Cusano 18 Connecticut Robusto

A bright Connecticut wrapper and Connecticut binder surround the 5” x 50 Cusano “Double Connecticut” 18 Robusto and has a light cedar and spice aroma. The initial light is easily accomplished and brings a flurry of wood, spice and coffee flavors. The body is on the milder side of medium and the draw is light and easy. Nuts and cream are added to the flavors, making for a rather tasty smoke. These flavors are solidly placed from beginning to end, with just enough spice to keep things interesting. This is not an overly complex cigar, but it does have some good flavors and, at a fairly modest price, is great every day option.

Padron Serie 1926 No. 35

The No. 35 is a stubby 4” x 48 and is a classic looking Padron, with a beautiful box-pressed shape and finely textured wrapper. The construction is perfect and begging for fire. The initial flavors of wood and white pepper give way to a complex mix of coffee, nutmeg, cinnamon and oak that envelope the taste-buds, while the richness slithers past medium-bodied and beyond. The burn is gloriously even and the ash is firm and white. This could prove an ideal after dinner cigar, with its amazing array of tastes and layers, to be enjoyed with a fine cognac or single malt whisky. A winner if ever there was one.

CAO La Traviata Intrepido

At a hefty 7” x 54, the La Traviata Intrepido is built for the long haul. Its leathery appearance and peppery aroma are enticing and the first light is pleasantly easy. The cigar proves that the leather is not just for looks, as an initial leather taste is bathed in flourishes of cocoa, chestnut and spice. A deep chocolaty texture develops, while the body intensifies about halfway through. Splashes of pepper and nougat fill out the finish and leave behind a thick charcoal-scented smoke. The construction was surperb and the burn even all of the way. A good smoke for the money that should please most. Nothing new here, just a solid “relaxing under a tree by a babbling brook” type of cigar. Set aside a chunk of the day and enjoy!

H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon Lonsdale

The H. Upmann Vintage Cameroon is fine looking cigar with a cedar wrap that adds to the pleasant pre-light aroma. Using the cedar to light the 6 5/8 x 44 Lonsdale, a sweet cedar and leather taste get things going. A good, firm draw keeps everything in order as pepper and spice join the woody character. An ever-so-subtle sweetness adds to the delight by lingering on the fringe. The flavors run fairly consistent from start to finish with only a slight metallic bitterness towards the end. The ash is a blend of dark grey and white that is solidly placed, while a thickly textured smoke carries a tolerable hickory aroma. Just a shade beyond medium body, the Vintage Cameroon is a good all-around smoke that delivers the goods.

Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Champagne Churchill

The Connecticut wrapper of this 7” x 54 Churchill is bright and smooth with a lightly sweet aroma. The light comes easy and opens up an effortless draw. Dry straw flavors with a dab of honey emerges first, then gives way to cedar and cream. Smooth and creamy all the way down, the ash rests fairly loose and the aroma has a pleasant freshly cut wood scent. While not the most complex cigar in the world, the Reserve Champagne is a smooth, mild-to-medium smoke that is flavorful, consistent and a pleasure for those in search of an easy-going cigar with lots of taste.

Graycliff Casiliero Privada Piccolo Extra

The Graycliff Casiliero Privada is supposedly the rarest of Graycliff cigars, originally available only at the Graycliff Resort. This 5” x 46 Piccolo Extra is a richly textured cigar with a simple, low-key cigar band and leathery aroma. The initial light brings a plethora of flavors, with cocoa and spice leading the way. Nutmeg, cinnamon and coffee also jump in the mix making for a great tasting profile. The enjoyment is dulled, however, by the cigars construction. A frustratingly uneven draw and burn made just keeping the cigar lit a chore. Hoping this was an isolated event, several more Casiliero Privadas were sampled with the same result. Usually one could overlook the flaws to get to the cigars great taste, but being a Graycliff it is severely disappointing. Perhaps others will have better luck and it just might be worth a go to experience the flavors.

