December 17th, 2014
The Cohiba Comador took a while to get out the door, but now that it’s getting national attention, aficionados are getting excited. This is partly because the stick is a collaboration between General Cigar Company and Shawn Carter, better known as Jay Z. It’s no surprise, then, that this blend is all about luxury, and it shows in the immaculate construction and memorable flavor mix. From start to finish, it’s all about a fine experience.
This stick comes with a number of proprietary tobaccos, all of which age for four years in a process that’s secret. The Cohiba Comador comes in three formats, including Toro (6 x 52), Gigante (6 x 60) and Double Corona (7 1/4 x 54). It’s medium brown in appearance, though it is marbled with some flecks of dark chocolate brown as well. The band is minimalistic, silver and black and displays the name of the blend.
The flavors are extremely well developed and consist of some nuanced cocoa and chocolate flavors, as well as some leather, black pepper, coffee and a savory au jus note that builds contrast off the sweet notes.
It’s a medium-full smoke that won’t blow you away with nicotine, but is complex enough to keep experienced aficionados on guard. As expected, it is a finely made stick, with a burn and draw that are as close to perfect as possible.
If you enjoy cigars for their exclusivity and luxury, this is a blend that shouldn’t be passed up.
December 17th, 2014
The first thing a cigar connoisseur will notice about the CAO Sinister Sam is its look. It features an American symbol that most will recognize – Uncle Sam. However, this version is not the same that’s found on vintage posters everywhere. This version is meaner, darker and someone you wouldn’t want to meet in an abandoned alley somewhere. At first, it may seem strange to brand a cigar in this way, but General Cigar Company opted for it after the success of the Evil Snowman and Angry Santa.
The CAO Sinister Sam has two wrappers, a Connecticut Shade, and a Connecticut Broadleaf. This is not a barber pole stick, though. Instead, the Shade makes up the middle four or so inches of the cigar, while the Broadleaf finishes off the cap and foot. The rest of the blend is largely a secret, though it does contain at least one filler from Colombia. It comes in a single size, a 6 1/2 x 52 Toro, and it is a bit toothy.
The flavors mostly consist of some light sweet notes along with some nuts, salt, and toast. As the cigar develops, aficionados also detected leather, earth, espresso and grass in the profile as well. It is a medium-full smoke and even though it is uniquely built, it manages to perform well.
It may not be the most traditional stick around, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable.
December 5th, 2014
The Nestor Miranda Maduro represents a lot of change for the company. Not only is it going to replace the brand’s popular oscuro line and will be fitted with a bolder band than the company’s previous cigars, its release is being timed with the company’s 25th anniversary. It’s a bittersweet moment for the respected cigar maker, as its founder, Nestor Miranda, will be stepping down from daily operations and taking on a reduced role with the company. Fortunately, the cigar itself is a worthy icon of the company’s major reshuffling.
This stick has a Maduro wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and several fillers from Peru, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The Nestor Miranda Maduro is dark chocolate in color and gleams when the light hits it. Its most visually striking feature, though, is its band. It’s a red and black label made with Art Deco type, a bold style that combines modern and vintage influences.
The flavor combination includes red pepper, coffee, leather, chocolate, cinnamon, earth and even a little curry. The chocolate and earth flavors are the strongest and the former is very dark, taking on a somewhat bitter cocoa flavor. The red pepper offers a good amount of heat, and the profile is complex and strong enough to maintain a medium-full body until the end, where it delivers an extra nicotine punch. It makes sense that one of the last cigars the legendary founder would handle is one made with aficionados in mind, and smokers everywhere will likely seek it out to claim a small piece of cigar history.
December 5th, 2014
One new boutique that’s getting a lot of attention is Crowned Heads, though its Mason Dixon line may put the company on the map. Other brands have tried regional releases before, but this set of two releases (one for the north and one for the south) plays on history and regional rivalries to make it a little more playful. The southern release embodies the area well, as it is a relaxed smoke.
The Crowned Heads Mason Dixon south release has an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, and Nicaraguan binder and fillers. It is light tan, smooth and heavy in the hand, giving it an artisan appearance that is finished off with a minimalistic black and gold band.
The flavor profile is gentle overall, with cream, cedar and leather notes making up the beginning of the smoke. There is the occasional kick from some black pepper, though it isn’t overly intense. The same flavors hold throughout the first half, with only some minor alterations in strength between the cream, cedar, leather and black pepper. Some reviewers also tasted a bit of baker’s spice as well, which rounds out a nice dessert-like flavor. Down the stretch, the profile darkens a bit with some damp earth notes, though it remains sweet overall with the cream and baker’s spice. Until the very end, it is a mild smoke, and never gets beyond a faint mild-medium. Its mildness makes it the perfect companion to a glass of sweet tea and some front porch sitting.
