June 23, 2010

REVIEW: Davidoff Puro d’Oro Sublime

Tonight's cigar comes to me in a blind trade I did with a fellow BOTL Lee (@sirpantsornot on Twitter). I sent Lee some sticks he'd been looking to try, and in return, he fired back with a few of my favorites and one of these little guys that I had been hoping to get my hands on. Davidoff cigars have a long and famous history in the cigar world and it would be really silly of me to repeat all of that info in this post when I'm sure you can easily find it yourself with a quick Google search. The one thing I do want to mention is the  Puro d'Oro line is different from the normal Davidoff cigars as this is their first (non-cuban) endeavor into a true "puro" (made from a single country's tobacco) vitola.

A quote from the Davidoff site:
The Davidoff Puro d’Oro cigars are made according to a long-established, traditional method using only tobaccos from the country of origin – including the unique Dominican Davidoff Yamasa™ wrapper leaf developed especially for this new cigar series. 

It was a hot day outside, so a short smoke suited me nicely.

Due to the size of this cigar, this review is only in two parts instead of the traditional thirds. 
Vitola: Petit Panetela
Length: 4.875
Ring Gauge: 38
Wrapper: Dominican "DavidoffYamasa
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Price: $9.50 each
Smoking Location: My back deck
Beverage: water

My Puro d’Oro Sublime was a very classic-looking small cigar. The wrapper had a very natural mixture of light brown and yellow tones to it and only a few minimal veins. Running my fingers up the wrapper, the cigar had quite a bit of oil to it but still felt very smooth and not slick in anyway. Pinching the vitola from head to foot, there were no soft spots - just a perfect amount of give with pinched more firmly. The pre-lit aroma coming off of the cigar smelled strongly of hay with just a slight note of sweet tobacco. This was more of a clean hay smell, not that earthy barnyard smell you get with a lot of other cigars. The pig-tailed cap clipped effortlessly and the cold draw had mainly hay flavors to it, but I also got what I would describe as an applesauce flavor on the finish. This is not a flavor I tend to pick up in cigars, so to me, this was very interesting.

First Half 
I used a soft flame lighter to light this cigar due to it's size and me not wanting to scorch the foot of the stick. Once evenly lit, the cigar gave off a medium amount of smoke, which is what I expect from such a small vitola, and was drawing perfectly. The initial flavors were somewhat muted but tasted of a mild black pepper, that I really only picked up on the taste buds on the front of my tongue, with a woodsy finish. The wood flavor was not of any particular type of wood, but more of a burnt wood taste. The body of the cigar started off in the medium to medium-full range and the burn was straight. Davidoff must have some high quality rollers because the construction of this little guy was top notch. About 3/4 of an inch into the cigar the flavor profile really changed. I started getting a very spicy strong red pepper flavor. These flavors I would compare to the red pepper flakes that you can pick up at pizza joints. The woodsy notes were still there on the finish, but the spicy red pepper was really starting to dominate.

Second Half and Final Thoughts
The flavor profile of the second half of my Puro d’Oro Sublime continued on and finished, the same way the first half ended. The cigar had a very spicy red pepper flavor that dominated my palate making it hard to taste anything else. One big change from the first half of the stick to the second was the amount the strength increased. I smoked this little cigar after having an average-sized dinner and I still could noticeably feel the nicotine kick in my body. The closer I got to the nub, the nicotine seemed to build even more so much that I started to feel it hit my stomach also. It's safe to say, this was not very relaxing or enjoyable on a hot day.

My final thoughts on the Puro d’Oro Sublime by Davidoff? Some will call me crazy, but this stick didn't do it for me. Besides the flavor change up close to the beginning of the experience, I found this cigar to be flat and uneventful. I do like spicy cigars but I also like them to have a bit more dimension to them and not just be an all-out burner. My wife is going to laugh at that statement because I tend to like the food I eat to be so spicy that she won't even touch it. (And yes...she did laugh.) I think maybe in a bigger size this blend might show more and have a few more tricks up its sleeve, but at the cost of these cigars I doubt I will risk spending the money on many more.

Would I buy it again? For the reasons stated in my final thoughts, I probably won't be buying anymore of these cigars. But again, I want to thank Lee for doing a trade with me and for sending me this stick to try. I really appreciate it. 

