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21
May

Origin : CubaVegas Robaina
Format : Piramides
Size : 156 x 52
Ring : 52
Hand-Made
Price : ~$25 each
More info about purchasing Vegas Robaina cigars…

Vegas Robaina Unicos is to me the perfect choice for every Montecristo No.2 lovers interesting to discover new cigars.
Vegas Robaina was created in 1997 after the famous Robaina family known for growing the finest wrapper in the San Luis area in Pinar del Region, in Cuba. At the origin of the creation of the Marca, Don Alejandro, the old man and true legend in the world of cigar was looking after the family plantation. This year Vegas robin celebrates its 20th anniversary and I am happy to share a review of one of the most interesting piramides vitola on the market ( to my opinion).

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 6 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Strength : 3 out of 6 stars

Overall : 4.3 out of 6 stars (4.3)

Appearance : 2.5 out of 6 stars
The Unicos does not wear a wrapper as prestigious as its brand name. The Robaina family was known to grow the finest wrapper. This one, just out of the humidor has a dry feeling to it. The whole leaf is filled with green spots everywhere. This should not be going out of the quality control.

Tasting

Unlit, the cigar develops some very interesting floral notes. Bringing freshness and finesse into the blend.

1st Third

First few puff highlighted a strong creaminess, I wasn’t expected such a texture and even thought it was the wrong blend from the factory. I have enjoyed many Vegas Robaina and we could describe them in many ways but not as creamy cigars.
The Draw was perfect to my opinion. However, don’t forget I like a bit of resistance to my cigars and do not enjoy a loose draw.
The burn was great, expressing the perfect construction of the smoke. The ash was developing evenly in lines without requiring any effort to make it even. This latter was solid and would stay on the cigar for a while before expressing some weak signs.
A feeling of saltiness is dominant during the first third which reminds me of some age Sancho Panza Sancho. The saltiness developed mineral hints to the blend over taking completely the first texture I enjoyed, the creaminess.

2nd Third

A great earthiness and saltiness is expressing during the second third. The fresh feeling of that thick smoke is far away from being medium to full as the brand official strength but closer to light to medium. The flavours are short on the palate. Although all of them are very round and smooth which makes it very easy to enjoy.

I remember the Unicos being stronger and richer than that. I am very surprised with the light to medium strength and the lack of depth.

3rd Third

The aroma is very pleasant reminding of walnut wood soft burning.
The last third was surprisingly delicate soft and smooth. The typical earthiness of the unicos was present but very gently. The dry feeling, reminding of a Chablis chalky finish, is rather medium but yet not to the power I am used to enjoy with the brand.

The end of the last third increases, finally, in intensity. The burn and draw remained very constant. The cigar is medium developing richer flavours with notes of cereal lasting on the palate. The last finish is extremely leathery! What a journey.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Vegas Robaina Unicos

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20
May

There are many new exciting releases this year. The new Cohiba 2017 limited edition, called Talisman is one of them. This big size cigar (154 X 54) may become another big collector items.

Like every year, Habanos S.A. will host a launch evening to promote the new Limited edition cigars. Last year the Romeo y Julieta Capuletos was presented first in the Italian city of Verona, organised by the country’s exclusive distributor Diademas S.P.A.
A very limited number of guests including Habanos Specialists, representatives of Smoking Clubs, Habanos Exclusive Distributors from other countries, media and influencers are usually part of that special event.

This year the Cohiba Talisman will most probably be launched on the land of Hunters and Frankau. Exclusive distributor for the United Kingdom. If the city of London is almost confirmed to be presenting the new gold and black double banded cigar, the date is a total mystery. I would guess not before October or November…

Let’s see if the inspector was right or wrong…

Happy Smokes!

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cohiba Talisman EL 2017 – Launch Evening

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19
May

Jose L. PiedraOrigin : Cuba
Format : Petit Cazadores
Size : 105mm (4 1/8″) x 43 (17,07mm)
Hand-Finished Short-Filler
Price : ~$1.70 (online)
More info about purchasing Jose L. Piedra cigars…

Here the humblest of all Habanos cigars, in many European cigar shops at a wonderfully low price, but in fact a consistent good smoke giving extraordinary value for money. José L. Piedra is one of the globally best-selling of all Cuban cigar brands, thanks to the price point but also because smokers often find, ‘Hey, José, you are ok!’

Tasting

The Piedras are surprisingly tasty & not so rough as one might guess. The Petit Cazadores is not only a fine short smoke at a budget price, it is also the ideal cigar to keep around for your not-yet-cigar-puffing friends who have a hankering to ‘smoke a Cuban’ & who might lay the stick down too early.

Habanos lists José L. Piedra cigars as all ‘hand-made’, but ‘hand-finished’ would be a better term, given that Piedras are all ‘short-filler’ cigars, i.e., the filler is composed of chopped-up tobacco leaf small pieces, rather than hand-rolled larger leaf portions as in premium cigars.

José Piedras do, however, have a hand-applied wrapper & traditional Cuban cap that must be punched or cut for you to smoke it. It thus looks quite like a ‘real’ Cuban cigar, and your newbie mate smoking a cigar for the first time can have the ‘full experience’ including cutting or punching his or her stick to get it ready.

