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23
Jul

Origin : CubaRafael Gonzalez
Format : Britanicas Extra
Size : 5 3/8 (137mm) x 48
Hand-Made
Price : $25.00 each
More info about purchasing Rafael Gonzalez cigars…

Cigar Rating

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

The Rafael Gonzales 88 is a “perfecto” shape cigar. Not completely straight (or Parejo in Spanish) not completely double figurados (both end pointed like the Cuaba Salamones).
As described in my review of the Pre-Release Gloria Cubana Exclusivo Gran Bretana (click here), this vitola is part of my top three favorite. First introduced in the Regional edition series in 2012 for the Bolivar Britanicas, UK edition. Then for the Ramon Allones Perfectos Swiss and now the first Rafael Gonzales for Asia Pacific.
The Rafael Gonzales 88, comes in boxes of 10 cigars. 8,888 numbered boxes have been produced.

Tasting

Just like all the regional edition (except the first one released) the Rafael Gonzales 88 wears a double band red and silver indicating its market.

I cut my cigar very shallow, as I lit it, it was slightly tight like my Gloria Cubana britanicas reviewed last month. However a great aroma came out of the smoke straight at the beginning.
The first taste feeling was very floral with dried fruits notes on the palate. As expected in rather young cigars, even though this one was part of the 2016 release but came out only in 2017, there is a slightly dry finish to the blend. Talking about the blend the latter is light just like a Rafael Gonzales should be. However due to the tightness of the cigar it is hard to fully appreciate the blend’s potential as the amount of smoke is very low.

The end of the first part is very dry on the palate but a slight creaminess can be appreciated, this shows the blend potential. I like the toast aroma of the smoke. Even-though its density is too low.

The second part doesn’t Start very well, sadly it’s very tight. On top of it the dry feeling from before remains very present and persistent.

The cigar burns funnily and goes off very quickly as there is not much air going through to keep it lit.

It is not my first Rafael Gonzales 88, I had one in the past that was just so lovely and was excited to review this one. You can feel the flavours are interesting but to shy to really give a serious opinion about it.
As soon as I ‘re-lit’ the second part again a warm creaminess comes out very gooood :)

I finally decided to cut a bit more, really to the edge of where it would pill off. And, magic!!! All opened. High density of smoke, great expression, no more dry finish all of a sudden really round and fruity kind of finish.

Complete change of direction towards the end of the second third. Very strong. High woodiness and stone fruits. Mineral on the finish.

The draw is even too loose. But can’t complain after the struggle of the first part.
We always say cut it a bit more but sometimes we are shy to do so. We shouldn’t be. I would have ruined a great powerful cigar. Never thought a Rafael Gonzales could be that strong.

The end turn into almond notes. Very complex as the flavours profile keep on changing and it would be complicated for me to describe it in two words.

The Rafael Gonzales 88 offers a very long finish at the end. A by dry still but nice lingery flavours.

The finish is creamy but still with some bitterness and freshness the blend need some times to be more round and smooth.

Cigar Review – Rafael Gonzales 88 Regional Edition Asia Pacifico

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05
Jul

Origin : CubaRafael Gonzalez
Format : Perla
Size : 40 x 102 mm (4 in)
Weight : 5.91 g.
Hand-Made
Price : $8.00 each
More info about purchasing Rafael Gonzalez cigars…

Cigar Rating

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 3 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
Strength : 2 out of 6 stars

Before you start reading our new quick review of the Rafael Gonzales Perla we want to share with you another review of the same cigar made few years ago by Sean, click here!

Tasting

I was not very excited about this Rafael Gonzales cigar. The main reason is that I have always heard from great collectors this brand needs some ageing before really expression the blend’s full potential.
This cigar comes from a box of 2017.

At first the draw it not completely tight but not slightly resistant, in between these two feelings. The burn is actually very good and impressive for such a little cigar.
We always think this little cigar, forgotten by most of us are being rolled rapidly without care but the first part the construction just improved very quickly and the perfect burnt allowed a great solid ash to form.

The aroma is a bit harsh at the very beginning but loads of smokes are coming out of the puffs. It is very enjoyable. Some surprising notes of burn provençal herbs are coming out of this cloud.

On the palate, some great smoked spices are developing. Quite complex for such a little cigar. The strength is very light and density of smoke high. This makes it such a soft feeling.

