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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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14
Mar

DavidoffOrigin : Dominican Republic
Format : Petit Corona
Size : 4 1/2″ x 41 ring gauge (114 mm x 16.27 mm)
Ring Gauge : 41
Origin : Dominican Republic
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 10.50 / $ 12.80each
More info about purchasing Davidoff Nicaragua cigars…

Draw : 6 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

Tasting

The Winston Churchill Petit Corona, is a clear winner of a cigar for Davidoff, with excellent if not so variegated flavour, a great draw, good strength, and an unusual-for-Davidoff slow burn giving good value, one of the most satisfying and well-balanced short coronas out there.

This cigar, subtitled ‘The Artist’ in Davidoff’s Winston Churchill line-up, commemorating how ‘ol’ Winnie’ did landscape painting to relax, is made with an Ecuadorian wrapper, a Mexican binder, and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. The blend is a clear hit for Davidoff in taste and aroma.

Kudos to Davidoff for introducing this short corona vitola into several of their lines. A few millimetres longer than the Cuban Minutos cigars, it is a pleasing vitola to the eye and for the impulse to have a short-medium smoke. Short sticks satisfy more in corona thickness, I find, whereas panetelas do better when longer.

Recognising how shorter cigars tend to roll a bit thinner, and longer ones get chubby, Davidoff has a nice habit of labelling their short coronas as 41 ring gauge, and the longer ones as 43, instead of the generic corona 42.

The Winston Churchill Petit Corona wrapper is soft to the touch but has a somewhat rough-hewn look which seems to fit the cigar’s namesake personality, here with a prominent bulging vein near the cigar’s foot. A lovely aroma as the cold cigar is held to the nose, hay and maybe a bit of molasses, a glimpse of how good the taste is going to be.

Pre-draw after punching brings out a bit of leather, tho not there much in the lit cigar’s flavour. Initial draw after lighting is quite delicious, a sense of toasted-grain richness that I don’t really have the words to describe, and that good taste is there throughout nearly all the cigar.

It’s said that the historical Winston Churchill often liked Cuban Romeo y Julietas, and to me this stick gives a better, enhanced version of that somewhat farm-and-nature, vegetal RyJ flavour palette. Here too there is hay and woodiness, but much less grassiness, along with some mild tinge of sweetness. There is a bit of spice at the beginning, and some occasional pepper and spice throughout, but that is the primary variation.

Which points to the cigar’s ‘problem’, in that tho the flavour and aroma are excellent and satisfying, there is a surprising lack of progression, tho the flavour is so good I didn’t care all that much. The first and second thirds were not all that different. The final third began with the toasty flavour fading and a bit of nuttiness coming forward, but then the stick’s habitual flavour returned, along with more spice than earlier.

The flavour is rich and strong enough that a Churchillian dram of fine whisky goes just great with the cigar.

A bit of harshness intruded at points, but a little purging (exhaling thru the cigar) quickly brought the flavour back to full freshness. Ash in the first half was a little flaky, not so pointed or elegant, a minor matter.

The strength of the cigar hit the spot, with increasing headiness in the last half. Davidoff’s website says this cigar is strength level 4 out of 5, but that seems overstated to me …I would say more 3 or 3.5 overall out of 5, or 4 of 6, with a somewhat mild start. Very satisfying in total.

The most striking thing about this cigar as a Davidoff, was the high-quality slow, even burn, like a high quality Cuban, this short stick lasting over a half hour for my slow-puffing self. Davidoff strives mightily to have an easy draw, leading to sticks that often burn too fast … but here the draw and burn are very well balanced, with just enough resistance in the draw, and the cigar lasts as long as you would hope.

Enjoyed the flavour and quality of the cigar so much, I wound up nursing the nub a bit ridiculously, finally saying good-bye with reluctance.
This is such a nice stick I will buy more of these, and I have tried a lot of short coronas. It’s true it’s a number of pesos more than some fine heady Cuban short coronas, like the Minutos from Ramón Allones or Bolivar … but the Winston Churchill is just such a thoroughgoing and fuss-free pleasure I will pull out the extra coins out for it.

