Author Archives: Tom Ufer

Old School Cigars; Cigar review

Old School Cigars - Copyright 2014 Tom Ufer

Old School Cigars – Copyright 2014 Tom Ufer

Old School Cigars is a New York based company that was acquired by La Sirena Cigars in April of this year. The full details of the acquisition can be found in a post on my Tampa Cigar Examiner site.

As part of the press release, I received two samples each of the three Old School Cigars lines. So today, here is a set of three reviews for the price of one!

First up is the Old School Cigars JAXX LT line.

The cigar has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and a combination of Honduran and Nicaraguan filler. It is currently manufactured in Honduras at the Plascencia Factory.

The JAXX LT is available in three vitolas: Robusto (5.5×50), Toro (6×52), Gran Toro (6×60).

The two samples of the JAXX LT line were consistent in appearance and construction. They were all a bit soft to the touch and had misshapen caps. The wrapper was light brown in color with many fine veins. There was a dry hay aroma from both the wrapper and the foot.

The pre-light draw was easy and had some sweetness and berry flavors.

The first third of this cigar presented a very mild tobacco flavor and a gray / white, slightly flaky ash. The burn line was even and had a thin carbon ring.

Getting into the second third, the ash firmed up and became a bit darker. The mild tobacco flavor increased in richness and the strength remained the same.

There was not much of a change in the final third. The cigar produced a good amount of smoke and burned very well.  The JAXX LT is a consistent, good smoke that is on the mild side in both strength and body.

On a personal note, the aroma coming off the smoke from the JAXX LT reminded me of my Great-Grandfathers home in West New York, NJ. That memory came back from the early 1960’s when I was very young so, I don’t remember what type of cigars he smoked. The memory made me very nostalgic.

The second line reviewed from Old School Cigars is the JAXX.

The blend is comprised of a Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro wrapper, a  Nicaraguan Banda Criolla binder and three filler leaves; Nicaraguan Seco & Ligero (Jalapa) and a Brazilian Viso (Mata Fina).

The cigars are currently manufactured in Nicaragua at Tavicusa S.A. in three vitolas: Robusto (5×50), Toro (6×52) and Toro Grande (6×60).

The JAXX’s wrapper is medium brown in color, had a few veins and was very firm to the touch. There was a faint cedar aroma on the wrapper and a sweet tobacco scent from the foot. The cigars felt on the lighter side when held in my hand. The cigars sported a well formed triple cap.

Checking the cigar out during the pre-light, I picked up on a savory flavor from the wrapper and some sweetness from the filler leaves. The pre-light draw was firm but there did not seem to be any obstructions.

The first third of the JAXX had a medium spice on the exhale and a woody tobacco flavor of my palate. The burn was even and the gray ash was flaky. The cigar produced a large amount of smoke.

The second third of the JAXX had a richer tobacco base flavor and some sweetness in the medium, lingering finish.

The last third of this cigar presented a strong tobacco base flavor with some coffee notes. The finish was long and lingering.

Last up is the Old School Cigars STIXX line.

The STIXX blend has a Brazilian Broadleaf Maduro wrapper around a Dominican Republic binder that surrounds Dominican Criollo & Habana Vuelta Bajo filler leaves.

This cigar is manufactured in the Dominican Republic at the Quesada Factory and is found in four sizes: Robusto (5×52), Belicoso (6×52), Super Toro (5.5×60) and Super Gran Toro (6×65).

The STIXX wrapper is dark brown and the leaf has many veins. The cigar is very firm to the touch. There is a faint tobacco scent from the wrapper and a rich tobacco aroma from the foot.

The pre-light draw is good with a small amount of resistance.

Once lit, the Old School Cigars STIXX had an even burn and developed a bright white ash. The ash dropped for the first time around the 1 ½ inch mark.

The first third of the STIXX starts off very mild and the cigar does not produce much smoke.

In the second third, the smoke volume picks up and there is some spice sensations in my sinuses during the exhale. The main flavor in this portion of the cigar is a mild tobacco with a slightly bitter finish.

