Archive for March, 2010

The Cigar Nut

Size: 5 1/2 x 52 (Belicoso)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder and Filler: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua
Strength: Full
Price: Just over $9.00 a piece

Xicar Habano Colorado

Behind The Sick:

Xikar is not only a well known name, they are also well respected due to the great quality of their products, mainly their cigar accessories. When I first heard the name I got very excited but initially thought they were referencing a new cutter by the company rather than an actual cigar line. I knew the Xikar company was constantly producing new items for sale, from their cutters to knifes, containers and even humidification but had no idea they were producing these cigars. I was able to research a little background and although the direct ‘history’ of the line does not have the depth that some of the other (and more established) cigar manufactures have – but as we have seen this with other companies – you don’t have to be in the manufacturing business years and years to make a cigar, just hire people who have been – haha!

That is exactly what Xikar was able to do, they found a gentleman by the name of Jesus Fuego – president of Tabacos SA, former instructor of post-harvest tobacco at the University of Pinar Del Rio (Cuba), and rising star in the cigar industry- he is a 5th generation master blender from Cuba. Xikar has boasted on their website that the three blends ‘capture the very essence of his Cuban heritage and tell the story of his birth place, the cradle of the cigar world, El Corojo’ – now that sounds damn impressive. The three blends they have produced are the Connecticut shade, Crillo and Habano Colorado, the latter will be in this review. They also boast that these blends are made from tobaccos from 5 different countries which come together at the Tabacos de Oriente factory in Honduras and Segovia Cigars in Nicaragua to create this masterpiece.

A big thank you goes out to Tex Cigars, they were nice enough to send me a few cigars to smoke, one of which was the Habano Colorado. I was not able to locate any of these locally but was able to purchase another set which arrived within days of my order. Please give some time to check them out, but be sure to return!

Construction:

I was only able to smoke two of these so I do apologize that I do not have a deeper writeup on the construction, but what I will say – If the rest of their cigars stand up like the two I had, I will be getting these more often. The Dark wrapper was accented by even darker veins giving a bit of a rustic appearance and although they were visible, I did not think they were going to cause any issues. The burn was perfect on each and the ash lasted just under an inch each time – all in all not bad so far.

Flavor:

This is one of those cigars that you really can sit back and enjoy, letting your mind wander through the day. When you start this one off, expect the classic ‘pepper punch’ that although medium in the sinus, creates a craving for more. Once this cigar had a chance to warm up, the pepper subsided and the natural dark tobacco flavors seeped through, an enjoyable wood flavor mixing very well together and keeping me interested. Towards the end, a nice chocolate flavor seeped through, a savory yet sweet combination of wood and coco. Did I say yes that this cigar was great?

Overall:

As always, whenever I hear a cigar has reached the near $10.00 USD price point, I start to expect a bit more of a delivery. To add to this price point, the name behind it – Xikar – just the name (to me at least) begins to brew a sense of quality and consistency. Now, I know that I should not take the brand or the price into consideration, but lets be real, we all have expectations that we can not deny although we may try as hard as we can. With that being said, they actually delivered. Just because of the price point and because I am cheap, I do not think I would purchase a box although, this is a cigar that I would consider finding its way into a normal rotation. A three pack may not cut it, I would suggest a 5 pack, sneak one in right away and let the rest sit for a few months – a cigar well worth the wait.

Xicar Habano Colorado

Every Cigar Has A Story, Every Smoke A Memory

The Cigar Nut

Size: 6.5 x 60 (‘Super-Toro”)
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina Maduro
Binder and Filler: Columbia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras
Strength: Full
Price: Roughly $25.00 a piece

CAO Sopranos - Tony Soprano

Behind The Stick:

This is the final part of my 4 part review of the CAO Sopranos line – Starting with the baby the Associate, the bigger brother the Solider, the leader of the pack the Boss and now finally, the man himself, Tony Soprano. Please check back on my previous reviews to get a bit more of a recap on the CAO company and these cigars in specific. One thing that is very apparent throughout the entire series is that all the cigars appear to be a bit larger than the ‘standards’ of their sizes as well as each step up the line, the cigar adds a little more length and a large ring gauge – Not a bad gig in my opinion.

Construction:

Yet again, CAO was able to pull off the construction on this one – near flawless. Evenly packed from head to foot with only the slightest bit of give at the end. I am still amazed at how much mass these cigars contain, this thing has got to be half a pound of tobacco – solid. The Brazilian Mata Fina wrapper contained a few more veins than the smaller counterparts but perhaps that was due to the giant leaf required to even cover these. I really can not speak any higher about how well they maintained their consistency and construction throughout. One thing I did like is that the Tony Soprano ltd ended up having three bands rather than the two, the bottom band being black, middle red band with Tony’s signature and lastly the CAO logo band found on the smaller ‘brothers’.

