Friday, August 26, 2011

La Sirena Corona

Made by Pepin, distributed by Miami Cigar Co., spearheaded by the lovely Ariel of Tobacco Plaza in Great Neck, New York.  No other cigar I have come across has received as much drooling anticipation by other fellow cigar enthusiasts and bloggers a like, except maybe the once super rare but now super inferior holiday Fuentes and over celebrated Padron ## Anniversaries.

I picked this goodie up at the one and only Tobacco Plaza, and after smoking it, I was torn at whether I should post this review up or not... and well after 5 months of consideration I decided not to compromise my honesty.

It is presented in a ridiculously over sized silver blue band which covers most of the cigar, and distracts you from the dull brown wrapper and the sloppily formed cap, however the foot was neat and clean.  Construction as of late has become an issue with Pepin cigars, and this is not exception with its tight draw.  Upon smoking I picked up flavours of spice, caramel sweetness, heavy toasted flavours of oak and nuts.  A nasal exhale reveals a delightfully delicate chocolate bouquet. 

As all these flavours and aromas might sound appealing on paper, and certainly was appealing as these came around immediately after lighting and continued for 15 minutes as the first quarter inch burned down... that was the extent of it's complexity.  I finished the cigar to find it although tasty, and very boring... 45 minutes of boredom.  Smoking a Pepin now in my mind can be compared to watching a movie one too many times.  I like Will Smith movies, as an actor he is adequate, until I realized he just plays the same character archetype but with different character professions and names.

This entry certainly is longer than my usual short and concise reviews, but I felt this Pepin regurgitation deserved some further explanation that has brought about my disappointment with anything Pepin.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Macanudo Cru Royale Robusto Review

A lustrous chocolate brown wrapped cigar with little veins and discolored spots, which are not so noticeable thanks to the unusual silver and blue band.  The construction is very good, as with the first clip and pre-light draw yields a good pull.

The flavours come out as spicy, a woody cedar with earthy notes and hints of raisin sweetness.  It comes with a nice spicy finish and the nasal exhale reveals a bit of citrus tang.  This is a very interesting cigar, especially coming in on the heavier side of the flavour range while adorning the name Macanudo, notorious of their usual archetype of delicate light flavours.

A good cigar to be enjoyed after dinner.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The 10 Greatest contributions to the Cigar Industry

Since the world is supposed to end this Saturday, May 21,2011 according to a book written some 2000 years ago by some fanatical terrorist organization... I suppose I should at least do a few more words of thought before the end of days.  This is a list of what, or in some cases, who, were the most influential and mind boggling inventions, people, or events to affect the industry as a whole.

10 - Sam Leccia's separation from Oliva Cigar Family.

What happened: Sam finished out his obligations to his office at Oliva and left.

Why is he on this list: Two words, "Nub" and "Cain".  This is a man who approached Oliva with a fanatical idea about a stubby cigar promoting a sweet spot which was later rescinded as just a gimmick, but still sold units and was able to turn a profit.  His next venture was the Cain series which was to me even more successful.  First of all some things to lay down, who in this industry can claim two successful back to back ideas that still turn a profit?  Who in this industry is able to construct a cigar made of 82% ligero (the most expensive leaf next to wrappers) and still keep the price modest at around $8 per stick?  Who else in his position would go out of his way to learn how to roll cigars just so he can provide a little extra feature at all the cigar tastings he attended?  Yes, Oliva fucked up when they let him go and when his non-compete clause expires I hope to see him be successful in future ventures, hopefully in the very same cigar industry from whence he was shafted.  Oliva is going to have a tough time riding the dieing coat tails of the baby boomers with their Master Blends III, Serie V, and El Cobre lines.

9 - The Death of Gary Artz

What happened: The man died on April 2, 2011.

