E.P. Carillo Perez-Carrillo La Historia

•April 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment

4-17-2015 been in humidor since 2-25-15

E.P. Carillo Perez-Carrillo La Historia Doña Elena (6.125 x 50)

Wrapper: San Andres Mexican
Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican

Blender: Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.

La Historia is a cigar about the roots of Ernesto Perez-Carrillo Jr.’s family in Cuban tobacco, specifically the women that were behind the scenes making the family work. In true Cuban tradition, the tobacco may be cultivated by the males of the family, but the family is held together by the women, and without the family the Tobacco is nothing. This is exactly what the cigar is all about. This particular vitola of the cigar ( Doña Elena) is named after Perez-Carrillo’s wife.

La Historia was released at the 2014 IPCPR, though there was much talk about the cigar previous to its release. In 2013 it was mentioned on the Cigar Dave show that a cigar was ion the works to be branded under the Perez-Carrillo name. When it finally showed up a year or so later at the IPCPR, it made an impression. The cigar was not only correctly marketed but correctly blended, crafted, and inspired. These elements have led to accolades that most companies would lust after, including a #2 spot on the 2014 top 25 in Cigar Aficionado for the E-III size.

The wrapper of this cigar is dark with the triple cap being darker than the rest of the cigar. A few veins can be seen but the three bands that are on this cigar cover a large enough percentage of the cigar that it is difficult to tell if the veins are dominant or if they make small runs. The wrapper has a muddled look to it indicating that this cigar is not colored in any way, it has achieved this color by natural fermentation only. This always a welcomed sign. The three bands are large and striking with the color scheme of gold, white red and, boldly, a bright blue. This blue gives the otherwise classic feel of the band a modern touch. The other “modern cigar that is reaching into its roots” element of the band is the pictures on either side of the face of the band. On one side there is a woman with a background of a classic Cuban view of palm trees and original wilderness. On the other side there is a Cuban skyline with the same woman in the foreground.

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The cigar has a light feel to it. There is not much give to the sides of the cigar save for one tiny soft spot. The smell of the unit cigar is dark wood and earth. A lick on the cap is nowhere near as bold as expected. There is a mild slate taste to it and zero spice. Clipped with a double guillotine. A cold draw bring out coco and earth flavors with a hint at spice drops. The draw has a perfect amount of resistance.

Light with a soft flame.

the first few draws have a very woody quality to them. The aftertaste is lightly sweet and inspires the salivary glands to do their thing. In the finish there is a nice slate/mineral note that is very light and very difficult to notice. There is only a mild spice that lives in the realm of white pepper. There is little to no burn through the nose. This retrohale is predominantly wood with a hint of slate.

As the cigar settles in the mineral notes come out. The classic Maduro barnyard flavors become the backbone while the wood accents it wonderfully. The finish becomes longer and within that finish there is a very mild spice that is noticed. It is on the back of the palate. It is very smooth given the heavy flavors contained within.

Entering the middle third, the flavors seem to melt together some. The only stand alone flavor is the mild spice on the finish. The soft sweetness is the thing that ties the wood and slate/mineral flavors together. The sweet slate seems to keep the saliva running, making the cigar easier to taste. No water is needed to cleanse the palate because it is naturally being cleansed by saliva. A moist tongue tastes better, and this cigar makes itself taste better. This is a quality that few cigars seem to have. The burn is ever so slightly off but no corrective lights are needed, they always correct themselves. The ash does seem to fall fairly frequently, but the smoke is still cool. Very large plumes of smoke are created by puffing, a quality that is entertaining and makes the cigar feel bigger and more dominant than a decidedly medium body cigar should. This is all very balanced and enjoyable.

The Final third muddies down a little. This is not to say that the flavors are less clear but there is more of a rich earth flavor like often found in a dark roast coffee from Coasta Rica . This works well with the slate that is mentioned above. The spice is still late in the finish but still non oppressive in any way. The room note is absolutely to the cedar side of things. The balance in this third is fantastic, much like the balance in the beginning two thirds. The bold flavors of this medium body cigar make for a very enjoyable, non-palate-wrecking cigar. A

As the cigar approaches the end, there is a push on the spice, and it begins to show up on the initial and middle flavors. It is a soft spice that leans to a Nicaragaun woody pulp. It stays in balance though this is a drastic change for this cigar. This is how the cigar ends. It is clear why this cigar gets the accolades the way it does.

