May 20th, 2015
Crowned Heads has undergone a recent shift in its production methods, and the Jericho Hill is something of a test run for the new arrangement. Among the changes was a shift from Tabacalera La Alianza to My Father Cigars, a transition that brings a number of other changes, including differences in tobaccos, rolling methods and personnel. It’s only appropriate, then, that its first cigar is inspired by the rebellious legend, Johnny Cash.
The cigar is produced with a Mexican San Andreas wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and filler. The Jericho Hill is nearly pitch black, which makes its veins and seams impossible to see. It has some tooth to it and some oil as well and is available in four vitolas. They include OBS (4 3/4 x 52), .44S (5 1/8 x 44), Willy Lee (6 x 54) and LBV (6 1/2 x 46).
The cigar’s flavors start with some strong wood and earth notes and move to white pepper, soil, clay, sweet citrus, leather, floral and a distinct taste of beef stew. It handles well with its burn and draw, and its straight down the medium strength means that smokers of all experience levels can appreciate it. That’s good because the move to My Father has injected new life into the boutique.
May 20th, 2015
Though Nomad Cigars has only been around for a couple years, it is already gaining recognition for its blends and approach to the industry. The brainchild of businessman Fred Rewey, the company is focused on finding the happy medium between premium and value smokes, hoping to introduce excellent blends at a reasonable price. So far, Rewey appears to be successful, creating several releases that are generating a nice response among reviewers.
There are four blends currently available through Nomad Cigars, including the Classic, the Connecticut, the C-276 and the S-307. The Classic and Connecticut are made with Ecuadorian and Dominican tobaccos, while the C-276 and S-302 are produced with Ecuadorian and Nicaraguan plants. Although each blend has a starkly unique flavor profile, common flavors include spice, earth, wood and pepper. However, there are some unusual flavors present as well. The C-276, for instance, evokes grapes and sunflower seeds, both of which aren’t found very often.
So far, Rewey isn’t focused on creating a nicotine bomb or something that will bowl an inexperienced smoker over. For the most part, his blends are mild or medium, and they all smoke effectively, with a sharp burn and draw. This should be expected, as Rewey had admitted that his company is taking some of its cues from older businesses. That’s not to say that Rewey’s brand is derivative or boring. It’s precisely the opposite, actually, and if his first batch of releases are any indication, his company figures to join the great tobacco makers that came before it.
May 13th, 2015
The Illusione Singulare 2014 is the newest modification to the company’s annual blend, and this time it was actually released in the year it’s named after. In the past, production delays have pushed previous releases back months, but now everything appears to be on track, and if there were any doubts about the company as a result, they should be dispelled with this stick. The idea behind the blend is that every year, master blender Dion Giolito travels to a number of highly respected farms, searches through their harvests, and finds a tobacco or two to center the new blend around. It’s a clever concept that has produced a number of winners already.
The Illusione Singulare 2014 is produced with a 1999 Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper. A 1998 Nicaraguan Criollo and 1999 Esteli Corojo make up the binders, while the filler is also harvested out of Nicaragua. The stick is a rich, dark, reddish brown color and is tightly packed. The small band displays the name of the blend in Old English type, and the cold draw is said to produce green pepper, floral and wheat flavors.
Reviews say that the blend’s standout notes include hay, nuts, coffee, orange, apple, chestnut, floral, cream, wheat, hickory, cumin and gingerbread. It’s a complex profile of flavors, but it remains under control and at a steady medium strength throughout. As for the burn and draw, they are said to be immaculate, so everything about the stick is a hit. It’s a strong comeback effort for a company that some aficionados were starting to worry about.
May 13th, 2015
The early favorite for cigar of the year is the Hiriochi HR, the product of an incredible collaboration between Hiriochi Robaina and Cubanacan. And it’s not only an excellent stick, it’s the first member of a new brand created by Cubanacan, and it makes a big impression. In the last year, the company has made significant changes to its portfolio, and this line figures to be a major part of Cubanacan’s efforts going into the future. If so, it started off about as well as could be expected.