Given the place of Winston Churchill (1874-1965) in recent history, and that he is still controversial to some regarding some of his war-time decisions, domestic policies in Britain, and actions in British overseas dominions, some people have questioned naming a cigar line for someone whose career is still a matter of impassioned debate.

But one can look at this as similar to the way that, regardless of politics, people enjoy smoking Cuban stogies, and appreciate the iconic photos of Fidel and Ché smoking their sticks. Ultimately, with Fidel or Ché or Churchill, these were all intensely involved people who were changing the world, but also enjoying a few moments with their cigars, and that is something that transcends the politics of particular individuals who are famous smokers. Winston Churchill and Ché Guevara maybe never had a cigar and a drink together in this life, but perhaps in the next world they are doing just that.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Davidoff Winston Churchill Petit Corona

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05
Dec

CamachoOrigin : Honduras
Format : Petit Panetela
Size : 4″ x 32 ring gauge (102mm x 12,70mm)
Origin : Honduras
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 3,30 / $ 4.00 each
More info about purchasing Camacho Corojo cigars…

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

Introduction

The Camacho Corojo Machito is a small, fully long-filler, hand-rolled Honduran cigar, offering rich flavour and great value for the modest price, if not quite the depth of more expensive sticks.

The brand takes its name from Simon Camacho, the company’s 1960s founder. ‘Corojo’ is the name of a legendary Cuban tobacco wrapper leaf, no longer cultivated there in its ‘pure’ form due to disease vulnerability, the Corojo-seed leaves in Honduras being the defining tobacco of this all-Honduran cigar.

‘Machito’ is the term used by Camacho for these petit panetelas, a word often meaning ‘riding high’ or ‘well-placed’. Typically sold in tins of 6 cigars, the Davidoff stores – Camacho is now a part of Oettinger-Davidoff – sometimes also sell these Machitos individually.

Tasting

The cigar as a whole seems slightly thicker than its official 32 ring gauge, comparing more with the 33-34 ring gauge cigars in my humidor. Wrapper is smooth and pleasant to the touch, tho with some quite different colour patches affecting the appearance, especially once that too-wide cigar band is slipped off.

Pre-draw after punching is delightful, with spice & sweet citrus, tho I am surprised afterwards in that there is not so much spice in actually smoking the stick.

With lighting, lots of flavour is immediately on the scene, giving the sense that this cigar is a great bargain. Citrus with nuts and a wood fire in the first few minutes, then just mostly sweet citrus and the woodiness, with an occasional touch of a barbecue flavour. Draw is great, tho the first half burns a bit too quickly, reversing the usual image of Corojos as rather burn-resistant.

The middle third begins with glorious flavour richness and a sense of a full-bodied cigar, belying the slender ring gauge. This is the real sweet spot of the cigar, which alas burns away too quickly. As the mid-point of the cigar begins, the flavour shifts to a somewhat darker tone, bitter tho not unpleasant, as if one is tasting the pits of fruit, or the walnut shell instead of the walnut.

That bitter-but-ok tone fades as the final third begins, and now a pleasant nutty flavour begins to dominate, a little bit of the citrus fruitiness also nudging in now and then.

Remained quite good getting down to the nub, but I couldn’t resist cutting it open to verify this really was a long-filler cigar, and indeed it was, lovely wrapped filler leaves there to be seen.

Ash was a nice grayish white, holding for a half-inch or so, ok for a slender cigar like this.

A very nice short smoke for the price, lots of flavour and interest thru the smoke. But in some ways this small Machito hit me as a bit of a candy-store cigar, lots of flavour there, maybe not the depth I would find in more sophisticated (& expensive) smokes. The Camacho Corojo did not seem particularly strong in this small package, it’s a good way to get introduced to this rich flavour palette.

