Xikar Defiance The Renegade

In spite of picking one of these smokes at RTDA last year, somehow I didn’t get around to actually smoking one until now. It seems like a pretty big oversight, doesn’t it. Well, if you take a quick peak in my humidor, you’d quickly see why. Let’s just say organization isn’t one of my strong suits.

It wasn’t until Jarrod from Tex Cigars sent me a couple of Defiance robustos (a.k.a. “The Renegade”) that I remembered that year old stick resting quietly in the deep recesses of the humidor. In this case, my lacking organization skills worked out. Since I didn’t review that cigar last year, I’m open to smoke and review two this year.

The story behind the defiance is that it is more than just a cigar. It’s also the flagship smoke of the Defiance Alliance, an organization dedicated to fighting anti-smoking legislation. 5% of the proceeds of each cigar go to support this worthy effort. You might be tempted to dismiss this cigar as a well intended gimmick, but you also need to know that its the creation of the very talented Jesus Fuego. So it goes without saying that I’m really looking forward to finally trying these out. So let’s get to it.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50 (robusto)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$5.75 (buy it here)

The Pre-Smoke
To begin with, the cigar has a very classy appearance. The dual bands are sharp looking without being tacky, and a little comical. What’s a little funny about them are the phrases. On the front, a rewording of the classic phrase, In Vino Veritas. In this case, In Puros Veritas, or “In puros there is truth”. And on the back of the band a note: “Do Not Remove!” Of course sooner or later you will, only to find a message inside the band that praises you for not always doing what your told and directing you to their website.

The cigar itself looks great too. Visually both cigars appear very smooth with tiny veins and just a little bit of lumpiness to the touch. The scent of the wrapper was also noteworthy, the aroma was an interesting combination of honey sweetness, compost and dill. Yes, dill. After clipping the cigars, I tasted syrupy coffee in the cold draw.

The Burn
In the burn department, these cigars were slightly disappointing. One cigar cracked near the head, and slowly unraveled as I smoked. Fortunately, it was only this first stick (and the one photographed for this review) that had this problem. The other cigar’s wrapper did not form any cracks or other similar problems.

However, the burn line of the second one was noticeably less even than the cigar with the cracked wrapper. I also noticed that this cigar had draw that was slightly too firm at the beginning. This turned out to be only a slight irritation as the draw opened up nicely as the it burned.

But there’s one place where both cigars preformed beautifully in terms of the burn. That would have to bee the great lengths of light colored ash that held tight to the end of each smoke.

The Flavor
Both cigars began with enjoyable sweet, creamy flavors. I noted coffee, caramel, a bit of cocoa, and a incredibly tasty spicy cinnamon in the first third.

The second third continued to be syrupy sweet and more cedary and woody. (Yep, I did notice different woods!) I also got more chocolates and cocoas and a surprising, but short pocket of butteriness.

These cigars finished on a very cedar-y note. At times the cedar was sweet, other times it was more aromatic or even floral. And in one cigar I actually briefly tasted some nice coconut.

The Price
I have no complaints about the price. I wouldn’t have a problem buying more at this price.

The Verdict
While the burn was problematic, particularly in the first, unraveling smoke, the flavors more than made up for the trouble. You’ll notice from the pictures that I didn’t give up on the cigar when the wrapper got ugly. I was enjoying the it too much to put it out. (I only wish I had a bit of pectin so I could have made dealing with the wrapper a bit easier!)

So my verdict on these cigars is very positive. The Xikar Defiance goes on my short list for cigars I need to buy by the box. But while I’m waiting for my humidor to clear out a bit, I’m going to have to go searching for that long lost RTDA ’07 Defiance. I have a feeling I’m going to love it.

I also need to say another quick thanks to Tex Cigars for hooking me up with such great smokes. I really appreciate it, and encourage you to give them a little business if you’re interested in trying out this cigar!

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Definitely
Recommend It: Absolutely

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.

Xikar Defiance

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Reserva Miraflor Habano Oscuro Robusto

I’m happy to say that I survived and have returned from the cigar event to end all cigar events. Of course, I’m talking about none other than the annual IPCPR (formerly RTDA) show in Las Vegas, Nevada. And what better way to get back into the swing of things but with a review of a brand new cigar?

This cigar is a particular treat to review. Not only is it absolutely new (which makes it especially attractive to me), but I happen to know that very, very few people have ever smoked it. There were very few samples available at the show, and I was lucky enough to get one only because I met the man behind the cigar, Andres “Andy” Madera on the CigarLive forum earlier this year.

