March 24, 2019

Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Vibrato (6 x 54)

Video review HERE.

I reviewed the Maestro (belicoso) version of this cigar 3 weeks ago. Today we take a look at the toro version, or Vibrato vitola.

(Description taken from website)
The past two years have seen AJ Fernandez emerge as a cigar maker for many leading brands.

Just before the 2018 IPCPR Trade Show, one company that announced a project with Fernandez was Boutique Blends. The project would be an extension to Boutique Blends’ newly revamped Quattro line known as the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua. Boutique Blends and Fernandez are no strangers. Boutique Blends partnered with Fernandez for the Aging Room Pelo de Oro release. In addition Boutique Blends co-owner Rafael Nodal had worked with Fernandez on several projects for Altadis in his role of head of product capability at Altadis.

Blend and Origin
Like the Aging Room Pelo de Oro, the Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua is an all-Nicaraguan puro, but utilizes a different blend. It is the first Nicaraguan puro to be a part of the Quattro line, and it’s the first Quattro made outside the Dominican Republic (the other offerings are made in the Dominican Republic at Tabacalera Palma).

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez

Vitolas Offered
The Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua is offered in four sizes. Each is presented in 20-count boxes

Espressivo: 5 x 50
Maestro (Belicoso): 6 x 52 
Vibrato: 6 x 54  REVIEWED TODAY
Concerto: 7 x 50

The cigar is simply beautiful. I love the almost perfectly square angles. The dark brown wrapper contrasts perfectly with the orange and black band.

The wrapper is somewhat oily and the cigar has a nice feel in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was perfect. The initial flavors at light up were much like the belicoso; candy-like orange citrus which reminds me of the candy Pez, leather, nutmeg, brown sugar, cinnamon, and black coffee. There was black pepper rated at 7 to 7 1/2. 

At the first third (24 minutes) the flavors are mixing very well. Everything has it's place and each flavor is in the perfect amount. The cigar is a high end medium bodied at this point. The finish is a leathery cream with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. I enjoy the flavors in this cigar. I rated the first third at 94.

In the second third (1 hour 3 minutes) the orange citrus notes decreased slightly while the leather, nutmeg, and black coffee elevated. The change did not hurt the cigar too much. But, if it loses more citrus the score will reflect it. The mix of flavors is still good. The cigar is now full bodied. The finish is unchanged. I am maintaining the score at 94.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 27 minutes. In the final third the citrus notes continued to decrease leaving the other notes elevated. The cigar is still full bodied with the finish unchanged. The fact that the citrus notes decreased does not bother me much as I expect these to improve with more humidor time. I will, however, lower the final third score to a 93. Of the two vitolas, I prefer this size over the belicoso...but they're both very good cigars.

Overall Score: 93.67

March 23, 2019

Bishops Blend 2019 Corona Larga (6 1/4 x 46)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)
Black Label Trading Company has announced that its 2019 vintage of Bishops Blend is now heading to stores.

Bishops Blend is produced at the company’s factory, Fabrica Oveja Negra is Estelí, Nicaragua. In the U.S. distribution is handled by Boutiques Unified.

Bishops Blend 2019 features the same blend and is available in the same sizes as the 2016, 2017, and 2018 releases. The blend is highlighted by the use of both Connecticut and Pennsylvania Broadleaf in the filler. 

James Brown creator of Black Label Trading Company and partner at Fabrica Oveja Negra said, “I’m very excited about this release of Bishops Blend. We wanted to start the year off strong and release one of our most anticipated releases early. Bishops Blend boasts big bold flavors of anise, pepper, raisins and a sweet earthiness on the finish. It is very complex and extremely refined. As with the past vintages, the broadleaf fillers shine at the forefront and are perfectly balanced by the Nicaraguan filler tobaccos.”

Blend and Origin
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Pennsylvania Broadleaf, Connecticut Broadleaf
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra

Vitolas Offered
Bishops Blend is available in two sizes. Both vitolas are packaged in 20 count boxes.

