Cigar Review: Punch Signature

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This cigar from the Honduras maker Punch features an Ecuadorian Sungrown Corojo wrapper over a dual Connecticut and Habano binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan long fillers.

First light reveals a perfect draw putting off a good amount of smoke. Medium/full body flavors of nuts, earth and spice. Hint of cocoa and a buttery texture.

Getting into the first third we get some more complexity while retaining the same core flavors. Pepper dies down somewhat allowing a distinct raisin and plum note to join in. A hint of caramel in the background. A tinge of smoky mesquite is also detected on the retrohale.

The 2nd third sees a slight shift with the pepper diminishing almost completely and the smoky and mesquite notes blending together into a meaty taste and aroma. No further changes were noted. Ending at 1 hour for an average burn time for the size and bringing in a medium nicotine strength.

Construction is where this one fell a bit flat. Fairly wavy burn that required a couple of touch ups along the way. Also some slight splitting of the wrapper in places. The band is quality and self adhesive and came off with no effort.

This one I’m kinda torn on. It’s a fairly price-point oriented stick (about $6 average from what I’ve found) and the flavors are really nice but the construction left something to be desired. Was it worth enduring for the flavors? For me yes, but maybe not if this isn’t a flavor profile you seem crazy about. Maybe I just got a one-off, but I’d have to try another just to see. Pairings for this would be a smooth red wine or a nice Jamaican rum for best results. Rating: 3.5/5.

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Wine Review: Apothic Inferno

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This offering from Apothic Wines is a red blend (they don’t disclose specifics from what I’ve found) aged for 60 days in whiskey barrels. Consistent with this aging, it does have a slightly higher than average alcohol content at 15.9% ABV. Whiskey (particularly bourbon) barrel aged wines have been a bit of a hot trend lately, so I expected nothing less than for Apothic to get in on the action. But did they do it well?

Pour is a deep burgundy color as a great red wine should. The nose is immediately greeted with notes of plum and cherry with a tinge of vanilla and woody bourbon. The palate is greeeted with a blast of bourbon with tones of vanilla, oak and maple syrup. This is supported by a black cherry and blueberry core. Finish is semi-dry with mild tannins and a long lingering warmth. I would rate the body at medium – it’s an easy drinking wine without being too heavy.

For the price (about $12/bottle it appears) I doubt you’re going to see a more wallet friendly whiskey barrel aged wine. I do feel the whiskey in this case might have been too assertive in that it seemed to be the star of the show instead of just adding character, but it was still a very enjoyable wine. I paired this with a Torano Exodus 1959 50 Year cigar for this review and it was a solid pairing. Rating: 3.5/5.

 

Cigar Review: Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder

I figured I’d close out my year in cigars by trying something new. I also wanted something powerful to close out with a bang. Well this one definitely delivered both.

Jacob’s Ladder is the fullest body offering in the Southern Draw lineup. It is stuffed full of Nicaraguan long fillers under an Ecuadorian Maduro binder and a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. The size reviewed here is a 6″ x 52RG Toro vitola.

First light reveals a smooth draw putting off big clouds of thick, chewy, full bodied smoke. Flavors of a deep earth and dark chocolate core tantalize the palate straight away. This is supported by a huge pepper blast and cedar note on the retrohale.

Getting into the first third the smoke retains its intensity but the pepper dials back slightly allowing a distinct caramel tone to join the draw and a zingy lemon zest to join in on the finish. Despite the power it is incredibly smooth textured and flavored.

The 2nd third is much the same as the first, which is ok by me as I’m absolutely loving the flavor package. Strength starts setting in quickly though. The only notable shift is the earth moving more toward a leather. Ending at 1 hour 45 minutes for a truly impressive burn time for the size and the strength almost matches the body at near full – my head was spinning by the end of it!

Flawless construction with an absolutely razor sharp burn, which is quite surprising given the binder and wrapper. Ash holds on about a third at a time. High quality self-adhesive bands that come off effortlessly and do not damage the wrapper.

What a way to close out the year. Bursting with flavor and a lot of complexity, this cigar wowed me in every way. At about $10/stick the price is right for what you get too – I would almost call it a budget stick given what you get for that money. Pair with a heavy, oaky bourbon or an peaty scotch for best results. Rating: 5/5.

