March 25th, 2015
Back in the 70s, Jamaican tobacco was a bit more common, and the Macanudo 2014 Estate Reserve Limited Edition cigars aim to bring it back, at least for one blend. After the brand had to relocate from Cuba in the early 1970s, it was acquired by General Cigar Company and put front and center in their catalog of sticks. Its success propelled the company to greater heights and ensured the brand would be around for a long time. This blend aims to pay it respects to the smokes that made it all possible, using Jamaican plants to harken back some classic flavors.
All of the Macanudo 2014 Estate Reserve Limited Edition cigars are made with a Connecticut Shade wrapper, a Mexican binder and several fillers, including some from Jamaica. It is light brown in color and has a smooth feel to it. It also features a pair of bands, including one with the Jamaican green, yellow and black near the foot.
The stick’s flavors include a lot of pepper, chalk, dry wood, tangy and sweet flavors, including some notes that are akin to jerk sauce. Although Jamaican tobacco is harder to find these days, any aficionado who has tasted it will find this blend evokes classic Jamaican flavors in the mix.
For a Connecticut Shade, it’s a punchy stick and isn’t the mild experience that other smokes in the line have put forth. That makes it a little more challenging for newer smokers, but those who enjoy fresh experiences can get exactly what they want from this stogie.
March 25th, 2015
The Hammer and Sickle Moscow City cigars are flying under the radar a bit, even though they have been produced by master blender Henke Kelner and are extremely limited in availability. Kelner isn’t known for his Maduro’s. In fact, this is his first, but it has all of the hallmarks that people have come to expect from the superstar. Its beautiful construction and set of flavors will leave a smoker coming back for more.
The stick has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Dominican binder, and Dominican fillers. The Hammer and Sickle Moscow City cigars are fitted with a red, white and black band that clearly stands out, featuring the profile of the St. Basil Cathedral. It is available in a single size, a 6 1/2 x 56 Toro.
The smoke produces a number of classical Maduro flavors, including chocolate, earth, wood, black pepper and cream. Overall, the stick is sweet and though it is mild for a Maduro, it still maintains a medium body throughout. Kelner is also known for his attention to construction, as well, so it’s only natural that this smoke performs perfectly, with a burn and draw that never get in the way.
It’s the ideal smoke for anyone who loves Maduro’s, but there are only 1,000 boxes available, so quick action is necessary if you want to secure one.
March 25th, 2015
The Sindicato Maduro cigar represents the second successful venture for the brand, which is coming off its first major success with its Natural blend. It took a while for the company to get comfortable in its role, which is understandable given its experimental nature. The brand began by a group of retailers that wanted more pull with production, and its close relationship with consumers gives it an advantage when creating blends. This blend is a clear example of that position, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s created in collaboration with Casa Fernandez.
The stick consists of a Mexican Marron wrapper, an Esteli Double Leaf binder and Esteli and Jalapa fillers. The Sindicato Maduro has a dark ashy brown look, is coated with a fine layer of oil and is topped with a pigtail cap. The band is also nice to look at, featuring the name of the blend in carnival style type.
The flavors in the profile include black pepper, cedar spice, cherry, coffee, natural tobacco and mocha. Overall, it’s on the sweeter side, but it produces a good amount of spice as well, giving the smoker a charge now and then. And with a sharp burn and steady draw, it performs like a humidor mainstay. And now that Sindicato has found its groove, smokers can expect more of the same excellence in the future.
March 25th, 2015
The Vega Fina Limited Edition 2012 cigar is part of a brand that’s been around for more than a century. And though it doesn’t have the tumultuous past that so many tobacco brands do, it is still a highly respected line of sticks. This blend is one that’s received a lot of attention in Europe, particularly Spain, and it’s a favorite over there. This doesn’t always portend success in the U.S., but, in this case, that’s exactly what it did.
The Vega Fina Limited Edition 2012 cigar has an extremely sharp Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper and rolled with an Indonesian TBN binder and fillers from Colombia, the Dominican, and Honduras. A 5 x 52 Robusto is the only format the stick comes in, and it is the color of light coffee. There are almost no visible veins or seams, so it looks incredibly smooth.
