March 07, 2021

Kristoff Sumatra Robusto (5 1/2 x 54)

Video review HERE.

The cigar features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Brazilian binder, and filler from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. It comes in 5 sizes. Today we take a look at the robusto.


Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Binder: Brazilian

Filler: Cuban Seed Dominican, Cuban Seed Nicaraguan


Matador – 6.5 x 56

Robusto – 5.5 x 54 REVIEWED TODAY

Torpedo – 6.25 x 52

Churchill – 7 x 50

Lancero – 7.5 x 40

The cigar is dark an features a pigtail cap.

And the foot is closed.

The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were quite a bit of earthiness. The sweet notes were honey, light citrus peel, molasses. There were also leather notes. At the tail end of the flavors was a cashew note. There was black pepper rated at 7 initially. There is no denying the earthiness in the cigar. It's a scratchy-type earthiness.

At the first third (30 minutes) the earthiness continues. I could still get most of the flavors in the initial description but the earthiness is steadily increasing. All the notes on the front end are somewhat muffled bu the earthiness. I now had some black coffee at the base where I didn't initially. The finish is citrus peel, touch of honey, and pretty good lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied. I rated the first third 88.

Moving through the second third (56 minutes) the earthy notes continued to rise. The front end sweeter flavors are more muffled. I could still get somewhat of a honey flavor with some molasses notes but they are quite muffled. The leather and black coffee are creeping up also. The cigar is now medium to full bodied. The finish has some light sweet notes of honey but there is quite a bit of earthiness now also. The lingering black pepper is very good. As the cigar continued to move toward earthiness I lowered the score to 86.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 17 minutes. The story of this cigar is earthiness. It's loaded with it. If you like earthy cigars with subtle sweetness this is the cigar for you. The cigar continued on the same path. I'd call the cigar medium to full bodied. The finish is unchanged. This is one of the earthier cigars I've had lately. I rated the final third 84.

Overall Score: 86

March 06, 2021

Diamond Crown Natural No. 7 (6 3/4 x 54)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from J. C. Newman Cigar Co.)

In celebration of J.C. Newman Cigar Company’s 100th Anniversary in 1995, Stanford Newman joined Carlos Fuente, Sr., to develop an exceptional series of Super Premium cigars. Stanford dreamed of making the best cigar in the world with no regard for how long it would take or how much it would cost, his dream was realized in the Diamond Crown cigar.

In the early 1990’s, the largest handmade cigars ranged from a 50-52 ring gauge. Despite this, Stanford decided that every Diamond Crown cigar should be made with a 54-ring gauge, allowing cigar rollers to blend 6 to 7 individual tobacco leaves together delivering the richest, yet most consistent full flavor possible. At the time he was told a 54-ring gauge could not be done and was too big, but Stanford insisted and was later hailed a visionary for his decision.

Each Diamond Crown cigar passes through three inspections and is aged in lots of 50 in cedar curing rooms for a minimum of twelve months. Additionally, Carlos Fuente selected only the most skilled cigar makers for Diamond Crown, paying them a fixed top rate of pay. Therefore, Diamond Crown cigar maker’s incentive is to make the best, rather than the most cigars.

Diamond Crown’s exceptional taste comes from the five-year-old Connecticut Fermented Wrapper. Unlike most quality tobacco wrappers, normally given a single fermentation, Diamond Crown wrappers are conditioned, graded and selected for a second fermentation. It is this “second curing” that evens and develops the Rosado color of the tobacco wrapper and eliminates any potential rawness, accounting for much of Diamond Crown’s sweet, smooth, richer flavor.

Diamond Crown cigars continue to be one of the best-selling Super Premium cigars on the market.

Wrapper: Connecticut Shade

Binder: Dominican Republic

Filler: Selection of 5 Different fillers from the Caribbean and Central America

Size: 6 3/4” X 54

The cigar is golden in color and well made. The cigar has a nice feel in the hand.

The test draw after taking about 1/4 inch from the cap was very good. The initial flavors at light up were a very nice and sweet citrus with cedar influence, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel, cream, light black coffee. There was white pepper rated at 7 1/2. A nice, sweet start.

At the first third (33 minutes) the flavors are exactly like they started. There is a very nice citrus with cedar influence and plenty of brown sugar and cinnamon. Nice sweet notes. The nutmeg is sewn throughout and the cream notes are quite nice. The black coffee at this point is quite minimal. It's noticed at the very bottom of all the flavors in a rather small amount. The cigar is mild to medium bodied. The finish is light cream with nice lingering white pepper. The ash is spectacular. I rated the first third 93.