The final third is consistent with the second and does not show much change at all.

La Sirena Cigars stated in the press release that they acquired Old School Cigars to round out their portfolio by offering a milder cigar and these three cigars certainly do that very well.

Of the three lines I think my favorite was the Old School JAXX, although the JAXX LT came in as a close second for me because of the nostalgic memories it evoked.

General Cigar IPCPR 2014 releases; Dunhill News

Dunhill Signed Range

For more than 100 years, Dunhill has been synonymous with tobacco mastery. Throughout the last century, Dunhill’s experts have sourced only the finest tobaccos for their cigars.

Today, the Dunhill Signed Range is made in Nicaragua from the country’s most exemplary leaves and blended with the best of premium tobacco from the Dominican Republic and Cameroon. This aristocratic, medium-to-full-bodiedDunhill_Signed_Range_HighRescigar is now available in a ten-count box, offering cigar lovers the chance to experience the superior taste, silky flavor and rich complexity that are the hallmarks of the Dunhill brand.

Dunhill Signed Range is comprised of these frontmarks:

  • Gigante (6” x 60), SRP per cigar is $18.00
  • Churchill (7” x 50), SRP per cigar is $17.70
  • Robusto (5.5” x 52), SRP per cigar is $16.00
  • Toro (6” x 50), SRP per cigar is $15.70
  • Robusto (Tubed) (4.5” x 52), SRP per cigar is $14.20
  • Corona (5.5” x 42), SRP per cigar is $11.70

Dunhill Pipe
Dunhill proudly welcomes the return of their Vintage Blends, a carefully curated selection of distinguished pipe tobaccos featuring only the finest leaves.  The trio of classic flavors is made with hand-blended tobaccos packaged inunique and distinguishable 50-gram tins. Ideal for smoking occasions that call for a luxurious and enjoyable smoke, the Vintage Blend series includes the zesty ribbon cut Elizabethan Mixture, the rich, broad cut Durbar Mixture and The Aperitif, the well-balanced, medium-bodied indulgence.

  •  Aperitif (50 grams), SRP per tin is $12.59
  • Durbar (50 grams), SRP per tin is $12.59

General Cigar IPCPR 2014 releases; La Gloria Cubana Rival Twin Finale

RivalTwin_HighResThe ongoing blending rivalry between La Gloria Cubana’s Dominican and Honduran factories comes to a stunning conclusion in this small batch spectacular.

Both cigars are large format (8” x 52), hearty blends made with tobacco sourced from several different countries, each with its own distinctive flavor and aroma. Only 1,200 boxes of each blend have been created, with specific allocations set forth for distribution across the country. The Rival Twin Finale series will ship in August in 24-count boxes, each containing 12 cigars of both blends, for a suggested retail box price of $228.

Represented by Lady La Gloria, artisans at the Dominican factory produced “Chapter 3,” a brawny Ecuadoran Habano Ligero-wrapped cigar made with tobaccos from three countries, each thoroughly fermented and aged for a minimum of three years.  The blend is bold, comprised of Nicaraguan and Honduran tobacco, with an Ecuadoran binder for a robust smoke that’s flavorful and layered.

For rival blend “Chapter 4,” the Lady’s shadowy Rival Twin represents the Honduran factory where master blenders created a bold Honduran Rosado Oscuro-wrapped smoke featuring the tobacco of four different countries, aged for at least four years. Top priming leaves from Honduras, Colombia and Mexico make up the blend which is bound with Indonesian tobacco, for an imposing smoke that burns evenly and draws perfectly.

Created exclusively for IPCPR 2014, this special edition release features a dual-compartment hinged box that forever connects the twins by housing both blends.

Great White cigar attacks humidors

You’re Going To Need a Bigger Humidor

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United Cigar Retailers, known for creative packaging and ideas is set to release the brand new Great White which will begin selling the week of August 10th. The Great White features a Brazillian Mata Fina wrapper, over binder and fillers from Nicaragua.

