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Victor Sinclair Vintage Select

Wrapper: Brazilian

Filer: Dominican

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I’ve had these in the box for some time, so age should be on their side. I held them for a night when I felt like a they could be paired with a decent lighter scotch, seeing as they seemed a little drier and lighter in tone. This is true, as they have a dry, leafy taste. They burn okay, some unevenness, but overall I was wholly unimpressed. Dry, leafy, tannic boredom. DSC00667

I kept at it for a minute, working with water and Oban 14 as a pairing, hoping against hope.

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Yeah, this was as far as I got. Not a worthwhile stick, from what I can tell. I have another, still aging. Maybe I can give it to someone?

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Quick Looks: Warped Flor de Valle, Cubanacan Maduro, Surrogates Crystal Baller

As you may have noticed, my reviewing time has been greatly curtailed. The pressure of life means that although I often take notes on cigars, they lie un-utilized. Sometimes, it’s also so much more fun to smoke a cigar than review it. This means that my memory and motivation fade. However, I thought I would do my best to recollect some of the more recent experiences and do some quick impressions.

Warped Flor de Valle

Wrapper: Jalapa Corojo Rosado 99

Double Binder: Corojo and Criollo

Filler: Corojo 99 and Criollo 98

Produced By: Casa Fernandez

I believe the tobacco is all from the Aganorsa fields and the first not to be rolled in Miami.

Flor De Valle unlit

The cold draw is grass scented and the nose hits me as sweet honey.

Upon first light, I get a quick blast of tea, the smoked Chinese varietal. Once we get further in, I’m working my way through a pleasant mix of rich caramel with some subtle spice and some dominant vegetal notes. Hints of bitter orange peel arise periodically. Overall, its a pleasant stick, medium to medium-full with a flavorful profile. I much preferred it to Warped’s prior El Oso. It is definitely a departure from what many may think of as a Nicaraguan stick, with a range of delicate flavors rather then heavy chocolate, coffee and spice. That said, it is full of flavor and worth trying. Those of you who enjoy Dominicans should definitely give this one a try.DSC00467

As a side note, the band is a beautiful, intricate work of art. Kudos to Warped for shying away from macho idiocy or archaic overwrought bands.

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So, as I mentioned I have spent far more time smoking than reviewing. It’s so much more relaxing. However, I did seem to keep smoking these little guys:

Cubanacan Maduro

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan (Ligero, Viso, Seco – Aged 4 years)

Cubanacan maduro

I have almost no notes on it, but I keep buying and smoking the Chato size (I’m big fan of small cigars), which must mean I like them. They are a solidly-rolled little stick. You would never guess that they are maduro, so if you are expecting a dark chocolate experience, no go. They are creamy and tangy with some sweetness and vegetal notes. I wish I had more to say, but definitely give them a try. I will warn you that some of these get shipped somewhat ‘sick’. Despite the aged filler, a strong smell of ammonia prompted me to dry box these and allow their fermentation to continue until they settled down. Just a word of warning.

Cubanacan maduro

Surrogates Crystal Baller

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

DSC00594 Crystal Baller

Okay, let’s clear this up. Surrogates is L’Atelier distributed, which is a non-Tatuaje offshoot of a Peter Johnson product. I think with his brother. Despite the complicated branding (and pricing), I have to say Tatuaje and company are one of my favorite producers. The stick itself is a big, soft box-pressed affair with a label that looks like an afterthought to me.

This was a one shot, off the cuff tasting, and my first of the Surrogates line (at least that I remember). I have to say, I was impressed. Much lighter than the typical Tatuaje line, it gave me some great floral overnotes, a wonderful cakey, bready flavor, with some citrusy lemon peel and maybe some toasted nuts. Man, it’s like dessert in a stick.

Crystal BallerAnyway, thanks for checking it out. I’ll do my best to shoot a couple more quickies out into the interwebs.

Good smoking!

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Vitolas vs. the Well-Hung Cigar

I just wanted to write a quick piece about my perspective on cigar sizes and shapes. I’m not referring to the exacting Cuban specifications of vitolas, this is more a quick reflection on my relationship to the size of cigars. I recently received a Padilla Cava as part of a COTM club. This thing was, I believe, 8″ x 60, a real monster. And according to Cigars International:

“While Padilla normally scoffs at humungo sizes such as these, he figured he was better off throwing his hat in the ring with a high-quality product than letting all the other chumps steal all the glory.”