As I moved through the second third (1 hour 5 minutes) the coffee notes have developed. They are quite noticeable. In fact, they take away some of the nice sweetness. The cigar is now medium bodied. The finish is a touch of citrus with nutmeg and a drop or two of cream with nice lingering white pepper. I rated the second third 92.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 29 minutes. The cigar did not change much from the second to the final third. There is now a toffee-like flavor in the mix. The black coffee remains elevated but it's a little more in line now. The front end flavors are a little muffled due to the elevated coffee but the toffee helps stabilize the cigar. The cigar is still medium bodied. The finish is unchanged. This is an elegant, flavorful cigar which is perfect for celebratory cigar. I rated the final third 92.

Overall Score: 92.33

March 04, 2021


The Macanudo Inspirado White line is expanding with two new sizes created in response to demand from retailers and cigar lovers.

Steve Abbot, senior brand manager of Macanudo said, “The Macanudo Inspirado White portfolio had consisted of six popular sizes, yet our retailers and cigar smokers wanted more. We responded by creating a Corona and Cigarillo and are confident that the new sizes will become fast-selling additions to this highly successful brand.”

Introduced in 2017, Macanudo Inspirado White is counted among the top-sellers in the Macanudo portfolio. The blend spent several years in development and features tobaccos that have been refined and aged to perfection. This creamy, alluring smoke is known for its complexity and mellow, smooth-smoking qualities.

Macanudo Inspirado White is made with a proprietary Ecuadoran Connecticut wrapper developed by General Cigar’s agronomists to deliver an aesthetic quality like no other. Aged for six years and refined to a creamy shade of gold, the wrapper crowns an Indonesian binder. The blend features Nicaraguan Condega and Mexican San Andres leaves, each aged for four years and Nicaraguan Jalapa aged for two years. All told, the blend delivers a layered smoking experience with subtle notes of earth and spice.

Both new formats have begun shipping to retailers. The Corona is handcrafted at HATSA in Danli, Honduras and the Cigarillo is made at General Cigar Dominicana in Santiago, D.R.

Macanudo Inspirado White Corona (5.5” x 42) – SRP per cigar $5.49; 20 cigars per box

Macanudo Inspirado White Cigarillo (4 3/16” x 32) – SRP per 10-cigar tin $15.99.

March 02, 2021

Perla del Mar Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 46)

Video review HERE.

(Description provided by JC Newman)

Handmade at J.C. Newman PENSA in Nicaragua, the new Perla del Mar is a significant refinement of the Perla del Mar cigars that J.C. Newman launched in 2012. “Although our Perla del Mar cigars were good, we were not totally satisfied,” said Drew Newman, general counsel and a member of J.C. Newman’s fourth-generation. “We wanted to make them better – and that’s exactly what we did. After two years of effort working to perfect the brand, we are thrilled to reintroduce Perla del Mar.”

Perla del Mar’s existing Shade and Maduro blends have been strengthened with aged Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, and a new flavorful Corojo blend, rolled with a robust Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper, has been added to the family. Perla del Mar cigars are now shaped in a classic Tampa-style press and packed with traditional bands and boxes. Each blend comes in four sizes with an MSRP of between $6 and $7.

“Although our family has been rolling cigars for 125 years, we do not rest on our laurels,” said Newman. “We are constantly working to improve everything that we do, and we are very pleased with the new Perla del Mar.”

Perla del Mar is a historic cigar brand that traces its roots to Cuba. In 1905, four Cuban brothers started hand rolling cigars using tobacco grown on their family’s farm in Cuba. They named their company Perfecto Garcia Brothers and called their cigars “Perla del Mar” because of the beautiful Caribbean waters that surround Cuba. As the popularity and demand for their cigars grew, the brothers built a large cigar factory next to J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory in Ybor City, Florida. Perla del Mar was one of the leading premium cigar brands in the early 1900s. J.C. Newman’s new Perla del Mar cigars honor the brand’s historic legacy.

Wrapper: Corojo

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Size: 5 1/2” X 46

The cigar is a nice size. Perfect for a short smoke. It is box pressed and has an average feel in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was very good. The initial flavors at light up were a nice cedar/citrus combination, a lot of brown sugar and cinnamon, a lot of nutmeg, hints of graham cracker, and a nice moderate black coffee base There was a very good black pepper rated at 8. The cigar has typical, sweet Nicaraguan flavors.

