Headley Grange Corona Gorda

Headley Grange is a modest enough looking cigar, quietly poised and awaiting its fate. One senses, however, that there is a wilder, more rebellious side to this unassuming stick. The first light unleashes a mighty phalanx of flavors that pulse across the taste-buds in a flurry. Coffee, roasted nuts and wood accompany the easy, yet firm draw for most of the smoke. Faint hints of nutmeg and cinnamon emerge here and there, but do not linger. The perfectly-sized 5 5/8” x 46 Corona Gorda burns evenly down to the very end, all while maintaining a full-bodied, but never overdone richness. Silky smooth and perhaps a tad milder than touted by the makers, the Headley Grange is a very smooth and pleasing smoke that is jam-packed with flavors and substance. Recommended to all.

Tatuaje Reserva Noellas 2013

The 5 1/8” x 42 Reserva Noellas 2013 is classic Tatuaje. A rich, oily leaf envelopes this firmly made little Nicaraguan star. Leather kicks it off, with a nibbling taste of pepper and cocoa. After coaxing more smoke from the firm draw, the flavors begin to hit their stride. The second third begins with a booming hit of dark roasted coffee that lays siege to the mouth with a glorious gusto, perfectly complimenting the bold richness. The final stretch is a bit strong and peppery, but worth the trouble to extract every last bit of flavor. Full-bodied, bursting with tasty goodness and expertly constructed, the Noellas is a no-brainer.

Winston Churchill Chequers

The Winston Churchill line of cigars is yet another elegant offering from Davidoff. The 5 ½” x 46 Chequers is a handsome looking cigar emblazoned with the Churchill family crest on a rich red and gold cigar band. A woody taste and aroma begins the journey, leading into a fusion of coffee, nuts and cream. The smoke is mild and the draw firm with a fine, white ash that droops and drops with the slightest of movement. Some burnt chocolate finds its way to the palette as the intensity builds to more of a medium smoke, but the creaminess endures. The smoke is never harsh, yet the good flavors frustratingly never quite reach the level of expected complexity. On its own, the Winston Churchill cigar is easy to like. A pleasant easy-going smoke in honor of a great man and made with Davidoff’s expert flair. When the price becomes a factor, however, there are other cigars that might do the job and do it better.

Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur No. I

The Excalibur, likes its namesake, is a legend that endures. The old standard, No. I, weighs in at a hefty 7 ¼” x 54 and is a time-slayer to be sure. The English Claro (Connecticut-shade) wrapper shields a complex blend of Honduran, Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The first light is an explosion of cedar and spice. As the burn settles in for the long journey ahead, the wood flavor is enhanced by nuts and faint cocoa with a slight herbal bitterness. The construction is solid, but tends to run a little uneven. Ash is a little too loose for comfort, but it sticks long enough to do the job. This full-flavored Honduran is, as always, a good “anytime” cigar suited for those who desire a smooth Honduran with a full-bodied richness.

Chateau Real Magnum 46

The Chateau Real is a traditional smoke from the most unconventional of cigar makers, Drew Estate. The 5 ¼ x 46 Magnum 46 has a clean, slightly sweet aroma and sturdy construction. A simple, but elegant red and gold band melds perfectly into the Connecticut-shade wrapper. A dry, grassy taste kicks it off, but quickly gives way to a pleasant nuttiness with hints of cocoa and creamed honey. An easy going, straightforward smoke maintains a pleasant mildness throughout. The burn is even with solid ash, making for a truly quality smoke. The final stretch does add a hot, dried leaves taste to the profile, but that is not entirely unexpected nor is it overpowering. A great little smoke that is both mild and flavorful. The ideal morning cigar, but will satisfy anytime.

Oliva Serie V Double Robusto

The Serie V Double Robusto is a fine looking 5″ x 54 cigar, rich and textured. The first light is perfect and the flavors immediately flood the mouth with nutmeg, coffee and cocoa. The burn is even and firm with grey-to-white ash. The strength gradually increases, as pepper begins to drown out some of the coffee. Enough spice and cocoa though to maintain a tasty excursion from beginning to end. Weaving in and out along the way is a pleasant wood character that only adds to another fine effort from Oliva. The Serie V has good construction, great flavor and is still a great value. This is a good choice for anyone in search of a full-bodied Nicaraguan.

