Author Archives: Tom Ufer

H. Upmann’s The Banker; Cigar review

bankerThis week I am reviewing one of the newest cigars from Altadis, H. Upmann ‘s The Banker.

I’m also adding something new, starting with this review. I’ll be assigning a numerical value from a 100 point scale for each cigar I review going forward.

From the cigar’s website, the story about The Banker is as follows:

“In 1844, German bankers Carl and Herman Upmann traveled to Cuba where they created an exceptionally unique cigar. They securely locked it away in their vaults to be gifted to their most important clients.” The website goes on to say that this blend has been resurrected in today’s “The Banker”.

The Banker’s tobacco profile is comprised of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and a mixture of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

The Banker is available in three sizes: Annuity (52 x 6”), Arbitrage (56 x 7″) and Currency (48 x 5 ½”).  MSRP for The Banker is $7 to $8.40.

For this review, I received several of the Annuity vitola from the manufacturer.

When you first look at The Banker, you really can’t see very much of the wrapper leaf. The cigar’s band and foot band anchors a large sheet of white paper that has the cigar’s logo in gold. Once you remove the two bands and white paper, you’ll see  a third band and the medium brown color of the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. The cap is a well formed triple cap. The cigar is firm to the touch and has a sweet, earthy aroma. The cigar’s foot is finished and has a sweet, berry scent.

Clipping the cap, I take an easy pre-light draw and pick up on some berry notes.

Once lit, the cigar has an even, scalloped burn. It develops a thin carbon ring and a tight gray ash that falls off after about an inch and a half. The smoke produced with each puff has good volume.

Moving into the first third of the cigar, I find that there is a very strong spice sensation in my sinuses. On my palate, I pick up on woody tobacco and some bitterness on the finish.

The second third of the cigar again has strong spice sensations in the sinuses. The bitterness on my palate subsides and is replaced by a very heavy tobacco flavor.

The final third of The Banker is similar to the second with the addition of a rich, long finish.

H. Upmann’s The Banker is one of the better cigars I have smoked from Altadis. I would consider it a medium strength, medium bodied cigar. Smoking it was an enjoyable experience and on a scale of 100, I would give The Banker an 86.

Gabriel Alvarez announced as U.S. Director of Sales for Maya Selva Cigars


Maya Selva Cigars is pleased to announce that effective September 1st, 2014, Gabriel Alvarez will be joining our team as Director of Sales in the United States.
Gabriel Alvarez originally served as the Operations Manager for Kuuts, LLC, where he handled day-to-day operations for the company, including (amongst various other responsibilities) social media, marketing, brand development, logistics, and sales. Gabriel was the owner of a very successful cigar shop and lounge in Miami, Florida, prior to entering the manufacturing side of the cigar world.
According to Gabriel Alvarez, “after almost two years of helping to launch Kuuts, I have decided to resign.  It was a hard decision to leave a company I was with from the very beginning, however I must do what’s best for my family and myself.  I have nothing but good wishes for the Kuuts team, and I would like to thank them, and John Gonzalez in particular, for guiding me in this journey. I have accepted the position of Director of Sales with Maya Selva Cigars and am looking forward to this next step and to launching another great company in this incredible industry.”
Maya Selva Cigars has won several Cigar Journal awards in consecutive years.  They have had excellent success in the European market, and they are well prepared to establish themselves in the United States.  Gabriel Alvarez will act as brand ambassador on the road, ready to introduce you and all future Maya Selva Cigarsaficionados to our great product.
Says proprietor Maya Selva of Alvarez, “few are those who truly understand what a great cigar should be. Gabriel, without question, belongs to this exclusive club.  I am sure that those who will have the privilege of working with him will certainly acknowledge his natural talent and vast knowledge of cigars.”
Since 1995, when Flor de Selva was launched in France, the “Maya Selva Cigars” collection continues to expand, to the amazement and delight of aficionados.  Now consisting of three brands — Flor de SelvaCumpay, and Villa Zamorano — the collection invites the most demanding smokers to discover the tradition of hand-crafted cigars, the cultivated tastes of Maya’s personally-selected growing areas in Honduras and Nicaragua (their terroir, or “spirit of place”) and a uniquely creative vision of thepuro.

