Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Maduro Guest Cigar Review

April 1, 2011 · Posted in Cigar Review, Guest Cigar Review · 2 Comments 

Today I am pleased to present this guest review from Greg Jordan. Enjoy!

Greg's Cigar Picture

While not a picture of the Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur this is a picture of a cigar that Greg took. Pretty good.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But for me, a cigar is more about the company I’m with. This afternoon, this Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur made for a fine complement to my stroll through the garden.

Now, company can mean a good friend, an acquaintance, a new friend, your work colleagues, a bachelor’s party, a peaceful place, a fine scotch whiskey, or even your dog (especially your dog). This time my company was the large backyard garden of a beautiful 1936 Mission-style home in the Oakland Hills of California.

I have to come right out and admit that I don’t smoke too many cigars. I’d estimate that I smoke about one per month. Okay, if I’m in Puerto Rico with a buddy who likes to smoke cigars I can smoke a “year’s worth” in three days. Been there, done that. But given that I’m a conservative smoker, I truly like to splurge when I light up. I like to make it a special occasion.

So this cigar review is “unofficial” in a way because I don’t have any kind of authority to assign it points, or accurately compare it to the thousands of other cigars that I’ve enjoyed… because I haven’t smoked that many. I’m an amateur. But I hope you enjoy this review partly because of that!

This Hoyo de Monterey Excalibur was a gift from a new friend, Chris. He presented it to me after he and his wife visited with us in the Bay Area. If he didn’t have to rush back to Atlanta we could have enjoyed a good sit-down and a smoke.

I’ve been wanting to smoke this Hoyo de Monterey Excalibur for the past few days. I’ve taken it out a few times to smell it. The aroma was light and earthy and lingered in the air around my desk for a few minutes, even after putting it away. It was calling me!

This afternoon was beautiful. The storms had cleared and it was an ideal time to take a look at the garden, surveying what I need to do next. This called for a cigar. The Hoyo de Monterey Excalibur was ready. Thankfully I cut it cleanly. I was ready to light it.

I carefully lit the gift and enjoyed it beginning to end. The first few draws of the dry, rich smoke revealed some of the subtle spice that’s appealing to me. This was definitely a full-flavored cigar. My stroll through the large garden got me down to the second third of the cigar. That’s when I sat down on the deck and watched the sun set over the Golden Gate Bridge.

The flavors pleasantly changed in the second third and I’d have to admit it wasn’t as strong as I thought it was going to be. I’d go so far as to describe it as mellow, and the burn was even and slow.

The final third was stronger and uncovered additional spice and more of what I would describe as full-bodied earthiness. Remember, I’m not a heavy hitter, so I don’t mind admitting that I didn’t smoke the entire last third. Truthfully, I thoroughly enjoyed the first two-thirds and was satisfied not dusting it to the point of burning my fingers.

I would have to say it was ideally balanced for my cigar palate. If I smoke too light of a cigar I don’t feel like I’m getting the whole experience. But, on the other hand, a really rich, dark cigar can knock my socks off.

All in all the Hoyo de Monterey Excalibur was an enjoyable cigar that I feel comfortable recommending to someone who hasn’t yet smoked one. Receiving it as a gift was a nice treat. I’d definitely buy a few for the humidor next time I’m at the cigar shop.

Author Bio

Greg Jordan is a native Californian who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He enjoys outdoor life with his family and friends and is an avid amateur photographer.

Tatuaje The Face Cigar Review

January 13, 2011 · Posted in Cigar Review, Guest Cigar Review · 6 Comments 

Today we have a special guest review from TriMarkC. Thanks buddy!


Size: 6 3/8″ x 56

Wrapper: San Andreas Mexican Maduro Wrapper (Seco priming)

Filler: Nicaraguan Long Fillers

Binder: Nicaraguan

Strength: Medium-to-Full Body

Price: Dress Box of 13, $169.00 (only 666 of these boxes produced!)

Plain Box of 10, $130.00 or about $13 each … if you can find them! (only 1300 boxes)

I have to admit, I’ve been very excited to try Tatuaje’s The Face after first learning about it.  This is the third cigar in Pete Johnson’s special release series each Halloween to memorialize famous horror movie characters; The Face celebrates LeatherFace, the main character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Since I haven’t been able to find any of his prior Horror series cigars I organized a group buy with several fellow BOTLs from CigarWorld.com to increase our chances this year. Luckily, we were able to acquire two boxes, which we shared together in a virtual herf; I’ve included their thoughts on The Face in this review, as well.