Ashton Estate Sun Grown Twenty Year Salute

Made by Carlos Fuente Jr of Opus X fame for Ashton’s anniversary, this cigar definitely has the lineage for greatness. The combination of the luxurious wrapper and elaborate cigar band makes for a stunning introduction to the Ashton Estate Sun Grown. The lush 6 ¾” x 49 cigar is leathery in appearance and aroma. The draw is seemingly perfect while the initial flavors and aromas are intoxicating. Leather, mahogany and slight bits of chocolate mix with nutmeg and sandalwood for a truly complex, but silky smooth journey. Musk and mesquite fill the air, while pepper and roasted nuts ease into the ever-growing flavor profile. The burn stays solidly even through two-thirds, but begins to run in the last as the flavors start to sour. This is, no doubt, just an anomaly. Rich, but not too heavy, the ESG is an impressive addition to the Ashton line and worthy of its Fuente Opus X pedigree. It is, indeed, a great cigar. Considering the ESG’s price, however, is it the best in the Ashton line? That is an entirely different matter.

Onyx Reserve Mini Belicoso

The Onyx Reserve has a beautiful dark chocolate, almost jet-black Maduro wrapper that shrouds its box-pressed guts. At 5” x 52 with a belicoso head, this is a perfect dessert smoke. The firm draw brings a mouth-watering cocktail of cocoa, espresso and spice that seem to surge past one another with each puff. A slight splattering of vanilla finds its way to the taste-buds and adds just enough sweetness to ignite dreams of sipping cappuccinos on a lazy day in Venice. Before digging out the passport, though, a hot pepper taste begins to wash out the more pleasant flavors and back to reality. The medium/full-bodied profile makes this change tolerable and so the frustration is slight and soon forgotten. It has a decent aroma, but it is thick and lingering. The Onyx just does not maintain the flavors deep enough into the smoke to completely satisfy, but it does have some great things going for it. This is a lot of cigar for the money and a worthy adventure for cigar enthusiasts of all tastes.

Brioso Corona

This Brioso is an interesting middle-of-the-road smoke from the makers of Macanudo, Partagas, Punch, etc. It has a medium brown wrapper that is on the rough side, but appears richer than its humble, bundled-cigar price tag. It sparks up well with immediate pepper and wood flavors. These flavors run the entire smoke, picking up a meaty leather undertone along the way. The draw is good and the burn is fairly even, with a little hiccup here and there. The ash is a dark grey and clumpy, but firm enough not to end up in your lap. The 5 ½” x 44 Corona just about met expectations (which were not very high) and is an average cigar at best, but not a bad way to go if looking for something more affordable or just don’t want to waste the high-end sticks when out and about

Quesada Jalapa Belicoso

The 6 1/8” x 52 belicoso is wrapped in a leathery Nicaraguan “Jalapa” leaf and gives off a pleasant nutty scent. After the initial light, a perfect draw and burn announce the arrival of roasted chestnuts, caramel and coffee. These delicious flavors and matching aromas maintain throughout, but are occasionally accompanied by leather, cedar, cream and cinnamon. The interplay between these flavors is a glorious symphony of smoke and taste. Instead of a grand finale, however, the lyrical flavor experience quietly fades as pepper and wood take over. Not the perfect finish, but a worthy effort. The Jalapa is a medium-bodied smoke that delivers a great smoking experience. The flavors that develop throughout the smoke are perfectly matched to the silky smooth body. Typical Manuel Quesada creation: Good quality, good value. A great “anytime” smoke that should find a spot in the humidor.

Macanudo Crü Royale Poco Gordo

This chunky 4” x 60 cigar has a dark, oily wrapper that hides an interesting array of flavors and aromas. Mixed nuts start it off and gradually morph into more developed coffee and spice flavors. The ash is firm, the burn even and the aromas tinged with nutmeg, wood and coffee. The body stays fairly consistent for most of the smoke, becoming more intense and robust towards the final stretch. It is here that a mesquite undertone pops up with a pinch of pepper. Not entirely unpleasant, but more of the delicious coffee and spice would be ideal. Nothing earth-shattering in the big picture, but this is a good option for those who want to venture out from milder Macanudo cigars or for those who just want a nice change of pace without breaking the bank.

Gurkha Status Churchill

The bright Connecticut Shade-wrapped beauty emerges from the rich frosted glass tube, looking every bit the star. A sweet lemongrass aroma accompanies the cigar prior to lighting. At first light, an initial straw and balsa taste gives way to sweet cream and cedar. The smoke is mild and smooth, the flavors enticing and straight-forward. The cigar never wavers from its buttery mild-to-medium profile, but develops a sour paper taste towards the end, making it difficult to get your money’s worth out of this 7” x 50 Churchill even with an impeccable draw. The lackluster beginning and frustrating end might be worth the trouble for some though to get to the flavors in between. Perhaps better suited for the “only on special occasions” crowd, this cigar has its faults, but still manages to satisfy enough to give it the benefit of the doubt. Over-the-top packaging and price aside, the Status is a decent mild smoke with some great flavors, but one could definitely do better.

