Top 10 Cigars 2012

January 4, 2013 · Posted in Cigar Review, The Perfect Draw · 4 Comments 

Another year is over and that means it’s time for another Top 10. For review, here are my previous Top 10s:

A few notes of caution: 1. I didn’t review a ton of cigars in 2012 and 2. Taste is subjective. You already knew that but it had to be said. Also, this ranking isn’t just straight from my scores. Rather, I use a very unscientific methodology that includes memorability, price and my ratings of these cigars.

Without further ado, here’s my Top 10 Cigars of 2012:

10. Liga Privada Undercrown

A very solid offering from Drew Estate that made me really appreciate medium bodied cigars again. As the rest of this list will attest, I prefer stronger cigars but this medium bodied cigar hit the spot. I purchased a box and went through it too quickly. Fortunately, I still have a couple of sticks hiding somewhere.

9. Tatuaje La Dueña

I have to admit that I could have made a Top 10 with just those cigars made by My Father Cigars. This one is also in the medium bodied realm and was blended by Pete Johnson in honor of Janny Garcia.

8. Illusione hl

The “hl” stands for Holy Lance (if memory serves) and this was an excellent cigar. Gifted to me by a friend, I smoked a few of these cigars and enjoyed each one immensely.

7. 601 La Bomba

In my opinion this is the best value on this list; it’s ridiculously cheap (less than $4 a stick on occasion) and packs a ton of flavor. It is fairly full bodied but not overwhelmingly so.

6. Guayacan

Great story behind the maker of this cigar and the cigar was pretty amazing too. I won some at the Chattanooga Tweetup and was kind of indifferent about my winnings because I did not recognize the cigar in the least. And then, after a long day of smoking, I lit one up and the flavor profile just cut through the detritus like a laser through a sheet of paper. It’s a special cigar.

5. Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970

Full bodied, tons of flavor and a good price. This review was of the 4.5″ x 40 short corona and for months it was my go-to cigar.

4. Tatuaje Black Label

This blend has reached something of an iconic status amongst cigar smokers and for good reason. Extremely flavorful cigar hovering on the border of medium and full bodied this cigar should appeal to every smoker.

3. Padron Serie 1926 80 Years Maduro

Extremely expensive and extremely good. If you are looking for a refined cigar experience for a special occasion then you should give serious consideration to this cigar. (I’ve always liked the maduro Padrons the best but you might prefer the naturals.)

1. Tatuaje Fausto Avion 11

That is not a misprint; this year I am awarding two #1 cigars. (HACK!)  The Tatuaje Avion 11 actually scored the highest out of all cigars I have ever reviewed earning 98 points. It is an amazing cigar and I have since purchased a box, which is a rarity for me for a cigar that is this expensive (like many cigar smokers I buy in ones and twos and, sometimes, threes). Full bodied, spicy and loads of flavor makes this one of my two most favorite cigars I have ever had the pleasure of smoking.

1. La Flor Dominicana Litto Gomez Diez 2012 Chisel

In a cigar of equals this is perhaps the most equal cigar I have ever smoked. Even though I gave it a rating of 97 points, which is one point lower than the Avion 11 earned, my opinion has slightly switched where I could be swayed into saying this is my favorite cigar of all time. (But then I will smoke an Avion 11 and get swayed a little in the other direction.) Like the Avion 11, this cigar is full bodied, spicy and has loads of flavor packed into it. Like the Avion 11 it has a special shape (trademarked in the Chisel’s case). Basically, I can’t go wrong with either of these cigars so I’m giving them both top honors this year.

LFD Litto Gomez Diez Chisel (click picture to go to La Flor Dominicana's site)

LFD Litto Gomez Diez Chisel (click picture to go to La Flor Dominicana’s site)

Cigars I didn’t Review but they Deserve Recognition

I smoked these cigars but, for whatever reason, I didn’t review them. That’s an oversight on my part and one I intend to rectify as soon as possible.

  • Cromagnon Aquitaine: Superb cigar and I liked it better than the original CroMagnon (which was 7th on my 2011 Top 10)
  • Room 101 Namakubi: This was just one of those cigars that clicked for me and when I was smoking one late last year I went to check my review and found out that I haven’t published one. Room 101 has some excellent cigars (the Daruma just missed my list this year).

There’s probably some others that I have smoked but haven’t reviewed yet that will be strong contenders for the 2013 Top 10 but I cannot recall them at this time.

Love it? Hate it? Fortunately, there’s literally dozens of other cigar lists of varying length and quality for you to peruse. I’m not going to link to them lest you find one you like more and cease coming to this site from time to time.

Here’s to a great 2013!