The Hiriochi HR is rolled with an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Hybrid wrapper and several Nicaraguan binders and fillers. There is some light veining and dark seams present on the stick, but its dark chocolate surface is smooth overall. An interesting touch is the wrapped foot, which Robaina claims is done to keep the cigar from cracking.
The stick’s flavors include white pepper, sweet tobacco, wood, cedar, sugar cane, chocolate, and spice. The chocolate and tobacco are the strongest notes though the pepper and cedar have their moments as well. Most importantly, the profile is perfectly balanced, with all of the flavors working with each other like clockwork.
It’s a straight medium-bodied, and it performs spot on with its top notch construction. In short, it is as close to flawless as a cigar can get, and will still be talked about for years to come.
May 12th, 2015
The Cusano LXI Habano SG cigar is a stick that deserves more attention. The Davidoff company has never been aggressive on the marketing front, but this blend is getting even less attention that normal. It’s epitomizes the brand’s stated mission perfectly, as it is available at a lower value price even though it offers near-luxury quality performance. With Henke Kelner overseeing the brand’s production, it’s no surprise that it makes the most out of what it has, and then some.
The cigar is rolled with an Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapper harvested from Habano seed. It is finished with a Dominican binder and fillers. The Cusano LXI Habano SG is produced in a 5 x 50 Robusto and is rough to look at. It is clearly rustic and has a toothy feel, though it is packed rather tightly. The cigar’s aromas are uncommonly powerful, consisting of spicy and sweet tobacco tones along with a clear peppermint note.
The stick’s flavors are a bit challenging and include wood, coffee, earth, sweet tobacco, black cherry and spice. The coffee and wood are the dominant flavors for most of the stick, though the earth also surges in spots. It is a medium stick that reaches medium-full in a couple places, but it’s definitely one of those smokes where the flavors outpace the nicotine. In all, it makes good on its promise and crafts a clever flavor profile in a value package.
May 12th, 2015
The Cohiba Luxury Selection is a premium stogie in every sense of the word. With its acrylic coffin, each stick will make a visual impact right away. Every smoke has an immaculate wrapper, so it just looks like a luxury stick. And fortunately, the stogie backs up the sharp look with a sharp flavor profile. Initially released at the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show, it’s also an important smoke because it confirms that the brand will remain a point of emphasis for General Cigar Company.
General Cigar has only been forthright with the wrapper, which is a Cameroon Meerapfel African Gold plant. More succinctly, the wrapper is exceedingly rare. The Cohiba Luxury Selection looks great largely because the wrapper is so smooth and clean, with almost no imperfections or veins present.
The flavors in the smoke consist of some powerful citrus spice, natural tobacco, wood, earth, red pepper, salt and lemon. The lemon is a point of emphasis in the blend, as it bounces back and forth between sweet and acidic. The earth and red pepper notes also make an impression, and the entire profile smokes around a medium from start to finish. This, combined with its excellent construction and performance, makes the stick a perfect option for aficionados of all skill and experience levels.
May 12th, 2015
Father and son are teaming up with the AJ Fernandez New World cigar, and with two master blenders behind the smoke, it’s no surprise that this one is a winner. Surprisingly, Fernandez has never collaborated on a project with his father Ismael, but now that he has come out of retirement, the opportunity was too much to pass up. The stick is also interesting because it is priced like a value stogie, and anyone who knows tobacco knows that the master blender doesn’t make value sticks.
The AJ Fernandez New World is created with a dark Nicaraguan wrapper, along with Nicaraguan binders and fillers. The wrapper is a dark ashy brown and marbled with pitch dark spots. Although there are apparent seams and veins, the entire package is thoughtfully crafted. The band is especially beautiful, depicting 15th-century Spanish explorers making ground in an unfamiliar land.
Flavors include spice, earth, dark chocolate, black cherry and black pepper, and they come together to create a rich, medium-full blend. And though it looks a little rough, the burn and draw are perfect, complementing the stick’s rich and developed flavors. In short, it may be value priced, but with AJ’s magic touch, it performs better than many premium stogies.