Why is he on this list: I'll pose another question, why do all of the Cigar Industry big wigs love him?  I've never seen him as anything other than a grumpy bipolar bullshitting bigot, and yet after his death, people still canonize him like he turned water into wine and walked on water.  Some people deserve to die, and I'll gladly put him up there with Stalin, Hitler, and Former US Senator Strom Thurman.  Supposedly Gary has made many contributions to the industry and was indeed very smart.  This theory was put to the test when someone asked Jose Blanco of La Aurora (who apparently knew Gary very well) about the contributions Gary had made to the industry or examples of his omnipotent intelligence... no conclusive answer, that is to say no answer was the reply.  Objectively speaking on coimparisons, at least Hitler saved Germany from utter financial ruin and promoted Nationalism.  What really has Gary Artz done besides spew racist remarks, utter misogynistic nonsense under his breath, verbally attack people, and displayed his disgusting customer service skills while posing as Don Pepin under the "My Father Cigar" facebook page with several consumers.  I'm sure those of you who remember the verbal altercation with the user known as FullCardReports, his attacks against Cigar Snob and Dave Levy formerly of Meduros Cigar, and most notably accusing Dion of being an anti-semite with absolutely no proof whatsoever.  Let the old bastard die like he lived, full of hate and ridicule, but don't disrespect the man by drinking the kool-aid and pretending he was a gift to the cigar community.

8 - The Oscuro Wrapper from La Flor Dominicana

What happened:  Litto Gomez developed a way to cook a wrapper to well done goodness.

Why is this on this list:  This is the invention that put LFD in league with the big boys like Padron and Fuente.  After years of making, in my opinion mediocre cigars, LFD finally put out something interesting that went into one of the greatest cigars ever, the oscuro wrapper and the Factory Press/Factory Press II.  Now everyone and their grandpa has a cigar with an oscuro wrapper, 601 Greens, Casa Magna Oscuro, Padilla 1932 Oscuro.  That being said, the Factory Press II and the Oscuro Double Ligero Lancero remain two of the most enjoyable cigars from LFD's portfolio.

7 - The Chisel Format from La Flor Dominicana

What happened:  Litto spent 7 months trying to create the mold and correct balance to make a cigar with the head of a screwdriver.  Genius.

Why is this on this list: Next to the Lancero format, this is the most innovative functional size ever created, ever.  EVER.  The smoke is concentrated as it passes through the chisel head, which does not need a tool to cut open, it fits comfortably in the mouth, and is very appealing because it allows people who are not accustomed to 50+ ring guage cigars to smoke a large cigar without getting lower jaw cramps. 

6 - Paul Palmer of Tabacalera Tropical

What happened: Had the opportunity to meet this person, General Manager of Tabacalera Tropical.

Why is he on the list: Anyone ever see any Tabacalera Tropical products on store shelves aside from JFRs?  Not me.  You know why?  The reason, as I see it, is because Paul is a total douche bag.  End of story.  The man is very unsociable unless he can benefit from any form of interaction from you.  Even trying to talk to him is less enjoyable than a severe case of food poisoning.  I love how I am just trying to get some information of new products from him ends in a stonewalling but when someone who owns a store comes by he grins turns into Santa Clause.  Tabacalera Tropical is in trouble unless one of two things happen... Paul changes his personality and becomes more sociable to talk about his company, or they get rid of him and go in a different direction.  I am fortunate to meet him though, reminds me that there sure are people out there who still do think their shit doesn't stink.  Thank you Paul for bringing me back to reality.

5 - Pete Johnson of Tatuaje

What happened: He got a cigar made by Pepin Garcia.

Why is he on this list: He got a cigar made by Pepin Garcia.  At that time, the cigar industry was trending downwards, but a fresh new fully enjoyable blend from Pepin Garcia under the Tatuaje brand rejuvenated the industry, gleaned him a lot of exposure and of course profit.  Several controversies to note though: 1) Tatuaje is Pete Johnson's Cigar, not Pepin Garcia's however those of us who have smoked them understand that Tatuaje wouldn't be where it was without the undeniable skills of a master such as Pepin Garcia, so let's cut the shit for a bit.  2) Pete Johnson doesn't want his cigars to be available everywhere, to keep production small and quality high, as well as keeping the price point comparable between his retailers.  This begs the question why are they available on Cigars International, a major catalog and internet sales company at prices that B&Ms have no chance of competing with?  Cash Rules Everything Around Me, and no one is immune. 