Flavor:

The flavors on this monster really started out just as slow as I had expected due to the larger ring gauge and the length – it needed time to warm up. Higher binder/filler to wrapper ratio also made this cigar taste much different from its smaller counterparts – not that it was bad but you must really enjoy the combination of these different tobaccos more than the wrapper. Sure the overall sweetness did seep through but the earth and spice really are what pulled me in, very bold and in your face once I was within the first inch of the cigar making this a very promising start. Shortly after that, a nice leather note came in and remained for the majority of the smoke – Man I liked the start of this cigar.

The problem is, that is where Tony decided to sit back and stopped just shy of getting that ‘wow’ status – the original ‘in your face’ type flavor really subdued and left the palate with a more ashy and salty flavor with minimal spice. Once the cigar was beyond what I would consider the sweet spot, I started to notice a flavor that although smoking two, I just could not pin down. As with the Boss, near the end this cigar had such a build up of tar it started to taste similar to sap or a syrup – not good. Now mind you, this cigar lasted me over 3 hours, and the first 2 to 2 1/2 hours were awesome so it could be me getting burnt out or just the build up from such a large cigar.

Overall:

The big bad Tony Soprano, unfortunately, did not live up to the hype in my opinion. I started with the Associate and worked my way up, each cigar seemingly getting a little bit better each time I moved up. By the time I actually got to the monster Tony Soprano Ltd I really was expecting this one to be the ‘wow cigar’ out of the line. The dominating size, the name, the packaging, the price, the hype – all things that made me think ‘holy shit this is going to be simply amazing!’ but the delivery really made me reevaluate the whole line. I see the differences within the blends and to some degree I was able to pick up on the changes within each ‘step up’. Although it was good, on the 2nd one I had, I still had over an inch left when I threw it out the window if that gives you any idea of my thoughts.

Final decision – If your going to try the CAO Sopranos line go with the Associate or the Solider unless your looking for another ‘status’ piece similar to the Boss. The cigar lasted near three hours so this is not for the timid or those who are in a rush – My opinion, save your $25.00 on a single and buy a pair of the smaller size.

Every Cigar Has A Story, Every Smoke A Memory

The Cigar Nut

Size: 6 x 52 (Torpedo)
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder and Filler: Nicaraguan
Strength: Medium
Price: Just over $5.00 a piece

Padilla Habano

Behind The Stick:

When I first heard about Padilla cigars it was through twitter and it was watching Ernesto during a few of his nights out on the town. Once I raised the name many people started telling me about his cigar line which caused me to do a little research – Please check out the Padilla Golden Bear for a bit more background, but all I have to say is wow. Specifically on this cigar, it sports an all Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long leaf and binder tobacco wrapped with a 5 year old Nicaraguan Habano leaf. This cigar is much like their others in the respect of the superior construction and attention to detail, I can’t wait to smoke this one!

Construction:

Just as all of Padillas cigars, these have been crafted by a master in their own time. Expertly packed from head to foot, this stick shows no signs of soft or hard spots throughout. The wrapper contained minimal veins and nothing really seemed to stand out one way or the other. I wish I could say more about the construction mainly because it was not bad in anyway, but I just can’t pick out any ‘exceptional’ attributes – Overall a well made cigar.

Flavor:

The flavors really are not as complex (for me) as the advertising goes, but what it lacks in complexity it really does pick up in overall flavor and delivery. The smoke was a bit dry, not overpowering but enough for me to make a few notes on it. Light leather and tobacco flavors, a hint of bitter and salt, mix together as the cigar slowly warms up within the first third. The second third seemed to be when the cigar ‘got off the floor’ and got into action – leather, wood and a slight chocolate flavor seeped through just over the dominant tobacco flavor, mixing slowly and very well together. When the cigar finished, a slight peppery sensation joined the wood and chocolate flavor through to the end.

Overall:

At a price point I think we all can agree with (just over $5.00 a piece) and a delivery that remains top notch as one would expect from Padilla, I have to recommend this cigar. The flavors were not nearly as complex as some of the other cigars on the market but you gotta go out and pick a few of these up. These have not yet joined the ‘box purchase list’ although I have already purchased a 5 pack and plan on keeping 2 for storage, and keep the other 3 as long as I can, so perhaps a few weeks haha. Long story short, if your a fan of the flavor profile, would like to save a few bucks and want something that will constantly deliver, I highly recommend you grab a few of the Padilla Habano.

