Thursday, December 29, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor & a Conclusion.

Six Geese through Twelve Drummers...

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):
A Partridge in a Pear Tree - 1961 Frank Llaneza
Two Turtle Doves - Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial
Three French Hens- Ashton VSG Wizard
Four Calling Birds- Alec Bradley Black Market torpedo
Five Golden Rings- Drew Estate Liga Privada L40

On the remaining days of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

Six Geese-a-Laying...
A La Flor Dominicana Colorado Oscuro robusto
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Ligero Sumatra
Binder: Dominican Sumatra
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 5 months

You all know I couldn't do 12 days of cigars without a LFD, right?  This cigar is one of five that I purchased the day it landed at Town & Country Cigars in Euless, Texas.  The beautiful appearance and construction of this cigar begs to be smoked.  Lush oils cover this cigar right off the shelf, age only amplifies the richness.  This cigar is medium in body and strength, with a complex array of flavors on the palate ranging from dark fruit & orange peel to cedar & white pepper.  Total Rating: 9.4

Seven Swans-a-Swimming...
A Carlos Torano Vault Liga torpedo
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Shade Grown Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan Omentepe
Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican
Time in my humidor: 2 months

This was another Town & Country purchase as soon as it was available after the 2011 IPCPR.  This smoke was an incredible surprise, that definitely exceeded my expectations.  The concept behind this cigar is what intrigues me most.  The foundation of this cigar was developed in 2000, but apparently there was a missing link.  Enter the Nicaraguan Omentepe leaf.  Eureka!  The Vault is born and a fantastic, rich bodied smoke with great flavor.  The palate is savory and the burn is immaculate. Total Rating: 9.1 


Eight Maids-a-Milking...
An Arturo Fuente King B
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sungrown Rosado
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Time in my humidor: 3 years 6 months

An instant classic as soon as it hit retailers in 2005, the Fuente King B is a great cigar that ages extremely well.  I kept the cedar roll around this stick for the past few years and had at the very bottom of one of my humidors.  The pre-light bouquet was enough to entice me to smoke this cigar.  The burn was a little off, but the mild  flavor was dead on with a nice, long peppery finish. Total Rating: 8.8

Nine Ladies Dancing
A 262 Ideology Churchill
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero, Mexican Ligero (San Andreas), Dominican Republic Viso (Piloto Cubano)
Time in my humidor: 8 months
You know Clint Aaron and the guys over at 262 are some of my favorite people.  I've been waiting for this smoke for a long time.  This was gifted to me by Clint and I've been holding onto it for a while.  I've had several Ideology cigars before, but never with much age on them.  I'd really like to see how years can affect this smoke.  The construction, draw, and burn are terrific and the flavors compliment the espresso that accompanied it.  The finish was nice and long with the beautiful bouquet lingering for a good amount of time.  Total Rating: 9.2

10 Lords-a-Leaping
A Camacho Triple Maduro toro
Wrapper: Jamastran Honduran
Binder: 3 Unknown Maduro leaves
Filler: Jamastran Honduran
Time in my humidor: 1 year 3 months

What a gorgeous cigar to look at!  This beaut is very dark with excellent construction and almost no visible veins.  The wrapper is quite meaty, with a fantastic sweet & peppery bouquet and palate.  The smoke was plentiful and the draw was a little tight, but it wasn't a total turn off.  The cigar ages great, and I think another year would do some wonders.  Grab it, hold onto it, and then...smoke it!  Total Rating: 9.2

11 Pipers Piping...
A Kristoff Sumatra toro
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Cuban Seed Dominican, Cuban Seed Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 7 months

Glenn Case and his Kristoff cigars are climbing toward the top of my list for a Go-to Smoke.  This cigar is very unique with a hearty foundation of oak and smoked mesquite.  Sounds like BBQ, right?  Well, the complex flavors that follow and build throw that idea out of the window.  Floral notes in the bouquet and sweet cinnamon & cardamon through the core, make this a very different smoke.  The rustic feel and appearance takes this cigar to a classic-style level.  Total Rating: 9.0