Flavors in the stogie include a little black pepper, a lot of sweet cream and a mix of herbs, tea, and wood. The cream controls the profile throughout the first half of the profile, and the herbs and tea take over during the second half. Overall, it’s a mild smoke that can be lit up at any time and by any aficionado.
March 24th, 2015
The Foundry Rare Air cigar is cloaked in mystery, which is much like the company itself. Although the boutique does a lot of things extremely well, it may create intrigue better than any other brand out there right now. Fortunately, it has always managed to back up its hype with some of the most successful blends recently in the industry. This line of four blends looks to further the brand’s impact and uses plants grown from 1960s-era seeds. The result is a collection of bold looking and bold tasting sticks.
The blend details are mostly unknown for each of the four sticks, but they all share a similar look and come in a 5 1/2 x 49 format. The blends in the Foundry Rare Air cigar line include the ET-P1, ET-P2, ET-S3 and the AP-AD.
All four of the stogies are highly toothy and look like they’re from a bygone time. They are dark, covered with oil and rough, but they are expertly crafted and blended. Although the four sticks bring a different set of flavors to the table, they are all bold and strong, featuring black pepper, leather, cream, chocolate and sweet notes. And though they are rough in appearance, the stogies provide an excellent experience, maintaining a sharp burn and draw throughout.
The tobacco industry needs boutiques like Foundry, as its attention to all parts of production, from blending to packaging, is well conceived and perfectly executed.
March 24th, 2015
Boutique Blends showed off the La Boheme cigars during the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show, and the company is putting a lot of emphasis on it. In fact, they’re leading off a new brand with it, something that the company hasn’t done in quite a while. This blend combines Rafael’s love for music and stogies, and the result is a stick that has some strong Cuban undertones. It’s a strong move for the young company, which experienced a nice round of success in 2014 and looks to further it into the new year.
The La Boheme cigars consist of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and fillers. The wrapper has that rustic Cuban feel to it, which is nice enough, but it’s the band that really makes this stogie shine. It looks just like an oil painting of a beautiful woman, even mimicking the texture of an oil portrait.
The smoke produces a range of flavors, including natural tobacco, red pepper, earth, sugar cane, citrus, and vanilla. The natural tobacco, vanilla, and citrus are the heavy hitters here, combining sweet, acid and spicy into a tasty burst of flavor. It should be obvious to any aficionado that picks one up just how much care went into this stick, and as the front blend for a new brand, it rises to the challenge.
March 24th, 2015
The Flores y Rodrigues 10th Anniversary cigars likely have a special place in the hearts of Abe and the Rodrigues brothers. When they teamed up to create smokes for PDR and other brands, they probably didn’t realize just how successful it would be. The partnership has been so successful that PDR was able to move to a larger factory in 2011 and expand its operations greatly. With so much history behind this stick, it’s no surprise it’s been given a lot of care.
The Flores y Rodrigues 10th Anniversary cigars have an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Dominican Olor binder and a couple fillers, including a Piloto Cubano (aged seven years) and a Nicaraguan Jalapa. The wrapper is mostly smooth, with only some faint spider veins breaking up the texture.
The flavors in the smoke include vanilla, cream, spice, wood, leather and yeast, and it maintains a medium-full profile throughout. And in true Abe form, the flavors are intense, complex and developed extremely well. Near the end of the stick, the complexity drops out and plays nice with the smoker, a departure from what many tobacco companies do. And it’s something that only a master like Abe could pull off convincingly.
March 24th, 2015
The Dunhill 1907 cigar is, like many other sticks these days, a reference to the company’s history. Specifically, it refers to the year that the company’s founder, Alfred Dunhill, set up his first tobacco shop in London. Soon after, Alfred would become well-known among the London tobacco elite, including the legendary Winston Churchill. This stick embodies the company’s vivid history well, with a classy look and an interesting flavor profile that exudes craftsmanship.
The Dunhill 1907 cigar has a Honduran Olancho wrapper, a binder from the Dominican and fillers out of the Dominican and Brazil. It is a light brown stick with an extremely smooth appearance, as only a couple faint veins are visible. The band is cream and coffee colored, with some simple designs that look sharp and clean.