At the first third (22 minutes) the cigar is just about like it started. The flavor notes have not changed. The initial sweetness at light up has toned down a little. Other than that the cigar has not changed. The finish is light citrus and nutmeg notes with nice lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied. I rated the first third 91.

Moving through the second third (35 minutes) the cigar is still unchanged in flavor notes. The sweetness which had slightly dipped in the first third bounced back somewhat. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is still medium bodied. The cigar has nice flavors. I bumped the second third score to 92.

The cigar lasted a quick 50 minutes. Perfect for today's fast paced lifestyle. The cigar stayed on course. The flavor notes remained unchanged. The cigar is one dimensional. What you get at the start is what you get throughout. But, that's not a bad thing. The flavor notes are very enjoyable. The finish is unchanged. The strength is still medium bodied. This is a very good short smoke. I rated the final third 92.

Overall Score: 91.67

March 01, 2021

Protocol Cigars releases Protocol J Train Cigar for the Johnny Smokes Uncut Cigar Group

Protocol Cigars prides itself on its connection to Cigar Groups. The company feels that they are an important and vital aspect to the cigar industry, being as important as cigar manufacturers and retail stores. This latest Protocol project further perpetuates that belief once again. We are proud to announce the Protocol J Train Cigar for the Johnny Smokes Uncut Cigar Group. The J Train is not the company’s first release for cigar smoker based cigar clubs. The first was the Fat Ash. The company has released 3 renditions for the Fat Ash Cigar Group and more recently the 5 Families. The 5 Families was a collaboration with 5 popular cigar groups including Distinguished Ruffians, Fat Ash, Smokehouse Gorillas, Sheep Dog, and BOTL PA Chapter. The J Train is the newest addition to that philosophy. 

Johnny Smokes Uncut Cigar Group was started by John Remer. John has been an avid cigar smoker for over 20 years. He loves cigars and his passion continues to grow with ever passing year. Johnny Smokes Uncut started May of 2020, during the high of the Covid 19 Pandemic. The Facebook Group is Johnny Smokes Uncut and the instagram page is @Johnnysmokesuncut. “I was home like everyone else and wanted to create a cigar group that was a bit different. I wanted to create something bigger than just me. I wanted to create a place where our members can become close and grow into a family through engagement. The J Train was a dream that has become a reality. I couldn’t be happier about this cigar!” said John Remer. In a very short time the group has grown into over 3,600 members, spanning over 78 countries. John goes on live from the Facebook Group several times a day and the engagement is very high. John has even started a weekly show on Whereby, where he has cigar industry personalities on to have relaxed and informative conversations with the members. John has had some cigar industry heavy hitters on his Whereby show including the likes of Carlito Fuente Jr., Nick Perdomo, Pete Johnson, Rafael Nodal, and Erik Espinosa to name just a few. “John has created something extraordinary here and we wanted to help him celebrate his accomplishments with a commemorative cigar. That is how the Protocol J Train was created.” added Kevin Keithan co-owner of Protocol Cigars. 

The Protocol J Train is made at The La Zona Cigar Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The vitola will be a 5X50 cigar with a Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and a Nicaraguan and Honduran combination for the filler. The cigar is a solid medium plus on the body with some sweetness, slight white pepper aroma with a creamy finish. The cigars come in a 10 count paper bundles with an MSRP of $95.00 per bundle. The J Train’s initial release will be limited to 200 bundles with the possibility of more in the future. The  initial release will be on Saturday, March 13th, starting at 3pm at Caravan Cigar Company in Bath, PA. Caravan will have it at an introductory price of $89.99. The J Train will be available at the Caravan Cigar company website and in store initially, with the possibility of being available to other retailers in the future. 

Juan Cancel Co-owner and founder of Protocol Cigars said the following, “Just like with any collaboration, we want to make the project feel special to those involved. We used the J Train theme because it John Remer’s nickname. To keep it with the law enforcement theme, we went with a Police Transit Patch for the packaging. We worked hand in hand with John so he felt like this was his baby! We love the way the cigar came out from the packaging to the cigar itself. We feel confident that the members of Johnny Smokes Uncut will be very please with how it all turned out.”

The Protocol J Train

Vitola: 5X50 Round

Wrapper: Corojo, Nicaragua

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua/Honduran 

10 Count Bundle

MSRP: $95.00


Amendola Family Cigar Co. announces that they have reached a distribution deal with Illusione Cigars. Illusione Cigars casts a wide net of retailer relationships across the US and internationally which will further expose Amendola’s premium cigars to smokers.