It’s common for cigar makers now to offer their shortest cigar like this as a panetela, but my thought is somewhat the opposite … do a 4 to 4.5 inch cigar as a short corona, and then do a 5 or 5.5 inch panetela as well as a longer corona … a 34 to 38 ring panetela thickness is a great way to have a longer but lighter smoke, and a very elegant cigar appearance-wise, whilst short sticks satisfy more if a little thicker.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Camacho Corona Machito

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27
Oct

DavidoffOrigin : Dominican Republic
Format : Coronas
Size : 129 mm (5 1/16″) x 17.06 mm
Ring Gauge : 42
Origin : Dominican Republic
Hand-Made
Price : ~€ 14.90 / $ 17.70 each
More info about purchasing Davidoff Nicaragua cigars…

Draw : 4 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

Tasting
A new cigar from Davidoff, the 702 Series Signature 2000 Corona is a fascinating, richer-flavoured transformation of Davidoff’s best-selling cigar, giving some unique experiences of roasted coffee, nuts & cocoa with its unique trio-Cuban-seed 702 Ecuadorian wrapper. Not without flaws – a touch of leatheriness at beginning & end – but a very rewarding Cuban-style smoking experience with flavouring all its own, an exciting, if pricey, alternative from Davidoff.

Amidst Davidoff’s revamping of its cigar lines, a bold new range in their core offerings, is via re-making a number of their existing cigars with Davidoff’s proprietary 702 wrapper from a hybrid of three Cuban seeds grown in Ecuador. It’s said that the wrapper can be 40% of a cigar’s flavour, so these are really new cigars.

The 702 wrapper has been used to good acclaim in some previous Davidoff cigars, most notably in their 2009 Selección 702 series. The current 702 line is not a re-issue of the 2009 blend, but rather a re-vamp of 7 existing cigars, 5 from the medium-strong Aniversario Line, and 2 milder sticks from what Davidoff now calls the Signature line, the 2000 Corona (formerly the Mille 2000), Davidoff’s best-selling cigar globally, and the Signature No 2 (formerly the Classic No 2). With their dark tobacco wrappers accented by Davidoff’s gold-and-white bands, the 702 Series substitutes nicely for Davidoff’s now-cancelled Maduro line.

The 702 Series 2000 here, is a bold foray into making Davidoff’s much-loved mild subtle Corona, into a stick with a sharper flavour profile as well as the currently-fashionable dark-cigar appearance. Shades of the 2000 can vary a bit, this was one of the darker ones from the box.

Indeed what strikes you immediately about the 702 Corona, is its dark-to-chocolate-black wrapper, quite the opposite of the lovely yellow-golden wrappers one sometimes finds, e.g., on a Davidoff Grand Cru. For someone like myself partial to dark-shade Bahia Brazil cigar wrappers, it was irresistible to pick up this dramatic dark cigar. The wrapper here is not ‘perfect’, a bit of vein, and a bit more 3-D texture than usual in a Davidoff, plus a little colour at the foot at the factory cut. But it’s good-looking nonetheless.

A bit oily to the touch, with just-right texture, the 702 Series 2000 has an inviting aroma. It is catalogued as 1/16th of an inch longer than the 2000, same length as the Cuban Mareva, tho in Davidoff’s 43 ring gauge. The stick here was completely precise in length, not a bit short as Cubans tend to be.

The oiliness is apparent upon putting the cigar to the lips and throughout much of the smoke, not unpleasant but a bit different. Pre-draw is mostly appealing, with coffee, cocoa & a bit of spice that I didn’t sense so strongly after lighting, along with a bit of leather. Directly after lighting, the first few minutes were a bit of a let-down, as the dominant sense was one of leather which I don’t care for, rather like a Cuban Rafael González. But in a few minutes that faded, and the glories of this cigar began.

Most of the end of the 1st third, and the middle part of the cigar, were given to a wonderful sense of roasted coffee, roasted nuts, and some cocoa. At moments the ‘roasted’ sense was on the verge of being harsh but never quite got there. The middle third was particularly terrific as the cigar settled down, with the roasted – toasted sense continuing, there being some wonderful super bursts of flavour, plus a few of those moments that led me to smile involuntarily, with the thought, ‘This is pure Cuban!’ – The 702 wrapper clearly is something very special that Davidoff has developed.

At times I did have a sense of the ‘hybrid’ nature of the cigar, the feeling of an exotic wrapper grafted onto the Dominican tobaccos inside the stick. I wondered what the 702 Series 2000 might taste like after a year or so of humidor time, after the tobaccos had a little more time to mellow & blend.