There isn’t yet a whole lot of information yet available online about the cigar, so here’s what I know. The cigar is produced in Esteli, Nicaragua by GDW Cigars. Andres Madera, the owner, has set up his U.S. base of operations in the rainy city of Portland, Oregon. Andy has big plans, but is starting out with a single line of Reserva Miraflor cigars. It’s available in the standard vitolas (robusto, churchill, toro, belicoso) as well as the increasingly popular lancero size.

And that pretty much covers what I know. Let’s light it up!

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$4.00

The Pre-Smoke
As you would expect from a cigar with “oscuro” in the name, this cigar comes wrapped in a nice, dark brown, oily leaf. But not quite as dark as some other oscuros out there on the market, more of a slightly reddish maduro. In my inspection of the cigar, I found it to be free of any obvious flaws and nicely firm.

The cigar had a faint compost scent on the wrapper that was a little bit more pungent at the foot. I clipped this cigar with my trusty Xikar scissors and found the cold taste to be a slightly sweet cocoa.

The Burn
The burn of this cigar was very respectable. The ash was solid, light and hung tough on the cigar for around an inch before dropping. The draw was also prefect. The only flaws I noted while smoking the cigar was a little bit of unevenness in the burn in the first and last thirds. And I did have to relight the cigar once right around the halfway point.

The Flavor
The cigar started off with a rich, creamy, nutty cedar flavor and quickly developed some caramel and coffee flavors early on in the first third. Creamy and occasionally spicy coffee dominated this portion of the cigar, and was rejoined by cedar just before second third began.

By the second third, the coffee flavor faded and was replaced by cocoa and dark chocolate that combined nicely with the cedar. As the second third burned, the cedar flavor became more and more prominent. Just before the final third, the cigar was all aromatic, almost floral, cedar.

The final third saw the return of the cocoa and chocolate, but cedar remained dominant.

The Price
I have no complains about this price. I’m not sure what the final MSRP will be once these cigars become more widely available in retail shops, but I know it will be pretty close to the price quoted by Andy to interested buyers on the CigarLive forum. (You can see the details here.) Since it falls in the $3 to $5 range, I think most cigar smokers will find it affordable.

The Verdict
My verdict for this cigar is simple. It’s a great tasting cigar that burns well and won’t break the bank. I really enjoyed the combination of cocoa and chocolate flavors with cedar and can see myself smoking this more often in the future. And I’m really glad that I enjoyed this cigar. I didn’t know what to expect from this cigar, and I wanted to be able to help support the new guy to the market! Andy made that easy by producing a fine cigar! If you have the opportunity to smoke one, I say go for it.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.

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The Day That Nub Came To Town

After months of waiting, Atlanta finally got some Nub love this weekend. On Friday, Sam Leccia, one-time Oliva cigar rep and brains behind the new Nub cigar line, loaded up the Nub Mini Cooper and drove into Georgia. His destination was La Casa Del Tobacco in Buckhead which locals may know by previous incarnations as “Georgia Cigar” or “Cigar World”.

Nub Mini Cooper
Nub Mini Cooper

In case you haven’t heard about the Nub cigar yet, here’s a quick explanation of these unusual looking stubby smokes. The theory is that these chubby four inch cigars capture “the sweet spot” of the tobacco, which they say generally begins around the 3 1/2 to 4 inch point on a normal cigar. At the same time the larger than normal girth of the stick gives you the same quantity of tobacco as a much longer cigar and keeps the cigar cool at the same time. So in theory, you’re doubling up on the best part of the cigar.

Nate and Eddy Fontana
Nate and Eddy

In the months between the announcement of the Nub and it’s arrival in Atlanta, I had plenty of opportunity to talk with people about both the concept behind the cigar and the cigar itself. As you might expect, early on the buzz was huge. People who had only just seen pictures and a read a quick blurb about the cigar were asking if they could buy boxes of them. But then as time wore on, I started to notice more an more skepticism. Some of it made sense, and some of it just seemed like the natural backlash against the initial feeding frenzy.

Nub Connecticut
Nub Connecticuts

And then a month or so back I finally got my hands on a sampler. I’ll be honest, they weren’t that impressive. The Cameroon had a flaky ash and none of the Cameroon flavor I so enjoy. The Connecticut and the Habano had a better ashes, but the cigars seem to have no soul. Where was this “sweet spot” flavor I heard so much about?