12 Drummers Drumming...
A Paul Garmirian Artisan's Passion super robusto
Wrapper: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Time in my humidor: 2 months

It's Paul Garmirian.  Period.  Ok, I should probably give you a little more than that, but its pretty self-explanatory.  The nose and bouquet from the smoke is an unbelievable mixture of pepper, dark fruit, almond, and light citrus.  The construction was flawless, but the draw left a little to be desired.  I can't wait to see what more age will do to this smoke.  Total Rating: 9.0

Well, there it is folks.  12 Days of Cigars to conclude the 2011 Holiday Season.  So, to all my readers Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings and have an amazing 2012!  Remember, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best!

Regards,
Bear

Thursday, December 22, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.


I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):


On the fifth day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

A Liga Privada √único Serie L40
Wrapper: Connecticut Sungrown Habano
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Filler: Honduran & Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 2 HOURS

Acid, Ambrosia, Chateau Real, & Tabak Especial are just some of Drew Estate's renowned brands and lines of cigars.  The company's founder and co-owner, Jonathan Drew has built his cigar brand from a small 8 person operation into an industry leader.

For most cigar amateurs and beginners, they miss out on Drew Estate's best creation: The Liga Privada Serie.  The Liga Privada line is not only one of the industry's finest and sought after products, but also very rare and in only limited retail locations.

The L40 is just as coveted and just as hard to find.  You read that right, this one only stayed in my humidor for 2 hours.  Frankly, I shouldn't have even bothered messing with the humidification of my humidor by opening it up.  The temptation was too great. And while "aging" this particular Liga Privada vitola did nothing for the cigar, I am certainly excited about the second one I bought and am hoping to let it go until next Christmas.

The construction of the cigar is impeccable, with no visible veins or tooth to the texture of wrapper.  There is mildly , oily sheen with rich earth & coffee notes on the palate of the dry draw.

The cigar lights perfectly and burns with nearly flawless effort.  The draw had a little tightness to it, which is indicative of many Drew Estate cigars, especially Liga Privadas.  However, while draw was not extremely loose, it was still enjoyable the smoke was abundant.  Okay, abundant smoke is a major, minor understatement.  When this stick was resting in had more smoke billowing out of it than most of the cigars when I'm puffing on them!

It is so rare to find a smoke that I regard as nearly flawless.  For that matter, I try not throwing that word, flawless, in reference to cigars.  I believe there is always room for growth and the journey in seeking out the perfect smoke is an adventure I hope that never ends. 

Drew and Co., really came into their own and with their new mantra of "Re-birth of the Cigar", the Liga Privada line has given birth to another crowned jewel in the Drew Estate family....the Undercrown.  More on that later (*wink).

Back to the L40, the flavor from first light, through the prime core, and to the very nub was consistent, smooth, and chalk full of excellent, rich flavor.

As my palate experienced savory flavors of earth & espresso to rich dark fruits & chocolate and finished off with a nice smooth dash of white pepper & nutmeg it becomes very clear to me to invest more time in this type of cigar.  The lancero and panatela vitolas are by far some of the most flavorful, well constructed cigars I've smoked.



My Ratings:
Appearance - 10
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 9
Burn - 10
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 10
Balance - 10
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 9.6

Dear Jonathan Drew,

Although we've haven't always seen eye to eye on your cigars, let me take the liberty of paying you a great compliment.  I admit it is very audacious of me to presume that you care or word of this will ever reach you, for what it is worth, The Liga Privada L40 is the highest rated cigar to be seen on this blog.

Take it from me, audacious or not, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best!

Regards,
Bear

Monday, December 19, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.

...Four Calling Birds

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):

A Partridge in a Pear Tree - 1961 Frank Llaneza
Two Turtle Doves - Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial
Three French Hens- Ashton VSG Wizard

On the fourth day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

An Alec Bradley Black Market torpedo
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Binder: Sumatran
Filler: Panamanian & Honduran
Time in my humidor: 3 months

Alec Bradley was a cigar brand founded in 1996 by Alan Rubin, who recently sold his family import business.  Rubin named the cigar company after his two sons and partnered with Ralph Montero, who is now his Executive Vice President.  He sought the advice and guidance of renowned Henke Kelner, and the brand started to come into its own.

