Camacho Corojo Maduro Torpedo

Camacho Corojo Maduro TorpedoLike the CAO Black VR Totem I reviewed this week for the Stogie Review, the cigar for this review has a tie in to Dogwatch Cigar Radio. Walt and I were originally scheduled to appear on the show about three shows ago at this point. The show’s featured cigar was the Camacho Corojo Maduro, which I’d never tried. A little homework seemed in order, so I picked up a handful of them the week of the recording.

Well, it was sort of like studying for a test in college only to have the professor not show the day of the exam. Due to last minute scheduling issues beyond anyone’s control, our appearance on the show rescheduled for the next week. And a different week means a different cigar. So what do I do with all these smoking Camacho Corojo Maduro Torpedo notes? Well, it was clear. I need to give it a review. So here goes.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/8 x 54
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water, Coffee
Price: $7.15

The Pre-Smoke
My first impression is that the cigar has a bit of a rustic look to it, and it’s not quite as dark as you might expect from a maduro. It’s more of a dark, slightly mottled natural wrapper.

Wrapping this cigar is an simple but elegant band that does an excellent job of complimenting the appearance of the cigar instead of stealing the show. In fact, the band is mostly the same color as the cigar, but there’s just enough of the textured-gold outline to keep it from disappearing completely.

A closer inspection revealed that the wrapper had a bit of a delicate texture to it, had fine veins, and was mostly smooth. The delicate nature of the wrapper did not translate to a soft cigar, I found it to be nicely firm to the touch.

The wrapper had an aroma of rich chocolate and compost and had a darker, dusty earth and molasses flavor to the cold taste.

The Burn
This cigar had a pretty attractive burn, the ash was nice and white, but tended to be a little delicate. I encountered a bit of flakiness, especially in the beginning of the burn. And it wasn’t uncommon for the cigar to “shed” instead of ash, meaning that little flaky bits of the ash would drop while the main ash remained in place.

The draw was generally good, erring on the side of looseness. As I tend to favor a looser draw, I didn’t see this as a problem.

The Flavor
The cigar opened up earthy and pretty full right off the bat. The predominant flavor early on was a dry combination of chocolate and coffee. As the first third progressed this chocolate became sweeter. As the second third began the cigar took on a noticeable smoothness on the palate. The earthiness continued and as the cigar neared the final third, I started to taste some leather and a bit of dusty cocoa. The final third took on an good creaminess and remained earthy with leather appearing from time to time.

The Price
I paid $7.15 for these cigars at a local cigar shop, and I’m actually OK with that price. I haven’t looked around, but I’m sure that this cigar could be found for less online.

The Verdict
I really enjoyed this cigar. At one point I was liking this so much, I felt compelled to email my local Camacho rep to tell him it was a great cigar. (Unfortunately, he didn’t get back to me, but I guess I could understand that, I probably came off as a nutcase.) This cigar and a cup of coffee is a little slice of heaven.

The interesting thing is that I also tried the toro size, and I found it to not be nearly as good as the torpedo. I suspect the tapered head and resulting more condensed, focused flow of smoke added to the experience.

I’m pretty sure this is the first Honduran puro I’ve ever tried, and I’m very happy it turned out to be such a wonderful cigar. So would I buy this cigar again, absolutely. And I have several times at a local shop since I first smoked them. I’m thinking at some point, I’ll spring for a box.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes, and I have.
Recommend It: Yes

What Other People Are Saying

My Other Reviews
If you enjoyed this review, I encourage you to visit my Cigar Review Index to check out some more of my reviews!

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Want Some Free Camacho Cigars?

Antoni Gaudi’s Sun MosaicIf the answer is yes, you’re in luck. Cigar Jack just happens to be giving some away. And by some, I mean a lot. A bunch of people will win five packs of Camacho cigars, and all the winners will be put in hat for a drawing for a box of Camacho’s brand new 10th Anniversary cigar!