Jordan Alexander III Premium Cigar Company re-brands and releases new blend

rebrandJordan Alexander III Premium Cigar Company officially announces a re-branding of the company to include a new logo, band, and release. The new logo, which will be incorporated into future releases and marketing materials, can be seen attached to this release. Replacing the original “lions and crest” logo, this design exemplifies the family tradition theme of JA3Cigars. The re-branded logo is based on the Alexander Family Coat of Arms.

Partnered with the rebranding of the company, JA3Cigars is proud to officially announce a new blend produced through the Quesada Cigar Factory, expected to be released mid-Fall of 2014. Replacing the current corojo blend, the new release (known as the Jordan Alexander III Corojo) is constructed with a
Dominican Corojo wrapper, Dominican binder, with Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. The Jordan Alexander III Corojo will be available in four vitolas; robusto (5 ½ x 54), toro (6 x 52), double toro (6×60), and belicoso (6 x 52). All vitolas except the belicoso will feature a pigtail cap. The new release will feature a new band, incorporating the “Alexander Coat of Arms” logo, which will be unveiled
with the release.

Retailers interested in carrying the Jordan Alexander III Corojo are asked to contact or call 1-866-216-3349. Shipment priorities are given to current retailers and are first come, first served.

Reviewers interested in pre-release samples and/or release samples are asked to contact

The previously carried corojo, along with the original band and logo, will be discontinued at the release of the Jordan Alexander III Corojo. Current retailers wishing to maintain stock of our previously released blend are asked to contact regarding limited production options.

Drew Estate unveils “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” for Barrister Cigars

HerreraDrew Estate Tobacco Co. announced today the release of the first “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera”, a concept cigar by Willy Herrera. Made at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate in extremely small batches, the Tienda Exclusiva line is specially crafted for one retailer per release, with only a few releases scheduled per year. The inaugural “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” blend was produced for the owner of Barrister Cigars in Union, New Jersey, David Mallow, following the 2013 New Jersey Cigar Festival.

When asked about the blend, Willy Herrera responded from Estelí, Nicaragua: “This was one of the blends that I was working on through 2012 and 2013. David smoked it at the Festival and kept coming back for more. Eventually, he smoked every cigar I had brought, which I thought would be enough for the entire week! I knew he loved the blend and it felt right assigning it to him for my first Tienda Exclusiva.”

David Mallow, owner of Barrister Cigars, said that, “the ‘Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera’ is a truly beautiful project that I am honored to be involved with. It’s no secret that Willy is one of the most talented tobacco blenders out there, and we can’twait to have the cigar in our humidor.”

As stated previously, every “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” blend is a limited quantity production cigar made at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. Jonathan Drewnoted, “I recommend you don’t sleep on this one. These are one and done. Willy has a lot on his plate right now as Master Blender of La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. As I’ve said before, ‘Boutique is in the Heart’ and Willy has spent so much time creating and experimenting with blends. We have some real gems out of the blends he has worked on. Now, it’s time to get them into production.”

The “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” for Barrister Cigars is packed in 10-count boxes and will sell for $12.00 MSRP per cigar, plus applicable state taxes. They will be offered for sale on September 2nd from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM at a Barrister Cigars event in Union, New Jersey, with Willy Herrera and Jonathan Drew hosting the event.

In the meantime, enter the “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera” giveaway for your chance to win the first box of this Tienda Exclusiva release, signed by Willy Herrera. Enter at
About Drew Estate, Inc.

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 Cigar” 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.