The Petit Cazadores is a terrific vitola, the 43 ring gauge a whisker thicker than a standard Corona, just plump enough to be ok for robusto fans, whilst still pleasant for those like myself who prefer less-thick cigars. The length at 105 mm, or just over 4 inches, looks and feels good, giving some of us just over a half-hour smoking time.

Flavour-wise there can be some variance given what short-filler pieces end up in the cigar, tho overall I find the José Piedra Petit Cazadores to have reasonably rich & pleasant nutty flavours, sometimes even with a bit of a creamy tone as if there was peanut butter, along with some cedar or woodiness especially at the beginning. Sometimes a Piedra is a bit of a dud, or has some unwelcome acid or harshness a bit early, but sometimes it’s terrific & it seems you got one with some Montecristo remnants stuffed in there.

The Piedras (and most of the ‘better’ short-fillers) do benefit from humidor time, contrary to the myth; in my area the Habanos shops keep the Piedra boxes in the humidor room.

Cosmetically the Piedras can be a little rough, sometimes with a humorously mis-matched cap, veins or spots etc., but they tend to be sufficiently oily & sturdy. I find they burn well & generally draw easily (a typical short-filler virtue), with decent ash. Short-fillers can get harsh a bit earlier, but I generally cross the 30-minute mark with the Petit Cazadores in my slow-puffing style.

Because the short-filler innards of these sticks are similar to machine-made stogies, some prosperous smokers avoid them. But in fact, of the 30 Cuban cigar brands that can be counted in current production, no less than 9 brands have at least one short-filler cigar in the range.

3 of those 9 Cuban brands are non-Habanos, the all-machine-made marques of ICT (Internacional Cubana de Tabacos), including the well-known mild, pre-cut Guantánamera sticks (another good-value ‘cheap Cuban’).

Of the 27 Habanos brands, 3 marques are entirely short-filler (tho conventionally wrapped & capped, so ‘hand-made’), and 3 have only one short-filler cigar. Por Larrañaga & Rafael Gonzalez have short-filler 37 ring gauge Panetelas, whilst Fonseca has a short-filler 40 ring gauge Delicias, all the rest of those brands being long-filler; whilst Flor de Cano, Quintero & José L. Piedra have only short-filler cigars.

Piedras are the lowest-price of the Cuban short-fillers but also the one rated by Habanos as being strongest in flavour, ‘medium-full’ like many Montecristos & Cohibas … and the flavour strength along with the low price (in my part of Europe) make these an irresistible buy.

José Piedras are usually sold only in their handy boxes of 5 (or 25), but here in the Low Countries, a box of 5 Petit Cazadores (Spanish for ‘Little Hunters’), sell for just under the price of a single Montecristo No. 4. The brand is a classic going back to the late 1800s, José LaMadrid Piedra being head of a family in Cuba originally from Asturias in northern Spain. José Piedra cigars are not the highest-profit items for Habanos, but I well appreciate how Piedras became amongst the leaders for Habanos in terms of number of sticks sold around the world.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – José L. Piedra Petit Cazadores

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13
May

Origin : CubaTrinidad
Format : Topes
Size : 125 x 56
Hand-Made
Price : ~$22 each
More info about purchasing Trinidad cigars…

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 3 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4.5 out of 6 stars
Strength : 3.5 out of 6 stars

Overall : 3.8 out of 6 stars (3.8)

Introduction
Trinidad has always been one of my all-time favourite cigar. Just thinking of the old band fundadores (El Laguito factory production from 1998 to 2003) gives me goose bumps.
The story sets the creation of the brand in 1969 as a different blend used for diplomatic purposes. Only in 1998 a current production Trinidad was release to the public. This production was set in El Laguito (Cohiba factory), for the famous long and thin habanos: Fundadores. In 2003, the brand moved out from its mother factory to the province to grow the production.
Trinidad is known for very smooth and elegant blend with a slow and balanced development mainly characterized by its creamy texture.

Appearance : 4 out of 6 stars
The Trinidad Topes, Like all the limited edition cigars, wears a dark Maduro wrapper. The oiliness and silkiness of the leaf isn’t the finest one. However, considering the wrapper shortage from the mother land of cigars I am satisfied with the look and feel of the Topes. Let’s not forget the wrapper does not have an influence on the blend and is purely an aesthetic leaf.

Construction : 3.5 out of 5 stars
The Trinidad topes has a very consistent pressure all the way. The cigar doesn’t feel under filled or plugged whatsoever.
I did a straight cut on it and very shallow. On the pre-draw I could understand the construction was very well but the air flow seemed too easy to my taste.
When lit the cigar started fine with a dense and heavy smoke. However, the burn wasn’t consistent and I had to adjust the burn few time with my lighter. The ash therefore kept feel a bit apart during the second part of the cigar.
The lack of resistance didn’t allow an easy draw as I had to make effort to get the amount of smoke desired. Therefore, I smoked the Trinidad topes in 45mn when I usually take one hour for a Trinidad Vigia.

