May 22, 2016

Flor de Gonzalez Spectral Aton (5 1/2 x 44)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)
The cigar, which brings what Flor de Gonzalez calls a “new and edgy” look to its offerings, uses tobacco that had been aged for five years at the time of its rolling, and since then has been resting for five years in cedar wraps. Yadi Gonzalez Vargas said that Spectral is “a celebration of flavors, complexity and color.”

Spectral gets its inspiration from José Martí, the influential Cuban writer, philosopher and political theorist. In particular, it draws from his poem “I Have a White Rose to Tend,” which Gonzalez told halfwheel was significant because of “the white rose symbolizing the diversity of mankind and its synergy, peace, unity and good will to all men.”

The Spectral is available in three sizes, the 5 1/2 x 44 Atom (REVIEWED TODAY), 5 x 60 Cation and 6 x 50 Proton, with MSRPs between $8.50 to $8.90. As noted in the announcement, Gonzalez said that the names represent the positive charges that make up a core and are brought upon by anyone who smokes this cigar. “An atom, like the world, is surrounded by negative energy; but look deep enough and you can find the positive anywhere, even in something as small as an atom. We smokers are a positive force in many ways: we always come together, share, help and with positive emphasis we try to prove a point to our government about our premium cigars!”

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaraguan and Peru

The cigar has a fairly light feel in the hand. Here is a shot of the foot.

The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors were cedar, tea berry, cream, and black pepper rated at an 8+. The tea berry flavor reminds me of an old fashioned chewing gum called tea berry so that's where I get that flavor from.

Close to an inch in there is a dry, sweet cedar with butter. The tea berry may have gone away. The black pepper remains very good. the finish is a buttery cream with some nice lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied but I expect it to move up quickly.

2 inches in I realized that I made a mistake. The tea berry is not gone at all. It's at a lower level and is definitely attached to the dry cedar and butter. It is a nice flavor and I'm actually glad it's not gone.

With about 2 1/2 inches remaining the pepper has toned down to about a 7. In it's place is now black coffee. Perhaps it was there all alone but the pepper was so intense I thought the lower level flavor was only pepper. The finish is a buttery toasted cream and the lingering black pepper has also toned down. The cigar is medium to full bodied at this point.

At the end 2 things surprised me; the butter is almost gone. It is very faint. The coffee notes are elevated. The pepper is still around a 7. And, the cigar reached full bodied. It hit full bodied just after the last segment. The finish is unchanged. This was a good cigar that made several twists and changes. I purchased this cigar at a local shop so look for them at your local shop and give them a try.

Score: 92

May 21, 2016

Renzulli Cuz by Espinosa Cigars (6 x 54)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)
La Zona, the cigar factory owned by Erik Espinosa has created an exclusive cigar to Twin Smoke Shoppe in Philadelphia. The new cigar has been dubbed “Renzulli” and pays tribute to Twin Smoke Shoppe’s proprietor Anthony Renzulli.

Erik Espinosa has a long-time relationship with Twin Smoke Shoppe – which is the oldest cigar store in South Philadelphia. Thus, this made La Zona a logical choice when Twin Smoke Shoppe decided to release its own house blend.

Wrapper: Habano Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (La Zona)

Vitolas Available:

The Renzulli is available in ten count boxes:

Cing U Bezz: 4 x 46 (SRP $5.00)
Cuz: 6 x 54 (SRP $7.99) (REVIEWED TODAY)
Minchia: 6 x 60 (SRP $8.99)
Goomad: 7 x 48 (SRP $7.99)

The cigar has a medium brown color and is well made. It has an average feel in the hand for a cigar of this size.

The test draw after cutting the cap was slightly firm. The initial flavors were sweet orange citrus, subtle graham cracker notes, black coffee, and a white pepper rated at an 8.

One inch in I still had the same primary notes. There are now some brown sugar notes to go along with the graham cracker notes. The coffee has moved up in intensity and there is some earthiness now. The finish is a toasted cream with some earthiness and some lingering white pepper. The cigar is burning evenly. The cigar is medium bodied.

Around the midpoint you cannot distinguish the citrus notes any longer. They seem to be a citrus/cedar flavor combining with brown sugar and a caramel flavor. I no longer have the graham cracker notes. The earthiness and coffee notes are still in play. The finish and strength are unchanged. The flavors are good but the mix is a little hard to pin down individually. d

As the cigar ended it had more changes. The flavor notes now are a sweet cedar with some light caramel notes and dark chocolate notes to go along with the black coffee. The earthiness went away. With all the changes the cigar did not improve or withdraw; it stayed about the same, just different. If you like a cigar that makes a lot of changes this might be for you. I found this to be a good cigar and I can taste the Espinosa impact in this cigar. Although this is a house cigar you can find them online at other retailers.

Score: 89

May 17, 2016

Cubariqueño Cigar Company Expands its Offerings


Cubariqueño Cigar Company is proud to announce that it is releasing its second blend, Protocol Probable Cause, at the 2016 International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailer trade show in Las Vegas.
"We are super excited to announce the Protocol Probable Cause,” stated Juan Cancel, co-founder of Cubariqueño Cigar Company. “These cigars will launch at the 2016 IPCPR trade show.”

ImageThe name, Probable Cause, stays true to the company’s law enforcement motif, with co-founders Bill Ives and Cancel both law enforcement officers. Production will remain at Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Probable Cause will be available in two offerings, a round 5 x 52 Robusto with a closed foot and a 6 ½ X 48 Churchill semi-box-pressed, also with a closed foot.  

Probable Cause is elegantly wrapped in a stunning Mexican San Andreas Maduro leaf with a smooth, oily appearance. Its all-Nicaraguan filler is enveloped by a Nicaraguan binder.

“We are classifying Probable Cause as a medium-strength cigar with full flavor,” explained Cancel.
The robusto will retail for $9.69 and the Churchill will have a M.S.R.P. of $9.89. Both vitolas will be available in boxes of 10.

Also being introduced at this year’s trade show will be a line extension to the original Protocol release. The highly anticipated Protocol Lancero will make its official debut this summer in Las Vegas.

ImageThe Protocol Lancero will stand in at 7 ½ x 38. The blends of all Lancero offerings must be tweaked slightly to maintain intended flavor notes and proper draw. The Protocol Lancero will undergo those modifications while continuing to use the Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and all-Nicaraguan filler. It will be available in 10-count boxes.  The price of the lancero has yet to be determined.

“The Protocol Lancero is being introduced as a small-batch production depending on its success with possible increased production in the future,” said Ives.

ImageCubariqueño Cigar Co. will be celebrating its one-year anniversary with a special event at Berkeley Humidor on May 21.
“The Protocol Lancero and Probable Cause will be made available for purchase for our loyal customers at this event prior to the 2016 IPCPR trade show,” stated Bill Agathis, co-owner of Cubariqueño Cigar Co. and owner of Berkeley Wine and Humidor.

Side Note:
Cubariqueño Cigar Company will have its own distinct booth this year alongside the other La Zona brands made by Espinosa. This is a first, as last year the Protocol cigar was displayed with the Espinosa brand.