Every Cigar Has a Story, Every Smoke A Memory

The Cigar Nut

Size: 6 x 50
Wrapper: Connecticut shade
Binder and Filler: Honduran 5 Year Aged
Strength: Mild
Price: About $3.00 each

5 Vegas Gold

Behind The Stick:

With this cigar, I was actually lucky enough to have it gifted to me from one of my coworkers who actually runs a website himself on tobacco pipes. He does not do reviews or anything in that respect but rather it has been a great asset when attempting to locate history, general information or just trying to grab a quick chuckle or two. Through all his might, he has tried to get me into smoking pipes and although I do have the interest, I just have not been able to sit down and pick up the habit. In the mean time, once we started talking about tobacco and our ‘mild obsession’ I hinted that I was into smoking cigars and started bringing in my portable cigar carrier, quietly but persistently adding cigars to his collection.

Well, it was only a matter of time until he jumped into the cigar world feet first. He is now reading blog sites, subscribed to Cigar Aficionado and made one of his first box purchases which happens to be the 5 Vegas Gold. I have not been able to find too much information on the 5 Vegas Gold so once I am able to locate a bit more of a background I will update.

5 Vegas Gold

Construction:

Beautiful cigar, this one really deserves great pictures although I may not be able to do it justice. This is the type of cigar one may want to put into a glass top humidor where everyone can observe the great quality of the delicate wrapper. Extremely smooth, very fine ‘hairs’ can been seen upon close inspection but the actual feel and aesthetics are top notch. The band did stick to 2 of the 3 cigars that I smoked so I can’t give that a perfect pass although none of the cigars were damaged by the issue. Evenly packed from head to foot, my only complaint (which can not be corrected) was the brittleness of the wrapper.

Flavor:

This is one hell of a great morning smoke. This has been reported as being a mild to medium blend although I would not put this one over mild until the very last portion (well within the last third) where it just ever so slightly reached into the medium range. The smoke was very light and went well with a coffee and had a nice underlying tobacco flavor that was accentuated by a mild wood flavor. The middle and last portion of this cigar is really where I started enjoying the cigar more and more. Leather, mild spice, and earth all coated with a great, smooth and almost cream type smoke that was simply amazing to me. Right at the end, as I had said before, the body picks up just a notch, almost as if it is trying to help ease you out of the chair with your empty cup of coffee ready to start the day.

5 Vegas Gold

Overall:

For right around $3.00 a smoke and in some locations you can locate a box purchase to drop the price down even further, I have to say go out and pick one up. When I had first tried this one, I thought I was going to smoke it as a gift from a coworker and move on my way, but about halfway through the first smoke I decided that not only am I going to go out and buy a few for myself to rest, I also had to pick up a few extra’s for an immediate review. Long story short, out of all the mild cigars I have tried, I know for a fact that I will always turn to these as a great morning smoke, or whenever I’m in the mood for an amazing mild stick.

5 Vegas Gold

Every Cigar Has A Story, Every Smoke A Memory

The Cigar Nut

Size: 7 x 48 (Classic)
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder and Filler: Dominican
Strength: Medium Full
Price: Just under $7.00 a stick

Behind The Stick:

The cigar came to me by one of the few people in this world that actually make me nervous, my soon to be father in law! Cigars became one (minor) obsession that we both are involved with which became a great way for me to break the ice, and do a little sucking up at the same time- haha. He has had the luxury of going to a few different countries and visiting the actual tobacco fields and has been a great asset to my knowledge. It seems that almost every time we meet up one of us will give the other a cigar – it has become our little ritual of sorts. None the less, this cigar was gifted to me from him near Christmas time with the remark that this was his favorite non-Cuban smoke and he wanted to see what my take would be on it. I had never had an Arturo Fuente anything, yet alone their Hemingway edition.

As a bit of background on the cigar itself, the Hemingway was the first limited edition cigar to be produced by the Fuentes and got its name from the well known writer and novelist Ernest Hemingway – although I was unable to locate any documentation that explains exactly why or how the cigar got its name since by practice, he was not a regular cigar smoker (he did enjoy one from time to time though). When this cigar was created, it initially was set to be sold as three different sizes; Classic, Signature and Short Story while in this review I will focus on the Classic. As I was researching this stick, I noticed that the Maduro is a much more sought after smoke, perhaps due to the sweeter tasting wrapper, stronger punch or due to the even higher level of rarity that the Maduro offers. I am looking forward to giving that one a try as well, considering if I am even able to locate them!

Construction:

Can you say beautiful cigar?! When I first looked at this cigar (being the first figurado I ever saw in person) I was initially taken back simply due to the overall construction required. I have heard about the figurado and how hard they are to roll and how the shape itself (wrapper vs binder/filler ratio changing during the stick) plays a huge factor in the complexity but also shows the skill in craftsmanship. Evenly packed from head to foot (even with the gauge changes) coated by a wrapper that showed almost no veins at all this cigar truly screams to be smoked. The band did stick a little and was destroyed although with all the issues, the wrapper itself was not damaged.

