Tobacconist’s Review – Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room F25 Copla

RyJ Aging Room F25 Copla
Wrapper: Dominican-grown habano (Cibao Valley)
Binder: Dominican-grown habano (Cibao Valley)
Filler: Dominican-grown habano (Cibao Valley)

Body: Medium-full
Vitola: Robusto (5” x 48)

Manufacturer: Boutique Blends
Factory: Tabacalera La Palma
Distributor: Altadis, USA
Blender: Rafael Nodal, et. al.

Smoke time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Price: $10.49

We all have Facebook friends, those whom we’ve never met yet share intimate details of our personal lives with… Well, I have one Facebook friend that I really look forward to meeting someday in person, Rafael Nodal.

No, not the tennis player… The Rafael I’m referring to is one of the principals of Boutique Blends Cigar Company and one of the blenders of the new, let me see if I can get this right, Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room F25… Whew, that’s a mouthful. And, what’s with the “F25?” More on that in a moment…

I first “met” Rafael back in 2009. At the time, I was doing some work for a cigar company located in Miami and Rafael and Boutique Cigars had just released the first of their Aging Room lines, the M356. Even back then I was a cigar geek and sought Rafael out in order to learn as much as I could about his new cigars. I’m sure he must have entertained the thought of me being a stalker as I inundated him with question after question about Aging Room cigars, his other ventures such as Swag and Oliveros and many, many more. Let me tell you, he’s a trooper. He answered every single question and taught me more than I could have asked.

[Author’s note: Rafael is also a world class pianist and composer. Below you can hear him play his composition, “Renacer.”]

There are a lot of cigar makers that have wonderfully entertaining, often intriguing backstories, but I prefer Rafael’s. You see, Rafael came to the United States from Cuba as a teen during the Mariel Boat Lift of the 1980’s. Once here, he worked his way up in healthcare, earning his degree and landing a job in healthcare finance. He met his partner, Hank Bischoff, and his wife while working for a mental health facility and the three of them eventually took over Oliveros Cigars.

Building on the Oliveros company, Rafael and his partners came out with Swag Puro Dominicano, which is a story for another day, and the first Aging Room cigars, the M356. Both blends received great reviews and scored in the 90’s in Cigar Aficionado’s ratings. Since then, Boutique Blends has released several more cigars in the Aging Room line, all of which have met with acclaim.

[Author’s notes: The naming of most Aging Room cigars includes a letter/number combination, such as M356 or F25. These “codes” refer to the day of the week (M = Monday or F = Friday) and the day of the year (356th day of the year or 25th day of the year) that the cigar blends were created on. The fun part is trying to figure out exactly what date the blends were created on… Cigar math… Ready? Go!]

Now, to the cigar at hand…

For simplicity sake, and to spare my wrists further carpal tunnel swelling, I’ll refer to this one as the Aging Room F25.

At first glance, the Aging Room F25 commands you to take a second glance.

The packaging of this cigar is striking. From the high-gloss box with the gilded art cover to the gleaming bands on the cigars inside, you can tell that no expense was spared on this project. A small booklet included in the box describes the cigars and seems to be a very thoughtful touch.

The cigar itself, once the foot band, main band and protective paper sleeve are removed you are greeted by a deep brown, glossy and rather toothy wrapper covering what looks like (judging from the foot) a diverse filler bunch.

All of the tobacco used in this blend is from two farms located in the Cibao River Valley in the Dominican Republic. La Canela is the farm where most of the tobaccos used in Aging Room cigars grows under the watchful eye of black tobacco master, Jochy Blanco.

Physically, the cigar is perfect. Solid from head to foot with minimal veins showing on the wrapper and a perfectly mounted, slightly flattened head. The foot of the cigar gives off a faint chocolate aroma while the wrapper smells of fresh cut grass and well-fermented tobacco.

Cutting the cap of the Aging Room F25 was effortless using my Xikar Xi1 cutter and the initial cold draw was full and easy. Toasting the foot lightly brought out a nutty aroma with a bit of spice.

Bear in mind that this is a fuller bodied smoke, and the first few puffs of the Aging Room F25 were intense with a bold pepper note. This did tame significantly by the time I was ½ inch into the cigar but remained noticeable throughout the first half of the cigar. Once lit, the Aging Room F25 Copla produced a ton of very rich, very full-bodied smoke with little to no effort required on the draw.

