December 01, 2019

Archetype Chapter 3: Sacred Scales Toro (6 x 52)










Video review HERE.



(Description taken from VenturaCigar.com website)
Ventura Cigars announced the addition of Chapter 3 to the Archetype Cigars story, with two new tobacco blends set to release in June at PCA/IPCPR 2019. These unique cigars, named Sacred Scales and Dawn of Destiny, are crafted by Cigar Master Ernesto Perez-Carrillo in his award-winning factory in the Dominican Republic. Perez-Carrillo and Michael Giannini, General Manager at Ventura Cigar, have a unique friendship which spans over the last 20 years, crossing paths at different points in their career journeys. Archetype Chapter 3 is a celebration that marks their 3rd cigar collaboration, and the beginning of a new phase in the Archetype story, and in their story as icons in the cigar industry. 

Chapter 3’s Sacred Scales, marks the inflection point in this journey, beginning the hero’s return to the real world from the imaginary. This full-bodied, full-flavored cigar offers a rich, signature Ernesto Perez-Carrillo smoking experience, featuring a San Andres Maduro wrapper from Mexico, an Ecuadorian binder, and filler tobaccos from Nicaragua. Sacred Scales will be available in a 5 x 50 Robusto, 6 x 52 Toro, and 6 x 60 Gordo.

“Ernesto Perez-Carrillo is one-of-a-kind,” says Michael Giannini, General Manager for Ventura Cigars. “He and I go way back. We are champions of each other’s work in the cigar industry, and creative collaborators at points along the way. It made sense for us to team up and begin this new chapter of Archetype, forging a new path in its story, and celebrating a new phase in our careers. Ernesto’s a master crafter, as a creator of blends that treat the cigar smoker to an evolving flavor experience. Chapter 3 is going to be an exciting one for all of us- I just know it.”



Today I am looking at the toro, 6 x 52.



The bands on the cigar look like they would look great under a black light. The colors are reminiscent of the colors on posters that were made for black lights. The cigar is dark and has a nice feel in the hand.





The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were a tangy citrus, low level cinnamon and brown sugar, a massive amount of espresso, and sweet chocolate. There was black pepper rated at 7. At first draw you get the citrus but there is a massive wave of espresso coming right behind. The sweeter notes are mixed in but there is no denying the massive amount of espresso. Perhaps it will tone down after the cigar settles down.




14 minutes in, or about one inch, the flavors have indeed settled down. Now you have orange citrus, cinnamon, brown sugar, orange peel, nutmeg, semi-sweet chocolate, and a stout black coffee. 




At the first third (37 minutes) you have the same flavor notes as described above. There is still a lot of black coffee notes. The orange peel seems to work for the cigar and also against it at times. The cigar is a high grade medium. The finish is a lot of chocolate with little sweetness and some nutmeg. The lingering black pepper is pretty good. The cigar is interesting and very different. I rated the first third at 92.




Moving through the second third (1 hour 9 minutes) the cigar is burning quite slowly. There are more pronounced citrus notes now. The cigar is also smooth. There are still the same flavor notes but the orange citrus is elevated. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is a little sweeter. There is a touch of the orange citrus on the finish helping the sweetness. There are also chocolate and nutmeg notes. The lingering black pepper remains good. The cigar improved in the second third. I rated the second third at 93.




The cigar lasted an impressive 1 hour 38 minutes. I was surprised at the burn time. In the final third the chocolate notes rose considerably and they have sweetness. The coffee notes ticked up also. The citrus morphed over to a cedar as it sometimes does. I still had nutmeg, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The cigar is now full bodied. The finish has gone back to the way it was in the first third; chocolate with nutmeg and very little sweetness with nice lingering black pepper. This cigar made numerous changes along the way. Not huge changes in most instances but it kept changing. The orange peel was no longer in the mix in the final third. I dropped the final third back to 92. This is a pretty good cigar with plenty of dark notes and sweetness. Very interesting flavor notes.


Overall Score: 92.33

November 30, 2019

Viaje 10 + 2 1/2 Anniversary Gold (6 x 54)










Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
As Viaje Cigars founder Andre Farkas said, nobody seems to celebrate half-year anniversaries in the cigar industry, so why not start now? At this year’s IPCPR Trade Show, Farkas unveiled a series of cigars to commemorate the company’s 12 1/2 years known as Viaje Ten Plus Two And A Half Anniversary.