Flavors in the smoke include chocolate, cedar, coffee, spice, wood, herbs, hay, cherry and even some sweet dough notes. Overall, reviewers found the stick to be quite sweet, so it is a nice choice for aficionados that appreciate a dessert stick. In terms of strength, it lies between mild and medium, and its strong performance means it is an easy smoke to handle. It’s no surprise coming from one of the most accessible and professional tobacco makers in the world.
March 24th, 2015
The next limited production by Black Label Trading Company (BLTC) is the Deliverance. Their cigars always cause a bit of a stir as they are a company that loves to experiment with different flavor profiles and strengths when producing their brands. Not a surprise as owner, James Brown, and his wife also own an adventure tour company that lead clients into Central American jungles and guides them towards the most fantastic experience of their lives. It’s no wonder that when you smoke a BLTC stogie, you are embarking on a flavor adventure. The company’s philosophy of “Small is Elite” continues with the Black Label Trading Company Deliverance cigars. They should be savored and enjoyed. For BLTC, stogies are meant to be smoked slowly, taking in the experience as the smoke unfolds. Their cigars are for connoisseurs who know they deserve the best and know how to enjoy the experience.
Of course, you want to know how they smoke. That love of experimentation mentioned earlier? Well, don’t expect a “cookie cutter” blend. Black Label Trading brings creativity and imagination when they start blending. With their Deliverance cigars, they went with a San Andres wrapper. Why? Well, Brown likes the complexity and cinnamon and clove flavors it gives to any stick. (Mexican San Andres tobacco is getting a lot of love right now, so you’ll see more brands using it). He uses Nicaraguan tobaccos for the filler because he thinks it is the best filler out there right now. They release only one to three vitolas of their lines because if it’s perfect as a Lancero, why make four or five other sizes of it? This particular line comes in two vitolas, the Corona Gorda and Lancero. It doesn’t matter whether you are an aficionado or a novice; you’re always going to be surprised by BLTC stogies. Reviewers cannot believe how balanced the flavor profile is of Deliverance. It’s spicy, sweet, earthy, and creamy. The San Andres Mexico wrapper’s cinnamon and clove notes are present throughout the first, second, and final thirds. It’s like a spicy, sweet backdrop to the other flavors. The first third starts out with pepper and cedar. The cedar is sweet and balanced nicely by the pepper. The retrohale gives you more of the cinnamon and clove with the cedar notes. The second third has strong hints of cocoa and coffee. Some reviewers described that the stogie needed a little touching up at this point. The final third intensifies in strength. The Nicaraguan Habano binder aids in the intensity and gives a nicotine punch to the senses.
Overall, Black Label Trading Company’s Deliverance are solid cigars. Their smokes are well-constructed, require little to no touching up, and are an experience. The medium strength of this particular line is a departure from their normal full-bodied brands. But like all of Brown’s departures, expect the unexpected and enjoy the ride.
March 24th, 2015
The AVO Uvezian Greatest Hits cigars are 14 of the blender’s best sticks, and they have all been packaged together in a single sampler. For years, the respected tobacco maven has wanted to reintroduce these blends to the public, but was reluctant to do it without doing it right. Once he brought on master blenders Henke Kelner and Eladio Diaz, it went from a dream to reality in a hurry.
The sampler pack includes a single stick from every year between 2001 and 2014, except for 2005 and 2012 (which is represented by two blends). These are all limited edition sticks, so they are rare enough. And with only 5,000 sampler packs available, aficionados will have to jump on one quickly if they want to experience the AVO Uvezian Greatest Hits cigars.
Most of the blends in the sampler have Ecuadorian and Dominican tobaccos, including a number of Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrappers and Piloto and Criollo fillers from the Dominican. There are also a couple examples of Peruvian tobaccos as well, so there is a nice variety of flavors and strengths in the mix. In general, though, the sampler is made for experienced aficionados in mind, as these sticks are complex and nuanced, which should be no surprise given their excellent reputation.