schedule and hopefully this will result in more content.

The second part of this piece will focus on small budgets.

…to be continued

 

Leave a comment

Bits and Pieces

Okay, so this is the story. I had to deal with some money stuff, which limited my cigar budget somewhat. Did I stop smoking? No, of course not, because the first thing I want in a money crunch is a cigar! But, to be fair, I smoked mainly singles, which doesn’t really do the cigar justice. I just can’t wrap my head around a cigar in one try. I still wanted to try and get a post out though, so I’ll just blather on about a few bits and pieces I pulled from the bottom of the box.

Firstly, the ACC Don Cervantes El Presidente

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan Cubano Ligero
Filler: Dominican Broadleaf, Habano 2000, Santa Lucia
Made in: Ecuador

[according to Cigar Chronicles]

There isn’t a lot of info about these. They’re from a company which specializes in in high-end accessories and from what I’ve read, targets an elite (read rich) clientele, rather than cigar smokers.

From their website:

Filled with rare aged tobaccos from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic and ACC’s own Pre-Embargo Cuban tobacco, Presidente is wrapped with an aged, golden Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. In demand by almost every top cigar brand in the world, the Presidente’s wrapper is fermented for nearly a year and is turned eight times during the fermentation process. The Presidente’s ash burns white and beautifully, and this outstanding cigar’s long finish is unique among cigars.  The Presidente comes wrapped in the famous “P” Cigar jacket.

ACC El Presidente w-band

You expect something really outstanding from that that blurb. The “famous” jacket is… very big, as you can see. I’ve had this resting for over a year (I think). It’s a really solid entubado stick, which compares in price to a Cuban.

It had a sweet, musty nose, a cold draw of dried fruit and green tea. It smoked very smoothly, with a somewhat sour, vegetal note. I also got some cocoa. Overall, it was fine, but I certainly had a different take than the review referenced above. Honestly, I expected more. Maybe it was me, as I only had this one (and one many moons ago), but I can’t afford to try again.

Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Toro

Wrapper: Ecuador Habano

Binder and Filler: Unknown

This is a well-known stick from the upper end of the J.C. Newman Diamond Crown line. It’s rolled in the Fuente factory.

Diamond Crown Julius Caeser Toro

This is another solid stick that has been languishing in the box for some time. It’s a really nice, smooth, even Dominican style smoke. I got some tangy, vegetal notes with some mineral overlay. The smoke was full and I also got pepper, nuts and cocoa. It may have been a little wrong for my palette that day, so I can’t really say more.

BLTC Morphine Robusto

Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro
Inner Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan

I’ve tried a few of the BLTC sticks, and they seemed good, but nothing really popped out at me. This came in the Cigar Federation COTM club.

[As an aside, I’ve found this to be a great deal, and I am not affiliated in any way.]

BLTC Morphine

This one popped out for me. It was a bitter, dark smoke with earth, dark cocoa and low level sweetness. Thanks to reading a Cigar Coop review (here) I could also identify an interesting herbal flavor as licorice. He did it, not me, but it’s there. Thanks, William.

I probably won’t be able to try any others, since I think they only come in boxes, but hey it was nice while it lasted. If you can afford it, check it out. The BLTC design is also very nice. It has a distinctly Victorian feel. But watch out if you go to the website. It’s a little janky. No offense.

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature Maduro

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder and Filler: DominicanAF Hemingway Signature Maduro

Straight to the chase: love these. No, this is not a hot boutique cigar. It’s just a good Fuente. If you haven’t had the chance, try one. The nose was some hay, wood and stable aromas, with a floral note. The cold draw, floral and hay. On first light, which is that little point on the perfecto, I got an amazing mouthful of sandalwood. It went on to give me a solid, smooth smoke with spice, sweetness, cocoa, followed by coffee, more cocoa and spice.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ll try and put together a more substantial post at some point, but until then, thanks for reading.

Leave a comment

Paul Stulac Lord

I want to talk a little bit about why I choose to review what I do. Firstly, I’m not a professional. I can’t keep up with the cutting edge guys. I don’t have the budget or connections to keep up with the hot new sticks. I’d be kidding myself if I even tried. Basically, I started this as a way to document by own personal cigar journey. That means I’m often late to the party. I do, however, really like cigars. I pretty much took a hiatus from the hobby sometime in the late ’90s/early 2000s, sometime after the boom busted. When I came back, the industry had changed and I got to discover a whole new cigar world. Plus, the internet was major. So, my choices are pretty random. I get an itch about some cigar that’s new to me, or I get a sudden enthusiasm for, and write a review. That’s it.

