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03
Apr

Origin : CubaHoyo de Monterrey
Format : Robusto
Size : 124mm (5″) x 50
Hand-Made
Cosecha : 2012
Price : £55 / $ 65 each
More info about purchasing Hoyo de Monterrey cigars…

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 4.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 5 out of 6 stars
strength : 2 out of 6 stars

In 2003, Habanos S.A., introduced the Reserva concept by launching the Cohiba Seleccion Reserva box. Specially selected tobacco aged for a minimum of three years before being used to roll the reserva cigars. Also the tobacco is coming from a single crop. In the case of the Epicure N.2 Reserva all tobacco come from 2012.

Tasting

As soon as I lit the cigar I was very excited from the beautiful blue smoke it created and the wonderful aroma you could enjoy in the room.
The first few puffs are very impressive. Expressing a serious cigar. Even though I tell everyone dont judge the cigar in the first few puffs, these ones were so good that I just hoped it continues this way. The vanilla touch and creaminess were predominant during that short part.
It clearly is richer and stronger than your regular epicure N.2. I have always enjoyed the regular production of epicure N.2. A cigar I would choose when I couldn’t set my mind on what to smoke tonight. Therefore I was very excited abut this release.
The density of smoke is very high, which allow a wonderful texture to linger on the palate.
I love the aroma being developed, reminding of coffee being slowly roasted.
The first part was very balanced. Light strength cigar, great balance. no acidity nor bitterness and this great vanilla flavour profile all throughout. The sweet coconut feeling was reminding us of the complexity this cigar could express with some age.

The second part could be resumed this way: So much flavours, so much texture, yet so soft and delicate. It is great to see how light strength cigar develops such a rich and complex blend.
Unfortunately the cigar started to burn funnily. It is a shame as I am sure this affects the flavours as the blend doesn’t burn properly. thankfully it stabilise without the help of a lighter and the cigar expression becomes much more balanced and enjoyable as before. The aroma is just great. A true scent.

As I said I like the epicure n2 current production and was expecting a good one but this is so much richer and intense than I could expect.

The cigar becomes stronger towards the end but a great creaminess stays on the palate. The flavours are more vegetal and a bit green, reminding you the cigar just came out on the market it still has a lot more to show. Even though it was rolled in 2015 with 2012 tobacco.

Cigar Review – Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2 Reserva

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29
Mar

Origin : CubaQuai d'Orsay
Format : Reyes
Size : 4 1/3″ x 40 ring gauge (110mm x 15.87mm)
Ring : 40
Hand-Made
Price :~ € 7.50 / $ 9.80-

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 3 out of 6 stars

The Quai d’Orsay Secreto Cubano, an exclusive French regional edition (‘Exclusivo Francia’) for France’s national Cuban cigar marque, is a wonderful, exciting small stick offering a dramatic and pleasing progression of taste, superb draw and construction, and extraordinary good value in a Cuban small cigar. It’s amongst the very finest short-&-slender Cuban sticks out there.

Cuban small cigar aficionados will immediate recognise the vitola, identical to that of the Cohiba Secretos Maduro & Trinidad Reyes sticks, and this Quai d’Orsay matches those cigars every bit in interest, despite the modest (in France) pricing. With limited production of 10,000 boxes of 10 cigars, a premium for these superb stogies is well-deserved, if you are not able to be in Paris traversing the streets visiting several Habanos shops in order to locate them.

The Quai d’Orsay brand history is unique, as it is a Cuban brand created at the request of another national government, an early 1970s idea of later Président of France Valéry Giscaird d’Estaing from when he was French Minister of Finance. The notion was to create a Cuban cigar of subtlety, delicacy and sophistication to match that of French cuisine, a cigar that itself would be part of French culture.

The Quai d’Orsay in Paris on the Seine River, is the location of the French foreign ministry, and in French ‘Quai d’Orsay’ is essentially a synonym for the French foreign office and diplomatic service, a name that, for French speakers, hints of international glamour and refinement. There has been an effort recently to re-vitalise the brand, with new standard vitolas and a series of special editions, of which the Secreto Cubano is the newest release, and this cigar succeeds in advancing that agenda.

