January 21, 2018

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Robusto (5 x 50)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
Five years ago, Oliva Cigar Company launched the Oliva Serie V Melanio, a line that paid homage to company patriarch Melanio Oliva. Now the company has an all new line that pays homage to Melanio’s grandson Gilberto. This year, Oliva Cigar Company launched the Gilberto Oliva line. Gilberto Oliva is intended to be a value priced line. It’s the first new line since the Melanio brand was launched. It’s also Oliva’s first new line under in the J. Cortès era.

There are two blends. being introduced under the Gilberto Oliva brand. The Gilberto Oliva Reserva features a Sumatra wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and all-Nicaraguan filler. Meanwhile, the Gilberto Olivae Reserva Blanc features a Ecuadorian wrapper and binder over all-Nicaraguan fillers. Both blends are offered in five sizes (Corona, Robusto, Toro, Torpedo, Churchill). Pricing for the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc ranges from $5.25 to $6.40 while the Gilberto Oliva Reserva ranges from $5.75 to $6.90.

The cigar has an average feel in the hand for a robusto. 

The test draw after cutting the cap was good with a touch of firmness. The initial flavors at light up were a dry cedar, whipping cream notes, and an earthy black coffee. There was black pepper at an above average amount. I rated it at a 6 1/2 to 7. 

1 1/2 inches in (14 minutes) there are still somewhat dry cedar notes. There are also a lot of brown sugar and buttery caramel notes. The black pepper is increasing. It's up to a 7 1/2. The finish is a caramel with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied. The cigar has changed and improved from the initial light up. The first third is rated at an 86.

At the midpoint (32 minutes) I don't think anything has changed. Every flavor note is just as it was in the first third. To say the cigar is consistent at this point is an understatement. Therefore, the midpoint rating is also an 86.

The Gilberto Oliva robusto lasted 1 hour 4 minutes. The cigar stayed fairly consistent from the midpoint on with the exception of a few more dry cedar notes. There were still brown sugar and caramel notes. The pepper remained very good. The faint marshmallow notes that were noted in the beginning were noted here in the final third. The finish was unchanged. The cigar never got above medium bodied. This was a good basic cigar from Oliva. It had nothing that really stood out bur it had nothing that detracted from it either. With the elevated dry cedar notes I am giving the final third a rating of 85. The Gilberto Oliva cigars are value priced and can be purchased HERE.

January 20, 2018

Muestra de Saka Nacatamale (6 x 48)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
Just before the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust had started taking pre-orders on the second installment of the Muestra de Saka series, the Nacatamale. Muestra de Saka follows a “one size, one blend” model where each installment of the series has a unique blend mapped to a particular vitola. The Nacatamale features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper over Nicaraguan tobaccos from a single farm.  It is available in one size, measuring 6 x 48. Like the first installment, the Muestra de Saka Exclusivo, the Nacatamale will be packaged in an individual coffin with seven coffins packaged per box. Production for 2017 is 2,250 boxes.

Saka explained some more background on the project on this social media post:

What made this cigar a unique blending challenge was I went “viejo granja” style with it. For over a century most cigars’ entire filler recipes were comprised of just ONE farm’s tobacco and any complexity was introduced by extremely careful leaf processing, selection and positioning within the bunch. Whereas these days as we have hundreds of ingredients to work and blend with to create interesting and satisfying ligas.

So, the challenge was to see if I could make an “old farm” style liga that could hold its own with the modern blends we create today. I am genuinely curious to see what the feedback on this cigar will be and I have probably poisoned the pool a bit by stating it is a single ingredient liga, but at the same time I am really proud of this blend – amazing the amount of effort it took to pull this one off and of all the Muestra’s I don’t believe any other will be as challenging skill wise.

This cigar is considerably more robust than the Exclusivo and since this puro’s tripa are all from just one small, independent farm in Jalapa, Nicaragua, I will not be disclosing the name of the vega.

Note: The Nacatamale Coffins feature a crossed knife and fork to make them identifiably different than Exclusivo when viewed in the coffin on the shelf.

Saka says he has sold 99.5% of his inventory and will be keeping the remainder for himself.

The cigar is flawlessly made. Almost no visible veins. The wrapper is dark brown and oily. The density shot shows a very dark assortment of tobaccos.

The cap is finished with a small pigtail.

