Where would we be without cigar reviews? We all look for inside information on cigars that have either just come out or that we intend to smoke in the near future. They sway us to try new stogies and steer clear of others (for good reason usually). Following up our post where we gave props to some of our favorite cigar blogs, I wrote this post to highlight some of my favorite cigar reviews of 2013 for your enjoyment, based on the cigars that I have personally tried and thought were home runs. I picked these terrific posts out as they feature both cigars that I truly enjoy as well as excellent insight on said cigars. The past year has been chock full of new cigars, but these 10 I thought were certainly worth sharing. Enough explanation, now, in no particular order are my picks for the top 10 cigar reviews of 2013! Continue reading
Introduction and Initial Impressions
Davidoff Nicaragua cigars are the first all-Nicaraguan leaf blend from the world’s most distinguished luxury-class cigar manufacturer. 10 years in the making, Davidoff’s blending sensei, Hendrik Kelner, has done it again. Offered in only three shapes, Toro (5½” x 54), Robusto (5″ x 50), and Short Robusto (3¾” x 46), the core blend consists of longfiller tobaccos from Estelí, Condega, Jalapa, and the rich volcanic soil of Ometepe, aged a minimum of eight years. On initial inspection, these puros boast shimmering, 10-year-aged Habano-seed wrappers cured to a uniform Rosado hue and impeccable construction. For example, not only is the rolling seamless, but feeling my way along the length of the cigars I noticed there were virtually no soft spots. Now it’s time for me to light this beautiful cigar up and provide all of you with my Davidoff Nicaragua cigar review! Continue reading
I promise this is relevant to cigars, so please…bear with me.
The Loudness War has seen recorded music compressed into oblivion, forsaking dynamic range (the difference between quiet & loud parts) for apparent loudness throughout any given track. The resulting records pack more punch, but are fatiguing to listen to.
In the classic Mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, guitarist Nigel Tufnel is proudly displaying his assortment of guitar amplifiers. Among them is one particular model whose knobs all go up to 11, for when they need that extra punch (“It’s one louder than 10, innit?”).
Haven’t cigars basically done the same thing? It used to be that Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, and La Gloria Cubana were strong, full-bodied cigars. Besides ample strength and body, these cigars had tons of nuance. But these do not compare in strength to La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero or Camacho Coyolar Puro, let alone the newest crop of full-bodied cigars that feature ultra-strong blends: Cain F, Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo, EO Brands’ La Bomba, among others.
Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy a really strong full-bodied cigar now and then. I really do (I’m smoking a 601 Green as I type this). And I grant you that everything becoming more extreme is sort of a sign of the times. But where do we draw the line?
Have cigars forsaken character for raw power? Have your say below with a comment!
Padron cigars – what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see (or hear) those two words? Speaking for myself, it’s not a word; first I get a flash of an image of the cigar, specifically the band, but what really comes to mind is their unique flavor. I don’t know the science of how the brain does this, but I actually taste that earthy, mocha-laced flavor that makes Padron cigars so distinctive. I’m sure the same thing happens when you think about one of your Mom’s special recipes, or a favorite dessert, wine, beer etc. It seems as though things we ingest that we either really love or hate, we can actually taste in absentia, and when it comes to cigars, even though I have a lot of favorites, for some reason Padron cigars just seem to stand out in that particular way.
Practically every cigar smoker I’ve met seems to have a special place in their heart for Padron cigars. It’s like they have this mystique about them, not unlike that attributed to Cuban cigars. The difference is, the Cuban cigar mystique has to do mainly with their pedigree, but even more so, the fact that they’re illegal. The Padron mystique seems to have more to do with that incredibly unique flavor they have. I’d even go so far as to say that the only cigars as inimitable as the finest Cubans are Padron cigars. If you’re an avid cigar smoker, regardless of any other cigars you smoke, even Cubans for that matter, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Perhaps this excerpt from a 2006 New York Times article on Jose Orlando Padrón sheds some light on their ability to produce such highly coveted cigars:
After the revolution in Cuba, most of the country’s big producers shifted operations to the Dominican Republic, but Mr. Padrón swears by Central America, where he says the conditions are most similar to Cuba’s.
- “A Career Seasoned With Cigar Smoke and Revolution” (The New York Times)
Whether it’s their main line, or their Padron Anniversary editions, the consistency and fullness of flavor is beyond reproach. Perhaps Ernesto Perez-Carrillo said it best when we visited him in the DR this past February; we were talking about boutique cigars. Although I’m paraphrasing, essentially he said that “Padron is committed to making only so many cigars per year, and that’s it.” This gives them much tighter control over their production, therefore there’s very little, if any, margin for error.” “And he doesn’t care,” added Carrillo. (Again, I’m paraphrasing.) He didn’t mean that in the apathetic sense. What he meant was, they probably could produce more cigars and make more money, but that’s not what they’re about. They’re only concern is making great cigars, which is also Señor Carrillo’s philosophy. Both the Padrons and the Carrillos have enjoyed vast success and revenues for generations. Why change simply for profit’s sake? As Don Jose Orlando says:
A businessman has to be thinking all the time, dealing with problems. I do it best when I’m smoking.
