January 29, 2012

Bonita's 18th Anniversary Blend Cigar

Tonight's cigar is a release to celebrate the 18th Anniversary of business for Bonita Smoke Shop in Bonita Springs, Florida. If you are not familiar with Bonita Smoke Shop, (website: http://www.bonitasmokeshop.com ) they are one of the finest online retailers and when it comes to social media and customer service, they might be at the very top for involvement. Jackie (@Bonitasmokeshop on twitter) has always been lightning fast to answer questions with me and I can't recommend them high enough. With that said, let's find out what this cigar is all about...

Quote and video from the Bonita Smoke shop webpage: Bonita's 18th Anniversary cigars epitomizes all that is desired in a high quality premium hand rolled cigar. Custom blended of the finest tobacco and made expressly for Bonita Smoke Shop. Available in Limited Short Runs at our store and online. Enjoy one soon! Our sincere gratitude to Willie Herrera of ETB Cigars for helping us create a cigar that we are honored to put our name on. Bonita's 18th Anniversary cigar is an extremely well balanced cigar, with a delicious crescendo of flavor, in the medium flavor profile range.

They aren't many names as popular right now as Willie Herrera, so I can't wait to try another one of his custom blends.

Vitola: Robusto
Length: 6
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican
Price: $6.95
Smoking Location: New Havana Cigars
Beverage: Water 


I've smoked a lot of cigars this year with Ecuadorian Sumatra wrappers and I don't think a single one had been this light in color. It was a light peanut butter colored wrapper with just a few small veins. The construction was very nice, especially at the cap, which was perfectly applied. No sloppy glue or uneven application here. The pre-lit aroma smelled strongly of walnuts. I've been picking this up a lot recently and I relate it to the big bag of walnuts my mother-in-law got me for Christmas that I'm still working my way through. The pre-lit draw also had a nutty taste, mixed with some sweetness.

First Third   
My Bonita's 18th lit up very easily and produced very thick clouds of smoke. I had to turn on an extra fan in the smoking lounge just to clear the air a bit. The initial flavors were wonderful with lots of black pepper (hitting hard on the taste buds in the middle of my tongue) in the front of the profile, with a very interesting plum, or dark pitted fruit finish. Unlike the walnuts from the pre-light, this is not a flavor I pick up a lot in cigars and not something that eat a lot of in my monthly diet. So for me, it was definitely surprising. The burn and draw were just fine and cigar was easy to smoke. The strength through the first third was in the medium range. 

Second Third  
The second third of my Bonita's 18th saw the black pepper move away from the front of the profile and become a staple on the finish. I was kind of bummed to see the plum/jam flavor leave the cigar altogether, but if it were going to go away, a spicy finish is a good replacement because it's what I typically prefer in cigars. The front of each draw had a new flavor now and it was graham cracker. I know a lot of people who are a fan of this graham/pepper combo and I am one, too. The construction was just as good as the first third and the strength still a solid medium.

Final Third and Final Thoughts 
The final third of my Bonita's 18th was pretty much a clone of the second third albeit a little milder in taste. I still got the graham cracker flavor front with the pepper kick on the finish, but it wasn't nearly as in your face as the second third. A little flat, but still enjoyable. I'm not sure if the cigar is designed this way, but in the final third when the flavor was getting mild, the nicotine punch of the cigar was ramping up. The cigar finished in the full strength range for me. Not a head spinner, but a lot stronger finish than what I was expecting.

My final thoughts on Bonita's 18th Anniversary Blend? I'll be 100% honest: this cigar surprised me a lot. I'm not sure why, but I wasn't expecting a lot and a lot was what I got. The flavors in the first and second third were right in my wheelhouse for what I reach for every time I'm at a shop or open my humidor. Before you blow this off and think I wrote a good review because I consider Bonita a friend or because they are a sponsor of this site, please do yourself a solid and try one of these. If you're a peppery cigar fan, I'd be shocked if you didn't like it.

Would I buy it again? Yes

Would I buy a box? At that low a price, for me it's a no-brainer. Definitely box worthy.


January 23, 2012

Kristoff Corojo Limitada

Up for review today was the newest offering from Kristoff Cigars the Corojo Limitada. I keep a nice supply of Kristoff products in my humidor because I have found that, when I have friends over, it's a brand that normally goes over well from the most experienced smokers to the new guys/gals. 

From what I can find online, and from what Glen Case (owner of Kristoff cigars and all around one of the nicest guys you will meet in the cigar industry), told me the Corojo Limitada is the fullest in strength cigar they have in production at this time. 

