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23
May

As many of you have emailed us regarding the dates of the Partagas Festival for 2018, we wanted to share the picture shared by our friends from friendofhabanos.com

For those who have never attended the Partagas Festival before, it is a great gathering of cigar friends from all around the world.
The festival del Habanos every February attracts a more retail crowd while the friends of Partagas in November is more relaxed and convivial.

Last year Heriberto from the La Casa Del Habanos in the Partagas factory and his whole team have done an mazing job by organising such a beautiful week.
From a day out of Havana to the gala dinner, one can only find the right event to attend (or all of them).

We will keep you posted on how to book the different events but you can already book your flight and accommodation!

See you there!!

Friends of Partagas 2018 Dates – Partagas Festival

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21
May

Origin : CubaLa Gloria Cubana
Format : 109
Size : 50 x 184 (7.2″)
Ring : 49
Pre Release
Hand-Made
Price : $NA
More info about purchasing Gloria Cubana cigars…

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

Introduction

We got very lucky to have the chance to review the new Gloria Cubana Orgullosos which will be the upcoming Swiss Regional Edition. In the last years we have seen Intertabak, the Swiss distributor for Habanos S.A, adding to their normal box release a collector humidor. We can’t wait to see what sort of beautiful piece of art they will release to highlight this amazing size.
As you can see on the picture, the cigar wears one band only as it is just a pre release tasting. I am sure the blend will evolve but the main idea is already present. The cigar will come out with red and grey double band indicating “Exclusio Suiza”, as we all know.

Tasting

At the very beginning, the cigar shows a great draw. Which is very important for such a long cigar to avoid puffing too hard and feeling dizzy towards the end of the smoke.
the burn is straight away very good. Some pre release are still very moist and can burn slowly this one feels like it has been sat in the warehouse for few months as it burns really well at the beginning.

The Gloria Cubana Orgullosos starts light and smooth becomes stronger very quickly. It develops the same dry feeling as the britanicas tasted few weeks ago (read the review here).

On the palate the flavours are not lingering much, I would say a medium finish but rather enjoyable as you do not wish the dry freshness to stay too long on the palate. Lots of woodiness, sweetness and dried fruit notes appears all of a sudden at the end of the first third. The whole melting in the palate reminds you of the finish of a cognac.

Beautiful grey ash is forming.

The second part Strat a bit bitter but not harsh. You would expect this notes of ammonia and bitterness from a fresh cigar.
The second part, for some reason is slightly harder to draw and the density of smoke if lower. I guess it is the accumulation of the first part and the cigar still being moist. However it increases slowly. The palate feeling is very dry with a nutty finish.
That leathery texture (signature of great La Gloria Cubana) appears slowly at the end of the second third. The development is slow but enjoyable the cigar isn’t boring, many changes al throughout the smoke.

The Orgullosos gets very strong half way. Very young with high acidity level.

Some amazing Vanilla, dark coco bean and creamy texture appears. I never felt this in a cigar as far as I can remember. It’s like an exposition of Vanilla notes all of a sudden. Really unexpected.

This vanilla flavours turns into aroma. Like you would try to burn fresh green sticks of newly harvested Vanilla.
I just love long cigar they have another rythmn, when there is a development it is a true journey. Some areas can be less exciting than another but during an hour and a half you could potentially experience few different cigars in one.

At the end I put the lighter in front of the cigar and blow in it. This is something you must try. Since I do it with long cigars I never have these notes of residue being accumulated. It feels that you have a brand new smoke to finish the last 20 minutes.

We stay on the sweet aromatic palate. With a creamy structure, dark chocolate notes, hints of caramel.

For a pre release I am a bit speechless. The cigar started dry and fresh which was normal. But this end isn’t a young cigar. No more dry feeling . all about the intensity of aromas and flavours. Still some bitterness at the back of the tongue but nothing very shocking as the vamilla takes over.

Cigar Review – La Gloria Cubana Orgullosos Swiss Regional Edition

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16
May

Balmoral CigarsOrigin : Dominican Republic
Format : Corona
Size : 5 7/8″ x 42 ring gauge (149mm x 16.67mm)
Wrapper : Brazilian Arapiraca
Filler : Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil
Binder : Dominican Olor
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 7.90 / $ 9.60

Dutch company Balmoral dates back to the 1890s, and is distinctive in Europe for having both very popular ranges of short-filler machine-made slightly upscale cigars – like their ‘Sumatra’ line using Indonesian Java – Sumatra, Brazilian & Havana Remedios tobaccos – but also 5 lines of hand-rolled premium cigars, including this Anejo XO.

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

The Balmoral Añejo XO Corona is a nearly-6-inch hand-rolled long-filler corona, offering a sophisticated blend of aged tobaccos, and a remarkably rich & interesting smoking experience for a modest-price, entirely hand-made cigar of this size.

