Category: Cigar of the Week

Cigar of the Week: Bobalu 91 Aged Dominican

Bobalu 91 Aged Dominican cigar

Brand: Bobalu
Line: 91 Aged Dominican
Vitola: Toro 6 x 52
Origin: United States
Wrapper: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Body: Medium
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $165 (box of 25)

Once again, I find myself back with a cigar from the Austin, Tex.-based Bobalu Cigar Company. Bobalu rolls about a dozen of its own lines, and the company prides itself on its rollers. (Check out the RollerCam live stream here.)

I reviewed the Bobalu Wedge a few months back, so when I sat down with the 91 Aged Dominican, which features all aged Dominican tobacco from 1991, I knew I was in for a different experience.

The Bobalu 91 Aged Dominican cigar has a beautiful wrapper — not too veiny, not too smooth — and a nutty scent. The prelight draw was a bit tight, but that opened up a bit once it was lit. It started off a bit tangy, but then it smoothed out to give me hints of toast and almonds, and the last third of the stick had a fairly sweet finish.

I usually don’t pay much attention to a cigar’s ash, but I noticed the 91 Aged Dominican had some very solid white ash almost reminiscent of angel food cake.

Verdict: Even though the Bobalu 91 Aged Dominican gets a bit hot at the end, you’ll want to smoke it down to the nub. It’s a good smoke with a ton of flavor.

Then there’s the price. I’ll be frank: At almost seven bucks a cigar, you could probably get a better deal elsewhere. But it’s easy to understand why a small shop — one that rolls its own cigars, mind you — has to charge a bit more for its sticks. There’s still something about a good cigar being made stateside.

Similar cigars: Where the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real is a touch spicy, this is a bit sweet. But there are similarities: the aged Dominican tobaccos and the tangy, toasty start.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Rocky Patel Edge Lite torpedo

Rocky Patel Edge Lite torpedo cigar

Brand: Rocky Patel
Line: Edge Lite
Vitola: Torpedo (6 x 52)
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Natural Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan/Honduran
Body: Mild
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $89.00 (Box of 20)

Blue Havana in Chicago has a free monthly smoke that I enjoy attending. But to truly get an idea of the type of shop it is, consider this: It’s part of The Alley group of stores on Belmont Avenue, a trendy little strip on the city’s North Side.

The May 2008 smoke, hosted by Rocky Patel, featured several of the company’s Edge sticks. And while I usually enjoy a medium-to-full bodied stick, I enjoyed the Rocky Patel Edge Lite so much that I picked up a couple to review.

The Rocky Patel Edge Lite has a smooth, slightly veiny wrapper and a good prelight draw. I noticed hints of almonds — almost marzipan — to start, so when I lit up, I wasn’t surprised that I got a toasty, nutty, slightly sweet flavor right off the bat. As the cigar progressed, it picked up hints of leather and cream.

As I smoked it down to the nub — it generally takes about 75 to 80 minutes — I noticed it stayed cool the whole time, which is a must-have for me. The Rocky Patel Edge Lite also had a good draw, along with an even burn and solid, dark-gray ash.

Verdict: One of the best $4-$5 cigars you’ll smoke, and at this price, I can think of some $8 smokes this outperforms. Not too overpowering for beginners, but a nice break for veteran smokers as well. (Mollie, my girlfriend, also liked this one!)

Similar cigars: I couldn’t think of an exact cigar to compare the Rocky Patel Edge Lite to, but the AVO Classic and the 5 Vegas Gold came to mind.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Graycliff 1666 PGX

Graycliff 1666 cigar

Brand: Graycliff
Line: 1666
Vitola: PGX (Toro) 6 x 50
Origin: CAN’T FIND WHICH FACTORY IT’S MADE IN
Wrapper: Costa Rican
Binder: Ecuadorian
Filler: Peruvian, Columbian, Brazilian and Mexican
Body: Full
Strength: Full
Box Price: $219.95 (Box of 20)

Graycliff is an interesting cigar company: The factory, run by Master Torcedore Avelino Lara, is part of the historic Graycliff Hotel in the Bahamas. And, as a result, it’s by far the best-tasting house brand in the biz, and one of my favorite brands overall.