For this review, I smoked two Tatuaje’s The Face.  Due to the reported strength of these cigars, I enjoyed both of these after a large meal.  The first was 4-6 hours after a very large meal – Thanksgiving dinner, to be specific – and paired it with a light ale beer.  The second was paired with a smoky sherry following another hearty meal after Christmas.

When you first look at this cigar, you can immediately see Pete’s intent to mimic LeatherFace’s memorable look.  It looks “rough” and leathery, and in fact, the well-known band is specifically designed to look like leather overlaid onto this cigar. The band is a rough-torn piece of light-brown Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, on top of the cigar’s darker brown Mexican maduro-like wrapper. Further, the primary wrapper has a toothy appearance, with the foot uncut and roughly wrapped. The head is also unique, with a slightly pointy double cap. The Face is solidly packed and has a hefty weight to it with no soft spots.

Its aroma is slightly musty, with a strong barnyard smell and slight hints of woody oak or cedar and cocoa. The wrapped foot is more of the same.

The pointy cap snips cleanly, and the pre-light draw is slightly tight but adequately open that I don’t anticipate a problem.  Finally, the taste is of barnyard and tobacco.

The burn on both of my cigars was perfect, although one cigar developed a soft spot which turned into a hot spot right after and next to the lit head. Of course, as the cigar progressed, that problem was eliminated. However, two individuals in our virtual herf had problems where the wrapper split or fell apart. “The wrapper did tend to unravel at the face, but wasn’t too much of a problem.” (ChatlieBob)  “(The) one I smoked did not seem dry in anyway, but the wrapper came apart before I even got 1/3 of the way through it.  It seemed to unwrap with the heat. It was just strange to be enjoying something so much that looked so cheap as it fell apart.” (TailFeathers)

It took a bit to get The Face lit, likely due to the loosely wrapped tobacco at the foot. Right away, on the second or third draw I got a ton of spice on my lips and throat, and a touch of vanilla. As the cigar progressed, the volume of smoke increased, as well, until near the very end, when it had almost no smoke.

As I progressed into the first third, that barnyard aroma at the prelight has gotten a bit stronger, with some sweetness and woodiness, while the spice has muted to the background to produce a smooth, delicious flavor.  For me, this reminds me of a smoky scotch whiskey, which paired incredibly well with the sherry I had with one of my cigars. The ash is solid, but falls off flakey at ¾” – 1” each time, and the strength is a very nice mild-to-medium.

In the second third, the wood flavor has progressed into a smoky oak, and an earthy flavor and aroma has come to the forefront. The spice picked up again, and there is this occasional fruity flavor that teases you now and then.  And while the strength has increased to a medium-to-full, I’m still thoroughly enjoying this cigar.

And that’s when The Face hits you in the face! Outta nowhere, in the final third, the strength suddenly and dramatically picked up, and to be honest, it overwhelmed me. The first cigar I had, I had to put it down at this point to recover, it was so strong. The second cigar I had, I was able to finish, likely because I knew what to expect. And the strength just kept ratcheting up as I finished through that final third, until at the end the wonderful flavors and aromas that I enjoyed earlier was lost and all I experienced was the pure strength of The Face. Again, this cigar has reminded me of who it has been designed to mimic. More experienced cigar smokers in our virtual herf felt that this cigar was a smooth full-bodied cigar, but were not overwhelmed as I was. But as Rookie57 put it, “It’s no rookie’s smoke!”

Overall, all of us really enjoyed this cigar!  I loved the flavors and aromas of The Face, and once I learned to watch for its stunning finish, I was able to enjoy the whole cigar’s experience.

“I thought it was an excellent smoke. Full-bodied but smooth the whole way through. Very earthy and a small amount of pepper and spice in the final third. I loved it.” (IronMikeCW)

“It was very good!” (ChatlieBob)

“THE FACE was a wonderful smoke. (It was) very smooth all the way through, lots of earth, some spice, but not overwhelming. I found that it had a hint of coco, and I really like the construction. I really can’t wait to smoke another one and see what happens.” (TailFeathers)

Sencillo Short Churchill Cigar Review

December 30, 2010 · Posted in Cigar Review, Guest Cigar Review · 2 Comments 

Today we have a very special review from Danny (@dannysguitar is his Twitter handle). He’s a cool guy and he has done an awesome review of the Sencillo Short Churchill. Enjoy!