Would I buy a box? See above.


June 16, 2010

REVIEW: Illusione Epernay Le Matin (Box Press)

The Illusione Epernay Le Matin is the latest stick from Dion Giolito (Vudu9 on twitter), owner and founder of Illusione Cigars. The main feature (besides the size) that sets this Epernay apart from the rest of the line is this stick is box pressed. In fact to my knowledge, this is the only stick under the Illusione banner that has a box press. If you would like to know more background details about the Epernay line of cigars in general, I did a review of the Le Ferme size HERE with some history of the line.

These sticks are only available at New Havana Cigars at the moment, so if you would like to purchase some please visit this link. I was over at New Havana hanging out with Dan (NHCDAN on twitter) Friday night and he was nice enough to smoke one of these with me, and give me another for a review. Big thanks again to Dan and now on with the review.

Vitola: Le Matin
Length: 6.75
Ring Gauge: 46
Wrapper: Cafe Rosado
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan
MSRP: Aprox. $11.25
Smoking Location: My back deck
Beverage: water

By the time I could get a free hour or so to smoke this Epernay Le Matin, it had sat in my coolidor for five days. I'm sure the five days helped it settle some, as these sticks are very fresh, but it also resulted in the stick losing almost all of its box pressed shape. To me this was actually a good thing, as I am not a huge fan of the box pressed sticks. I thought I had better mention that  in this review, because as you see in the pictures, the stick looks almost round and I didn't want any confusion. My Epernay Le Matin had a very oily, milk chocolate color wrapper with a few small veins. The pre-lit aroma coming off the cigar was a nice floral smell that was even stronger at the foot. When I took a deep inhale through my nose from the foot of the cigar it tingled so much I had to hold back from sneezing. Interesting, to say the least. The triple cap clipped easily and the cold draw was free with again that sweet floral taste.

First Third 
After a problem-free lighting, the smoke that this vitola was producing was extremely thick and rich. This cigar had the kind of smoke that, right after lighting, fills your mouth and coats your palate instantly. The initial flavors were somewhat muted by the thickness of the smoke, but what was there were notes of cream, mixed with honey and sweet coffee. After a few puff,s the smoke started to thin a little and the flavors became much more pronounced. The profile was the same, but now the sweetness of the coffee had my taste buds alive and wanting more. I have smoked a fair amount of cigars from the Epernay line and I would say that this one started off quite a bit different. I'm not sure if it's due to the size or these being somewhat young cigars, but I don't recall the Epernay having smoke this thick in the past. It was not a bad thing, just different. The body was medium to medium-full right from the start and the burn was razor sharp. Another aspect of this cigar worth mentioning here, is even with all of the smoke this stick was drawing and putting off while resting, the burn was very slow. It's like this stick said right to your face, "I am not to be rushed."

Second Third 

From the start of the second third of my Epernay Le Matin, things started to change to the more familiar. The bellowing thick smoke had died off a bit and the flavors really started to take that classic Epernay profile. I was still getting some of the honey experienced in the first third, but now the coffee flavor had really ramped up and the floral notes I smelled in the pre-lite had just slightly started to appear. The floral flavors were really prevalent after I cleaned my palate with the cold water and were an insight into what was to come. The body stayed the same as the first third, and again, I had no problems at all with the burn. Most people who smoke products from Illusione know that when they light one of these up, ninety nine times out of a hundred you are going to have no problems with the construction. This cigar was no different.

Final Third and Final Thoughts 
The final third of my Epernay Le Matin is where that wonderful floral flavor really took over. Saying that this cigar tastes floral is kind of vague but I'm not really sure what other word to use. It's not floral like over-the-top potpourri or something that you would find in little old ladies houses, but more of a sweet perfume taste. Maybe, now that I think back fifteen minutes to when I was smoking it, it's slightly black cherryish? Again that's not the best way to describe it so if someone can leave me a comment of a better way to word it I'd be all ears. I'm sure it's out there, it's just not coming to me. Back on track. The coffee flavors were still hinting but now way in the background that they became almost an after thought to me. One other big difference in the final third of my Epernay Le Matin was the body. This stick ramped right up into the full range. It was not over powering by any means, but I was happy that this strength was only at the end of the stick and not all the way through as I am more a medium to medium-full kind of guy.