Robusto: 5 x 48 (SRP $11.00)
Corona Larga: 6 1/4 x 46 (SRP $11.50) REVIEWED TODAY

The cigar is very dark and well made. It features a rather unique cap and a closed foot.

With the closed foot the test draw is usually very tight but tends to open up quickly. I clipped a small amount of the triangular cap and the test draw was tight but I lit the cigar to see if the foot would open up. It did not so I used my PerfecDraw tool to open up the cap. 

Once open the initial flavors came quickly; a tangy orange citrus, sweet dark chocolate, brown sugar, and espresso, with nutmeg intertwined in all the flavors. There was a nice, course black pepper rated at an 8. The flavors mix very well. Very good start.

At the first third (35 minutes) the cigar continues to be dark and sweet. The flavors also continue to mix very well together. I would call the cigar medium to full bodied. The finish, with all the dark, sweet notes, has a caramel flavor with a little nutmeg and a very nice amount of lingering black pepper. This is quite an impressive cigar. I rated the first third at 96.

At the second third (1 hour 14 minutes) the flavors in this cigar scream power even though it's not overly powerful. The cigar is fairly balanced. You get 30% orange citrus, 35% chocolate, and 35% espresso. The cigar is right at full bodied. The mix of flavors in this cigar is so good. You have nice sweet notes and nice dark notes. The nutmeg does not get in the way; it also mixes very well with the other flavors. The finish is unchanged. The lingering black pepper is very nice. I rated the second third at 96.

The Bishops Blend Corona Larga lasted 1 hour 39 minutes. In the final third I lost some of the orange citrus notes. I still had plenty of chocolate and espresso notes. The cigar is no longer in balance. It's now more like 20% citrus, 40% chocolate, and 40% espresso. The pepper remains very good. The finish is unchanged. This is one of the best Black Label Trading Company cigars I've had. Nice sweetness with plenty of dark notes. With the lowering of citrus notes I lowered the final third score to 95. These will not be on shelves long so act quickly if you want some for yourself. You can purchase these cigars HERE.

Overall Score: 95.67

March 22, 2019

EPILOGUE: New World Cameroon Selection Toro (6 x 50)

Reference post:

Since having this cigar in mid-January I was so impressed I ordered a box of the toros. After having several here and there, I have noticed a troubling point. The cigars seem to be inconsistent. The reviews are done under rigid conditions. I prepare for the review the same way for each cigar. The results shown above and in the video are true. I report exactly what I taste, etc.

However, when I'm impressed with a certain cigar I tend to have more of them. Why not? They're good so have more! I'll have them in places that do not have the same conditions as the controlled review, like in the car, watching a tv show, etc.

I am not able to duplicate the same great flavors in this cigar while driving or watching tv, etc. When this happens once it could be a fluke. No big deal. Maybe it's me. Who knows. But, when it happens over and over under various conditions it gets troublesome.

Bottom line; these cigars seem to be very inconsistent. I've had some from the same box that I would rate at a 90 and some others at a 92 but none that have impressed me like the review sample.

For these reasons I am lowering the overall score to 90.5. It is important to note that the reviewed sample stands on it's own. Those were exactly the flavors I got. Unfortunatley subsequent samples did not prove to be the same.

This very well could be a blending problem with this particular box but I find it hard to believe I'm the only one who has run into this situation. I invite anyone who has seen similar results to comment.

I have never run into this situation, or at least to this extent, but I feel it's important to report this situation to the general cigar world.

March 21, 2019

Epilogue posts to be added to blog reviews

Over the years I have noticed that some cigars change with time. Or, in other occasions they may have different flavor charateristics under normal smoking experiences which differ greatly from the controled environment of an official review. For this reason I will be adding an epilogue post when I feel it's necessary to further describe the cigar during normal everyday enjoyment.

These posts could describe the cigar as being better than reviewed or, in some cases worse. Usually after I review a cigar and have others in the latter weeks I get the same flavors, good or bad. But...not always.

If you see a post entitled Epilogue Post you will know I found a particular cigar to be different in normal day to day smoking than it was during the formal review.

