--> Cigar Coop: April 2012

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cigar Pre-Review: Romeo by Romeo y Julieta

Romeo by Romeo y Juliet
Romeo y Julieta is a line of cigars that is well-known to most cigar enthusiasts.   It is right up there as far as being one of the best selling brands of cigars in the world.  At the same time, with the rise of boutique blends, Romeo y Julieta cigars are probably not in the regular smoking rotation of many "next generation" cigar enthusiasts.   In an attempt to capitalize on that segment of the cigar market, Altadis USA is introducing the "Romeo by Romeo y Julieta" cigar.  This new blend is an attempt to move away from the milder smokes the line has become known for.  At the same time, it integrates contemporary packaging for this cigar.   The end result is very good, and it continues what has been a solid year for new products by Altadis USA.

On the 4/14/12 Cigar Dave Show, Cigar Dave mentioned this would be the featured cigar for his annual broadcast on 6/23 in Charlotte, North Carolina.   However, while the previous three years featured world premieres by Altadis at that broadcast, word is the Romeo will hit the stores before this event.

I recently have had a chance to sample a pre-release cigar.   As always, with pre-release cigars, we will use the "pre-review" format to provide thoughts and experiences with the cigar.  In the future, when the cigar hits the market, we will do an assessment update.

Blend Profile

The Romeo is made at Altadis' famed Tabacalera de Garcia. The Romeo's distinguishing factor is its  Ecuadorian Habano-seed wrapper.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano-seed
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican

Vitolas Available

In addition to the contemporary packaging, the Romeo will also capitalize on a trend toward larger ring gauge cigars.

Piramdes: 6 1/8 x 52
Robusto: 5 x 54
Toro: 6 x 54
Churchill: 7 x 56

Appearance

For this cigar pre-review, I smoked the Toro sized vitola.  The Ecuadorian Habano-seed wrapper is definitely a darker look for Romeo y Julieta.  I would categorize it as medium brown in color and medium oil in complexion. There are a few dark spots on the wrapper.  While there also are a few visible wrapper seams, I found the wrapper to be smooth to the touch.

The band reflects the contemporary packaging of the Romeo.    It has a red, white, and gold color scheme.  The band features the text "RO" in large white font with a gold trim  Under that text is "ME"in larger white font with a gold trim.  Finally, under that text and offset to the right (just under the "E") is the text "O" in the smallest white font and gold trim.  This text sits on a red rectangular field that is surrounded by a thick gold-colored trim.

The back of the band reflects features gold and red striping on a white background.  The name "Romeo y Julieta" is in red font in the middle of the striping design.

The box is interesting as it combines the new contemporary packaging for Romeo with the classic packaging for the Romeo y Julieta line.  The left side of the box is in red reflecting the contemporary Romeo logo.  The right side is in white and features the classic Romeo y Julieta logo.

Box of the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my Romeo Toro, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut.  I proceeded to commence with the pre-light draw.   The dry draw notes yielded more of a classic flavor profile of natural tobacco and cedar spice.  Overall, I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw on the Romeo.  At this point, I was very curious to fire this cigar up and see what the flavor profile for the smoke would bring to the table,

Flavor Profile

The flavor profile to the Romeo continued where the pre-light draw left off, but with bolder notes of natural tobacco and cedar.   One thing I liked about the Romeo was how even though it is positioned as contemporary, the flavor notes were very classic.

The natural tobacco notes became the primary flavor note early on.  The cedar spice moved into the background and was balanced by notes of cinnamon and nut.  This continued to provide what I considered to be a very classic flavor profile.  By around the midway point of the smoke, the nut flavors moved up into the forefront with the natural tobacco.  While the cedar spice remained in the background, the cinnamon notes had dissipated.

A little before the 2/3 point, the natural tobacco moved into the background and the spice increased, joining the nuts in the forefront.  At this point, the spice had more of a pepper quality.   As the Romeo approached the nub, the spice really kicked up a notch.  This cigar had an extremely spicy finish.  I wouldn't categorize it as harsh, but one that is simply spicy.  The resulting nub was outstanding - cool in temperature and firm to the touch.

Burn and Draw

The Romeo is definitely one of the best cigars this year in terms of its construction attributes for burn and draw.   The burn was razor sharp from start to finish - and required very little in the way of touch-ups.  The burn temperature and burn rate were ideal from start to finish.


Burn of the Romeo by Romeo y Julieta

The draw had just a touch of resistance - and I look at that as positive when assessing the draw.  It still was what I consider an ideal draw and made the Romeo a real joy to smoke.

Strength and Body

I will agree that the Romeo is successful in moving away from the "milder" roots of the Romeo y Juliet brand for both strength and body.   What I won't say is that the Romeo is a "full" smoke in terms of strength and body.  In my opinion, this cigar falls right in the middle and is a classic medium strength, medium-bodied cigar.  There is nothing wrong with this - as I do believe this provides the perfect amount of strength balanced against just enough flavor depth.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned up front, 2012 is proving to be a very good year for Altadis.  The company has gone through some major changes at the top with the retirements of Jim Collucci and Jose Seijas - yet it is producing some very good cigars. The Romeo will join the Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition and VegaFina Sumum 2010  as standout releases for 2012.   This cigar can appeal to both new generation cigar enthusiasts as well as long time cigar enthusiasts.  It's a good cigar to graduate both the novice cigar enthusiast and classic Romeo y Julieta cigar enthusiast into.   I also think some seasoned cigar enthusiasts will enjoy this cigar.   It certainly is a cigar I look forward to smoking again.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium
Finish: Excellent

Source: The cigar for this assessment were provided by Altadis USA .  These samples were initiated by Altadis USA in order to provide feedback.  Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cigar Review: Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped

Partagas 1845 Hertiage Rewrapped
Up until this month,  General Cigar Company's product releases for 2012 have focused around line extensions (as well as the annual release of the Punch Rare Corojo series).  However last month General announced that a new blend was being added to the Partagas brand.  This is significant because this is the first new blend to come to Partagas line in a long time.   This cigar is called the Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped.  From its presentation to packaging to the overall smoking experience, it appears that General Cigar has a winner with its new cigar.

The new blend was a collaboration between Jhonys Diaz, Francisco Rodriguez, and Yuri Guillen of General Cigars. The legendary Benji Menendez served as an advisor for the project.  According to the press release, Diaz and his team worked through 50 different blends before coming up with the final blend.

As for the name 1845 (which is a name on other Partagas Cigars), this is significant because it marks the year Don Jaime Partagas y Ravelo established the Partagas factory in Havana Cuba. 

Let's take a closer look at the Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

The name "Rewrapped" is in reference that this is the first Partagas cigar to use an Ecuadorian Habano Viso wrapper.  As for the binder, it is a proprietary Habano-seed tobacco that originates from Connecticut called "Connecticut Habano".

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Seed Viso
Binder: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan (from three regions)

Vitolas Available

The Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped comes in four vitolas and is packaged 20 to a box:

Corona Extra: 4 1/2 x 46
Robusto: 5 1/2 x 49
Double Corona: 7 1/4 x 54
Gigante: 6 x 60

The box is unique for the Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped.  It features an acrylic, frosted lid with the banding of the cigars inside still visible.  The lid slides off and it can then be used as a pedastal for the box. There is an opening on the front to easily pull out a cigar.  The Partagas 1845 web-site has a nice photo of this box.  The box contains an information card with a QR Code on it.