Habanos classifies Quai d’Orsay as a ‘light’ flavour strength brand, but this should not be taken as meaning ‘weak’ or ‘un-interesting’ – the rich Hoyo de Monterrey brand is ‘light’ as well. ‘Light’ here essentially means ‘subtle’, tho indeed Hoyo or Quai d’Orsay sticks are never overpowering.

Wrappers on these Secretos Cubanos are not top-level pretty, but of good colour, and the soft-firm balance to the touch seems perfect. As newly-released cigars, the aroma at the foot was a bit leathery immediately out of the factory box, but after a couple of days mellowing in a small humidor it was more of a scent of hay and sweetness. There was also a bit of leather in the pre-draw after punching, but that was the last I noticed of it. Pre-draw also had a small touch of spice with a large dose of hay, which marked the first third.

The course of the smoke is intriguing with a number of change-ups, and it behooved me to pay attention as some nice tastes – like a briefly strong cocoa phase – are glimpsed only quickly. Initial draw brings out smiles and a chuckle, as it is immediately clear this is a cigar greater than its modest price. Rich full taste, burning hay toasting in the farmyard, a bit of sweetness, with an overall flavour density that belies the image of a ‘light’ cigar. Lots of little glimmerings, touches of pepper, cedar or mahogany, sweetness coming and going, the toasty hay sense varying often.

The middle third typically sees a big shift, to an as-if different but still very enjoyable cigar. Here there tends to be less hay and more of various kinds of woodiness, along with some exciting but brief very sweet spots of near-chocolate. A sophisticated dried-fruit bitterness often begins to set in, making one think of the bitter (in the positive sense) apertifs so often served and enjoyed in Europe.

In the final third the flavour palette shifts yet again, with the apertif-type high-quality fruit-seed bitterness often continuing, now matched with some satisfying nuttiness, and some episodic returns of the toasting hay and various kinds of woodiness. As with the also ‘light’ Hoyos, one can go fairly deep into the nub here without things getting too unpleasant.

The draw is a wonder in small Cuban cigar terms, with no problems at all, no need to bring out a cigar-piercing tool. And yet the burn is extremely measured and slow, tho not quite even, and I usually had to re-light, perhaps because this stick gets me so contemplative I lose track of the pauses between puffs. Ash was sometimes missing the pointiness and was a bit crumbly, the counterpoint to the excellent variety of tastes.

There is some extra headiness here versus some other Cuban ‘light’ cigars such as the Fonseca, and this little Secreto Cubano actually seemed a shade stronger than Hoyos, but never more than ‘medium’ even at the tail end.

With a lot of rich flavour experience in a nice, slow-burning, and thus for me well over a half-hour smoke, I was feeling the greatness of this slender small Cuban for its wonderful in-France price. The more expensive Trinidad Reyes is even more sophisticated in its subtleties, and the even more pricey Cohiba Secreto Maduro has its unique flavour and kick, but this new Secreto vitola from Quai d’Orsay gets the prize in the value sweepstakes for slender small Cuban sticks. Now I just need to take that train back to Paris and find a few more boxes.

Cigar Review – Quai D’Orsay Secretos Cubanos Exclusive Francia

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28
Mar

Origin : HondurasRocky Patel
Format : Lanceros
Size : 7 1/2″ x 38 ring gauge (190mm x 15.08mm)
Origin : Honduras
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 11.00 / $ 13.50each
More info about purchasing Rocky Patel Sun Grown…

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 2 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 2 out of 6 stars

The Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary Natural Lancero, is a well-rolled, easy-smoking long panetela, offering some interesting cycling of flavours as it starts, but in this sample tending toward incipient harshness and some dryness on the palate, as well as some flavour loss in the finish.

A mostly Honduran cigar with some Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler, this is a regular production stick, tho launched in 2015 with its ‘XX – Twentieth’ band, to commemorate Rocky Patel’s 20th anniversary in the cigar business. Rocky Patel’s 10th and 15th anniversary cigar marques remain active in the line-up as well. The word ‘Natural’ on the band on the cigar’s foot, is to distinguish from the company’s separate Twentieth Anniversary Maduro cigar line with different vitolas.