What do you gotta do? It’s pretty easy. You need to do a little creative cigar-related writing and submit it to the contest. (For full details, see the official contest post.)

So put pen to paper (and then type that scribble up), submit it and keep checking back for Cigar Jack’s Cigar Reviews to see if you won.

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New Cigar Shop Finder: CigarPlaces.com

Arganese Double Wrap ChairmansAs I’ve seen it reported on Cigar Command and Today’s Cigar Reviews and News (kudos for the find guys!), there’s a brand new resource out there for people in search of a good place to buy or enjoy a fine cigar. And the best part, it is has an easy to remember URL: CigarPlaces.com.

What the website is, essentially, is a customized mash-up of Google Maps that allows you to ad your favorite cigar-friendly establishment or search for shops based upon a U.S. city. Simple enough, right? But then many of the best ideas are shockingly simple. In speaking with my good friend Jesse from Cigar Jack, our initial thought was “Man, why didn’t I think of that?” With all the frenzied rush to outlaw smoking in every place under the sun, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find a place where you can still indulge in a premium smoke!

So Cigar Places definitely a website I’d recommend all cigar enthusiasts take advantage of. If for no other reason than to make it easier for those of us who spend time on the road to find a smoke shop when we find ourselves away from home. As with a lot of things on the web, the more it’s used, the more useful it becomes.

OK, now that I’ve lavished praise on this great new website, here are a few things I’d really like to see added in the future:

  • International listings. I think the site supports this, but it isn’t obvious.
  • The ability to search on a whole state in addition to a city or state.
  • I’d like to see shops in nearby cities as well as the city I searched. Searching for Atlanta excludes shops in Alpharetta. Perhaps this is a feature we could switch on or something.
  • A larger map view. Perhaps a link to go “full screen” or something.
  • Special markers for manufacturers.
  • Maybe some sort of rating or review system. (Yeah, I’m really going out on a limb here.)

Of course, the website is new, and is a great resource as is. I’m just throwing out some ideas. Do you have any ideas? Now go add your favorite smoke shop to the list!

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15 Minutes Starting Right… Now!

Brian's Random Thoughts: No nutritional value, but tasty!On the surface, it would appear that Brian isn’t very active in the blog world these days. That couldn’t be further from the truth! While I have been a bit negligent here on my home blog, I have been very active on my other-other day job (if only it paid!) on The Stogie Review. Those of you that come here for my cigar reviews probably know already that I have a regular Wednesday review over there.

But what you my not know is that I have now mastered all the major mediums. In a pretty big way. So big, that I’m anticipating my Andy Warhol-predicted 15 minutes of fame to begin any moment. (Possibly right now… Maybe now. Hmmm… Apparently not yet. But soon.) Anyway, I just got off the phone with a security firm that provides body guards for all the celebrities. Bono. Britney. And now Brian.

You still have no idea what the heck I’m talking about, do you? Here’s the scoop. In addition to my weekly written review on The Stogie Review, I also am a regular on the bi-weekly video cigar question and answer segment called “Your Questions, My Answers”. (See latest episode here.) Written word, check. Video, check. And just this week, I was a guest on the cigar world’s version of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (well, if the show was on the radio), Dog Watch Cigar Radio. (Download the show here!) It’s like a childhood dream come true. That is if I smoked cigars as a child and the show existed back then. But close enough.

So what does this mean for you, dear reader? Well not too much. We will require you to being showing ID to read these posts, and my security contingent will pat you down to make sure you’re not packing heat. Or lighters with too large a flame. It’s a minor inconvenience, I know, but now that I’m almost certainly a celebrity, it’s a necessary step.

I’m getting word that celebrity status has not yet materialized, but signs point to Monday night at the latest. I’ll keep you posted. Make sure to check in often, you don’t want to miss the fifteen minutes.