Appearance

For my cigar experience, I opted to go with the Robusto. General Cigar advertised the Ecuadorian Habano Viso wrapper as being unique - and from its appearance, I can see why.  The color of the wrapper has a strong colorado reddish tint to it.  There are some dark spots on the wrapper.  I'd also categorize the wrapper as somewhat oily.   There are also some visible wrapper seams and visible veins.

The distinguishing characteristic is that the design of this band is situated to be horizontal.  The color scheme of the band is black and gold.  There is a gold eagle in the center of the band.   There is a black ring surrounding most of the eagle (its wings do cross the ring on the left and right).  Across the top of the ring is the text "Partagas" in gold.  Under the eagle and intersecting the black ring, there are two concentric ovals with black borders  Inside the middle oval it says "1845" in a gold etched style on a gold background.  The outer oval has a darker gold shade.  It has the text "FLOR DE TABACOS" across the top part and "CIFUENTES Y CIA" on the bottom - both in black font.  There is additional black and gold around the rest of the band.

Banding of the Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my Partagas 1845 Hertiage Rewrapped Robusto, I opted to go with my usual straight cut into the cap.  The pre-light draw provided me notes of cocoa, cedar, and nuts.  Overall, I was pleased with the dry draw notes by this cigar.  At this point, it was time to fire up the Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped and see what the smoking experience would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The initial flavor profile of the Partagas 1845 Heritage started out with a nice blast of baker's spice.  There were also some nut flavors mixed in with the spice.  It wasn't quite a Garcia family pepper blast found on My Father Cigars.  I would categorize this blast as significant, yet different than the trademark Garcia spice at a beginning of a cigar.  The spice settled into somewhat of a sweet baker's spice - sharing the forefront with the nut flavors.  The nut flavors eventually moved slightly ahead of the spice as the primary note.

As I mentioned the spice had some sweet qualities to it.  By the end of the first third, those sweet notes seemed to separate out from the spice.  I categorized this sweetness as dried fruit.  The dried fruit flavors joined the nut in the forefront with a more classic baker's spice in the background.

As the Partagas 1845 Heritage moved into the second third, the dried fruit had more of a raisin quality.   The raisin notes soon stood alone in the forefront.  The nut notes now played more of a secondary role, and the bakers spice was in a tertiary role.  There were even times I detected some caramel sweetness in the second third.

Later the sweetness dialed back a little and was on par with the nut flavor.  The spice soon picked up in the last third.  Eventually the spice, raisin, and nut flavors were all at the same level.   This is how the flavor profile of the Partagas 1845 Heritage finished.  The nub was a little softer in touch and warmer in temperature than I preferred (this happened on each sample), but I wouldn't categorize the finish as harsh either.
.
Burn and Draw

As for the burn and draw, the best way to categorize these attributes is good, but short of excellent.  I smoked two samples for this assessment, and my experiences were identical in both cases.  The burn did require several touch-ups throughout the smoke.  My butane lighter did the job to keep the burn going straight, but there were more touch-ups required than I would have liked.  The burn rate was ideal.  The burn temperature was ideal for most of the smoke - except for the end where it was a little warmer than I liked.

I normally like a little resistance on the draw, but I did find the draw tighter than I would have liked.  This was not a draw I had to struggle with too much, but I wondering if this contributed to the uneven burn.

Strength and Body

From a nicotine standpoint, the Partagas 1845 Heritage does provide some pop.  For the most part I categorized this on the upper end of medium to full for the majority of the smoking experience.  Toward the end, I actually felt this had enough pop to notch its way into full strength territory.  As for the body, there is some nice depth to the flavors from start to finish.  I also assessed this to be on the upper end of medium to full-bodied.  Except for the finish (which has more strength), the strength and body balance each other very well on this cigar throughout the smoking experience.

Final Thoughts

In thought 2010 was a great year for General Cigar.  In 2011, I thought they fell a little short in terms of what they delivered.  However 2012 is off to a great start for General.  The Partagas 1845 Heritage Rewrapped was a very good cigar.  Even though it had some burn/draw issues, I would say these were minor and not major.  I'm curious to see if time corrects some of these issues.  This is a great cigar to put the Partagas line back out front and center.  This is a nice cigar for a novice cigar enthusiast looking to move into something medium to full in both strength and body.  I think seasoned cigar enthusiasts will enjoy this cigar as well.   This is a cigar I certainly look forward to smoking again.

Summary

Burn: Good
Draw: Good
Complexity: High
Strength: Medium to Full (Full at end)
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 91

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois and Iwan Ries in Chicago, Illinois.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Press Release: Butthead's Tobacco Emporium Introduces Live Web Streaming Events; Bring Great B&M Experience to the Online World


Butthead's Tobacco Emporium Introduces Live Web Streaming Events
Bring Great B&M Experience to the Online World

Danbury, Connecticut - Butthead's Tobacco Emporium in Danbury, Connecticut is introducing live event streaming. At their weekly in-store events a live stream will take place on the Butthead's Tobacco Emporium Website and consumers can call up and order. All event specials are available even if you can’t get to the store!

This new tool will allow customers who do not have a B&M in their area, or who have one that does not have many active events, to still have access to great cigar promotions. Now anyone can simply watch the promotional video on the day of an event then call the store and place an order. It really is that simple.

On each event day, generally Thursdays, there will be a teaser video for the event posted on the Butthead's Tobacco Emporium Live Event Streaming page. This teaser will explain the deals and a little bit about the company hosting the event that week. Around 3 pm another video will be on the page with the rep discussing the company in detail and again listing the deals available.  The deals during an event usually are buy a box of 20 get 7 for free, and sometimes additional swag (I.E Hats, Shirts, Lighters, Cutters). All purchases qualify for in-store raffles.

Butthead's Tobacco Emporium has been in business since 1999, and is a full service Tobacconist. The Danbury location has over 2,300 open boxes of cigars at any given time and a knowledgeable staff ready to assist you. In addition to having one of the largest and widest selections of cigars in the Northeast, Butthead's is also known for their in store events. With over 45 events taking place a year, there is always something going on at Butthead's Tobacco Emporium. These events include not only new cigar releases, but also dinners, and herfs.
 
Follow Butthead's Tobacco Emporium on Facebook and Twitter.

Butthead’s Tobacco Emporium Danbury
5 Padanaram Road
Danbury, CT 06811
(203) 792 - 4327

Click here for video recorded with Michael Herklots at Butthead Tobacco Emporium's Nat Sherman event.

Source: This press release was sent from Butthead's Tobacco Emporium.  To better promote the cigar industry, Cigar Coop will post press releases as a free service to all cigar companies and organizations that choose to send Cigar Coop press releases.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cigar Draft 2012



The concept of our Cigar Draft is simple.   We take a look at some of the new cigars that are in the pipeline.  If all of these new cigars were released at once, which ones would be the first to reach for?  A lot of variables play into this - the reputation of the company/blender, what is known about the blend, how much hype surrounds the cigar, and just some intangibles.  Current plans are for our Cigar Draft to coincide with the NFL Draft each year.