Throughout the cigar the peppery notes remained, building and fading as I progressed. There are some sweet notes to the aroma and a predominant coffee character along with a characteristic I’ve found in other Aging Room cigars that I can’t quite put words to… A good characteristic; a nice tone.

The construction of the Aging Room F25 was spot on lighting easily and requiring no attention while resting. The cigar produces a somewhat flaky, bright white ash and held a burn line you could slice bread on. In fact, the cigar burned so well throughout I took a few extra photos… Picture perfect!

Aging Room F25 Copla

With Nicaraguan cigars and tobacco being the current rage, it’s nice to see a cigar maker that eschews trends and produces an outstanding cigar, and a puro at that, from the Dominican Republic, a cigar producer with an unfortunate reputation for making “mild” cigars.

By carefully blending well grown, properly processed tobaccos Rafael and the team at Boutique Blend Cigars have managed to create a full bodied, very flavorful, highly aromatic and quite complex cigar that I’m certain will follow its predecessors to the top of every cigar magazine’s “top” list.

Bottom line… The Romeo by Romeo y Julieta Aging Room F25 is an outstanding cigar that still comes in with a reasonable price and a wonderful story. Be sure to treat this cigar with the respect it deserves and enjoy after a good meal, and preferably with a good drink.

Good smokes!

Marty Klausmeier, CRT
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain

Tobacconist’s Review – San Lotano “The Bull” torpedo

San Lotano "The Bull" torpedo

Brand/Line:  San Lotano “The Bull”

Purchase date:  2/24/15

Smoke date: 6/22/15

Vitola: Torpedo

Size: 6 1/2 “ x 54

Purchase price:  $6.85 ea.

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped single

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Sumatra

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler blend:  Nicaragua

Manufacturer:  Tabacalera Fernandez

Blender:  Abdel J. Fernandez

Distributor:  AJ Fernandez Cigars

Appearance:  Beautifully done. Each cigar comes sleeved in cedar which has the bull’s head logo “branded” onto it and banded with the standard San Lotano band. The wrapper is a deep reddish-brown, almost colorado rosado, with a healthy sheen of oil and a very slight tooth. The cigars are slightly box pressed and look just gorgeous.

Construction:  The Bull feels great in the hand, thanks in part to the soft press of the cigar. Each stick feels well filled, not too soft, not to firm… but just right. The foot reveals several bunches of well placed filler tobaccos and the pointed head is shaped and finished to perfection.

Cut and light:  I was able to cut the head with ease using my Xikar Xi1 grip cutter. A soft light with a Bic lighter was all it took to get the foot glowing and the smoke underway.

The Smoke:  The initial puffs of the San Lotano The Bull are filled with pepper and woody notes. While rather intense for the first ½ inch or so, the pepper quickly subsides yet remains present in the background for the rest of the cigars. The cigar maintains a woody, earthy profile like most Nicaraguan cigars, but the Sumatra-seed wrapper contributes a layer of pleasant spice not usually found in Nicaragua tobacco.

The Bull smokes perfectly maintaining an even burn and immaculate burn line. The ash held for over an inch before I tapped it off. I was able to leave the cigar unattended for well over 5 minutes without ever having to re-light or touch it up, a testament to the great construction AJ Fernandez’s cigars are known for.

Smoke time:  1 hour, 15 minutes (I smoked this to the nub!)

Discussion: Billed as medium to full bodied, I find the San Lotano “The Bull” closer to the full-bodied end of the spectrum. While I wouldn’t recommend this cigar to a beginner, I think that as full-bodied cigars go, this is one of the most easily approached.

Why I like this cigar: With all of the Nicaraguan tobacco based blends hitting the market right now, it’s nice to find one that’s just a little bit different. The Sumatra-seed wrapper from Ecuador is one of my personal favorites for its ability to add a deep spiciness to the aroma of a cigar. In selecting this wrapper for The Bull, AJ Fernandez created another great “Nicaraguan” cigar that doesn’t taste like every other Nicaraguan cigar out there.

I’ve been a huge fan of AJ Fernandez work and we have featured several of his blends as “Featured Boutique Blends” this year already. I’m glad that we’re able to offer this blend too for it has a profile that is unique and unlike any other blend we offer.