First off, I would like to thank Travis for inviting me for a guest review on his site.  Today we have for you the Sencillo Short Churchill.  I have smoked my way through a box of these and this is one of the last sticks I have.  A little background on this cigar.  Keith K Park, owner of Prometheus and God of Fire was looking for an everyday cigar to add to his portfolio.  He contacted Christian Eiora of Camacho cigars to put together some blends for him.  This is the one that was chosen.  So let’s light it up!

Giving the cigar a good once over reveals a nice dark wrapper. Tightly packed, and heavy for it’s size. This particular cigar is a Honduran puro. Prelight smell is sweet tobacco on the wrapper.  Almost like vanilla. The foot is more musty barnyard with a touch of spice, maybe cinnamon?  I decided to use a punch on this cigar and the prelight draw gives me slight pepper.

Cigar Stats
Length: 6.25
Ring Gauge: 48
Wrapper: Honduran Habano de Jamastran
Binder: Honduran Habano de Jamastran
Filler: Honduran Habano de Jamastran and Honduran Piloto Cubano
Price: $7.95

The first few draws are natural tobacco with a slight pepper and a hint of bitterness. Actually a little dry.  Tons of smoke with a nice easy draw. A few puffs later I get some nice spicy earthy flavors. On the retrohale and I get a little black pepper spice and a nice bitter chocolate or coffee. Not sure which.  Burn is straight, and the ash is strong, holds on for about an inch.  Chewy thick smoke. Medium to full body.

Heading into the 2nd third, the smoke changes to a predominately smokey wood flavor.  The further down I smoke this, the more I’m begging for some sweetness to balance out these flavors.

Coming to the end  and the flavors are about the same.  Earth, bitter chocolate/coffee, wood,  and a bit of pepper spice. The spice has ramped up a tad bit.  I find these flavors to be very enjoyable, but this cigar still missing a little sweetness to make this the complete package.  I think this cigar would go well with a nice bourbon or rum.  Something sweet to contrast the flavors of the cigar.

Final thoughts on the Sencillo Short Churchill.  I think it’s a pretty good smoke. Better than an average cigar. I’m kinda surprised one type of tobacco could produce so many flavors.

89 points

Diesel Unholy Cocktail Guest Cigar Review

November 22, 2010 · Posted in Cigar Review, Guest Cigar Review · 9 Comments 

From my cigar buddy TriMarkC comes this great review of the Diesel Unholy Cocktail.

Diesel Unholy Cocktail, made by A.J. Fernandez

Size: 5×56, Belicoso torpedo

Wrapper: USA/Pennsylvania Broadleaf

Filler: Nicaraguan Long Fillers from Jalapa, Condega and Esteli region

Binder: Nicaraguan

Strength: Medium-to-Full Body

Price: Box of 30, $100 ($3.33/stick) or about $6 each in local B&Ms

The Diesel Unholy Cocktail is a cigar made by AJ Fernandez which was released mid-to-late in 2009.  Since I had heard that these were full-bodied (read: full strength) cigars, and I tend to like mild-to-medium strengthened cigars, I’ve been a little hesitant to smoke one for fear of getting blown out of the sky.  So I’ve had one sitting in my humidor for most of a year, until, as my friend “IronMikeCW” from @CigarWorldcom who gifted it to me, “my cigar palate grows some chest hairs”.  Well, its time!

For this review, I smoked two Diesel Unholy Cocktails in one weekend, which only come in one size – a big, beefy belicoso torpedo that’s 5” by 56 ring gauge.  The first had been resting for nearly a year, and the second was purchased about a month ago.  I paired my first cigar with a great cup of good strong coffee, and the second cigar was matched to a Samuel Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale beer. I’m a big fan of pairing cigars with whatever you feel like drinking … I’m not a snob about the pairing, since I find it much more enjoyable when your palate tells you what you’re in the mood for.