Last year, we got a steal as our #19 pick - the La Palina El Diario ended up being our #1 Cigar of the Year.  Our number one pick overall was the Camacho Super Limitado.  However that cigar was so hard to get, that it never had a chance to be "signed".

Picked Number 19 Overall in 2011, La Palina El Diario was our #1 Cigar of the Year
Last year we ran our first cigar draft.  This year, we've put some parameters around it.

1) The cigar cannot be released (for sale) to retailers or released in limited quantities
2) Only new blends are considered for the draft.  Line extensions or re-branded blends are not eligible.
3) Cigars targeted from now until Thanksgiving 2012 are considered (the end of the cigar year for Cigar Coop).  If it is known the release is past Thanksgiving, it is not eligible for selection.
4) Certain annual release cigars that are consistently released were considered.
5) If a sample of an upcoming release has been received and/or smoked by Cigar Coop, it is not eligible.
6) Retail-exclusive cigars are not considered.

Here are our selections - as made by Cigar Coop Editor, William Cooper:

1. Illusione Singulare 2011/2012 Rosado

When I smoked the Illusione Singulare 2010, I was blown away.  Since then I've been waiting for the encore.  A few weeks ago, Dion Giolito gave an update on Kiss My Ash Radio on the state of this line.  It turns out that both the Illusione 2011/2012 will be packaged together - and released together.  One will be a rosado wrapper and one will be a maduro wrapper.

While I've been a big fan of Giolito's foray into maduro, I'm going with the Rosado.  Call it a gut pick, but I'm thinking this is going to be the better and more complex blend.  Since we don't know which blend will be the 2011/2012, I'm putting both on there.

2.Tatuaje Mummy

Over the past year, I've really come to appreciate Pete Johnson's Monster Series blends.  While I'm not ready to go through hoops to try to get one, I know this will be a sought after cigar.  Given the hype and given a good track record by Johnson on this series, I'm using the second overall pick for this cigar. I'm intrigued by the plans for this to be a box-press.

This selection is not for the "Little Monsters Mini Mum" which will actually be released before the Mummy in the Little Monsters Series.

3.Room 101 Daruma

The February 21st Cigar Insider revealed some details of this upcoming blend by Matt Booth and Room 101 Cigars.  2011 marked a big turning point for Room 101 as a lot of the promise of this brand was finally realized.  This is targeted late for 2012, so it is possible this pick might be a risk to miss the deadline.  Still, I will risk it and use my third overall pick for this one.

4.La Palina El Diario Maduro

La Palina Cigars have just hit homeruns since they debuted in 2010.  As mentioned above, the La Palina El Diario was selected late in the draft last year - and it wound up being our #1 Cigar of the Year.  La Palina founder Bill Paley recently said in Cigar Insider that a maduro version of the El Diario is being planned in time for the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show.

This is Paley's first foray into a maduro cigar. Given how good the original El Diario was - and given Paley's track record, this is worth a lottery pick and is being selected fourth overall.

5.Tatuaje TAA 2012

I was a little underwhelmed when the original Tatuaje Cigar blended for the TAA was first released.  However, this cigar has really matured with age.  Halfwheel.com reported that Johnson is planning another release for the TAA in 2012.  No details of the blend are known, but if this is a new blend, I say its worth taking this cigar fifth overall.   This is Johnson and Tatuaje's second cigar in the top five of the draft.

6.Illusione Singulare 2011/2012 Maduro

While the Rosado blend was our first overall pick, I still have high hopes for the maduro version - especially since I was a big fan of Illusione's Core Line Maduro.  This cigar is easily worthy of being the sixth overall pick.

7.Emilio Draig-K

In 2011, Emilio Cigars was the revelation of the cigar industry.  They placed two cigars in the Top 30 and also garnered an honorable mention.  No doubt, Emilio Cigars' founder Gary Griffith is not going to cut corners here.

The Draig line is intended to be a small batch, limited production cigar. The plan is for each year is to produce an entirely new cigar blend in the series. In addition, a different factory each year will be used to produce the cigar.  According to an interview done by Cigar Craig with Griffith, the Draig-K will be leveraging a Colombian Cubanito wrapper.  Griffith is definitely one of the cigar industry's mad scientists and thus the Draig-K is worthy of being the seventh selection overall.

8.La Palina Goldie

Bill Paley also mentioned to Cigar Insider his plans for a new line.  This time Paley joins forces with El Titan de Bronze to create this new line. The Goldie gets its name from Paley's grandmother.  Goldie's Paley's image appears on the banding and packaging of La Palina cigars.  The concept behind the project is that it will be a limited annual edition cigar that each year will come out in a different frontmark.  Another unique feature will be the cigar will be rolled by a single roller.

This year's release will be a lancero.  I'm not a huge lancero guy, but given La Palina's reputation and the concept for this project, I still had this as my eighth overall selection.

9.Opus X Angel Share

Carlito Fuente gave Cigar Dave some information on some of the cigars being planned for Fuente's 100th anniversary.  The Angel Share marks a new blend for Opus X.  This cigar uses a concept similar to the Drew Estate Undercrown by leveraging different primings of tobaccos for Opus X.  It still is an Opus X, so I'm going to select this at #9 - and it could turn out to be a steal.

10.My Father La Duena

This has been known as the "Janny Garcia Cigar" for some time.  While the Garcia family blends cigars for Pete Johnson and Tatuaje, this time it is Johnson who has been involved with the blending, but the cigar will be sold under My Father Cigars.  My Father Cigars and Tatuaje have had a great twelve months.   I'm going to use this #10 pick as I think it will provide real value at the mid-point of the draft.

11.Padron Family Reserve 48th/86th Maduro

The Padron Family Reserve 85th Maduro did not live up to expectations I had.  It still garnered an honorable mention on the 2011 Cigar of the Year countdown.  As a result this cigar falls to #11 overall.  I'm counting on Padron bouncing back.

Not sure if Padron will go back to calling this the 48th (company's anniversary) or 86th (Jose O Padron's age).  In fact, nothing official has been said, but I'm banking on the fact there will be a release. Whatever it is called, this will be the selection.

12.Oliva Serie V Maduro 2012

The Oliva Serie V Maduro has been an annual release from Oliva Cigar Company since 2008. For this selection, while there has nothing official been said from Oliva cigars on this release for this year, I'm banking on the fact that there will be an Oliva Serie V Maduro for 2012.  I was thrilled that Oliva went in the direction for a Toro in 2011, and am hoping this trend continues.   This could be another value pick at #12 overall.

13.Emilio AF Suave

This is the only Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade cigar that I am drafting.  While I think there are way too many releases being planned with this wrapper, the Emilio AF Suave intrigues me because it is another combination by Gary Griffith and A.J. Fernandez.

In 2010, I feel A.J. Fernandez really changed the game when it came to Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade cigars with his San Lotano Connecticut.  Given he has a track record, and given Emilio is doing some really good stuff,  I'm going to use my #13 overall pick on this one.

