Who Cares Who Watches The Watchmen

Happy Shootin’ DudeI love superhero movies. And I like them dark. I’ve really enjoyed the recent Batman movies starring Christian Bale. So when I saw the trailers for The Watchmen, I was excited. I’ve never read the comic book the movie is based on, and loved the idea of being introduced to a brand new world of brooding, slightly flawed superheroes.

In the recent surge of superhero movies hitting the big screen, it hasn’t been necessary to have any background whatsoever to enjoy these movies. And in fact, the biggest flaws these movies often have is spending too much time on character backgrounds, and not enough time  on the action we crave. It’s a forgivable offense, they’re trying to make sure we’re all on the same page. Even the folks that are a little slow on the uptake.

Spoiler alert. What is written below may ruin the movie for you, or even convince you not to waste your time seeing this deep-dish slice of Suck smothered in a rich sauce of FAIL they call “The Watchmen.” You have been warned.

The character background was my first clue that The Watchmen was going to be a dreadful movie. Early in the movie there’s a montage that serves to give viewers the scoop on where we are in the movie. A moment or two into this scrapbook-y tour of the past I’m thinking, “Cool, it’s gonna be based in the 40′s or 50′s.” But pages keep turning and character quirks start appearing. OK, one of the heroes is a lesbian. That’s unique. Another is has Bruce Wayne riches, OK, that explains how they buy their nifty super-gadgets. The pages keep turning, and characters we’ve only just been introduced start being killed off or institutionalized. What the hell? By the end of the lengthy slide show, I’m more confused than I started. Who the hell is still alive in this show?

When it’s done, the introduction to the current characters is at best incomplete. You’re in for another long introduction to the “heroes” who are still around. They spend their time bitter and moping or wistful about a times past. And to make things even better (and by better, I mean much worse), almost none of them are active in any sort of heroism. Not only that, as characters, they are completely devoid of any of the altrusim and idealism you expect from even the most flawed heroic characters. Well before any real action takes place in the movie (aside from a fight with “The Comedian” early on), I came to the realization that I just don’t care about any of these characters, and hope that they meet the same fate as the Comedian. Sadly, even this wish is not granted.

The only character I came moderately close to liking was Rorschach. He was the only character who actually did anything for the first half of the movie. But soon, even he started to irritate me. His lengthy meandering bitter monologues, made me want to shout at the screen, “Shut the F*ck up already! We get it, you’re disturbed, dark and angry!” Thank god even this was inconsistent, Rorschach’s narratives were like much of the movie, just randomly placed and useless.

Dr. Manhattan, the only character with actual superpowers was completely unable to rescue this flop of a movie. And it’s clear from his long-awaited appearances in the movie that he didn’t much care either. He’d far rather look down his nose at humanity while doing some incredibly cliche hovering meditating on Mars. It’s just a shame he didn’t stay there, it really would not have made a bit of difference if he had.

The final insult was the end of the movie. My wife, who is still bitter that I brought her along, was nearly vomiting at the forced melodrama and complete ridiculousness of the premise. (Her tastes in movies are much more refined than mine, and this blow may send us to marital counseling.) I really didn’t care that many major cities around the world were obliterated. This Watchmen reality sucks, it’s just a shame the whole planet wasn’t blown to bits, ala Star Wars. What annoys me is that Rorschach was obliterated for sticking to his principles and the villain is embraced by the remaining super-zeros in an intelligence-insulting ends-justify-the-means rationalization. My guess is their next super-deed will be to enforce Eugenics and Euthanasia on people older than 50.

My guess is that the people who dropped this steaming, fly-covered pile of film on the public think they’ve authored a dark, complex masterpiece that imparts knowledge and inspires thought. I hate to break it to them, what this is is an adolescent, self-absorbed, meandering monstrosity. The only lesson to take from this nearly three hours of pain is that never hurts to read movie reviews before you part with ten bucks.

So to answer the question posed so many times in the movie by graphiti, who watches the Watchmen? People who have just been ripped off, that’s who. If this review gets to you in time, I’ve done my own bit of heroism in saving you ten bucks.

What do you think? Have you seen this movie? I’m curious if people who were already fans of The Watchmen comic book found it a more enjoyable experience than I did.

The Terracotta Warrior Teaser

Brian's Terracotta Warrior ArmyI’ve been looking forward to it for at least a month. And that might be part of the problem. Because when I look back at Sunday with ancient clay warriors, I kind of feel like I saw the movie trailer and not the main feature film. Oh, but wait, let’s not spoil this before I even discuss the event a little bit.