Burn to the burn

time: 2 hours 5min

Burn: 9
Draw: 10
Taste: 10
Aftertaste: 9
Construction: 9
Balance: 10
Feel: 10

Overall: 9.6

Ezra Zion FHK Honor Series

•April 9, 2015 • 1 Comment

4-9-15 been in humidor since 10-26-14
Ezra Zion FHK Honor Series Truth (7 x 44)
Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro
Binder: Indonesian
Filler: Brazilian, Nicaraguan
Blender: Placencia, Hoover, Kelly

The Honor Series came about when owners Chris Kelly and Kyle Hoover were researching their family trees. They discovered honorable men who served in the military, were statesmen, and men who started businesses. The letters “FHK” stand for “Fathers of Hoover and Kelly” to pay respect to the men in their families who helped shape them into who they are.

This was the very first cigar released in 2014 (of any brand). Its official date and time of release was 12:00am on January 1, 2014. Though it was a first that year for the industry, there is also a first within the company with this release. This is the first true multi-country blend featuring tobacco from four countries. In the past the brand has been very Nicaraguan based with at best one leaf that is from another country.

The Honor Series was blended and designed for the specific vitola that became Truth. That makes this specific cigar being reviewed, arguably, the most accurate representation of the goals of the blenders. The 7 x 44 size is not a “standard” size and has no official name, but it is being called a “Lancero Gordo,” though a cazadores is probably a more accurate name for the size.

The presentation of this cigar is a familiar styling used in previous Ezra Zion releases, but this time the colors are gold and black. There is a footband on the cigar with the letters FHK in large print and the words “honor series” in script below. The wrapper is dark and fairly even in color. It looks thick at the seems and has a few dominant veins that have been flattened to the point where they can be seen but not felt.

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In the hand, the cigar feels solid with no soft spots anywhere. There is a slight oily feel to it but it feels to be tempered by a tooth that is only perceptible by touch. The scent of the FHK before the light has a heavy barnyard quality to it. This Barnyard scent leans to a damp wood impression. A lick on the cap is oily and slightly sour. Some mild spice on the lips. After a clip with the Xi2, there is a very firm draw with milder than expected flavors of sweet cedar and a hint at mushroom. The difficulty of the draw is not cigar-ending. It is, however, distracting.

Light with a soft flame
The first few draws are a bit woody. There is a subtle sweet undertone that is reminiscent of a brewhouse in the process of mashing and boiling. Through the nose there is a mild coffee and a bit of a mild pepper. The wood notes that are there on the initial flavors pull through the other flavors and remain on the palate into the finish. As the cigar settles in and hits its stride the malted grain flavors seem to take over but they are not overly sweet. The wood continues through the nose and on the finish. The sweet and the wood balance each other very well.

The middle third maintains a high level of balance. The wood notes are becoming more of an oak flavor than a generic wood. The pepper starts to show up in the initial flavors and stays through the middle flavors but does not make it to the finish. It is a mild pepper, adding only enough to keep things interesting. The finish does pick up a hint at coffee, but it is not the main flavor of the finish. The burn is very slow and very even. This may be partially because the draw is so firm. The good news is that the draw keeps the burn cool, but the bad news is that is it distracting to have to draw so hard.

The final third lets the coffee out to play. The wood notes have faded back to the generic undertone much like the beginning of the cigar. The malty notes have all but faded as well. Some of the classic Nicaraguan pulpy texture starts to come out near the end of the cigar but it is not distracting. The retrohale is now more earth and wood than every before. At this point the real complexity is all in the retrohale. The spice continuously picks up at the very end to the point where it is out of balance, signaling the end of the cigar.

Burn to the nub.
Burn time: 1 hour 55 minutes.

Burn: 10
Draw: 7
Taste: 9
Aftertaste: 9
Construction: 8
Balance: 9
Feel: 8

Overall: 8.6

If the minor construction issue had not caused a tight draw this would have been a 9.0 or better cigar.

Nat Sherman Timeless Collection Nicaragua

•March 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

3-15-2015 been in humidor since 12-18-14

Nat Sherman Timeless Collection Nicaragua #452 (4 x 52)

Wrapper: Nicaraguan

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Blender: Plasencia, Herklots

The Nat Sherman Brand has two distinct blends in the Timeless Collection. One is a multi-country blend constructed in the Dominican Republic (at the MATASA factory) that took the number 10 spot for CA’s best 25 of the year. This is that cigars partner in crime. Made at the Plasencia Factory, this Nicaraguan puro debuted in 2012. The blend is supposed to retain the feel of the original Timeless Collection but take on qualities that both market trends and research show people want, namely a Nicaraguan profile. The bands of this cigar and the MATASA version are the same and one must rely on wrapper leaf color to determine what blend the cigar is.

The concept of this blend started well over a year before their initial offering, during the 2011 IPCPR. The story goes that brand owner Michael Herklots was handing out cigars at the 2011 IPCPR with little cards so people would beable to give notes on what they thought of the blends. The concept of a Nicaraguan Timeless were always a part of the plan, but the focus was to get the Dominican version out first.