Um, WTF?

Maybe it’s because I’m not a Texas oil tycoon, but giant cigars do not float my boat at all. I find that the flavor is much better in the smaller ring guages. Below is a picture of some of my favorite vitolas:

vitola examples

I love lanceros, they provide a long cool, flavorful smoke. I enjoy perfectos of various types, which go through unique changes and are – in a fashion – the original cigar. And I enjoy smaller cigars in general, also because of the full-flavored experience. The CAO Brazilia pictured above is a really nice short smoke in this, the Carioca, size.

This whole ‘make a bigger cigar’ thing completely escapes me and I feel it distorts the market. It is ridiculously difficult to get lanceros, yet they are often one of the best smoking experiences. Is it because Americans are afraid of looking too effete? I don’t know.

That’s my two cents.

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Light Smokes and Thoughts – Caldwell Sevillana

I have been unable to really review anything recently. I guess I’m just not as motivated as some people. Part of it is that critiquing a cigar is a somewhat different process than kicking back and smoking one. Part of it is that, due to my budget, I often buy singles before I commit and don’t always feel that I can do a cigar justice with one sample. But I love trying new cigars. Something else I’ve noticed, which may be true for others or not, is that I start losing my ability to discern the subtleties of a cigar after I’ve had more than one or eating flavorful food. I’m starting to think that my reviews will be a great deal more valid if I am more selective and controlled about when I smoke a cigar for assessment purposes.

Anyway, I just wanted to make note of a truly lovely smoke that I tried recently. I have a few things stored away, but have been relatively limited in my experience of the Caldwell line. It’s a pricey and collectible collection. However, the Caldwell Sevillana is part of their Junior Varsity line, which in layman’s terms means that it is far more affordable. I  smoked the smallest Super Sport size. I find their line to have a certain elegant eccentricity in terms of design, which I like, but their website has almost next to no information about these budget releases. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian Connecticut, that is all I can say. It’s a nice-looking wrapper however, golden and smooth, even if not as immaculate as some. It doesn’t have the slight furry feel that I seem to notice some Ecuadorian Connecticuts have, not that that’s a bad thing. It has a cute little pigtail, too.

Caldwell Sevillana close cropped

The nose is of a sweet, light baking spice, with a grassy hay cold draw. The smoke really gave me a delicate mix of the same baking spice, a zesty orange peel, with hints of light cedar and cream. Really a wonderful experience I can’t quite express. Sometimes I feel I’ve succumbed to the American palate of Nicaraguan tongue-killers when I can’t enjoy lighter cigars.

Sevillana lowered

Another relatively pleasant experience was a Mario Palomino. This is a reboot of an old Jamaican offering. I never tried the original. It had a sweet caramel nose, a honey/treacle cold draw with a sweet Virginia pipe tobacco aroma. The prelight was much more exciting than the actual smoke, which was a nice, mild cigar with a toasted nuts overtone.

Mario Palomino

On the topic of the American palette, I also smoked a couple of Liga Privada No. 9s. I’m not going to review it, because it would be totally redundant. I will include a photograph, because I like pictures and the Drew Estate offerings have such wonderful smoke production.Liga Privada No. 9 smokingThat does bring me to a point. They look so cool, but I’ve never been as impressed as the reports of the No. 9 led me to expect. They’re so hard to get, not exactly cheap, and when I first smoked one it was really quite anticlimactic. I enjoy the smaller size depicted here more than the much larger I first smoked, but is it my ultimate cigar? Not by a long shot. I prefer their own Dirty Rat, the rarer Fuente’s etc.

I love the internet and the access to cigars and cigar culture it provides, but the hype often exceeds all reason. I can’t say that I want to go back to the days when I would wander into a cigar store and see the same old offerings, a couple new ones and be completely dependent on a possibly uninformed retailer, but seriously, I’ve watched these No. 9s sell for way over retail on auction sites. Just… keep your own counsel, is what I say.