The cigar evolves slowly to a woody structure. Sometimes hints of sweetness reminding you a the creaminess we all know in our cuban cigars come out.

The end of the first part shows very Hhigh ammonia taste unfortunately. Hope it will change as the beginning was great. The finish on the palate is extremely short. Almost with the feeling of not having smoked.

The second part doesn’t Strat very well. kind of flat flavours… It is hard to say and almost rude for the great Habanos that we love. Nothing very special slight roasted coffee bean.
The aroma is much more interesting with this grilled herbs notes. I never experienced such an aroma I have to say. Very confusing, in a good way.

The woodiness is well perceived but the finish is very short which makes it a very easy cigar to smoke.

The last third starts well with lots of oriental spices and the one I could recognise easily was the cumin. This is a surprisingly complex cigar.
The creamy structure comes and goes but when it’s here, makes it such a lovely cigar.

Not a bad little cigar, I wasn’t expected this. I have to admit the cigar isn’t really balanced and a bit of age won’t harm it. But having smoked some delicious aged cigar and now this fresh one I understand why they age so well. This Rafael Gonzales Perla is like young racing horse, going everywhere and hard to control.

A bourbon type of flavour appears in the very last part. Still with some bitterness on the back of the tongue though.
the last notes are extremely good, chocolaty and creamy texture, round not aggressive as it felt since the beginning.

Short smoke and getting tastier toward the end.

The problem I encountered with this cigar was 20 minutes after the after taste was really bad and this killed the entire enjoyment I had. Therefore I believe it should be an aperitif cigar before pulling out the big cigars.

Cigar Review – Rafael Gonzales Perla

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26
Jun

Origin : CubaQuai d'Orsay
Format : Grand Edmundo
Size : 135 mm x 54
Ring : 54
Hand-Made
Price :12USD-

Cigar Rating

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 5 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
Strength : 2.5 out of 6 stars

Cigar Brand Overview

Quai d’Orsay was created in the 70s when the recently elected president at the time, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, asked his minister of economy to create a French cigar. As the former president explained “France is known for its perfume, champagne, foie gras but nothing in the world of tobacco”.
La Seita, company that had the monopoly of tobacco in France, was commissioned to create a cigar for the French market. Quai d’Orsay became the third brand at that time on the market with a non Cuban name, after Davidoff and Dunhill.

The marca was present in minor markets only. Over the past decade France was able to enjoy beautiful Quai d’Orsay regional editions that became collector items.

Since last year we can experience a “re-birth” of Quai D’orsay. 2 new vitola, a new look for the brand and a great blend. The n.50, already reviewed here and the No.54.

Cigar Appearance
I personaly love the new branding of Quai D’Orsay. The work Habanos S.A. and La Seita is great. Most of the Quai D’Orsay cigars will be claro to Colorado claro wrapper. The one reviewed has a stunning light shade of brown wrapper. Smooth and very elegant visually, matching perfectly with the new cigar band. I love the attention to detail to the band with the small gold spot in the letters for example. It is a great balance between simplicity and elegance.

Cigar Tasting

The Quai D’Orsay No.54 is a great big size cigar. Slightly shorter than the Behike 54. As described previously their wrappers are amazing. very good looking and of a high quality.
As I cut the cigar, or open the cigar as I sometimes like to say, the I see a great construction. Not to tight not to packed. The pre draw confirmed my thoughts.

The first few puffs were very light in flavours and aromas, very short finish and almost no structure on the palate. The density of smoke is immediately very high and very enjoyable.
As this is the first cigar of the day for me, with a coffee and nothing eaten before, I kind of like the fact that the structure is very weak. The flavours appear slowly with some nice sweet vanilla and a gentle nuttiness. Definitely not the most expressif blend so far but the amount of smoke and the light strength allow the very subtle flavour to stand out and being enjoyed.

During the second part the intensity slowly increase and the cigar vary between light and light to medium. Some moments are not balanced at all and express the ammonia left in the cigar too much. A slight bitterness appears on the palate but the flavours profiles from before increase with the addition sometimes of a Islay whisky finish on the palate. The feeling you have after having had a sip of a lagavulin 10 minutes ago. Very interesting. The structure is a bit more dense and allow the flavour to linger slightly more on the palate.
The aroma is great and intense.

