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Archive for November, 2008

Size: 5″ x 50

Vitola: Robusto

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano

Origin: Nicaragua

Age: ~1.5 years

From the Vault: This cigar was made to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of… something. I forget actually. I should look it up and erase this later, but I’m feeling kinda lazy…

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Baby Zen!!

My wife and I just had our baby.  We now have a beautiful baby boy!  See you all soon!

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This is one wrapper that is actually in reality both a color and a type of wrapper.

Almost despised now, this wrapper color was the most popular cigar for the better half of the 20th Century. Due to shortages, Candela wrappers have been very rare over the past 9-10 years. Sometimes referred to as AMS, or “American Market Selection,” cigars due to their tremendous popularity in the United States from the late 1800s through the mid 20th century, Candela is basically a bright green wrapper color achieved by a process which traps the chlorophyll content of the leaf prior to fermentation.

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Size: 5″ x 50

Vitola: Robusto

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

Origin: Dominican Republic

Age: ~1 year

The Zino Platinum Scepter Series is another one of my favorite lines, although not in all sizes. I prefer the smaller sizes in the line like the Bullet. (more…)

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Every year I wait in eager anticipation at Empire Cigars for the next batch of new releases and every year I am thoroughly disappointed. Bu this year has certainly been something special. It seems that just about every new release has brought something special or unique to the table.

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Size: 6″ x 50

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Cameroon

Origin: Honduras

Age: 2 months

One of my favorite blends! The Carlos Torano 1916 Cameroon! The robusto is probably my favorite of the line, but this review today is for the Toro.

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Size: 6″ x 50

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown

Origin: Honduras

Age: 2 months

The Carlos Torano Virtuoso Toro is not a size I found on the website’s list of sizes, I think it’s unique to the sampler I received from CAO/Torano (thanks again guys!).

The Virtuoso is one of Torano’s newer lines and is certainly billed as their strongest (next in line would probably would be the Noventa).

This Toro is a meaty, beefy looking cigar.  It’s dark, the wrapper is thick with some veins, it just looks like a bully of a cigar.

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I punched the cigar, and the pre-light draw gave me no indication there would be any draw problems.  The cigar takes a little bit to light, and the burn sometimes get a little off, but not too bad.

Not only does the cigar look meaty but it kind of tastes meaty.  There is a flavor in this smoke that’s reminiscent of a char-broiled hamburger.  It’s also a very rich cigar that is earthy and peppery.

The strength is present in some of the pepper notes but there is also a “ninja strength”, one that is not so in your face, but you feel it!

In the latter half the burn really fixes itself and is dead even and the cigar gives off tons of smoke.

This cigar is certainly not for everyone.  It reminds me a lot of a Joya de Nicaragua Antano with a bit more flavor.

Rating: B (87)

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Size: 6″ x 50

Vitola: Toro

Wrapper: Sun Grown Brazilian Maduro

Origin: Honduras

Age: 2 months

Ah, the Carlos Torano Signature.  I’ve tried this cigar several times and I really want to like but I just haven’t been able to.  Will this Toro change my mind?

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This cigar has a particularly oily reddish wrapper that is very firm to the touch.  It looks good enough…

The pre-light draw is nice and easy.  After I light it, I am enveloped in a cloud of smoke.  The cigar yields a nice big ash.  I love a nice big ash.  Plus the burn is dead even.  So the construction seems good enough…

Here’s were I’ve been tripped up before, flavor and taste.  This Toro tastes leathery and woody.  There is also an undercurrent of earth throughout.  But there is sourness on the finish I just can’t get past. Normally I would give the cigar the benefit of the doubt and chock it up to youth.  But after trying this cigar several times, I think it’s just in the blend and not a youth issue.

So in summary, the cigar looks great and is rolled well, I just can’t really get into the flavor of these cigars.  The Signatures are very popular cigars though, so I know a lot of people like them, just not me.   Thanks again to the folks at CAO and Torano for letting me try their products.

