Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cusano 18 Double Connecticut - Toro

Cusano 18 - Double Connecticut
A long time ago in a cigar shop far, far away... I enjoyed my first Cusano 18 Double Connecticut. It has been some time since that encounter and before I lit up this smoke I was a little but judgy. In fact, my firs statement was "Double Connecticut, twice the dullness," but I realize that a comment like that is premature and had to work myself into the "reviewing mode." I don't really remember my first experience with Cusano 18 so this will be a great cigar to come back to. As to be expected, the cigar has two Connecticut Shade wrappers on the cigar. One of the leaves is used as a wrapper, and ther other the binder. The filler is all Dominican, but uses three different types of tobacco. They use Dominican Oro filler tobacco that has been aged for 18 years, and they also use San Vicente Olor and Cuban Piloto. The toro vitola in the line is the size I smoked and it measures 6.5" with a 46 ring gauge. I am looking forward to smoking a Connecticut Shade wrapper that has a thin ring gauge, because I haven't seen many CT Shade wrappers with a thinner ring gauge. It will be nice to really pick out the flavors of the wrapper.

Like most Connecticut Shade wrappers, the wrapper is incredibly silky and has the beautifil goden brown color to it, there are practically no veins present in the wrapper, and it has a wonderful aroma of honey, graham cracker and wood. Upon lighting I am greeted with flavors of hay, wood, cream and spice. It starts off very pleasant for the first half inch. As I get further into the first third, the cigar is medium in body and is burning a little hot. I have tried to see if there is anything I can do to correct this issue but it appears to be the cigar. The cigar burn is perfect, but with it being so hot after each draw the smoking experience is not that enjoyable. When I get into the second third of the cigar the flavors increase some and I am picking up some graham cracker that I got in the aroma from the wrapper along with the hay, wood and cream. The finish is of caramel and spice, but the smoke is still giving some harshness and heat with every draw. It appears that no matter what I do, this cigar is going to burn hot which is really disappointing. I am in the final third now and the flavors have returned from the first third but nothing is wowing me. The cigar is still burning hot, is medium in body, and I see no point in smoking it down to the nub. It didn't seem to matter what I did with this cigar, it was always burning hot and towards the end I could not even pick up the flavors, it was just burning paper.

I was really disappointed with this cigar, I thought that it would be better tasting and constructed much better than this. After re-reading my introduction I find it entertaining that my orginal opinions were dead on. Now Cusano Cigars are being made by Davidoff, and I have never had this problem with any of the Davidoff smokes. I don't know, maybe Cusano Cigars is diminishing in populatiry, so they are not putting as much time and quality into production, but this cigar was not that great. I remember some time back when Cusano Cigars were somewhat popular and really in, but I guess that time has passed. I am not going to give it a rating, but I can tell you that it was not above an 85. I wouldn't spend money on this cigar and if you want a mild Connecticut Shade wrapper cigar I would go with a Perdomo Champagne, anything with the name Davidoff on it, 5 Vegas Gold, Pinar Del Rio Classico, Gran Habano Connecticut #1 and last but not least La Aurora Preferridos Tubos Sapphire.

Cusano 18

Monday, July 18, 2011

Padilla Series '68 - Golden Bear

Golden Bear
When I think of Ernesto Padilla and Padilla Cigars, the last thing that comes to mind is a 6” by 60 parejo. The reason for this, is that Ernesto Padilla has often stated that just because the cigar is big, doesn't mean that it has more flavor or strength. He is correct about that statement and I agree with him 100%, but with the Padilla Series '68 Golden Bear, he made a cigar packed with flavor and a nice strength in a heck of a size! The Golden Bear line was originally part of the Series '68 line by Ernesto Padilla, but slowly took its own path, and now is almost its own line I have heard. I kind of wish Padilla would changed the band on the cigar to something similar to the Bear logo on the box, but I am not a Creative Designer. As mentioned in the beginning, the cigar is massive, and is probably one of Ernesto Padilla’s largest smokes. The cigar is made in Honduras, along with most of his cigars, at the infamous Raices Cubanas factory. The cigar is covered with a Cuban-seed Corojo wrapper, and has fillers from Nicaragua’s Condega and Jalapa Valley’s.