Paul Stulac Lord

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: 6 x 44

I read somewhere that the Lord is called such because it is a collaboration between Travis Lord of Famous Smoke Shop, who worked in Albany at one of the CI subsidiaries. I do see it for sale as the Lord of Albany. It is not on the Paul Stulac website.Paul Stulac Lord unlit

Paul Stulac Lord footThe Lord is a nice looking Lonsdale. I like the slimmer vitolas, as you may know. It’s a lighter stick, not packed that tight and is a nice café au lait color. There are some bumps and veins. The cold draw is noticeably floral, reminding me of nothing so much as musk sticks – a type of candy (lollies) that you only find in Australia. They are a perfume-y sweet that Aussie kids rot their teeth on at a young age.

The stick starts off with these strong floral notes and a little spice. It continues with a interesting pungency, while the floral notes continue to dominate. Cream rises into the second third, so we end up with a rolling thick, creamy smoke filled with floral, sweetish flavors mildly spiced. As it moves into the last third, the cream carries the same flavors into a satisfying finish.

Paul Stulac burning

Paul Stulac ash

Overall, its a really nice lighter-bodied stick, with unusual flavors. I get bored with lighter sticks, frequently finding them quite dull. This is an interesting blend for a morning smoke: lots of flavor, light on the nicotine. I think it’ll be added to my shortlist of lighter cigars.

I know a lot people make a fuss about the Paul Stulac bands and artwork and I remember hearing an interview where he talked about working with the artist. They are distinctive and come off well (which is important to me), but they’re not really my taste. It may be that they have something of ‘metal’ vibe, with the skulls and such. I tend towards classic or artsy. Hey, what can I say.

Leave a comment

Los Regalos Quetzal by Emilio Cigars

Quetzal whole

Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Habano
Binder and Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican

Let me start by saying that i should have written this review right after I smoked the cigar. I always forget the feel of it. I can look back at my notes, but it’s just not the same.

The nose of this stick was primarily hay, the cold draw raisin. Upon lighting it, I got a rich cream flavor, with a hint of citrusy tang. The smoke is full, the draw is just right. Further into the stick, I found the sweetness increasing over time. Most notably, though, is that the citrusy tang developed into a full-fledged grapefruit flavor. I was really bowled over as it strengthened into the second third. The last third finished with waves of cream, citrus and some pepper.

I was really impressed with this stick. Good construction, unique flavors, nice body, lots of cream. There’s something really nice about trying a blend which has a memorable profile and is also a really satisfying smoke. I thrive on variety, and this offered it. I wish I could remember more to tell you… but here are some pictures:

Quetzal ring

Quetzal ring 2Quetzal short w/ringQuetzal short smokingDSC00712

Leave a comment

Viaje Exclusivo 2013 Double Edged Sword II

This is not a review, as I smoked this cigar to relax and with some expectation of being disappointed. And I didn’t take notes. If you are interested in a thorough review, I’m sure halfwheel is happy to oblige. I will, however, just note that, yes, it was damaged, but I really enjoyed it. It lasted through an entire film, burned relatively well and had a nice mix of flavors. It’s a lighter profile cigar than the Satori, but I have to say, Viaje is slowly winning me over with some releases. I didn’t know how much these cost until afterwards!

Viaje DES IIViaje DES IIViaje DES II

Leave a comment

Herrera Esteli Norteño

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés

Binder: Honduras

Filler: Nicaragua (Esteli & Jalapa)

DSC00353
This, to me, is an intriguing looking cigar. The wrapper is a dark, matte brown, the tobacco billed as the “finest vintage aged air cured black cigar leaf” on the ring. The box press is quite extreme, but well done, resulting in a squat little cigar (I smoked the coronita). The ring is tasteful.
I found it to be a pleasurable smoking experience. Primarily earth, some spice, coffee and a dark, bitter cacao. To be clear, not chocolate: there is no sweetness, we’re talking the taste of the cacao bean straight up. The earth has definite mineral notes. Without being able to really describe it, I found the cigar to be physically and taste-wise flat, but in a good way. Flat, dark, smooth. I know the original was much lauded, but this release has stuck in my mind, whereas the former, not so much.DSC00356