The word ‘añejo’ means aged, and ‘XO’ stands for ‘eXceptionally Old’, referring to how these sticks use tobaccos aged for an average of seven years, this line following up Balmoral’s well-received ‘Añejo 18′ aged 18 years limited edition.

The wrapper here is Brasil Arapiraca, the binder is Dominican Olor, and the filler comprises Nicaragua Esteli, more Dominica Olor, and stalk-cut Brasil Mata Norte tobaccos.

Balmoral is a Dutch-headquartered company dating back to the late 1800s, much-appreciated for better machine-made short-filler smokes, as well as several lines of hand-made cigars, including my own constant favourite, Balmoral’s Royal Maduro sticks with a Brasil wrapper and Brazilian & Dominican filler.

The size Balmoral chooses for its hand-made coronas is interesting, right between the classic ‘full corona’ size of 5 5/8 inches – 143mm, and the ‘long corona’ size of 6 1/8 inches – 155mm, the Balmoral two centimetres longer than a corona mareva like the Montecristo No 4.

One reason may be aesthetic elegance, with the Balmoral corona almost exactly 9x the diameter, and indeed it’s a nice looking stick in this length, as one might present to an honoured guest after a fine dinner. But also, you see a lot of hand-rolled cigar for your money.

Tasting

The wrapper here is Brasil Arapiraca, tho a shade lighter than the black-ish Brasil Arapiraca Maduro used in Balmoral’s Royal Maduro line, which has made me quite a fan of dark cigars. The promise of this Brasil wrapper is noticeable cocoa sweetness, tho less so than in the more slender Añejo XO Lancero in 40 ring gauge, or in the 37 ring gauge Royal Maduro Panetela.

Sweet aroma rises from the unlit cigar, the oils of the Brasil wrapper pleasing to the touch. The stick seemed densely-packed and I feared a tight draw, but that was not the case, tho it was a surprisingly slow burn.

Pre-draw after punching was cocoa & some pepper. After lighting, the initial draw surprised with more pepper & spice than anything else, quickly followed by the sophisticated array of flavours that would be this cigar’s hallmark.

The sweetness of the wrapper was quickly there, tho gently so, it was sweetness more like a lightly chocolate biscuit, rather than cocoa itself. Along with the sweet undertones and spice, was a substantial woodiness combined with something else, I wound up thinking of olives and an olive tree. All in all, a very sophisticated set of flavours for the palate, in a deluxe yet nicely-priced long corona.

The aged nature of the tobaccos showed itself in the lack of collision of the various flavours, they seem to have mellowed and combined as if in the humidor for a couple of years. With some substantial pepper and spiciness there in the first half of the cigar, I thought of how Balmoral seemed to achieve what Davidoff tried to do with its Escurio line, also a significantly-Brazilian, sweet & spicy combination, with the Balmoral a more affordable big stick.

There is some good strength and headiness to this cigar from these aged tobaccos, a touch more than in the Balmoral Royal Maduro line. Some minutes into the stick, with all those flavours and the bit of strength, I thought it seemed a perfect leisurely after-dinner smoke.

By the end of the 1st third, the pepper & spice began to recede, and the olive tree aspect along with the sweet moments came more forward. As the middle third started I caught a little dryness of the mouth, and also a feeling of the olive-wood fire tickling the back of the throat, the edge of some harshness, but not arriving there.

As the cigar got to the mid-way point things smoothed out, all the flavours there but more gently, as if the cigar wanted to make sure it did not overpower me during the after-dinner coffee or glass of Porto.

In the final third, the flavours began to recede a bit more, I was noting more in the aroma than the actual taste. It was not a cigar for the nub; with 4cm left, flavour was weak and harshness started to show up.

Burn in this cigar was uneven at first, needing touch-up, but became very even in the last half. And this particular stick burned with unusual slowness even by my ambling standards, I had over a full hour of smoking here. White-ish grey ash held magnificently for 3cm, revealing a lovely centre point after drop-off.

The Balmoral Añejo XO is a super value in a long corona, given its good strength and its sophisticated, aged-tobacco flavour interest for much of the smoke. One can critique a bit of last-third flavour-fade, a bit of dryness, a bit of a burning-wood tickle … but for the price it is terrific.

It is slightly higher in price than the Balmoral Royal Maduro sticks, which for me I still rather overall prefer, as I am seduced by the Royal Maduro’s admittedly simpler, sweetness-with-cream profile that it gets from its Brasil Maduro – Dominican combination, without the punchy Nicaraguan as in the XO. Plus the fact that the Royal Maduro comes in my favourite cigar vitola, a medium-long panetela (37 x 139), where the chocolate-like aspects of the Brasil Arapiraca wrapper show even more strongly.