The test draw after cutting the cap was very good. The initial flavors were a candy-like orange citrus, cream, cinnamon, brown sugar, heavy leather, and a black coffee base. There was a massive amount of black pepper rated at an 8 1/2. The leather, although heavy, is smooth and makes an excellent bridge connecting all the sweet flavors. The leather is in no way oppressive. It tastes like it belongs there. The cigar is very sweet and the leather compliments those sweet flavors perfectly. The cigar tastes full bodied. The finish is a leathery cream with slight citrus aspects and heavy lingering black pepper. The cigar had an excellent start.

2 inches in (28 minutes) the citrus notes are morphing over to a sweet cedar. You also have a lot of brown sugar and cinnamon to go along with it and now there are nice, sweet, thick, rich honey notes. The leather notes have decreased but they continue to be smooth and in the perfect amount. There remains a black coffee base. The front end flavors are so very sweet and rich. The black pepper remains very good and lingers very nicely on the finish. The cigar is medium to full bodied at this point. The cigar is somewhat complex due to the changes it is making. The cigar is almost perfect at this point. The first third rating is 95.

At the midpoint (48 minutes) the previously described flavor of sweet cedar is again morphing back to a citrus but it's like a citrus liquer. It's very sweet and deep. The honey notes continue to be amazing. There are nice brown sugar notes and cinnamon plays a big part in the flavors. I also got white chocolate. That's a lot of flavors but that's what I got from the cigar. The leather continues to be creamy and works so nicely with the other flavors. The subtle coffee base continues, as well. The black pepper remains very good. The cigar is full bodied. The finish is unchanged and very good. I urge you to smoke this cigar as slow as you can. You will get all these amazing flavors. At the midpoint the cigar continues to be great. The midpoint score is also 95.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 13 minutes. It continued to have those amazing flavors but it changed just a bit. At the end the orange liqueur had a lot more brown sugar and cinnamon notes. Rather than white chocolate I got a much darker flavor of molasses although the honey notes are still there. The leather notes continued to be creamy and smooth. The light black coffee based continued. The pepper remained very good. The cigar is very full bodied. You can feel the ligero surging through your veins. The finish was unchanged. This was nothing short of an excellent cigar. You will be hard pressed to find these but if you do you will be in for a treat. The final third score is 95. 

Overall score: 95

January 15, 2018

U.S. Expansion Continues for Casa de Montecristo Premium Cigar Lounges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Contact:       Mark Smith

January 12, 2018                                                                           336-335-7258

U.S. Expansion Continues for

Casa de Montecristo Premium Cigar Lounges

– Acquiring premium cigar stores in Tampa and website –

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Casa de Montecristo has acquired Florida-based Tampa Humidor, making the existing upscale Tampa cigar lounge – and a new location under construction – the 18th and 19th brick and mortar cigar lounges for the business.

The current Tampa store is located at 1418 E. Busch Boulevard and serves a wide selection of beer, wine and an expertly curated selection of premium cigars. The store under construction and expected to open in April is located at 510 S. Howard Avenue and also will include a full bar with beer, wine and spirits. Both will be named Casa de Montecristo by Tampa Humidor.

Additionally, Tampa Humidor’s Mike Howe will be joining the Casa de Montecristo team, bringing several years of cigar expertise and a wealth of knowledge to the team at CdM, said Steve Lochan, Chief Executive Officer of Casa de Montecristo. Howe is not new to the CdM experience; a partnership agreement between Howe and CdM brought them together a couple of years ago, but now the Tampa locations are officially owned by Casa de Montecristo.

“We are thrilled with acquisition of the Tampa Humidor lounges and www.TampaHumidor.com,” Lochan said. “Mike Howe is a great visionary and has built an incredible operation with his brick and mortar business, e-commerce site and new location on South Howard. Moreover, the team at Casa is proud to have Mike Howe onboard as we continue moving toward our goal of being the premium cigar lounge destination delivering the highest quality selection, service and experiences for all adult cigar smokers,” Lochan said.

“I am very excited about joining the Casa de Montecristo team,” said Howe.  “CdM’s acquisition is definitely going to elevate the adult cigar smoker experience for many in the Tampa Bay area. It will be a winning combination for many years to come.”

The Casa de Montecristo program was first introduced in 2008. The program includes company-owned stores and licensed-based partnerships with some of the top established premium cigar retailers in the country. The rare Casa de Montecristo moniker is awarded only to premium cigar stores and lounges that exemplify the luxury, quality and lifestyle that have been associated with the Montecristo brand.