14.Viaje Honey and Hand Grenades

Other than a few hints in some recent Viaje shipments, we don't know a lot about this blend.   This is par for the course with Viaje.   Viaje has had a solid 2012 and issues with Viaje's being "not ready to smoke out of the box" seem to be a thing of the past.  A late round pick at #14 is worthy for this blend.

15.Perdomo Commemorativo

I drafted this cigar last year - and it could delayed into 2012.  Nick Perdomo was recently a guest on Kiss My Ash Radio and said the Commemorativo will be released this year.  There was a lot of hype surrounding this cigar last year.  Perdomo deserves credit for waiting until this was ready for prime time  I'm going to use a late round pick on this one at #15.

16.Espinosa La Zona

Earlier this year, Eddie Ortega left EO Brands to form Ortega Cigars.   While Erik Espinosa is still involved with EO Brands, he has also moved forward to launch his own cigar company called Espinosa Cigrs.  The debut cigar is being targeted for a May 2012 launch.   While I don't know much about this, I'm going to go on the reputation Espinosa has with EO Brands and use a #16 pick for this cigar.

17. Alec Bradley American Heritage

The Alec Bradley American Heritage is meant to be a complimentary blend to the American Classic.   Not a lot of details are known about this one (although I don't believe its Ecuadorian Connecticut like the American Classic).  The American Classic was a nice surprise from 2011, so I'm banking on this one being good as well.  It's definitely worthy of going late in the draft.

18.Padron Family Reserve 48th/86th Natural

Padron is known for making their blends with both a natural and maduro wrapper.  Across the board, I am more of a fan of what they do for Maduro.  However with this cigar sitting there at #18, it was definitely worth making a pick.  I was disappointed with the Padron Family Reserve 85th Natural, so I'm hoping this one bounces back.

19.La Aurora 107 Maduro

Last year, the pick at #19 was the La Palina El Diario - and that won our Cigar of the Year.   Could lightning strike twice?  The La Aurora 107 Maduro has been something La Aurora fans have been waiting on for some time.  It looks like it will be released this year.   With this cigar still standing at #19, I'm picking it.

20.Casa Cuba

This is a new line that has been planned by Fuente for some time.  I'm excited about Fuente's 100th Anniversary.  I'm going to select it with my one remaining pick and see what happens.

There you have it.   There are some anticipated cigars that are not included on the list.  They either didn't meet the criteria or in my opinion are subject to too much hype.  Let the second guessing begin.

Press Release: Romeo by Romeo y Julieta



Altadis USA is pleased to announce the upcoming launch of the latest act in this enduring love story - ROMEO by Romeo y Julieta.

A Romeo y Julieta cigar unlike any to come before!

Ever since 1875, cigar aficionados have been passionate about Romeo y Julieta.As one of the premium cigar world's best-known and most highly trusted brands, Romeo y Julieta has always been revered for its consistently excellent, mild smokes. Now, Romeo brings new excitement to the contemporary aficionado with this line of modern, fuller-bodied cigars. The new cigar will be available at retail tobacconists in May. Robust, full-bodied and rich in complex flavor nuances, Romeo is meticulously crafted at the famed Tabacalera de Garcia in the Dominican Republic by the skilled hands of the factory's most accomplished artisans, each with decades of expertise, chosen specifically to create this uncommon cigar. The new cigar will be available in four sizes: Churchill, Piramide, Robusto and Toro. We’ve made an early introduction of the new Romeo cigar at the TAA meeting and start presenting the brand during the week of April 23.

Romeo by Romeo y Julieta - a spectacular smokedestined to set a new trend in luxury cigars.


Source: This press release and associated photos were sent by Altadis USA. Cigar Coop will post press releases as a service to all cigar companies that choose to send Cigar Coop press releases.

For additional information on this cigar, read our Cigar Preview.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

News/Press Release: Counterfeit Cohiba Cigars Seized in Miami

April 24, 2012

COUNTERFEIT COHIBA CIGARS SEIZED IN MIAMI

Richmond, VA— General Cigar announces that a team of special agents from the Miami Office of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco conducted raids yesterday resulting in the seizure of over 10,000 counterfeit COHIBA® cigars with an estimated retail value of more than $200,000. 

The counterfeit cigar seizures followed an investigation conducted by law enforcement, in cooperation with General Cigar, which is the exclusive owner of the COHIBA trademark in the U.S. 

The raids took place at retail stores located on Calle Ocho, a popular tourist destination in Miami’s Little Havana district.  Law enforcement officials are expected to file criminal charges for violations of Florida state law relating to counterfeit goods.

The seized counterfeit cigars featured cigar bands displaying the word COHIBA® and “Republica Dominicana”  and were packaged in various styles of wooden boxes which also displayed the COHIBA® mark.  According to the special agents involved, approximately 1,800 boxes of counterfeit COHIBA® cigars were seized.

Dan Carr, president of General Cigar said, “Protecting cigar consumers from counterfeiters and maintaining the integrity of our products is a top priority for the company, and we are very grateful for the efforts of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as the investigation continues.”

General Cigar devotes significant resources to protecting the COHIBA® brand, which is a frequent target of cigar counterfeiters. In November of 2011, the company’s cooperation with federal and Florida state law enforcement agencies led to the seizure of more than 3,000 counterfeit COHIBA® cigars from seven tobacco retail stores located in Key West, Florida.



About General Cigar
General Cigar Co. Inc., a division of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, manufactures and markets handcrafted cigars for the premium market. Committed to delivering cigars of the finest quality, General Cigar’s skilled artisans produce Macanudo®, COHIBA, La Gloria Cubana®, CAO, Partagas®, Punch®, Hoyo de Monterrey®, Excalibur® and several other leading premium brands in the company’s Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan factories.

In addition, the company cultivates proprietary tobacco which is used exclusively in its blends. General Cigar also operates Club Macanudo®, a cigar bar in New York City. Based in Richmond, VA, General Cigar sells through tobacconists nationwide and also exports select products to 62 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.cigarworld.com/.

® COHIBA, Macanudo, La Gloria Cubana, Partagas, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, Excalibur and Club Macanudo are registered trademarks of General Cigar Co. Inc.                                                                              

Source: This press release and associated photos were sent by General Cigar. Cigar Coop will post press releases as a service to all cigar companies that choose to send Cigar Coop press releases.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Event: Daniel & Gabriel Amoruso’s 529 College Savings Program Fundraising Event