The cigar is beautiful in hand with a very silky wrapper and it is finished with a great triple cap. Along with being a massive cigar, there are no soft spots in the cigar, and just looking at it, I know that it is packed full of fine tobacco. The aroma is of cocoa, coffee, spice and wood. Before I light this cigar up I will tell you that with a cigar of this caliber, you will be receiving a lot of flavors from the filler and not the wrapper, the reason for that being is because of the ring gauge on the cigar. Whenever you have a large ring gauge, you get more flavors from the filler. I have been told that the balanced ratio is a 50 ring gauge, and that the length does not play a factor in that as well. The cigar begins very medium in body showing lots of coffee, nuts and wood notes. It has a finish of cream and warm spices, and is very pleasant. I would classify this cigar as medium in body, and it is burning incredibly well.
Entering the second third of the cigar, the flavors remain fairly similar to the first third, with an increase in spice and coffee. I am still picking up a lot of nutty and wood characteristics, but there is a presence of sweet earth flavors that pair well with the creamy finish of the cigar. The second third of the cigar shows a lot more balance and flavor than the first, but it still remains very medium in body. The cigar is burning perfectly through the whole cigar and is smoking cool as well. With a larger ring gauge you typically get a cooler smoke and you can also get a better burn as well. I am really liking this cigar and it feels good in my hand, I typically don't like how cigars of this size feel, but I am comfortable with this. When I get into the final third of the cigar I am still getting similar flavors to the second third, and the strength has picked up as well. The flavors are all intermingled with one another and the cigar is a little more complex than before. I am getting a lot of cocoa, coffee, and wood notes up front, but there is a finish of nuts, cream and floral notes as well. The cigar probably medium-full in body, and still has a wonderful burn to it.
As I finished the cigar, I really went over my notes and thoughts throughout the smoke, and I was debating what rating this cigar should get. In the end I decided to give this cigar a 92, and I really would like to try this cigar again in the future. I felt that the cigar offered a wonderful draw and smoking experience, and more importantly had nice flavors as well. The cigar was not as complex as some of the Padilla Cigars on the market, but what it lacked in complexity it made up for in every other category. If I wanted to be a complete ass I could have given it a lower rating because of my final impression, but I tried to look at the big picture instead of this minor detail. I don’t know if I would buy a box of 50 of these, but I would definitely buy singles from time to time. With a lot of smokers looking for large cigars, I consider this to be one of the best out there, and available at a great value as well. For those looking for large cigars, look no further than the Padilla Golden Bear.   
Padilla '68

La Flor Dominicana Limitado IV

Limitado IV
If there is one manufacturer that I have trouble following it is Litto Gomez with La Flor Dominicana. I really do love their cigars and I am always hearing great things about them, but I just find it difficult to follow all of their new releases. I know that there are several shops that carry their products, but there are few that really follow them closely and get all of his stuff. I have smoked almost all of Litto Gomez’s production, but with that in mind I have had to be in six different states to do that. The most recent cigar of theirs that I smoked was the Limitado IV.  This is the fourth launch of the Limitado line and since I have not had the other three versions, I really don’t have anything to compare it to.  The cigar features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder, and has fillers from the Dominican Republic. The cigar is your standard toro size measuring 6 ½” with a 52 ring gauge and is limited to 2,000 boxes, and each box consists of 48 cigars.
The cigar is constructed very well with no major veins present and the cap placed perfectly. The cigar is very firm in hand and has a color of light brown leather. The aroma is intoxicating and gives off lots of rich eastern spices with a finish of leather, barnyard and earth. Upon lighting I am greeted with a nice level of spice and leather, and the cigar is definitely full in body. In the first third of the cigar I am getting some interesting flavors that are playing off one another. I am getting hints of spice, leather, barnyard, pepper and a good amount of floral notes. The cigar is giving off this unique meaty flavor and is so far quite enjoyable.

Entering the second third of the cigar I get a drastic change in flavor, and I am beginning to pick up a lot of nutty and wood flavors. I am still picking up some leather and floral notes, but the cigar really has changed. Very different from the first third, I wouldn’t say one of them is better over the other but equally enjoyable. The cigar is still full in body and has been burning perfectly this whole time. In the final third the cigar begins to show a lot of flavors from the first and second third and is really a huge finale. It is very complex and there are unique pairings of flavors that confused my palate. I still got that leather and floral pairing, but I also picked up a lot of nuts, pepper, wood, earth, spice and barnyard. Remaining complex to the end the cigar was incredibly full body. It lost some of the balance in strength and flavor at the end but I was still able to enjoy the cigar down to the nub.