Customer Review: Foundry Elements Cobalt Robusto by Thurston Howell IV

Foundry Elements - Cobalt robusto

Back again with a special stick from those strange folks at Foundry Cigars.

The Cobalt robusto, aka “The Goblin,” is from the Foundry Elements line created by master blender Michael Giannini. Now there’s not much info on any of the cigars he makes, but I can tell you that the Cobalt robusto is 5 ¼ x 54 and it contains Nicaraguan, Mexican and Mysterious tobaccos. The element the cigar derives its name from is used to build alloys and bring components together. The same can be said about this cigar because it brings all these different tobaccos together to make a truly unique smoking experience.

Things to notice when the cellophane comes off is the big band which is very cool looking that sticks with that steampunk vibe that all foundry cigar have. The cigar has a rather strong sent of cedar to it. The wrapper has a nice brown hue with no cracks in it. You’ll notice that cigar is more oval shaped then round, like it was box pressed. It cuts with no issues and has a good draw, one that’s not too tight but doesn’t feel like I’m drinking through a straw.

The first few puffs bring a whole assortment of flavors for you to discover. It has a taste of cedar and almonds, which is an unusual flavor combination, but it works. There’s also a slight acidic taste to it, which leaves a tingle on your tongue. There are some spicy notes that I can’t put my finger on. All together this is quite the flavor experience and we’ve only just started.

As I smoke more into this cigar the flavors seem to intensify, showcasing how the flavors work together. The ash is a nice white color and holds together well. I did notice an irregular burn line near the start of this cigar but it quickly corrected itself. This cigar also doesn’t need to be constantly watched while it burns. I’ve let it sit in the ashtray for a few minutes while I’ve worked on this review and it hasn’t needed to be relit. As I come to end of the Cobalt robusto, I’ve noticed a strong surge of spice bringing things to a nice end.

A few notes. I’ve noticed the smoke is relatively light so this could be a great social smoke. It is a mild-medium bodied smoke so even a beginner smoker would enjoy this little treasure. I would say this cigar lives up to its namesake and gives us something new, unlike anything else I’ve tried.

My hat is off to you Michael, You’ve once again made a cigar that truly one of a kind and I look forward to whatever brilliant creations you bring us next!

Customer’s Review: The Vega Fina Gran Toro by Thurston Howell IV

Vega Fina Nicaragua Gran Toro

It’s been awhile since my last written review and what a gem to be given. So let’s start with getting some facts out of the way. This blend comes in three different sizes: Corona (5 ¾ by 42), Robusto (5 by 50), and Gran Toro (6 by 52). I’ll be smoking the Gran Toro today, which is perfect for the lovely weather we’re having here in Wisconsin. This is a very reasonably priced cigar at only $6.05 per stick.

This is a Nicaraguan cigar all the way through, from the wrapper to the filler. The wrapper is a Nicaraguan Habano 2000, binder is Nicaraguan Seco, and the filler is Nicaraguan Ligero, Nicaraguan Viso, and Nicaraguan Seco. The wrapper is a nice dark tan color with a few veins and bumps. Upon smelling the foot of the cigar I get some subtle note of chocolate and cherry. The cigar cuts easily and has an excellent draw. Let’s light her up and see how she smokes.

As I take my first puff of this cigar the word that jumps to mind is spice. It hits the tongue and back of my throat hard. With each puff there is quite a large volume of smoke, probably because of the easy draw. After the few puffs it mellows out and brings in a subtle sweet taste. It really rounds out the flavors and makes for an enjoyable smoke. As I get through the first third of the cigar I notice how well the cigars burns. Nice and even. It’s been very well rolled to the point where the ash stays on the cigar without always needing to be knocked off or falling from its own weight.

About halfway through the cigar now and seems to have developed a black pepper taste. It’s quite interesting as far as flavors go. Overall I’d say its medium to full flavor but medium strength so not too harsh for every day smoking. As we come to the end of the smoke the flavors seemed to mellowed out but leave a nice tangy aftertaste. There were a few issues while smoking that I noticed. It liked to go out if you weren’t paying too close attention to it, which isn’t good if you’re trying to socialize. The smoke is very thick and likes to linger so it’s best to smoke outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. One problem my stick had is that the wrapper started to crack slightly as I got further into the cigar. I hope it was just my cigar and not all of them.

Overall I would say this is a fantastic smoke and it would be foolish to pass it up.