Larry Amoruso (4th from left) - flanked by the military
We don't promote a lot of events on this web-site anymore, but we do get some press releases or emails and from time to time will still do so.  However, when this email came to me today, it was without question I was going to promote this event here.
Larry Amoruso was the owner of Florio's Restaurant and Three Little Indians in Little Italy, New York.  Amoruso passed away last year to cancer.  Without Larry Amoruso, I probably would not be a cigar enthusiast, and thus there probably would not have been a Cigar Coop web-site.
A fundraiser is being made to benefit the college fund for Larry's children.  It is being held at Florio's Restuarant.  This is a wonderful restaurant and is located downstairs from the Three Little Indians Cigar Lounge. I miss these places greatly since leaving New York.
Without question, Larry was a huge supporter of both our military and for cigar rights.  He dedicated a lot of resources to keep the fight to enjoy a good cigar going.  Larry was also a friend, and I still miss him a greatly.
Here is the email and flyer I received:
On January 13th 2011 we lost Larry Amoruso to cancer. For many of us Larry was lost without a goodbye and in some instances it was a shock he was gone at all. Larry was a staunch supporter of our military and fought for all of us here in New York, so we may enjoy a cigar in his beloved restaurant. We would like to honor Larry next Wednesday May 2nd at Florio’s. We will be supporting his wife Caroline and his two boys Daniel and Gabriel. Please see attached invitation; we hope to see you all there.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cigar Review: My Father Commemorative 911 by Jaime Garcia Blend 343 10th Anniversary Oscuro

My Father Commemorative 911 by Jaime Garcia Blend 343 10th Anniversary Oscuro
Last month, we explored the My Father Commemorative 911 by Jaime Garcia Blend 343 10th Anniversary Rosado.  This is one of two retail-exclusive cigars that are packaged together made by My Father Cigars exclusively for Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois.  The other cigar is an Oscuro blend . The two cigars together are known as  the My Father Commemorative 911 by Jaime Garcia Blend 343 10th Anniversary.  The project was a joint effort between My Father Cigars and Casa de Montecristo in Chicago.  The idea was suggested by Jeffrey Holst, a firefighter Battalion Chief out of Lombard, Illinois.  Hoist contacted Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois who then teamed up with My Father Cigars and the project was in motion.  For the My Father Commemorative 911 project, the two different cigar cigars are packaged together in each box.   In this assessment, we take a look at the Oscuro blend - and in my opinion, this is even a better cigar than the Rosado we assessed last month.

When we assessed the Rosado blend, we provided the following background information on the My Father Commemorative 911 project:
 
The cigar is more than just a tribute cigar, it exhibits giveback that the cigar industry never seems to get credit for.  As a part of this release, $40.00 from the sale of each box will go toward a designated charity of the fallen heroes of 9/11.  There have been 343 boxes (commemorating the 343 fallen Firefighters of 9/11) produced containing the Rosado and Oscuro blends.  Originally there was a plan to produce 80,000 cigars (or 4,000 boxes), but Jaime Garcia made a decision to limit the production to 343 boxes in order to take on the project and allow Casa de Montecristo to be an exclusive retailer.


My Father Commemorative 911 by Jaime Garcia Blend 343 10th Anniversary  Packaging

Let's dive right in and break down the My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro and see what this cigar delivers.

Blend Profile

As mentioned above there are two blends in each box of cigars.  Each box will contain 9 cigars with the Rosado blend and 11 cigars with the Oscuro blend.  T  The Oscuro blend uses the same wrapper used on the My Father Le Bijou 1922 series.  The blends are vastly different for each of the cigars.   The Rosado cigars are packaged in the top row of the box while the Oscuro cigars are packaged on the bottom row.  With the exception of the wrapper, there aren't too many details on the Oscuro blend.

The "9" cigars (My Father Commemorative 911 Rosado)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Binder: 96 Corojo
Filler: "Secret" Fillers

The "11" cigars ( My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro):
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Oscuro Oscuro
Binder: "Secret" Binders
Filler: "Secret" Fillers

Vitolas Available

All of the cigars included in the package are a 5 1/2 x 54 Toro.   This is the only size vitola made for this particular project.

Appearance

From examining the My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro, this is a classic looking Oscuro wrapper.  No dyed look on this wrapper as it has dark roasted coffee color to it.  The wrapper itself is oily, with some visible wrapper seams and a few visible beins.  The toro-sized vitola contains a classic Cuban style cap.  Like the Rosado, the My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro is also packaged unbanded.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap.  It was then on to start the pre-light draw.   The dry draw notes as they yielded flavors of chocolate, leather, and cedar.   While there were no real surprises on the pre-light draw, it still was a very good one.   At this point I was ready to fire up the My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro and see what this would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The start of the My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro provided a decent, but not overwhelming pepper blast.  While it wasn't the strongest Garcia pepper blast, I was still willing to classify it as one.  Some chocolate notes then surfaced with some sweetness to it.  As the pepper blast subsided the chocolate notes became primary while the pepper moved to the background.  The spice became a cross between pepper and baker's spice.  I could also detect notes of leather in the background.

Around the ten percent mark, the sweetness that is a part of the chocolate separated out into notes of sweet cherry.  At times the sweetness had more of a chocolate feel, and at other times it had more of a cherry feel (in fact this varied each time I smoked the 911 Oscuro). 

Around the 60 percent mark, the leather notes faded and the background spice kicked up a notch. The cherry sweetness was still present, but it was the chocolate notes that remained in the forefront.  This is the flavor profile that held until the end of the smoke.  The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

While the My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro is a different blend than its Rosado counterpart, there is no loss of quality here.   The Oscuro maintains the same excellent construction attributes its Rosado sibling. The burn needed very few touch-ups to burn straight.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal from start to finish. ideal burn temperature from start to finish.   The draw was flawless - making for a very easy cigar to work with once fired up.

Strength and Body

The expression "close but no cigar" might apply to the My Father Commemorative 911 Oscuro.  This is in reference to the fact that for both strength and body, this cigar just falls short of being full in both categories.  This is no knock as I found the the medium to full strength and body of this cigar to be just enough to deliver a great experience.   In addition, both the strength and body have a nice equilibrium - the nicotine and flavors are as balanced as can be.

Final Thoughts

In general, the My Father factory has become known for its use of Ecuadorian Habano Rosado and Nicaraguan Oscuro wrappers.  In almost each case, I've found while the Rosado wrapper cigars deliver more in terms of flavor complexity, the Oscuro wrapper cigars deliver better flavor. The same holds true for the My Father Commemorative 911 series.  Like the Rosado, the Oscuro is a good cigar for the novice cigar enthusiast to try if they are looking for something more medium to full in strength and/or body.  Experienced cigar enthusiasts will appreciate just about everything about this cigar. The combination of the Rosado and the Oscuro in the packaging easily make this a candidate to get a box of.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium
Finish: Excellent
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 93

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Assessment Updates: Lou Rodriguez Edicion Reserva Connecticut and Lou Rodriguez Edicion Premier

Assessment Updates will be posted on this web-site to: 1) Assess "pre-review" cigars that were not given a rating or score (typically pre-release cigars); 2) Provide numeric ratings to cigars previously assessed prior to the implementation of the numeric scoring system; 3) Provide a re-assessment and re-score of a previously assessed/score cigars.  Today, we assign numeric scores to two previously assessed cigars from Lou Rodriguez Cigars.  Lou Rodriguez Cigars is a boutique brand that has surfaced in 2011 and has already made an impact in the industry.  Click here to read Cigar Coop's article for Charlotte Exclusive on Lou Rodriguez Cigars.

Lou Rodriguez Edicion Reserva Connecticut

Lou Rodriguez Edicion Reserva Connecticut
With the market being flooded with Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade cigars in 2011, the Lou Rodriguez Edicion Connecticut was a standout and slipped under a lot of people's radar.