I will alter the final score accordingly and it will be the score used for year end ratings.

Introducing PSyKo SEVEN Nicaragua by Indiana Ortez

(from Ventura Cigar website)
There’s a new face and cigar on the scene at Ventura Cigar Company. Introducing PSyKo SEVEN Nicaragua by Indiana Ortez, rising cigar industry star, and daughter of tobacco industry icon Omar Ortez. This collaboration is a new line extension to our popular PSyKO SEVEN brand, and offers a fresh, bold point of view from the young blender. Indiana Ortez was also the master blender behind Ventura Cigar’s Fathers, Friends, and Fire limited edition cigar that was released in June of 2018.
Indiana spearheaded the project with her trademark enthusiasm and expertise, testing blend after blend to get exactly the essence she was looking for. The result is the bold and complex PSyKo SEVEN Nicaragua; offering rich, nuanced flavors that constantly evolve throughout the smoking experience. It’s a cigar that invites you to unleash the madness and experience the spirit of Nicaragua.
 “Whenever you want to create a new blend, you need to depend on your intuition,” says Ortez. “It’s like a recipe- you can’t force making something that’s truly great. If you enjoy the process as you go through it, your intuition will guide you.”
PSyKo SEVEN Nicaragua is hand-rolled in the Ortez factory, Condega Nicaragua, and is wrapped in a 2007 Vintage Desflorada wrapper as a nod to the stories of those working within the tobacco industry before her.
“Every cigar has a story to tell,” says Indiana. “Every puff from a favorite cigar is the story behind the growers, the workers, the blenders- the people who have dedicated their lives to the craft.”
PSyKo SEVEN Nicaragua will be available in 20-count boxes, with cigars found in three sizes: Gordo (6”x60), Robusto (5”x50), and Toro (6”x50).

March 19, 2019


Diesel is rolling out Hair of the Dog, a limited-edition release that’s hitting retail this month.

Developed by AJ Fernandez with Justin Andrews and handcrafted at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua, Diesel Hair of the Dog is a medium-to-full-bodied smoke with earthy flavor, notes of pepper and a heady aroma. The blend is made entirely of Nicaraguan Habano, which is balanced by an Ecuadoran Habano wrapper and an Ecuadoran Sumatra binder.

Senior Brand Manager Justin Andrews said, “Diesel Hair of the Dog was blended to have just the right amount of kick. It’s not an overly powerful cigar, yet it really delivers on the flavor. For the cigar lover who’s looking for the hair of a dog after a night of over-indulgence, or for anyone who seeks the complexity of Nicaraguan tobacco, Hair of the Dog is definitely going to do the trick.”

Diesel Hair of the Dog is available in one size, a box-pressed Toro (6” x 54). The SRP per cigar is $10.00 and the cigars are packed rustic wooden boxes, each containing 10 cigars. Just 5,000 boxes have been produced.

Hair of the Dog complements Diesel Whiskey Row, a top-selling cigar launched last year in partnership with Louisville, KY-based Rabbit Hole Bourbon.

About Diesel

Handcrafted by artisans in Esteli, Nicaragua, Diesel cigars are “bold by design.” The brand challenges the current conventions of the handmade cigar category through the bold, unapologetic style of its Cigar Master, AJ Fernandez. Diesel cigars are unified by their deeply complex flavor which is achieved through AJ’s steadfast adherence to time honored cigar making techniques and his insistence on using the highest quality tobacco. The Diesel portfolio includes Whiskey Row which launched in 2018 and Diesel Grind which debuted in 2017. For more information, visit

March 16, 2019

Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades, The Shiv (6 1/4 x 50)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)
The Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades are back. This will be Viaje's fourth release of the line. Honey & Hand Grenades initially made its debut in September 2012 but has not been released since 2016.

Honey & Hand Grenades is small batch release. The Nicaraguan puro utilizes Aganorsa tobacco and features a Nicaraguan Criollo wrapper. The cigar features an inverse torpedo with at pointed footer and rounded cap. The three sizes include: Rapier (6 1/2 x 44), Shank (5 1/4 x 52), and Shiv (6 1/4 x 50). Each is packaged in 25-count boxes.