So it was with a healthy dose of skepticism that I headed over to the event. I knew it would be a great time, but I had serious doubts as to whether I’d enjoy the cigars. After taking a quick moment to check out the Mini Cooper and say hi to some of the folks, I picked up a few to smoke there at shop. I decided to start with the Cameroon, both because it because it had been the poorest performing before, and because, oddly to me, Nate, the local Oliva rep who joined Sam on this leg of the journey, said it was probably his favorite.

Nub Mini Cooper
Nub Mini Cooper

I quickly lit it up, and noticed something I hadn’t before. Flavor. This cigar had a very pronounced and very enjoyable Cameroon flavor! Hey, this was great, what’s the deal? So I asked Nate. He told me that some of the early sampler cigars were rushed a bit, and that he had actually had the same experience.

Nub Cameroon Ash Stand
Nub Cameroon Ash Stand

So with a tasty cigar in hand and drink in hand, I sat back and watched the Sammy the Roller show, starring Sam Leccia, a pile of tobacco and the cool rolling table Walt White made for him. It wasn’t like touring a cigar factory, watching torcedors (or tabaqueros) pounding out cigar after cigar. This was more like “cigar hacking.” And I mean “hacking” in a good sense. Sam was creating little Nub masterpieces by stealing wrappers from other cigars to create double wraps, triple wraps, pipe shaped cigars and even more interesting wrapper combinations.

Sam Rolling
Sam Leccia Rolling Another Special Edition

Special Nubs
Special Nubs

And then it got even more interesting. Sam turned the table on us literally and had a number of us roll our own cigar. Yes, I’m happy to say that I tried my hand at making a cigar. After 20 or 30 minutes of applying and re-applying the habano wrapper (and pained grimaces from Sam), I succeeded in making a Nub Habano “gummy bear.” Let’s just say it had the shape of a cigar, with the gooey, vegetable-gluey consistency of a pudding.

Brian Rolling A Nub
Brian Rolling: More Idiot Than Savant

Finally, the evening was winding down. I opted to buy a mixed box of Nub torpedos, now that I found myself enjoying them. (Interestingly, I found myself enjoying the Connecticut and Cameroon more than the Serie V-esque Habano) And I wanted my shot at winning the Mini Cooper. A name was called for the Mini Cooper finalist and it wasn’t mine. But hey, I walked out of there happy, with a box of good cigars and a free t-shirt. And the knowledge that I won’t be rolling cigars for a living any time soon.

Mini Cooper Finalist
And the Nub Mini Cooper Finalist Is…

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Puros Indios Viejo Rothschild

Puros Indios ViejoA while back the guys over at my local Tinderbox dropped me a line to stop by and say hi. So a day or two later, I did just that. I was in the mood for another Winston Churchill, or maybe one of those Illusiones I kept seeing in their newsletter. After picking up a few of each, Grant surprised me with a small assortment of smokes to review. I greatly appreciated the cigars, and determined to review them as soon as possible.

But time passed. Possibly a month, possibly more. Work and the Stogie Review was keeping me busy. One day I was digging around in my humidor and I stumbled on a bag of unfamiliar smokes. Almost immediately I realized they were those smokes from Tinderbox. And I was really lagging behind.

I reached blindly in and the first smoke that appeared was the Puros Indios Viejo Rothschild. Good choice, I thought. I haven’t heard much talk or seen many reviews about Puros Indios recently. And truth be told, I haven’t had all that many.

The Puros Indios Viejo is a special edition line of that was first introduced in 1999. Each year 50,000 cigars are produced and are aged for four years. And that about covers my knowledge. Now let’s talk about the experience.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Ecuador
Binder: Ecuador
Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: $5.95

Puros Indios Viejo Foot

The Pre-Smoke
The band on the Viejo is much like the bands on any Puros Indios cigar. It has that same trademark bright green background with the red lettering, with just an extra bit of white space to denote the special edition. It’s the wrapper that’s a little more interesting. It’s an oily rustic looking leaf. As I looked it over, I noted that it had a few veins in it, and it was visually a little lumpy. And then I noticed something a little unusual. A big patch near the foot. What makes the patch unusual is that it covers a little pointy bit that really noticeably sticks out from the cigar.

To the touch, the cigars seemed nice and hard, with no inconsistency in the firmness. I noticed a bit of butteriness in the scent of the wrapper, and the cold tasted was creamy. I also noticed something I’ve been getting a lot in the cold taste recently. Prune, or something like it. It definitely wasn’t raisin.

The Burn
Aside from a slight runner in one cigar, a relight in the second third and a comical little bit of smoke coming out of the little point bit I like to think of as Mt. Puros Indios, the burn on this cigar was good. The draw was great in both cigars, and though they did stray a bit on the burn line, they self corrected nicely. No complaints here.