Anyway, that’s enough musings from me. Hope you’re enjoying whatever it is you’re smoking and I appreciate your support if you’ve bothered to read this far.

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Edgar Hoill Cultura

Vitola: Perfecto? 4.5 x 40/54
Country of Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Blender: Christian Eiroa / Edgar Hoill

The Cultura is an odd-looking cigar, a blunt, conical, unbanded blend from Christian Eiroa (of Camacho lineage) by way of Edgar Hoill, the photographer. I had no idea what to expect, as I haven’t tried any of the CLE products.

Nevertheless, the Cultura definitely surprised me. The wrapper has a particularly floral nose and the cold draw tasted pleasantly grassy.

Edgar Hoill Cultura

I don’t usually run through the 3-part rigamarole like some folks, partly because I might not be that sophisticated, and partly because I’m not sure I want keep checking when I’ve hit the next third. However, the first third of this cigar is notably different. It keeps to that truly interesting floral flavor that the aroma foretold, while adding some subtle sweetness and… hmm, maybe nuttiness? I have say that I like that the wrapper nose is expressed in the flavor and that this cigar starts off with a really unique profile.

Edgar Hoill Cultura lit

As it continues, I get some dark fruit notes, a fragrant spice (don’t ask me to name it) and an herbaceous quality. There were some subtle leather flavors earlier which seem to have increased. Oh, and smoke production continues to be copious. Nearer to the end, it becomes a more traditional full-bodied profile – rich and darker tasting – and the nicotine starts to hit me. I have to beg off at that point. The caveat, of course, is that I have only tried the one, so not only did I wimp out, but I may have some of that wide-eyed “Ooo, I love this new cigar” phenomenon going on.

That aside, I have say I was pretty impressed. Unique, interesting, and a myriad of flavor changes. I didn’t even wonder where the last half of the perfecto went!

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La Flor Dominicana Ligero Cabinet Oscuro

First off, I wanted to say that I found this to be an absolutely sublime smoking experience. But I’m also going to use this review (per se) as a place to speak a little bit about the nature of reviewing cigars. It is very common for reviewers to talk about white pepper versus red pepper and black pepper, hints of cedar etc. Honestly, I can tell the difference between pepper in my kitchen, but in a cigar? If you’ve ever smelled cinnamon from different regions, you know that they vary wildly, so when notes of cinnamon are referenced, what does that mean? All this preamble to say that although I enjoy a wide variety of different cigars with varying profiles, but I can’t always identify what the “notes” or flavors are. Wine and artisan chocolate seem to have readily identifiable notes, and it may be some lack on my part, but I often have trouble parsing out these same distinctions in cigars. I also know that it takes time for me to really get to know a cigar, and that sometimes I love it and I am completely baffled when, a week later, I’m unimpressed. Not being of the tax bracket with a lovely walk-in and multiple boxes, my range of experience is limited to what I can afford.

Anyway, without further ado, I wanted to talk a little about this cigar. It is dark and oily looking, but not a maduro, rather an Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper aged with some proprietary process. It is quite delicate, but lusciously oily. The stick is very dense, in the way that some entubado sticks are, so expect a long, slow, rich smoke.

LFD Cabinet Ligero OscuroI have to say, that although it is one of the richer cigars I have smoked, it is not the classic spice-bomb. In fact one of the most notable and pleasant features for me was its consistently subtle richness. I’d have to say that a loamy, dark, creamy wood impression is the best I can convey.  The smoke is thick, the burn slow and cool and I have to say one of my more pleasurable smoking experiences. A quality – and truly unique – stick that I highly recommend trying. I will definitely be stocking up on some more and will comment further if I have gained any further insight.La Flor Dominicana Ligero Cabinet Oscuro lit

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Project 7 by Noel Rojas

The Project 7 is an unbanded “no-frills” packaging Nicaraguan puro that Cigar Federation brought to market. It’s part of their factory direct line.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Hybrid
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo

Project 7

The cigar itself is a decent smoke: well-constructed, even burn. There are some wood flavors. Despite some favorable reviews on Cigar Federation and elsewhere, I have to say I never really got anything from it. It retails for $5, which isn’t bad, yet I found the ‘delicious, undiscovered treasure’ billing completely missed me. I’ll pass.