My final thoughts on the Illusione Epernay Le Matin? If you like the other cigars in the Epernay line you're going to love this. And I do. This stick, other than the really thick smoke at the start, and the powerful body at the end fits right in line with the rest of the brand and doesn't disappoint. I would suggest if you want to truly smoke one with a hard box press shape to it, either keep them tightly packed in the cab, or smoke it as soon as you get it. I don't think the box press shape makes this cigar, but everyone has their own opinion. Like I said above, these sticks are only on sale at New Havana Cigars at the moment so if you want to pick some up please visit this link and tell Dan I sent ya.

Would I buy it again? There is no way to hide it, these sticks are expensive when it comes to the Epernay line. If you're anything like me, you'll want to try at least a handful of everything that Dion produces, so I will be picking up a few more. 

Would I buy a box? Even in smaller cabs of 25 (yay!) these cigars are out of my cigar budget right now in box quantities.

(side note: I'm sorry for the junky pictures in this review. My point and shoot was having a hell of a time picking up the gold lettering on this band with the sun casting glares all over the place. Hopefully I can get some better shots later.)


June 10, 2010

REVIEW: E.P. Carrillo Short Run

Up for review comes a cigar from a veteran in the cigar industry. Ernesto Perez-Carrillo, Jr. is the founder of El Credito Cigar Company in Miami, famous for making the original La Gloria Cubana cigar. A few years ago, Ernesto sold his company to Swedish Match and in 2009, split away entirely from that project to start fresh. With his daughter and son as business partners, Ernesto founded the EPC Cigar Company LLC and produced their first stick, the E.P. Carrillo Edicion Inaugural 2009. Hot on the heals of the Edicion Inaugural release is the cigar I smoked last night, the E.P. Carrillo Short Run. I want to throw out a huge thanks to Ernie (Ernesto's son) for sending me a three pack of these a month or so ago, and after resting a bit in my cooler, I was very excited to light this up.

Vitola: Delirios
Length: 5.875
Ring Gauge: 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaragua Criollo
Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican
Price: $6.30 each in boxes of 24
Smoking Location: My back deck
Beverage: water


My E.P. Carrillo Short Run is visibly a very natural looking cigar. The sumatra wrapper has lots of different tones of browns and yellows in it and looks like it could be fresh out of the drying barns. The stick is very smooth to the touch with a nice give to it when squeezed. You can tell when holding this cigar that a lot of expertise has been taken in its construction. The unlit stick's aroma is clean natural tobacco until you get to the foot, where you can pick up a strong sent of graham cracker. After clipping the triple cap, the cold draw is nice and free and tastes of fresh tobacco.

First Third
Using a Lotus triple flame lighter, my E.P.Carrillo Short Run lit up easily and was drawing perfectly. The initial flavors I got were of a mild spice on the front of my palate with lots of natural tobacco rounding out the profile. I've never been a user of chewing tobacco but I have smelled it and the natural tobacco flavors I got from this cigar reminded me of the smell. That might sound like a bad thing to some, but to me it was enjoyable. The burn on this cigar was a little wavy, but corrected itself over time without the need of touch ups. As you can see in the picture above, the ash on this stick was very strong. I smoked the entire first third of this stick without ashing once, and it still took a good knock on the ashtray to get it to fall. The body was a relaxing medium.

Second Third 

The second third of my E.P.Carrillo Short Run started to hint at what this smoking experience would turn out to be. The spice that was up front before fell off into the back, allowing a very tasty sweet graham flavor to come to the forefront. Although the sweetness was very strong, it did not over power the spice that was now noticeable only on the finish. These two flavors played nicely with each other and held my interest. The burn again was a little wavy, but nothing that caused any problems or ever had me reaching for my lighter. The body stayed a relaxing medium throughout this section of the cigar.

Final Third and Final Thoughts
This is where things really start to happen. As I started the final third, I picked up another familiar flavor...bitter chocolate. I am a big fan of this flavor in cigars when it mixes with some spice, and the spice was already present. Along with these two flavors, the sweet graham notes were still kicking and added a nice balance to the bite of the bitter chocolate. This cigar was good up to this point, but had become great in the last third. The burn and construction of the cigar were the same as the first two thirds.The body was similar, if not ramped up just a little bit. Getting closer to the nub of the cigar, the bitter chocolate flavors took over and dominated everything I could taste.