The Flavor
Puros Indios Viejo Band As you might expect from double dose of Ecuadorian tobacco, this cigar starts of creamy with some nuttiness and a little bit of coffee. I noticed that the flavor was slightly savory, and the creaminess became buttery. Beyond those flavors, the cigars seemed different one time to the next. One had more predominant wood and aromatic cedar, while the other was considerably more nutty. In fact, I got a great creamy peanut butter flavor from that cigar that I really enjoyed. These flavor profile differences continued throughout the second thirds as well.

In the final third the nuttier cigar became a bit more earthy and spicy, with some leather appearing right toward the end. The woodier cigar remained surprisingly buttery almost to the end with leather joining the wood.

The Price
I have no issue with the price I paid for these cigars. They both seemed like quality sticks, and considering that they a special aged addition price tag seems reasonable.

The Verdict
I really enjoyed the creaminess and butteriness of this cigar. When those combined with the nutty flavors, the cigar was just outstanding. Now to be clear, this isn’t a particularly full bodied or powerful smoke. It’s probably around Medium at best, but if you enjoy a creamy cigar, I’d recommend you check this one out. Just be sure to check your cigars out before you buy them. That is unless you like mini smoking volcanos on your wrapper!

Seriously though, I’d like to thank the guys over at the Tinderbox in Lenox Mall for hooking me up with the great cigars. If you live in the Atlanta area, check ‘em out. I’ll bet they have a few of these guys left if you’d like to try one out!

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yeah, I think I will.
Recommend It: Yeah, it’s a good smoke.

What Other People Are Saying

My Other Reviews
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out my Cigar Review Index for a complete list of my other cigar reviews. Also, I’m a regular contributor to Stogie Review, so head over there once you’re done!

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.

Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo
Puros Indios Viejo

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CAO Mission Escaparate Movie

I know, I know, it’s been a while. The standard disclaimers apply regarding why the blog has been so quiet lately. Instead of me spinning a long yarn about all the reasons, I’ll leave it to you to select the excuses you like the most. Feel free to mix and match.

Reasons Brian Hasn’t Written A Post Lately

  • He’s been legally dead for tax reasons.
  • He won the lottery and moved to Peru.
  • Cigar Jack killed him to eliminate the cigar review competition.
  • He got trapped in a Joe Drinker cartoon ala A-Ha’s Take On Me music video.
  • He’s trapped under a fallen humidor and can’t reach the keyboard.
  • He’s busy planting evidence in McLovin‘s living room.

And once you’re done considering all the bad things that may explain my absence, take a few minutes to check out this funny new video from CAO. You may not find out much about the Escaparate, but you will see Jon Huber (CAO’s Director of Lifestyle Marketing) wield a disembodied hand to disable a security system. And really, isn’t that enough? Enjoy!

CAO Mission Escaparate Part 1

CAO Mission Escaparate Part 2

And check back again, I’ll be reviewing a cigar or two compliments of the guys at the local Tinderbox and Tex Cigars! (Really, I haven’t forgotten- thanks again guys!)

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Jameson Torpedo Cigar Review

Jameson TorpedoLooking around the cigar blogs just now, it seems that I’m the very last person on earth to put up a review of a Jameson cigar. While I will admit to being a little lazy, it’s not my slacking off that’s got me so behind the curve. At least this time. As with the incredibly hyped Nub cigars (of which I’ve still only had one, and only because Walt was being generous), I seem to be the very last person to get one of these cigars! That’s ok, I’ll try not to let my sadness and bitterness taint this review.

I’m kidding! Seriously, I really do appreciate it when manufacturers and retailers value my opinion enough to share their cigars with me for a review. And the cigars for this review came to be completely out of the blue. I had just reconfigured my HerfSpace account after thes site’s big software update when a friend request came in from Jameson Cigars. I knew they were a generous sponsor of the Stogie Review and any friend of the Stogie Review is a friend of mine. So I of course accepted the request.

In very short order Brad of Jameson Cigars sent me a message offering me the chance to try out a couple of Jameson cigars, the vitola of my choosing! Harkening back to my experiences with the Camacho Corojo Maduro, I recalled enjoying the torpedo more than the toro. So went for the torpedo. (My second choice was the petite corona, which he also sent!) Thanks for the cigars Brad! Now let’s smoke ‘em!

