November 24, 2010

REVIEW: Tatuaje Anarchy

Today's review is the latest in the ever-expanding line of single shop release sticks from Pete Johnson (@tatuajecigars on twitter), owner of Tatuaje cigars. Pete has been taking some heat online recently about the amount of "limited release" sticks he has been putting out, but my feeling is "the more the merrier." The Tatuaje Anarchy was made exclusively for Smoke Inn Cigars in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Abe Dababneh (@tatuajeanarchy on twitter) was kind enough to send me a sample of this stick to review before they are released to the market. Included in the package was a letter from Abe explaining more details of the cigar, which I have included with this review below.

November 17, 2010
RE: Tatuaje Anarchy

Dear Brother of the Leaf,
You and your site have been chosen to be amongst the first in the country to sample the new Limited Edition Tatuaje Anarchy. Back in the spring of 2009, I approached my good friend Pete Johnson regarding the idea. Pete was immediately on board. After about 6 different attempts, we felt Pete & Pepin struck gold with a blend that we were proud of.

The wrapper used is a very special proprietary crop of Ecuadorian Habano leaf that Pepin & Pete personally chose for the project. The binder and filler is Nicaraguan, and blended to perfection. This is a something we are very proud of and hope you enjoy the smokes. You are one of a very select few of the bloggers we felt would appreciate and be worthy if this package.

The National Release Party will be held December 10th at our West Palm Beach location with both Pete Johnson & Pepin Garcia in attendance. Pre-orders will be taken at our website, beginning midnight Black Friday, November 26th. Boxes are 15 count with a retail price of $149.85 per box. All orders will be guaranteed to ship beginning Dec. 13th, just in time for the holidays. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me personally.

Abe Dabaneh
Smoke Inn

Thanks Abe for the kind words and personal letter. I appreciate the opportunity to do this review.

Now that we all know when and where to get them,  let's see if the Anarchy is worth digging into your holiday funds for...and on to the review.

Vitola: figurado
Length: 6 1/8
Ring Gauge: 48 – 52 tapered
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $10
Smoking Location: Explorer Lounge
Beverage: water
Manufacture's Website: 

The first thing that stood out when looking at my Tatuaje Anarchy was the elaborate pigtail on the cap of this stick. I've read others describe it as looking like a rolled pastry and I don't think there is any other way to describe it. Along with its tapered shape, there is no mistaking this cigar for another -- even if it were unbanded. The darkish brown wrapper is very oily and had medium-sized veins. The pre-lit aroma consisted of some sweet scents mixed with some stronger hay notes. The cold draw was a little tight for my liking and tasted sweet with hints of cocoa. I'm sure the tightness on the draw was due to just how packed this stick was. Squeezing the cigar, it had almost no give to it.

First Third
I lit my Tatuaje Anarchy with a single torch and the first few puffs were full of a sweet spice that coated the top of my palate and the back of my tongue. The spice was not the typical Nicaraguan peppery zing, but more of a warm cinnamon. The stick was drawing a medium amount of smoke, but giving off tons while resting. About a half inch into the stick, the flavors started to mellow and the smoke got very sweet. On the front, I got mostly muted nut flavors and on the finish, just some sugary sweetness. The flavors were there but it was really mild, nothing like the fist few puffs. The burn had no problems and the body sat in the medium range.

Second Third
The second third of my Tatuaje Anarchy is where the stick took a different direction and really took off. The muted flavors I got in the first third were now gone and, again, I was getting a lot of strong cinnamon spice mixed with what I would call toasted marshmallow or burnt sugar. The flavors on the finish were now strong, too, and were a mix of more sugar and some hints black coffee. This part of the cigar was excellent and a treat to smoke. The body in the second third also started to ramp up and I would call it more in the full range.

Final Third and Final Thoughts
The start of the final third wasn't what I had expected, as it went back to what I was getting mostly in the first third. The stick went quickly from that really strong, in-your-face flavor of the second third, back to the muted profile of the sweet flavors both on the front and the finish. I was a little disappointed until I burned to about an inch and a half left of the cigar, where it took yet another turn. It was like going to a different cigar with those last puffs as I then got the really strong, traditional Pepin black pepper flavor that I love. I actually looked at my smoking partner and said, "Wow, what happened?" I could see that the color of the ash had changed too, into a really dark, almost black color. The body was now well into the full range and I was happy that I had eaten a big pasta dinner to counteract some of this power. The burn was perfect all the way to the end and never required any kind of touch up with my lighter.