According to United Cigar Retailers, “Each year, Shark Week dominates the cable tv ratings and we began to think, how great would it be to have a cigar that captures the excitement of this annual phenomenon. We opted for a Brazilian wrapper because of all the shark attacks in this region of the world. The blend captures the strength of the Great White, and it is capped off by a band that represents the fin”

The Belicoso cigars measuring 5.25 x 52 come in trays of 10, and have an MSRP of $8.00 per stick. They are made at an undisclosed factory in Nicaragua.

About United Cigar Retailers

United Cigar Retailers is the American distributor for Atabey, Byron, and Bandolero made by Nelson Alfonso who is known for his work with many Cuban brands including Behike. United Cigar Retailers also makes and distributes Firecracker, La Gianna, Garofalo, Fleur de la Reine and United.

General Cigar IPCPR 2014 releases; Cohiba Nicaragua

Cohiba_Nicaragua_Open_HighResThe artisans of Cohiba are proud to unveil the brand’s first cigar to be blended and handcrafted in Nicaragua.

Jhonys Diaz, vice president of operations for General Cigar, lead development of Cohiba Nicaragua.

“It was a laborious process to develop a Nicaraguan cigar to complement the existing Cohiba portfolio. This cigar is layered and sophisticated. It delivers the complexity and strength of Nicaragua, with a bold and balanced flavor not achieved by any Nicaraguan puro on the market.”

Blended with the finest hand-selected leaves from the volcanic soils of Estelí and Jalapa, Cohiba Nicaragua is full flavored and intricately balanced. This exquisite new offering from Cohiba features a proprietary blend that begins with a lustrous Colorado Oscuro sun-grown wrapper and a burly binder leaf from Jalapa.  The rich Jalapa tobaccos are masterfully complemented by powerful and spicy leaves hand-selected to represent the very best of Estelí.

As finesse is of paramount importance, Cohiba Nicaragua is a rich, creamy smoke, peppered with bold notes of spice and touches of sweetness.

This Nicaraguan collection ushers in an entirely new dimension of taste to the Cohiba portfolio, while the brand’s commitment to flawless construction is strictly upheld.

Cohiba Nicaragua will be available beginning in October. N60, N54 and N45 come in 16-count boxes. N50 En Crystale comes in an 8-count box.

  • N60 (6” x 60), SRP per cigar is $14.99
  • N54 (5.5” x 54), SRP per cigar is $13.99
  • N50 En Crystale (5” x 50), SRP per cigar is $12.99
  • N45 (4” x 45), SRP per cigar is $9.99

Drew Estate Nica Rustica; Cigar review

IMG329Arriving on the scene in late 2013, the “El Brujito” or “The Sorcerer” is a 6 x 52 powerhouse from Nicaragua.

This Nica Rustica blend is comprised of a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, a Mexican San Andreas Negro binder and Nicaraguan fillers from the Esteli and Jalapa regions.

The Nica Rustica is a great looking cigar, from the short pigtail cap to the uncommon, unfinished, closed foot.  The Maduro wrapper is dark and rustic looking with visible seams and adorned with a simple band.

The dark wrapper gives off a rich, sweet tobacco aroma. It is very firm to the touch. This apply named cigar is solid and very pleasing to the eye.

After clipping the cap, I found the draw to be firm due to the closed foot and I was presented with a great, sweet tobacco flavor.

Moving along into the first third of the cigar, there is a large amount of smoke with mild, earthy tobacco flavors and a bit of a spice sensation in the exhale. The ash that developed was firm, gray in color and dropped off at about an inch in length.

As I progressed into the second third, there was a more prominent spice sensation present in my sinuses. Along with a rich tobacco flavor, I picked up on some bakers chocolate notes and the aroma of toasted bread coming from the smoke. At the end, there was a long, semi-bitter finish.

I’m into the home stretch now and this last third has lots of rich, earthy tobacco flavor along with chocolate and coffee notes. The finish is long and lingering with a lot of spice on my palate.