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/2 x 54
Wrapper: Sumatra
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: $25.50 a five pack

Jameson Cigars

The Pre-Smoke
As you probably already know, I often like to comment on the cigar band. Though you don’t actually smoke the band (man, I hope you don’t!), it is a part of the smoking experience. Especially if you leave the band on like I do when you smoke your cigars. I’m not entirely sure why, but something about this band says Trader Joes to me. I think it’s because the leaf pattern reminds me a little of the Hawaiian shirts the employees wear. It says to me, clean, a bit unusual and relaxed.

Beyond the band, on thing that makes these cigars look a little unusual to me is the sharp point at the head. Most torpedo cigars I’ve come across are a bit more rounded at the end. The Jameson torpedoes are sharp enough that they could almost be used in self defense when not being smoked. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that bringing the cap to a point like that is a little harder to accomplish than the normal rounded end.

Both torpedoes I smoked had a mottled brown wrapper on them with a few prominent veins. Giving each a squeeze I found them to be very well packed with tobacco and very firm. The scent of the wrapper was your standard barnyard/compost and at the foot I got more of a dusty hay scent.

As with all torpedoes I smoke, I clipped these cigars on about a 45 degree angle. A cut which is commonly referred to as a “dickman” cut. (Someday, I’m going to find out why it’s called that. Someday.) The cold taste was kind of a sweet prune or fig flavor.

The Burn
I have absolutely no complaints about this cigar’s burn. The ash was mostly solid and white, and held on easily to achieve lengths of at least an inch and a half. The second cigar I smoked only ashed once! As you will see in the tower of burn, I put it to rest with about a two inch ash still very firmly attached.

Likewise the draw was great.

The Flavor
These cigars had a rather unusual flavor profile. If asked to compare them to another cigar, I’d be a bit at a loss to do so. They started out with an interesting combination of sweetness, creaminess, leather, wood and spice that seemed to play musical chairs on my tongue. Each puff seemed to be a little different, and my notes for the first third were rather long. But what really stuck out to me is that about half way into the first third, the flavor seemed to go flat, great suddenly sweet and then it jumped into a kind of rough, dry salad flavor.

In the second third the cigar seemed to settle down a bit, opting for a savory leather with some occasional earthiness here and there. In the first cigar I smoked, I got an unpleasant burnt flavor a couple of times in this third.

The final third saw a re-emergence of sweetness, with cedar and almost a cinnamon raisin flavor at the beginning. But it wasn’t long before the cigar went back to its savory leather ways. I should also mention that the first cigar I smoked had a sort of unpleasant funkiness that appeared in this third. It didn’t overpower the other flavors, but it was there almost the entire third.

The Price
You’re looking at $4.60 to $5.10 per stick with these, depending on whether you buy them by the five pack or the box. It’s hard to find any fault that price tag for this size of smoke.

The Verdict
I think there was a problem with the first cigar I smoked. The burnt flavor of the second third and the funkiness in the final third were enough to make me a bit hesitant to try the second. But I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed the second cigar, especially after I got past the slightly hyper first third. It just really hit the spot that evening which was a bit of a surprise after the first completely missed the mark! And that is why it’s important to smoke a cigar more than once, especially for a review. I have the petite coronas still left to try and I have high hopes for them.

I’d recommend giving these a shot, but I’d advise going for the five pack first. (I love that they sell them by the fiver.) As I mentioned before, the flavor is pretty unique, and after five, you’ll know whether they’re a box buy or a pass.

Thanks again Brad for the smokes!

Liked It: Yes and no, the second was pretty enjoyable, the first, not so much.
Buy It Again: I think I will, we’ll see how the petite coronas fare.
Recommend It: I think it’s worth a try. It’s unique!

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

Jameson Torpedo

What Other People Are Saying

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Cigar Jedi Tricks: The Tongue Cigar Ash Stand

I am so very glad that I had my new camera in time for the Herf Across CigarLive this Saturday. Because what I’m about to show you, in full 10 megapixel splendor is possibly the most advanced cigar stunts I’ve ever witnessed. I’ve seen a cigar beat a microwave in a battle of wills. I’ve seen an Opus X transformed into a potentially lethal tea and consumed. But never before have I witnessed a Cigar Aficionado with enough command of the force to balance a lit cigar on his… Wait, did I say his? I mean her! I don’t think you’ll believe it if I tell you. You have to see it for yourself. Check it out:

Nestor Placencia Ash Stand

You standard ash stand with a Nestor Placencia Special Selection. Impressive, but it’s been done. We can do better than that.

Dual Aurora Cigar Ash Stand

A dual cigar ash stand, well that’s a little better. (My cigar is the shorter one on the right.) But still, ho-hum, we’ve seen it.

