Today's reviews come from the back porch, lounging by the pool, while smoking the last of my Flor de A. Allones bellicosos. This cigar, with 10 months age on it, has grown richer and spicier. A definite winner.
Before I commence with my latest batch of reviews, I wanted to post my latest internet cigar haul. I just bought a 300-ct glass-top humidor and this is how I plan to fill it up:
from Cigar Bid
1 Box 5 Vegas Miami by Pepin Garcia ($57)
1 Box Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet by Oliva ($51)
1 Box Gran Habano #3 Corojo ($45)
1 Box Padilla Hybrid ($43)
1 "cuban wheel" Perdomo Fresh-Rolled ($69)
-- i.e, 50 puros that have not been aged, with no bands, no box, no cellopane
from JR Cigars
1 Box Flor de Murias ($39.50)
from Cuban Crafters
1 Box-Don Kiki Brown Churchill ($54)
1 Bundle-Tio Pepe ($34)
That's 205 stogies, at an average price of $1.92. All are well-known premium brands, except Flor de Murias and Teo Pepe. (All prices include shipping).
I need to win two more auctions to make sure the humidor is set for a year: a box of Legends by Pepin and a 60-ct chest of Omar Ortez Originals. Unfortunately, it's getting harder to find the really cheap steals. Everybody is stocking up because in two months, the new $0.40 federal cigar tax is coming.
Update 03-15-09: I added a crate of 60 Omar Ortez Originals ($130) and a box of Ramon Allones Reserve ($43). I didn't win the Pepins. But this gives me 285 cigars in the new humidor, plus my current inventory (about 115 cigars). My goal is to let most of them age for 9 months. At current rate of consumption, this should give me enough smoking supply to last until late 2011.
Africa by Don Lino
Size: 5 x 50 (the "Duma")
Tobacco: Africa, Honduras, Nicaragua, DR
Each size in the Africa by Don Lino line has been ascribed the Maasi tribal name for a famous exotic animal on the continent. In addition to Duma, there is Kiboko, Kifaro, Kuro, Punda Milio, and Tembo.
The cigar is very attractive, with a shiny, oily dark brown wrapper, for the most part free from veins or bumps. It has a soft earthy pre-light aroma, with almost no pre-light taste. The draw is smooth, the burn slow and precise. It is medium in both body and taste. In the first half, the primary flavor is earthy with a slight spicy bite on the finish. In the second half, the spiciness is replaced by a dominate coffee flavor
I smoked this one last night over at Shaun's house. I was loopy from some cold medicine I had taken, so I did not pair it with any drink. It was a solid, enjoyable cigar; it didn't blow me away by any means, but I would certainly smoke one again.
La Herencia Cubana
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaragua (regions: Jalapa, Condega, Esteli)
I bought a 20-cigar sampler of this brand on CigarBid for around $36, that included the robusto, lonsdale, toro, and torpedo sizes. I don't know that I would have ever noticed this little boutique cigar from AJ Fernandez, until I read this glowing review on another blog.
This cigar is a very good everyday, after-dinner treat. It is fairly one-dimensional, but has a lot of pepper-spice flavor with a healthy finish. Pairs well with scotches, bourbons, and lagers. I've never had any problems with the draw or the construction. Despite having a Sumatra wrapper and being (nearly) a Nicaraguan puro, it does not have the same rich flavor as other Nicaraguan puros like Padron and Omar Ortez Originals. There is a very faint, bitter, almost acidic, undercurrent while you smoke it. Hard to describe and very unique; I'm not sure I've ever tasted it before.
It is, indeed, similar to some of Pepin Garcia's stuff -- at a fraction of the price. Something tells me the CBid samplers won't be going for $2/stick very long.
Omar Ortez Original Bellicoso
Size: 6.12 x 52
Tobacco: Nicaraguan Puro
Price: $5 (Tobacco Corner in Memphis)
I don't know who Omar Ortez is, but his namesake cigar is, right now, my new favorite cigar in all the world. It started, I'm sure, as Altadis' answer to the ever-popular Edge brand. Like Edge, the Omar Ortez Originals came unbanded in massive crates of 60 cigars. Once Rocky Patel started putting a foot band on his Edge, then Omar Ortez came out with a similar-looking foot band as well. This was clearly supposed to be a knock-off product. But here's the kicker: it's better than Edge. A lot better.
I smoked my first one about a year ago, and loved it. But I didn't have room to buy a box of 60. I remember back then, some of those crates sold on CigarBid for $80-90. However, the word is now out. Now that I have the storage capacity, those same crates never go for less than $136. JR Cigars sells them for $160. SeriousCigars sell them for $142.
This is one of the ugliest cigars I've ever seen on the market. The dark brown wrapper that is covered, head to foot, with "tooth" and veins. The pre-light taste of the wrapper is nondescript, leading you to think maybe it is not a strong cigar. But when you light this puro, the initial blast is strong, spicy, and harsh. Very "Pepin-esque" (although I hate that term). After a few minutes, though, the harshness subsides and then this cigar becomes very similar in taste to a Padron-- a lot of spice, a lot of earth, a little coffee perhaps, but never dull and never bland. The only negative to this cigar, if there is one, is an overly loose draw.
If I can get this cigar at around $2-$2.50 on CigarBid, this will become my staple after-dinner smoke. And my posts to this blog will decrease. Because once you've found what you're looking for... why keep looking?
Postscript 03-20-09: I recently learned the Omar Ortez Originals are named after a prominent tobacco grower who has survived and prospered in Nicaragua under both the sandinistas and the current government. They are manufactured in the NATSA (Nicaraguan American Tobaccos S.A) factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The factory is jointly owned by Lew Rothman of JR Cigars and the Oliva family in Tampa.