The Last third is probably what you would really expect. Elegant and round would be enough to describe it. The moment of unbalanced is over.
However the blend is sometimes a bit dry on the palate and the flavours are good that we can feel a bit frustrated not to experience them more. It is a very light blend one of the lightest one I have experienced in months. Lighters than the corona claro and the No.50 but makes it a great Sunday morning cigar :)

Overall Rating

I enjoyed the No.54 as an easy smoke without any complexity.
If you are looking for a cigar rich and full of flavours it is certainly not the right one.
It makes it the perfect Brunch companion!

Cigar Review – Quai D’Orsay No. 54

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19
Jun

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Size : 7“ (178mm) x 47
Format : Julieta No.2
Brand Strength : Medium to Full
Hand-Made
Price : $25 – $30
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars…

Cigar rating
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 : 4 out of 6 stars

Introduction
The Montecristo Churchill Anejados is the second release of the linea Anejados. The Cigars released under this line are extra matured in the perfect humidity conditions of Cuba for a period of time between 5 to 8 years. This extra aging allow each part of the cigar to really melt together releasing the very full flavor potential of the tobacco leaves.


You can also read the great review of the Partagas Corona Gordas Anejados here!

Cigar Appearance
The Montecristo Anejados shows a double band, the traditional one plus a brown one which proudly said Anejados indicating the extra aging indeed. The size which I particularly like is elegant and its already a pleasure to old it in your hands. The color of the wrapper is Colorado and the quality of it is excellent with not many vein coming out and a crunchy feel which make me hope in a good draw.

Cigar Construction
The cigar is been rolled well, the cup was applied correctly facilitating the cutting procedure and the pre draw announce that is not going to be a tight one. During the smoke the ash was very compact and I almost went half way through before it went down, and when it did I could see the core of the cigar perfectly lit as I never had to use the lighter again.

Cigar Tasting

Like a first date, it is a shy beginning for the Montecristo Anejados, it felt quite light as a start but on the other side combustion and draw were really good. It shows since the beginning that the character of the stick is going to be woody with some spices hints, the classic Montecristo profile.
As we reach the second third the flavor intensity definitely picks up as the smoke gets warmer and denser, we can appreciate the lovely cedar and oak wood, vegetal notes with some cashew nuts feeling as well and a hint of spices occasionally.
Close to the end we can really appreciate the definition of the flavors, which are not changing much since the beginning, the only thing that evolves is the intensity of those, which is totally normal as the burning spot is always closer to our palate and the smoke is hotter; combustion and draw have been great during the entire stick.

Overall
The cigar was a bit lighter than expected, maybe because the extra aging which might have lower down the nicotine level, and make it smoother. It was very well constructed and I have to say that when a cigar doesn’t give any “inconvenient” is already half way to the success. Flavor wise the cigar didn’t show any complexity as the profile was the same from the beginning to the end, what I call a linear stick; but the definition of the flavors and aromas was good. This is a cigar which can be smoked anytime really, I enjoyed it with my coffee during the afternoon, and by the nature of it you can lit it and enjoy it without thinking about it too much.

Cuban Cigar Review – Montecristo Churchill Anejados

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11
Jun

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Size : 165 mm X 55
Size : Montecristo 80th Aniversario
Brand Strength : Full (linea 1935)
Hand-Made
Price : $30 – $35
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars…

The larger format of Montecristo’s new line has the exact same dimension as the Montecristo 80th Aniversario which was supposed to be released in 2015 but came out last year!

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

Appearance
As the Maltes and the Dumas, previously reviewed, the Leyenda wears a third band on the foot, a second band below the Marcas’ mentioning the name of the Line, Linea 1935 and the cigar’s name.
All cigars from the Linea 1953 come in a box of 20 stogies.
We have seen many shades of brown on the different boxes opened. Therefore we cannot say the Linea 35 are all Maduro or Colorado Maduro. Do not be surprised to have a shade difference between a box and another

Tasting

1st Part

The pre draw is perfect, not too loose not too tight, this is already very exciting and promising.
As soon as I light the Leyanda the burn is as good as the draw and loads of sweet woody notes to Start. I love the long module as the first flavours a very fresh and soft “almost” cold when they reach the palate.
Intensity comes very quickly and the full strength of cigar is already present with a nice woodiness and reach texture. The density of smoke is medium.
Some nice touches of earthiness added to the woodiness develop a very good Montecristo flavour profile with a high intensity.
Very low acidity, don’t feel that the cigar is young. The flavour complexity shows you this is a great cigar with a massive potential already felt during the first part. Cocoa and roasted coffee bring the Leyenda to sweet flavour profile.