While the company had some early success with the Occidental Reserve and the Maxx, it really caught every aficionado's attention with the herald Tempus line.  Since 2007, Rubin and his crew have cranked out 90-rated smokes like clockwork.  The Tempus is in good company with Maxx Connecticut, Select Cabinet Reserve, & Prensado.

Rubin's newest creation, Black Market, debuted at this year's IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas and has been on the shelves since early September.  I grabbed a few of them right off the bat and the torpedo, is actually only the second one I have smoked.

Leathery! Leathery! Leathery! This may become the new HO! HO! HO!  A dominant leather flavor hits me on the dry draw and the foot has a strong note of pepper.  This cigar is rich with oils and I am very excited to see what extensive age will do to this smoke. 
The ash held well on this smoke, finally falling off in the middle of the smoke.  The first third of the cigar, while dominated by leathery flavor, does have notes of chocolate, pepper, earth, and clove.  The smoke is cool and delivers a strong, yet wonderful smelling bouquet. 

The cigar lasted me about an hour and a half that never had to be re-lighted or became bitter at all.  The finish was strong and stayed for quite a while. 

I paired this particular cigar with rum and I feel that a complimentary beverage, rather than contrast, would serve this cigar best.  I have a Real Ale coffee porter in my fridge right now that I think would go perfectly with the Black Market.

My Ratings:

Appearance - 10
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 8
Burn - 8
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 9
Balance - 9
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 9.1

Rubin's story and journey into the cigar world is one of tremendous success.  His cigar creations and blends are some of the most talked about in the industry.  He doesn't have a name like Oliva, Garcia, or Padron - but his passion and drive have jolted him toward the upper echelon of the industry.

4 down...8 to go.  There's nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,
Bear



Thursday, December 15, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.


...Three French Hens

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts. Twelve days of gifts to be exact. From now until Christmas, I'll be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time. Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within. So, here we go.


Previous post(s):
A Partridge in a Pear Tree - 1961 Frank Llaneza
Two Turtle Doves - Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial

On the third day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

An Ashton VSG Wizard
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatran
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Time in my humidor: 1 year 3 months

In 1985, Philadelphia native, Robert Levin launched a brand that many consider second to only Davidoff when it comes to non-Cubans.  The Virgin Sun Grown line (VSG) debuted in 1999 as Levin called upon his friend, Carlos Fuente, Jr. of Arturo Fuente to help develop what would become one the highest award winning cigar lines in the industry.

In 2006, the Wizard was created.  It is the only puro in the VSG line that is not box pressed and the Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper hails specifically from the Oliva family factory.  

The pre-light smell and draw are not as rich as other VSG vitolas, but with the time spent in my humidor, there is a much more pronounced sheen and oiliness to the exterior.  Mild cedar, earth, and nutmeg dominate the dry flavor.

Upon lighting the cigar, I botched the job slightly as I was driving down the road away from my day job.  But the welcomed smoke was a comfort to my palate.  The first third of the cigar is heavy in earth, cedar and oak flavors.  The bouquet is sweet with dark fruit & roasted nuts. 

The middle of the cigar takes a notable and complex turn.  Pronounced cocoa and nutmeg flavors comes through against the heavy wood taste. 

The finish is very smooth, with a dominate earthiness that lingers on the palate for just the right amount of time.  If I wasn't driving at the time, I would have loved to enjoy this cigar with a nice cognac or port.    The sweeter liquors offer a nice contrast from the robust earth and wood dominated smoke.

My Ratings:
Appearance - 9
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 9
Burn - 9
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 10
Balance - 9
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 9.3

As a second generation tobacconist, Levin has pursued perfection with every turn his company has taken.  The VSG and , in particular, the Wizard are no different are a prize that every humidor should don. 
 
Levin, Fuente and I know it, as should you: There is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.
 