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La Gloria Cubana Serie R Belicoso

La Gloria Cubana Serie R BelicosoBy now, you’ve probably noticed a recent addition to my sidebar: The Blue Havana II logo. And perhaps, because you’re very observant, you’ve wondered, “what’s up with that?” Well here’s the scoop. Anybody who gives me a cigar to review automatically qualifies as a “friend of the blog”. And earlier this year, Jim Luftman, the owner of the local B&M named Blue Havana II did just that.

Jim has been a good friend since we met at RTDA last year (pictures), and actually deserved some recognition much earlier than this. But beyond that, he runs a great shop and is always thinking about better ways to serve the customer. A quick walk through his humidor will show you what I mean. He’s taken the time to stick color-coded labels on all of his cigar facings to give you a quick idea of the fullness of a given cigar. And when you take a peek in any box, you’ll see the complete line of cigars sitting there, all vitolas in stock, side-by-side for comparison. As if that weren’t enough, it seems like he’s alway got contests, herfs, events and sales happening in shop. There just always a reason to stop by.

OK, back to the cigar. Jim tells me that the Belicoso vitola is a recent addition to the very popular Serie R line. And when I last visited his shop, they had only just arrived. While I haven’t been able to locate much information specifically about the Belicoso, I can tell you a little about the Serie R line. This line of cigars was created with the sole purpose of giving the cigar industry what it’s been looking for. Sales have shown that cigar smokers have been very interested in larger ring gauges and fuller-bodied smokes. One look at the Serie R offerings in your local B&M will show you that they’ve got the ring gauge nailed. But let’s see if they’ve produced a good stick.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 3/4 x 56
Wrapper: Ecuador
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: $9.25

The Pre-Smoke
The Serie R Belicoso is visually a very bold, very striking cigar. It’s size says very clearly that it’s not kidding around. It’s no puny robusto, it’s gonna be around for a while, and it intends to be noticed. The classic band with the thick band of red seems to highlight it’s size.

In my inspection of the wrapper, I found it to be nicely smooth in spite of some visually apparent veins. One cigar had a minor flaw in the wrapper, a vein had poked a small hole and was sticking out just a bit. The other cigar had no noticeable flaws, and both firmly packed with tobacco.

In testing the scent of the wrapper, I found it to have a very pleasant sweet barnyard smell, with a nice molasses flavor in the cold taste.

The Burn
One of my favorite things about this cigar is the burn. Simply stated, it was beautiful. Solid white columns of ash approaching two inches were not uncommon. And the burn line was both thin, and for the most part straight as an arrow. It sounds funny, but I really enjoyed just holding this cigar and admiring it as it was forming it’s first ash.

La Gloria Cubana Serie R Belicoso

As I was watching it burn between puffs, I noticed something I occasionally see on some wrappers. Little sparks on the burn line. Almost like little twinkles on a diamond. I suspect it has to do with the chemical composition of the leaf, and may actually be a bad thing, but I enjoyed it.

The Flavor
The cigar opened up with a sweet, brown sugar and coffee flavor that had just a little bit of spice to it. As it progressed through the first third, the coffee became creamier and the sweetness more like caramel. There were pockets of intense flavor that reminded me a bit of the “butter nuts” in butter nut ice cream. (Minus the coldness and vanilla, of course.)

As the cigar progressed into the second third, I tasted what I think would be best described as a sweet tobacco flavor. It may sound like a bit of a cop-out description, but what I’m thinking about here is the sweet aroma you get when you open a desktop humidor that’s been left undisturbed for weeks and weeks. Very much like that.

The flavor in the final third seemed different between the two cigars I smoked. In one, it was more creamy and citrusy with leather elements. In the latter, it had more of a combination of earthiness and pear with sweet leather. The common element in the two appears to have been a great leather flavor with some hit of fruitiness.

The Price
Considering the size and quality of the smoke, in my book the $9.25 price tag is reasonable. It’s probably not a cigar that your budget smoker will light up often, but that will just make him (or her) appreciate it more when they do.