The Guayabera Lady Foundation and the Fuente family proudly announce the 3rd annual “Havana Nights”

The “Fuente Family Affair” event hits South Florida this October 25, 2014

Miami is no stranger to amazing events. But few are charged with such a powerful message and such a dynamic group of supporters. The Inaugural Havana Nights – “A Fuente Family Affair” event was held in 2012. The fete was unforgettable to many, as it was also one of the largest fundraising events held for the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation.  With great pleasure is the announcement of the 3rd Annual Havana NightsA Fuente Family Affair presented by Hublot, taking place Saturday, October 25th, 2013 from 7PM-1AM at Neo Vertika located at 690 SW 1st Court, Miami, FL 33130.

Presented by The Guayabera Lady Foundation, this event is being held to support the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation and promises to be bigger and better than last year; with an outstanding array of entertainment, Bacardi cocktails, libations and live music. As if that wasn’t enough, guests can enjoy a raffle and silent auction featuring a huge selection of luxury items as well as unique collectibles all donated by supportive sponsors all over the map.


The event is once again being hosted by the “World Renowned” Guayabera Lady, Mrs. Berta R. Bravo.  Beloved by many, and recognized for dressing many notables, Berta again welcomes everyone to attend the festivities and reminds: “it’s all for a wonderful cause.”

Expected guests will include: local VIPs and celebrities, cigar aficionados from across the country, city officials, and supporters from various walks of life that will make for an entertaining and fulfilling evening of great music, great food and great company.   Don Carlos Fuente Sr. will present.

Tickets to the gala are $125 per person and $200 per couple. To pay by credit card please log onto – or you may call: 786-287-6664.

Checks must be made payable to The Guayabera Lady Foundation and mailed to:  The Guayabera Lady – Attention:  Havana Nights – 4832 S.W. 72nd Avenue, Miami, FL. 33155. Suggested attire: Black and red “Guayabera Chic” in honor of Carlos Fuente.

Please follow us via social media on Face book, Twitter and Instagram using hash tag #HavanaNightsMia


The Cigar Family Charitable Foundation is a 501(c) (3) charitable non-profit organization. The foundation’s mission is to provide a significant humanitarian impact to communities in the Dominican Republic resulting in a better quality of life to those who experience a lack of education, poor access to health care and nutrition and who have little or no sustainable employment. CF-CF in 2001 the Fuente and Newman families created the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation. The Foundation partnered with Instituto Dominicano de Desarrollo Integral (IDDI), a Dominican based nonprofit organization that for the past 30 years has been fighting poverty by providing training and skills necessary to make a positive change for those living in both urban and rural regions of the Dominican Republic.

Leccia Tobacco Luchador; Cigar review

Luchador filterI have to start out this review by mentioning that I have enjoyed every cigar that Sam Leccia has had a hand in. I liked the Nub, both as a concept and as a cigar. I also thought the Cain series was excellent.

This time around, Sam has his own company called Leccia Tobacco and Luchador is one of his new blends.  I have a handful of his Black and White lines for a future review. This Luchador was a single that I picked up while browsing one of my local tobacconists.

The first thing that catches your eye on this cigar is the band. Using a background of an ornate Mexican flag, the leather mask of the Mexican wrestler or “Luchador” is prominently front and center.

While most people would automatically think of Mexican wrestlers on TV, the cigar’s band immediately reminded me of an old Angel TV episode titled “The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco”.

Quite a few cigar shops across the country had some fun with this cigar, doing events on Cinco de Mayo.

Anyhow, back to the review.

The Luchador’s blend is comprised of a San Andres wrapper which surrounds an Equadorian Habano binder. The filler tobacco is a blend of Pennsylvania Ligero, Honduras Ligero and Nicaraguan tobacco from the Ometepe region.

The cigar is available in four vitolas: El Hombre – (5×54),  El Castigo – (6×60),  El Guapo – (6×50) and  Loco Perfecto – (6×58).

Looking at the cigar, it has a well formed cap with a small pigtail. The San Andreas wrapper is a dark brown color. There are some veins present and you can see visible seams.  A rich tobacco aroma emanates from the wrapper while an earthy scent comes off the foot of the cigar.

The cigar is firm to the touch and once clipped, has an easy pre-light draw.