Cigar Review: Wise Man Maduro

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This offering from Foundation Cigar Company features a dark Mexican San Andreas wrapper over Nicarguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed here is a 6.2″ x 52RG box pressed Torpedo vitola.

First light reveals a slightly loose draw putting off thick plumes of medium/full bodied smoke. Core flavors of espresso and dark chocolate awaken the palate, followed by a substantial black and red pepper finish and retrohale. A tinge of earth and leather on the back of the palate.

Getting into the first third we see the same great flavor profile but it is now enhanced with notes of cream and vanilla onthe draw as well as a woody, smoky brisket undertone on the finish and retrohale. Incredibly complex and smooth all around. Everything is very well blended. The strength starts setting in early on this one.

The flavors were consistent start to finish, which was OK by me as I was absolutely digging the robust, complex flavors. Ending at 1 hour 20 minutes for a solid burn time for the size and the nicotine strength comes up to match the body at medium/full.

Flawless construction with a razor sharp burn. Ash holds on about a third at a time. High quality self-adhesive band that came off easily. Everything about this cigar screams quality.

This was a “wow” cigar for me – bold, complex flavors on both the dessert and savory side of the spectrum and everything plays well together. Well worth its price point of approximately $11/stick. Pair with a Russian Imperial Stout, a hefty red wine, a nice bourbon or peaty Scotch for best results. Rating: 4.5/5.

Cigar Review: Marrero Fuerte Lancero and Colibri V Cut Update

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Today’s cigar review will be an exercise in how much ring gauge can change a particular blend. I already love the previously reviewed Marrero Fuerte, but today we’re trying it in a new size: this 7.5″ x 40RG Lancero version. The original size is a 54RG so quite a bit smaller.

In general, Lanceros are quite concentrated in wrapper flavors which usually results in a more robust experience. This was no exception.

Using the Colibri V cutter (note: the following was not the case with a straight cut, see below) the first light reveals a perfect draw putting off a ton of thick, chewy full-bodied smoke. Huge pepper blast right out of the gate supported by notes of espresso, dark chocolate and leather. A bit of a red pepper spice on the finish and retrohale.

Getting into the first third the smoke retains its intensity but the pepper and spice dial down just a touch, but still very assertive. This allows a slightly sweet creamy and nutty note to join the mix; very complex and very full-bodied still. Flavors fairly consistent start to finish which was totally fine by me because I was digging the flavors. The smoke started going too hot for my liking at 1 hour 10 minutes for a solid burn time out of a Lancero and bringing in a nicotine kick that damn near matched the body. My head was spinning by the end of it!

Performance was excellent throughout with a near razor-sharp burn and the ash dropping off about an inch at a time – not too surprising for a small ring gauge truth be told.

This is a case where the flavor profile was not just night and day different but there were definitely differences. I can’t even tell you which I like better. The Toro, predictably, has a longer burn time but a slightly creamier and less peppery smoke. This Lancero has a much bigger pepper blast and is “punchier” on the palate. It would have to do with what I’m drinking or have eaten I would think. This Lancero definitely calls for a strong sipping whisk(e)y to pair with and would be great after a hearty steak dinner. Rating: 4.5/5.


Now, going back to my side note up top. I’d had a few of these prior to writing this review, but they always had a very snug draw and I never felt like I was getting everything the cigar had to offer. This was before I got my Colibri V cutter and had just used a straight cut on them (my Cuban Crafters Perfect Cutter). I decided to try the Colibri on the above review sample, as apprehensive as I was about taking such a deep cut on a small-ish cigar. Alas, as you can see, enough of the cap remained intact to prevent unraveling.

I also tried a stick this morning which in my experience has had draw issues with some samples and cut it using the V cutter for the first time. Draw and smoke production? Fantastic. You can even see where the knot was:

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Alas the Colibri cut through it and freed it up. Now, this morning’s smoke was obviously a mild cigar as that’s what I like in the morning but regardless of body and strength a bad draw will ruin your day.

For these reasons, I have totally fallen for the Colibri V cutter and the “deep V” is my new favorite way to cut a cigar. Some will claim that a V cut concentrates the smoke on the palate and blah blah blah, but I don’t believe that. Just for me, the V cut gives me the best draw for my preference and I think it just plain looks cool. As always though, there’s no right or wrong. It’s about what you like.