The Nicaraguan timeless has a dark brown wrapper with veins that have been smoothed into submission. They seem to shine in the light more than the rest of the wrapper. There is a decent press to this cigar. It seems to be done more in the style of a traditional press that creates soft corners rather than a heavy press creating sharp edges. The cream and gold band is designed to look like a watch with the hands pointing up to twelve, but instead of numbers around the dial, there are the words Nat Sherman. It is a very simple, yet good looking band.

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the wrapper has a slightly fuzzy feel to it, but somehow maintains an oily quality. There is a light earth smell to this cigar that does not really throw out many dominant notes. It is over all lighter than expected given that this is a dark colored Nicaraguan puro. The lick on the cap has somewhat of a citrus note to it with the slightest hint of spice if held too long. Clip with a double guillotine. The cold draw is full of various chocolate notes that lean slightly to the dark chocolate side. The resistance on the draw is very good, leaning to the firm side.

light with a soft flame.

The first draw once lit has more spice than expected given the relatively mild cold draw. Beyond that, the opening flavors are a slight coffee, a decent chocolate, and the classic Nicaraguan woody spice. The Nicaraguan woody spice seems to be the dominant flavor early on. As the cigar settles in and evens out from the light, a slightly rounder earthy note comes into play. The other flavors are there still as well but they all seem to stem from the umami middle. The spice levels off and maintains. Its a nice level of spice if you enjoy spicy cigars, and if you dont then it is not enough to get in your way. The retrohale brings more spice with a slight burn, and a wood undertone.

The middle third brings more smokey chocolate to the table. The spice has declined to more of a pulpy feel than a flavor. Some peppercorn flavors accompany that pulpy feel. The cigar has smoothed out and homogenized to the point where flavors melt together but are not lost. None of the flavors have been a “wow” moment but all of them are solid and make sense. This cigar is a very good example of a Nicaraguan Puro.

The final third amps up the Classic nicaraguan flavors but there is a little surprise in the form of a light sweetness. This sweetness is shot and mild and only on the initial moment the smoke reaches the palate, but it adds a level of complexity that the cigar was lacking through the rest of the journey. The smoke warms ever so slightly as the end nears.

Burn to the burn

time 1 hour 35 minutes

Burn: 9
Draw: 9
Taste: 9
Aftertaste: 8
Construction: 9
Balance: 9
Feel: 8

Overall: 8.7

Caldwell Selección Junior Varsity Murcias

•January 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

1/26/2015

Caldwell Selección Junior Varsity Murcias Corona (5.75 x 41)

Wrapper: San Andres Mexico

Binder: Undisclosed

Filler: Undisclosed Dominican

Blenders: Henderson and William Ventura, Robert Caldwell

Robert Caldwell is back. Formerly from Wynwood cigars, Caldwell is now Making cigars under his own name in the Dominican Republic at Tabacalera Ventura. This re-entry into the cigar world is not marked by a single line of cigars to test the water. This return is marked by Two lines of cigars each consisting of three blends. Apparently, its “go big or go home” at Caldwell cigars.

The Premium line is known as the Caldwell Collection. The budget line is called Selección Junior Varsity. The latter has goals of being a bit less expensive and maybe not as refines while still encompassing the quality and spirit of their premium line. Each of the JV blends has a name inspired by Spain. The Murcias is named for a city in Southeastern Spain.

The Murcia was originally designed and created as factory blend for Tabacalera Ventura. It is now released to the public wherever Caldwell Cigars are found at a price that is easy on the wallet.

The Murcias looks a little rough. The wrapper has a mildly wrinkled look and feel to it. The heavy tooth does not help the tactile impression. The Color is a rich brown, but it is not exceedingly dark. It has a pigtail cap that looks as if it has been smashed flat while in the box. The band is black and gold and red, featuring two crossed cannons both firing.

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There is a slight give to this cigar but it it is not seem soft enough to be an issue. The lick on the cap is oily with a light spice. A clip with a double guillotine is quick and easy. The draw that is revealed is licorice ans spice. The draws is on the firm side, a bit too firm actually.

Light with a soft flame

the first few puffs are rich earth with a bit of a cedar undertone. The retrohale is almost all of the cedar comes through. The finish is a cedar note as well but its much flatter and lingers on a bit longer than expected.

As the cigar settles in, a bit of a mesquite flavor comes out. It is very mild but it seems to work well with the earth notes. The finish does continue to linger an exceptionally long time with a bit of spice working its way in.

the middle third does not seem to have much more development. The flavors just seem a little sweeter than the first third and maybe hint at citrus. The touch of spice late in the finish is still there and it seems that it is picking up a texture, meaning that if the spice picks up more it may become harsh. Beyond that the cigar is enjoyable, relatively not complex, but enjoyable.