I’ve smoked several Graycliffs in the past, but when I heard about the Graycliff 1666, needless to say, I was excited. The company has five main lines, all super-premiums, along with a budget line. Now it seems Graycliff is starting to expand a bit more.

Graycliffs seem to have some defining characteristics:

1. A soft, almost spongy texture.
2. A toothy wrapper.
3. Extremely flaky, but strong light grey ash.
4. An even burn, along with a amazing draw.

The Graycliff 1666, a dark cigar, has all of these qualities. When you first light it, you’ll notice its Costa Rican wrapper adds a ton of sweetness. About halfway through, the taste shifts to a more complex, spicy, leathery flavor.

Verdict: It’s strong enough to settle any stomach, but somehow it doesn’t seem overpowering. Versatile enough to satisfy many palates. One of my new favorites.

Similar cigars: The Rocky Patel Edge Maduro.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Avalon Juke Series Ebony cigar

Avalon Juke Series Ebony cigar

Brand: Avalon Cigars
Line: Juke Series Ebony
Vitola: Double Corona 7 x 50
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Binder: Indonesian
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Body: Mild-to-medium
Strength: Mild-to-medium
Cigar Price: $7.00 each

(This is the latest in my recent string of boutique and specialty cigar brands.)

I had never heard of Avalon Cigars until recently, when I read this post over at the Stogie Review. This company, which seems to be relatively new, is all about the Web, and perhaps is trying to market itself to the MySpace crowd.

So, to say the least, when I received a three-cigar sample pack from Avalon, I was a bit skeptical. But due to the company’s Web presence and its blogger outreach efforts, I took it seriously. Avalon seems to be a company that wants to succeed. I can respect that.

The Avalon Juke Series Ebony is a good-looking cigar: smooth, slightly veiny and with a nice sheen. I used a punch on this baby, but I was perturbed by its poor prelight draw. Why was the draw so bad, you ask? I took the cigar out to inspect it, when I noticed its sealed foot. (Duh.)

Anyway, once I lit up, I noticed it was a bit tangy to start, but then it smoothed out to become a buttery, almost almond-tasting stick. (An interesting note: Avalon ages many of its cigars in pecan wood.) I was instantly hooked. A bit of tanginess remained throughout the cigar, which was kind of interesting. With mild-bodied cigars, I usually enjoy a cup of coffee or just some water; I found myself itching for a glass of red wine. I indulged.

The Ebony stayed lit throughout and burned evenly. And in case you were wondering, the draw was fine.

Verdict: A pleasant cigar, but hard to track down, seeing as they’re sold mostly in the South.

Similar cigars: Similar to the CAO Black, I think.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Black Cat Dominicans No. 2 (Toro)

Black Cat Domincan No. 2 cigar

Brand: Black Cat Cigar Company
Line: Dominicans
Vitola: No. 2 (Toro) 6 x 50
Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Body: Medium
Strength: Mild-to-medium
Box Price: $74.95 (Bundle of 25)

The Philly-based Black Cat Cigar Co. seems to have a knack for nabbing blue-chip cigar blenders for its house brands. A few weeks ago, I reviewed the company’s Rey Miguel, a Pepin Garcia-made offering. Now, it’s time for the Black Cat Dominicans, a line made by Henke Kelner, blender and manufacturer for the famous Davidoff and AVO brands.

The Dominicans have a smooth, slightly veiny appearance, which is highlighted by the silhouette of — surprise! — a black cat on the yellow, black and white cigar band.

Upon my prelight draw, I could tell that it would have that signature Kelner smoothness. When I lit up, I was impressed by the BCD’s creamy, toasty flavor, with a nutty finish. As I smoked it through, I noticed it got a touch cedary, but the finish remained the same.

The draw stayed consistent throughout, and the burn remained fairly even.

Verdict: A fine Dominican cigar that’s smooth and tasty. A touch better than the Alec Bradley Occidental Reserve, also made by Kelner, but I’m not sure it’s worth $20 more per bundle.

Similar cigars: The Occidental Reserve.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet cigar

Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet cigar

Brand: Oliva (Sol Cubano)
Line: Cuban Cabinet
Vitola: Magnum (Toro) 6 x 50
Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Nicaraguan/Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan/Honduran
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $109.95 (Box of 25)

When I first heard of A.J. Fernandez, the up-and-coming cigar maker behind Sol Cubano, Rocky Patel Signature and La Cuna Bin #85, my first thought was: “Didn’t be used to pitch for the Florida Marlins?”

Turns out I was thinking of A.J. Burnett and Alex Fernandez, both star pitchers, at one point, for the team. Fernandez won a World Series with them in 1997.) I’ve read in various places that I should keep an eye out for A.J. Figured I’d pass the word along.

(Anyway, my thanks go to Steve from Cigars International for getting this out to me.)

The Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet, made in Oliva’s factory in Esteli, Nicaragua, has an extremely smooth, slightly oily, vein-free Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. If you give it a whiff, you’ll definitely notice its nice sweet-and-spicy scent.

Once I lit up, I found the Cuban Cabinet had a great draw that was consistent through several sticks. Now, I’ve read some posts around the blogosphere complaining about the draw on this cigar. Since it’s still a pretty new blend, perhaps Fernandez is still working out the kinks. Anyway, you’ll get no complaints from me.

This cigar had a complex, heady taste, which I enjoyed. It was spicy and tangy to start, but I picked up hints of cedar about halfway through, and as I smoked the SC Cuban Cabinet down to the nub, I got a bit of leather and cocoa.

Verdict: Great cigar, and a pretty good deal for $4-$5 bucks a pop. The Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet burns very evenly, has amazingly white ash and seems to be constructed quite well. It’s complex, which seems to be a trademark of many Oliva-made cigars, and it should satisfy many different palates. I really enjoyed this one.

Similar cigars: If I were to compare this to an Oliva, I’d compare it to the Series O. It’s complex, but not as full-bodied as the Serie V.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Black Cat Prive Rouge

And now, for your Memorial Day cigar recommendation. Happy holiday, everyone!

Black Cat Prive Rouge cigar

Brand: Black Cat Cigar Company
Line: Prive Rouge
Vitola: Toro 6 x 50
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Connecticut sun-grown Honduran
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Honduran
Body: Medium
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $44.95 (Box of 20)

Blended by Julio and Christian Eiroa of — no surprise for CigarJack readers — Camacho, Black Cat’s Prive Rouge cigar is another of the company’s premium lines.

The Prive Rouge has a good prelight draw and a smooth, caramel-colored Connecticut sun-grown wrapper, which gives it an exceptionally smooth scent and flavor, with a touch of sweetness. Once lit, I found it was tangy and sweet, but in the first half of the cigar, the sweetness was joined by a slightly spicy aftertaste, which I enjoyed. Towards the end, I tasted hints of cocoa.

These are well-made cigars I got a very even burn, and good column of grey ash. The draw stayed consistent throughout.

Verdict: A very enjoyable cigar at a great price. When you consider flavor and price, I think it may be the best all-around cigar Black Cat offers.

Similar cigars: The La Fontana Vintage, sans the sweet cap.

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Cigar of the Week: Fundacion Ancestral Pinar del Rio 1941 Torpedo

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Fundacion Ancestral Pinar del Rio 1941 cigar

Brand: Tabacos de la Cordillera
Line: Fundacion Ancestral Pinar del Rio 1941
Vitola: Torpedo 6 x 52
Origin: Costa Rica
Wrapper: Costa Rican
Binder: Costa Rican
Filler: Costa Rican
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Medium-to-full
Box Price: $296.25 (Box of 25)

Tabacos de la Cordillera is an interesting, little-known company. (At least, it was to me before I received these sticks in the mail from Josh at Arango Cigar Co.) TC director John Vogel is a former genetics engineer who prides himself on having cultivated crop after crop of fine tobacco, descended from some pre-embargo Cuban stuff.

Most cigar fans have heard the whole “pre-embargo seed” thing before. I know that when I first checked out the TC site, I scoffed. But when I really started read his story, I got a sense of the knowledge and love Vogel has for tobacco.

He’s a scientist by trade, but he’s passionate about his craft, and it shows with the Pinar del Rio 1941, a zesty, Cuban-tasting cigar that has a spicy, earthy prelight scent. With its double band and thin oily sheen, it’s an attractive cigar.