Tobacconist’s Review – Carolina Cigar Company Carolina – Carolina Corona #1 Cappuccino

The Carolina corona #1 cappuccino The Carolina corona #1 cappuccino packaging

Brand/Line: Carolina Cigar Company Carolina Corona #1 Cappuccino

Purchase date: 4/28/2015

Smoke date: 5/21/2015

Vitola: Long Corona

Size: 6” x 42

Purchase price: $3.49

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped singles in zip-lock package

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Wrapper: Cameroon

Binder:  Sumatra

Filler blend: Dominican Republic

Distributor: Carolina Cigar Company

Appearance: The cigar comes wrapped in cellophane and enclosed in a hermetically sealed zip-lock bag that maintains the cigar’s freshness. The cigar itself is wrapped in a dark, colorado maduro Cameroon wrapper that has a good degree of tooth and a nice glossy sheen of oil. The banding is traditional and gives the cigar a nice, classic look.

Construction: The cigar is well built if maybe just a bit soft. The draw was very easy without seeming “loose.” Overall the cigar felt spot on.

Cut and light: The head of the cigar cut easily with my Xikar Xi1 cutter and lit with ease using a single jet torch style lighter.

The Smoke: The Carolina Cigar Company Carolina Corona #1 Cappuccino begins with a mild body and a slightly sweet note to the finish over what is otherwise a very traditional tobacco flavor core. I did not get an overpowering sense of coffee or cappuccino, but the aroma was definitely there in the background. The Cameroon wrapper contributed a bit of mild spice to the aroma, which compliments the overall blend nicely.

By mid-cigar, the flavor and aroma intensified, however at no point did any one flavor become predominant nor did the body go much farther than mild-medium.

Smoke time: 40 minutes

Why I like this cigar: Those of you that know me know that I’m not a huge “flavored” cigar aficionado so you might want to sit down for this…

I love this cigar!

As flavored cigars go, this is in my opinion, one of the best-blended, well-balanced options around. The subtle sweetness contributed by the cappuccino compliments the blend of this cigar very nicely.

Truth be told, for the majority of the cigar I barely noticed the flavoring and enjoyed the cigar for just what it is… A very well done, mild to medium bodied premium cigar.

So, if you’re a flavored cigar fan, golfer looking for a good stick for the links, or just wanting to try something different, definitely give the Carolina Cigar Company Carolina Corona #1 Cappuccino a try!

P.s. We also offer this blend in Amaretto, Sambuca, and Carolina Fire flavor!

Check out all the blends online here….

M. Klausmeier, CRT
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain

Marty K’s Top Five “Not Necessarily New” Cigars of 2014

BlogMarty K’s Top Five “Not Necessarily New” Cigars of 2014

With every cigar magazine finished releasing their version of the “Top Cigars” of 2014, I thought the subject would make good fodder for a short series of reviews.

Rather than go into my usual depth, I’ll keep these short and sweet. High points only, mostly because these cigars have no low points…

Now most lists feature cigars that were released in 2014, but I’m not one to follow the crowd. Only three of these cigars were actually introduced in 2014. Mea a culpa.

But, of all the cigars I smoked over the course of the year (156 different brands, just for the record…) these five are my favorites.

5.  Partagas 1845 Extra Fuerte Gigante (new in 2014)

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano ligero

Binder: Connecticut-grown Habano

Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan

Body: Full

Size: 6” x 60

Price: $7.49

Thoughts: The combination of the Ecuadorian habano ligero wrapper with a habano binder from Connecticut really provides a nice spice to the aroma. Piloto Cubano is one of my favorite filler tobaccos providing a nice strength to the blend. The Extra Fuerte is a full-bodied smoke with great balance and a wonderfully complex aroma. My only wish with this cigar would be if they produced it in a corona format. This is a must try cigar for all full-bodied fans.

