November 22, 2014

Perdomo 12 Year Double Aged Vintage Maduro Epicure (6 x 56)

Video review HERE.

The Perdomo Double Aged 12-Year Vintage uses a two part aging process. First, the leaf is bale-aged for ten years, and then it is fermented in oak bourbon barrels for another two years. Underneath the lightly bourbon infused maduro wrapper lies Nicaraguan long-fillers especially grown on the rich volcanic soil found on the Perdomo farm.

Perdomo will release a limited production of only 240,000 cigars per wrapper, equaling only 2,500 total boxes per size. The 2014 release will only be offered to 250 retailers world‐wide.

The cigar is beautifully made and has an oily, dark wrapper. It has a nice density and feels dense in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was nearly perfect. The initial flavors at light up were coffee, licorice, dry wood, a touch of orange citrus, and black pepper rated at a 7 1/2. Nice start. Lots of dark notes.

3/4 inch in the flavors are about like I previously described with the addition of blackberry. The finish is a standard sweet cream with a little lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied at this point.

2 inches in and the cigar is burning very, very slowly. That's good for you and me; more cigar for our money! The flavors are right in line. The finish now has a little cocoa mixed with the sweet vanilla. The cigar is still medium bodied.

With about 2 1/2 inches remaining the sweetness has amped up in the licorice and blackberry. The pepper is also elevated; both on the front end and the finish. The cigar is close to medium to full bodied. 

This has been a very slow burning cigar and I've loved it. The sweetness and pepper continued to amp up. The pepper at the end was an 8 1/2. The licorice and blackberries are fantastic. The coffee was never overwhelming but made a good base. The dry wood really came out from the 2/3 point to the end. In fact, it was more of a charred cedar at the end. I enjoyed this cigar quite a bit. This is another great addition to the Perdomo family of cigars.

Score: 93

November 16, 2014

La Palina Black Label Robusto (5 x 52)

Video review HERE.

The La Palina Black Label is a cigar for those in search of a rich blend with complex flavor. A Brazilian grown wrapper amplifies filler and binder tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Brazil
Binder: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua

This cigar is almost jet black. It is very dark and oily. The wrapper is beautiful. The cigar is very dense also.

It is also triple capped.

I chose to punch cut this cigar with sweet boysenberry, dark chocolate, and espresso. The black pepper is thick and rated at an 8.

About 1/2 inch in the flavors are getting more pronounced. There is nutmeg now combining with the boysenberry. The espresso is almost overwhelming, but it's very nice. There are dark chocolate notes and a few earth notes. The finish is a nice, sweet cream with a good amount of lingering black pepper. The cigar is full bodied now. There is a lot of ligero feel to the cigar. The ash is almost completely white while the cigar is almost black. Quite a contrast. 

About 1 3/4 inch in the flavors are changing. The sweet flavors are now a combination of citrus and cedar. There are also some cocoa notes and dry wood. There are more notes of dark chocolate now also. The espresso is still everywhere. The finish is now  one of cocoa and sweet cream. One item of interest is I chose to punch this cigar with the ScrewPop cigar punch. The opening is 3/8 inch in diameter so you have a large orifice to get a draw through.

All the flavors I mentioned are noticed in each puff. Very good cigar at this point. The ash is very tight also.

Just past the midpoint and the ash is still intact! The front end flavors are about the same but there is more influence of the dry wood now. The cocoa notes are fading but you still have the dark chocolate. The cigar at this point does not seem as full bodied as it was when it started. You don't have the massive ligero influence now. The ash is quite impressive.

The cigar ended with a straight sweet cedar; no more citrus. There were more dry wood with some charred flavors. The cocoa notes also went away. The dark chocolate and espresso are still very much in play, however. The pepper remained good throughout. The cigar remained full bodied. This has been a good cigar that made several twists and changes. Dark flavor lovers will like this cigar. Very good cigar for after dinner or anytime.