December 5th, 2014
The AVO 2nd Movement is a Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) exclusive, so it is only in about 80 retailers around the country. This isn’t the first time the brand has created a TAA member only cigar as the company produced a smoke for the TAA in 2013, consisting of the same tobaccos. This version of the blend, though, has been heavily modified by altering the amount of each tobacco present in the stogie. The result is a much stronger and fuller cigar.
This stick has an Ecuadorian wrapper and binder and Dominican fillers. Though it has a flat, matte appearance, there is enough oil on the cigar to feel. It is reddish-brown, firm and has an antiquated appearance, finished with a band that features the brand’s interlocked “A” and “V” mark. Right out of the gate, the AVO 2nd Movement proves that it is a full-bodied smoke, hitting the smoker with some strong white pepper and dry wood notes.
Some salt and nut flavors show up soon, along with a sweet cream that keeps the cigar from becoming harsh. Leather, grain and cereal flavors show up around the halfway mark, adding to an already deep profile. The final couple inches are not quite as intense as the beginning, but they do produce some more strong white pepper notes, along with some grain, leather, wood and nut flavors. Reviewers marveled at the cigar’s strength, and aficionados that like nicotine bombs will be hard-pressed to find a stronger smoke than this.
December 5th, 2014
The Alec Bradley Coyol is a nod toward a certain Honduran farm that the company uses in several of its cigars, including this one. And like any good tribute, it does the subject proud. This was abundantly clear when the stick was first released following the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show. Aficionados bought up the cigars in a hurry, forcing the company to respond quickly to the demand. As smokers have had a chance to experience the stick for themselves, there has been a lot of praise for the blend’s flavor profile, which is unlike most cigars.
The wrapper on the Alec Bradley Coyol is from the Trojes, Honduras region. There are two binders, one from Trojes and the other from the Jalapa region in Nicaragua. The fillers are from Esteli, Condega and Trojes. It is a light brown stick with a reddish hue, adorned with a circular band that features the company’s “AB” icon in the center.
The flavor profile develops a lot over the hour and a half or so it takes to get through the stick. The initial flavors consist of chocolate, cream, cinnamon, cedar, leather, earth, coffee and spice. An intense red pepper also occasionally appears and delivers heat. A Rainer cherry sweetness eventually makes a mark, along with some Ceylon cinnamon. There is also a caramel flavor that evokes butterscotch as well, a cream that is so sweet that it tastes more like condensed milk, and cocoa that is neither milk nor dark. In all, it’s the kind of flavor mix that can wake up a nuanced palate. And with its medium body, it can be handled by smokers of all experience levels.
December 4th, 2014
The Black Label Redemption is one of six initial blends that James Brown, the company’s founder, has used to build attention for the brand. It’s not just empty posturing either, as this Nicaraguan Puro lives up to the hype that comes with a company’s first release. It produces a powerful combination of flavors and doesn’t hold back on the nicotine, so it is only for those who like a little challenge with their smoke. It is only available via short batch releases, though, so aficionados will have to act quickly when they see some up for sale.
This cigar has nothing but Nicaraguan tobaccos and comes with an Aged Maduro wrapper, so it’s dark and slightly toothy. James has stated that he wants to release his cigars in as few vitolas as possible in an attempt to maximize the potential for each release. That’s why this stick is only available as a Robusto (5 x 54), Toro (6 x 52) and Gran Toro (6 x 60).
The flavors in the Black Label Redemption don’t hold back, producing a strong mix of red pepper, coffee, cedar, cocoa, cream, oak, nuts, dried fruit and toast. Most reviewers considered it somewhere between medium and full, though definitely closer to full, and with a great deal of nicotine as well. It’s a cigar made by a tobacco lover, for tobacco lovers.
December 4th, 2014
The Davidoff Limited Art Edition of 2014 is one of the unique cigars to hit the market in 2014. Artwork specially made for the series by Quisqueya Henríquez from the Dominican Republic adorns each of the 3,000 boxes produced and each cigar has a second band emulating the artwork on the box.