Let me say right off the bat that I love the look of the Diesel Unholy Cocktail’s band! It has a single band, at the foot, that has an antique look to it, with a medium brown old English-style text spelling out “Diesel” against a light tan background and some gold script crosses. With that band drawing your initial attention, and getting your mind thinking “old world,” I felt that the cigar itself looked rustic but elegant. It has a very dark wrapper, dark brown like dark chocolate, with a few veins visible but still smooth to the touch. Holding the cigar while inspecting it, it has heft. Its already a big cigar, but it feels densely packed – there were no soft spots at all, not even at the foot. There were no tears, holes or other irregularities to mar its appearance, even when I slid the band off the end. The cap is well wrapped, with no pinching or unusual overlapping.

As for the aroma, it was spicy and earthy, with a touch of cocoa. The foot had more of those, but also with green fields, and a strong caramel smell that wasn’t sweet. I also picked up a slight fruity aroma that I couldn’t place.

For torpedoes I tend to snip the end twice using my favorite double-guillotine cutter, since it has a backstop to prevent over-cutting.  The pre-light had a perfect draw, with a spice and caramel flavor present, too.

First Third:
After lighting the Diesel Unholy Cocktail, I was immediately hit hard and fast with spice!! I mean everywhere – my lips, my tongue, the back of my throat and on the retrohale into my sinuses!  Its not unpleasant at all, but you know its there, let me tell you!  That spiciness calms down a bit, or perhaps I got used to it somewhat, after about 5 minutes.  Then, the smoke fills your mouth with that caramel flavor – again, its not sweet, its just a nice pleasant flavor. I also picked up some coffee flavors.

As I continued on through the first third, that spiciness continued in the background, mellowed and not so in your face. That unusual fruity flavor is gone, but now I swear I was picking up a “beefy” flavor – just barely teasing me as it came and went. Still got the flavor of coffee too, sometimes sweet coffee, sometimes black coffee – very interesting!  I could feel the strength of this cigar building as I worked into it; I’d say it starts out as a medium-bodied cigar and builds from there. The burn was a little wavy on both cigars but nothing that ever required a relight, and the ash was solid with black and white bands.  In fact, the ash stayed on very solid, a testament to the construction of this cigar!

Second Third:
The Diesel Unholy Cocktail’s second third changed things up, and not always in a good way for me. There was still the spiciness that varied up and down as I progressed, and was most noticeable on the back of my throat.  The caramel flavor picked up, adding in just a touch of some sweetness now. And the coffee flavor occasionally, too. But there was this off-putting flavor in one cigar that I haven’t been able to place, kinda like the smell of rubber cement, which startled me enough that I checked to see if perhaps I had laid the burning foot on something unexpected somehow. It would go away, and then shock me again. I eventually knocked the lit cherry off and touched up the light, which worked to eliminate that problem. But, on the other cigar, not only didn’t I have that strange problem, but my ash stayed on well past the half-way point (see picture)!  The strength of still building, and it is now medium-to-full, but is still not a killer, even for me (remember, I tend to smoke mild-to-medium bodied cigars).

Diesel Ash

Final Third:
In the final third, the Diesel Unholy Cocktail’s strength is still increasing, and I can really feel it in my sinuses. Not enough for me to feel dizzy, but I know its there. Strangely, unlike any other cigar I’ve ever had, the draw got a little tighter in this last third; normally, I’ve experienced cigars’ draw opening up at the end. The burn has remained slightly wavy throughout this entire cigar, but has not caused any problems. The spiciness has been replaced with the cocoa I picked up in the very beginning, with some vanilla, and the caramel flavor that has been throughout. As I nubbed this cigar down to its last, it was that caramel flavor that I most enjoyed and remember.

Overall, I not only liked this cigar – a lot – but I also felt that it wasn’t as strong as I had expected it to be. Perhaps I had listened too much to the hype, or perhaps my palate has matured since its release. Either way, I found that I really enjoyed the flavor changeups that Mr.Fernandez has created in his Diesel Unholy Cocktail. Like the Joya de Nicaragua Celebraciòn, another Nicaraguan puro, this cigar was spicy and full-bodied. BUT, knowing that, even a newer cigar smoke can still enjoy these stronger cigars by slowing down! I found that when I’m worried about the strength of a cigar, I slow down, which allows me to really pay attention to and enjoy the flavors more, too!

In summary, I will be looking to add more of these cigars to my humidors and to my rotation. With its great flavors and complexity, a solid feel and heft that makes you feel like you’re smoking a real cigar, and a fantastic box price (come on! 30 cigars for under $100!!), this cigar is worth buying a box or two.