2nd Part

During the second part the strength soften a bit. The density of smoke is very high the cigar just keep on bringing flavours reminding you of a great Montecristo with some age. The flavours are very well balanced. At the same time you can enjoy a powerful cigar but yet its development is so smooth that you just appreciate the flavours and don’t feel overwhelmed by strength.
The ash is long and strong. Beautiful shape and grey. The combustion is very even, you do not need to light your cigar 10 times during the tasting even if you leave it on the ashtray for 5 minutes you will still have a great combustion.
The aroma is great as well. I start realising this Leyenda is my favourite out of the new 1935 lines. So rich and complex.

3rd Part

The last third is pretty similar and doesn’t have a massive change. However towards the very end the Montecristo Leyenda starts to be slightly shorter and the palate this is really to pick something a bit negative in this great hour and twenty minute smoke. Also it becomes a bit dry and looses its grassiness and rich flavours and aroma.

Overall
I enjoyed the three cigars from the Montecristo 1935 Linea, the Dumas, the Maltes and the Leyenda. Out of the three, the Leyenda was really an outstanding cigar with a massive potential of development and ageing a great addition to the Montecristo cigars line. Cuba has done a great job.
My only issue with this new line is the new look and feel of the box not to my personal taste. I love the authentic wood with details on it.

Cigar Review – Montecristo Linea 1935 Layenda

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29
May

Origin : NicaraguaVegaFina
Format : Dalia
Size : 170mm x 43
Hand-Made
Price : $11.5
More info about purchasing Vegafina cigars…

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

I have been enjoying Nicaraguan cigars lately. They can be very rich and powerful developing lots of flavours. The blends are getting more and more complex for our enjoyment.
The short and fat module trend is a reality but thanks god some Marcas keep on bringing to the market elegant and thin ring gauge cigars, reminding us of the old school style.

Tasting
As expected by a new world cigar, the pre draw was perfect. The right balance between resistance and loose. I don’t like a cigar being too loose with the feeling of being undefiled. I like a bit of resistance in my draws.

As briefly explained above I love this size. Thin to medium ring gauge and rather long. The same module is produced in Cuba under the Partagas 8-9-8 and is one of my all time favourite.

The first aroma is very enjoyable, soft and delicate smoke. Then the density of smoke becomes very quickly strong and rich with lots of new world oak woodiness.
The ash crystal white, not very strong, lightly loose and sandy. I like when the ash is structured, with lines expressing the draws and describing how you smoked it. Just like when you cut a tree and see the years accord to the layers of wood. Unfortunately in the case its more a packed loose ash forming on to of the cigar.

On the palate it is strong and rich with a nice spiciness and pepperiness challenging the flavours buds.
Even though I am not fan of the ash I can say anything about the burn and the draw being almost perfect.

The Vega fina Nicaragua 898 is well balanced. Its finish is long with strong notes of hay. The pepperiness became very shy but still present reminding you what you are smoking is coming from Nicaragua. This leads the blend to an interesting complexity.

The construction is extremely good and the tobacco used of great quality as the density of smoke is very high with an incredible aroma. It is very relaxing to have such a moment. Even better when flavours and aromas are present.

I am enjoying this sweet flavours. It is a very particular sweetness. Reminding you of chocolate made of high cocoa percentage. You recognise very well it is not cuban because if this slight bitterness in the back melted with a sweet wood. It is like drinking a new world chardonnay aged in new world barrels. The vanilla and coconut flavours will be much more pronounced than a chardonnay made in Burgundy. You have the same feeling with tobacco from the new world and the flavours are more distinct and pronounced than in Cuba.

The cigar burns very quickly without over heating nor the feeling of being frustrated it goes down too quick.

Some notes of smoked bacon linger on the palate. Once again very similar to the finish of certain wines.

The flavours are rich and harmonious. The bitterness described previously is not harsh it is really all melting down on the palate. Very surprise with this new world cigar. The complexity and richness of flavours are of a serious level.

Toward the end the Vega Fina 898 develops and amazing round texture with this velvet feeling, beautiful marzipan and sweet notes. Yet strong and high intensity of smokes. Make sure you eat well before enjoying this cigar as this is for sure not a smoke for a beginner.

I wasn’t expected such a development.

Cigar Review – Vega Fina Nicaragua 8-9-8

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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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