Lou Rodriguez Cigars prides themselves on using Nicaraguan tobacco, and I subscribe to the theory that it is now the best cigar tobacco in the world.  The Nicaraguan tobacco makes up the binder and filler.  Of course, the cigar is wrapped with beautiful Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf.

Once again, I smoked the 5 1/2 x 42 sized corona.  This is a smaller cigar, so it isn't going to provide a lot in terms of flavor transitions, but it is going to provide excellent flavors.  The flavors are cream, cherry, and cedar spice.  The flavors are mild to medium in body.  At the same time, this is going to provide a mild strength smoke, although there is a nice little kick at the end of this cigar.

The cigar burns and draws like a champ.  This is really a nice Ecuadorian Connecticut cigar and it is one I have certainly enjoyed revisiting.

Click here to read the original assessment of the Lou Rodriguez Edicion Reserva Connecticut.

Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 90

Lou Rodriguez Edicion Premier

Lou Rodriguez Edicion Premier
In my opinion, the standout cigar in the Lou Rodriguez line, it is the Lou Rodriguez Edicion Premier.

The Lou Rodriguez Edicion Premier is one of two maduros offered by Lou Rodriguez Cigars.  The Edicion Premier showcases was a good medium strength maduro should be - providing good balance between the strength and body.  The other maduro is the Edicion Reserva which is going to take things higher in terms of strength. 

For the Edicion Premier, it features Nicaraguan binder and filler.  Rodriguez is not afraid to hold back that this cigar as a San Andres Negro wrapper from Mexico.  San Andres tobacco makes some of the best maduros, and the Lou Rodriguez Edicion Premier is a prime example of this.

Once again I opted for the petite corona-sized 4 3/4 x 42 Bom Bom vitola.  Like all of the vitolas in the Edicion Premier line, this is a box-press cigar.  The end result provides flavors of pepper, black cherry, coffee, espresso, and natural maduro sweetness.   The burn and draw were simply outstanding as well.

Click here to read the original assessment of the Lou Rodriguez Edicion Premier.

Assessment: Memorable
Score: 93

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cigar Review: Macanudo Cafe Gigante

Macanudo Cafe Gigante
Up until a few years ago, the Macanudo brand within the General Cigar family has primarily been associated with cigars that are traditionally on the milder side in terms of strength and body.  Over the past few years, Macanudo has added cigars such as the Cru Royale, Vintage 2007 Maduro, and 1968 as cigars that move away from mild and more toward a medium to full profile.  Macanudo has been right at the top of best selling cigar brands for sometime - even before things changed in their portfolio.  At the core of the brand is the Macanudo Cafe - a classic "mild" cigar.  Recently, Macanudo added a 6 x 60 vitola to that line called the Macanudo Cafe Gigante .  The end result is a very good addition to this classic line.

I realize 6 x 60 cigars are not popular when it comes to cigar purists.  One cannot deny that they are one of the best selling sizes at retailers.  My feeling is that not every cigar works as a 6 x 60, but when the blend does work - it can make one awesome cigar.  In the end, I felt the Macanudo Cafe worked very nicely as a 6 x 60.  Let's break down the Macanudo Cafe Gigante and see why it worked well.

Blend Profile

The Macanudo Cafe is made at the General Cigar Dominicana factory.   The one thing that surprised me about the blend was the use of Mexican tobacco in the binder and filler.

Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Mexican San Andres
Filler Dominican (Piloto Cubano), Mexican

Vitolas Available

The introduction of the 6 x 60 Gigante joins a large family of vitolas that make up the Macanudo Cafe line.  This might be one of the most comprehensive offerings of vitolas of any blend.  Given there were already so many frontmarks, I was a little surprised there already wasn't a 6 x 60.

For completeness, we have included all of the vitolas available in the Macanudo Cafe line:

Gigante: 6 x 60
Duke of Wellington: 8.5 x 47
Prince of Wales: 8 x 52
Prince Phillip: 7 1/2 x 49
898: 7 x 45
Portofino (Tube): 7 x 34
Trump: 6 1/2 x 45
Baron de Rothschild: 6.5 x 42
Majesty (Belicoso): 6 x 54
Tudor: 6 x 52
Duke of Windsor (Torpedo): 6 x 50
Thames: 6 x 50
Claybourne: 6 x 31
Crystal (Glass Tube): 5 1/2 x 50
Hyde Park: 5 1/2 x 49
Duke of Devon: 5 1/2 x 42
Hampton Court (Tube): 5 1/2 x 42
Duke of York: 5 1/4 x 54
Petit Corona: 5 x 38
Lords: 4 3/4 x 49
Diplomat 4 1/2 x 60
Ascot: 4 1/8 x 32
Court (Tube): 4 1/8 x 36
Caviar: 4 x 36
Miniature: 3 3/4 x 24

Appearance

The Macanudo Cafe Gigante is highlighted its big Connecticut Shade wrapper.   The wrapper is light brown, but it almost has a golden sheen to it.  There are some dark spots on the wrapper.  It is slightly toothy, and slightly veiny.

The band to the Macanudo Cafe Gigante is green, white, gold, and black.  A black Macanudo shield is in the middle on a gold circular background  The gold background is actually two concentric circles with a white stripe.  Over the shield it says "Macanudo" and under the shield it says "Handmade Imported"- both in black font.  The remainder of the band has a white background with a green colored design resembling a certificate of authenticity.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

While I almost always go with a straight cut into a cigar, given that the Gigante has larger ring gauge, this pretty much was the default for the cut.  I commenced with a pre-light draw and I was treated to subtle creamy, orange flavors.  Overall, I considered this to be a positive dry draw.   It was now time to light my Macanudo Cafe Gigante and see what this cigar would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

Throughout the smoke of the Macanudo Cafe Gigante, my feeling is the flavors produced by this cigar were more on the subtle side. The initial flavor notes to the Macanudo Cafe Gigante yielded notes of wood, cream, and a hint of cedar.   The flavors all start out evenly.  The cream then moved into a secondary role.   Meanwhile the cedar became more of a sweet spice on the after-draw with some hints of orange.  The wood remained a primary note, but was balanced nicely by the cream, sweet spice, and orange flavors.

The flavor profile held for the nearly the first 60 percent of the cigar.  The notes of wood, cream, sweet spice, and orange varied in different degrees.   The sweet spice at times did have some notes of cinnamon.  It is after that 60 percent point where the sweet spice and cream kicked it up a notch and became the primary notes.   While the flavors were subtle throughout the smoking experience, I thought by the time the nub was reached much of the flavors were muted.  The nub did finish firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

One drawback of large ring gauge cigars is around the construction attributes of burn and draw.  However, like any other cigar, if it is constructed well, this should not be an issue.   With the Macanudo Cafe Gigante, this was not a case of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole - in other words, this cigar is well made.   The cigar burned straight from start to finish - requiring very few touch-ups.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.  As for the draw, no issues with the larger ring gauge here.  The draw was effortless from start to finish.