4.  Padilla Reserva Corona (new in 2014)

Wrapper: Ecuadorian habano

Binder: Ecuadorian habano

Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo

Body: Medium

Size: 5” x 43

Price: $6.25

Thoughts: Back in the day, I cut my teeth on Padilla cigars.   So much so, that I still go by the handle “PadillaGuy” on many cigar boards. And, of the Padilla blends I’ve smoked the new Reserva is one of my favorites. I’m a huge fan of corona-sized cigars as they offer one of the best vitola to really get to know a blend. The Ecuadorian habano wrapper on the Reserva natural delivers a pleasant spice with notes of pepper while the corojo and Criollo fillers add complexity and body. This medium bodied offering from Ernest Padilla and Oliva Cigar Company easily makes the Top 5…

3.  Camacho Triple Maduro 11/18

Wrapper: Mexican San Andres maduro

Binder: Honduran Corojo maduro

Filler: Dominican, Honduran, and Brazilian maduro

Body: Full

Size: 6” x 54

Price: $8.99

Thoughts: I’m often asked what my “favorite” cigar is and my answer is always the same. And, while I don’t have a “favorite” or “go to” cigar, if I had only one cigar to smoke for the rest of my days, it would be the Camacho Triple Maduro, hands down. The Triple Maduro was the first cigar blended using all maduro tobaccos for not only wrapper and binder, but all filler tobaccos as well. Quite full bodied and very slow burning, the Triple Maduro was the cigar I choose to smoke while taking my Tobacconist Certification Exam and continues to be a cigar I cherish each time I smoke one. If you’re a full-bodied fan or a true lover of maduro cigars, you simply must try this cigar. Interesting side note… the 11/18 size was named for former Camacho Cigar head Christian Eiroa’s mother’s birthdate, November 18th

2.  Chillin’ Moose Corona by Foundry (new in 2014)

Wrapper: US Connecticut Habano Rosado

Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican, Mexican San Andres, US Connecticut Broadleaf

Body: Medium

Size: 5.2” x 45

Price: $3.59

Thoughts: It isn’t common for a sub-$4 dollar cigar to make any “top” list, but I’m not a common type of guy. Neither is the Chillin’ Moose from Foundry cigars a common cigar. For less than four bucks, you can pick up a Chillin’ Moose corona and find out what I mean. Produced by Michael Gianinni, creator of Foundry Cigars, the Chillin’ Moose may be the very best value in the cigar world. A gorgeous rosado wrapper covers a multi-nation blend of all long-filler tobaccos. This ain’t no mixed filler cigar! The body remains medium throughout the smoke while the blend delivers an amazing aroma and smooth smoke with a lingering finish. Comments usually associated with high priced sticks like OpusX? Yes. Price tag like an Opus? Not even close. Trust me, at this price point, you wont find a better deal, a more balanced smoke, or more unusual band art. Here’s to you Michael!

1.  Vega Fina Toro

Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Criollo

Binder: Indonesian TBN

Filler: Colombia, Honduras, and Dominican Republic

Body: Medium

Size: 6” x 50

Price: $5.89

Thoughts: Many of you may never have heard of Vega Fina cigars, let alone tried one, so this #1 selection may come as a surprise to some, so let me explain.

Vega Fina in the number one selling, non-Cuban cigar in Europe. Surprised?

In fact, Vega Fina outpaces many Cuban cigars on the European market. Surprised yet?

No? Okay, how’s this…

Vega Fina is a true bargain brand coming in under $6 for the 6” x 50 toro? Yes, for less than six bucks US, you can smoke the cigar that outsells most Cuban cigars in Europe, where they can smoke any Cuban cigar they want!

Now, that all being said, it’s not the reason I would pick the Vega Fina toro over all the others, it’s the total package. The Vega Fina toro is a medium bodied smoke at best, which makes the cigar very approachable to all cigar enthusiasts, old and new. A beginner can easily enjoy this cigar equally as well as a discriminating aficionado.

The Vega Fina blend of spicy Mexican Criollo wrapper, subtly sweet Indonesian TBN binder, and rich tri-country filler blend combine harmoniously to deliver a smooth smoke that leaves the palate with a savory, long finish. The aroma produced by the golden brown Criollo wrapper grown in the volcanic soils of the San Andres region is delightfully spicy with a touch of pepper over a baking spice mix.

Vega Fina cigars are beautifully constructed, burn correctly every time, and have a consistency between cigars not often accomplished.

So, there you have them, my favorite cigars smoked in 2014. I’d encourage you to compare these cigars with what you normally smoke and to try one or two of these outstanding cigars. The year’s young!