January 14, 2018

Mi Querida Gordita (4 x 48)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
Back in 2016, Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust released their second regular production line, Mi Querida. This was Saka’s long-awaited Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper offering. When Mi Querida was first introduced, there were four sizes that were made generally available to retailers. Simultaneously, there were also four additional sizes which were introduced in a more limited fashion. The reason for doing that is that, at the time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had an August 8, 2016, deadline by which any cigars released after that date would require pre-market approval. To avoid the red tape, Saka decided on a limited release for the four additional sizes rather than waiting for a future wider release. Fast forward to the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show and Saka decided to make two of the additional four sizes generally available. One of those sizes is the 4 x 48 Mi Querida Gordita – which is the cigar I will take a closer look at today.

The name Mi Querida is Spanish for “my dearest”, but it is also a term commonly referring to a husband’s mistress. In particular, in Nicaragua it refers to one’s “secret mistress” (since it is often common for a wife to know about the mistress). This secret mistress is the “dirty little secret” and thus plays into the connection of the cigar’s profile. Saka says this also fits into the theme of the cigar as he has described this as a cigar that is more gritty and a bit “dirtier” than the more refined Sobremesa release.

Blend Profile

In addition to the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, the remainder of the blend consists of Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigar is produced at the NACSA factory under the supervision of master cigar maker Raul Disla via Saka’s direction.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Nicaragua Cigars America SA (NACSA)

Vitolas Available

Four regular production offerings were launched for Mi Querida. Each of these sizes are offered in 20-count boxes except for the Churchill-sized SakaKhan.

Gordita: 4 x 48 REVIEWED TODAY
Fino Largo: 6 x 48
Ancho Corta: 5 x 52
Ancho Largo: 6 x 52
Muy Gordo Grande: 6 x 56
Mas Sucia: 7 x 64
Pequeño Pequeño : 4 x 44 (Limited Distribution)
SakaKhan: 7 x 50 (Limited Distribution)

The cigar is a short firecracker-looking stick that is very dark brown. For a small cigar it has a nice feel in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was very good. The initial flavors were a citrus/boysenberry combination, chocolate, black coffee, and black pepper. The chocolate notes are sweet. The black pepper is very intense. I rated it at an 8+.  The retro hale has a ton of black pepper on it. 

3/4 inch in (12 minutes) the flavor notes have settled down. They are now a sweet cedar, brown sugar, butter, chocolate, and black coffee. The black pepper is amazing. Love it! The finish is a chocolate/cedar combination with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. The cigar tastes and feels medium to full bodied. The first third score is 92.

The midpoint (32 minutes) had the cigar only getting better. The same notes are present but in a high intensity. Love the sweet cedar with buttery brown sugar and chocolate. The black coffee base is also very nice. The pepper remains very good. The finish is unchanged and I like it. The midpoint score is 93.

The cigar lasted 54 minutes. The great flavor notes continued to the end but there were also some dry oak notes that popped up but they did not deter the cigar at all. The cigar ended at full bodied. The finish did not change. This is a great little cigar with power. I loved the sweet chocolate notes. The buttery brown sugar on the cedar was also great. The pepper was one of the stars of this cigar, both on the front end and on the finish. In these days where time constraints affect us all this is a great cigar to have during those times. Pick up several of these for those short-smoke times. Great little powerhouse cigar.

Overall score: 93

January 13, 2018

Montecristo Epic Craft Cured (6 x 52)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
Altadis U.S.A is once again teaming up with the Plasencia family for an all-Nicaraguan Montecristo cigar. This week the company announced the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured. As the name indicates, the Craft Cured is being aligned under the Epic line under the Montecristo brand.

As mentioned, the Montecristo Epic Craft Cured consists of all-Nicaraguan tobaccos. The blend is highlighted by a Nicaraguan Rosado Oscuro wrapper from a 2006 vintage. The remainder of the blend contains tobaccos from the four main growing regions of Nicaragua including an Ometepe binder and fillers from Estelí, Jalapa, and Condega. The cigar is offered in three sizes – each with a 52 ring gauge. The cigars will feature ten-count box packaging.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the blend is the fermentation method. Altadis U.S.A. says the tobacco components were fermented in smaller sizes pilones than normal. According to Altadis U.S.A,  this process unifies all the components, allowing the flavors of the cigar’s wrapper, binder and filler tobaccos to marry into a more harmonious profile resulting in a more flavorful cigar.

Pricing is set between $14.65 and $16.50. It is expected to be in full distribution by December 15, 2017.