With a perfect burn and draw all the way to the end and some wonderful flavors and other qualities the cigar got a 91 rating. Gomez’s cigars are definitely full in body and one can expect to get a cigar that has some strength regardless of the wrapper. I felt that the Limitado IV had some wonderful flavors, unique and incredibly complex. I would definitely smoke this cigar again, but I would not consider it a daily rotation cigar for me. In some ways I thought of this cigar as a little too creative in flavors. I know this is weird, but it was almost like the modern art of cigars for me. The cigar really pushed you in a lot of directions and made you really have to work. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, and I really enjoyed the cigar, but it was just something different than most cigars I am seeing on the market. There weren’t as many rich flavors in the cigar that I feel a lot of cigar smokers are looking for, but quite the opposite. Overall a very enjoyable cigar and something that advanced smokers should try.
La Flor Dominicana

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Illusione ~2~ And Crowned of Thorns

I thought it appropriate to follow up my Cruzado review with an Illusione review. I find it pointless to review a cigar and give it a poor review so I figured I would light up another Illusione Cigar that was great. I don't want to write reviews on poor cigars, so there are times when I don't write a review because certain cigars have not impressed me. The Illusione brand is an incredible brand and I think every vitola in the line is incredible. It utilizes Corojo '99 and Criollo '98 tobacco and is a Nicaraguan puro. The ~2~ is not a torpedo, even though looking at the picture and name, but rather a belicoso. The cigar measures 5 1/4" with a 52 ring gauge and has an incredibly dark wrapper. The name is pretty given, but if you have questions you can refer to the Illusione website, Illusione Cigars.

The aroma of the cigar is very rich and heavenly showing lots of cocoa, leather, earth and espresso. I am picking up some stone fruit in the background but it is very subtle. It is a very firm cigar and the draw is perfect after the cut. As I begin the cigar it begins very full flavored and full bodied. There is definitely a lot of spice present, but there is also notes of chocolate, earth, cherries and leather. It is very complex and has a wonderful body. The second third remains as flavorful as the first third but has lessened in body and is a little more complex in flavors. I am getting an elegant finish to the cigar and the flavor is very difficult to pick up. The cigar is producing a lot of smoke and is burning perfectly. In a lot of ways, this cigar is reminding me of a Cuban Ramon Allones. I am in the final third of the cigar now and the strength has returned and the flavors are very dark and flavorful. I am picking some tobacco notes up front, but it finishes with hints of dark cherries, leather, cocoa and spice. I would say this third of the cigar is not as complex as the second but it is definitely more full in body. The cigar is still burning very well and I am able to blow some incredible smoke rings. This was really a great cigar and a great follow up to my last review.

I give this cigar 94 points and I am about to light up another one of these. I think the Illusione line is so flavorful and blended so well that you can't go wrong with any size, but I think the ~2~ is definitely my current favorite vitola. I love the belicoso format and this is a classic belicoso. With a wonderful price range and incredible flavors I don't think there are many cigars that can compete with this line and I know that I will always have these in everyone of my humidor, and will always pick on up in a cigar shop. We should all thank Dion Giolito for these great smokes.    

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cruzado Dantes

Almost three months ago I reviewed the Cruzado Marios, and if you refer to that review, Cruzado Marios by Seth's Humidor, my review was that the cigar was not great but it was far from poor. I think the line is a little more spicy and "raw" than his others lines but still rather enjoyable. The tobacco in the cigar is entirely Nicaraguan and is composed of Criollo '98 and Corojo 2006 tobacco. The cigar measures 5" with a 48 ring gauge it is really nice in hand. The wrapper has a reddish brown color to it and has a wonderful aroma of spice, leather and wood. I must say that I like that the ring gauge is 48. I know that this cigar is technically a robusto, but because of the thin ring gauge it really gives you a little bit more flavor of the wrapper than a typical robusto. I have had a couple of these a few months ago, and I remember them being quite delicious but we will see how this is.

The cigar begins showing lots of spices and leather and is definitely full body. The burn is not quite even but it is not burning poor at all. I do take into account the burn in cigars, but to me it is not as big of a deal. As I get into the second third of the cigar the flavors are a little more complex showing some wood notes as well, but overall the cigar is still dominantly leather and spice. I am getting a tiny bit of harshness in the back during this second third, but it is not to over powering and not too unpleasant. The burn has corrected itself in the second third and it is providing a great amount of smoke. The strength is still full body and probably the most full bodied Illusione I have smoked. I just entered the final third now and the cigar is showing the most amount of flavors that the cigar has shown so far. I am getting lots of nuts, coffee, leather, wood and spice and I am wishing that this third was what the whole cigar was like. It burned perfectly from here down to the nub and the smoke was still great.

I would give this cigar a 90 rating and I wish I had a couple more to see the differences. This is probably the first one of these cigars that really hasn't been consistent, but that happens from time to time. When you make a cigar by hand it is not going to be perfect or as close to perfect as possible, but that is why I love it. I think if I was going to pick up this cigar line again I would choose the churchill vitola, but this is still a pleasant smoke. If you want the fullest bodied Illusione Cigar than this is the cigar for you but if you want the most flavorful I would steer you in another direction. Enjoyable cigar but not my cup of tea.
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