Aurora Hand Ash Stand

An Aurora ash stand on the palm of your hand? Now we’re getting somewhere. I’ve never seen that before. But stick around, it gets even better!

Cigar To Tongue

Oh she’s not really gonna…

Cigar To Tongue!

Ouch! But can she balance it there?

Nestor Placencia Tongue Cigar Ash Stand!

Success! And it only took about five attempts!

Mmm... Like Licking An Ashtray!

Now she’s looking for a kiss! In this case, kissing a cigar smoker IS like licking an ashtray!

Who is this ninja of the rolled premium tobacco leaf, you ask? She’s Sondra Hankamer, the South East representative for Miami Cigar Company. And while she probably has her employer popping antacids like jelly beans, you have to admit, this is one event that people will remember!

I’d like to thank Sondra for the entertainment and cigars, Sean Williams of Primer Mundo Cigars for his fine smokes, Jim the owner of Blue Havana II for hosting the event, and Frank (tx_tuff) and the guys at CigarLive (join it!) for putting together this national event! Talk about an experience!

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The Griffin’s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro ToroI’ve really been looking forward to this review, as it will mark the first ever “The Griffin’s” cigar I’ve ever smoked. But before we get into the details of the cigar, I thought it will be interesting to get to the bottom of the cigar’s unusual name. The name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? I’ve been wondering for a while now, why “The Griffin’s” and not just Griffin, I wondered.

Well, even a very thorough search of the web didn’t net much in the way of history about this cigar. But I did read somewhere online a while back that The Griffin’s was originally a house blend of a European club named “The Griffin”. Rumor spread of how great a cigar it was and the rest is history. And you know that has to be true, because I read it online, right? The one fact that’s indisputable is that The Griffin’s is made by Davidoff of Geneva, and it’s chock full of choice tobacco from the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic.

But before I get into the review, I have to thank Jim from Blue Havana II for providing me with the cigars for this review. He runs a great shop with more cigars than you can shake a draw poker at, and probably has more cigar events than any other shop I know of. If you live in the Atlanta area, it’s well worth your time to stop by and enjoy a smoke in his nicely furnished lounge. And if you don’t, send Jim an email. He just might be able to help you out with that hard to find cigar.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/4 x 52
Wrapper: Connecticut
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$8.80

The Griffin\'s Maduor Toro Foot

Nicely packed.

The Pre-Smoke
It’ll be honest, it took me a little while to figure out just which vitola this cigar was. It’s a toro, but it has a head that makes it looks like it might be a belicoso. Rest assured though, there is no Griffin’s belicoso. With that initial mystery of the cigar solved, I began my inspection. Right off the bat I noticed something that made me very happy. The fairly straight forward white band was nicely loose on the cigar. Not loose enough that it would fall off, but loose enough to make remove incredibly easy. Without having even taken a cold taste yet, I was developing warm, fuzzy feelings for the cigar.

As I checked out the wrapper, I noticed a couple of superficial holes in the wrapper of one of the cigars, and large veins in both. The wrapper itself was a rustic, mottled-looking maduro color, alternating between black and dark brown shades. The wrapper had the scent of a pile of freshly raked leaves. It’s interesting how scent can form strong ties to memories, because this aroma almost gave me a flash back.

The Burn
The story here is a bit different between the two cigars I smoked for this review. There clearly was a flawed cigar and a normal one, and the difference first presented itself in the burn. The flawed cigar initially had a draw that was a little too tight in the beginning, and actually produced some tar toward the end of the first third. After wiping and reclipping, the draw opened up and the tar went into remission until the final third. I also noticed this stick had a flakier ash than the second unflawed cigar.

There isn’t too much to say about the unflawed cigar. No tar, no draw issues, solid white ash and a good burn line. It was exactly what you would expect from a good cigar.

The Flavor
Based on what you already know about the burn, you suspect that the flavors differed in the cigars I smoked. You’re absolutely right. The funny thing is that I actually enjoyed the flavors in the flawed cigar more than the normal burning one. When the tar wasn’t present, that is.

The flawed cigar was had more of a mild but rich cocoa and coffee that was slightly sweet in the first third, while I found the normal cigar to have more earthy and rich tobacco flavors with a little bit of creaminess. In both cigars, I was impressed with how cool and smooth the smoke was.

The second third remained cool but unfortunately the flawed cigar developed it’s first bubbles of tar which were not pleasant before returning to the rich cocoa flavors that were present in the first third. The normal cigar took on a savory, almost beef jerky flavor which was actually pretty enjoyable. Some of the same cocoa elements were present in this third also.