In the final third of the cigar, the ‘roasted’ aspect of the flavours faded, leaving more of a basic nuts, coffee & cocoa flavour, but unfortunately alternating along with some return of the leatheriness I had tasted in the first few minutes.

Draw was not the usually super-easy Davidoff draw, but certainly made no problems. Cigar burn was nice and leisurely, if slightly uneven. Ash held well, about 2.5cm – an inch or so, before dropping off, the largely white ash a striking contrast to this dark cigar. Davidoff rates this cigar as having the same mildness as the Signature 2000 on which it is based, but I think the wrapper transforms this into something stronger, more in the medium-strength range.

At the Davidoff shop, the 702 Series 2000 is over 20% higher in price than its sister Signature 2000, and indeed it’s not a cheap stick. For me, tho, it’s a bit thrilling as it offers some of those Brazil-wrapper-type rich flavours, with a truly Cuban quality of smoke experience, a combination distinctive enough I don’t wish to argue the price. The displeasing leather notes at the beginning and tail end, are my bit of complaint here, but I credit Davidoff a good deal for creating a special smoking experience with this great-looking cigar.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – New Davidoff 702 Series 2000 Corona

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26
Oct

Origin : Cuba
Format : Minutos Bolivar
Size : 110 x 16,67 mm (4 1/3″ x 42)
Hand-Made
Price : ~$7.9 each
More info about purchasing Bolivar cigars…

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

Tasting

The Bolivar Corona Junior Minuto is a modest-mid-price, short-smoke, somewhat heady Cuban, offering unique Bolivar flavours including a kind of ‘barbecue’ & roasted chestnut, tho at times with some dull spots, so perhaps not the equal of the similar size & price Cuban Ramón Allones Small Club Corona.

This short Bolivar is one of three in the same Minutos vitola in what Habanos describes as its ‘full flavour strength’ category, along with the Ramón Allones Small Club & the Partagás Shorts. The Bolivar is, however, noticeably milder than the take-no-prisoners Partagás, and perhaps slightly less strong than the Ramón Allones.

Amongst Cubans I have a soft spot for Bolivar, given they uniquely make cigars in two of my favourite sizes, the short corona as here, plus a nowadays-rare hand-rolled medium-long panetela, the Bolivar No 3 (125mm x 34).

Bolivars have a distinctive flavour palette, and amidst the Bolivar expierience is not only a very pleasing roasted chestnut sort of flavour and aroma, but a very striking ‘barbecue’ kind of meaty flavour that is particularly Bolivar. Those unique flavours are why I can’t resist picking up these small-format Bolivars every now & then.

The Bolivar Corona Junior seems to have particularly good construction in the exemplars I’ve tried over time, without the tight draw so common in small-format Cubans, never needing my cigar-piercing tool. Burn is usually quite nice. The one pictured here had a brief ‘canoe’ hollow during the burn but nothing serious. The wrapper is often nicely oily, if not always super-pretty.

Smoking experience is sometimes a bit uneven, with flat patches mixed with flavour bursts. At moments a Bolivar can have a beautiful aroma that is just not reflected in the taste. The one here in the photo started out pleasingly nutty, then grew quite flat to the degree I began to think ‘What am I smoking here?’ The middle third, however, opened with majestic flavour explosions, some of the roasted chestnut along with woody and earthy notes, and the famous ‘Bolivar barbecue’ was not missing, I almost opened a bag of paprika crisps.

The final third got a bit flat again, where you have the sense of smoking a slightly heady cigar but just not enough flavour to match the strength. This led me to recall my opinion that the also-heady Ramón Allones Small Club is the preferred cigar in this vitola, with its chocolate-like evocations and more consistent flavour interest.

For a slow puffer like myself, the methodically-burning Bolivar Junior short corona is about a 35 minute smoke, maybe around 25 minutes for the average stogie person, or a bit less than 20 minutes for heavier puffers.

One might say a word here about the names of these cigars and vitolas in Spanish & English, which can be confusing due to the singular / plural forms. Is this vitola ‘Minutos’ or ‘Minuto’?