A quote from the Kristoff Cigars Official webpage "The new Corojo Limitada is for the fan of Nicaraguan tobacco. Nearly a puros Nicaraguan blend, this medium-full bodied cigar is loaded with spice, nutmeg, toasted nut and a sweet-spicy finish. Made with 100% Habano seed tobacco that is double and triple fermented, the Corojo Limitada maintains the Kristoff tradition of flavor and smoothness. The signature of Kristoff Cigars."

I tend to lean more towards Nicaraguan cigars in my personal taste, so the quote above sounded good. On to the review...

Vitola: Robusto
Length: 5.5
Ring Gauge: 54
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican
Price: $8
Smoking Location: New Havana Cigars
Beverage: Water

The first thing I noticed when I got my hands on a Corojo Limitada was the expertly-constructed pig tail cap. Even though the cap has nothing really to do with how the cigar preforms, it's little finishes like this that I notice when walking in a B&M humidor with hundreds of brands to choose from. The other end of the cigar had a closed foot which was a rugged contrast to the cap. The wrapper color was a shiny medium brown that had some darker shades mixed in spots. All in all, it was a very natural processed leaf look. The un-lit aroma was mostly hay, but I did get some port wine scents. The cold draw was tight do to the unfinished foot with a simple, natural tobacco flavor.

First Third   
My Corojo Limitada opened up with a lot of thick smoke with a dominate leather flavor. The flavor was present both on the front of the profile, which made it a little dry, and on the finish which actually smoothed things out. It was kind of strange to have the same flavor, but two distinct textures all in one draw, but hey, that's what I got. The construction was excellent and the cigar draw and burn had zero issues. The thing that was a bit surprising to me was the strength of the cigar. I would put it at this point in the mild to lower-medium range; not typical for what I normally expect from Nicaraguan tobacco.  

Second Third  
The second third of my Corojo Limitada still had a lot of the leather flavor on the front of each puff and on the finish. What did change and come into play was a nice little pepper kick at the absolute back of each draw. I liked this addition because it took what was really a one-dimensional cigar up until now to a new level. The pepper was in no way a front runner in the flavor profile, but just a side note. The strength in the cigar continued to be in the mild to lower medium.

Final Third and Final Thoughts 
Finishing off my Corojo Limitada i was greeted yet again with another small change in the flavor profile. Each draw I took now had some sweet cedar on the front, though leather was still the most dominate flavor all over this stick This little difference here, and the little pepper difference in the second third, changed things up a bit. The construction throughout was perfect, and I was able to nub this cigar with ease. The strength of the cigar toward the end was a solid medium.

My final thoughts on Kristoff Corojo Limitada? While it's not the strong cigar I thought I was getting, it was still a very entertaining cigar. After burning an inch in, I thought to myself that this might be kind of boring, but I was wrong when met with the pepper in the second and the cedar in the third. Like I mentioned in my intro to this post, I would say this is another blend from Kristoff that a hardcore smoker or someone new to the hobby could smoke and enjoy.

Would I buy it again? Yes, I will keep some of these around.

Would I buy a box? This is not my personal favorite in terms of flavor profile, so I would pass on a full box.

January 21, 2012

Event: Smoke Inn presents The Great Smoke

Hey everyone. I am not able to attend this event this year (I actually will be in Miami the day after it, hard luck I know). But I wanted to give a plug for it because I went last year and had an absolute blast. In my opinion this is the best event of it's kind and should be attended at least once if you are a serious cigar fan.Cigarfest and Big Smoke have nothing on what the guys from Smoke Inn put on every year. Below are details about the event, and this years features.

If you go tell them Dan sent you.

This February Smoke Inn will be hosting their 6th Annual The Great Smoke event at their West Palm Beach location.  The Great Smoke event has grown to include forty of the industry’s top manufacturers with attendees receiving a cigar from each, along with the opportunity to meet the faces behind their favorite brands.  In addition to a duffel bag full of cigars, the event offers catered food and beverages, live music, along with copious specials and giveaways. 

Smoke Inn proprietor Abe Dababneh has even come up with a major promotion that guarantees to make 
The Great Smoke 2012 the most memorable yet – he’s giving away a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro!  In honor of Smoke Inn’s 15th anniversary, Abe had 300 limited edition humidors specially made by Altadis, each containing 50 premium cigars including; Romeo y Julieta, Montecristo, Trinidad, H Upmann, and Warlock. Each box comes with a detachable token that serves as the buyer’s entry into the raffle for the Camaro, and each box buyer also gets a base ticket toThe Great Smoke event (a $150 value) included with their box purchase! The Cigars have a $500 retail value, but Abe is offering the box at only $350.  There is no better way to join in on The Great Smoke then to get a 15th Anniversary box with your ticket and a chance to win a shiny 2011 Chevy Camaro!