After I torch the cigar and take a few puffs, the first third develops a sharp spice sensation with rich tobacco notes and a long finish. The Luchador produces a great amount of satisfying smoke and has a firm tight ash.

The second third brings even stronger tobacco flavors with notes of espresso. The long, lingering finish has a little bit of a bite on my palate.

Finally, the last third of the cigar brings some interesting changes. Most notable was a very spicy tingling on my palate. Surprisingly, the tobacco notes smoothed out along with a diminishing of the spicy sensations during the exhale.

Once again Sam Leccia has come up with a great cigar. I would classify it as full bodies and medium to full strength. It has some complexity that keeps you engaged during the entire smoking experience. I enjoyed this cigar and would happily recommend Luchador to fellow cigar smokers.

Nat Sherman 1930; Cigar Review

1930The Nat Sherman 1930 was released in the 2nd quarter of 2013 just in time to debut at that year’s IPCPR trade show. It is a blend comprised of a Domincan wrapper and binder that surrounds Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos.

The cigar is available in five vitolas: Corona (5 1/2 x 42), Corona Grande (6 x 46), Rothschild  (4 1/2 x 52), Gran Robusto (5 1/4 x 54) and Inmenso (7 x 56). All five sizes are packaged in boxes of 24.

The samples used in this review came from the manufacturer.

The oily, medium brown Dominican wrapper shows a few veins and has a rich tobacco aroma. The foot’s scent is slightly sweet and fruity.

The pre-light draw had a slight resistance and more of the sweet, fruity flavor.

The first third of this cigar starts off mildly, had a razor sharp burn and a thin carbon ring. There was a mild tobacco flavor on my palate and no perceptible spice sensation on the exhale.

The second third brought forth an increase in tobacco flavors and an expected peppery spice sensation on the exhale. The long, lingering finish also grew in flavor and coated the inside of my mouth.

The final third gave me a complexity of flavors that I really enjoy when smoking a cigar. In addition to the base tobacco flavor, I found coffee and chocolate notes on the finish.

I would place the Nat Sherman 1930 in the medium body and medium strength category. Smoke time was about an hour of very enjoyable smoke time.

The Nat Sherman brand is not prevalent in my area but, when I come across them, I will certainly pick some up to put in rotation.

A.J. Fernandez Cigars proudly unveils A.J. Fernandez documentary

image004Click image to view mini documentary

A.J. Fernandez Cigars, recognized for creating some of the most acclaimed cigars in the industry proudly unveils a 13 minute documentary which went live today and can be seen on the home page of their website at:

A.J. Fernandez, who has blended consistently highly rated cigars, is documented in a way that gives the viewer just a glimpse of the passion and expertise which has led many to consider him a tobacco prodigy.

Kris Kachaturian, Managing Partner of A.J. Fernandez Cigars said: “I have always stated that A.J. Fernandez will be known as a legend in the cigar industry in only a few years. I felt it was important to take advantage of the present time to document our journey. For those who are not able to visit our factory, we present them with this documentary which will bring the factory to them.”

Public Works, an award winning boutique creative agency based out of Denver, Colorado spent a week at the factory in Nicaragua and created a very unique documentary. The film is composed of beautiful cinematography, music, time lapse photography, education, and history in a way which communicates the A.J. Fernandez Cigars story in a very soulful manner.

The documentary is being announced on the heels of A.J. Fernandez’s unveiling of his latest brand, New World, which was created along with his father Ismael Fernandez who recently joined A.J. Fernandez Cigars after his retirement from the Plasencia family.

To view the documentary please visit:

About A.J. Fernandez Cigars:

A.J. Fernandez Cigars is based on the rich tradition of the Fernandez cigar legacy. A.J. Fernandez now produces unparalleled, hand-rolled cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua which have garnered numerous top ratings and acclaim from cigar publications and consumers alike.  Today A.J. Fernandez continues the family tradition as he oversees production and manages day to day operations in his factory in Estelí.