The Verdict
I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar. And I mean thoroughly. Many cigars I enjoy for the flavors, and in spite of cosmetic issues. With this cigar, I enjoyed watching it smolder almost as much as I enjoyed the flavors it presented in each puff. Though larger in ring gauge than cigars I usually smoke, it actually felt good in the hand, and the tapered end prevented discomfort in the jaw. Again, a beautiful smoke. I’d have no trouble recommending the Serie R Belicoso to anyone who’s up for a couple of hours of full-bodied pleasure.

Also, I have to say thanks again to Jim of Blue Havana II for the great smokes. If you live in the Atlanta area, swing by his shop. I’ll bet he still has a few of these in stock! And if you don’t live in Georgia, give him a call or send him an email. He has been known to ship orders to people.

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

The Cigar In Action
Here for your viewing pleasure is the cigar in action!

My Other Reviews
If you enjoyed this review, I encourage you to visit my Cigar Review Index to check out some more of my reviews!

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Arganese Trip: Dominican Republic in Pictures

It’s been a while hasn’t it? You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been. Well, the quick answer is the Dominican Republic. I spent four days in the D.R. touring tobacco fields and a cigar factory as a guest of Gene Arganese (of Arganese cigars). As a crazed cigar enthusiast, the trip was the experience of a lifetime. One not to be missed, no matter what the circumstances. When Gene generously offered to cover all expenses except airfare, it was a no-brainer. For full a full discussion the things learned about cigars during the tour, be sure to check out the post I wrote for Stogie Review.

In the week or so since I’ve been back, I’ve been spending the time I usually use to write for this blog processing all the pictures I took on my trip. Without further ado, here’s some of my favorites. (To see all 184 pictures, head over to my Dominican Republic gallery.) Click on any of the following to see a larger, higher quality image in the gallery.

Deck Chairs at Casa Arganese
Deck Chairs on the deck at Casa Arganese

Field Worker
Worker in a recently seeded tobacco field

Arganese Greenhouse
The Arganese greenhouse- Home to thousands of seedlings

La Flor de Tobacco Arganese
La Flor de Tobacco Arganese

Worker hanging tobacco leaves
Hanging the tobacco leaves for drying

El Hombre Muy Guapo
El Hombre muy guapo: The field boss (who will pose when flattered)

Monument to the Heros of the Revolution
The Monument to the Heroes of the Revolution in Santiago

Arganese tobacco barn
The field and the barn

Arganese Cigars
The finished product

Bulls on parade
Santiago traffic: Bulls on parade

Arganese Double Wrap Chairmans
A bundle of the Chairman Double Wrap

A Stinkie Ashtray in the moonlight
A Stinkie Ashtray in the moonlight. How romantic!

Again, these pictures are just the tip of the iceburg! I encourage you to check out the full gallery and take advantage of the slide show capabilities Smugmug offers. (Look for the little button in the upper right corner of the page.) Enjoy!

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El Taino Vintage Connecticut Torpedo

It’s that time again. Time again for another cigar review! And once again, I’m about to introduce you to a cigar you probably haven’t heard of before. This time around we’re taking a look at the El Taino Vintage Connecticut Torpedo, which has been generously provided for me to review by Tex Cigars.

If you haven’t heard of them, you’re not alone. Before I opened up this eagerly anticipated shipment, I hadn’t heard of them either. After some time spent scouring the internet for information on these cigars, the most I could come up with is that they are made by Nino Vasquez and come with either Brazilian or Connecticut wrappers. Now you know what I know, let’s check this mysterious new cigar out!

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/2 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuador
Binder: Nicaragua?
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$3.60 (buy it now)

The Pre-Smoke
My first impression of the El Taino torpedo was that somebody really went all out with this cigar. Not only does it have a shiny, ornate band and a cedar tube, it has a second, equally shiny ornate band at the foot of the cedar tube. It’s clear the manufacturer wants to draw your eye, and the eyes of the people around you when you light it up. And you know what? Mission accomplished.