Alec Bradley Prensado Corona Gorda

The Prensado by Alec Bradley is an attractive box-pressed 5 ½” x 46 cigar that has a rich, leathery wrapper both in appearance and aroma. After a pedestrian beginning, cocoa emerges and stays until the very end, intensifying as the moments pass. This is pleasant enough, but nutmeg flavors also emerge and gradually find their way to some very happy taste-buds. The flavors work beautifully together for a while, until the cocoa and leather meet, leaving a bit of a lingering, if not confused after-taste. Although it has its faults, this is another fine Alec Bradley cigar that should please most palates. Recommended, but a larger size might provide an expanded flavor profile.

Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Piramides

Here is yet another line extension to the ever-growing Romeo y Julieta canon. The trendier Romeo is definitely a departure from the usual Romeo y Julieta. Solidly constructed, the Romeo is seemingly wrapped in beautifully well-oiled cowhide. While it does have faint echoes of previous R y J cigars, it adds a new complexity that seems to have escaped its predecessors. Pepper and cinnamon flavors surround the toothy richness that grabs hold and won’t let go. Ever-changing undertones compliment the spiciness of this 6 1/8” x 52 piramide well, but let a familiar Romeo y Julieta sourness into the mix. Romeo y Julieta fans will surely have a strong opinion about this one. Some will praise it as the best ever, while others will no doubt curse its name. Perhaps not for everyone’s taste, the Romeo is still a quality smoke from start to finish.

La Flor de Ynclan Robusto

A uniform Ecuadorian Connecticut-shade wrapper surrounds this attractive robusto (5” x 52) from a somewhat obscure brand. Floral and cedar aromas greet the nose before lighting, after which roasted nuts and toast take over. A dry, woody beginning slowly rolls over into a medium-bodied excursion of spice, coffee and cream. These flavors continue throughout and are not unwelcome, however more complexity would definitely be a plus. The burn is somewhat uneven, but never enough to interrupt the enjoyment. With a little more complexity and slightly better construction this cigar could compete with more-widely available cigars in its price-range. The flavors are enough to give La Flor de Ynclan a chance to be in the rotation, but do not expect to find greatness here. Just a solid, straight-forward smoke.

Flor de las Antillas Sun Grown Toro

At first glance, the beautiful Sun Grown wrapper and elegant cigar band inspire a definite Old World nostalgia. This My Father Cigars creation starts off with a perfect draw and even burn. Tightly formed white ash stays firm and consistent throughout the experience. Rich spice and leather flavors seamlessly dance with subtle notes of pepper.  Beginning mild-to-medium bodied, this 6 ” x 52 cigar gradually evolves into a rich, but never strong smoke.

The Flor de las Antillas will surely remind some of the smokes during the early stages of the 1990’s cigar boom, before the preoccupation with big and bold, “knock you on your butt” cigars.  This is a refined Nicaraguan cigar that will be a fine addition to any humidor. Highly recommended.

Davidoff Aniversario No. 3

The Aniversario No. 3 is nicely sized at 6” x 50 and its construction is pure Davidoff: Impeccable from head to foot. The draw is firm, but pleasant with the light coming easily. The burn is even from start to finish, almost mechanical in its consistency. With each draw, a gentle creaminess gives way to coffee, nut and cedar flavors. Medium in body throughout with a little extra spice in the final half, the Aniversario No. 3 can’t shake a dry, earthy undertone that frustratingly lingers for most of the smoke.  This is its only real drawback and is, perhaps with the help of the right libation, easily ignored.

La Gloria Cubana Serie N “49”

This is a stunning looking cigar with a gloriously dark and oily wrapper that oozes “Smoke me if you dare” attitude.  This particular stick was well made, but the draw was on the verge of being too tight for comfort.  This minor annoyance gave way to a freight train of flavor with a surprisingly smooth texture. Cocoa and pepper are the most prominent flavors, but coffee also lingers throughout. What this straight-forward cigar lacks in complexity, it more than makes up in consistency of taste.

The Serie N 49 (5.75 x 49), with an improved draw, would definitely be added to the “after-dinner” rotation. Setting aside the minor issues, it is perfect for those who want big flavor without waiting for the back-end kick of other smokes.

Graycliff Double Espresso Robusto

This is a limited edition Graycliff, only available in the robusto size. It starts off peppery with some hints of cocoa. This is a strong peppery stick with nice flavors for something so stout. It is definitely the heartiest robusto in my humidor. It smooths out a little midway through. This is an excellent smoke, just be prepared for something with some kick when you pick it up.

Litto Gomez Diez Cubano – Robusto

This is a 2009 vintage Litto Gomez Cubano, the robusto sized stogie in this blend.

The cigar is perfectly constructed and has a unique prelight aroma. It starts off spicy and peppery with a nice draw.

This is a hearty smoke with nice tastes of espresso, ginger, and leather. It is fairly consistent witha perfect burn. This is an excellent cigar with well aged tobacco, and has a nice nicotine punch.