Stength and Body

At the start of this assessment, I mentioned that the Macanudo Cafe has a mild profile.  This applies to the attributes of strength and body.   From a strength perspective this is your classic mild strength cigar - not really providing much in the way of a nicotine pop.  From a body standpoint, I mentioned the flavors were subtle - making this a classic mild-bodied cigar.   Toward the last third, there is an increase in body and the cigar moves into mild to medium-bodied territory.  The strength and body counter each other very nicely creating a well-balanced cigar.

Final Notes

The important factor when assessing this cigar is that it is a mild strength, mild/mild to medium bodied cigar - and that needs to be taken into consideration for a final rating.   Milder cigars must still appeal to a lot of people because cigar companies sell a lot of them.   The Macanudo Cafe Gigante cigar is a good one.  It's not a complex cigar, but it provides the subtle flavors that a good mild-bodied cigar will deliver.  As I said above, the 60 ring gauge works very well with this blend.   The Macanudo Cafe Gigante is a great cigar to give to a novice enthusiast as well as to someone who wants to cut their teeth on a bigger ring gauge.  I would only recommend this to an experienced cigar enthusiast who would be looking for a milder profile on a larger ring gauge.  As for myself, while I don't go for a milder profile that often, I would smoke this again if I wanted something mild.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Mild
Body: Mild, Mild to Medium (toward end)
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 88

Source: The cigars for this assessment were provided by General Cigar Company.  These samples were initiated by General Cigar Company in order to provide feedback.  Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cigar Review: Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition

Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition
When it comes to non-Cuban Montecristo cigars, these are often staple cigars in a U.S. brick and mortar humidors.  While these cigars sell well, if you look at what many hard-core, younger cigar enthusiasts smoke, this is probably not a brand that is in their regular cigar smoking rotation.   Therefore, when Atladis USA announced a special Montecristo cigar for New York State retailers, it didn't set off a frenzy for cigar enthusiasts to get this cigar. This cigar - the Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition is not one to be overlooked.  I found this not only to be an incredible cigar, but one that will put the name "Montecristo" in the running for the top spot of 2012 Cigar of the Year.

New York only cigars began to surface late 2010.  Alec Bradley (Alec Bradley New York), La Aurora (Broadway and Broadway Maduro), and Gurkha (Para La Gente) have all released special cigars to be sold in New York only.   With New York State retailers losing customers out of state (and online) due to that state's insane tobacco tax, these New York only cigars can provide a much needed jolt to these brick and mortar retailers.   For the most part while these were good cigars, there was no real breakout cigar.  However, once the Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition was released, this changes the game.

Altadis had an official launch on November 30th, 2011 at Cigar Aficionado's Big Smoke.  Since it came out post Thanksgiving 2011, it is eligible for the 2012 Cigar of the Year countdown.  Why does this cigar deserve to be so highly ranked?  Let's break down the Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition and what this cigar delivers.

Blend Profile

The blend features tobaccos from three countries:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Dominican

Vitolas Available

The Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition will be available in a single vitola - a box-press 6 x 60.   The cigar itself is sold in boxes of ten.  While many cigar purists are sour on big ring gauge cigars, I've been on the record saying when one is constructed and blended correctly, there is nothing better.  This cigar falls into that category.   The box-press actually makes the Montecristo New York look a little thinner than a traditional 6 x 60.

Appearance

The Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition has a medium-brown colored wrapper on it.  As mentioned above this is a box-press shaped cigar.   The Montecristo New York is certainly more toothy than most box-press cigars.  It has several visible veins and several visible wrapper seams  and I think it gives this cigar some charm.  Overall, I would not classify this as an oily wrapper.  The pack to this box-press does seem a little looser than most box-press cigars I encounter.  I wouldn't categorize it as spongy, just looser.

There are two bands on the cigar.  The first is the classic brown, gold, and white Montecristo band - found on many Montecristo "brown label" cigars.  The secondary band is black with gold striping.  On that band it says "New York" in white font with gold trim.  Under that text, is the text "Edition" in smaller white font.   Going across the back of the band is a design representing the skyline of Manhattan.

Montecristo New York Connoisseur Edition - back of band representing NY Skyline

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my Montecristo New York, I went with my typical straight cut into the box-press shaped cap.  When I commenced with the pre-light draw I was treated to a combination of chocolate and pepper notes.  Overall it wasn't a very complex dry draw, but the flavors were still good.   At this point, it was time to light this cigar and see what the experience would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The initial draws of the Montecristo New York yielded a quick spurt of red pepper.   I wouldn't categorize it as intense as the pepper blasts from cigars made by the Garcia family, but it did have somewhat of a resemblance to it.  The red pepper blast gave way to some classic chocolate notes in the forefront.

By about the five percent mark, there were dried fruit and raisin notes.   A few months ago, Seth's Humidor (one of our trusted web-sites), had assessed the Montecristo New York and had mentioned the cigar had peaches in the aroma.   Whether this note stuck in my head or not, I can't say - but in my opinion the dried fruit did seem to have a peach-like flavor to it.  It was a very unique sweetness to say the least.  Meanwhile the red pepper spice transitioned into a nice baker's spice.

Around the ten percent mark, the dried fruit, chocolate, and baker's spice notes all seem to converge.  These three notes provide a unique fusion in terms of flavor.  While it might seem like a dessert table with my analogy, there is a nice foundation of natural tobacco and cream notes which make this an appealing cigar.   This fusion holds throughout the first half - and occasionally there is some alternating as to which flavor is in the forefront.

By the midway point, the sweetness moves from a dried fruit to more of a citrus feel (I can still detect some of the peach flavor this cigar brings to the table).   The chocolate and baker's spice are secondary, and I also detected some notes of cream.  This is the flavor profile that holds until the end.  The finish was a little bit warm, and slightly soft.  I would have liked the nub to be firmer and cooler, but in the end, the cigar was not harsh at the end.

Burn and Draw

I'm going to lead with the draw of this cigar.   The first time I had this cigar, I was guilty of overdrawing on it (this wasn't due to the cigar providing a loose draw, but more "user error" on my part).   As I mentioned above, this cigar seems to have a looser pack to it than most box-press cigars, so this could be a problem when you ovedraw.b The overdrawing of this cigar caused it to burn much hotter in the second half than it should have.   On the subsequent smokes, I eased up on the draw, and this adjusted the burn temperature to be ideal until the very end (where it did still burn soft).   By not overdrawing this cigar, it will provide an enjoyable smoking experience.

The burn rate to this cigar seemed ideal.  It did take some touch-ups to keep a straight burn-line on this cigar.  These touch-ups were a little more frequent than I would have liked - and it kept this cigar from scoring "Excellent" in the burn category.

Strength and Body

The strength of the Montecristo New York can be a little deceiving.  This cigar might start out as your classic "morning smoke", but the strength does creep in.  I assessed this as a medium strength cigar to start, but by midway, it moves right into the medium to full range of the strength spectrum.  As for the flavors, they are extremely robust and have some depth.  This is everything a full-bodied smoke should be.  The Montecristo New York has good balance between the strength and body, so a cigar enthusiast can enjoy what each of these two attributes bring to the table.