The Nica Rustica “El Brujito” is a very complex, enjoyable smoke. It is full bodied and full strength and an absolutely joyful smoking experience.

 

General Cigar IPCPR 2014 releases; CAO Colombia

Colombia_Box_HighResIn an isolated mountainous region of Colombia near the Caribbean coast lies a region called Montes de Maria. There, for the past 15 years, a family of farmers has tended to an alluring tobacco known as Ica Mazinga. Derived from a Cuban seed first grown in Colombia in the 1820s, Ica Mazinga is a captivating varietal that burns beautifully and smokes effortlessly.

The unique flavor of Ica Mazinga is harnessed in CAO Colombia, the first cigar to prominently feature Colombian tobacco. This medium-bodied “World Blend” is a savory smoke, featuring notes of toasted nuts sprinkled with salty nuances for a distinctive smoking experience.

CAO Blender Rick Rodriguez noted, “We created the blend for CAO Colombia by experimenting with tobaccos used in the successful ‘Escaparate’ blend. We especially liked the way the Colombian tobacco was complemented by a touch of Brazilian Mata Fina. With a Nicaraguan Jamastran wrapper and Cameroon binder, CAO Colombia delivers a unique flavor experience unlike anything else we’ve ever released. We think it’s the perfect cigar to introduce the world to Colombian tobacco.”

CAO Colombia will be available beginning in August. Each of the four sizes are protected in 20-count boxes.

  • Bogota (6” x 60), SRP per cigar is $7.75
  • Magdalena (6.25” x 54 torpedo), SRP per cigar is $7.50
  • Vallenato (5” x 56), SRP per cigar is $6.75
  • Tinto (5” x 50), SRP per cigar is $6.00

General Cigar IPCPR 2014 releases; CAO Amazon Basin

CAO-AmazonBasin_HighResRare tobacco from a remote region in the Amazonian Rainforest inspired CAO’s newest creation, a small batch, limited edition release called CAO Amazon Basin.

Rick Rodriguez commented, “We had a unique opportunity to use Amazonian tobacco before anyone else in the world. We tested the tobacco and really liked the flavor, aroma and blendability, so we ran with it. The flavor is very unique — earthy and nutty with a pleasantly dry finish.”

Called “Bragança,” the tobacco is organically grown on unspoiled tropical land and harvested just once every three years. Seedlings are transplanted directly into the soil a full yard apart from each other, resulting in less than half the yield of other tobacco plants.

The leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called “carottes” where they undergo six months of natural fermentation. They are then transported out of the rainforest by canoe, taken to the mainland, and ultimately brought to the CAO factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

There, CAO’s blenders allow the aromatic Bragança leaf to take center stage, surrounded by tobaccos curated from four different countries. Sheathed in a hearty Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper from the highest primings, with a Nicaraguan binder and a touch of Nicaraguan leaf in the filler, CAO Amazon Basin tastes as exotic as the tropical rainforest from which it originated.

This medium-bodied CAO World Blend boasts notes of caramel sprinkled with briny nuances for an adventure into the unexpected.

CAO Amazon Basin (6” x 52, SRP per cigar $9.25) will be available in August in 18-count rustic boxes that allow the cigars inside to take precedence.

E.P. Carrillo E Stunner; Cigar review

EstunThe E Stunner from E.P. Carrillo debuted last year at the 2013 IPCPR. The cigar’s blend is comprised of an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and filler leaves from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

The E Stunner is available in five vitolas; Corriente (4 X 46), Siboney (5 X 50), Brahman (5 1/2 X 54), Taurus (6 X 52) and Limousin (6 X 60).

The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper is a mottled, rich brown color. There is a well formed triple cap and the body is firm to the touch. There are visible seams and veins.

The pre-light draw is firm and I pick up notes of cedar / tobacco on the wrapper and some sweet raisin aromas on the foot.

I light up the cigar and there is an immediate pepper flavor on my palate and a mild spice through exhale. This spice sensation lingers in my sinuses. This first third is one of the most powerful I have experienced.