Follow A.J Fernandez Cigars on Social Media here: Facebook: AJ Fernandez Cigars, Instagram: AJFCigars, Twitter: AJFCigars

Visol Cigar Accessory review

Lighter and CutterLast month, I received two products that every cigar smoker needs: a lighter and a cutter.

These accessories are from a company called Visol that makes smoking and bar accessories for men and women.

I have since used the cutter and lighter exclusively for about a month and can now render a well informed opinion on them.

First up is the Visol Dobrev III Triple Jet Flame Cigar Lighter.

The lighter sent to me had a chrome finish although Visol also offers a lighter in matte black. It consists of a solid, all metal body that weighs in around a third of a pound. Certainly this is a bit heavier than other lighters I have used but it seems to be able to put up with some abuse and still perform well.

To use the lighter, simply flip up the top covering the triple burners and ignite by pulling down on the front button. The triple flames are adjustable by a well thought out lever that flips up from the bottom of the lighter. This allows you to adjust the flame without any other tools to fumble about with.

The lighter also has a built-in 7mm punch. The punch is mounted flush in the back of the lighter and swings out when needed. I don’t use a punch on many cigars but, this punch functioned well and would be handy if you didn’t have any other cutting tool available.

The lighter is refillable and I did have to refill it once during my test period.

The dimensions for the Visol Dobrev III are approximately 1 ½” wide by 3” high by ¾” deep. It fit well in my hand and performed flawlessly each time.

The MSRP for this lighter is $50.

The second accessory is the Visol Axe Glossy Black & Stainless Steel finish Cigar Cutter.

This cutter can handle up to a 56 ring gauge cigar. It is spring action and is also a bit heavier than my normal cutter. I weighed this lighter and it came in at just about 3 ½ ounces. My normal cutter is just under 2 ounces.

The Visol Axe is made up of two brushed chrome handles and a composite glossy body.

The blades were super sharp and made clean cuts on all of the cigars I smoked in various ring sizes.

The MSRP for the cutter is $55.

All in all, I was very impressed and satisfied with the performance of both these products. They are very attractive and well constructed. I feel they would make a great gift for yourself or a friend who is looking for a matching set of cigar tools.

Emilio Cigars La Musa Melete; Cigar Review

La Musa MeleteToday, I am reviewing another cigar from the House of Emilio; the La Musa Melete. It is produced in Esteli, Nicaragua and available in 5 virolas: Robusto, Toro, Torpedo, Corona, and a limited Lancero. Each vitola is packaged in cabinet style boxes of 25.

The Nicaraguan Puro is comprised of a Habano Rosado wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan filler leaves.

I received samples of the Toro for this review from the manufacturer.

The Melete’s wrapper is medium brown in color and oily. There was a single, noticeably prominent vein and the cigar was firm to the touch. I smelled cedar and rich tobacco on the wrapper and a sweet, earthy aroma from the foot. These aromas are typical for me when I examine Nicaraguan cigars.

Also typical was the easy draw and the signature sweet berry flavors during the pre-light draw.

Once cut and lit, the cigar developed a firm, gray ash. There was a very spicy sensation on the exhale and the finish had some slightly bitter notes. The Melete produced a good amount of satisfying smoke.

The second third of the cigar showed a good, even burn with a thin carbon ring. The flavor profile was primarily a solid tobacco flavor with some sweetness and a short finish.

The final third presented an increase in strength and body. There were strong notes of tobacco on my palate along with an espresso undertone. I also picked up on a peppery spice in the exhale and a long lingering finish.

The La Musa Melete is a solid medium bodied, medium strength cigar and a pleasure to smoke. The Toro’s smoke time was a little over an hour for me.

As shown in the photo above, I did  pair the Melete with a Dark & Stormy. I felt the cigar’s flavor profile stood up well to the dark rum and spicy flavors of the Jamaican Ginger beer.

In my opinion the La Musa Melete is another great smoke from the House of Emilio and it makes me look forward to trying the other lines they have to offer.