Before sliding off the considerable length of cedar, I tested its scent to for comparison. I’m glad I did. This was the nicest smelling cedar I’ve come across in a while. It had a sweet aroma that made me wonder if the cedar was infused with some botanicals. That really got me curious as to what I was in for. Is this an infused cigar? A sniff of the wrapper answered that question. The portion of the wrapper that wasn’t covered by cedar had a sweet almost buttery flavor, but no botanicals. The part that was under the cedar did pick up some of the sweet cedar aroma, but also had a light compost aroma.

As I do with most torpedos, I clipped the head on about a 45 degree angle (called a “Dickman cut”) to take a cold taste. Unfortunately in the cigar photographed for this review, the wrapper and binder split at the head making it very difficult to get a taste. I believe my less that razor sharp (and as always, flamboyantly-red) Xikar was to blame for this, but it’s hard to say. In previous cigars, I noted a sweet molasses flavor in the cold taste.

The Burn
Overall, the burn was pretty good with this cigar. It burned evenly and produced respectable inch and a half long ashes. And the draw was good. Surprisingly, even the cigar with the head split was very smoke-able, with only a slightly less that optimal draw. (That is until it burned down to the split, then it was nothing but that pesky oxygen with a hit of smoke.)

The Flavor
Creaminess is the name of the game with this cigar. The cigar opens up with a great creamy coffee flavor throughout the first third makes minor flavor transitions between woodiness, mild bits of spice, and a light cherry sweetness. I have to say though, that for a while in the first third, the cigar was somewhat bland.

In the second third the cigar remains pretty light and creamy, but flavors like leather, some dark chocolate and a more distinct cedar begin to appear.

In the final third the flavor became fuller in body. And I a vegetal flavor was added to the leather and dark chocolate flavors that appeared in the previous third. At times this vegetal flavor got to be a bit harsh, making me suspect there might be a slight bit of tar building up. But this harshness didn’t last, and I didn’t notice any build up.

The Price
At around $3.60 a stick, I’d say this qualifies as a budget smoke. Considering that the torpedo vitola is a more challenging shape to roll, and given the bonus aromatic cedar sleeve, I’d say you’re getting some decent value for your money.

The Verdict
I enjoyed this cigar. Even the one with the annoying split was a good smoke. The cigar is a solid, well-priced smoke with a good flavor profile. It starts a bit mild at the beginning but the flavors improve significantly during the second third. I’d say this is a great cigar to accompany your morning coffee if you’re a seasoned smoker, and probably one mild cigar smokers will find rather enjoyable.

I’d like to thank Tex Cigars again for supplying me with the cigars for this review. If you’re interested in trying one out, I encourage you to head on over to the Tex Cigar website to buy them. Jarrod is a great guy, and he’ll take good care of you!

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Likely
Recommend It: It’s definitely worth trying.

Other Reviews
If you enjoyed this review, be sure to check out my Cigar Review Index.

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Dominican Trip Preview: 3 Arganese Robustos

Arganese CigarsIt’s official, I’m heading to the Dominican Republic (map) along with a small group of cigar enthusiasts, thanks to the generosity of Gene Arganese of Arganese cigars and facilitated by the finest cigar forum on the net, CigarLive. (Join up, it’s free!) So like a college student fighting through a Sunday hangover to cram for a Monday exam, I’ve been smoking every Arganese cigar I have so I can speak intelligently about them when I get there. I’m hoping three cigars will be enough, because that’s all I have! In fact the last of the three I’m blazing through right now were part of a 3 cigar sampler I picked up from the man himself at last year’s RTDA/IPCPR.