601 La Bomba Cigar Review

March 12, 2012 · Posted in Cigar Review · Comment 

Yes, I love the name of this cigar. The packaging is pretty nice too; they have cheekily put a little bomb where the “0” would normally be in “601.” But who cares about all of that? If the band, which is just a form of marketing after all, is eye catching enough it will get some people to try out a cigar. It’s the taste that will get people to come back.

But before you taste you have to consider the construction. There is a three inch long “fuse” of tobacco sticking out of the cap. (It’s actually a pigtail but let us stick with the bomb motif.)

The wrapper has a milk chocolate color to it and it is oily to the touch. When you look and feel with a little more of a discerning eye you begin to notice things that aren’t completely kosher. There are more bumps than with a normal cigar, more veins than a normal cigar ranging from inconsequential to slightly bigger than medium sized and there are some hard and soft spots. (By “normal” I mean “a quality cigar that you get from a quality cigar company.”)

Personally, this doesn’t bother me all that much as long as the cigar has good smoking characteristics (draw and burn) and tastes good. Let’s find out if it has those things.

Cigar Stats
Vitola: Corona Gorda
Length: 5 ½″
Ring Gauge: 46
Wrapper: Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $72.00/Box of 10 | $8.00/Single

Zombie Flame!

Yeah, it’s a spice bomb. And not the soft, warm kind of spice either; the one that is delightful and easy going. This is all edge all the time. There’s a big part of me that really appreciates that and if that was all this cigar was I would be okay with it. But there is more than just this spicy banzai charge that doesn’t understand the meaning of the word “restraint.”

There’s some hard scrabble earth present along with a streak of sweetness that quickly fades thanks to the intensity of the spice. If pressed, I would say that this spice reminds me of a mixture of course pepper and maybe a little bit of cinnamon.

While doing a little research on this cigar I happened across this absolutely horrendous video from the makers of the 601 La Bomba. Titled “Preview 601 La Bomba” I thought it was going to be about the cigar. I was wrong. Take a look:

Wow. I’m going to take solace in my belief that that video is actually a good thing because it shows that all the money they make they put into their cigars because they certainly aren’t putting it into their videos.

I’m nearing the second third of the cigar now and the flavors are staying true. After your taste buds have had some time to acclimate to the unadulterated spiciness you can appreciate the flavors more. Basically, this cigar is everything the Cu-Avana Punisher was marketed as (and cheaper to boot!).

As I get nearer to the end oak does make an appearance and the spice does moderate a little bit. I’m not sure if the lessening in intensity of the spice is due to the physiology of the cigar or just my taste buds being overloaded but, either way, I’m fine with the change. It is a lot of spice and because this cigar is so unapologetically spicy I love it. That and the burn and draw were both great for this full bodied cigar.

94 points

Baker’s Bourbon

February 4, 2012 · Posted in Drinks · Comment 

Aged seven years and bottled at 107 proof this bourbon is a creation of some distant relative of Jim Beam. Fortunately for this distant relative, grand nephew (new one on me too) Baker (cool name) Beam (structural name), he has made something that is better, much better really, than his grand uncle’s namesake whiskey. But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Baker’s is honey colored with a strong, sweet bourbon scent to it. Belying the fact that it’s 107 proof the first couple gulps are very smooth and the only way you can tell that this is a high proofed bourbon is by the gentle tingling sensation washing through your esophagus.

The flavors are surprisingly mild but that isn’t to say that they aren’t good. I think nuanced may be a better phrase to use than “mild” in this situation. I don’t get the vanilla notes that are mentioned on their site but I do get this buttered bread type of flavor mixed with some honey or mild fruit flavors. They have also described this as being a “silky” drink and I think that makes sense.

Before I started drinking the Baker’s I lit up a 601 La Bomba; you know, the one with that two inch long pig tale at the end and the aggressive flavor profile. It’s a good match for this bourbon. Being a strong-ish cigar with some very admirable qualities it can stand up to the Baker’s without a problem. I do think it’s a good idea to smoke a stronger cigar with Baker’s and this is especially the case when you’re drinking Baker’s bigger, better brother: Booker’s (I’m guessing that’s named after the great-grand step nephew of Jim Beam – or something like that).

Perhaps the best thing about reviewing liquor, besides the actual process of drinking, is that I don’t have to go through the whole “this third, that third” rigamarole when describing it. You can fairly quickly figure out whether or not you like a particular drink and this is one of those whiskeys that I like.

This is a good drink for a number of reasons. First, it has some good flavors to it. It’s smooth enough for my liking but also has a high enough proof to give it a little edge. And it’s a good sipping bourbon, something I like with my cigars. But it’s strong so that precludes lesser cigars as a pairing, which isn’t really a bad thing because who really likes smoking lesser cigars?

Overall, Baker’s is not one of my all-time favorites but it’s definitely a worthwhile drink. However, at this price, somewhat short of $50 a bottle, it won’t be something I go to very often.