The final third was moved up into the medium fullness range and I got a bit of chocolate, some sweetness and a faint bit of coconut. The flawed cigar had a reappearance of the tar flavor (but no visible tar), followed by the a savory fuller flavor.

The Price
For a cigar produced by Davidoff, I was a little surprised that this cigar comes in well under the $10 mark. I don’t have any complaints about the price, but I think it’s just high enough to put it in that one-a-week range for most people.

The Verdict
In spite of the flaws of the one cigar, I enjoyed The Griffin’s Toro Maduro. I wouldn’t say it’s a very complex or varied cigar. Right up front you’ll have a good feeling for whether or not you’ll enjoy the cigar, because it remains pretty constant throughout. Fortunately for me, I enjoyed the flavors, both times. I also really enjoyed the coolness of the smoke for the first two thirds. For some reason that aspect of the experience really stood out. Because of the overall mildness, I’d recommend this as a good cigar to pair with your morning coffee.

Of course, thanks again to Jim of Blue Havana II for the great cigars. And thanks also to Steve Dickinson, the area Davidoff rep for keeping us all entertained at the recent Davidoff event. Even if you don’t smoke any of Davidoff’s cigars, it’s worth dropping in at an event just to talk with Steve.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Maybe
Recommend It: Yes

UPDATE 4/30/08:
The Tower of Burn
At a cigar event this past weekend, Jim walked up to me, and said, where’s my Tower of Burn? After sputtering a bit, and feeling a bit embarrassed, I had to admit that I had just been a little lazy on this review. I thought I could skate by with a nice picture of the ashtray afterward, but no dice. Apparently, the Tower of Burn is incredibly popular, I’ve been contacted by several people who specifically mention it as a favorite feature! Well, I feel bad depriving you of it for so long, so here it is, my trademark Tower of Burn. Enjoy!

The Griffin\'s Maduro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro

The Griffin\'s Maduro Toro In Ashes

Nice ash!

What Others Are Saying
You know, I’ve been forgetting recently to link to other reviews of the cigar. Not this time. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of reviews of this cigar out there.

Cigar Review Index
And be sure to check out my complete index of cigar reviews! (Guaranteed to be at least 75% up to date!)

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Help Me Help Matt Help Kids And Win Cigars!

Confused yet? Let me clear it up for you. Friend, and fellow cigar blogger Matt of Matt’s Cigar Journal is participating in the Ride for Kids benefiting Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation of the United States and he needs a little help making his $3000 dollar goal.

If you’ve been following my blog very long, you know I like a good charity. And it’s been a while since I threw in with Team Hanselman’s crusade against diabetes. So when I heard a fellow brother of the leaf was putting together some money for another good cause, I was interested in helping out. And when I heard that by donating you have a chance to win a box of Opus X, Perdomos, Camachos or Hoyo de Monterreys, it was a no brainer.

It works like this. If you donate $10 by April 25th, and follow the instructions on Matt’s announcement, you get one entry into the drawing for one of the boxes. $20 gets you in twice, as you might expect, but then things get even more interesting. Using a complicated secret algorithm known only to himself, Matt will give you seven entries for $50, nine for $70 and a whopping 14 for $100. (By “secret complicated algorithm“, I mean I haven’t taken the time to figure out how it works. It looks like a heck of a deal, so I’m not questioning it!)

In summary, there’s a bunch of reasons to scratch together a Hamilton (or a Benjamin!)

  1. You help fight Pediatric Brain Tumors. Which is a serious warm fuzzy. (Karma, people!)
  2. You might win a box of fantastic cigars.
  3. Your contribution is tax deductible!
  4. You might keep me from winning a box of cigars! (I know that this is a priority for some of you out there!)

So grab your ten-spots and head over and give. You don’t want me winning that box of Opuses, do you? (You know if I do, there’ll be no tolerating me.)

Thanks for helping out!

Olor Del Cibao Cuban Seed Tequila Review

Olor Del Cibao Cuban Seed TequilaIf you think the name of this cigar sounds familiar, but you can’t place it, don’t worry, you haven’t lost your mind. (Or at least this review was not the straw that broke the camels back.) Because a while back I covered the Olor Del Cibao Cuban Seed Churchill in my infamous four-cigar mega review. But this Cuban Seed cigar is different than the churchill I smoked back in September. The first clue is that it’s box-pressed. The second is that it’s infused with Tequila.