My final thoughts on the E.P. Carrillo Short Run? Like I said above, this cigar was good, but in the final third, it turned great. I was sad to finish this stick for a couple of reasons: one, because I don't have any more at this time, but mostly because the experience at the end was just really amazing. I am very excited to see how these will age. Maybe after even longer time these sticks will blend more, and hopefully not just the last third will be so excellent. If you have not tried one of these do yourself a favor and pick some up. You can get them here, and for the price, I think this cigar is a steal. If not only for the final third of the stick.

Would I buy it again? This is a no-brainer. I will definitely be picking up more of these.

Would I buy a box? I would buy a box to age some. The problem is I would be tempted to smoke them all and not let them sit.


June 8, 2010

REVIEW: Tatuaje L’esprit de Verite (Pre Release)

Today's review is a pre-release stick of the Tatuaje L’esprit de Verite. The actual release date has not been announced, but I am hearing it is due to be in shops hopefully in early July. This stick has a lot of rumors going around about it, but mostly about how much it is going to cost. Pete Johnson (@tatuajecigars on twitter, owner of Tatuaje) has not been shy with telling people that this might be his most expensive product to be brought to the market. I've heard that the cost isn't going to be as high as once thought, but really we won't know until they arrive.

Here is some more information on this cigar from the New Havana Cigars web page:
L'Esprit de la Verite is the brainchild of Pete Johnson of Tatuaje and has received a lot of attention from many who had the opportunity to experience one at IPCPR this year.  This limited release is made entirely from tobacco from Pepin's Finca La Estrella (Star Farm) all from the same vintage, 2008. The cigars are currently rolled and resting in the drying room at the factory. 

This cigar was generously given to me by Dan (NHCDAN on twitter) and, when I asked him if there is anything I should know about it he responded with, "Just smoke it. I think you'll like it". Dan knows what sticks I like, so hearing that was good news.

On to the review.

Vitola: Robusto
Length: 5
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano Criollo
Binder: Nicaragua Habano Criollo
Filler: Nicaragua Habano Criollo
Price: $??
Smoking Location: My back deck
Beverage: water

The first thing about the L’esprit de Verite that stands out to me is the band. Unfortunately for me, this is a bad thing because I am not a fan of the design. I understand what Pete was going for with the date being the main focus of the band, and being one very distinguishable characteristic to use to not confuse these sticks from year to year, but for me it seems unfinished. I was actually surprised to hear that this was the final design and not just a mock up for the pre-release. With all of that said, I'm not smoking the band, so my judgment of the stick will not be swayed by this one detail. The wrapper of my L’esprit de Verite is very smooth and dry. Not dry because it was not stored properly, it just seemed to lack any oils like some sticks do. Squeezing the vitola from head to foot the cigar is very fully packed. I was concerned about this until I took the cold draw, which was just fine and free with a slight resistance. This stick has the perfect draw for my taste. Speaking of taste, the cold draw flavors were very earthy, mixed with hints of mild oak. The pre-lit aroma of the cigar was similar, leaning more towards the oak scent.

First Third

My L’esprit de Verite lit easily with my triple torch and produced lots of smoke from the get go. Even with being outside, the resting smoked filled the area of my deck where I was sitting. The initial flavors were spicy on the front, with some oak notes cooling it off, and a nice sweetness on the finish. The spice wasn't really that peppery flavor that I am accustomed with Tatuaje products, but more of a cinnamon spice. The oak flavors were nice, but what really got my palate interested was the sweetness on the finish. The finish didn't stick around all that long, but was a really great flavor while it was there, and it came back with every puff. The body of the cigar was hovering around the mild/medium range. About an inch into my cigar, I ran into a little problem...

CRACK! was the sound I heard after take a big puff. Turning the stick over, I saw that the wrapper had split right along one of the veins in the leaf. Luckily the split stopped half way down the stick and, due to the amount this stick is packed, I was able to burn right through it with a little loosening of the draw as the only setback. I must say that I have had very minimal construction issues with Tatuaje products in my time smoking cigars, but it does happen. And it happens to all companies. Cigars are a hand made product. Errors and mishaps are going to happen. Moving on to the second third.