Blend Profile
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Rosado Oscuro Vintage 2006
Binder: Nicaraguan (Ometepe)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Estelí, Jalapa, Condega)
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Plasencia SA)

Vitolas Available
5 x 52
6 1/8 x 52

The cigar is stunning to look at. Absolutely beautiful. The wrapper is almost completely smooth and without blemishes. The cigar has a very dense feel in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors were dry cedar, tart green apple, brown sugar, and more than a sprinkling of cinnamon. There was also a nice black coffee base. There was a coarse black pepper rated at a 7 1/2. There was also nice lingering black pepper immediately. The finish at this early stage was dry cedar. 

2 inches in (35 minutes) the tangy green apple flavor has toned down and there are a lot more dry cedar notes now. There is another dark flavor which I describe as unsweetened dark chocolate. The amount of dark chocolate is minimal but it helps take the sharp edge off the tart apple. You also still have brown sugar but not too much cinnamon any longer. The black coffee has a nice presence. The finish is now a sweet cream with some influence from the green apple notes. The lingering black pepper is still good although it may have toned down a bit. The cigar is medium bodied. The first third score is 87.

At the midpoint (55 minutes) the cedar is still the predominant flavor but the green apple has been greatly toned down and the brown sugar is still there. Now there is heavy nutmeg in the place of the dark chocolate. It started to arrive in the last segment but it was so low I did not think it was worth mentioning but now it's quite obvious. With the quick rise of nutmeg was also a great reduction in sweetness. There is now also a heavy black coffee base. The finish also has influence of nutmeg to go along with cream notes and remnants of green apple flavor. The lingering black pepper is still pretty good. Since the nutmeg is so prominent and the sweetness decreased significantly the midpoint score is 85.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 35 minutes. The good news is the sweetness came back. The nutmeg is still fairly heavy but now much of the initial sweetness is back. You ended with cedar, tart green apple, brown sugar, nutmeg, and black coffee. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is about the same. With the resurgence of the sweeter notes the final third score is back up to an 87. This has been a good cigar with a slight dip in the middle stages but it rebounded nicely. Another good offering from Montecristo. These cigar started shipping to retailers i mid-December so they should be on shelves now. You can also purchase these cigars HERE.

Overall Score: 86

January 08, 2018

Todos Las Dias Double Wide Belicoso by Dunbarton Tobacco and Trust (4 3/4 x 60)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
Todos Las Dias is Steve Saka's Nicaraguan puro line. The cigar is described as limited in production. In a press release announcing the line, Saka explained background on the name and how it ties into the project:

Todos Las Dias is my personal Spanglish translation meaning “All the Days.” The workers at Joya de Nicaragua often cringe at my casual butchering of their mother tongue, but in my opinion cigars are far more than a grammar lesson to abide, they are the physical manifestation of a feeling and of an experience. TLD embodies the classic bold flavors that represent the heart of their soil’s peppery tobaccos and the labor of their always working hands. For me, this spicy Nicaraguan puro reflects no pretentious airs or any of that ‘notes of pencil lead with a hint of fennel’ nonsense. It is an honest, hardworking cigar intended to be smoked by men who know what it means to be a cigar smoker and never give a damn about what others think.”

“It is a supple, sungrown Cuban Seed capa which encapsulates its intricate tripa recipe of rich Jalapa and Esteliano tobaccos. From the first puff, there is no doubt of the origin of this cigar or that it is intended solely for the seasoned cigar smoker. What I love about this liga is that it builds; so many stronger blends start off super peppery and robust only to mellow out as you smoke them. Whereas the Todos Las Dias does just the opposite; it begins smooth and then escalates in strength and body, it almost lulls you into false sense of security. It is a much heavier liga than you will have realized until you go to stand up afterwards.”

Blend Profile
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Joya de Nicaragua SA)

Vitolas Available
Half Churchill: 4 3/4 x 48 (SRP $10.45)
Robusto: 5 x 52 (SRP $11.45)
Toro: 6 x 52 (SRP $12.45) 
Double Wide Belicoso: 4 3/4 x 60 (SRP $12.45) (REVIEWED TODAY)

Previously I reviewed the toro version. Review HERE.

The double wide belicoso is short, fat, dark, and dense feeling.

 Even though the cigar is a large ring the belicoso cap makes it easy to cut. The test draw after cutting the minimum was very good. The initial flavors were a citrus/strawberry combination, leather, thick cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, black coffee, and black pepper rated at an 8. At this early stage the finish is the flavor of a vanilla wafer with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. I realize using vanilla wafer as a descriptive term is quite unusual but that's what it tastes like. The cigar tastes full bodied right away. I expect it to feel full bodied soon.