So when you think about it, I’m kind of a weasel. I haven’t actually bought an Arganese cigar (yet), and yet, I’m going to visit their facilities in an exotic locale. Well, I have an excuse. As of this time of this writing, the Arganese website indicates that their cigars are not currently available in the state of Georgia. And a quick search of several major online cigar retailers came up with no results. In short, I simply didn’t have the opportunity. And that makes sense because Arganese cigars are the new kid on the block. A fresh face trying to get some attention and some respect in a very large, thriving industry full of big family names with long histories.

I think that’s what this trip is about. It’s not about rewarding dedicated customers, it’s about making new customers and generating some word of mouth. And look, it’s working, I’m smoking their cigars and talking about them. Talk about a win-win for everyone involved!

Gene Arganese
Gene Arganese, the man with the plan at RTDA ’07

Oh yeah, one last thing. Before you pound you keyboard into pieces in a jealous rage, or hurl your wireless mouse through a nearby window, you should know that I am paying for the plane tickets. (Too late? Ah well, it was time to upgrade that old hardware anyway.)

So let’s take a quick look at the cigars. This isn’t going to be one of my standard reviews, simply because I like to smoke the same cigar several times to get a good feel for it. Instead, I’m going to write a brief summary of my experiences with the three different cigars that came in the sampler: The Connecticut Ambassador, the Cameroon Chairman and the Maduro Presidente.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: US Connecticut/Cameroon/Brazil
Binder: Dominican Republic, Indonesia
Filler: Dominican Republic
Beverage: Water, Coffee
Price: ~$6.00 (rumor has it)

The Connecticut Ambassador
This cigar was the last of the three that I smoked, and also happened to be my third place pick of the bunch. That isn’t to say it was a bad cigar. The predominant flavor I detected in it was a creamy grain flavor that kind of reminded me of beer. A hefeweizen to be exact. It also had some good sweet flavors that reminded me of syrup at some points and honey at others. As with the rest, the burn on this was without flaw, producing reasonable lengths of solid ash. If you’re a big Connecticut wrapper fan, you can’t go wrong with this one.

The Cameroon Chairman
Picking the silver medal winner of the pack was a bit difficult. I really enjoyed this cigar. Of course, it’s hard to be objective with this one, as I lit this one up upon finalizing the details of my upcoming trip. But there’s no denying that it had a great flavor profile. I got caramel, an interesting smooth citrus flavor and a semi-sweet vegetal flavor I equate with a good Cameroon wrapper. As with the Ambassador, the burn was great, and the ash was the brightest white of the bunch. The Cameroon Chairman is a cigar that’s going on my cigar shopping list. Now I just need to find a place to buy them.

The Maduro Presidente
I didn’t have to think too long about before awarding the gold to the Maduro Presidente. I enjoyed this cigar right down the nub. It’s hard to beat the smooth, rich, sweet cocoa, chocolate, coffee and finally leather flavors I got out of it. The only thing that called this champ’s ranking into question was darker colored ash. I generally prefer a light colored ash on my cigar, but this one was about the same color as the wrapper. Seemingly in a bid to make up for its less attractive ash, the Maduro Presidente held the longest ash of the bunch, weighing in at a respectable inch and a half. But substance won out over aesthetics handily here. Given to buy more of only one of these cigars, I’m buying this one.

What Other People Are Saying
There’s been a quite a few reviews of Arganese cigars around the web. Here’s the word at the virtual water cooler. (Hint: It’s all good.)

My Other Reviews
If you enjoyed this review, why not take at look at some other cigars I’ve reviewed? Check out my Cigar Review Index for a complete list.

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Ho Ho Ho, How’d It Go?

Now THAT is a Christmas Tree!It’s an anticlimactic Boxing Day here at the desk in the Manastery. (For those of you who don’t know, that’s the official, wife-recognized name of my office cum cigar lounge and library. However, she also calls one of the closets “the pantry“. Hey, You win some, you lose some.) Christmas has come an gone, and breaking with about five years of tradition, I’ve spent the day working instead of wandering the streets of a distant city looking for an exotic drink and bite to eat. Like any other day, the sun is out, a cigar is blazing and my wife keeps peeking her head in to remind me about the chores I’ve been putting off. Doesn’t sound terribly inspired does it?