Second Third
After burning past the crack in the wrapper my  L’esprit de Verite was right back on track. The flavors were consistent with the first third, with the spice up front, creamy oak flavors in the middle, and the sweetness on the finish. Again that sweetness is what really kept my interest and kept me from getting bored. I have tasted that flavor before, and I was trying to think of another cigar that has that same sweetness on the finish, but it wouldn't come to me. If I think of it I'll edit this post and add it in. The body of the cigar ramped up a little more into the medium range, but nowhere near something like the Tatuaje brown label products.

Final Third and Final Thoughts
There is not much else to report in the final third that hasn't been said in the first two thirds. The flavors were the same, and the strength consistent with the second third. The burn was perfect after the crack, and the smoke volume never slowed down from the first draw to the last. As you can see in the picture I smoked this stick to the nub, and I'm happy to say it never got hot or harsh, right down to the last puff.

Final thoughts on the Tatuaje L’esprit de Verite? Dan (NHCDAN on twitter) was right. I liked this stick. Other than the one construction flaw, and it not being the most diverse flavor profile, this is a solid, consistent, and good tasting smoke. In my opinion it's not a "wow best Tatuaje ever!" but it's not one to pass up. I think if the rumors are true, and the price is not as high as once thought, a lot of people will pick these up to try and a lot of people will be happy with the smoking experience. I know this won't be the last one I smoke.

Would I buy it again? I will buy more of these, and can't wait to see if the full release is the same as this pre- release stick.

Would I buy a box? These will be a great cigar to have around and pass out to friends, so a box purchase would suit that situation well. A lot will come down to the price for me.


June 6, 2010

EVENT: Room 101 Cigars

On Saturday June 6th, House of Cigar in Powell Ohio, hosted "The Conspiracy Tour" from Room 101 Cigars. I was only there for 15 minutes, but I did get to talk to Matt Booth (creator of Room 101 Cigars) ask him about his new blend, and when we would see it on shelves. He told me to look for it after this Falls IPCPR show and that they were working on the blend as we spoke.Thanks to House of Cigar for putting on this event, and thanks to Matt for spending some time talking to me.

June 3, 2010

SHORT SMOKE: Introduction

 Today I'm introducing a new type of post that I will be adding to my blog. The SHORT SMOKE post idea came about from the late night cigars I've been smoking recently, always in the dark on my beck deck. I smoke a lot of cigars at the end of the day, when I want to relax and maybe E-Herf with a few BOTL on tokbox. I'm in no mood to do a full review and, a lot of the time, I'm not really paying 100% to the details of the cigar so a full review wouldn't be fair. So in the SHORT SMOKE posts I plan on just telling you a bit about what I thought of the cigar, maybe some flavors that stood out, and maybe just my overall experience smoking the stick. These posts will be short in length and may or may not include pictures. I still plan on doing my full reviews on a regular basis, but these SHORT SHOKE posts will pop up here and there. I hope they are easy to read and my readers will enjoy just brief descriptions of what I'm smoking.

Thanks for reading,

June 1, 2010

EVENT: Crooked Burn, Lounge 1492, New Havana Cigar Private Party

Last Friday (May 28th) was a big night for me and for my blog. It took a month of planning, and some ups and downs, but the night came, and the Crooked Burn, Lounge 1492, New Havana Cigars private cigar tasting party went off as a success. Dan from New Havana Cigars offered up two of his NHC Seleccion Limitadas to the first 40 guests, and they were greeted with high praise by almost everyone.  We had a great turnout of people coming and going throughout the night, and the party didn't stop until 1am. Big thanks goes out to Mario from Lounge 1492 for all his work with the guest list and with letting us use his space for the party, and to Dan from New Havana Cigars for offering up so many free top of the line sticks to those in attendance. If you were a guest, I hope you can make it out to future parties as we are already starting the planning stages. If you missed this party, or didn't get an invite and would like to. Please email me here and I'll add you to the event mailing list. Below are some pictures of the event taken by professional photographer Tom Welsh. Please visit his site by clicking on his name and think of him when you have an event in need of professional photography.