And he’s smoking some pretty darn good cigars, too.
I found myself stuck in the bottom of a ravine. I had decided to hike, alone, in the area of Apache Junction near the Superstition Mountains. I am an experienced climber and made the fatal mistake: Arrogance.
I had slipped on some shale and fell forward and then my body swiveled and I went straight down a ravine. Looking up, it seemed like at least 20 feet. I was covered in cuts and bruises.I gathered my senses and began to climb up. I had risen 5 feet when a large rock dislodged and I fell again, this time with the rock lodging my forearm between the wedged rock and the wall of the ravine.
I couldn’t move my arm. I struggled for over an hour. It seemed like a
good time to stop and think and come up with a plan. I pulled a cigar out of my pack with my good hand. An Alabao. Made by Nick Perdomo for Famous-Smoke only. It was one of my regular go-to’s.
The prelight aroma was wonderful, under the circumstances, with a faint espresso going on. It helped me block out the pain. Distraction. I had no way to pop the cap. So I bit off the end.
At first light, I tasted cedar and a mild sweet tobacco flavor. Very mild. Huge billows of white smoke emitted from the end. As I smoked, I could taste coffee bean and cocoa. Every now and then I tugged my arm to see if I could dislodge it. No way.
The sweet spice stayed with me. But at the half way point, it became more medium in body while the flavors began to spread out. My nerves were shot but the Alaboa had a calming effect.
I could taste the Criollo wrapper. Always tangy. Delicious.
I love it when cigars provide a creaminess to the back of the mouth. Like suckling on mother’s milk.The stick portrayed some hint of nuts…alomonds and cashews…with that creaminess swirling around it.
As the cigar wound down, it ramped up in flavor and strength but never getting harsh or hot. The sweet spice and nuts kicked in big time. I smoked it to the nub. And then reality set back in.
It was late in the afternoon. A small rodent was at my foot. It was gnawing at my boot. I shooed it away. And then more congregated. I began to panic. My obituary would read I was eaten by rodents.
I grabbed another cigar and ripped it apart and spit the pieces to the ground. The rodents started chewing on the pieces and seemed to like it. Then, when they finished, they stopped and looked up at me. Laughingly, I asked them if they could get help? Several nodded up and down. Obviously, I was hallucinating. I asked the others to start chewing my right arm off just in case the other rodents forgot what their mission was. I read the other idiot that did this to himself waited for about a week before he decided to saw his hand off. I wasn’t going to wait that long. Hygiene issues.
Maybe 7 or 8 climbed the rock and started chewing my flesh. I screamed out in pain. One of the rodents ran away and returned with a strange looking cactus flower and stuck it in my mouth. I chewed it and the pain lessened. Before long, I felt pretty good.
I sang the entire Rogers & Hammerstein song book followed by Billy Joel, Billie Holliday, and Rush. It was getting dark and no sign of help.
I smoked another Alabao and it helped calm me but then, whatever I took ,started to make me chatty. I asked the rodents, who I named, Moe, Curly, Larry, Zeppo, Dick, Beyonce, and Irving about their lives. “How’s the family? You guys doing alright?” I heard one say, “I do alright, but try and find a decent bagel.” I nodded.
The bone was exposed. The rodents spread out as a very large rodent, who I named Mongo, sauntered towards the exposed bone. I heard him ask if I was ready? I told him I could use a little more of that cactus flower. He turned his head and was handed the flower and then he stuffed it in my mouth. He waited a few minutes for it to kick in.
And then I heard him and a smaller female rodent sing “I know I stand in line until you think you have the time to spend an evening with me. And then I go and spoil it all by saying somethin’ stupid like I love you!”
Holy crap. They were doing Frank and Nancy Sinatra. I gotta’ bring some of this cactus home. And with that, I heard a crunching sound as Mongo went to work on my bone.As he finished, I heard human voices above, yelling, “Katman! Can you hear us? Where are you?”
They found me!
I yelled out my location. Flashlights flooded the ravine and my rodent friends scattered.
“Yeah…a bunch of funny looking rodents came and got us. They scratched out a map with their noses and we followed it. Are you alright?”
I waved my stump and yelled. “I’m just peachy! Owie.”
“Mongo…I love you!”
The Bottom Line:
- Country of Manufacturer: Nicaragua (Tabacalera Perdomo)
- Size: 7″ x 54
- Strength: Medium
- Wrapper: Criollo
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Box of 20: $89.99 (SRP)
- Flavor characteristics summary: Creamy, mild spices, well-balanced, nutty flavors with notes of coffee and cocoa on the finish.