Each vitola has a unique pointed foot construction, and is named after a type of pointed weapon. The red foil on the portion below the band simulates a blade that has been "used" to simulate blood.

The cigars are produced at Fábrica de Tabacos Raíces Cubanas S. de R.L. (Raíces Cubanas) in Honduras.

The cigar is very beautiful. Farkas is known for his unique shapes. The foot features a very small opening.

Because of the small opening at the foot the test draw after cutting the cap may be hard to draw through but it opens up quickly. In this case I tested the draw after cutting the cap and it was actually very good. The initial flavors at light up were very sweet, tangy, candy-like pronounced orange citrus with brown sugar and lots of cinnamon, creamy nutmeg, and black coffee. There was black pepper rated at a 7 1/2. The nutmeg does not take away anything from the cigar. In fact, it gives a nice creamy effect to go along with the massive sweetness of the citrus, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The black coffee makes a nice base and is somewhat subdued at the outset.

At the first third (30 minutes) I noted caramel notes added to the other nice flavors. The cigar is very sweet but it's kept from being one sided with the creamy nutmeg and black coffee. The lingering black pepper is very good. There are also sweet cream notes and nutmeg on the finish. The heavy citrus notes seem a little more cedar-like but still very nice. The cigar is medium bodied at this point. This is an impressive cigar. I had 2 others prior to this review and was very impressed by them also. I rated the first third at 96.

At the second third (54 minutes) the cigar is about the same. It may have lost a touch of flavor but hardly enough to talk about. The only thing that has changed is the black coffee notes are elevated. But, that actually gives the cigar more balance. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is medium to full bodied now. I am enjoying this cigar. I rated the second third at 95.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 19 minutes. At times I seemed to get a honey note which seems appropriate with the cigar's name. I still had the nice, tangy cedar/citrus flavor with plenty of brown sugar and cinnamon, nutmeg, and black coffee. The finish was unchanged. The cigar is medium to full bodied. This is an impressive cigar. So much so that after the first two samples I decided to purchase a box! I rated the final third at 95. I highly recommend you try this cigar. Very good cigar from Viaje.

Overall Score: 95.33

March 15, 2019

New Drew Estate release: Experience Deep Purple with ACID Plush

Friday, March 15, 2019 — Miami, FL- Continuing our celebration of the 20th Anniversary of ACID, Drew Estate announces the nationwide release of ACID Plush. Attendees of the 2019 TAA Trade Show held March 17-21st in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic will get the first look at the nationally available release.

Now is the time to experience the power of deep purple with this 5.5” x 50 premium ACID blend. ACID Plush is all at once rich, dense and wonderfully aromatic. Plush features a shimmering Broadleaf maduro wrapper and lush Nicaraguan binder and filler.

From the Wynwood Safehouse, Jonathan Drew, Founder and President of Drew Estate notes, “The Purple line has been the quiet second champion in the ACID Collection, but to so many a crowd favorite due to its unique sizes and award-winning blends. The hearty ACID Purple lineup now includes Extra Ordinary Larry (6 x 60), Roam (7 x 48), C-notes (3.75 x 20 small cigars), Krush Morado (4 x 32), Croqueta (2.5 x 50) and Plush (5.5 x 50)! “

The ACID Plush is sold in a 24-count box with an MSRP of $230.40 and will be shipping in Mid-April.

Cigar Dojo & Cubariqueño Announce Second Collaboration with Protocol Night Stick

DENVER, CO (Friday, March 15, 2019) —— Cigar Dojo, the first and
largest social cigar app, and Cubariqueño Cigar Company, a rapidly growing favorite in the craft cigar industry, have collaborated for the second time, introducing the Protocol Night Stick—a swift and just assault on the palates of die-hard cigar enthusiasts.

