Archive for October, 2008

Size: 6 1/2 x 52

Vitola: Perfecto

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo

Origin: Nicaragua

Age: Right outta the box!

Fresh off his super hot Illusione brand, Dion Giolito unveils his newest creation, the Cruzado. Billed to be a more medium bodied blend than the Illusione, this blend has eagerly anticipated by cigar aficionados everywhere.

They have just arrived at Empire Cigars and I grabbed the perfecto, called the Marelas as soon as I could.

Here’s the write-up on the blend if you haven’t heard about it yet.

One thing I like about the line already is that not one single size exceeds a 48 ring gauge except the perfecto. This will ensure that the wrapper’s flavor is more in the forefront than in many other blends.

The cigar’s band seems to reflect a “knight’s theme”: gold, silver and black seem to give the impression you need some armor to smoke this cigar.

The wrapper is thin and oily, with a reddish hue somewhere between maduro and Colorado maduro. The perfecto cuts well and the pre-light draw, to quote our buddy Larry, is like sucking through a big straw.

The cigar takes a light easy and I am enveloped in a plume of rich earthy smoke.

What strikes me in the first puff as I blow it through my nose: this is not a medium bodied or medium strength cigar! This is a flavor firecracker! The felling I get through my nose as I blow the smoke out is the same I get with a LG Diez.

Right away the cigar is both sweet and spicy, loads of chocolate and spiced apple (that’s right – apple) compete for attention in my mouth. There are also hints of cedar and coffee present.

As I get to the “bulb” of perfecto, the cigar gets spicier and makes me wonder if this is fuller in flavor and strength than the Illusione…

As the cigar narrows the flavors get sweeter and richer, I pick up more cocoa and coffee with every puff with just a hint of anise on the finish. My only complaint is on the finish, which is really short. I want to savor these flavors even more!

Just like the Cabaiguan and the La Riqueza are totally different cigars compared to the Tatuaje; the Cruzado is a completely different smoke than the Illusione. To me, the Illusione is earthy and rustic, while the Cruzado is crisp and refined.

One thing that really stood out was that this cigar had just arrived; the guys at Empire cigars had just put them out and there was not one ounce of harshness or youth to the cigar at all. The blend is nearly perfect, reminiscent to me of a Cuban Romeo y Julieta Cazadore.

Earlier in the year I said the Tabacos Baez was my favorite new cigar for the ’08-’09 releases. That was until now. The Cruzado blows it away. This has been one of the best new cigars I have tried since the debut of the original Tatuaje blend. Dion seriously knocked it out of the park with the Cruzado. To make things even more appealing, the price point on all sizes is under 9 bucks (at least in NC)! Pick one up (a box even) soon!

Rating: 95 (A)

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Size: 6″ x 50

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Honduran Habano Maduro

Origin: Honduras

Age: a month in the humidor

The Carlos Torano Exodus 1959 was an immensely popular cigar during its debut and has retained a loyal following since.   This particular toro has a rich-looking dark brown reddish wrapper with few visible veins and a satiny sheen.

It took a punch well and the pre-light draw is just fine.  Even though this is a tightly box-pressed cigar, it still draws great and yields tons of smoke.

There is a spiciness and pepperiness on the middle of tongue with this cigar.  It is also woody with a rich earthiness.  There is also a little bit of coffee bean here and there.  I also picked up a touch of leather touch on the palate with a super long finish good cigar.  It is also a little dry.

The burn did canoe a few times but the cigar corrected itself.

This is a pretty good cigar that has been hit or miss for me in the past.  Thanks again to the folks at CAO & Torano for letting me try their products!

Rating: 86 (B)

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Size: 6″ x 50

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Honduran Criollo

Origin: Honduras

Age: Fresh

The Carlos Torano Exodus Silver is a very interesting blend.  In fact I would go as far to say that there is not a cigar out there that tastes like this cigar. This blend is one of the more unique blends that I can recall.  Guys that smoke mostly Cuban have often commented that they like this cigar.  I think there is some of the cigar’s earthiness that is similar to what you get in some Habanos.

This particular Toro has a darker brown wrapper than what I seen in this cigar before.  Aside from that the wrapper is not veiny and is very oily.

After a light, I find that the cigar draws well, but is a little too tight for a punch, so I clip off the head instead.

As I make my way through the cigar I notice that it burns fairly even and holds a firm ash.  The stick is medium in strength but full in body.

Throughout the smoke I pick up toasted nuts and a woodiness that is the unique part of the blend, kinda like hickory.   There is not a lot of spice but this is a good full-flavored cigar.  Some of the guys I know love to age these, so I may have try putting one away for a while.

Thanks again to CAO & Torano for the opportunity to try this cigar.

Rating: 89 (B+)

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Size: 5 ½” x 38

Vitola: Pyramid (Cheroot style)

Wrapper: I’m assuming Ecuadorian…

Origin: Dominican Republic

Age: 2 months or so

I’m taking a break from my break (?) to write this review (what a trooper).

The Cheroot is a very special cigar. Other than flying to the Dominican Republic and knocking on the Gomez’ front door, you can find this cigar at only one place – Empire Cigars in Raleigh, North Carolina.

This is a special looking cigar in that it is so unassuming. It looks like something Clint Eastwood would be chewing on in “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” or in any of those other Spaghetti Westerns. It basically looks like a dime store cigar. A-ha! And that’s where this cigar fools you.

This super-limited cigar is made in small batches and features 100% ligero in the filler (I am assuming the wrapper is not ligero, but I will check to make sure). Remember this is not just any ligero, but Gomez brand ligero. That’s right, Double Ligero ligero! LG Diez ligero! Too me, this is some of the strongest, butt whooping-est tobacco out there. This little fellah is a stick of dynamite waiting for its fuse to be lit.