Cohiba “Red Dot” Churchill

The “Red Dot” (as it has become known) 7” x 49 Churchill is wrapped in a pristine Cameroon leaf. The construction is expertly done and seems consistent from head to foot. Upon lighting, the perfect draw slowly peels away layer after layer of flavor. Charcoal and leather start it off, slowly giving way to nutmeg, mushroom, orange spice and toast. Hints of chestnuts and vanilla cream also tease along the way. Some sourness emerges towards the end putting an end to the flavor extravaganza. The Cohiba is not necessarily a super complex cigar, but it is packed with an amazing variety of flavors that somehow complement each other. A great cigar that would earn its own humidor filled to the rim, if not for the inflated price tag.

Gran Habano #5 Corojo Rothchild

The Gran Habano Corojo has a thick oily wrapper with a rich aroma. The construction is firm with an even burn and draw. Right from the start hot pepper slaps the tongue silly and continues on. Some leather and oak find their way into the spicy fray, but the pepper dominates. Truly a full-bodied smoke, this 4 ½” x 50 Rothchild is a no-frills “what you light is what you get” type of cigar. The Corojo, although not for everyone, is a good-valued strong smoke for those of a heartier disposition.

Fonseca Vintage Lonsdale Tube

Once the aluminum tube is opened, a leafy cedar aroma leaps out with the beautiful Connecticut-seed wrapped 6 ¾” x 45 Vintage Lonsdale. Lighting is a breeze with an easy draw. Cedar and nut flavors start it off and are eventually joined by hints of spice, coffee grounds and sweet cream. These flavors run from start to finish without too much added depth. This is actually a nice departure from more complex cigars with ever-changing profiles. This medium-bodied smoke has salt and pepper grey ash that is loose and flakey. The burn is a bit uneven, but not so much as to hinder the enjoyment. The Fonseca Vintage Lonsdale is a nice smoke for anytime and being in a tube is a great “on the road” cigar.

San Cristobal Elegancia Imperial

Pepin Garcia’s influence is seemingly everywhere these days and is found in another fine creation for Ashton. The San Cristobal Elegancia is truly an “elegant” cigar with a beautiful double band and gorgeous Connecticut-seed wrapper. The 6” x 52 Imperial is expertly constructed with a wonderful draw. Flavors of cashews, cream and wood leap out of the first few puffs. These flavors happily maintain throughout the even burn while coffee bean, spice and faint flourishes of sugar cane tease the taste buds. The smoke is surprisingly thick, yet with a pleasant aroma. No single aspect of this cigar may be considered perfect, but the sum of the parts just seems to work. The Elegancia is a cigar that strikes the perfect balance between smooth creaminess and rich flavor. A medium-bodied cigar that will satisfy at all hours of the day in any situation, the San Cristobal Elegancia may not make everyone’s favorite list, but it is definitely one to try.

NUB Connecticut 358

Made by the Oliva family, the NUB is a cigar short in size, but big in flavor and smoke. This 3.7” x 58 Connecticut-wrapped 358 is an interesting smoke, as it is just getting started where most cigars are winding down. Balsa and dried leaves kick off the flavor that quickly evolves into a mix of cedar, toasted nuts and cream. The large diameter makes for a slow, easy-going smoke that seems to go on and on and on. Mid-way through, a spicy pepper jumps into the fray kicking the body up a notch. A firm draw, however, lessens the effect of this up-in-tempo richness. The size is a nice change of pace, but the flavors just do not mesh as well as they could. The NUB has all the signatures of an Oliva cigar and is definitely tasty, but it does not make the jump into the “must-smoke” category.

Montecristo Platinum No. 3

The Platinum is a rich-looking smoke with a darker wrapper than its more famous cousins. The draw of this 5 ½” x 44 No. 3 is firm and takes a little extra work getting going. Once the flavors start to poke the taste-buds, toast and nutmeg duel it out while cocoa flitters here and there. Salt and pepper make an appearance, but never hinder the enjoyment of the primary flavors that sit heavily in the mouth. Mesquite builds in the final third just before the medium-bodied stick turns sour, a sourness that could be a result from the tight draw that comes perilously close to needing a re-light. The Platinum is a descent smoke that will surely improve with a larger size, but the No. 3 is not the best of the Montecristo line.