Final Thoughts

The flavors as good as any cigar I had in 2012.  If this cigar required less touch-ups, and had a better nub on the finish, it would have scored even higher than it did.  However, this is still an outstanding cigar.   If this cigar can stay consistent throughout the year, I feel it will be in solid contention for a top spot as 2012 Cigar of the Year.  It certainly is worth a box purchase in my book.  It is worth noting that this cigar has an SRP of $14.95 (not including the NY taxes).  The price doesn't factor into our assessment ratings, but it is still worth noting.

Altadis USA is doing some great things and this Montecristo can compete with any red-hot boutique cigar out there right now.   I would not hesitate to recommend this cigar to experienced cigar enthusiasts.  Novice cigar enthusiasts can appreciate this cigar, but they need to be warned it has more strength than one my think.

Summary

Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium to Full (Medium to Start)
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 94

Source: The cigar(s) for this assessment were purchased from Cigar Inn in New York, NY.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cigar Review: Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial (Ecuadorian Sumatra)

Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial
A couple of days ago, we assessed the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva.  Today, we turn our attention to another one of the blends in the series - the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial.  While the experience with the Reserva was good, the one with the Capa Especial was even better.

This might be a rehash of some information we provided when we assessed the Cojonu 2012 Reserva, but it is relevant with looking at the 2012 Cojonu Capa Especial:

Starting in 2003, Tatuaje fans have been able to count on a triennial release known as the Tatuaje Cojonu.   In each of these three year cycles, a different blend with a different vitola has been released (note: Although it technically is part of the series, I am not counting the Tatuaje Gran Cojonu releases with this cycle).   Each cigar was named with the year it was released (i.e. Cojonu 2003, Cojonu 2006, Cojonu 2009).  As 2012 is now upon us, it comes time for another release of the Tatuaje Cojonu.  For this particular series, Tatuaje founder Pete Johnson mixes things up for us.  The 2012 release will actually feature three different blends, and introduce some new wrappers not seen in the Cojonu series before. 

In the previous triennial releases of the Cojonu series, each of the three vitolas used Ecuadorian Habano wrapper.  For the Cojonu 2012 releases, there will be three different wrappers used:  Connecticut Broadleaf, Ecuadorian Sumatra, and Ecuadorian Habano.   At the time of this writing, the Connecticut Broadleaf and Ecuadorian Sumatra blends of the Cojonu 2012 have been released.  The Ecuadorian Habano Cojonu 2012 will be released later this year.    The Connecticut Broadleaf release is called the "Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva" while the Ecuadorian Sumatra release is called the "Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial".  Like all Tatuaje Cigars, the Cojonu 2012 series is blended by the Garcia family. 

 

Sibling cigar to the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial - the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva
The initial release of the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 packages both the Cojonu 2012 Reserva and Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial in a limited edition book-like box called the "Tatuaje Cojonu Two 12s".  Each of these boxes will contain 12 cigars of the Reserva and Capa Especial blends.  The plans are for traditional boxes for each of the blends later in 2012.

Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Two 12s box (sawdust on it as photo taken at My Father Cigars factory)
With the preliminaries covered on the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 series, let's take a closer look at the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial.

Blend Profile

As mentioned the Cojonu 2012 series will feature, three different wrappers.  These wrappers will be over a common binder and filler.  The Capa Especial uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Vitolas Available

For the first time, a box-press vitola will be used in the Cojonu series.   Each Cojonu 2012 blend is box-pressed 6 1/2 x 52 toro vitola.  This size will be consistent for the whole Cojonu 2012 series.

Appearance

The Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial has a medium brown colored wrapper.  The wrapper does have some visible darker spots on it. There are a few visible veins and very few wrapper seams  The wrapper of the Capa Especial has more oil to it than the Cojonu 2012 Reserva wrapper did.  As mentioned above, the cigar is in a box-press shape.

The cigar features two bands.  The first features the Tatuaje band commonly found on the Seleccion de Cazador series.  That band contains a brown background with Tatuaje in white scripted font.  There is a secondary band under the brown band.  The secondary band has a white background with gold striping.  On that band it says "Cojonu" in gold font.  Under that text it says "2012" in smaller gold font.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Like I did for the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Reserva, I went with a straight cut into the cap of the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial.   The pre-light draw provided me notes of citrus, wood, and cedar spice.  Overall I considered the dry draw of the Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial to be satisfactory.   It was now time to light the Capa Especial and see what the smoking experience would deliver.

Flavor Profile

I found the start to the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial to provide the pepper blast that is common to cigars blended by the Garcia family.  The difference with this is that the pepper blast lasted longer than most pepper blasts I have gotten on Garcia family-blended cigars.  I categorized this more as a citric spice - as there definitely were citrus notes mixed in with pepper.  I also detected secondary notes of earth and leather.

The pepper blast lasted right into the 15 to 20 percent mark of this cigar.   Around the 20 percent mark, the pepper subsided into the background and it was a heavy lemon citrus flavor that moved into the forefront.  Also in the background were some hints of caramel sweetness.

At the start of the second third, the flavor profile had lemon citrus notes as primary and the caramel notes joining the pepper as secondary notes.  I also detected some teritary notes of chocolate.  By the halfway point, the chocolate notes had progressed to a primary note - joining the lemon citrus.  Meanwhile the secondary caramel notes had faded and were replaced by some earth notes (that I had detected in the early stages of the smoke).

Around the 60 percent mark, the lemon citrus notes diminished into the background.  The chocolate notes remained in the forefront and jwere joined by the earth notes.   The profile of chocolate, earth, and pepper holds until the end of the smoke.   The finish was more on the smooth side.  The resulting nub was firm to the touch, and slightly warm (but not overly hot).

Overall, I found a superior flavor profile to the Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial to the Cojonu 2012 Reserva.  The Capa Especial had better flavor and much more complexity.

Burn and Draw

For the most part the burn of the Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial was good.  It did require more touch-ups than I would have liked, but the touch-ups did keep the burn straight when applied.  The burn rate was ideal.  Despite a little bit of warm temperature on the finish, I considered the burn temperature ideal for the Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial.

No issues with the draw on the Cojonu 2012 Capa Especial.  It was a joy to puff on from start to finish.

Strength and Body

The strength of this cigar should not be underestimated.  I felt from a nicotine standpoint, this cigar had just enough pop to be considered a full strength cigar for most of the cigar experience.  You can certainly make the argument it is not full strength to start, but it will progress quicker than you might think.

The flavors are extremely robust: right from the pepper blast at the beginning and all the way to the finish.  This is definitely a full-bodied smoke from start to finish.  Overall, a lot of strength and a lot of flavor -and good equilibrium between the strength and body attributes.

Final Thoughts

I recently made a comment that a change in wrapper can have a completely different effect on a cigar.  The case of the Tatuaje Cojonu Capa Especial is a prime example.  The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper provided a fuller strength, fuller-bodied, and more complex cigar than the Reserva.  This is going to go against the popular grain as the general consensus is the Reserva is better than the Capa Especial.  As always, you should make your own decisions on this as this is just one reviewer's opinion.   As for the Capa Especial, this is a cigar that is positioned more for the experienced cigar enthusiast than the novice.  As for myself, I would smoke this again.

Summary

Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: High
Strength: Full (Medium to Full Start)
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Memorable
Score: 93

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina