I’m living the life the past couple weeks. Lots of events, travel and of course smoking! The highlight this past week was attending the Texas Cigar Festival in Houston TX hosted by Serious Cigars. It was an awesome event with a great turn out by cigar smokers and manufacturers. I’ll admit that I spent most of my time sitting at the Illusione booth with Dion Giolito and the Tatuaje booth with Pete Johnson. I wish I was better at taking notes because there were so many fans of Stogie Review and followers on Twitter that I got to meet. I swear Stogie Review has some of the best fans who appreciate all of our efforts to bring entertaining cigar information. It was great to meet so many of you. I actually flew into Austin TX the day before the festival and stayed with ChiefHava. Chief was kind enough to take me on a cigar tour of Austin TX. I was able to visit some really great shops, run by dedicated individuals who love this industry. Six airports, six cigar shops in three days made for an exciting and exhausting weekend.
Tatuaje Verocu #5 – My Cigar of the Year for 2010. I don’t think I can shower any additional praise on the Tatuaje Verocu #5. So much balance, so much flavor and so much complexity in such a small format. Consistent from cabinet to cabinet. Literally an anytime, any place, always enjoyable type of cigar. This is truly a cigar that I can’t get enough of.
Nosotros – Sometimes I think I’m the only one who enjoyed the Nosotros. Was that the reason why the joint project between Dion Giolito and Jonathan Drew ended? Who knows? All I know is that I thought the Nosotros, more so in the smaller ring gauges, had what it took to be a mainstay in the market. So for me, the Nosotros will be missed. Lucky for me, the folks at Habana House in Austin TX still had some in stock for me to enjoy.
Viaje 50/50 Black – I’ve taken a break from smoking Viaje cigars. I don’t know. Maybe its with all the recent hype and the high ratings it has received, that has turned me off. While visiting Heroes and Legacies in Austin TX I decided to give the Viaje 50/50 Black another try. I remember when these were released at the 2009 IPCPR. The concept for this cigar is that its two cigars in one. Meaning that the first half you get more of a medium bodied cigar and then around the halfway point, it instantly transforms to a full bodied cigar instead of the traditional natural progression. Its that instantaneous transition in body and strength that isn’t my thing. Combine that with a subpar burn that needed constant attention and a wrapper that became unraveled, I think I will stick with the Viaje 50/50 Red Label.
Partagas Black – The cigar that started it all. The Partagas Black represents my transformation from a occasional cigar smoker to the Blog Father I am today. ChiefHava actually purchased this cigar for me while we were visiting his local B&M, Pipe World in Austin TX. Some will say the Partagas Black isn’t the same cigar that it was a few years ago. I think it has more to do with the overall changes in definition of body and strength the industry has undergone the past few years. The Partagas Black has some great flavors. The definition of full body and full strength has changed over time so I’d say the Partagas Black is more around the solid medium scale for both. The Partagas Black is like an old friend that you don’t get to talk to as much as you use to but when you do, its still a good time.
My Father Special – The last episode of Week in Smoke I smoked the El Centurion by Don Pepin Garcia. During that blurb I mentioned how rumor has it that these are still being rolled for personal consumption. Turns out I was right (they are still being rolled) and I was wrong (personal consumption). The My Father Special is the El Centurion. Produced in even fewer numbers and usually only available at events where Don Pepin Garcia is in attendance. This cigar was gifted to me by ChiefHava who attended the Nicaraguan Cigar Festival. The My Father Special is officially the first cigar I smoked in his Man Cave…make a note, that maybe a trivia question one day. Who knows?
CroMagnon – Featured in an earlier episode of Week in Smoke, the CroMagnon is the joint creation of our friend ChiefHava and Adrian’s Cigar. This is the Mandible size from the much anticipated second batch. The first thing you will notice from this batch is that its a heck of a lot prettier and smoother looking wrapper. I thought the rustic look and feel from the first batch was cool but the sleekness and shine of the second batch is definitely an eye catcher that really standouts. The next thing you will notice is that the CroMagnon burns more evenly and more consistently. Blend is as dynamite and meaty as ever. Lots of simple but yet complex flavors with a great balance of Nicaraguan zing, Cameroon tang and a dark juicy semi sweet tobacco flavor from it’s Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. Ship the cigars already Skip!
Man O’War Puro Authentico – A new staple in my humidor. Love the size, love its bold peppery notes and I love how the nicotine flavors linger for forever, love the nuttiness that dominates the palate, love the soft delicate woody and coffee notes. I love it all. An awesome balance of power, body and flavor that grabs your attention from the start. My favorite of all the Man O’War Series.
León Jimenes Don Fernando #4 – It doesn’t get much more special than the Léon Jimenes Don Fernando #4. Our good friend and supporter of Stogie Review, Michael Herklots has a great story regarding Don Fernando Léon Arsenio the patriarch of the Léon Family that owns La Aurora Cigars. A very flawless Cameroon wrapper graces this truly special cigar. I always comment how the La Flor Dominicana Cameroon Cabinet has a Cameroon wrapper like no other, but hand down, the Léon Jimenes Don Fernando #4 surpasses it. Flawless construction, beautiful looking and tasty wrapper. A mello cocoa and earthy flavors accompany a subtle tang to make for a very very memorable cigar made for a legendary man. “Hechos Especialmente Para Don Fernando Leon”
Forcade Giralda Maduro – On the way to the Texas Cigar Festival we made a impromptu stop at Cigar! Cigar! in Sugar Land TX. There I was introduced to the local rep for Forcade, Chris. Chris was smoking a beautiful maduro cigar with a gypsy on the band, both of which caught my attention. Chris went on to tell me all about Forcade and the Giralda Maduro cigar he was smoking and how they are made by Don Pepin and Jaime Garcia. Really fantastic syrupy texture with a classic maduro flavor profile with a little bit of Nicaraguan zing. Nothing too overbearing. Very smooth and very enjoyable. Classic maduro with that familiar DPG twist. Definitely a cigar worth hunting down and smoking more of.
PJ 40th – Easy there Tatuaje whores. The PJ 40th is to celebrate…you guessed it, Pete Johnson 40th birthday. This isn’t a new blend. Its actually the soon to be released Fausto which if you remember from my 20:15 with Pete Johnson interview, Fausto is the same blend of the limited edition T110 blend Pete did for a store in Hawaii a couple years back. So the PJ 40th is a unique size not found in the Fausto line and the original T110 size isn’t in the Fausto line. A little confusing…I know. So how does the PJ 40th compare to the T110? I enjoyed the PJ 40th although it seemed a little toned down from what I remember the T110 being. It was missing that “firecracker” essence that the T110 had upon lighting up. Still looking forward to the Fausto release and even more so for the release of the La Casita Criolla.
EPC Core Line Maduro – What I love most about Ernesto Perez Carrillo is that whenever I see him he greets me with a hearty smile, a hug, thanks me for our support and asks how my family is doing. It doesn’t get much more classy than that. Our conversations always have a way of combining love of cigars and love of family into one conversation. A great man with a great vision and a great family behind working with him. The soon to be released EPC Core Line Maduro brings me back to what I think LGC Serie R Maduro was before Ernesto’s departure. Classic maduro with a modern twist that will greatly appeal to today’s smokers. Toasty and nutty flavors throughout with a bit of power to keep you on your toes. The sample I had was refined, complex and balanced. Can’t wait to try more.
Para Ti – The Para Ti is a Dominican puro distributed by Havana Cellars (Pete Johnson). Made for wine maker, Fred Schrader of Schrader Cellars, the Para Ti line of cigars was introduced to compliment his limited edition release Schrader figurado. Purchased from Habana House Cigars in Austin TX I found the Para Ti to be enjoyable but I’m on the fence as to whether I’d buy more. The flavor profile was a bit one dimensional with a nice oak flavor core and sprinkling of pepper notes. There was little else to add to the flavor profile. Slow burning and for the most part, one dimensional make for an okay but rather boring cigar. Maybe the Para Ti is best enjoyed when being paired with wine?
EO 601 Oscuro (Green) – This was the first time I smoked a 601 Oscuro (Green) from our friends Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega. I’m much more familiar with the 601 Maduro (Blue) and the Cubao lines. Seeing the new old schoolish, non-cartoonish band at Fumée Cigars in Austin TX it was a no brainer to pick up and try. Peppery to start and then transitions to a smooth black coffee flavor. Lots of thick smoke that lingers around. I’m glad that new bands resemble the original bands. I’m not saying anything new here but those initial bands by Rocky had too much of a cartoonish and overall “cheap” look/feel to them that really didn’t stand out on the shelf.
Casa Magna Colorado Perfecto – Lastly is this Casa Magna Perfecto was gifted to me by StogeyBogey at the TX Cigar Festival. Paul, I appreciate your generosity gifting me these. Normally not a fan of most Casa Magna and I really can’t say why. Maybe it falls victim to its own succes similar to how I look at Viaje. I honestly don’t know. The Casa Magna Colorado Perfecto is only available at events and it suffers from a common issue with most perfectos I’ve encountered; a snug/tight draw. Even after lighting and working past the nipple the draw never totally opens up. Even so I managed to produce a nice volume of smoke and steady flavors. Medium-Full in strength and flavor. Nice roasted coffee flavors with a hint of spicy woodsy flavor really worked well and peaked my palate. To date, my best experience flavor wise with any Casa Magna.
It’s contest heaven here at Stogie Review these days. When we turn on the contest spicket we really turn it on. Pictured above is the goodie bag from the Texas Cigar Festival. Twenty-eight (28) cigars in all. Ranging from the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial to the Acid Toast by Drew Estate with a lot of fine cigars in the middle. Like always, when I don’t have room in my humidors you win. Up for grabs is the goodie bag from Texas Cigar Festival.
How To Enter
I’ve been to a lot of events and festivals over the years. Leave a comment and tell me what is your favorite cigar event or festival that you’ve attended. If you’ve never attended one, indicate one you’d like to attend.
Contest will run for ten (10) days ending at 11:59pm EST on April 30, 2011. One comment per person. For entry to count twice, (a) Include your Twitter name and make sure you are following Stogie Review (no need to unfollow/refollow) or (b) include your Stogie Review Fan Forum screen name.