This cigar is not going to win any model of the year award for pretty looking cigars, but come on! It’s a cheroot! The dark brown somewhat veiny wrapper hides inside a powerful blend of ligero that you can even taste in the pre-light draw. The draw is nice and easy, you do not need to clip the cigar to smoke it, but Hal recommends it.

Now a lot of you are thinking, how is 100% ligero going to taste anything but harsh and horrible? Well, I present you with Exhibit A – the Cheroot. The flavor from the first puff is very nice: there is a core spicy note (obviously) but also a unique woody flavor. Much like a oak barrel-aged kind of woodiness. There are also notes of Dutch-processed cocoa which do wonders to help calm your palate down for the impending onslaught it is about to receive.

Surprisingly the strength is much more subtle than you would expect off the bat. It’s not the same typical pepper-like strength you get in Corojos like Tatuajes, DPGs and Camachos. To get a real feel for the strength, try blowing it out through your nose. Your sinuses would feel a lot like they do when you get water up your nose. The best way that I can describe it is the strength of the LG Diez Small Batch #2 compressed and concentrated into a little cheroot. Woof!

The cigar burns great with a nice even burn and no hot spots. The salt and pepper ash hangs for a while and you get plumes of smoke with each draw. These cigars aren’t cheap, but you get your moneys worth with construction for sure.

The finish somewhat short, but this is not surprising since it is all ligero. But in the finish there is a bit of nuttiness present.

As I finish the cigar, I do notice a nice background sweetness that intensifies as you get to the nub.

So in conclusion, I will answer a few of my own questions:

Is this cigar for everyone?

No!! Unlike what the Edge claims to be but is not, this cigar is truly for the seasoned smoker and one that loves full strength in-your-face cigars.

Is this cigar complex? Will it get better with age?

This cigar is made with 100% ligero. It was made for Hal because Hal likes knock-you-on-your-butt sticks. It is what it is. I don’t see it changing much with time.  But I’ll grab one and put it away and I do this again in a year or so.

Should I try one?

Is the Pope Catholic?

Seriously, this is a great cigar that you can only find at one place – Empire Cigars. Give Hal and the gang a call if you are interested in giving this little dynamo and try, you won’t be disappointed!

Rating: 90 (A)

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Size: 6″ x 50

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Origin: Honduras

Age: 1 month

Thanks again to the folks at CAO/Carlos Torano for the opportunity to try their products.

The Casa Torano Maduro Toro is not as pretty as its Connecticut-wrapped brother. This is a rougher looking cigar; it has a crinkly veins dark black wrapper with some water spots.

It is firm to the touch but after lighting it has a nice draw with a decent amount of smoke and an even burn which is great for a CBL wrapped cigar.

One thing I really like about this cigar is that it has a nice aroma, which is very rich and aromatic.

I pick up quite a few flavors as I smoke; it is earthy and leathery with a slight sweetness. There are some metallic notes to the finish which is pretty long.

I’d like to try this cigar in the lancero size (which it is available in), I think this tasty wrapper could be showcases well in that size.

Rating: 87 (B)

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This just in from cigarcyclopedia.com!

Los Angeles, October 13 – Davidoff of Geneva is expected to announce its first major acquisition in years today with the purchase of Camacho Cigars.

It’s a unique move for Davidoff, which has previously only absorbed brands – Avo and The Griffin’s – that were made by its cigar-production partner, Hendrik Kelner. Now, it will add a long inventory of brands which were developed by the father-and-son team of Julio and Christian Eiroa and long-time advisor Sal Fontana, including the hot-selling Camacho Corojo lines.

Davidoff has made its reputation on cigars made in the Dominican Republic, including Davidoff, Private Stock, Winston Churchill and Zino. Although it manufactured Zino cigars in Honduras for many years, all of those brands – Zino Classic, Zino Platinum Crown and Zino Platinum Scepter – are now made in the Dominican.

In Camacho, Davidoff acquires one of the top factories in Honduras with mature brands that have a devoted following, especially of its Camacho lines, including the Camacho Corojo, Camacho 10th Anniversary and the sensational new Camacho Triple Maduro. In addition, the Camacho portfolio includes the Baccarat brand, a mild-bodied cigar with a sweetened cap that sells in the millions annually, and the highly-regarded La Fontana line.

The high regard in which the top Camacho lines are held by smokers fits well with the Davidoff image and several of the Camacho blends are price-controlled – meaning they must be sold at or very close to the list price – as are the Davidoff lines and several other Davidoff-distributed brands. The new and elegant packaging for Camacho’s high-end Diploma series fits well with the Davidoff style as well.

For Julio and Christian Eiroa, it had been no secret within the trade for several years that they had been willing to sell if the price was right and they could concentrate on making better cigars than dealing with the administrative burdens of sales and distribution.

No details on the price of the transaction were available and as Davidoff is a private company, no public filing is likely to be made. A formal announcement is expected today.

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Size: 6″ x 50

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

Origin: Honduras

Age: Fresh

Thanks to the folks at CAO/Torano for letting me try some of their products.

The Casa Torano Toro is a very good looking cigar, darker than the normal Connecticut Shade wrapped cigar. This makes sense as the wrapper is grown in Ecuador and they cannot grow Connecticut Shade under the shade. In Ecuador it must be grown under full sun.

By the appearance alone, it is no surprise that this is a smooth, creamy cigar. This silky toro is mild in strength but medium in body. As I smoke this, I get rich notes of wood and toasted nuts. There is some white chocolate and coffee notes on the finish which is long.

The cigar has a nice even burn (that did get off a couple of times) and a great draw. The finish is nice and long rich with cream and coffee.

If you like mild cigars with full flavor, you should definitely give this a try.

Rating: 88 (B+)

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