I may be in a bit of a blue funk over the day after Christmas, but Christmas itself was actually a lot of fun, and pretty restful. As much as I enjoy travel, it was nice to not have to deal with airports, hotels, and over packed luggage. Though I do have to say I miss the holiday change of scenery.

My favorite part of this Christmas was my elaborate plot to sneak some presents for my wife under the Christmas tree. The execution of said plan involved pretending to be intoxicated (which wasn’t too much of a stretch with the assistance of dollar beer night at a nearby Irish pub) and playing computer games until my wife was sound asleep. Once I was convinced she was out cold, and after I got a few past an acceptable number of levels on the game, I sprung into action. I retrieved the carefully hidden gifts and the secretly stashed wrapping paper and got to work. I knew my devious designs were a complete success when angrily muttered at me for staying up so late as I hopped into bed. And the best part is she walked past the presents several times before she noticed they were there!

We also had a friend over for a late Christmas lunch, which gave us the opportunity to “entertain” as they say. The multi-course lunch and nice place settings were good fun, the highlight of the evening was several hours of competitive rounds of bowling, baseball and golf, compliments of my Nintendo Wii. As much fun as it is to play by yourself, it’s even better to go head to head with friends. (Is there a better party game than the Wii?) By the end of the evening, our friend was determined to get a Wii of his own, once they’re a easier to find.

But what my cigar smoking brethren are wondering right now is, what cigar did I smoke to celebrate the holiday? I’m not going to tell you. I’m going to show you!

Ashton VSG Enchantment
Hard to go wrong with an Ashton VSG Enchantment!

What was a surprise was how little time I actually had to enjoy a fine cigar. I didn’t get one in Christmas Eve, but I did settle down with a fine cigar once my Wii-playing buddy hit the road. And I made the most of it. If you think you see a paper clip in the picture, your eyesight isn’t failing you. I didn’t have a toothpick handy, and a paper clip affords one a nice little handle for that treacherously shrinking bundle of tobacco joy.

Though I didn’t take any notes for a proper review, I can tell you it I tasted excellent leather, caramel and toffee flavors. And as you can see, the burn was immaculate. All in all, it was a fantastic end to a very cozy Christmas. Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to smoke for New Years!

How was your Christmas? Did you enjoy a fine cigar? (Or for non smokers, a fine dessert or great beverage?)

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Los Blancos Primos Habana Criollo Rosado

Los Blancos Primos Habana Criollo RosadoIs it just me, or has time been flying by at Concorde speeds the past couple of months? Every time I turn around, it seems like another week has gone by, and the post I just wrote is now an ancient internet relic. And just now I’m realizing I almost didn’t write anything at all this week! (I also notice I seem to have had this Tuesday thing going. You probably thought I planned it that way. I’m willing to let you keep believing that.) So it’s time for a new post. And why not make it a cigar review post?

The cigars I smoked for this review I knew very little about while I was smoking them. The sum of my knowledge regarding these smokes was the “Primos” part of the name, and a sense of gratitude to Tex Cigars for sending them to me. According to some schools of thought, that may make for a more honest review. Of course, I messed all that up by doing a little research. The Primos Habana Criollo Rosado is a bundled cigar put out by Los Blancos. According to the website, the cigar is on the fuller side of medium, and full of subtle nuances that “the discerning palate will enjoy.” Discerning palate? Hey, that’s me! (Isn’t it?) But enough of what the folks in the Los Blancos marketing department think of the cigar, let’s see what I think.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 52 (toro)
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru
Smoking Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$2.50 (buy ‘em here)

The Pre-Smoke
As you would expect from the name, the cigar does have a bit of a reddish look to the wrapper. But when I took a closer look, I noticed some interesting things. A couple of small spots with a greenish hue and the darkened imprints of the binder veins in the wrapper. On one cigar, these darkened vein-rubbings kinda looked to me like Kanji. (Which you gotta admit is kind of cool.)