On the Habanos website, they tend to list both cigar names and the vitola category in plural form – ‘Coronas’, ‘Robustos’ – whereas in English we would tend to use the singular. The Bolivar cigar in this review is listed by Habanos as the ‘Coronas Junior’, and the vitola as well is listed as ‘Minutos’, though if your shop has the machine-made Guantánamera Minutos tubos from Cuba, you might see the tube with ‘Minuto’ in the singular printed on it.

In English we tend to copy the Cuban plural form when citing the cigars, except in cases like ‘corona’ or ‘robusto’ where we already generally use the singular. A less-common Cuban cigar word such as ‘Minutos’ might more often appear in plural. In short, both forms are ok, hence the apparent confusion.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Bolivar Corona Junior

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23
Jun

Origin : CubaH. Upmann
Format : Half Corona
Size : 3 1/2″ (90 mm) X 44
Hand-Made
Hand-Made : Light to Medium
Price : ~$6 each
More info about purchasing H. Upmann cigars…

H. Upmann cigars are classified by Habanos S.A. as light to medium strength and as a global brand in their portfolio.
The brand was first introduced in 1844.

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

Overall : 3.5 out of 6 stars

As you may have seen on our Instagram account, we have bought a lovely box of H Upmann Half Corona. The Box is from 2016 and since we are all running around with very little time, the half Corona was chosen for our 20minutes break.

Tasting

1st Part
The H. Upmann half corona develops from the very beginning a soft blend. The strength is light at this stage. A slight bitterness stays on the palate. What really surprised me was this very fresh and cool smoke for such a short cigar. I was expecting more heat from that format.
Not too long to wait until the blend develops its typical sweetness and creaminess. The acidity is very low, therefore it is has short lasting flavour profile.

2nd Part
I am not so sure if such a short cigar can really be divided in 3 parts. the flavours remain easy. The draw and construction are good, developing a nice solid ash.
I enjoy more the aroma than the flavours sometimes and the H Upmann half corona is one of these cigars. The aroma is incredibly sweet and smooth.
There is not much development, only the bitterness level going down and hints of roasted coffee beans take slowly over the creaminess.

3rd Part
The intensity gets higher and the smoke richer. A lovely touch of cashew is taking the main flavour element. Still a short finish but no more bitterness at all.
The burn is impeccable and the aroma remains very sweet and gentle.

Overall Rating
If you are looking for a first full filler account or a 20minute morning smoke to go with your coffee the H Upmann Half corona is always a safe choice.
I also took a box with me a year ago to a wedding as it allows people to celebrate without feeling unwell and be unsociable by being outside in the smoking area for 1h30. It was a great wedding cigar knowing very few people were aficionados.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – H. Upmann Half Corona

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29
Apr

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Size : 44 x 90 mm (3.5″ in)
Brand Strength : Medium to Full
Box Year : 2016
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 6,60 / $ 7.05
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars…

Thank you Beneluxor for providing us once again with your feedback on the Media Coronas.

The Montecristo Media Corona is an impressive, flavour-rich short stick introduced only recently by Cuba’s most popular cigar marque, giving a much more fulfilling cigar experience than one might guess from its rather nub-like length.

Readers will quickly notice that the vitola here, is the same as the Herman Upmann Half Corona, though for the Montecristo, Habanos chose to use the Spanish word for ‘half’ (‘media’) instead.

The Montecristo Media Corona is a bit under the radar, given that, although Habanos announced this cigar as a standard catalogue item when introduced in 2015, the Media Corona still does not show amidst the regular Montecristo listing on the Habanos official website (which has a few other glitches on Habanos current output as well).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Buying the tail end of a 2015 box of Media Coronas that had been open & mellowing in the small humidor room of a cigar shop, I discovered a short smoke here that was even more joyous than I anticipated.

Part of the thought behind the thicker 44 ring gauge for the Half Coronas, may be a wish to avoid the tight draw issue often found in small-format Cubans, & the Montecristos quite shine here, drawing easily with more consistency than the 40 ring gauge Montecristo No. 5.