May 8th, 2015
The La Palina Black Label cigar has been met with a lot of anticipation, as the company has built up an excellent track record recently. This stick is the company’s second collaboration with the PDR factory and is the product of many tobacco experts, as a result. It was debuted at the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show and has been well received almost immediately. It is, however, a bit stronger than the company’s other smokes, and it will challenge an aficionado head on. Of course, that’s what many enthusiasts prefer.
The La Palina Black Label cigar is made with a Brazilian Bahiano wrapper and binders and fillers from both the Dominican and Nicaragua. It’s a unique blend composition, and it results in a stick that just looks tough. Its veins and seams are visible, and the entire package is rustic looking, but it has a healthy cinnamon color and a vivid band, depicting the wife of the company’s founder.
The stick’s flavors include citrus, black pepper, spice, cocoa and sweet cedar though these flavors constantly shift positions and develop in many ways over the course of the stick. The result is a smoke that is full-bodied and full-flavored so aficionados will have their hands full with this one. Those with the palate will be rewarded with an expertly crafted stogie.
May 8th, 2015
The Asylum 60×6 Ogre cigars aren’t your father’s barber pole. It’s clear the brand was looking for maximum impact with this one, as it stands out in a couple ways. While barber poles are nothing new and are growing in popularity, this one comes with a rarely seen candela wrapper. The smoke is also available in some gargantuan sizes, so it is impossible to miss once it’s taken out of the humidor. However, even with the stick’s unusual composition, it is executed by the numbers and stands out for the quality of its flavors as well.
In addition to the candela wrapper, the Asylum 60×6 Ogre cigars are also made with a Habano Maduro wrapper, along with Nicaraguan binders and fillers. In addition to the 6 x 60 vitola, it comes in a 5 x 50, 7 x 70 and an unheard of 6 x 80 size. The stick itself has the classic barber pole look, but the green candela wrapper produces a stark visual effect.
The smoke’s flavors include cream, grass, chocolate and black pepper, all of which are classic Maduro or candela notes. The profile is sweet overall and is mild medium in body. As such, this is the ideal stogie for an enthusiast that wants to try something unique without having to power through a nicotine bomb.
May 6th, 2015
The Sumum 2010, or the Vega Fina Limited Edition 2010 cigars are a brilliant American release of the line by Altadis USA. This final masterpiece of Jose Seijas adds a spark of toasty, bold excellence to the company’s portfolio. Taking from the Latin title, “Sumum”, these cigars really are a summit of greatness for the brand. The filler tobacco alone is a combination of the finest Peruvian, Nicaraguan and Dominican leaves, all aged to perfection over three years. The binder is a spectacular Santa Domingo leaf, also aged for three years. The wrapper is an even more unique Ecuadorian Cubano, chosen specifically for its intense coloration. After a two year aging process, the leaf becomes an incredibly striking dark Colorado red.
The appearance, construction and burn of the Vega Fina limited edition 2010 cigars are nothing short of excellent. Simple, elegant silver footer bands famously offset the slightly veined and marbled cinnamon-chocolate wrapper. Sugary oils create a clear texturing, which enhances the cigar’s already spongy feel. Each stick feels heavy, even for their 5×54 robusto gusto vitola. However, each stick provided a perfectly resistant drag, all the way down to the nub.
It is no surprise then that the flavor of these sticks is masterful. Out of the box, a fine aroma of cocoa and natural tobacco grows even more pleasant with the cold draw. Upon lighting, the first third reveals these flavors as background notes of espresso and a citrus cream. Further into the stick, maple and molasses spices joined the already leathery, earthy background. Around halfway, the citrus becomes a definable lemon note, matched in strength by warm, dark coffee and cream. The flavor of these stogies builds in complexity until the nub. The finish offered its own surprises by retaining a cooling crispness of flavors rarely achieved. The Vega Fina limited edition 2010 cigars are truly fit for any aficionado’s palate, any occasion, and come with a price tag fit for anyone’s budget.