Good smokes…

Martin Klausmeier

Tobacconist’s Review – Diesel Grind Double Toro

Diesel Grind Double Toro

Brand/Line: Diesel Grind

Purchase date:  3 March, 2015

Smoke date: 3 March, 2015

Vitola: Double toro

Size: 6” x 60

Purchase price: $5.65

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped single

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown Habano oscuro

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler blend: Proprietary Nicaraguan blend (secret)

Manufacturer: A.J. Fernandez

Blender: A.J. Fernandez

Distributor: Meier and Dutch

Appearance: The wrapper is an evenly colored, medium brown with a slight oil and a fair amount of tooth. The wrapper is applied seamlessly and has minimal veining. The bold blue foot band provides a nice contrast to the rich brown of the wrapper and adds distinction in a world of red, gold, and black cigar bands.

Construction: The cigar is rolled beautifully with no soft or hard spots. The cap is perfectly mounted. The foot reveals several bunches of well packed tobaccos.

Cut and light: The cap cut easily using my Xikar Xi grip cutter. The cold draw was ample and produced a sweet tobacco aroma. Lighting the Grind was easily accomplished with a single jet torch style lighter.

The Smoke: The initial puffs are quite spicy, with quite a predominate pepper note on the retrohale. The pepper notes subside after about ½ inch, however remain in the background throughout the smoke.

About an inch into the cigar, the strength mellows a bit settling in to a solid medium body. The flavors are woody and pleasant while the aroma has touches of tea and becomes slightly sweet.

From beginning to end, the Diesel Grind Double Toro maintained a perfect burn. The cigar produced a heavy, white ash that held on to the cigar with tenacity. You can even see the tooth on the ash, always a good sign!

Smoke time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Why I like this cigar: Personally, I don’t smoke a lot of extra-large, 60 ring cigars but the Diesel Grind Double Toro is one that would easily fit my usual rotation.

Unlike many gordos, the Diesel Grind Double Toro does not “draw like a straw,” providing just the right amount of resistance on the draw to allow for easy smoking without the cigar running hot.

The taste/aroma profile of the Diesel Grind is what I would term a “traditional” blend. Notes of wood, earth and a slightly bitter chocolate all meander in and out throughout the cigar providing enough interest make the cigar exciting without ever loosing balance.

While billed as “full bodied,” I would categorize the Diesel Grind as a Medium-Full body, leaning more toward the medium side.

Fans of cigars like Punch, Excalibur, and Rocky Patel’s “The Edge” will find the Diesel Grind’s profile to be similar, yet unique enough to be different.

But, my favorite feature of the Diesel Grind Double Toro has to be its price point. There aren’t many 6” x 60 cigars available under $8, let alone under $6, but that’s just where the Grind fits in, $5.65 a stick.

For a 6”x60 cigar hailing from the hands of A.J. Fernandez that’s all but unheard of.

Overall, the Grind is one of the better “new” cigars I’ve tried this year, a fact strengthened by its great price.

Grab a few and sit back… Enjoy!

M. Klausmeier
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain

Tobacconist’s Review: Oliva Serie V Lancero

The Oliva Serie V Lancero

The Oliva Serie V Lancero

Brand/Line: Oliva Serie V

Purchase date: December 20, 2014

Smoke date: December 20, 2014

Vitola: Lancero

Size: 7” x 38

Purchase price: $6.65

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped single

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Nicaraguan sun-grown habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler blend: Nicaraguan ligero (Jalapa Valley) and other Nicaraguan tobaccos

Manufacturer: Tabacalera Oliva de Esteli

Distributor: Oliva Cigar Company

Appearance: The Oliva Serie V lancero is wrapped in a rich, nearly rosado sun-grown wrapper. The wrapper has an oily sheen to it and has just a bit of tooth. The Serie V lancero is finished with a traditional cap rather than the “rabito” head commonly found on lanceros. The banding is minimalist with browns, reds and gold. In all, the Serie V is a great looking stick.

Construction: Lanceros are notoriously difficult to roll. The small ring gauge means that every single leaf must be positioned perfectly to provide ample draw, and the Oliva Serie V lancero is the picture of perfection. Solid yet not overly stiff, the cigar feels great in the hand and somehow, elegant.

Cut and light: Cutting the Serie V lancero is simple and the well-mounted head ensures that the cigar will maintain its integrity while smoked. The smaller ring gauge requires very little to get going and lit with a few passes of a single jet, torch lighter.