But where the Montecristo Media Coronas really wowed me, was in the flavour experience. They tend to have some prominent spice notes just at the very beginning, & then not too long after, some really superb waves of flavour start to build – nuts, honey, chocolate – coming in un-predictable surges, & sometimes so pleasingly intense I could not help but grin & chuckle a bit. These little sticks have been giving me some really perfect cigar moments, where you are reminded why you like cigars so much & why some Cubans are really worth the money.

Toward the end of the middle third, there tend to be some moments where the flavour recedes or the stick gets slightly harsh, but then you can have all the flavour rushing back in again too. Ash has tended to be uneven, but with the great flavour palette that’s not something I would complain about.

There’s a striking amount of evolution & fun in this short stogie, which also seems to burn slowly. Despite puffing the Media Coronas a bit more rapidly than my usual leisurely pace, because they taste so good, I typically get more than 30 minutes out of these baby-length Montecristos. And at the end, you’ve travelled so much flavour-wise & had such a good experience, it doesn’t really feel like a super-short cigar to me.

Still, I wish it was a bit longer, partly for appearance sake. To my eye, a cigar should be at least slightly longer, 3 7/8″ or 98mm, to start looking like a cigar & not like a nub.

Maybe I lucked out with the box I bought, but my impression is that the Media Corona can make you believe again in the glories of Montecristo if you’ve been doubting it. This may be a candidate for the best entreacto-length Cuban short smoke. In shops near me, the same-size Upmann Half Corona is 2/3 the price, but the Montecristo in this vitola is a much more exalted cigar to my view.

The rival to the Media Corona is the often quite excellent No 5 Perla also from Montecristo, another shortie at about the same price. The Perla is a vitola I’ve always liked … but the flavour richness of the Media Corona will draw me to it despite my own preference for 34-43 ring gauges.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Review – Montecristo Media Corona

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11
Aug

Punch Double Corona

Origin : CubaPunch
Format : Double Corona
Size : 194 x 20 mm (7.6 x 49)
Box code : AOL OCT 13
Hand-Made
Price : ~$14-16 each
More info about purchasing Punch cigars…

Want a huge honkin’ stick for not a lot of money?? Buy a 50 Cab of Punch Double Coronas. Punch is a more well-known name in the market that I am in, but most of their non-Cuban offerings leave a bit to be desired.

Appearance : 3.5 out of 5 stars
Although these smokes came well packed in a 50-cigar cabinet, I do not think I found a single stick that was actually straight. All of them had varying degrees of “bowing” along the length. I give it high marks for consistency in density and color, as well as a nice earthy aroma the cabinet emits upon opening. From appearances, the cigar looked as if it was going to be a nice selection—minus the bowing.

Punch Double Corona

Construction : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
Stick was better than average with few construction issues. No blooming, with few if any spines. There was proper amount of oiling throughout, and despite the lack of straightness, the burn WAS technically better than most. I have not run across a single cigar in the box that needed corrections to the burn. No wrapper separation of any sort. Construction-wise – a nice assembled cigar.

Flavor : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
Last fall, I reviewed a Juan Lopez Petit Corona where I absolutely took it to the woodshed where taste was concerned. I mention this cigar, because Punch actually delivered what I THOUGHT I was going to get with that other dismal failure. With the light, you are greeted with hints of honey and chocolate, along with fruity notes such as cherry, and with the exhale you get a nice “pop” of peppery spice—all delivered with complex moderation, unlike the Lopez—which performed as if it were going to rip your lungs out on the exhale with an unbearably harsh pepper note that overpowered the entire smoking experience. Punch got it right with this cigar. The taste profile held throughout all thirds of the smoke, providing a delightfully complex flavor profile and a truly enjoyable smoking experience.

Value : 4.25 out of 5 stars (4.25)
Punch gives you a huge cigar for your money with this selection, with the price equating to about $14US/cigar for a 194MM long Cuban stick. The taste profile is what makes this stick a winner in my book. Great complex flavor notes, paired with a technical performance that is above average makes this cigar a nice change of pace from what I normally consume.