4 - New York Only Cigars

What happened: New York State increased tax on tobacco to ludicrous levels, and companies such as La Aurora and Alec Bradley created the Broadway series and the New York Empire cigar respectively.

Why is this on the list: Here's the sales pitch.  This is a cigar made only available to the New York Consumer and their local B&M's to show our support of a major market, and for many years, our #1 top selling market.  The B&Ms have the opportunity to sell this exclusive cigar primarily to the people in New York, as well as resell them to other stores and consumers in other states so they can thrive and thus ensure their longevity in this harsh volatile industry.  I must say it is a decent initiative, but lets face facts.  The main problems with this idea is that these companies are not helping the smaller B&Ms, for they don't have the same sales or networking capacity as the larger ones.  Barclay Rex and Davidoff of Geneva already have venues to sell online, where as a small shop would have to invest in another phone line for phone orders, a website for internet orders, and the extra man power to operate those two avenues of sales, in an already tough and thinly stretched financial environment.  Good try, but poor planning... or maybe this was planned very well and you guys don't give a shit about the B&Ms in the first place and just want any reason to make a cigar to sell.

3 - Catalog/Internet retailers.

What happened:  You live in New York or California where tobacco tax is more than your mortgage?  Welcome to the world of Famous, Cigars International, Holts, and Thompson.

Why are they on this list: They ship anywhere.  They offer great deals.  They carry almost everything.  If I wanted to try Kinky Friedman cigars which I can not find anywhere in New York, Famous is my go to Company.  If I lived in Northern California in 2006 and wanted to smoke a Don Pepin Cigar, Cigars International came to my rescue.  The internet is here to stay, and with a mass market and delivery system like these guys, who can say anything bad about them besides from the fact that they are taking away the livelihoods of our neighborhood B&Ms.  I'm satisfied though because my neighborhood retailers are full of jerks and pretend mafioso.  Another interesting point to make out.  These companies exist for the Manufacturers, not the consumers.  Apparently as the trend goes, manufacturers overproduce their stock, and with the limited shelf space in the B&Ms, who can say no to CI or Famous agreeing to take away 25,000 units of dead stock from a company who overproduces their product to make a profit?  I actually just recieved my latest CI catalog, Father's Day edition chock full of Gurkhas, La Aurora 107s, and the fairly brand spanking new Steel Ringed Macanudo Vintage.  Of course it has the full selection of Tatuaje Brown labels as well as excellent pricing.  I also regularly purchase my La Aurora Corojos from the Famous Cigar Auctioneer as well as my El Cobre and Perdomo Grand Cru Corojo from Cigar Monster.  I recently harvested a box of La Aurora 107 robustos for $80 and a box of Tatuaje Le Requiza robustos for $101, where else can you find these deals? 

2 - Cigar Rights of America

What happened: The Government has been more strict with tobacco usage and purchases and wishes to control the flow by making tobacco fall under FDA jurisdiction.  CRA was created to help the political balance in the cigar smoker's favour for just $35 a year and your help.

Why is CRA on this list:  It's been a few years now, and I still see no improvement.  I have never been a CRA member, and never wish to be.  I refuse to just give my money to some clandestine organization who just asks for money, never produces results, never answers their emails, and publicize pro-tobacco legislation they had no hand in like they were the masterminds of the entire movement.  I have met a few CRA ambassadors, and they haven't done anything I would see as benefiting the cause.  They allowed Gary Artz to speak on their behalf and call all those who aren't part of CRA (which to the last estimation at the 2009 IPCPR was 9 out of 10 people were not members) assholes.  They fail to do any form of promotion aside from those crappy full page magazine ads and the styrofoam advertisements you see on the counter of every cigar shop.  I haven't seen any business cards, nor do I know who the lobbyist is, or what the hell they are even doing with the money.  They don't disclose financial information, member count, and they sell 10packs of cigars and t-shirts to raise money.  This is a money making for profit organization, not a non-profit political lobby group.  Here is the main kicker, they like to distance themselves from the cigarette smokers, which is a larger more politically active group, and their motto is money and numbers.  Well, the money is one thing, but membership counts can be achieved faster if the CRA just wizened up and actually joined forces with all other tobacco smokers, after all, we are both smoking on the front porch of Peter Luger's Steakhouse at the end of the day.  I'm sure they have a stockpile of glow in the dark sunglasses for sale as well.