In the early 1990s Rocky Patel had been an entertainment lawyer amid the glamour of southern California USA, but caught the cigar bug and started the family cigar business, first as Indian Tabac and now under his own name.

Rocky Patel is today a noted, often-praised brand, especially in the USA market, its headquarters in Florida there. Along with his younger brother and cousin, Rocky Patel’s key people include Hamlet Paredes, a former star cigar roller for Cuba’s Partagás, who used to tour the world for Habanos giving cigar-rolling exhibitions.

Rocky Patel deserves credit for meeting the special challenge of successfully rolling this premium ultra-long panetela vitola, requiring special skills beyond that of the ordinary torcedor. And also for boldly putting this stick on offer, whilst other companies cancel some of their slender long cigars, e.g., Davidoff having recently cancelled its 3000 (33 x 178mm), its No 1 (39 x 190), and its Millenium Lancero (40 x 184).

Tasting

Handling this stick it was a little too soft below the band, a hint of the flavour loss I would experience in the final third. Mostly nice-looking, tho a touch of vein and a too-contrasting cigar cap, but with a premium pigtail on the top.

Initial aroma at the smoking end was that of fruit pie, or a warm breakfast tart, which indeed turned out to be some of the flavours in the cigar. First inhale was rather nice, a touch of sweetness, and some sense of dimensionality tickling the front of the nose and the back of the palate.

Quite smoky tho, at the beginning and at some later points. Draw was easy throughout, really too easy. Tho the cigar burned slowly, it was clearly delicate inside the stick, and harshness was induced too rapidly when you wanted a quick follow-up taste.

The first third had some nice, tho not strong flavours, and some interesting flavour cycling. There was toast, hay, bits of fruit and sweetness, the appealing fruit-pie-like combination, and for a while one was entertained not knowing what would be dominant in the next puff. Some cedar and woodiness entered a bit later too. But there was also the start of some dryness in the mouth, a hint of difficulties to come.

The second third continued the rolling flavours, but now with harsh moments starting to appear, a bit of a charcoal sense, along with the increasingly fading tastes. Purging helped – tho making quite a smoke-fest – and after a purge and a good pause, one could taste the fruit pie and other good tastes again a bit. It was a bit funny, just as I thought I was getting very displeased with the cigar, the flavour would come back.

The final third began with one of the cigar’s best bursts of flavours, but then they just faded away, and various purging and pausing efforts couldn’t quite bring the taste level back. The cigar grew flat and at points bitter or a bit harsh, with much dryness induced in the mouth, till I said farewell.

Another disappointment with the cigar is that it was really too mild, given what I would like to experience in smoking a long pricey stick for an hour. There was only slight strength to it, it was overall a mild Honduran, despite the Nicaraguan filler seeking to charge it up a bit.

What I wound up thinking about as I finished the cigar, is that it was an incompletely developed stick, despite the strong points in some of its tastes and easy draw. Rocky Patel is perhaps trying to do too much for a niche family company – their website cigar brand page lists no fewer than 47 Rocky Patel cigar marques from which to choose. Other USA-based cigar companies also sometimes have a high number of brands.

By way of comparison, Habanos has a total of 27 brands for all of Cuba, many of them ages old, and the Davidoff-named line has about 13 brands for its diversity.

Despite the sweet notes in the Rocky Patel XXth Lancero – an element which usually tends to win me over – I found myself thinking wistfully that, for the same price, I can have a Habanos La Gloria Cubana Médaille d’Or No 4 (32 x 152mm), with even more sweetness, and less downside despite the Cuban stick’s draw problems.

By way of a full 7-inch-plus Lancero, one can recommend at significantly greater price, from Cuba the great original Cohiba Lancero (38 x 190) or the Trinidad Fundadores (40 x 190). And a gem still out there in remaining stock at some of the Davidoff shops, tho discontinued, the Davidoff Millennium Lancero (40 x 184).

