Category Archives: Cigar Review

Nat Sherman’s Epoca; Cigar review

epoca_smokeEpoca was the first cigar brand ever owned by Nat Sherman in 1929. This Cuban Puro or “ Clear Havana” as this type of cigar was known during the period, was Nat Sherman’s entry into the cigar industry.

Epoca’s current blend is comprised of an Ecuadorian wrapper, a Dominican binder and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers.

The cigar is offered in six vitolas: Breva (42 X 5), Admiral (50 X 5), Perfecto (52 X 5.75), Prince (50 X 6), Senator (56 X 6) and Knickerbocker (48 X 7). I was happy to see the Perfrcto shape since to me, it is a classic vitola from that era.

For this review, I was given several of the Prince from the manufacturer.

The artwork found on the Epoca box, is a replica of the 1929 original artwork.

The Epoca is a good looking cigar. The simple looking band is reminiscent of cigar bands from the 1920’s. The Ecuadorian wrapper is a light tan in color with many small veins. It gives off a mild tobacco scent. The cigar’s cap is well formed and smooth. The Epoca has a finished foot and I picked up on mild tobacco and faint berry aromas. The cigar was firm to the touch and felt good in my hand.

I clipped the cap and took a pre-light draw. I found it to be light and very easy. During the draw, I noticed a mild sweetness coming from the filler.

Finally, it’s time to toast and light the foot and smoke this cigar.

The first third of the Epoca starts off on the mild side with an earthy, woody tobacco base and a mild tobacco flavor on the finish. I picked up on a mild spice sensation in my sinuses during the exhale.

The second third was very much like the first third. The one change was a hint of sweetness on the finish.

Moving into the final third, it is apparent that the Epoca is very consistent in its profile. The mild spice sensation was a constant. There was one final change in this last third. The finish had become long and lingering with a richer and stronger tobacco flavor.

The burn characteristics of the Epoca were very good. The cigar burned very evenly and had a medium carbon ring. The ash was gray in color. It was also firm and tight. The ash dropped for the first time round the inch and a half mark. The smoke volume was very good.

Overall, I consider Nat Sherman’s Epoca to be a medium bodied, medium strength cigar. The construction is good and the smoking experience was very enjoyable. On a scale of 100, I give this cigar a 90.

Black Abyss for JR Cigars; Cigar review

abyssThe Black Abyss is a brand-new handrolled premium cigar crafted by José “Jochy” Blanco for JR cigars. The cigar is handmade at Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic.

Black Abyss is available in four vitolas: Banshee – (5 x 50), CERBERUS – (6 x 60), Hydra (6 x 52 (torpedo)) and Wraith – (6 x 52). The cigars are sold in boxes of 20.

I received one cigar of each size for review purposes from the manufacturer. I smoked all but the 6×60 for two reasons; 1) I really don’t care for that size and 2) I don’t think 6 x 60 is a good representation of a cigars blend.

The blend for the Black Abyss is comprised of a San Andres Maduro wrapper, a Coroji binder and a combination of Cuban Seed Criollo 98/Olor/Dominicano/Piloto Cubano fillers.

The Maduro wrapper is dark brown in color with minimal veins and visible seams. I picked up on aromas of sweet tobacco and hay from the wrapper and earthy, sweet aromas on the finished foot with slight amount of ammonia. The cigar had a smoothly applied cap and was firm to the touch.

I clipped the cap and gave the cigar a pre-light draw. There was some resistance to the draw and a raisin flavor from the filler tobaccos.

During the first third of the Black Abyss, I felt a strong peppery spice sensation in my sinuses during the exhale and mostly basic tobacco flavor with a slightly bitter finish on my palate.

While in the second third, the spice sensation remained the same and the tobacco flavors became stronger on my palate with a longer, lingering finish.

The final third of this cigar had a much stronger spice sensation that tingled my nose on the exhale. On my palate there were strong notes of pepper and tobacco that coated my palate. The finish was strong and lingering.

The cigar developed a firm, tight white ash that lasted a good 2 inches before falling off for the first time. The burn line was even with a thin carbon ring. The Black Abyss produced a good amount of satisfying smoke.

I would consider this cigar to be medium to full strength and full bodied. It had excellent qualities and flavors and I enjoyed the smoking experience. On a 100 point scale, I would rate this cigar as a 90.