1 - Pepin Garcia

What happened: Left Cuba in 2001, and it's been history ever since.

Why is he on this list:  Master blender, created some of the best and worst cigars I have ever smoked.  His greatest achievements in my opinion: Padilla Signature 1932, Habana Leon from Cigar King, pre 2008 Don Pepin Cuban Classic Black Label, Padilla Miami 8/11, and Tatuaje.  Greatest failures include Diplomatico Connecticut, 601 Black, 601 Blue, post 2007 Don Pepin Blue, post 2007 Don Pepin Cuban Classic, and The Centurion.  This man is a rollercoaster, with amazing corners and barrel loops, but the descent is horrible and unimaginative.  The cigar industry's greatest gift, and again their greatest bane.  I have never seen a man put out so many lines that he had to drop his greatest cigar brand Padilla Signature 1932, pick up Ashton and Nestor Miranda, and still have enough lunacy to compete against himself for facing space in a shop which ultimately leads to cannibalization and the eventual appearance of his cigars on the catalog and internet market.  When the Pepin Kool-aid drinkers finally realize that 2008 was his peak year, I hope by then he would have sold off his company and live a peaceful life well off with his millions of dollars. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Oliveros Swag Toro Review

When Rafael talked about this cigar to us, it was an interesting concept.  A moderately inexpensive cigar that came with an opportunity to acquire some swag.  As the old saying goes, "don't judge a book by it's cover", as this cigar has an incredible smoking enjoyment value.

It is draped with a toothy reddish hue wrapper with slight blemishes accented with a tight head and a clean foot.  Construction is perfect resulting in an excellent draw, allowing me to enjoy it's medium to full flavours of cinnamon peppery combined with raisin sweetness and consistent spicy tingle.  The nasal exhale reveals a treat of earthy vanilla caramel.  Totally not what I had initially expected from this cigar marketed as a budget stick, in fact far exceeding my prejudiced notions of how these bargain cigar projects usually turn out.  Oliveros has turned out a sure winner for this after dinner smoke.

Torano Master Robusto Review

A dark brown toothy wrapper adorns this cigar.  Slight imperfections such as discoloration and veins are present.  Construction is up to par as indicated by the good draw.  Upon smoking, I am greeted with spice, citrus tang, some pleasant sour notes and hints of earth with accents of wood.  A decent cigar worthy of a casual smoke, but not the kind of stick I would go for to impress others... in short a good "yard gar" for when raking the leaves or standing in front of the barbeque.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

La Aurora Corojo Robusto Review

An interesting little number from the La Aurora company, this cigar had an impressive reddish brown uniform wrapper complete with a clean foot and a tight cap.  The construction quality was backed with a good draw.  Upon smoking the cigar, there was fruity sweetness, cinnamon spice, cream notes, and hints of oak.  The texture of the smoke itself was interesting as this was probably the first time I had experienced a rich velvet texture.  The combination of the flavours and mouth feel (yes, this is a very rare finding for me when smoking cigars) prompted me to purchase two boxes.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Torano Single Region Serie Jalapa

This robusto sports a reddish brown hue wrapper, tight cap and solid cut foot, and great construction as evidenced from it's amazing drawing characteristics.  Many flavours of peppery spice, woody oak, vanilla and sweet cinnamon fill my palate.  The spiciness does subside eventually and is supplemented with creamy notes.  A nasal exhale reveals flavours of vanilla, earth and some more spice for those of you who wonder where the kick went.  Overall a good full cigar that I would suggest smoking as an after dinner treat.