Following in the footsteps of 2018's Hit Release: Protocol K9—a limited
edition project that proved to be among Cigar Dojo's most acclaimed and fastest selling cigar collaborations—the two community-focused companies have combined talents once more, now upping the ante with a 6½" x 54 toro gordo; a
commanding cigar truly befitting its "Night Stick" title.

With Protocol Night Stick, members of both Cigar Dojo and Cubariqueño
worked in collaboration with Espinosa Premium Cigars' director of operations, Héctor J. Alfonso, Sr., to design the Nicaraguan-based blend. Like all Protocol cigars, the Night Stick caters towards Nicaraguan tobaccos and vibrant flavors. This begins with a filler recipe selected from Nicaragua's uppermost Condega and Jalapa growing regions, giving the blend an approachable sweetness. This blend is bound in a Nicaraguan leaf and finalized in a highly specific Ecuadorian Habano Rosado Oscuro wrapper, imparting deep levels of stone fruit and cinnamon to the flavor-forward profile of the Protocol Night Stick.

Juan Cancel, co-owner of Cubariqueño Cigar Co., notes, "We wanted to
follow up the extraordinarily successful Protocol K9 with something special for the Cigar Dojo community! We wanted the Dojo Nation to have a very memorable cigar experience, so we blended this beauty especially with them in mind! We hope you guys enjoy the Night Stick
as much as we do; I actually love it and am sad that it will not be a regular-production cigar. I made myself a few extra because I know they are going to sell out fast!"

As the Night Stick's predecessor was extremely short-lived on the retail shelves of Pennsylvania-based Famous Smoke Shop (completely selling out in a matter of 2 hours), Protocol Night Stick has increased production to 500 limited-edition bundles of 10 cigars (compared to only 300 bundles for Protocol K9). With a completely new blend and size, Night Stick showcases custom-designed artwork as well, adding to the atypical series of police-themed projects from Cubariqueño and Cigar Dojo. Like the K9, Night Stick is being offered exclusively through Famous Smoke Shop, including an in-store sale (accompanied by a release-party with members of Cigar Dojo and Cubariqueño), as well as online orders through

Cigar Dojo owner Eric "Master Sensei" Guttormson commented, "The
release party, the amazing cigar, working with Juan, Bill, and Kevin—the Night Stick is EPIC in every facet, so get ready for another instant classic."

With Cubariqueño co-owners Juan Cancel and Bill Ives being among the
first influential members of Cigar Dojo's app upon its debut in 2012 (including a Dojo Hall-of-Fame induction in 2014), the two companies have shared a tight-knit bond and common core beliefs; this has
allowed for highly engaging collaborations such as the Protocol K9 and now the Protocol Night Stick!

"Juan and I have been involved with the Cigar Dojo community since
2012," adds Bill Ives, co-owner of Cubariqueño Cigar Co. "Being able
to work with Eric and blend a second Dojo cigar after the K9 hit is an honor."

The Protocol Night Stick Release Party will be held at the Famous Smoke Shop and accompanying Leaf Cigar Bar, located in Easton, PA. The event will begin simultaneously with the cigar's release on April 5th at 12pm (Eastern Time).

Protocol Night Stick Breakdown

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado Oscuro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua (Condega | Jalapa)
Factory: La Zona
Production: Limited Edition (500 bundles of 10 cigars)
Packaging: 10-ct Bundles
Vitola: 6½" x 54 "Attitude Adjuster"
Price: $89.99 ($9/cigar)
Release: April 5, 2019 | 12pm (EDT)
Retailer: Famous Smoke Shop

March 14, 2019

Drew Estate Releases ACID Croqueta Tubo: One for Now, One for Later

Thursday, March 14, 2019 — Miami, FL- Drew Estate announces today the release of ACID Croqueta Tubo to Drew Estate retailers nationwide.  Attendees of the 2019 TAA Trade Show held March 17-21st in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic will get the first look at this beautiful full ring gauge, short length expression.

Celebrating the power of purple times two, with 2 long filler nub smokes (2.5” x 50) within each tube, the ACID Croqueta defines the expression “one for now, one for later.” Draped in an earthy San Andres maduro wrapper, over robust Nicaraguan binder and filler, the Croqueta is a perfect sensorial experience of ACID when you want a complete cigar experience but are short on time.