There are three blends that are a part of the series; Gold, Silver, and Red.

The Viaje Ten Plus Two And A Half Anniversary Gold features a Criollo ’98 wrapper over Aganorsa farm-grown tobaccos for the binder and filler; the same as the Silver but in a different blend. The cigars are 6 x 54 Toros and packaged in 25-count boxes. The total production of the Viaje Ten Plus Two And A Half Anniversary Gold are 350 boxes per.


Blend info:
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo ’98
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)
Toro: 6 x 54



The cigar is nice looking and has a dense feel in the hand.





The test draw after cutting the cap was very good. The initial flavors at light up were a citrus with dry cedar, brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, a wisp of marshmallow cream, leathery nutmeg, and a black coffee base. Initially there was a nice amount of black pepper rated at 8 to 8 1/2. 




At the first third (40 minutes) this cigar is shaping up to be a more leathery cigar than the silver. The little wisp of marshmallow or whipping cream is still there. The flavors are cedar, brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, leathery nutmeg, and black coffee. The pepper is down to about 7 1/2 now. The finish is long and one of caramel and nutmeg with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium to full bodied. I rated the first third at 93.




Moving through the second third (1 hour 21 minutes) I lost the whipping cream notes. I also lost the caramel notes. So the notes are now cedar, brown sugar, cinnamon, leathery nutmeg, and black coffee. The cigar is a high grade medium to full bodied. Very close to full bodied. The finish is the same notes of caramel and nutmeg but now there is much more nutmeg. The lingering black pepper remains very good. I maintained the score of 93 but feel the cigar can go either way at this point. Losing the whipping cream and caramel notes did not hurt the cigar since there are plenty of brown sugar notes.




The cigar lasted a very nice 1 hour 57 minutes. In the final third the coffee notes rose considerably. The same flavor notes are in play but the black coffee was elevated. And with it the sweetness slightly decreased. The cigar is full bodied. The finish is unchanged. I dropped the final third score to 92. This has been a good cigar that had some changes along the way but by and large I enjoyed it from start to finish.



Overall Score: 92.67

November 29, 2019

CAO Orellana (6 x 52)










Video review HERE.


The CAO Amazon series is an expedition that began with Amazon Basin, a blend made with an
exotic filler tobacco called Braqanca from the wilds of the rainforest. The series continued on its
path of discovery with Fuma em Corda and Anaconda, each featuring rare Amazonian tobaccos.

Today, CAO celebrates its ongoing quest or discovery with a limited-edition blend called CAO
Orellana, marking the fourth release in the brand's famed Amazon series.

Orellana is named in tribute to Francisco de Orellana, the first European explorer to navigate
the entire Amazon river.

Long before the Amazon series debuted in 2014, a rich Brazilian wrapper aged patiently, waiting
to be brought out from the shadows. This is the wrapper that adorns CAO Orellana and it's
called Cubra.

The sungrown Cubra was raised in a microclimate of Eastern Brazil's fertile Bahia region. There,
a collective of local farmers worked with CAO's agronomists to yield lustrous leaves that are
inherently sweet, strong and versatile for blending. Only the highest primings of Cubra were
selected for curing in climate-controlled curing barns in Calfriza, where the wrapper's deep red
hue and natural sweetness further developed.

Rick Rodriguez said, "When I found the bales of Cubra, I knew that I wanted to blend it with
some of the tobaccos from the previous Amazon releases. Hands down, Cubra wrapper was one
of the best tobaccos I've ever used in blending. It has that Havano flavor with a little bit
sweetness and it pairs really well with other tobaccos. I think Orellana is going to be a big hit
with the fans of CAO."

To create Orellana, Rick and the team blended the Cubra wrapper with Amazonian Braqanca,
Colombian and Dominican filler and a Nicaraguan binder. The result is an intriguing, full-bodied
smoke, peppered with spice, hints of molasses and dried fruit with notes of leather and toasted
nuts.

CAO Orellana is a limited-edition release handcrafted by the CAO artisans in Esteli, Nicaragua. It
comes in one size, a 6" x 52 toro that will sell for a suggested retail price of $10.99 per cigar.
CAO Orellana will be presented in rustic wooden boxes containing 20 cigars.



The cigar is rustic looking and has a nice feel in the hand. the ropes give the cigar a very rustic look.