Score: 92

November 15, 2014

Espinosa Laranja Reserva Toro (6 x 52) w/ ScrewPop Cigar Punch 2.0

Video review HERE.

Laranja is Portuguese for orange which is also the name for this wrapper that comes from RecĂ´ncavo region of Brazil located in the state of Bahia. This cigar represents the first time Espinosa has used Brazilian tobacco in their cigars.

This cigar was debuted at this year's IPCPR in Las Vegas.

“I wanted to release something different for the show, we had started working with this orange Brazilian Laranja wrapper last year and we are very excited with the end result.  I have always liked the color orange (laranja which is the Portuguese word for orange) and the positive energy associated with that color.  It is the color of enthusiasm, creativity, determination and success, that’s what we are all about here” said Erik Espinosa.

The Espinosa Laranja Reserva is made at Espinosa's La Zona factory.

Wrapper: Brazilian Laranja
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

The Espinosa Laranja Reserva is available in three sizes.  Each size will be available in 20 count cedar boxes.

Corona Gorda: 5 5/8 x 46 (SRP $9.90)
Robusto Extra: 5 1/2 x 54 (SRP $10.50)
Toro: 6 x 52 (SRP $10.90) REVIEWED TODAY

The cigar is a medium brown and the wrapper is  not oily. It is dense feeling in the hand. 

It is also triple capped.

For today's cigar I chose to use the new ScrewPop Cigar Punch 2.0

After making the punch cut the test draw was very good. The initial flavors were sweet orange citrus, graham crackers, coffee, and a ton of black pepper and red pepper. The pepper combination is rated at an 8.

3/4 inch in I am satisfied with the initial flavor assessment but you can add dry roasted nuts. The red pepper is attached to the graham cracker notes. There continues to be a nice sweetness on the orange citrus. The finish is one of brown sugar and cream with a lot of lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied at this point. I sense that the front end flavors will be changing soon.

1 1/2 inches in the sweetness is picking up and there is a touch of richness which appears to be coming from the brown sugar, which is now on the front end now. The finish is very nice with the brown sugar and cream but the lingering pepper has dropped a bit on the finish.

2 1/2 inches in the ash is still intact. The orange citrus has changed over to a sweet cedar. There are a lot of graham cracker notes to go along with it. The roasted nuts are very much in play. The coffee is subtle. The cigar is still medium bodied but it is creeping toward medium to full.

At the band I have lost the graham cracker notes. I still have the sweet cedar, brown sugar, red pepper, and roasted nuts. The black pepper is very subdued. The cigar is medium to full bodied. So far we've lost the orange citrus and graham cracker notes. The finish is unchanged in flavor but I've lost even more of the lingering pepper.

There were a lot of changes from the last segment to now. The biggest one may be the strength. It is now full bodied. The black pepper is back. You still have the cedar but none of the previous richness, red pepper, black pepper, roasted nuts, brown sugar, and subtle coffee notes. The finish is about the same but the lingering black pepper has ticked back up. This has been an interesting cigar with lots of twists and changes. I prefer the way it started out. These are around $9 each. I liked this cigar but would have preferred it to be the way it started out.

Score: 91

November 09, 2014

Ashton Symmetry Belicoso (5 1/4 x 52)

Video review HERE.

(from the Cigar Aficionado website)
It's been almost ten years since Aston Distributors Inc. has released a new cigar under the Ashton label, but this month attendees of the IPCPR trade show will be among the first to sample Ashton Symmetry, a new line blended by Carlos "Carlito" Fuente Jr. and made at Tabacalera A. Fuente y. Cia. in the Dominican Republic.

"We've been working on this project for four years," Sathya Levin, Ashton's vice president told Cigar Aficionado. "It was supposed to come out about a year ago, but fires in Fuente's warehouses consumed a lot of precious tobacco."

The cigar uses a blend of tobaccos from Chateau de la Fuente, Villa Gonzalez and a Fuente family farm in Nicaragua called Un Buen Vecino. This release marks the first time that an Ashton-branded cigar has been rolled with Nicaraguan tobacco.

Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano 
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic

Packaged in boxes of 25 and offered in five, softly-pressed sizes: 
Prism, 5 5/8 inches by 46 ring gauge
Robusto, 5 by 50
Sublime, 6 by 52
Belicoso, 5 1/4 by 52 (REVIEWED TODAY)
Prestige, 6 3/4 by 49

The cigar has a beautiful oily wrapper and is very well made. It is also box pressed.

The test draw after cutting the cap was a tad firm but workable. I took the minimum from the belicoso cap. The initial flavors were a sweet cedar and nutmeg. There was white pepper rated at a 7. There was also a sweet cream in the mix. Nice start.

3/4 inch in there are now underlying leather notes acting as the base. It's a low grade leather; not overbearing. There are some earthy notes that may be an extension of the leather notes. The cigar is medium bodied. The finish is a toasted cream with some nice lingering white pepper.

Just a bit further at the 1 1/2 inch point there is now more sweetness, richness, and buttery notes in the cedar. There are also some boysenberry notes tagging along with the cedar. The nutmeg notes have disappeared. The finish is definitely a toasted cream and the cigar is still medium bodied. 

At the midpoint or just beyond the flavors have changed a bit. You still have the sweet cedar with some butter notes. The boysenberry notes are subtle and there are now cocoa notes mixed in with the cedar. The leather notes are still the base. There are now cocoa notes on the finish mixing with the sweet cream. The pepper has ticked up to an 8 and it is very nice on the finish. The cigar is moving toward medium to full bodied. The burn is nearly perfect.

The cigar ended with the sweet cedar with butter notes, cocoa, subtle leather, and nice white pepper. The finish was unchanged. The cigar hit medium to full bodied. This has been a very good cigar. There were several flavor changes which all worked. A tip of the hat to Ashton and Fuente. This is not an inexpensive cigar at about $14 but well worth it. I wish this one had lasted another 30 minutes! Great cigar!

Score: 94

November 08, 2014

CAO Black Limited Bengal (6 x 50)

Video review HERE.

The CAO Black Limited Bengal has been around for about 8 years so this blend is probably the current production. asked me to review this cigar because they had not seen many reviews online. 

The cigar is wrapped in a cedar shroud. Once removed the cigar reveals it's Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. The binder is Nicaraguan and the filler is a mix of Honduran, Mexican, and Nicaraguan.

The cigar is fairly light in color and well made. It has a nice feel in the hand but not very heavy. Here is a shot of the foot.

After cutting the cap the test draw had just a touch of firmness. Basically it was perfect. The initial flavors were on the darker side for a Connecticut cigar. They were a low grade citrus with graham cracker notes, coffee, and earth. The citrus was a tangerine citrus but it was overwhelmed by the coffee and earth notes. 

1 inch in the flavors are about like I initially described. The split of flavors are a 70/30 dark notes to citrus/graham cracker. The cigar is heavy on dark notes. The pepper is a black pepper rated at a 7. The finish is a sweet cream with roasted nuts.

About 2 inches in the sweet tangerine notes are elevated a little more. There are also some roasted nuts on the front end. The graham cracker notes are fading. The finish is  unchanged other than there are faint cocoa powder notes. The cigar is starting to even out in flavors.

With about 2 inches remaining there are cocoa notes on the front end to go along with the tangerine notes. The cigar is almost balanced now with an even amount of sweet notes to dark notes. It's taken about 2/3 of the cigar to get to this point.

You'll get about 1 hour out of this toro. The citrus notes and roasted nuts are pretty good at the end. The cocoa notes decreased. The other dark notes are still in play. The cigar is medium bodied at best. It started out at mild to medium and achieved medium bodied after about `/3 of the cigar. The finish is about the same. There are still come cocoa notes on the finish but none on the front end. The cigar started out very unbalanced but got to more balanced at the end. 

Score: 88