My final thoughts on the Tatuaje Anarchy ? This is a complex cigar blend that when it is on, it's really on. And when it's not, the flavors are a little muted. In this single experience with the stick, the flavors just seemed to be all over the place at different times. Maybe Anarchy is a fitting name? I think with age and some more mixing of the flavors in the different tobaccos, it could turn into something that is great from start to finish. Smoking this cigar was very interesting and I don't think I've ever written so many notes in my review book. It should be noted, again, that at the end of this cigar it was VERY strong. Make sure you plan accordingly. 
Would I buy it again? The price is right (if not cheap) for a cigar this size coming from Pete Johnson. I would buy more and let them rest in my humi for awhile and revisit them in a few months.

Would I buy a box?  I'm not sure I'd jump on a box of these right away, but if you don't, there might not be any left to have. I'll be looking to do a split with some other BOTLs.

I want to say thanks again to Abe from Smoke Inn for including me in his list of people he sent samples to. It's my favorite thing to smoke new cigars and to get one from one of my top favorite brands, I couldn't be more grateful.


November 18, 2010

REVIEW: Nestor Miranda Art Deco

Today's review is a newly released (I'm not sure where you can get them) cigar from Nestor Miranda, founder of Miami Cigars, and Don Pepin, creator of Don Pepin Cigars, amongst many others. As most of us know, Pepin is regarded as one of the masters of Nicaraguan blends. The story behind this cigar goes like this: With this cigar, Nestor wanted to give Pepin a challenge to use Domincan tobacco and still come up with something great.
"We wanted to get Pepin out of his comfort zone, which is using Nicaraguan tobacco," said Nestor Miranda. "He accepted the challenge and came out with an amazing blend using 40% Dominican tobacco."

I am a huge Pepin fan, so after reading about this stick (and finally getting my hands on one), I am very excited to light this up and see what comes of it.

Vitola: Robusto Grande
Length: 5.5
Ring Gauge: 54
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo '06
Binder: Dominican Corojo '98 & Nicaraguan Habano '00 (duel binders)
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
Price: $7.50
Smoking Location: Explorer Lounge
Beverage: water
Manufacture's Website:

My Art Deco from Nestor Miranda had a inviting, smooth, chocolate-brown wrapper. The cigar was fully and evenly packed with just a slight bit of a give when pinched. The pre-lit aroma was very peppery with just a hint of a scent of sweetness -- an aroma I have come to really love, as it is present in most of Pepin's blends. The large cap on the stick clipped easily and the draw was excellent, tasting of hay with some natural tobacco flavors.

First Third
I lit my Art Deco with the normal triple torch I use for bigger ring gauge sticks and the cigar starting drawing effortlessly. I've really been having a great run of cigars recently when it comes to the draws. Not only with the sticks I write about, but also with the ones I've smoked for more casual purposes. All have been winners in the last few weeks. The starting flavors on my cigar are mild, but still easy to pick out. The classic Pepin pepper is there, but more muted than normal. On the finish I picked up some hints of coffee, but they were very slight. Like I wrote above, the flavors are mild, but not boring in anyway. The burn is a little crooked, but
nothing to be worried about at this point. The body was in the medium range. 

Second Third 

The second third of my Art Deco brought on a lot of changes from the first third. The distinct peppery flavors had subsided and now a strong, sweetened coffee and cream taste was what this cigar was about. The finish was very clean and, with the creamy notes, left my palate feeling refreshed. It was a drastic change and happened pretty much between one draw and the next. Speaking of the draw, the cigar was once again drawing perfectly, producing huge clouds of smoke. The ash on this stick held on for just over an inch before falling off. The body was still right in the medium range.

Final Third and Final Thoughts  
The difference in the final third of my Art Deco was not what the flavors were, but just how powerful they came through. The sweet coffee and cream flavors were in my face and lingered on the finish for well over a full minute. It might sound overwhelming, but the flavors were so smooth that it never felt like too much. The construction was perfect and the draw never got hot -- even all the way to the nub. Toward the end, the body stepped up to what I would call the medium-full range.