The Great Smoke is held at Smoke Inn, West Palm Beach. The date of the event is February 18, 2012, from 1pm – 5pm.  Tickets start at $150, with VIP tickets available for $200.  VIP guests get valet parking, early access to the event starting at 12 noon, special seating with an additional bar, and an attendant wait staff for anything they desire.  

More information is available at 
www.thegreatsmoke.com where you can see the lineup of manufacturers, purchase tickets and browse photos of previous The Great Smoke events.

January 16, 2012

Liga Privada Unico Serie Feral Flying Pig

Today's cigar for review is the next installment from Drew Estate in the Flying Pig line. The Feral Flying Pig is a departure in size from the previous two pig releases (the Flying Pig #9 and the Flying Pig T52) and is quite a bit bigger. As well as the size being different, Jonathan Drew has posted online that it is a completely different blend than the other releases and that it is significantly stronger. Steve Saka (President of Of Drew Estate) has also been quoted saying this is the best Flying Pig release yet.

In this video that we did back in June of 2011 Jonathan speaks briefly about the stick  (at the 6:58 mark)
Video - Interview: Jonathan Drew, My Uzi Weighs A Ton - Burning Leaf, Chicago Illinois - Cigar Explorer from Cigar Explorer on Vimeo.

I'd heard a lot of hype for this stick for the last few months, so I was excited to finally get my hands on some because, currently, they don't seem to easy to come by. Now, on to the review...

Vitola: Big flying pig :) 
Length: 5.375
Ring Gauge: 60 (at it's fattest point)
Wrapper: Connecticut broadleaf
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $17 and some change in Ohio
Smoking Location: New Havana Cigars
Beverage: Water

First off, I want to say that the Feral Pig was a hefty cigar to hold in my hand. Not that the length or ring gauge felt overly beefy, but the weight was significant. There was a lot of thick tobacco rolled into this and I could tell. The wrapper was a very dark brown almost black coffee color with a few small veins, but nothing too ugly. For broadleaf, I'd say it was a pretty good looking leaf. The cigar feels expertly rolled and was finished off with the signature pig tail cap. The pre-lit aroma had what I would now consider the classic Liga Privada smell, consisting of a lot of sweetness, mixed in with floral notes. The cold draw was nice and free (more on that in a second) and tasted raw sweetness and orange peel. I mention the draw again because what I find very interesting and distinct about these sticks is you don't actually have to clip them to get a draw. You just tear the pig tail off the head of the cigar and you're good to go. That simple removal of the pigtail creates the prefect amount of air flow to get full puffs of smoke out of it. Nice fun feature.

First Third   
Lighting up this stick was very simple and the first few puffs on my Feral Flying Pig created a lot of flavors. On the front I tasted and felt a peppery warm spice coat parts of my palate as well as some espresso bitter bite. The finish of each puffs had tons of floral flavors and, even more noticeably, out the nose. At this point in the cigar, I'd say this was easily as complex as anything I have had in the Liga Privada line. The cigar put off a ton of resting smoke and burned at a very slow pace. The construction was excellent and even though the burn was a little wavy, I did not have to touch it up with my lighter. The strength was in the upper medium to lower full range. 

Second Third  
The second third of my Feral Flying Pig really really ramped up in strength. Just a few puffs into this part of my cigar I could already start to feel my heart beat pick up and my head get a little dizzy. I slowed my smoking rate down and that took care of any woozy feelings. During this part, the flavors seemed to back off a bit and most of the peppery spice and floral notes had died away. The main flavor now both on the front and the finish was the bitter espresso from the first third. I say bitter, but it was a nice bitter and not a bad flavor. It's also worth mentioning that the finish was very dry and left my mouth feeling dry but not dirty. Again the construction was excellent and the burn had no issues. The ash was also something worth noting because, as you can see in the photos, it held on all the way to the final third.

Final Third and Final Thoughts 
Getting to the end of my Feral Flying Pig saw some of that complexity from the first third start to pick up again. I started getting more spice on the front of each puff, which created a more balanced flavor with the espresso. I was really enjoying this stick again at this point, but I was also only drawing on the stick maybe once every five minutes. By this time my body was full up with nicotine and, while it wasn't overly uncomfortable or sickening in anyway, I knew not to push my limits. I smoked it to the nub and it never got hot or had any burn issues.