The test draw after cutting the cap was very good. The initial flavors at light up were a cedar with some citrus aspects, cinnamon, molasses, chocolate, nutmeg,  and black coffee. There was nice black pepper rated at an 8. The cigar is sweet and dark initially.




At the first third (26 minutes) the lead flavor is more of a cedar. It is accompanied by brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, nutmeg, light, subtle chocolate notes, leathery notes, and black coffee. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is one of nutmeg and caramel with nice lingering black pepper. This cigar is not coming across as sweet as some of the others in the Amazon Basin series. But, I am enjoying it and rated the first third at 93.




Through the second third (54 minutes) the sweetness has toned down. There are now cedar, brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, leathery nutmeg, dark chocolate with no sweetness, and black coffee. The black pepper is still pretty good. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is a high grade medium to full bodied. I changed the second third score to 92 with the dip in sweetness.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 20 minutes. In the final third I still had cedar, brown sugar, cinnamon, caramel, light nutmeg with no leather, light unsweetened dark chocolate, and plenty of black coffee. There was still a nice amount of black pepper. The finish has a touch of cinnamon to go with the nutmeg and caramel. The lingering black pepper is still pretty good. The cigar is full bodied. One point I noticed; the ropes that are seen in the area where a band would normally be placed are quite bitter when you encounter them. You actually burn right through them; you do not remove them. But you will notice when you get to them because there is a slight bitterness. It's not enough to hurt the cigar. For the final third I maintained the score of 92. This is another good addition to the Amazon Basin series. After having all 4 I prefer the Anaconda over the others but they are all 92+ cigars.


Overall Score: 92.33

November 24, 2019

La Gloria Cubana Spanish Press Robusto (5 1/2 x 50)













Video review HERE.


***This is my 100th review of 2019***


(Description taken from Cigar-Coop.com website)
The La Gloria Cubana Spanish Press is produced at the General Cigar Dominicana factory in the Dominican Republic. As with all La Gloria Cubana cigars rolled at that factory, it is produced in the El Credito Cigar Factory, a ’boutique-style “factory within a factory”. It is at that facility where the Spanish Press technique is applied to the rolled cigars.

With the Spanish Press technique, freshly rolled cigars are placed into wooden trays with dividers to apply uniform pressure to the cigars. The trays are then pressed to define their shape. After the cigars are pressed, the cigars are placed in specially sized boxes that apply slight pressure to maintain their shape.

The blend is described as “Nicaraguan-forward” and is a multinational blend highlighted by a Jalapa Nicaraguan wrapper, Mexican San Andres binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan Jalapa, Dominican Piloto Cubano, and Brazilian Mata Fina. The cigars are available in three sizes: Robusto, Toro, and Gigante, each presented in 20-count boxes.

“This pressing method eliminates air pockets to deliver an optimal draw and output of smoke, resulting in an enhanced smoking experience,” commented Yuri Guillen, Production Manager of El Credito.



Blend and Origin
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Binder: Mexican San Andres
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa, Dominican Piloto Cubano, and Brazilian Mata Fina
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: General Cigar Dominicana


Robusto: 5 1/2 x 50 (SRP $6.29) REVIEWED TODAY
Toro: 6 1/2 x 52 (SRP $7.29)
Gigante: 6 x 60 (SRP $7.99)



The cigar is pretty much square in shape when viewed from the end. It has a nice feel in the hand for a robusto.





The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were a sweet, tangy orange citrus, light cedar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg that actually cuts some of the extreme sweetness. There is also a small amount of sweet chocolate. There is also a light black coffee base. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2. At the outset this is a very sweet cigar with very little lower level notes.




At the first third (35 minutes) the cigar is just like it started; extremely sweet with the same notes. You can add sweet caramel to the mix of flavors adding even more sweetness. It can't be overstated that this cigar is very sweet. But, that also works slightly against it because the lower level notes are lagging. The cigar is medium bodied, leaning toward medium to full. The finish is also very sweet; citrus, brown sugar, and nutmeg with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. Even with the extreme sweetness the cigar is very good. I rated the first third at 92.