Jeffrey Amendola, a proud New York native, launched Amendola Family Cigar Co. in 2017, but his tobacco journey began in 2010. In his previous profession as a police officer, Jeffrey became immersed in what started as a cigar hobby. His passion for cigars grew and traveled to Ybor Cigar in 2012. There he learned to blend and roll premium cigars under the direction of Odelma Matos. In 2011, his blending and rolling education led to opening a small factory and tobacconist shop in Durham, N.C. In his mind the next logical step was to create his own brand, named in honor of what he cherishes most, family.

Jeffrey Amendola said: “I am grateful every day to my grandparents who arrived in the United States from Italy, penniless, and created a better life for us. Amendola cigars was created in honor of them and my Italian heritage. Together with my business partner and best friend, Christopher Monaco, we look forward to working closely with the Illusione Cigars team to further expose our story and Amendola Cigars to the smoking public.”

Brian Motola, Director of Sales of Illusione Cigars stated:” I have known Jeffrey and Chris for a long while. These gentlemen have worked hard to create exceptionally good cigar brands, I feel confident that Amendola Cigars will fit perfectly within the Illusione portfolio of products.”

La Gloria Cubana Presents Spirit of the Lady

Limited Edition Release Celebrates the Artisans of the Original Boutique Brand

La Gloria Cubana, the original boutique brand, has created a special five-country blend that celebrates the masterful artisans of the El Credito Cigar Factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Called “Spirit of the Lady,” the limited edition collection will be available exclusively at U.S. cigar shops beginning on March 2 and includes two box-pressed vitolas made from the finest aged tobaccos.

La Gloria Cubana and its Spirit of the Lady collection are distributed by The Forged Cigar Company.

Steve Abbot, senior brand manager for La Gloria Cubana said, “The artisans of El Credito are passionately committed to their craft, and it shows in every single cigar they make. Through their unwavering commitment to creating exquisite cigars, this dedicated team embodies the assured spirit of Lady La Gloria, the brand’s iconic marque. It is truly a pleasure to celebrate these talented men and women, and to honor their artistry through this special offering.”

Featuring hand-selected tobaccos from around the world, the El Credito blending team has selected a dark and lustrous, seven-year-aged wrapper from the Olancho San Agustín region of Honduras. It envelopes a Cameroon binder and dimensional blend of Mexican, Nicaraguan, and Dominican tobaccos. The result is an elegant, medium-to-full-bodied smoking experience with notes of cocoa, dark fruit, cedar, toast and a hint of cinnamon.

Spirit of the Lady will be available in two classic sizes and just 600 boxes of each size will be released.

Spirit of the Lady Toro (6” x 50); SRP per cigar $12.99

Spirit of the Lady Churchill (7” x 50); SRP per cigar $14.99

February 28, 2021

Kristoff GC Signature Series Robusto (5 1/2 x 54)

Video review HERE.

The name Kristoff Cigars is derived from Glenn Case's son, Christopher. The GC in GC Signature Series stands for Glenn Case, the owner of Kristoff Cigars.


Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro

Binder: Dominican

Filler: Cuban Seed Dominican, Cuban Seed Honduran, Cuban Seed Nicaraguan


6 x 60

Robusto – 5.5 x 54 REVIEWED TODAY

Torpedo – 6.25 x 52

Churchill – 7 x 50

The cigar is very dark and features a pigtail cap and a closed foot.

The test draw was pretty good considering the cigar has a closed foot. The initial flavors at light up were apricot, light brown sugar, light dry nutmeg, unsweetened dark chocolate, and a lot of espresso. The cigar notes are quite dark but the apricot notes are strong enough to give the cigar adequate sweetness. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2. Very dark start with nice apricot notes.

At the first third (28 minutes) the apricot notes have toned down just a bit but by and large the cigar is just like it started. But the brown sugar helps the sweetness. There is plenty of unsweetened dark chocolate and espresso. The cigar is a high grade medium bodied. The finish is apricot and a touch of espresso with nice lingering black pepper. The nutmeg, at this point, is almost a non-issue. You fixate on the apricot notes that you get initially and then the massive unsweetened dark chocolate and espresso. I rated the first third 92.

As I moved through the second third (56 minutes) the did not change much, other than the strength which is now full bodied. The finish is also unchanged. The pepper remains very good. There are adequate amounts of apricot and brown sugar notes to counteract the massive dark chocolate and espresso notes. The cigar is still rolling on the same path. I maintained the score of 92 for the second third.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 18 minutes. In the final third the dark chocolate and espresso notes became even larger taking away some of the nice sweetness of apricot and brown sugar. The cigar is definitely full bodied. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is still enjoyable but not quite to the extent it was in the first two thirds. I lowered the final third score to 90. Pretty good maduro.