Rating: 75 (C)

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Size: 7 5/8″ x 49

Vitola: Double Corona

Wrapper: a frighteningly toothy Connecticut Broadleaf

Origin: Nicaragua

Age: just arose from its coffin

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The Frank.  You may have heard of it.  The Frank (short for Frankenstein’s monster of course) is 1st of a hopefully long line of Monster Series cigars released by Pete Johnson of Tatuaje fame for Halloween.  Thirteen evil cigars are stuffed into a blood-splattered coffin and were distributed to only 13 ghoulish retailers randomly selected from a drawing, 666 terrifying boxes total.  Empire Cigars was lucky enough to be one of the thirteen stores selected to carry the Frank.

The Frank is adorned with an eerie green band that separates it from all of the other Tatuaje lines.  The Frank is slightly box-pressed (very Frankenstein-y) and is long and big.  Pete has revealed (at Brothers of the Leaf) that the Frank is actually a Tatuaje Taino with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

Now about this wrapper: this has to be the toothiest wrapper I have ever felt and seen.  Seriously!  It feels like coarse sandpaper!  I couldn’t wait to try it!

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It’s been a while since I tried the Taino size, so as far as comparing the Frank to the Taino; I am working off memory (a poor one at that), so please bear with me.

Right away the Frank shows me it is truly a monster.  I am punched in the face with a strong pepper core.  Also present is an underlying sweetness in the aftertaste, which must be due to the CBL wrapper.

I know this cigar is going to be good quality (as Pete says, “I don’t make sh!t cigars!”) and I am rewarded with a nice long finish that has some interesting characteristics to it.  I’ll get to those in a second.  The ash holds tight and is dark gray and black and holds on for over an inch.  The burn is spot-on even.

It took me a while to characterize that “interesting” flavor I mentioned above and I know this is going to sound pretentious but I can only describe it as marzipan, a combination of cream and nutty (almond) flavors.  It’s unusual, but good.

As I smoke the first third of the cigar, I am slightly surprised that there are no cocoa or coffee flavors yet, which I would expect out of a CBL-wrapped cigar.

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What this cigar really shows me is the effect of the wrapper on the overall flavor of the cigar.  It’s really shows how special Pete’s and Pepin’s Corojo ’99 wrapper is (man I hate dangling participles).  The Corojo wrapper really helps even out a lot of the pure strength with its earthy and leathery flavors.  That seems to “hide” (in a complimentary yet subduing way) some of the outright pepper to the blend.  With the CBL wrapper, you have a competition between filler and wrapper.  Some puffs I get more pepper, while others I get more sweetness.

Have you ever tried some of that funky gourmet chocolate, the one with dark chocolate and cayenne peeper, that’s all the rage these days?  Or maybe Mexican chocolate?  This to me is what I’m getting in the second third of the cigar… with a strong helping of coffee.

Halfway in, the cigar has changed again, the spicy pepper has now moved to the backburner, but you know its still there when you blow the smoke through your nose.  Now it’s mostly cocoa powder and coffee with some nuttiness with a little leather that gives it a tannic bite.

A third of the way through this now “gentle giant” is a little smoother and a little more refined.  But there is more than just cocoa; there is a subtle strength, which lets you know this fellah could open up at any minute.

And if on cue, the last quarter of the smoke really picks up with loads rich spice, leather and licorice.

As I smoke this to the nub, I note that the burn is still even just as the last bit of this cigar envelopes me with flavors of rich chocolate, espresso, and licorice.

I really enjoyed this cigar right down to the end.  Pete has provided yet another great cigar (albeit in sadly limited quantities).  My only complaint was that every now and then I got just a little bit of youth to the cigar, which will certainly disappear as the cigar ages.  I want to wait and smoke the rest, one every subsequent Halloween until I’m out!

Rating: 93 (A)

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