La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Cigar Review

July 29, 2013 · Posted in Cigar Review · 2 Comments 

This is a bit of a departure for me as this is the Air Bender Villano, which is a lancero measuring in at 7.5″ x 38. Now, of course, there’s nothing wrong with this size but, probably for a multitude of reasons, I don’t usually smoke this vitola. Is that a mistake?


The reason why I picked up one of these is because I wanted to compare it to the similarly sized Cain F lancero.

As I noted earlier, this is a long, thin cigar and I think that fits well with its name: Villano. I think it was in Nip/Tuck where they talked about babies not getting parts in commercials because they had thin, villainous lips and, if this cigar were a baby, it wouldn’t be getting commercial roles either. But this isn’t a baby and, unlike a baby, smells like spicy tobacco with a hint of barnyard thrown in for good measure (do babies have a “barnyard” smell to them?). It does feel a bit soft in places, with a slight amount of oils and veins on the wrapper. There’s also a pigtail.

I have done two reviews of Air Benders before with my review of the Chisel, which I really liked, and another of the corona gorda, which I thought was alright. (Read both as you’ll get to see how different vitolas can lead to much different levels of enjoyment.)

Photo: La Flor Dominicana website

Photo: La Flor Dominicana website

Cigar Stats
Vitola: lancero
Length: 7 ½”
Ring Gauge: 38
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Price: $169.00/Box of 20 | $42.00/5 Pack

How Star Wars Ep 1 Should Have Been Flame!

It starts out as aggressively as a bull elephant in musth with a combination of spice, leather, dark fruit in the background and it all goes perfectly together. From the first puff this is a very strong cigar and I can already tell that it wouldn’t go great for people who are either new to cigars or who do not like full bodied cigars. And this isn’t the online retailer “this cigar will blow steam out your ears if you smoke it!” kind of full bodied either; it’s legitimately full bodied.

Usually, things do calm down as the cigar progresses and, in a fashion, it does here as well but not a whole lot, which I like. In addition to what was there in the first third there is oak. So, in order of most prominent to least prominent flavors: spice, leather, oak, dark fruit and it’s still full bodied.

The final third sees a change in the spice: it’s drier. The dark fruitiness has lost some of its zip and is now more of a run of the mill kind of sweetness. Overall, though, this is still an excellent cigar.

Full bodied with a good draw and burn; the La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Villano is a must try for cigar smokers who do not dislike full bodied cigars. Even if you don’t normally smoke stronger cigars I think you should try at least one of these as it does have an amazing amount of flavor. So far, this is the best Air Bender I have smoked.

95 points

Tatuaje Black Label Cigar Review

March 3, 2012 · Posted in Cigar Review · 2 Comments 

For whatever reason most of the other reviews of this brand I have found online have been for the petite lancero vitola. (Perhaps most of the reviews are for the petite lancero because that is a regular production cigar and what I’m smoking happens not to be. Ponder and discuss.) That’s fine and since that particular vitola has been covered by many others I’m going to cover the corona gorda Tatuaje Black Label.

“If looks could kill” is not a phrase that comes to mind when looking at this cigar. It’s waifishly skinny with a pale looking wrapper that is marked by the occasional protruding vein, stretch mark, bump and tear. It looks like a mess and so have all the others (four others, this is the fifth) that I have smoked. Black Labels may be ugly ducklings but they sure can fly.

Cigar Stats
Vitola: Corona Gorda
Length: 5 5/8″
Ring Gauge: 46
Wrapper: Criollo ’98 Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: ~$9 per stick

Breitbart Eternal Flame!

While doing some research on this cigar I got a little confused. This cigar does not have a pigtail nor is the foot unfinished, as the Tatuaje site says it should, which made me think for a minute that this cigar was a fake and that I was going to raise Holy Hell with a local B&M. After digging a little deeper I found this and was relieved. Oh well, that’s what I get for not keeping current on the latest news on Tatuaje’s various brands.

When you combine an effortless draw, a wealth of flavors, a ton of smoke and a dash of strength you get an awesome cigar. From the first puff on this is an awesome cigar. Leather and golden raisins. Effervescent spice that briefly lingers in the nostrils and sweet woody notes that come on weakly but last a long time. It’s just that right mix of spice and sweet and savory. The flavors themselves are strong but could possibly be a little bit more forceful and there is a minutely off putting blandness that momentarily numbs my tongue after each puff for a few seconds.

The second third is a glorious continuation of the first third. When things are going good I don’t want them to change and that is what is happening here. If anything, there is this hearty apple flavor that is coming through more forcefully. Apple and cinnamon more precisely.

It’s a refreshing cigar with an edge. Hearty flavors are the rule with this cigar. The main forces are the raisins and the leather. Sweetness permeates the field augmented by cinnamon. Add in the fact that the draw is superb and the burn is even, this medium-full bodied cigar is awesome.