Davidoff Special T

This is a flawless cigar with one of the most even burns I’ve ever seen. It is medium bodied with nice hints of cedar and coffee, leaving a pleasant finish on the tounge. Definitely one of the best cigars I’ve tried.

La Gloria Cubana Obelicoso

I just found these at The Tinder Box in Lakeside Mall and thought they looked interesting. These are odd shaped beliclosos, shaped like the Wahington Monument.

Starts off great, with a full bodied earthy flavor and develops nicely with some hints of leather and black licorice. This is an excellent cigar.

Litto Gomez Diez Robusto – Cubano

This is a hearty robusto from Litto Gomez, the creator of La Flor Dominicana. It is full flavored and smooth. I have not seen any good deals for these, they seem to run around $10 a stick everywhere. They are excellent cigars though, and every now and then I pick one up from Don Juan.

La Flor Dominicana’s ligeros and double ligeros have always been some of my favorites. I think these are right on par with the double ligeros as far as strength goes. I don’t recommend smoking them on an empty stomach.

E.P. Carrillo New Wave Connecticut

These were so cheap (around $4.50) and from a respected brand, so I had to try them. I got the robusto sized “Brillante” and a slightly smaller ring gauged “Stellas.” I smoked the Brillante last night. It was mild to medium bodied, and pretty good. It didn’t knock my socks off, but for the money, it’s a great smoke. Here is a look at the cigars on EP’s website: http://www.epcarrillo.com/products/9

Alec Bradley Family Blend T11

A while back Cigar Aficionado had rated these a 94, so I picked up one from my local cigar shop to give it a try. It seems like CA only gives out a few 94+ ratings per year, so whenever they do I usually try one. It was great, and I ordered a box. The one I smoked last night reminded me that I need t write about these. These are a torpedo shaped smoke with a dark wrapper. They have a complex earthy flavor with some nice spicy pepper to them as well. The box has been pretty consistent so far. I would say that they are medium to full-bodied. Definitely worth trying and keeping a few on hand if you like the medium to full bodied smokes.

Starting back up again

I finally got around to installing the WordPress app on my Samsung Captivate android phone (which I like much more than the iphone I posted from previously). So I should be doing some more reviews again soon.

During the interim, I have ordered quite a few boxes of some great cigars. I really like the Oliva Serie V’s and I never seem to get tired of their full, complex flavor. I’m on my 4th box, and I’ve tried the figurados, churchills, torpedos and belicosos. They are all awesome. I’ve never been dissapointed by their construction or flavor.

I recently got a box of Romeo y Julieta cedro deluxe no.1, and these too have been some of my favorite cigars the past few years. They are medium bodied, with a really nice cedar aroma and flavor. The price is great too, when you can get a box from famous-smoke.com for around $80.

The Lito Gomez cigars are awesome, powerful smokes that you should definitely try if you like full bodied ligeros. I’ve purchased quite a few singles, but there doesn’t seem to be any deals floating around on boxes of them.

I tried the Montecristo platinums, which were peppery and full bodied, but I wasn’t much impressed because they seemed pretty one dimensional.

The Graycliff blue labels were a recent medium bodied smoke I liked, but I can’t think of anything else recently that stands out.

EP Carrillo Regalias Real

I smoked EP Carillo’s Inaugural Edition, and it was incredible. I was a little disappointed in the Short Run, but the Rgalias Real was exceptional. It is a peppery, medium to full bodied cigar with complex flavor that left me wanting more at the end. Perfect burn from start to finish. I highly recommend these.

5 Vegas Relic

The construction on these things is unbelievably poor. Every one I’ve smoked is riddled with hard and soft spots throughout. One felt like it had a branch in it, and this one spouted a blow hole about an inch back after being lit. I’ve actually never seen a cigar do something like this before. It was erupting like a BP welhead.

The flavor is pretty one dimensional, earthy.

If you’re looking to save some money on some ligeros, like I was when I decided to try a 5 pack of these, you’ll do better waiting for some premium cigars to go on sale.

Helix Maduro X Pyramid

Trying to clean out the humidor of some smokes that I don’t normally reach for, I came across this Helix which had been given to me. I was pleasantly surprised at its good construction and flavor. It was medium bodied, with a slight minty taste and good flavors of wood and tobacco. Not a bad smoke at all.

Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8

I decided to try this particular Fuente because I had seen it at the top of Puff.com’s list of “top 100 affordable cigars” for some time now. I was pleasantly greeted with a nice peppery start with tastes of honey and wood. The smoke has a nice spicy scent when inhaled too. Tastes familiar in fact, to some of my favorite Fuentes, the Opus X, but at a much better price point. This is my second ff 858, and both have had perfect construction. Both really nice flavor and burn. I would definitely call them full bodied. This is a definite candidate for a box purchase for every day smokes. It is an excellent cigar.