The Smoke: The Serie V produces some of the most complex and refined tastes and aromas of any cigar available in the world. The rich, oily habano wrapper contributes a spicy and leathery note to aroma while the filler blend brings flavors of coffee, nuts, and a bit of earth.

The blend produces a very smooth smoke despite its outright strength. Being a lancero, this cigar can overheat easily so taking one’s time is a must in order to fully appreciate all of the cigars qualities.

Smoke time: 45 minutes

Why I like this cigar: The Oliva Serie V is not, let me just say that again, NOT a cigar for a beginner. Not to put anyone off, but if you don’t have a moderately high tolerance for nicotine, you won’t be able to appreciate this cigar fully.

That being said, the Serie V is a very full-bodied, very flavorful cigar with an amazing aroma. All those 90+ ratings from Cigar Aficionado can’t be wrong… (Right?)

Nicaragua produces some of the richest black tobaccos in the world right now and the Serie V is one of the best examples of what can be done with high quality tobacco in the hands of a true master blender.

The habano wrapper delivers an amazing array of aromas and when combined with the rich fillers, produces a great mouth feel with a long lasting finish.

I like the lancero vitola particularly because in this small ring gauge, the aroma from the wrapper really shines through. (Those of you who’ve had a chance to talk with me know I favor smaller ring gauges just for this reason!)

Oh the whole, at under $7.00, the Oliva Serie V lancero is one of the best premium cigar bargains out there. Better yet? The come 36 to a box making a box purchase one amazing deal! I can’t think of another, multi-90+ rated cigar that can be bought in boxes of 36 for less than 7 bucks a stick.

Bargain hunters, full-bodied enthusiasts, this cigar is for you!

M. Klausmeier
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain

Tobacconist’s Review: Joya de Nicaragua Red Toro

JdN Red Toro

Brand/Line: Joya de Nicaragua Red

Purchase date: 5 January, 2015

Smoke date: 5 January, 2015

Vitola: Toro

Size: 6” x 52

Purchase price: $7.05

Packaging: Cellophane wrapped single

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler blend: Nicaraguan (Jalapa, Condega, and Esteli)

Manufacturer: Joya de Nicaragua

Blender: Juan Ignacio Martínez

Distributor: Drew Estate

Appearance: The Joya de Nicaragua Red uses bold colors and big bands to really announce this cigar. The Nicaraguan habano wrapper gleams with oil and shows a slight amount of tooth. Overall, the Joya Red is a very appealing looking cigar.

Construction: The Joya Red feels solid in the hand and well rolled. There were no hard or soft spots and the wrapper was applied nearly seamlessly. Overall, the Joya Red is a great looking cigar.

Cut and light: I cut the Joya Red using my Xikar Xi2 grip cutter and was able to produce a perfect cut. The cold draw is flawless, with just a slight resistance. After toasting the foot, the Joya Red toro light easily using a single-jet torch style lighter.

The Smoke: Unlike most Joya de Nicaragua cigars, the Joya Red hit and stayed in the medium body range from the start. The smoke is creamy and slightly sweet with spicy notes through the nose.   The spiciness increases a bit as the cigar is smoked, but never becomes overwhelming while the blend remains medium bodied throughout. As the cigar progresses, the aroma remains spicy, but other tones such as a slight floral aroma and a woody/nutty flavor develop keeping the blend from becoming singular or predictable.

Smoke time: 55 minutes

Why I like this cigar: I’ve been a longtime fan of Joya de Nicaragua cigars. For pure, unadulterated strength with amazing flavor and finish, it’s hard to be a Joya de Nicaragua 1970 Antano…

But, the Joya de Nicaragua Red is not about full on, in your face strength. Rather, the Joya Red delivers a flavorful and very aromatic blend without kicking your teeth in… Joya Red is all about balance.

The initial bit of the cigar does produce some rather bold spiciness through the nose, but this tempers as the smoke progresses. It’s the aroma that cinches the deal for me.

The Joya Red does a magnificent job of bringing great taste, plus wonderful aromas together while maintaining a medium body and it does so with a great price.

At seven bucks and a nickel, the Joya de Nicaragua Red provides at least an hour of fine smoking pleasure that can easily be enjoyed by fans of milder blends as well as full-bodied aficionados.

M. Klausmeier
Tobacconist – SmokesOnMain