Flavor:

Since my future father-in-law gave me this cigar and noted it was ‘one of his favorites’ I felt the need to sit back and really pay attention to this bad boy, and it sure did pay off. Due to the small foot the wrapper to binder/filler ratio is much larger, allowing the Cameroon wrappers natural sweet and mildly bitter earth to seep through the tobacco flavor starting this one off smooth, even with a good bit of complexity to the beginning. Once I progressed to the first portion of the ‘fat part’ of the cigar, the sweetness was still apparent but the richness to the earthy flavor stepped up followed by a slowly increasing (but never unpleasant) spicy finish. Lastly, once the cigar was in the final portions of its life the sweetness decided to leave while the earth melted with a new flavor profile, that of wood. The wood, earth and mild spice held on till the very end – Highly enjoyable experience.

Overall:

Even with the high level of rarity, the price and quality really make this cigar a winner. Not only is this one of my soon to be father-in-law’s favorite cigars – but it has quickly moved up the list into my top 5 without a doubt. I don’t know if I would go out and purchase of box of these though, although they were a very good smoke they just didn’t hit me in such a way where I would be dropping 175+ on a box. With that being said though – I have already purchased a 5 pack and plan on keeping a few in the humidor at all times. The cigar is very complex, has been created by some of the best rollers in the world, manufactured by a great company and delivers consistently – really, what more could you as for?

Every Cigar Has A Story, Every Smoke A Memory

The Cigar Nut

Size: 7 x 56
Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro
Binder and Filler: Dominican, Columbian, & Nicaraguan
Strength: Medium Full
Price: About $13.00 A Piece

CAO Sopranos - Boss

Behind The Stick:

This is the third out of four reviews of the CAO Sopranos line that I am doing, this one specifically being the Boss (play dramatic music). Please check out my review of the Associate and the Soldier for a bit more of a background behind the Sopranos line, the cigars themselves and perhaps you also can tell the subtle differences found within these beasts. One thing that I have really started to like with the Sopranos line is the larger ring gauge in relationship to the length – a normal robusto is not 5 x 50 but rather 5 x 52. Subtle difference but I think it adds that certain ‘something’ – a token not a demonstration. It also appears that each ‘step up’ grants you with a bit larger of a stick, the Associate at 5 x 52, the Soldier at 6 x 54 and now the Boss at 7 x 56. As with the Soldier, this blend is using Dominican, Columbian, & Nicaraguan tobacco for the binder and filler while retaining the dark Brazilian Maduro for a wrapper. Lets see if the Boss earns its name or just got the big promotion to ‘Boss’ due to its size!

Construction:

I can’t believe it but this is another knock out of the park! This is just another reason why I like the CAO company so much, each cigar was nearly identical to the next. Yet again, this stick (even for its size) seems to have almost twice as much tobacco as another cigar of its size although the packing of the cigar does not seem to be overdone – if that makes sense. Their was just the slightest bit of give at the foot and maintained consistency throughout with no soft spots to be found. The wrapper which has been quoted as ‘dark as a hit-man’s soul’ covers this cigar with little to no veins and for some reason the three I tried were lacking the visible oils that the Associate and Soldier provided. Bonus for the Boss though, never once had any issue removing a band, no excess glue or issues sticking to the wrapper!

CAO Sopranos - Boss

Flavor:

The flavor profile really was very similar to the Soldier, beginning with a nice earth and tobacco base mixed with a slight sweet sensation that lasted for roughly the first third – I was not expecting much this third mainly due to the monstrous size and the need for the tobacco to warm up. The Boss did not have the huge flavor explosion that the Solider did, although the flavors did melt together smoothly as it progressed, keeping me very interested. A more in your face leather like bitterness started it off, changing very slowly to a more coffee flavor – it may sound like an odd combination but they pulled it off very well. By the midway point I noticed a nice little Coco flavor begin to pick up steam, mixing very well with already solid coffee flavor. The end, much similar to the Soldier, was just god awful. Although the flavors were not as well defined as its smaller counterpart, this one really had a great balance to it – kept me interested but never overwhelmed.

Overall:

This was another great cigar produced by CAO and does add another cigar to their line up although I do feel the other sizes had a more complex flavor profile while this cigar contained more of an imposing and easily distinguishable smoke. Once the foot band had been removed, the black band on black wrapper accented by a minimal amount of red in conjunction with the larger ring gauge (as well as the high cost) made me sit back knowing I was the ‘big boy’ in the room, so if that is what your going after, this is your cigar. Personally, I digress to the flavor profile, which although very enjoyable, did not compete with the little brother the Soldier. Out of the line, I am glad I got these but at $13.00 a pop this is more of a ‘status symbol’ or celebration or unique occasion type cigar rather than a day to day – in my own eyes. I probably wont keep this as a regular addition in my humidor, although I will remember the good choice I once made.

CAO Sopranos - Boss

Every Cigar Has A Story, Every Smoke A Memory

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