About 1 1/2 inches in (28 minutes) the flavors are about like the initial assessment except the heavy cream is now butter and it's very nice. You still have the citrus/strawberry combination which is starting to make the move to a sweet, rich cedar. Also, there is still the brown sugar and cinnamon. But the butter makes it all oh so nice. It adds a richness to the cigar and goes nicely with the leather notes, which are not oppressive, but at the correct amount. The coffee base is not that noticeable since the buttery richness entered the picture. The pepper remains very good. The cigar is still full bodied in flavors. The finish is still a vanilla wafer flavor but it's now buttery. The first third scores out at a 93.

Around, or just past the midpoint (52 minutes) the citrus/strawberry flavor has morphed into a rich, sweet cedar. You still have the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and leather to go with the black coffee base. But you can add another flavor; roasted pecans. At this point the cigar not only tastes full bodied but it is full bodied in strength. You can start to feel the ligero. The finish is unchanged. This cigar is a short powerhouse but the burn time is very good. The midpoint score is also 93.

The Todos Las Dias Double Wide Belicoso lasted an impressive 1 hour 26 minutes. In the final third the roasted pecan notes really came out. The cedar was still there but I lost some richness. The brown sugar was there and the cinnamon  notes were elevated. The pepper remained very good and the cigar was full bodied. It is very full bodied at this point so make sure you have something on your stomach before smoking this one! The finish ended with roasted pecans and cedar, along with black pepper. This has been an excellent cigar with very nice flavors. Put these on your must-try list. With the elevated roasted pecan notes and decreased richness I am scoring the final third a 92.

Overall Final Score: 93

Purchase  Todos Las  Dias Double Wide Belicoso cigars HERE.

January 06, 2018

Fin de Los Mundos Toro by Nomad Cigar Company (6 x 50)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
At the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, Fred Rewey‘s Nomad Cigar Company showcased his Fin de Los Mundos line. This was a line that was first introduced at the 2016 IPCPR Trade Show and had a subsequent limited release. Now the line is getting ready to have a more widespread release.

The name Fin de Los Mundos translates to “End of the Worlds”. It features a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper, a Nicaraguan Habano binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Pennsylvania filler. The cigar is being launched in four sizes: Corona Gorda, Robusto, Toro, and a 4 x 54 “Shorty”.

Fin de Los Mundos is the second blend by Rewey to use a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. Last year, Rewey released his first maduro, the Nomad Therapy Maduro which also incorporated this wrapper. Rewey describes the Fin de Los Mundos as Nomad’s strongest blend to date.

Blend Profile
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican, Pennsylvania
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Fabrica Oveja Negra)

Vitolas Available
Shorty: 4 x 54
Corona Gordo: 5 1/2 x 46
Robusto: 5 x 50
Toro: 6 x 50

The cigar is a dark brown and has an average feel in the hand for a toro. 

The dome cap made a good target for the cut. The test draw after cutting the cap was very good. The initial flavors were sweet cedar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a sharp, tangy apple flavor. There was also a lot of dark roasted black coffee and black pepper rated at a 7 1/2. There was also a small amount of whipping cream that seemed to tie all the flavors together.

1 1/2 inches in (22 minutes) the flavor notes are much like the initial assessment but now I am getting even more black coffee notes. For a broadleaf wrapper, which I assume is a maduro wrapper, the cigar does not have any chocolate notes but it has a ton of black coffee notes. The flavor of apple is rather unusual but that is what it tastes like. At this point the cigar is a high end medium in strength and body. The finish is a cream with nutmeg notes and a nice amount of lingering black pepper. At this point there is not a lot of nutmeg on the front end, however. The score for the first third is 90.

A little past the midpoint (51 minutes) there are still a lot of coffee notes. Some of the nutmeg notes are now showing up on the front end also. The sweeter notes in the cigar have actually increased somewhat. Note: smoke the cigar slowly to get the best flavors. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is unchanged. Due to the increase in sweetness the midpoint score has increased to a 91.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 15 minutes. From the midpoint to the end the sweetness decreased. It decreased significantly and the nutmeg notes increased significantly. The coffee notes were still very heavy. The pepper remained very good. The cigar ended at medium to full bodied. With the decrease in overall sweetness and increase in dry nutmeg notes the final third score dropped to an 89. However, this was a good dark noted cigar that is a nice addition to the Nomad Cigar Company lineup.

Final Score: 90