Overall Score: 91.33

February 27, 2021

Plasencia Alma Fuerte Robustus I (5 1/2 x 52)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)

Late in 2016, the Plasencia family announced it was taking its very own cigar brand to market, Plasencia Cigars. While the family had branded some cigars before, the establishment of Plasencia Cigars was still a big step as now not only would they be producing their own brand, but they would now be distributing to market. Today we take a look at the first line released by Plasencia Cigars, the Plasencia Alma Fuerte Generación V. It’s a cigar that pays homage to the rich history of the family and showcases some of the innovation the brand is bringing to the table.

The Plasencias are well known in the tobacco business as growers and manufacturers spanning five generations of experience. The family traces its heritage in the tobacco business back to 1865 when Don Eduardo Plasencia left the Canary Islands and went to Cuba where he started growing tobacco. Following the Cuban Revolution, the family went to Central America where they started growing tobacco in Nicaragua. In 1978, the family faced another challenge when the Sandinistas burned down their farms during the Nicaraguan Revolution, and they started over again in Honduras. By 1986, Nestor Plasencia Sr. would enter the manufacturing side of the business. Keeping their farms in Honduras, the family returned to Nicaragua in 1990 and would once again grow tobacco there. Today with Nestor Andrés Plasencia at the company helm, the Plasencias produce 40 million cigar a year in four factories using tobacco from eight plantations.

Alma Fuerte was the first in a planned five-part series of “Alma” cigars. The name translates to “Strong Soul” – something that reflects the passion of the Plasencias in the cigar business. Alma Fuerte is an ultra-premium line featuring some of the best tobaccos the Plasencias have set aside over a decade ago. Since then, the company has added the second installment, Alma de Campo.

In addition, the Plasencias went all out on the packaging – creating a box that can be reused as a keepsake ashtray.

Photo from Plasencia Cigars

Blend Profile

For the Alma Fuerte, the Plasencias opted to release a 100% Nicaraguan puro blend. It’s a line that is Criollo ’98-centric.  The tobaccos are from Plasencia farms in the four main growing regions of Nicaragua: Condega, Estelí, Jalapa, and Ometepe. The cigar is produced at the Plasencia S.A. factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Wrapper: Nicaraguan

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Plasencia SA)

Vitolas Available

The Alma Fuerte is available in four sizes. Each cigar is presented in ten-count boxes. The vitola names pay homage to three different generations of the Plasencias.

Néstor IV: 6 1/4 x 54 (Toro)

Generación V: 7 x 58 (Salomon)

Sixto II: 6 x 60 (Hexágano)

Robustus: 5 1/2 x 52 REVIEWED TODAY

Each of the four sizes are box pressed. The Néstor IV is a traditional box-pressed Toro. The Sixto II is actually a six-sided box-press.

The cigar has a beautiful reddish brown wrapper and it's flawless. It is soft box pressed and has a nice shine to the wrapper. The cigar has a nice feel in the hand; quite dense feeling.

The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were peach, brown sugar, leather, nutmeg, and earthy black coffee. There was nice black pepper rated at 7 1/2. The nutmeg is rather pasty and seems to be interwoven throughout the flavor notes. Nice start.

At the first third (34 minutes) the sweet notes have progressively increased. Now there are also nice cinnamon notes. The flavor notes are peach, lots of brown sugar, lots of cinnamon, leather, nutmeg, and black coffee. The cigar is medium to full bodied and moving up. The finish is simply peach and nice lingering black pepper. The cigar is very good at this point. I rated the first third 95.

Moving through the second third (1 hour 7 minutes) the nutmeg has increased. The other notes are still there and overall the cigar is close to what it was in the first third. But there is no doubting the nutmeg has increased. The peach notes, which had been so prominent in the beginning and first third have weaned a bit. The cigar is very close to full bodied. The finish is now peach and nutmeg with nice lingering black pepper. The nutmeg has affected both the front end and finish. I rated the second third 94.

The cigar lasted an impressive 1 hour 32 minutes. That is an incredible time for a robusto. In the final third the increased nutmeg had company from the black coffee, which was also elevated. The sweeter notes are still nice but now there are higher levels of nutmeg and black coffee. The cigar is full bodied. The finish is unchanged. While still good the elevated nutmeg and black coffee took away some of the appeal. I lowered the final third to 93. But there is no denying this is a very good cigar. If you haven't tried it you should.

Overall Score: 94