91 points

Arturo Fuente Cigar Review

September 7, 2010 · Posted in Cigar Review, Guest Cigar Review · Comment 

From Travis: I hope that everyone had a great Labor Day weekend. Today I am going to change things up a little bit and have Josh from Cigar Rants do a review. What follows is his review of the Arturo Fuente Spanish Lonsdale. Enjoy!

  • Ring Gauge: 6.5 x 42
  • Tobacco:
    • Wrapper: Connecticut Double Claro
    • Binder: Dominican Republic
    • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Bought Sept. 2nd 2010
  • Smoked Morning of Sept. 3rd 2010
  • Price: ~$5.95 /stick
  • Beverage: None
  • Cut Method: Punch (about 1/4 of 1″ diameter)
  • Puff Rate (estimate): 1 – 3 puff approx every 20 seconds
  • Method of lighting: Cigar Matches
  • Smoke Time: 70 min (+ or -)

Initial Thoughts:

First off, hello! And thank you for allowing me to come onto your website and give you my rants on this great cigar. If you have any questions regarding this review or my story you can contact me here.

Arturo Fuentes has been making cigars since 1912.  They started off in Cuba but eventually, due to political events moved to the Dominican Republic. Today Arturo Fuentes’ Son and grandson run this huge operation which generates 30 million cigars a year.

Today I will be smoking the 6.5×42 Double Claro.  The Double Claro has a light green tint to it, this is perfectly normal. The Double Claro was a very popular cigar wrapper from the 1850’s all the way to the 1970’s. However, for one reason or another, it fell out of favor and now only a few manufactures still make it. The green hue comes from the aging process.  The Double Claro cigars are artificially heated.  This heating process traps Chlorophyll (the green part of leaves) thus causing the green hue.  Generally considered to be a very light smoke I’ve decided to take one on and let you know about it.

The good thing about Arturo Fuentes is the flavor consistency; generally speaking.  A. Fuentes does a great job making one stick in the same line taste just like the other. The Double Claro is no exception. I have smoked several of these sticks and have found them all to be consistent.  A look at this cigar, like I said before, shows a green wrapper leaf. The wrapper leaf is uniform green with only one minor defect (tear) noticeable. This small tear did not effect the smoking of the cigar. The cigar was smooth, even, and virtually without veins. The cap construction was near flawless and expertly made. In addition, the density was uniform and without soft spots.

The Smoke…

I used my trusty punch to open this cigar up. A cold draw produced no remarkable flavors.  However, the draw was even and smooth, with a medium pull. The draw would open up as the cigar burn line progressed. The first quarter was very light and marked with smooth wood and light spice on the retro-hale.  Flavors of hay were also present. The burn was even and would stay even throughout the smoke. The cigar’s ash was more or less firm and toward the medium end of brittle. The ash color was an off gray.  The cigar was aromatic with a very clean finish.

The second half the cigar does increase in strength a little bit. The cigar opens up and becomes more robust and flavorful. However, I would still judge this as a light bodied cigar with medium flavor. Hints of grass and vanilla also poke through the complexity that is cigar smoke.  I was able to smoke this entire cigar to the cap without issues. No harshness or bitterness became apparent. This is just a good light cigar perfect for those situations where all you want is a nice relaxing, not knocking you out, smoke. Plus it is always fun to smoke something exotic and new.  I bet you if you show up at your cigar lounge with a green cigar at least one person will be shocked — if not more.

The results are in!

It’s fun every once in awhile to smoke something different. This cigar fits the bill. This cigar, construction wise, smokes excellent. The Double Claro is not meant to be a strong cigar so that too was spot on. This is a perfect breakfast cigar. It’s flavorful in the right ways without being overpowering enough to upset an empty stomach. Furthermore, those who say that Double Claro’s are bland are misguided. A cigar wrapper does contribute about 40%-60% of the flavor (depending on who you ask) however, the other 60% to 40% is coming from the binder and filler. This cigar has regular Dominican filler and binder. It does have flavor. Also, you can taste the difference between the Double Claro vs. a Natural vs. a Maduro, etc.  It’s not that it is flavorless it’s just unique and different. My recommendation is to try one I think  you will like it.

Cigar Rant’s Rating: Very Good

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