Cigar Review – Rocky Patel XXth Anniversary Lancero

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20
Mar

Origin : CubaPartagas
Format : Noblezas
Size : 138mm X 52
Hand-Made
Price : USD 17
More info about purchasing Partagas cigars…

Since 2000, Habana S.A has released every year an ‘Edicion Limitada’ cigar. These cigars used to wear an extra aged wrapper only until 2007. Until then every leafs in the cigar goes through the extra 2 years of aging. This allows the blend to be rounder and smoother.
Edicion Limitada cigars are very easy to recognise, they wear an extra black and gold band indicating the year of release.
For 2017 Cuba announced three new limitadas, the most famous of all of them is the Cohiba Talisman (you can read the review here), then the Punch Regios de Punch and the Partagas Series No.1.

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 4 out of 6 stars

Appearance

The cigar looks beautiful, dark wrapper very oily and silky. A true Edicion Limitada look. The touch is great and the cigar seems to be very well rolled.
The main brand band follows the alphabetical series of Partagas. Therefore we can read on the band “Series No.1″ just like for the Partagas serie D No.4.

tasting
As soon as I light the cigar, the density is smoke is rather high and it draws well. However the first flavour profile encountered isn’t your typical cuban characteristic. It almost doesn’t seems Cuban. I have a slight spiciness on the lips typical of Partagas but the flavours remind me of the the earthiness of Padron cigars. Not the rich grassy and earthiness Partagas would develop normally. But this is just the beginning…
after few minutes, the cigar starts to burn strangely. The draw is still fine but the flavours tends to drop on the palate. We are close to the end of the first part.
A slight bitterness on the back of the palate slowly develops but nothing alarming for a fresh cigar. The flavours remain very unusual for a Partagas. Blind tested I could have thought it is a Nicaraguan cigar. The aroma is beautiful and the intensity of smoke is very high and enjoyable.

The second half shows some changes and evolution. The blend shows its potential and now are smoking a Cuban profiled cigar. Just the construction reminds you you are smoking a cuban cigar, the burn is not good, result of a poor construction.
All throughout the second part there is a nice intensity expressing an earthiness and a woodiness. The flavours are lingering on the palate and herbal and vegetal notes are present in the blend.

The last third is very rich but also very harsh towards the end. Lots of ammonia present therefore it Hyde’s the woodiness and earthiness from before. This is because the cigar is still young and in few years it should be gone. The draw remain good but the burn not so much.

Cigar Review – Partagas Series No. 1 Edicion Limitada 2017

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19
Mar

Origin : CubaPartagas
Format : Short Delvalle
Size : 102mm X 50
Hand-Made
Price : NA – Pre release
More info about purchasing Partagas cigars…

During the XXth Habanos Festival held this month in Havana, Habanos S.A. introduced two new vitola to the Maduro line of Partagas. After the big success of the Partagas Maduro No1, here is a review of the Maduro No2, received during the gala diner of the festival.

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 5 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 5 out of 6 stars
strength : 5 out of 6 stars

Tasting

The wrapper is dark and shiny.
When holding the cigar, we feel its supple and sticky texture.
The module is quite compact and well filled in tobacco.
The head’s cut reveals a brown and earthy looking filler.
The spiciness of the first puff announces a cigar of character.
We observe a slow burnt, mainly due to the heavy gauge and the thick tobacco.
It results in a fat and greasy texture when the ember embraces the wrapper.
It quickly develops a light creaminess that balanced well with the deep Partagas flavor.
Strength wise, it slowly increases all along, beginning as medium and ending as full body.
In terms of flavors we clearly spot the usual earthiness mixed with some herbals (hay, black tea) and spicy tones (green pepper, black bean).

The whole impression is rounded by the extra ageing of the wrapper leaf, even tough it tends to disappear toward the end, leaving a harsh feeling on the top of the palate.
The aromas released combines fermented wood and roasted coffee beans through a thick smoke.
The draw got slightly obstructed and demands more efforts toward the end.
It leaves some spices on the lips and a long and pleasant aftertaste once ended.
That’s a true hair of the Linea Maduro which offers an alternative to the strong profile of the Marca to anyone willing to enjoy Partagas without the super-heavy body and the dry earthiness.
It may be recommended to age them a year or so, to let the blend of leaves harmonizes itself and consequently decrease the harsh feeling of the last third.
Within the current production, we could consider this vitola as a good alternative to the Montecristo Petit No.2 and the Bolivar Belicosos Finos.

Cigar Review -Partagas Maduro No2

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