The final third is similar but the elements that edge it to a touch of harsh are increasing. The burn has been decent the entire way. No touch up lights are needed but the burn is hardly perfect. The good news is that when the burn strays, even greatly, it tends to correct itself.

The cigar ends with the smoke heating up.

Burn to the nub

time: 1 hour 45 min.

Burn: 8
Draw: 8
Taste: 9
Aftertaste: 8
Construction: 8
Balance: 9
Feel: 9

Overall: 8.4

Tierra Volcán

•January 15, 2015 • 1 Comment

1-13-2015

Tierra Volcán Classico (5.5 x 50)

Wrapper: Sungrown Habano Jalapa, Nicaraguan

Binder: Criollo Condega Nicaraguan

Filler: Jalapa Nicaraguan and Condega Nicaragua

Blender: Claudio Sgroi

Tierra Volcán is a brand that many of the US based readers have probably never heard of. This is unsurprising, because until recently, the cigars were only able to be found in Canada, China and Italy. They are now seen in the US due to a deal with RomaCraft Tobacco for their distribution.

Tierra Volcán is made by Mombacho Cigars in Granada, Nicaragua. Granada is not the usual location for a boutique cigar brand. It is said that the climate is both too hot and too humid to produce quality cigars. Thanks to some serious attention to detail, and some climate control, this obstacle is overcome. They now strive to produce the “world’s most memorable boutique cigar, ” using a combination of tradition and technology. All hands are made 100% by hand.

The parent company, Mombacho, takes its name from the Volcano near Granada. The name Mombacho means “Mother of our Lands” and “Tierra Volcán” ranslates to “volcano land,” paying homage to the town where their factory is located.

The Tierra Volcán is a good looking cigar with a chocolate brown wrapper and a few pronounced veins. The wrapper seems more delicate than many other sungrown wrappers, though the color feels right. The cap is even all around and looks solidly constructed. The two bands fou nd on the cigar are the same color scheme of just a deep rich yellow and brown; the brown being only slightly darker than the wrapper. The standard band displays the brand and the foot reads the name of the vitola, in this case, Classico. The foot, though bearing a footband, is unfinished and then folded over, closing it off.

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The cigar feels very firm in the hand and it has some heft to it. The wrapper’s surface is silky but bumpy due to the veins. Each of the bands are extremely difficult to get off, but fortunately they are not glued to to wrapper. The foot band in particular is a struggle, and it needs to come off before the light. With great care, and some surprise, it is finally removed with no damage to the wrapper. The pre-light smell is much lighter than expected with only mild earth notes. A lick on the cap is initially sour but that quickly fades to a deep mineral/earth note that leans to calcium. After a clip of the cap there is a firm draw that, again, has earth notes, but it also has a sweeter licorice impression.

Light with a soft flame.

The closed foot makes the light slightly more difficult but only because it is difficult to see if the filler is lit evenly.

the initial impressions are a deep rich earth with round woody notes. There is zero spice at any point on the palate, but it does show up through the nose. The retrohale also includes a bit of a vegetable note. All the flavors seem to be on the “low end” of the spectrum. It is also fairly sweet. The texture is a fairly classic Nicaraguan texture with a light pulpy feel.

As Tierra Volcán settles in, a more wood impression develops. The vegetable like sweetness is heavy. All of the flavors are deep. Without the light spice on the retrohale, this cigar would feel a bit flat, or lacking. The spice is the perfect balancing point.

The middle third is smoother than the initial third, probably due to a bit too much flame at the light. A nice cedar aftertaste has developed. It is quite pronounced and leans a bit to the citrus side. The earthy undertones and general wood notes define the main flavors. These flavors fade to the previously mentioned finish. The retrohale keeps the complexity going with the added spice. The complexity of each puff and total lack of harshness sets it apart from many other Nicaraguans. This finish is long, but at the mid point does not seem oppressive.

The final third starts pretty much the same as the rest of the cigar has been. The only notable difference is that there is more of the Nicaraguan pulpy texture showing up just as the flavors transition into the finish. The cedar flavors start to wind down as the middle third progresses but never really dies. There have been zero burn issues; no relights, no touch ups, no problems and the burn is cool and slow. The cigar ends on the full side of medium.

Burn to the nub

Burn time: 2 hours 5 min

Burn: 10
Draw: 8
Taste: 9
Aftertaste: 10
Construction: 10
Balance: 10
Feel: 9

Overall: 9.4

 
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