From the Wynwood Safehouse, Drew Estate President and Founder Jonathan Drew adds, “We are just starting to kick off the party for the 20th Anniversary of ACID. Bringing back Croqueta is a nod to our roots, while we drove the legendary ACID brand forward for over 20 years, ACID has been by our side for retailers and consumers alike, a trusted friend.”

Each ACID Croqueta Tubo features two 2.5”x 50 cigars, with an MSRP of $8.40 per tubo, and are shipping in bundles of 25 in Mid-April.


(Miami, Florida) March 14, 2019— With much excitement, Villiger Cigars will introduce a European favorite, the Villiger La Meridiana to the U.S. consumer. Recently obtaining a 92 rating by Cigar Journal, the Villiger Meridiana was released in 1998 and has gained a loyal following, among full-flavored cigar enthusiasts in Europe. The Villiger Meridiana was conceived by Heinrich Villiger, as a way to pay tribute to some long lost Cuban cigar heritage.

The Villiger La Meridiana bases its historical roots, in a long forgotten Cuban factory named “La Meridiana”. The factory owned by Pedro Murias, was once of the largest and most well-known cigar factories, which determined the cityscape of Havana at the end of the 19th century. Sadly, Murias was forced to sell La Meridiana factory due to unrest in Cuba during the Cuban war of Independence. The sale went through shortly after the war ended in 1898, and just like that, Pedro Murias along with the original La Meridiana cigar factory became a fading memory.

The resurrection of “La Meridiana” came from Heinrich Villiger’s love of everything Cuban. During his many trips to Cuba he discovered the name and rich history of the Meridiana factory, and thought to create a full-flavored cigar, beautiful and elegant enough to carry on the La Meridiana name in honor of Pedro Murias.

The Villiger La Meridiana is a Nicaraguan full-flavored puro. This blend features complex flavors without overpowering the palate of the smoker. The uniquely distinct hue of the wrapper and flavor are born out of a special aging process of the tobacco which takes approximately four years.

The Villiger La Meridiana is elegantly packaged in 10 count boxes and is expressed in 5 vitolas:

Corona (5.5 x 42).............MSRP: $6.50

Robusto (5x50) ………… MSRP: $7.50

Torpedo (6x52)…………...MSRP: $8.00

Churchill (6 7/8 x48).........MSRP: $8.50

Toro Box Pressed (6x54) .MSRP $10.60

Rene Castañeda, President of Villiger North America said,” We feel that it is the perfect time to launch the Villiger La Meridiana to the US consumer. The Villiger La Meridiana is an exceptionally elegant and flavorful cigar that I am confident will satisfy the cigar connoisseur. We look to begin shipping to retailers in March of this year.”

The Herrera Esteli Habano Edicion Limitada Lancero Returns to Drew Diplomat Retailers

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 — Miami, FL- Drew Estate announces today the return of the Herrera Esteli Habano Edicion Limitada Lancero exclusively for Drew Diplomat retailers and will begin shipping immediately. This cigar will be displayed to Drew Diplomat retailers attending the TAA Trade show held March 17-21st in Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic.

Originally released in 2014, the Herrera Esteli Habano Edicion Limitada Lancero is wrapped in a spicy Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, with Honduran binder and complex Nicaraguan fillers. Due to the skill required in rolling the 7x38 lancero vitola, there are only 4 pairs of rollers at La Gran Fabrica allowed to produce this cigar.

From La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, Master Blender Willy Herrera adds, “The lancero is a notoriously difficult vitola to master both from a blending and rolling perspective. The same rollers who make the L40 are assigned to this special blend since they’re the best of the best. We took our time here at the factory when we decided to re-release this cigar so that every aspect from flavor to construction is perfection.”

The Herrera Esteli Habano Edicion Limitada Lancero is available only at Drew Diplomat Retailers in 15 count boxes with an MSRP of $186.96.