And if you think I’m crazy to liken the darker spots in the cigars wrapper to Kanji, just wait until I tell you about the band. It looks to be full of Masonic symbols! (OK, I admit it, I went to see National Treasure last night, and I’m convinced that an elaborate set of obscure clues will lead me to untold riches, beginning with this cigar band.) Well, almost. Instead of a square forming a ‘V’, you have swords. And then there’s the five hands clasping together in a star shape over a scroll of paper. Hey, this can mean only one thing: Los Blancos are the super secret descendants of the Knights Templar. But before I embark on an tale of international intrigue, I better finish this review.

The scent of the wrapper was a light sweet barnyard that became richer and more chocolatey at the foot. After testing and finding the cigar to be pretty consistently firm, I clipped the cigar with my flamboyantly-red (and increasingly dull) Xikar to take a cold taste. I tasted a rich dark chocolate.

The Burn
In the three cigars I smoked for this review, I found a fairly consistent burn scenario. The cigar starts off burning even, but starts to lose the plot a bit by the latter point of the second third. Generally speaking, one side burns faster toward the end of the second third, and requires a bit of correction. But once corrected, the rest of the cigar burns a bit more evenly.

In two of the three sticks, the draw was irreproachable. As for the third, it started off tighter than I prefer, but loosened into an acceptable draw. Even at it’s tightest, it wasn’t bad enough that for a minute I considered tossing it out. It was only a slight irritation.

The Flavor
The cigars opened up with a earthy, nutty couple of puffs before becoming woodier and spicier in flavor. The spiced didn’t last long though, and shorty I was tasting toffee, caramel and sweet coffee. In one cigar, I noted that it tasted very much like brown sugar. These sweet flavors carried the cigar through the first third.

In the second third the cigar became creamier, and I detected at different intervals more brown sugar, berries, cinnamon and a sweet grain flavor that I’ve been trying to name for a while now. Having toured a brewery or two in my time, I think it reminds me of some of the grains used to make beer, because every time I taste this sweet grain flavor, I immediately think of beer. (Either that, or I need to join AA pretty soon.)

Some of the sweetness and the vegetal and grainy flavors remained in the final third. I also noted some chocolate as the body picked up a bit. But by the final third, I had the distinct impression that the show was over, and smoking the last half of the last third was like sitting in crowded parking lot after the game waiting to get out. Well, that’s probably over stating it a bit. I didn’t find the final third to be unpleasant, it was just obvious that the magic was gone.

Speaking of the body, I’d say that this cigar is pretty solidly medium in body, but I hesitate to say medium-full as shown on the official website. But of course, I’m an intentionally slow smoker. Faster smokers may find that the added speed brings the cigar into the medium-full range.

The Price
Who can complain about a two and a half buck stick? Thomas Marshal (who should be portrayed in a movie by William H. Macy), Woodrow Wilson’s Vice President famously said, “what this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” With inflation taken into consideration, I think we have a candidate for the title here in the Primos Habana Criollo Rosado! (Did I just give away the verdict?)

The Verdict
As the saying goes, this cigar is a bargain at twice the price. It definitely exceeded my expectations of a bundled cigar, and I can see why Jarrod from Tex Cigars started carrying them. To paraphrase what he told me, he smoked one, and without even knowing what it was or who make it, he knew he had to carry it. Good call, sez I. Anyway, I owe them a big thanks for sending the cigars my way to review, and ask that if you’re interested in trying these out for yourself that you consider buying them from my friends over at Tex Cigars!

And don’t be afraid to let me know what you think of them! From time to time, readers leave mini reviews in the comments, and I welcome that!

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

The Cigar In Action
Here like one of them new-fangled movin’ picture things is the cigar in action.

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