Tasting
For the first centimetre, I could clearly notify this was a young cigar. The factory code is “TOS’ and the date stamp is “DIC16”, December 2016.
The taste of fresh ammoniac was a bit to present during the first 5-10minutes for my taste and combined with an unusual sweetness did not please me.
Very quickly the flavour profile changed. The strength remained medium from the beginning to the end with a high intensity of coconut notes. Very surprising for a Trinidad. The aroma is incredible. Reminding me of fresh coffee beans.
I was expecting more complexity and changes due to the young age of the Topes however the evolution was smooth.
The last third expressed texture closer and closer to the creaminess, that made the brand so famous. Also, there is an explosion of coffee notes melted with this interesting sweetness reminding of coconut. It is very hard for me to fully understand the blend as I am not used to this flavour profile for a Trinidad.
That last part of a cigar always has my full attention. This is when we can observe how balanced is the blend. If it starts to overheat very quickly or not and if the accumulation of tobacco increases the strength. In this case the strength, as previously stated, remains medium. The accumulation of tobacco allows the draw to be more resistant, which is very enjoyable. The flavour profile remains constant and balanced highlighted a sweet blend with sometimes a bit of bitterness and acidity which is normal for such a young cigar.

Overall Rating : 3.8 out of 5 stars
The Trinidad Topes is clearly a different Trinidad experience. Unusual sweetness profile with a low smoke density and soft texture on the palate.
A pleasant cigar but probably not what I was expecting. It is amazing to see how new release cigars are already peasant to smoke after few month considering in the 90s we would never smoke a new release before 3 years of age as the cigars were too harsh. I strongly believe the cigar will evolve with time and in a short period of time. I wonder how these new soft blends will age in the next 10 to 20 years. Let’s stock up and we will see.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Trinidad Topes (2016 Limited Edition)

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11
May

Origin : Costa Rica
Size : 133 x 60
Hand-Made : 9 Years old tobacco
Price : ~$44

Draw : 6 out of 6 stars
Burn : 5 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Strength : 3.5 out of 6 stars

Overall : 4.5 out of 6 stars

Introduction

I have heard a lot about this new brand on the market. On the social networks, we have all seen these big, dark and oily cigars worn with a flashy coloured band. Their packaging is not discreet in the shops and attracted my eyes many times. I finally got my hands on few of these mysterious cigars as the brand keep their recipes discreet (I still need to investigate more).
El Septimo develops 100% Costa Rican cigars aged for many years like most of the high end new world cigars. Not surprised to see some 7 to 10 years old tobacco leaves being present in the blends.
This was my first Costa Rican cigar!

Appearance

What a phenomenal looking cigar. As you have read lately, my personal taste is for claro to Colorado claro colour. I have never been visually attracted to the fashion of dark wrapper. I love the classic light brown and soft coloured dress for a cigar. However, I cannot deny, the Wrapper of the El Septimo Exception black is stunning. Dark, extremely oily and soft as silk. At first sight you understand this is a luxury dress. The cigar feels unusual, as I smoke more Cubans than new world cigars, it is so compact and hard that I would usually suspect a plugged cigar.

Construction

I did a straight cut to the cigar and you can see the leaves are perfectly rolled together as you would expect for a new world cigar. Packed of tobacco and rolled with skills.
Unusual foot as it is closed by the wrapper with a pig tail. Therefore, when I pre-drew the cigar I thought it was plugged, I just forgot the foot was closed…
When lit, the amount of smoke is huge, proof to a great construction.
The burn was constant all the way and the ash not as dense as I would expect for such a big cigar.
I could leave the exception black on the ashtray or few minutes and did not have to light it again to enjoy.

Tasting

The very first puff is punchy and spicy. When seeing the size of the cigar I got worried as I would not be able to cope with such a spicy cigar all the way. As soon as the foot burnt fully the strength and flavours mellowed down and the first third starts fresh and very soft. Very interesting start with a complete change of strength within few minutes. Strong vegetal notes and herbal senses are dominating the first third. The strength takes sometimes to settle and from the second third to the last one I was surprisingly enjoying a light bodied cigar extremely well balance with a low acidity. This low acidity allow the after taste to be very gentle and soft. Clearly we have some aged tobacco here as I do not feel any ammoniac neither.
Personally, loving high complexed cigars with lots of changes, I am very surprised with the balance of this cigar and the consistency of flavours and strength all the way.
The flavours turn into classic woodiness and smoked meat from the second third until the end.
The amount of smoke is extremely high and its aroma is very soft and pleasant. That big amount of smoke if very relaxing. High density and thick.

Overall

The El Septimo Exception Black is my first Costa Rican cigar. I have enjoyed lots of Nicaraguan, developing rich flavours but I think Costa Rica can be the next cigar destination. The tobacco is clearly of a very high quality, properly aged and developing very smooth and elegant cigar. The exception black would be a great outdoor companion, well balanced, easy to enjoy for an hour and half.
I understand the price set may be challenging but at least we will not discussed ( like all new world cigars) the construction issues and the level of quality is present from the visual, the feeling and the enjoyment.

Cigar Review – El Septimo Exception Black

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