There is a slight flake to the ash, which is gray in color. The E stunner also produced a great deal of satisfying smoke.

Moving into the second third, there is even more pepper and spice in the cigar’s profile. The cigar had a great, even burn and did not require any touch ups.

Finally into the home stretch, the cigar’s  strength increases and the cigar’s flavor profile is one of enormous pepper with earthy tobacco and coffee notes.

There are no two ways about it. The E.P.Carillo is a  ull bodied,  full strength blend with lots of strong pepper and spice. This is a very intense cigar and an excellent experience if you like this particular strength / body profile.

 

Drew Estate announces “Drew Diplomat” App & Consumer Loyalty Program

Drew Estate, Inc. announced today the “Drew Diplomat” Consumer Loyalty Program, which includes a mobile application for all smart devices, as well as a desktop version. This exclusive new program provides members with the ability to earn Points by checking-in Drew Estate Cigars and attending events at retail locations throughout the world, as well as social networking functions and unparalleled access to La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate.

Michael Cellucci President of Drew Estate, “The Drew Diplomat program bridges the gap between the old world of the premium cigar industry and the modern technological platforms available today. Our goal was to ensure that Drew Estate delivers the best possible way for our consumers to interact with the company and our brands. Innovation is the heart of what drives us, not only in the manufacturing process, but in all aspects of the consumer experience. This program is a clear example of the tireless drive to be thoughtful trailblazers.”

In 2013, Jonathan Drew assembled a team nicknamed “SLAB,” lead by Executive Director Mario Takeyama. When reached for comment, Takeyama said, “Our team was created with one objective: the connectivity between technology and premium tobacco. This is something we have been working on in secret for a year and a half now.”

Heading the “Drew Diplomat” Consumer Loyalty Program is Customer Loyalty & Advertising Specialist Sam Morales, who according to Jonathan Drew “is a specialist with a true street fighter mentality, definitely Drew Estate Subculture approved. SLAB intends on launching the Beta Program in the fall.”

Drew Diplomats can expect to spend their points on one of a kind artwork and swag from Jessi Flores (Director of Subculture Studios in Estelí, Nicaragua); Lifestyle swag from Creative Director Joey Reichenbach in Miami; and trips to Cigar Safari at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. Jessi Flores notes, “We never had a way to get our artwork to final consumers in the United States in a sustainable way. This groundbreaking application explicitly connects each creative Drew Estate team member to our support base worldwide.”

Consumers who are interested in Beta testing the program should visit
http://drewestate.com/ipcpr and enter Drew Estate’s giveaway for a chance to win one of three prize packs:

• Liga Privada MEGA Standing Humidor/Ashtray

• A signed box of Liga Privada Feral Flying Pigs & an IPCPR Exclusive
Subculture Studios Stinky Ashtray

• A signed box of Liga Privada UF-13 Dark

Beta testers will be chosen from those who enter. Sam Morales notes that, “we are going to need everyone in the Drew Estate family to help to make Jonathan’s vision come true. This is the first program of its kind in the industry.”

For more information about the Drew Diplomat program, please visit Drew Estate’s booth at the 2014 IPCPR tradeshow in Las Vegas, NV at Booth #210. Also, please use Drew Estate’s hashtag #DEipcpr on any posts relating to Drew Estate and IPCPR. Lastly, follow all of Drew Estate’s IPCPR coverage at http://drewestate.com/ipcpr.

About Drew Estate:
Founded in New York City in 1996. Drew Estate has become one of the fastest growing tobacco companies in the world. Under their mantra “The Rebirth of Cigars”™, Drew Estate has led the “Boutique Craft” movement by innovating new elements to the tobacco industry with their unique tobaccos and blending styles that have attracted new and old cigar enthusiasts. In their Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, the Nicaraguan headquarters, Drew Estate produces a variety of brands such as ACID, Herrera Estelí, Kentucky Fired Cured, Liga Privada, MUWAT, Natural, Nica Rustica, Tabak Especial, UnderCrown, and Java by
Drew Estate.