But I am now drawn to keep around some of the Añejo XO sticks, as a change of pace still offering those Brasil-sweet undertones I adore. And I think for many stogie fans, the Añejo XO’s complexity & sophistication would be preferable.

Regarding Balmoral, their better-than-most machine-made short-fillers, are nice items to help balance your smoking budget and fill out your smoking week. I have found that my fussy Cuban- and Davidoff- smoking friends, usually quite like them as well after trying them, a change of flavour pace from the Cuban short-filler José Piedras and Quinteros.

In the second photo here, are three Balmoral short-fillers side-by-side with the Añejo XO Corona, all of them less than €2 each (sold in boxes of 5): First, the little sister of the Añejo XO, the sweet cocoa (and slightly fruity) tasting, also-Brasil-wrapper Aged 3 Years Coronita (36 x 98mm); the creamy Dominican Selection Panatela (37 x 138); and the nicely spicy Sumatra Selection Overland (34 x 132), an Indonesia-Cuba-Brasil combination. These short-fillers are not only a nice selection of tastes for differing moods & occasions, they are also great ‘first cigars’ for your so-far non-puffing acquaintances.

With the Balmoral short fillers, I find the panetela thicknesses in the 30s ring gauges, have richer flavour, with the wrapper taste more prominent. And a short-filler cigar pro-tip: Even tho machine-made cigars are sold as ‘dry’ cigars not in the humidor room, they taste much better after a few days mellowing in the home humidor next to your premium sticks!

Cigar Review – Balmoral Anejo XO Corona

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08
May

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Size : 5 5/8″ x 42 ring gauge (142mm x 16.67mm)
Format : Corona
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 12,00 / $ 14.75
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars…

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

Tasting

The Montecristo No 3 is a classic Cuban full-length Corona, providing superbly consistent rich flavour and smoking progression, along with good cigar strength. More flavourful than refined, this satisfying stick is sadly at a price disadvantage versus its best-selling but less consistent little sister, the Montecristo No 4.

The Monte No 3 is the centre item in a key piece of cigar history, the original Montecristo line of 5 cigars – four coronas and a pyramid – which changed the cigar world after Montecristo’s founding in 1935. In some recent years, Montecristos are known to have been more than 25 per cent of all Habanos cigars sold around the world.

With their flavour richness and quality, Montecristos not only became a premium Cuban name, they are credited with making the straight-sided, round-head or ‘parejo’ shape the dominant cigar format, versus the double figurado or ‘perfecto’ stick – fatter in the middle – which was more common in older cigar catalogues. Montecristo made the straight-sided cigar seem the more elegant and refined choice.

The corona thickness was dominant in cigars for much of the 20th century, and we see this reflected in several classic cigar line-ups – the original 5 numbered Montecristos (4 coronas and a pyramid); the Davidoff Grand Cru series (5 coronas); and even the Cohiba Siglo line (5 coronas and a robusto extra).

The Montecristo No 3, for all its virtues, is neglected today due to a pricing anomaly. It is only 13mm (half an inch) longer than the Montecristo No 4 (42 x 129), the best-selling Cuban cigar in the world. But in my neighbourhood, tho the Monte No 4 is priced at about 9 euros, the Monte No 3 is at 12 euros – a 10% longer stick, but 25% more in price. On the other hand, for a tiny bit more, at €13,50, shops in my area give you a glorious 6 1/2″ Montecristo No 1 Lonsdale (42 x 165). So the price-point on the Monte No 3 seems odd and discouraging.

Some say, though, that the odd pricing helps make the Montecristo No 3 to be a better and more consistent cigar, given it is produced in much lower quantities, and perhaps mostly or entirely at the same cigar-rolling factory. The lower-price Monte No 4 Mareva, is rolled at a number of different Cuban factories to meet demand, and is well-known for being usually very good, but somewhat unpredictable, as a result.

And besides the consistency, there is just the fact that a roughly 5 1/2″ corona – the classic ‘full-size’ corona such as the Montecristo No 3 – can simply look right and feel right for your just-short-of-an-hour smoking session.

Tasting

There is always a great set of flavours in a Montecristo No 3, tho the particular way they cycle through the smoke can vary from stick to stick. But it is never dull, always with good flavour and well-paced progression. It tends to be a fine-looking cigar too, with a smooth, well-chosen wrapper, and I have not seen draw problems with any No 3.

Aroma from the end here, included a sense of honey in the air above the base of tobacco sweetness. Pre-draw was honey and pepper. Lighting introduced the classic rich, darker-toned Montecristo flavours, with the echoes of espresso coffee and a touch of cocoa. Soon some strong cedar tones came in, and bits of spice that seemed to catch fire, tingling the back of the throat as well as the nostrils.