Overall Rating : 3.75 out of 5 stars (3.75)
Do I think this is a top-tier cigar?? No. Does it earn my respect and admiration as a better than average Cuban stick?? Absolutely. Though not a cigar I would gravitate to as a normal occupant of my humidor, I must give credit to Punch for delivering a well-made stick that outperforms many of its competitors within the genre. They succeeded where others have utterly failed, so I do tip my cap to Punch. Well done!!

Enjoy!!!

You might be interested in these articles too:

Punch Double Corona

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24
May

Partagas Corona Gorda Añejados

Origin : CubaPartagas
Format : Corona Gorda
Size : 143 x 20 mm (5.625 x 46)
Released in : 2015
Box Date : OBE – June ’07
Hand-Made
Price : I paid $450 for an early box and subsequently seen them priced as low as $340 (under $14/cigar)
More info about purchasing Partagas cigars…

This is the 4th in the new Añejados line. As Inspector noted in his review of the HdM Añejados, the Añejados program have all been aged for five to eight years in their original packaging. At that point the packaging is opened and the cigars are checked for quality. Then the original band is placed back on the stogies and a second Añejados band is attached to each. The boxes are stamped with the word “revisado,” which means “checked.” Each Añejados offering is a unique vitola for the particular brand; so, this is the only Partagas currently offered in a coronas gordas vitola.

The Habanos, S.A. press release noted, “Through the aging process, the cigar has developed, becoming rounder and mellower to the palate with touches of delicate and sweetish taste and, above all, obtaining shades of woody taste because of being placed for all those years near the cedar from which the boxes were made.” I’m not sure what boxes the copywriter was looking at, because the Partagas Corona Gorda Añejados comes in a cardboard dress box.

Appearance : 4.5 out of 5 stars
Natural (Colorado Claro), very uniform brown color, speckles of crystalline plume. Very attractive wrapper. I typically don’t like secondary bands, but the additional “Añejados” band actually enhances the presentation. Black and white ash.

Partagas Corona Gorda (Anejado)

Construction : 4.5 out of 5 stars
Feels well-constructed, consistent throughout, although perhaps a little loose or underfilled. Once clipped, I realized the draw was snug and perfect. Excellent volume of smoke. Burn was sharp, and just a little uneven. No touch-ups required. Lasted over two hours, but I think would typically burn for closer to 1 hour, forty-five minutes.

Flavor : 4.25 out of 5 stars (4.25)
Opens medium strength, very smooth and pleasant. Lots of flavors come through, but none dominate. A little earth, a little salt, some leather, light black pepper, a little oak char, a hint of milk chocolate… Really a lot going on. Very nice. Smooth and flavorful, no bite on the retrohale. Unfortunately, not much of a finish. About halfway, some of the softer flavors fall to the spice and astringency.

Overall Rating : 4.5 out of 5 stars
The question many people are asking: Are these really specially rolled Partagas coronas gordas that Habanos planned to put in an añejados program back in 2007 or are they simply rebanded cigars from another marca? Well, in a blind test, I don’t think I would have said Partagas. I’d have guessed these were a much better Punch than I’m used to (I don’t smoke Punch very often). This question bothered me so much, I cracked open a box of discontinued Partagas Coronas (GSO – Oct ’06) and smoked them side-by-side to compare. The Partagas Coronas was a little more peppery and a little more raw, but similar enough. The Partagas band on the Añejados is the newer type, but I can’t say that they weren’t available in October 2007; however, the band seems new. In my opinion, the cigars may have been rolled in 2007, but they were banded and packaged this year. Does any of this matter? Probably not. For those curious, the Añejados was better than the Coronas: more flavorful, better draw, nicer smoke; although less of the classic Partagas flavor profile.