The Pinar del Rio 1941 has a spicy, earthy prelight scent. With its double band and thin oily sheen, it’s an attractive cigar.

Once I lit up, I found this was a consistent, good smoke. It continued its spiciness, but I found it had a nutty aftertaste with hints of cocoa. It had a slow, even burn throughout with a thin burn line. The draw did get a little tougher at the end, however, but I was still able to suck out all of the taste.

Verdict: It’s a good, rare cigar. If you can get your hands on one of these, go for it. In case your local retailer doesn’t carry it, you can buy it through the TC Web site. I let this one sit for a couple of months in my humidor, and I really got the taste to “pop.”

I also recommend you check out the site. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a cigar manufacturer’s Web site with this much information.

Similar cigars: La Flor Dominicana Ligero. These are both consistently spicy cigars, but they’re not overpowering.

Cigar of the Week: Rey Miguel by Pepin Garcia (Black Cat Cigar Co.)

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

Rey Miguel Black Cat

Brand: Black Cat Cigar Company
Line: Rey Miguel
Vitola: Toro 6 x 50
Origin: United States
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Body: Medium
Strength: Medium
Box Price: $164.95 (Box of 25)

I’ve been reviewing some local and boutique stores lately. The Bobalu Cigar Co. is one. Nat Sherman is another. I’ll be coming back to those later. The Philadelphia-based Black Cat Cigar Company is next on my list.

I was drawn to Black Cat by its all-star line of house blends, made by some of the cigar industry’s finest, including Nestor Plasencia, Henke Kelner, and the Eiroas. The Rey Miguel line, an exclusive made by “Don” Pepin Garcia, is one of the finer house brands I’ve had. Ever. (Thanks to Sam from Black Cat for getting these out to me.)

The Rey Miguel has a good pre-light draw, and once you light it, it should continue to have a superb draw and a good, even burn. This cigar produces plenty of flavor, a Pepin trademark, and it’s a hearty smoke. It starts out with a boom, smacking you with a lot of black pepper, but it smooths out about halfway, giving you an earthy taste with hints of peanuts.

My one beef with this cigar — and it’s not a beef, really — is that the ash was a bit delicate for my taste. It split more than once, but I was still able to get a good burn out of the Rey Miguel.

Verdict: The Rey Miguel is a superb cigar. It’s tasty, has that Pepin “zing,” burns well and is reasonably priced — at least a buck or two less than most Don Pepins. I know that when I finally make it to Philadelphia, I’ll be swinging by Black Cat to pick up a few of these. (Who really cares about ash anyway?)

Similar cigars: Of course, the Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label Generoso.

ADDENDUM – Due to Pepin Garcia’s workload, word is he’ll no longer be making this cigar for Black Cat. Get ’em while they’re still there!

Cigar of the Week: El Mejor Emerald toro

(Note: This review originally appeared on CigarJack.)

El Mejor Emerald cigar

Brand: El Mejor Cigars
Line: Emerald
Vitola: Toro 6 x 52
Origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Honduran
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Body: Medium-to-full
Strength: Full-to-full
Box Price: $69.50 (Box of 20)

I’m relatively new to the cigar world, so I haven’t seen too many crazy-looking cigars. So when I got my hands on the El Mejor Emerald, I didn’t really know what to expect. The cigar’s foot has an old-style appearance, with loose filler and binder tobacco sticking out. Kind of cool, but it reminded me of a Backwoods, something I used to enjoy back in the day. I probably don’t have to tell you that the El Mejor Emerald tastes much better than a Backwoods cigar.

I do have to tell you, however, that it tastes better than many other cigars. (Good cigars, mind you.)

After you notice the EME’s shaggy foot, I recommend you give it a whiff; its smooth, aged Corojo wrapper makes it nice and spicy.

It has a good prelight draw, and when you light up, you’ll get a pleasant toasty taste and aroma. An inch in, the wrapper kicks in, and it gets peppery, with a slightly tangy aftertaste.

My one beef with the EME: It got hot at the end. But if you want to smoke it down to the nub — and you will — it’s a risk you’ll have to take.

Verdict: Complex, but not overbearing. An enjoyable cigar. And the price isn’t bad, either.

Similar cigars: The Don Pepin Cuban Classic.