And as with the Olor Del Cibao cigar reviews before, the cigars for this review were generously provided buy my friends over at Tex Cigars. While Tex Cigars is flush with all the Olor Del Cibao cigars you could ever need, they have plenty of other cigars, and at great prices. (Rumor has it, they have the best Tatuaje prices anywhere.) So go check ‘em out, and tell ‘em I sent ya.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 7 x 54
Wrapper: Dominican Republic Cuban seed
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time:1 3/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$4.40 (buy them here)

Olor Del Cibao Cuban Seed Tequila Foot
Nicely packed

The Pre-Smoke
After the standard Olor Del Cibao band, the first thing you noticed about this cigar is the rounded corners of the box press. A closer examination of the cigar reveals a very rustic looking wrapper. Full of light hues of tan intermixed with deeper shades of brown, the cigar has an almost rustic leathery look to it. Much more so than the aforementioned Churchill.

In the hand the cigar feels both substantial and surprisingly smooth. The cigar is pretty firm, but has a good amount of give to it. Looking at the foot, you can tell it’s very nicely packed with tobacco.

The scent of the wrapper does smell like tequila, as you might expect. But also not as pungently or obvious as you would expect from an infused cigar. Out of curiosity, I tasted the cap before cutting it. It tasted like a sweet margarita. Almost like a margarita-flavored candy. This flavor was reinforced and magnified in the cold taste. Man, I’m glad I like margaritas!

The Burn
One thing I looked out for while smoking this cigar was the billowing river of smoke that I got from some Olor Del Cibao cigars in the past. I was very pleased to find that these cigars smoked in a much more tame, reasonable manner. It seems that previous issues with dry cigars due to shipping complications have been nicely resolved.

Generally speaking the burn line was pretty good on this cigar. It strayed a bit at points, but always self corrected. And the ash was both attractive and solid, hanging on for impressive inch and a half before dropping the first two times. And I can’t complain about the draw either. Not too loose, not to tight, just right.

The Flavor
The cigar opened up with a sweet, creamy citrus flavor that was actually pretty pleasant, and the finish seemed to last a rather long time on the palate between puffs. The cigar progressed with a very cool creamy smoke that continued to be flavored like a sweet margarita. As the first third came to a close, the smoke was still cool and creamy, but the sweet margarita flavor had diminished to a slight tangy tingle in the finish.

The second third of this cigar still had the tell tale signs of a flavor-infused smoke, but it was less obvious. The flavor of tobacco was a bit more prominent, and some of the berry sweetness I detected seemed to come from the tobacco. The flavor of tequila was still subtly present in the creamy finish of the cigar.

As the cigar approached the final third the cigar took on a creamy papery sweetness. The tingle of tequila in the finish had all but disappeared at this point. In the final third, I was surprised to start tasting a bit of smooth toffee and cinnamon. As the cigar smoked through it’s final inches, I found it trending toward spiciness with some nutmeg, and the occasional re-appearance of some tequila flavor.

The Price
It’s hard to complain about a cigar priced under five dollars a stick. As is to be expected, the price for this tequila-infused cigar is a little more expensive than the churchill of the same name.

Olor Del Cibao Cuban Seed Tequila

The Verdict
Over all I’d say this was a very pleasant smoke. I didn’t care as much for the initial artificial sweetness of the first third, but the cigar became an enjoyable smoke in the second third. I was actually impressed with the duration of the finish on this cigar. The creaminess and tangy tequila flavor really stays with you a long time after the puff.

I’ve done my share of dabbling with “flavored” or “infused” cigars, and I find this cigar superior to a number that I’ve tried. The three most similar were the ACID Blondie, the Slainte and the Erin Go Braugh, which are flavored like cloves, scotch and irish whiskey, respectively. The Olor Del Cibao is clearly comprised of better tobacco and tastes better than both the Slainte and Erin Go Braugh, and is less sweet and more palatable than the ACID Blondie.

I’d like to thank Tex Cigars for providing the cigars for this review. If you’re interested in trying these out, Jarrod will treat you right! And he happens to be the only retailer I know who carries these cigars! So head on over grab a box. Or if you’re feeling cautions, why not pick up the sampler of the Olor Del Cibao line. (It includes this cigar!)

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Probably (I don’t smoke flavor-infused cigars that often.)
Recommend It: If you enjoy flavored or infused cigars, you should try these.

The Cigar In Action
Here for your viewing pleasure is the cigar slowly becoming ash.

Olor Del Cibao Cuban Seed Tequila In Action

More Cigar Review
If you enjoyed this cigar review, be sure to check out my Cigar Review Index for a complete listing of my reviews.

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