Partagas Añejado Corona Gorda vs Partagas 2006 Corona

The cigar is a delight, but the Añejados price point seems slightly high. The unique vitola ensures that it doesn’t directly compete against cigars personally aged, but how much of a premium is five to eight years worth? In this case, is eight full years of aging worth double the price one would expect for a Partagas coronas gordas? That partially depends on how many boxes are available for release and if the releases are limited to just one year. Habanos S.A. needs to clarify this if they want to create demand for the Añejados program.
Overall, while I’m not convinced that the Partagas Corona Gorda Añejados is exactly what Habanos represents, the cigar scores a very good 4.5 of 5.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Partagas Añejado Corona Gorda

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10
Sep

Juan Lopez Petit Corona

Juan LopezOrigin : Cuba
Format : Petit Corona
Size : 129 x 18 mm (5.1 x 42)
Ring : 42
Box code : UME ENE14
Hand-Made
Price : ~$180 for a box of 25
More info about purchasing Juan Lopez cigars…

Sometimes you want to venture from your safety zone and try new things. Sometimes you are rewarded for your curiosity, and sometimes you regret your adventuresome ways. This experience to me was definitely the latter and not the former. To me, this stick had problems from the get-go. Just about anything that could go wrong, did… IN SPADES.

Appearance : 2.5 out of 5 stars
The Juan Lopez Petit Corona had some spines that ran the length of the cigar, which can happen from time to time, but where this product drew my attention was that roughly a third or more of the stick had expanded in the box to the point they assumed an almost hexagonal shape down the length of the stick. I thought it a bit odd, but it wasn’t until I lit one that I think I figured out what was going on with this product. None of the causes I could think of would make the experience with this cigar end well, and it became more and more evident as I delved further into the box. The wrapper and binder both had issues maintaining their integrity.

Construction : 1.5 out of 5 stars
This product had definite construction problems. Out of 25 cigars, 15 of them had some sort of construction issues, with 6 of them being not usable. Some sticks were rolled so tight that they would not maintain a light, and with almost NO draw I had to sit there and pull much harder than I would have liked to, which only intensified the release of tannins and took the spicy taste experience to excruciating levels. The 9 sticks that had construction issues but were able to be consumed either had heads or feet (and sometimes BOTH) that were so tightly rolled that sometimes BOTH ends had to be clipped to get the smoke to perform AT ALL.

Flavor : 1.5 out of 5 stars
Upon the initial light, I was greeted with a honey sweet nutty note reminiscent of freshly crushed pecan shells and thought I was going to really enjoy this smoke, but on the exhale I was blasted with an unbearable pepper note that made me want to put the cigar out and try something else. Juan Lopez is known for its spicy notes, but this went beyond the pale. I have enjoyed other JL products and their light/moderate spice/pepper notes, but this was a full-on violent assault to the senses without the courtesy of a reach-around. If I had stuck a spoonful of ground black pepper under my nose and sniffed it, I would have gotten more pleasure from the experience. Were it not for the redeeming factor that there WERE milder notes at the beginning of this smoke, I would be hard pressed to rate it with ANY stars. It was THAT bad. YMMV (your mileage may vary). This scene repeated itself through most, if not all the remainder of the box. See below for comments on the second box I purchased with identical production date code below.

Value : 2.5 out of 5 stars
With a cost of $8US+ each, you better like those peppery spicy notes. A beginner most likely would be turned off to the cigar hobby by this smoke, so I would not recommend it to anyone short of those that truly enjoy those strong, oftentimes overpowering notes. If that is what you are looking for, you will most likely find them with this product, not because that is their nature, but due to inconsistent quality issues. For my money, I would pass and choose a better known petit Montecristo.

Overall Rating : 2.5 out of 5 stars
I intentionally held my fire on this review until I had purchased a second box of JL Petit Coronas from my favorite trusted tobacconist to see if what I experienced was an aberration, or if this was the norm for this particular smoke. I received my second box with an identical date code, and there was marked improvement. There were still construction issues, but MUCH less pronounced than Box #1. Granted, I did ask my tobacconist to 100% inspect the sticks before shipping, and that may have a great deal to do with the markedly better results.

Quite frankly, I would recommend the Juan Lopez Don Juan Benelux Limited Edition (review coming soon) hands-down over this feeble attempt at making a petit robusto corona. Yes, you get pepper/spice notes with the LJDJBLE’s, but the flavor profile is MUCH more balanced, and would be much more enjoyable to the novice enthusiast. They are roughly twice the cost of the Petit Corona, but you get a substantially larger cigar (52 ring x 135mm).

Juan Lopez Petit Corona

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