My final thoughts on the Liga Privada Unico Serie Feral Flying Pig? This cigar delivers exactly what is advertised when it comes to strength. This is not one for the light weights or even the medium strength smokers. I think it's the strongest thing I've ever had from Drew Estate. The the complexity of the first third was very impressive and the fact that it started to return at the end made for a very enjoyable start and finish to the smoking experience. I do think the cigar fell a little flat in the middle of the stick, but maybe with a bit of time that will change. Does it take the place of the Dirty Rat as my favorite Drew Estate cigar? No and it's a completely different type of cigar...but I would say it's now second on the list for me.
Would I buy it again? If I can find more I will pick some up.

Would I buy a box?  I'd be up for a split with someone.


January 7, 2012

La Flor Dominicana Factory Press IV

Today's review comes from a brand that I don't smoke all that often, but one of which I have had my fair share.  Although I am a fan of a few of the La Flor Dominicana blends (more specifically the Limitado IV), I  had never had one of their cigars blow me away.

The LFD Factory Press IV was released in November of 2011. The Factory Press line has been a pretty big hit for La Flor Dominicana and I wasn't surprised that a new version of this stick had hit the shelves.

A quote from Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana. (Taken from their Facebook page) "For years I have been fascinated with our cigar box-pressing system. Many times I have thought how great it would be to share the process with our fans. That is why I'm offering a very special cigar shipped in the actual factory press. Because the concept is so special we needed to blend a cigar that will be totally unique to La Flor Dominicana"

Like I said above, for me, La Flor Dominicana has had some winners and some losers. I was eager to find out how this particular stick fares.

Vitola: Box pressed Double Toro 
Length: 6.5
Ring Gauge: 60
Wrapper: Mexican
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Dominican
Price: $15 and up
Smoking Location: Governor's Smoke Shop
Beverage: Water

If you've ever had the chance to smoke (or even to hold) a cigar in the Factory Press line from La Flor Dominicana, you will notice one thing immediately. This was the hardest box-pressed, most squared off cigar that I can think of in the premium cigar industry. I always tell people that I think they look like Lincoln logs and that you could build a barn out of them. The wrapper of this particular stick was a light brown color with medium-sized veining. Another thing to note was the head of the cigar, which seemed to have an abnormally large amount of glue on it. Most of the time (including this review) the glue (or pectin) adds zero flavor, so it's not something that really bothers me. The pre-lit bouquet was very faint and smelled only of tobacco. The cold draw was nice and free and had a raisin flavor to it.

First Third   
My LFD Factory Press IV lit up easily and had a fantastic draw. I mention this mainly because, with such a odd shape, you never know how the construction will be. At this point the cigar had zero problems.  The flavor on the front of the profile was a mild white pepper; not very spicy but just enough to tingle some taste buds. The finish was also very mild with dry cocoa flavor. The finish, however, was a bit unpleasant. After a minute or two between puffs, I got a very ashy flavor in my mouth. It wasn't horrible, nor was it the greatest taste. The strength of the cigar was in the upper mild- to lower-medium range.

Second Third  
Before discussing the flavor of the second third, I want point out the ash on this stick. The ash was very white and flaky and would fall off with just a slight tap or breeze in the air. Be cautioned if you're wearing black.

As for the flavors, the profile changed a bit in the second third, as the pepper faded away and the dry cocoa really took over. I am guessing this flavor comes mostly from the Mexican wrapper on the cigar because I have taken note of other cigars with the same palate notes who also use that leaf. Yet another change for the better was that peculiar, ashy finishing taste I had in the first third had all but vanished. Now the finish on the cigar was very clean and almost a little short. The strength maintained in the upper mild-to-medium range.

Final Third and Final Thoughts 
Rounding out the final third of my LFD Factory Press IV, the cocoa flavors continued to pour in. The smoke was now very thick and coated my palate completely. Toward the nub, I got a bit of harshness in the back of my throat, but that could be due to me smoking the stick too fast. The strength finishing off the cigar had pushed up to a solid medium. The construction from first puff to finish was great, without any draw or burn issues.

My final thoughts on La Flor Dominicana Factory Press IV? If you are a fan of medium strength cigars with a lot of cocoa and chocolate flavors, you will dig this. The construction was great and I didn't had to "babysit" the cigar at all. I thought the shape and size felt a little awkward and the flavor profile was not as complex as I would have liked.

Would I buy it again? This particular stick is not one that fits my preferences and I would rather not buy it again, as there are other sticks from LFD that I prefer over this one.

Would I buy a box? See above.