Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I don't know why it's worked out this way, since my humidor is overflowing right now, but I seem to have been bumming a lot of cigars from Shaun lately. As the scotch, smokes, and good times pile up, so do the reviews. Here's a batch of short reviews of cigars I didn't pay a cent to try:

Blue Label
Size: 6 x 44 (corona)
Tobacco: Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican, with Habano wrapper
Price: $3.25

I mooched a couple of these, one at the casino and one by the pool. They’re made in the same factory as Gran Habano and sold through Cigars International. CI has been hawking them hard lately, and I think Shaun picked them up on the cheap as a daily special. If the two I smoked are any indication, they’ll stay cheap. Both cigars—even the one with two months age in the humidor—were bitter and harsh. Not at all recommended.

La Flor Dominicana Ligero L400
Size: 5.7 x 54
Tobacco: Dominican, with an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper
Price: $5

Like the Double Ligero I reviewed earlier, this is an excellent cigar. It’s does not have the same knock-you-down-and-stomp-on-your-nads powerhouse thing going on, but its spicy, full-bodied, and packs plenty of pepper flavors. It was very similar, I thought, to a San Luis Rey. Maybe a little stronger, because I had broken out into a small sweat by the time it was over (of course, that might have been because I was also losing all my chips in the friendly church poker game that night). Flawless construction, good draw, slow burn. If this was the only cigar I could smoke for the rest of my life, I’d be ok with that.

El Mejor Elmerald Toro
Size: 6.0 x 52
Tobacco: Nicaragua, with a Hondruan-grown Corojo wrapper
Price: $2.25

Shaun gave me this cigar one Saturday evening, to enjoy on his back porch with a single-malt libation. This line of cigars is blended and manufactured by Nestor Plasencia in his Honduras factory. Plasencia is most well-known for developing the Habana2000 wrapper (used in a variety of cigars, such as Maria Mancini ) and the popular blends for Rocky Patel's Edge and Sungrown lines. Despite a low price point and apparently being sold exclusively through Cigars International, Shaun and I were both impressed by this cigar.

Appearance: The cigars came dressed in cedar sleeves, which always add a nice aroma, even if I don’t notice that they changed the taste very much. These cigars also have a pigtail cap (like the CAO criollo) and an unwrapped “shaggy foot”. I’ve heard the shaggy foot is popular in Cuba, and I’ve seen these before, but this was my first time to smoke one. The shaggy foot smoked as well as the rest of the cigar, but it was a little harder to get lit evenly than a regular foot.

Taste: It had a loose draw with lots of leafy, oaky, grassy flavors. It started off with mediuim body and strength, but grew stronger and spicier as it burned. Despite only being in the humidor a few days, my cigar did not taste at all young or harsh. The online description states the cigar goes through six months of box aging and has a “core of rich, searing Ligero tobaccos”. I don’t know about “rich” and “searing” but you can definitely taste the ligero leaf. The finish was unremarkable.

Construction: Smooth, even burn. No problems whatsoever.

I”d rate this a 7 out of 10. Definitely a decent bargain. Would try again.

Padilla Obsidian Bellicoso
Size: 6 x 54
Tobacco: Honduran and Nicaraguan
Price: $3.50

The bands on these cigars announce exclusivity: it says “Padilla Limitado” and “Edicion Especial 2006”. The internet is littered with its praises. It certainly looks impressive, wrapped in a jet-black ligero leaf. Even though I’m not a big fan of most maduros, I wanted to give this one a try.

What can I say? Stay away… far, far away.

How did ye disappoint me? Let me count the ways:

Poor construction. Although I had a good initial light, this cigar went out on me twice. There was no wind to blame it on, and I gave it constant, steady attention. The cigar just went dead twice, due to places where the tobacco was very, very loose.

Lack of flavor. The cigar began ‘ok’ with smooth, mellow, earthy notes. As it burned, it got progressively stronger in terms of nicotine content, but the flavor petered out. It’s kind of odd to describe a full strength/weak flavor combination, but that’s what this cigar has.

Failed the wet finger test. Maduro tobacco is dark brown, but not black, unless it has been dyed. I licked my finger, ran it across the tip of the cigar, and sure enough, drew back a brown finger. I found the following posting on ClubStogie.com:

Originally Posted by nozero
…I won a Cbid on Padilla Edicion Especial ’Obsidian’ (belicoso). The first two had no problem, the third however stained my lower lip. I emailed Cbid customer service about this, and here is their reply.

"Customer service comment by: Tom Date: 6/25/2008 5:15 PM
I apologize for that sir, although they are maduro cigars, they are dyed to make them look even darker and sometimes the dye will come off. Thanks."

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