Moving through the second third (1 hour 7 minutes) the coffee notes rose somewhat moving the cigar closer to a balance. There are still citrus notes with some cedar mixed in, a lot of brown sugar, a lot of caramel, cinnamon, sweet chocolate, nutmeg, and black coffee. The cigar is now medium to full bodied. The finish continues to be very sweet and one of caramel, brown sugar, and nutmeg with nice lingering black pepper. With the elevated black coffee I am maintaining the score of 92 because it's more in balance and the first third score was anticipating the coffee notes rising.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 35 minutes. Quite a good burn time for a robusto. For me, the cigar was the best in the final third. The coffee and nutmeg notes rose up more and the cigar was pretty much in balance. The cigar has some depth. The other flavor notes are pretty much unchanged. This continues to be a very sweet cigar but there are now nice lower level notes. The cigar reached full bodied and it's actually quite full bodied. I think this would be a good cigar with a cup of stout, full bodied, dark roasted black coffee. This cigar surprised me with it's extreme sweetness and the burn time. I raised the final third score to 93. This has been a good cigar  and if you like very sweet cigars you will love this one. You can purchase these cigars or any of the other sizes HERE.


Overall Score: 92.33

November 23, 2019

H. Upmann Nicaragua Finca La Lilia 2009 (6 x 60)









Video review HERE.



This special cigar is the H. Upmann Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez Finca la Lilia 2009, which maintains the brand’s familiar blend: Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper dressed over a Nicaraguan Corojo 99 binder, with a Nicaraguan Criollo 98 and Dominican Piloto Cubano filler tobaccos.

But this cigar also incorporates aged tobaccos from a farm that is very dear to AJ Fernandez.  The La Lilia farm – named after his beloved grandmother who raised him in Cuba after his parents migrated to Nicaragua – was first planted in 2009.  This Limited Edition cigar contains tobaccos from that first crop from Fernandez’s iconic Esteli, Nicaragua farm. 

In addition, the Sumatra Wrapper selected for the H. Upmann Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez Finca La Lilia 2009 is especially distinctive for its complex, full flavor and its rich, dark appearance.

Just 75,000 of these special cigars have been made and are offered in 20 count boxes, in a 60 x 6 vitola.

Size: 60 x 6 (Magnum)

MSRP: $12 cigar / $240 per box



AJ's grandparents





AJ's grandmother who the La Lilia farm is named after





The cigar is quite large and has a very dense feel in the hand.





The test draw after cutting the large dome shaped cap was excellent. The initial flavors at light up were a nice cedar/citrus combination with pronounced orange citrus, some brown sugar, quite a bit of cinnamon, and a lot of a peppery nutmeg. There is a lot of black pepper which I rated at an 8 1/2 initially and it combines with the nutmeg to make a very peppery nutmeg flavor. There is also a nice black coffee base. A nice start.




About an inch in I noticed the development of leather notes in the cigar. The cigar is medium to full bodied at this early stage. The black pepper has somewhat toned down to around 8.




At the first third (44 minutes) I still had the lead flavors of cedar/citrus, brown sugar, and cinnamon but they are somewhat downplayed by the massive amount of a peppery, leathery nutmeg. The black coffee base remains intact but does not stand out. The black pepper is still quite elevated. The finish is predominantly nutmeg with a touch of sweetness which appears to come from brown sugar. There is quite a bit of lingering black pepper also. The cigar is still medium to full bodied. I like this mix of flavors and love the black pepper. I rated the first third at 94.




As I moved through the second third (1 hour 19 minutes) the flavors have slightly improved. The lead flavor is more of a cedar now with only traces of citrus, nice amount of brown sugar, cinnamon, and leathery, peppery nutmeg with a light black coffee base. The cigar is now full bodied. The finish is unchanged. This is a cigar that I gravitate toward. With the slight increase in sweetness I raised the score to 95.




The cigar lasted a very impressive 2 hours 2 minutes. While I still had the same basic flavors I lost some of the sweetness. The cigar is very full bodied. The finish is unchanged. The black pepper has been very good in this cigar throughout. With the decrease in sweetness, and it was a little more than I had hoped, I lowered the score to 93. This is a very good cigar that you should put on your must-try list.



Overall Score: 94

November 21, 2019

Drew Estate Shipping Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Flying Pig Exclusive


Thursday, November 21, 2019 — Miami, FL- Drew Estate announces today the shipping of the Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Flying Pig to Pappy & Co, owned and operated by the Van Winkle Family.

The Flying Pig is one of the most desired vitolas in the company’s portfolio, presented in a 3 15/16th x 60 ring gauge vitola, and is a favorite amongst cigar enthusiasts worldwide. The shape is based on a photograph of an 1895 cigar salesman’s size selection case reimagined and pioneered by Drew Estate. The Flying Pig is one of the most complicated vitolas to manufacture due to the unique size and signature pig-tail, which requires specialized training of the buncheros and rolleras at the factory.

The Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Flying Pig is sold exclusively through Pappyco.com. This historic cigar features a barrel fermented “tapa Negra” wrapper over a Mexican San Andres base wrapper, as well as aged Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, personally selected by Jonathan Drew.

From the Wynwood Safehouse, Jonathan Drew Founder and President of Drew Estate notes, “We deeply value the partnership Drew Estate has grown with the Van Winkle family over the years… and what better way to celebrate it than with the unveiling of this exclusive masterpiece!”

Carrie Van Winkle Greener, Co-Founder of Pappy & Company adds, “We are excited to offer something exclusive to our Pappy & Company cigar enthusiast customers. The Flying Pig is such a unique product and unlike anything else on the market. Its distinct size and signature pig-tail, makes this a one of a kind cigar, an instant classic.”

The Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve Flying Pig is packaged in 12 count boxes with an MSRP of $191.80, sold exclusively through pappyco.com.


November 20, 2019

Drew Estate and Crowned Heads Announce the Shipping of “La Coalicion” Nationwide!



Tuesday, November 19, 2019 — Miami, FL- Today Drew Estate and Crowned Heads announce the nationwide shipping of their collaborative release “La Coalicion”, manufactured by La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and sold through Crowned Heads.

“La Coalicion” is an astonishing collaboration brand for the true cigar aficionado. The brand is wrapped in rich, dark Connecticut Broadleaf, with a spicy Sumatran binder and aged fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. “La Coalicion” is available in 4 sizes:  Corona Gorda (5” x 46), Gordito (5 1/2” x 50), Siglo (6” x 52) and Sublime (6 1/2” x 54). Each vitola brings a very specific and unique nuance and complexity, carefully blended by Willy Herrera and Jon Huber.

Drew Estate Master Blender Willy Herrera notes, “I can’t wait to see what our fans think of this collaborative blend between Huber and myself. The blending process led us to select a beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that bursts with flavor.”

From Crowned Heads HQ in Nashville, Jon Huber exclaims, “I can sum up my feelings in one word: PUMPED! We are so thrilled for our consumers to be able to light up and enjoy this passion project between Willy Herrera and myself.”

From the Wynwood Safehouse, Jonathan Drew President and Founder of Drew Estate notes, “At Drew Estate, we take the process of creating new brands very seriously. Each new brand must be created with a significant purpose and divine inspiration, like creating a miracle. It’s almost religious for us. I deeply appreciate La Coalicion and celebrate its birth. I’m gonna rock out on some Eric B and Rakim today when this press release drops. Let’s get em!!!”

“La Coalicion” is manufactured at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate and is sold through Crowned Heads. It is shipping in the following vitolas:

Corona Gorda (5” x 46) MSRP $219.00/box of 20
Gordito (5 1/2” x 50) MSRP $245.00/box of 20
Siglo (6” x 52) MSRP $270.00/box of 20
Sublime (6 1/2” x 54) MSRP $299.00/box of 20



Protocol Confidential Informant set for release


Pennsylvania (Monday November 18, 2019) -

Cubariqueño Cigar Co. announces the release of the Protocol Confidential Informant as a Cigars International Exclusive. The Protocol CI Keeps to the company’s law enforcement theme. In police jargon a Confidential Informant is known as a C.I. which happens to be the nick name for Cigars International, hence: Protocol CI. The cigars are being produced at The LaZona Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Confidential Informant will be available in a 6 1/2 X 52 box press format placed inside bundles of 10.


The blend consists of an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers. Initially 500 bundles have been produced for the project. Cigars International will release the bundles nationally to all CI retail locations starting on Black Friday, November 29, 2019. Protocol owners Juan Cancel and Bill Ives will be in attendance at the following locations and times for the launch.

Kickoff at the CI Bethlehem Super-Store 10am-1pm, Followed by CI Downtown - 1:30pm - 3:30pm and finally at CI Hamburg Super-Store 6pm-11pm. Each location will be raffling off a custom hand carved CI / Protocol Humidor from Nicaragua at the close of business on the 29th. “Cigars International has been a great partner with Cubariqueño Cigar Co. and we are proud to work with them on this release” stated Kevin Keithan, National sales manager of Cubariqueño Cigar Company.