My final thoughts on the Nestor Miranda Art Deco? Even though I was looking forward to a spicy Pepin blended cigar, and got quite the opposite, I was not disappointing at all in the Art Deco. This is a wonderfully strong-flavored cigar that really takes off in the second third. As I burned through, the flavors just got stronger and stronger, so if you are smoking one and think it's weak, give it time

Would I buy it again? This is the second review in a row I have written where I think I would pay more than what the MSRP is listed. I noticed on my cheat sheet that this stick comes in a 4.5 x 50 vitola, too. I'm a big fan of that size, so next time I think I'd like to try that one out.

Would I buy a box?  This is a box-worthy cigar.


November 15, 2010

REVIEW: La Aurora 107 Lancero

I fell a little behind on my reviews last month (I had spent most of my time on my other project, so by now I'm sure I'm close to last on reviewing the much talked about "Twitter cigar". Just in case you have been living under a rock and have not heard about this stick, the La Aurora 107 is a popular blend from Guillermo León (@GuillermoLeon_ on twitter) that had so many requests for it to be made in a lancero vitola, that "the dream became a reality". A lot of those requests came to Guillermo via  twitter, so it only seems fitting that the name of this cigar is The "Twitter cigar".  

OK, now that we have that out of the way, let's get on with the important part...the review.

Vitola: Lancero
Length: 7 Ring Gauge: 40
Wrapper: Ecuador
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
Price: $7.00
Smoking Location: Explorer Lounge
Beverage: water
Manufacture's Website:

My La Aurora 107 lancero was a great looking cigar. The wrapper was a nice oily, medium brown color with only one noticeable vein. For it's slender size, this cigar had some serious weight to it. I could tell by pinching the stick from head to foot that is was evenly packed, and packed about as full as it could be without bursting. The prelight aroma was interesting because, at first, all I could smell was earthy tobacco, but after a few whiffs I started to get a orange peel scent. The pigtailed head clipped easily and the cold draw tasted of clean tobacco. One thing to note for certain is, even with how packed this cigar was, the draw was exceptional and required no pull air through the stick.

First Third 

I lit my La Aurora 107 lancero with a single torch and like in the pre-light, was impressed with just how easy the cigar was drawing. Lanceros, due to there size, can be a bit tight on the draw if not done by someone with some serious skill.  It is obvious to me that La Aurora has some talented rollers. The cigar produced a lot of smoke and burned very well. The initial flavor was mostly earthy tobacco, but just on the front of each draw, there was a kick of black pepper. The ash of the cigar was typical of a small ring gauge and held on for just over half an inch before falling into my ash tray. The body started out in the medium range, but the flavor strength was very full.

Second Third   

The second third of my La Aurora 107 Lancero really changed up the flavors on me. The slight black pepper kick is now completely gone and the earthy tobacco now took more of a clean richer tobacco flavor. To add to that change, the most noticeable difference was the flavor in the finish. After exhaling each puff, I could taste a very distinctive orange peel flavor that was not present in the first third. This sweet flavor mixed in with the rich tobacco, playing very well together to a created a very interesting and enjoyable smoke. Again, I have to rave about the effortless draw on this stick. I can't stand a cigar with a tight draw and this was definitely not one of them. The body was that same as the first third -- medium.

Final Third and Final Thoughts
The final third of my La Aurora 107 Lancero was very similar to the second. The flavors were maybe just a little less strong than they were before, but I would not call them weak in the slightest. I was still getting a nice rich clean tobacco taste on the front, with the sweet orange peel on the finish. The cigar never got hot and, even after the photo above was taken, I picked the stick back up and smoked it further to the nub.

My final thoughts on the La Aurora 107 Lancero? This is a nicely flavorful and expertly constructed cigar. The blend of natural tobacco tastes mixed in with the sweet orange peel notes made for a relaxing and almost palate-cooling smoke. The thing I can't say enough about this cigar is just how effortless it was to smoke. This is the easiest smoking lancero I have smoked in awhile, and maybe even ever. I could pull huge clouds of smoke out of this stick with just the slightest draw. To me, that really adds to the smoking experience.

Would I buy it again? At 7 bucks a stick, I would for sure buy this cigar again. I think this stick is worth more than that. If I can find more, I will definitely pick some up.

Would I buy a box?  I don't think I could smoke this cigar everyday, but I do think it would be a great cigar to share with others. For that reason, I could see myself getting a box if they were available.