As people in Atlanta probably already know, the Qin Dynasty Terracotta Warrior exhibit has recently opened at the High Museum of Art. (I’m imagining the numerous disappointed sighs out there when they discover that “high.org” is a website for an art museum. Delicious.) I don’t remember the price of admission off the top of my head, but it is a heck of a lot cheaper than tickets concerts headlining ancient musicians.

What are these Terracotta Warriors, some imaginary person asks? They are the larger than life clay sculptures of Chinese soldiers and generals that were created to assist China’s first emperor in the afterlife. (After kicking a lot ass in life, he looked forward to kicking even more in death.)

In spite of sending out folks to track down his subjects to find all manner of immortality herbs and potions, the first emperor decided to hedge his bets. There was at least a 50-50 chance he’d die one day. He needed to prepare for life on the other side. It just wouldn’t do for his army and deathly possessions to fewer than the other kings he met on the other side. I mean, hey, nobody likes to be the butt of jokes. He had options. He could just have his army killed so he could bring them along. But that had been done before. And his warriors, as good as they were in conquering the warrior states, weren’t perfect. They could be a little taller. And maybe a little stronger. But he really could do too much about that. So he decided to make new ones. Taller, stronger, faster and decked out with really nice weapons. He was a clever guy, actually. Not only would his afterlife army be larger than everyone else’s, they’d be taller by several feet. Guess who will be calling the shots in death-land?

One thing that the first emperor didn’t count on was how unpopular he’d be with those who were still alive. His living enemies set fire to his massive burial grounds and stole his warriors weapons. It might have been too big a deal for the recently deceased emperor if all the supports to his subterranean weren’t wood. But they were and the roof collapsed, smashing and scattering his now defenseless warriors. Talk about damage during shipping. After all that work over all those years, and look who still is the laughing stock of the afterlife. (“You made your soldiers out of what?”)

Fortunately for us, a bunch of smart people with penchants for jigsaw puzzles have reassembled an incredible number of these damaged warriors for our viewing enjoyment.  And with the OK of the Chinese government, they’ve decided to take the Terracotta show on the road, visiting museums all over the world. The show stars crossbow mean, generals, musicians, a chariot driver and even a headless guy with a weight problem. (Known as the “strong man”, but I think really just has a thyroid problem.) And to make sure the show is a success, it returns to China after each exhibit to be “blessed”. (I don’t know what that means exactly, but I’m sure it helps.)

It’s a show that’s really worth seeing, even if it is a little anticlimactic. I had hoped to see a room full of clay soldiers, but what I saw was merely a sampling of what has been unearthed and reconstructed. Probably 10 actual soldiers in total. It’s enough to intrigue and impress, but not to give you a sense of the magnitude of this ancient wonder of the world. To be fair, it would be prohibitively expensive and logistically impractical to ship a small room full of warriors all around the world. And they do try to give you this sense with a massive picture on one wall depicting the warriors in their sunken hallways. I guess it’s time for me to start saving up for a plane ticket.

So you’re probably wondering if it’s worth it to go and see the exhibit. Let me help you in your decision making process with a quick list of pro and con bullet points. (Man, am I helpful or what? Make your checks payable to Brian Hewitt.)

Why you should see the Terracotta Warrior Exhibit:

  • You don’t have the money for a plane ticket to China or the vacation time to enjoy it.
  • How often do you get to see 2000 year old Chinese sculpture? Or 2000 year old anything for that matter? Julius Cesar is younger than these things, and he didn’t hold up nearly as well.
  • It’s always beneficial to admire fine craftsmanship. Whether it be a fine premium cigar, and incredible painting or a clay replica of a ancient Chinese soldier.
  • In spite of being made from only 8 different molds, each soldier his striking unique. Different hair styles, clothing and facial features are suspected to represent a variety of the Chinese ethnic groups of the day.
  • There’s more to see than just the warrior. Coins, replica bronze chariots with horses, birds, art, and even a cool model of the ancient assembly line that assembled the warriors.

Why you might be disappointed:

  • If the exhibit in your museum is roughly equivalent to ours, you’ll probably be done in an hour. And that’s with the audio tour (which is an absolute must). But if you don’t have a lot of time, this could be a plus.
  • You’ll only see 9 or 10 actual warriors.

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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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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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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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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
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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
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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
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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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