Regards,
Bear

Monday, December 12, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.

...Two Turtle Doves

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts.  Twelve days of gifts to be exact.  From now until Christmas, I'll  be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time.  Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within.  So, here we go.

Previous post(s): A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the second day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

A Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Toro

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf maduro
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Nicaraguan
Time in my humidor: 10 months

Don Pepin Garcia may be the legendary cigar blender, but it doesn't take a genius to see that Jaime (his son) isn't too far behind.  Hailing from the My Father cigar factory in Nicaragua, the Jaime Gacria Reserva Especial line burst onto the industry scene in the summer of 2010.

This 54x6 cigar brings complex flavors and nuances to an aficionado's palate.  The cellophane wrapper is cloudy with oily residue from the excellently constructed maduro wrapper.  The dry draw is filled with pepper and savory earthy flavors.

Upon lighting the cigar the bouquet is filled woody and peppery notes with bountiful smoke on the palate.  I remember when I first tried this cigar over a year ago, there was a pronounced acidity that lingered throughout the core of the stogie.  However, with age, it seems to have subsided.   Instead, a rich, medium bodied sweetness begins to come to the forefront to compliment the spice.

The finish is short, yet perfect for the early evening when I chose to enjoy this.  I chose to pair this cigar with a 25th anniversary holiday seasonal beer from The Pyramid Breweries, called Snowcap.  The beer's roasted caramel malts and full-bodied taste complimented the Jaime Garcia's exquisite flavor and richness.

My Ratings:
Appearance - 10
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 9
Draw - 9
Burn - 8
Aroma - 10
Flavor - 10
Balance - 9
Finish- 8

Total Rating: 9.1
 Take it from Jaime, the best gift is a shared passion and honoring those you love.  And take it from the whole Garcia family, There is Nothing Wrong with Knowing You Are the Best.
 
Two down....ten to go.

Regards,
Bear

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My 12 Days of Christmas: Unwrapping the Humidor.


... a Partridge in a Pear Tree

I come to you, my readers, bearing gifts.  Twelve days of gifts to be exact.  From now until Christmas, I'll  be giving 12 reviews of cigars that have been in my humidor for various amounts of time.  Nothing beats the gift of one's own humidor and the treasures that lay within.  So, here we go.

On the first day of Christmas, my humidor gave to me...

A Frank Llaneza 1961 Cuban Corona
Wrapper: 1998 Ecuadorian Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican
Time in my humidor: 8 months

Frank Llaneza may have been born into the cigar industry, but he became a legend as he dedicated his entire adult life to art of cigar making.  He turned Villazon & Co. into an industry power and helped develop well-known labels of Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey after the Cuban Embargo.

On March 18, 2010, he died two weeks after his 90th birthday.  One of his final, of many, contributions to the world of cigars was a cigar that bears his name.

The Frank Llanzea 1961 line from Altadis, U.S.A., hailed from Nicaragua, was introduced at the IPCPR trade show in 2009.

When I first acquired a box of the Cuban Coronas I had various issues with draw, burn, and an overwhelming meaty flavor.  As I let the cigars age and rest in my humidor, over time, they have become much better.  I now have four left. 

After almost a year, the toothy wrapper has some present oils that permeate with creamy and coffee flavors on the palate of the dry draw.

A smooth, medium bodied nutty and creamy smoke comes through upon first light through the first quarter. The ash is light gray and sandy, and the cigars builds with impeccable consistency.  A peppery note starts to form as the cigars works into a fuller bodied stick.

The rich oils are quite impressive and remain constant as the cigar finishes.  The finish is quite smooth, long and peppery.  I can't wait to see what the remaining sticks will do and taste like over the next months and years.

My Ratings:

Appearance - 7
Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 10
Draw - 8
Burn - 8
Aroma - 9
Flavor - 9
Balance - 10
Finish- 9

Total Rating: 87.8

Here's to Frank and his wonderful story, his amazing contribution, and his great cigars. 

One down.  Eleven to go.  Just think of Frank Llaneza, There's nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.

Regards,
Bear