Flavour changes are frequent and interesting with the No 3. For a time here there was also some sense of a starchy, rather potato flavour, then some roasted vegetables, moving to a kind of toasty hay filling the nose, all quite enjoyable. The flavours are rich, but not all that subtle or refined – and thus the Monte No 3 is a great complement to your drink of choice, even a strong one.

In the middle third there came more of that sensation of spice on fire in the frying pan, and the stick began to flirt with the edge of harshness, tho that was easily managed, by slightly easing on the puffs, and an occasional cigar purge (exhaling through the cigar).

Strength of the cigar was pleasing. These Montecristos are rated ‘medium to full’ or 4 out of 5 on the Habanos strength scale, and that seems right. As the headiness compounded in the middle, the flavour eased slightly to make room for it, and at points a kind of creaminess filled the moments between other flavour surges. Pepper came in and out. The end of the middle third had a kind of flavour peak matched with the accumulating strength, very satisfying.

With this particular stick, the ash was not so elegant, flat-faced and falling off early, tho burn was fairly even.

The final third continued with an eased level of flavour whilst one enjoyed the strength and variety of the cigar. Here some roasted nuts and honey showed, along with more creamy moments. The Monte No 3 is not a cigar for the nub; all the rich flavours rather catch up with it, and the potential harshness finally expands towards the end.

The complaint one might make here, is that the Montecristo No 3 is not really a refined cigar, given what one could experience in this higher Cuban price range. If one is spending this kind of tariff on a Cuban corona, there is a good argument to prefer, at a very slightly higher price, a Cohiba Siglo II Mareva (42 x 129), or the curly-cap Trinidad Coloniales (44 x 132), both of which are elegant cigars of great subtlety. Tho neither is as strong as the Montecristo No 3, which has a certain ‘fire and punch’ to it despite being on a lower level in the subtlety sweepstakes.

In the end, the Montecristo No 3 is a very satisfying, enjoyable, very good tho not really high-end-great cigar, which would be even more super if Habanos could notch down the price a little to reflect how it is closer in size to the Monte No 4 Mareva than the Monte No 1 Lonsdale.

But with the Montecristo No 3 full-length corona, you can feel thrown back in time to that era of say the 1950s, when the corona was king, Montecristo was the great Cuban name, and the rich Monte flavour was there to round off a gentleman’s evening.

Beneluxor

Cigar Review – Montecristo No.3

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08
May

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Size : 6″ (153) x 53
Size : Sobresalientes
Brand Strength : Full (linea 1935)
Hand-Made
Price : $20 – $25
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars…

The long awaited Montecristo Linea 1935 is finally appearing slowly on different markets. As previously describe this new line will be characterised by its strength, the first full body cigars of the brand but also its Vitola. The Maltes is a very nice sobresalientes size. The last characteristic of the Linea 1935 is the double band being placed on the foot of the cigar indicated its name and highlighting the Marca’s logo. It is only the second time we can see this foot band in Cuba, the first one was the Cohiba Grandiosos which only 2500 cigars were rolled to commemorate cohiba’s 50th anniversary.

Draw : 3 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 5 out of 6 stars
strength : 4 out of 6 stars

Appearance
As already previously described in the review of the pre release (find it here), the Montecristo Maltes is a heavy ring gauge cigar. Very trendy size, long and robust in the hand.

This one has a very oily and silky wrapper. Its maguro Clara wrapper is just stunning. The golden notes are matching well the new bands.

Tasting

1st Part
Sadly as I pre draw my cigar I release the draw will be a bit tight. hopefully it will change and evolve.
The very first notes are fresh and on the menthol side of it. As expected the density of smoke is low.
The Maltes is nice and woody, really balanced from the beginning, flavours and aromas all melting together. A medium velvet structure stays on the palate. A great roasted coffee finish stays on the palate. One of this strong coffee with high intensity.

2nd Part
The Montecristo Maltes get stronger half way with a longer finish on the palate. But still not as strong as expected due to the well balanced feeling. Some nice peppery notes are coming to bring a bit of complexity therefore the blend becomes less easy and round as the first sweet part.
The great thing is the cigar starts to really open and the density of smoke is finally high because of the draw being good by now.
Very warm feeling on the palate richer flavours, lots of muscle if I had to put an image on the feeling now.
I like the complexity brought by this slight freshness. The cigar is well constructed even though the draw was tight at the beginning. As I tap my ash I can see a piramide shape burning, always a good sign.

3rd Part
Starts very woody, a true montecristo woodiness. Got stronger and now we really feel the strength expected.
The earthiness and grassiness present previously really increase and become a main flavour component. An amazing touch of cardamon came out of the blue.
It finishes on some black tea notes that I never experienced before and this really took the cigar to another dimension at the very very end.

Cigar Review – Montecristo Maltes Linea 1935

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