Cigar Review: Aganorsa Leaf Signature Selection

Tonight we have a cigar review! It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these so I figured it was about time I get back with it. Tonight’s selection is a great one so let’s get to it!

This offering from Casa Fernandez cigars features a Rosado Corojo ’99 wrapper over Criollo ’98 binder and Nicaraguan Corojo and Criollo long fillers. The size reviewed here is a standard 6″ x 52RG Toro vitola.

The first light revealed an absolutely perfect draw producing a good volume of medium/full body smoke that’s buttery and nutty supported by a bit of cocoa on the nose. Features a big blast of pepper and spice on the nose.

Getting into the first third the initial pepper blast dimishes slightly and the cocoa and sweetness take a more prominent role. Smoke is thick on the palate. There’s also a smooth leather that joins in the retrohale as well as a hint of rose petal. Everything is so smooth and well blended.

Only subtle changes in the 2nd third as the pepper continues to diminish and the smoke getting creamier. In the last third the cocoa diminishes and is replaced by a robust espresso and the pepper starts to return. Ending at 1 hour and 25 minutes for an excellent burn time for the size and bringing in a medium nicotine strength.

Flawless construction with a near razor sharp burn line and holding an ash about a third of a time. Good quality self adhesive bands that were easy to remove and did not damage the wrapper.

This was an absolutely delicious cigar. At a price point of about $10/stick this one deifnitely smokes above its price point. Smooth yet robust and with just enough transitions to keep things interesting. This is a limited edition so be sure to check it out while you have the change. Pair this one with a dark roast coffee, a smooth red wine (think a Pinot Noir or Merlot) or a nice Jamaican rum. Rating: 4.5/5.


Smoked this Monday night of the 10th of December, 2018 in memoriam of my beloved great-grandmother (who would have been 100 years old today) and in memoriam of my beloved Greyhound/lab mix Chocolate who passed away this afternoon at the age of 16. Thanks for the wonderful years of companionship.

Product Review: Colibri V Cigar Cutter

So I’ve been on the fence about adding a V cutter to my arsenal of cigar cutters to round out my collection – I now have one of each type of cutter (straight, punch [built into my lighter] and now a V). However, not all V cutters are created equal and most of the ones I had tried previous only made a very shallow cut, often resulting in a restricted draw.

After doing some research I chose this one because according to all my research this one makes the deepest cut (and therefore producing the most open draw, which I prefer). It’s available in many different color combinations to suit your own decor.

It is spring loaded and opened up by the button on the bottom, as shown here:

From there operation is very simple – just stick the cigar in it and close the cutter. It locks shut after cutting and captures the notch until you are ready to discard it properly. No mess as with an open backed straight cutter.

That’s all fine and good, but how does it cut? I used this Padron 3000 Maduro as my test cigar as Padrons are always my litmus test for a cutter. As much as I love Padron cigars the stupid single caps they put on those things drive me crazy – they’re so fragile and a crude cutter will unravel them every time.

As you can see here, though I didn’t get the cut perfectly center (that will come with practice I imagine) it sliced through cleanly and no unraveling whatsoever:

The cutting action was effortless and it was like there was nothing there when I clamped down on the cutter. The draw? Let’s just say excellent – I noticed no difference from a straight cut. The deep notch creates an opening with a surface area comparable to a straight cut.

Now, is this going to replace my Cuban Crafters Perfect Cutter (my straight cutter of choice)? No. That will always have its place. I can already see how I’ll use each one though. There will never be a substitute for a straight cut on figurado tips, Lancero and other small ring sizes and even big ring sizes. Where I’ll be using this cutter most is on single capped cigars (such as the above Padron) to keep as much of the cap intact as possible while still allowing an open draw as well as on box pressed cigars (which can sometimes get crimped on the edges from a straight cut). I will also use this on those cigars that seem to have a bit of a knot toward the cap in order to try to cut through it to free up the draw.

In my opinion, this is a must for every cigar lover. You should have one of these in your arsenal. It’s a bit pricy (at $39 from cigarandpipes.com) it is no doubt the most expensive cutter I have now, but the quality, fit/finish and clean cut make it worth every penny. Do yourself a favor and get one of these. Rating: 5/5.