La Aurora 107 Maduro Lancero aka “Bow Tie”; Cigar review

bowtieThis week, I am reviewing the La Aurora 107 Maduro Lancero, nicknamed the “Bow Tie”. It is a regional release to the Southeast of the US. It was chosen by by Miami Cigar and named the Bow Tie because their Southeast rep, Austin Baker almost always wears a bowtie.

I received the samples for this review directly from Miami Cigar & Co.

The blend is comprised of a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Dominican Corojo binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan filler.

The CT Broadleaf wrapper is a dark brown in color, shows some veins and is rustic in appearance. I can smell a rich, sweet tobacco aroma from the wrapper and a sweet fruit scent from the finished foot of the cigar. The cap of the lancero sports a short pigtail. The cigar is firm to the touch.

The pre-light draw is firm and has a sweet fruit flavor as well.

I must admit that the La Aurora 107 is one of my favorite cigars and I was very much looking forward to smoking this maduro blend.

Once I light the cigar and take my first few puffs, I am immediately hit with a big peppery blast in my sinuses. In comparison, on my palate, there is mellow tobacco and a sweet flavor on my lips from the wrapper.

Moving into the second third of the cigar, the pepper sensation in my sinuses seems to mellow a bit but, it does linger for quite a bit. On my palate, in addition to the mellow tobacco, I pick up on some bitter chocolate notes.

The final third of the cigar seems to pull a 180 and I pick up on a mild, smooth sensation in my sinuses and sweetness with a faint peppery flavor on my palate.

The burn on this cigar was slightly scalloped but even. There was a thin carbon ring behind the tight, white ash. The ash dropped for the first time at around the 1 ½” mark. The cigar produced a good amount of smoke that had an aroma of dry hay.

I would classify the La Aurora Lancero Maduro as a medium to strong, full bodied cigar. My smoking experience with the cigar was excellent and very enjoyable.

On a 100 point scale I give this cigar a 92.

Joya de Nicaragua’s Joya Red; Cigar review

Joya photoAnnounced in early June of this year, the Joya Red is the latest release from Joya de Nicaragua. Marketed as a milder blend compared to other Joya’s and at a lower price point, I get the sense that Joya de Nicaragua s going after the casual smoker who perhaps enjoys a cigar on the golf course.

This Nicaraguan Puro’s blend is comprised of a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan Binder and filler tobaccos from the Estelí, Jalapa and Condega regions.

The Joya Red is presented in four vitolas: a Short Churchill (4 ¾ x 48), a Robusto ( 5 ¼ x 50), a Toro (6 x 52) and the Cardinal ( 5 ½ x 54). They are sold in boxes of twenty.

I received the cigars used in this review from Joya de Nicaragua.

Taking a look at the cigar, the Joya Red’s wrapper is tan in color with prominent veins and barely perceptible seams. The wrapper’s aroma had notes of leather and tobacco. The cap was well formed and neat. The finished foot had an aroma of sweet berry and earth.

The cigar was mostly firm with a few soft spots and felt very lightweight in my hand.

After clipping the cap, the pre-light draw was easy with no resistance and had a sweet flavor with a hint of raisin.

The first third of the cigar has a very mild sensation in my sinuses in comparison to the peppery tobacco I picked up on my palate. The finish on the first third was a little on the mild side.

During the second third, there was an increase in the spice sensation as I exhaled and some rich coffee notes and a lively pepper sensation on my tongue.

At the end of this smoke, the spice sensation remained the same in my sinuses while the flavors on my palate changed to a rich tobacco with a medium lingering finish.

The Joya Red burned evenly and had a thin carbon ring. The white ash held its shape very well with only a slight flake. The ash dropped for the first time after 2 inches of growth. The cigar also produced a good amount of smoke.

Overall, this mild to medium strength, medium bodied cigar was very enjoyable and I would smoke this line again.

On a 100 point scale, I give the Joya Red an 88.

Hechicera by Sotolongo Cigars; Cigar review

hechiceraHechicera by Sotolongo Cigars was announced in early October, 2013. The company was created by Grace Sotolongo and Christian Eiroa of CLE Cigars.  A Maduro blend was announced at the 2014 IPCPR and on July 31st, 2014, Grace Sotolnogo revealed that she had the company effective immediately. The Hechicera brand is owned by CLE Cigars and Chrisitan Eiroa has said that the “concept” of this brand was being retained.

The translation of Hechicera means a female sorceress, who has the ability to captivate and enchant those around her with her beauty and charm.

The Nicaraguan Puro blend is available in four vitolas: 5 1/2 x 44 Box Press (MSRP $5.95), 4 1/2 x 50  (MSRP $6.95), 6 x 52 (MSRP $7.95) and a 6 x 60 (MSRP $8.95) All vitolas are available in boxes of 10.

I purchased several of the 6×52 vitola from different local tobacconists for this review. I paired the cigars with water while performing the review.

The Hechicera’s wrapper is a medium brown in color with prominent veins and visible seams. The cigar is firm to the touch and has a mild tobacco aroma coming from the wrapper leaf. The cigars have a finished foot that emits a rich, fragrant berry scent. The cigar’s cap is well formed and smooth.

The pre-light draw is easy with no resistance at all. I also picked up on that rich berry flavor at this point.

Getting into the meat of this cigar, the first third brings a rich, savory tobacco flavor on my palate and a sharp spice sensation to the back of my throat with a milder spice in my sinuses.

The second third of the cigar brings a stronger tobacco flavor on my palate and the spice strength in my sinuses also picks up. There is a long lingering finish and I can feel a bit of a nicotine buzz at this point.

The final third really kicks this cigar into high gear with a lot of sweetness and strong tobacco flavors. The spice sensation remains the same in my sinuses. I really feel this cigar comes into its own here at the end.

The cigar burns very well throughout the smoke with an even, scalloped edge. The cigar’s ash is firm and tight with a thin carbon ring. The ash initially falls off after about an inch and a half. The cigar also produces a tremendous amount of smoke with each puff.

I would classify the Hechicera as a full bodied, medium to full strength cigar. It is an absolute pleasure to smoke and has quickly become one of my favorite cigars. On a scale of 100, I give the Hechicera a 92.

Only time will tell if this brand sticks around but for now, I recommend to pick some of these up at your local shop if you come across them.

Montecristo Espada; Cigar review

espadaThe Montecristo Espada is one of the latest releases from Altadis. This Nicaraguan Puro is beautifully packaged in suede covered boxes of ten and is available in three vitolas: Guard: 6 x 50 (SRP $11.75), Quillon: 7 x 56 (SRP $12.50) and Ricasso: 5 x 54 (SRP $11.50).

The Espada’s tobacco blend is comprised of a Nicaraguan Shade Grown Jalapa wrapper that surrounds a Nicaraguan Jalapa binder and a filler mix of Nicaraguan Ometepe, Jalapa and Condega filler leaves.

Before I could actually see the cigar’s wrapper, I had to remove the majority of the bands. In addition to the typical band you would find near the cigar’s cap, there is a foot band and a large, perforated middle band with the Espada name and logo. This middle band was quite a challenge to remove on all three of the samples I smoked. While the bands are just for aesthetics and don’t affect the review of a cigar, the removal was cumbersome and I was worried about wrapper damage as I removed them.

The Shade Grown wrapper is tan in color, has a few prominent veins and visible seams. The cap is well formed and the wrapper has a faint tobacco aroma. The finished foot gives off a sweet, earthy tobacco scent. The cigar itself is firm to the touch and has an average weight.

After clipping the cap, I found a slight resistance to the draw and a faint berry flavor coming from the filler.

The overall burn of the Espada was scalloped but even. The cigar had a medium sized carbon ring and a firm, slightly flaky gray ash that initially dropped off at about an inch in length. The cigar produced a good amount of satisfying smoke with each puff.

The first third of the cigar revealed a mild spice sensation as I passed the smoke through my sinuses. There were mild tobacco flavors on my palate and no finish to speak of.

The second third had no change to the spice sensation but, the tobacco flavors increased slightly and there was a mild finish on my palate.

As I moved into the final third, the peppery spice was consistent on the exhale while I picked up on some richer tobacco notes and there was a medium, lingering finish.

Overall, I would have to say that the Montecristo Espada is an average smoke with mild to medium strength and mild to medium body. For the suggested price point I would have liked something with more complexity in the flavor profile. On a 100 point scale, I am rating this cigar at an 82.

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.

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.

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.