There are two distinct “Forms of Freedom” works, and they reflect the complexity and uniqueness of the cigar itself. The cigar has a blend of fillers including; Dominica Piloto Viso, Piloto Mejorado Seco, San Vincente, San Vicente Mejorado Seco, Mejorado Viso and Vicente Mejorado Viso tobaccos. Together these tobaccos make one of the most complex draws a cigar can offer.
Right out of the wrapper the cigar embraces you with sweet tobacco, cedar, chocolate, and peppery over tones. The smooth, seamless Dominican wrapper is soft to the touch and has very few, if any, veins. The wrapper is also slightly oilier than other cigars from Davidoff but is certainly acceptable. The Perfecto’s footer is open and once you cut the rounded cap end and begin a pre-light draw, you will soon experience why this cigar is special and has artwork specially made for it. Reviewers note that multiple pre-light draws will give you a range of flavors from sweet natural tobacco to fruity, hay-like flavors, and subtle spice. But once lit, this cigar burns slow and consistent, just like you would expect from a Davidoff Limited Edition. The retrohale is very important for this series and is where the white pepper flavor stands out, perfectly complimenting the cedar, leather, nut, and cinnamon flavors from the initial draw.
Overall, the Davidoff Limited Art Edition of 2014 is a constant medium-bodied product. This, by far, is one of the best Limited Editions that Davidoff has released in the last few years.
December 4th, 2014
When James Brown ended his career as a tour guide and started making cigars instead, the Black Label Last Rites was one of the first blends on his mind. Though James has only been in the industry since 2013, he knew what kind of cigars he wanted to create long before then, and it shows in his company’s initial releases. This was among the half dozen opening releases, a classic Maduro that produces a flavor profile most aficionados can appreciate.
The Black Label Last Rites has an Ecuadorian Habano Maduro wrapper, a binder from Honduras and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. It is only available in a pair of vitolas, a Robusto (5 x 54) and a Gran Toro (6 x 60), along with a couple box pressed varieties. It is dark brown, oily and a little toothy, and stands out with its stark black and white band, which features a crowned skull and a lot of floral ornamentation.
The blend itself produces a number of flavors that Maduro lovers will recognize immediately. They primarily consist of black pepper, sweet chocolate, leather, earth and a slight toasty note. The well-realized flavors pair well with a nice burn and draw and the cigar remains at a comfortable medium-full throughout. From conception to execution, it’s a blend that aficionados will find recognizable right away.
December 4th, 2014
If you haven’t tried Black Label Trading Company’s (BLTC) latest offering, Benediction, then you are missing out on an incredible smoking experience. BLTC is a boutique cigar maker whose philosophy is to find adventure you must step outside your comfort zone. This isn’t surprising as the creator and owner, James Brown, also owns a guided 4×4 adventure company that takes visitors on epic expeditions through the jungles of Central America. In his former life, Brown was an executive chef and sommelier who got into cigars from hanging out with his boss who loved to smoke them. He decided to start BLTC to create blends with unique flavor profiles – something a little different than the norm. Brown has stated before that because they aren’t looking to extend a Cuban cigar making legacy, they can experiment with batches. They also believe less is more, if a stogie is perfect in one vitola, you shouldn’t make four more. This is why their cigars are made in small batches (about 1,000 boxes per year) and are only in a couple of vitolas. They understand size and gauge can affect a cigar positively or negatively; a unique mindset by an uncommon company.
Brown’s belief is that some of the best tobacco comes from Nicaragua, so it’s no surprise Black Label Trading’s Benediction is a Nicaraguan Puro – from wrapper to filler. It comes in two sizes- the Gran Toro (6×60) and Robusto (5×54). It is a medium-bodied smoke that is a balance of sweet and spicy notes. Aficionados reviewed the stogie and loved the chocolate brown Habano wrapper. The cold draw is a cinnamon mocha flavor with hints of wood. After lighting, the Black Label Benediction sweetness is bolstered by leather and cedars flavors. The first-third is all about spice and toasted nuts. The retrohale leaves a sweet citrus on the tongue and back of the throat. The second-third ramps up the spice with black and red pepper flavors and strong tobacco. It is heavy and very masculine. The final third goes in a completely opposite direction and is dominated by sweet flavors – chocolate, toasted cream, cinnamon, and nuttiness.
The stogie is complex, yet simple. Black Label knows how to make a beautiful cigar, and the Benediction is no exception. Its construction is quite perfect with one of the most balanced draws you’ll ever notice. It truly is a cigar meant to be smoked slowly and savored. Aficionados have been giving it solid reviews of nine out of ten. So, with a limited production, this is one stogie that you should get into your humidor now.