Despite there being no evolution of flavors from beginning to end this cigar quickly became one of my all-time favorites. The flavors are alive and in perfect harmony with each other. I think the only drawback for me is that the flavors are not perfectly in my wheelhouse. Unlike the Fausto Avion 11, there isn’t much grittiness to this cigar. It’s elegant, refined; not bold and volatile. This cigar would impress any cigar smoker.

95 points

La Sirena Cigar Review

June 14, 2011 · Posted in Cigar Review · 2 Comments 

I received the cigars I used for this review from Miami Cigar & Company. As always, my reviews are my own.

La Sirena cigars have a good pedigree as they are made in the My Father Cigar Factory. And you can tell that these cigars are made with capable hands. It has that perfect parejo shape to it, the wrapper feels rough to the touch and the color has a good consistency to it: dark brown. There are a couple of small holes near the head of the cigar and there is something about it that is a little odd.

As I rotate the cigar the light catches on the wrapper in multiple places. It’s not glitter but it has that kind of look to it. When I run my finger over one of the spots that reflects the light the light goes away. Is it possible that what is reflecting the light is oil? I doubt it but there’s something there that is causing this. Weird. Maybe it is the oil from the cigar….

My one bone of contention about the look of this cigar is that when you have something as pretty as this cigar you should not want to cover it up, which is exactly what this over-sized Frankenstein of a band does. If you want to picture this band in your mind think of the ratio between shield and Grecian hoplite and then shrink it down to a five inch cigar. Presto! You have a covered up cigar. Well, at least it’s not as prudish as that Obsidian cigar I’ve seen on some website or another (let’s save that one for another time).

Cigar Stats
Length: 5″
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo ’99
Filler: Nicaraguan Corjo ’99 Viso and Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 Ligero
Price: $8.20/Single | $155.00/Box of 20

Siren Torch!

I need to make a quick note about the makeup of this cigar. When I originally received the samples a few months back a little card came with it talking about the makeup of La Sirena Cigars. Since then I have come across this that shows the blend has changed. Well, I am putting up the blend info that I got along with the samples, things may have slightly changed since then.

What I love about cigars that utilize Nicaraguan tobacco is the combination of flavors that ranges from dusty earthiness to bold spice and some meaty flavors as well. This cigar has those flavors wrapped up pretty nicely. It’s a little more spicy than it is dusty earthiness, which is better in my opinion. Those meaty flavors remain a little underdeveloped during the first third of this cigar, they might not improve much at all during the subsequent two thirds. Sweetness is barely noticeable after the retrohale, it’s almost an afterthought.

Bold, I think, is the best word to describe the flavor profile of this cigar. Still have not finished the first third of this cigar and I am absolutely loving it. Looking back at my notes from the previous samples I have tried and, if anything, I think this cigar has gotten stronger with the extra time it has spent in my humidor. The flavors are also more well rounded, which is of paramount importance, as always.

During the second you are able to get a better understanding of the flavors. The spice has a ferocity like that of a fox on fire. It tastes one part sweet and four parts intensity. As if scared by the fox on fire spice, the earthiness has shrunk a little too much into the background. A pity, really, because it did add something nice to the overall complexity of the cigar. Picking up the slack for the scared earthiness is a mildly sweet force of flavor that weaves everything else together and increases the likeability of this cigar a great deal. Wood, leather and some meat, sparingly salted, are also present.

With renewed courage the dusty earthiness has picked up again and is riding a close second to the spice, much subdued in its vigor now that I’m in the final third, I might add. Sharpness is the main impression I am getting from this third. Not sharpness as in “The flavors are all sharp” but sharpness as in “The spice has a sharp quality to it” (think sharp cheddar). It’s not bad but it could be better. The sweetness is still there taking on an herbal affectation but it’s a shadow of its former self. While it would be unfair to say that the flavors have crumbled during this final third it is more than accurate to say that they have lost some of their zest for life. Either they are tired or my tongue is tired thanks to the amazing first two thirds of this cigar. Either way, I’m not displeased.

Bold. I still think that is the best way to sum up this cigar. Bold strength and bold flavors; impressive mixture. Obviously full bodied (but not like a Joya de Nicaragua Antano) and one of the best cigars for draw and burn around. No matter how you judge this cigar it is a winner – except for the band, which is ridiculously ostentatious.

95 points

Padilla Miami Cigar Review

January 18, 2011 · Posted in Cigar Review · 6 Comments 

Last year during my trip to the La Aurora factory in the Dominican Republic I had the great opportunity to make some cigars. Ten to be exact. I have smoked some of those cigars since then and they actually aren’t awful. But one thing is consistent about those cigars: their inconsistency.

Everything about the construction of those cigars is inconsistent. The packing is varied with myriad soft and hard spots, the cigars are different lengths and different ring gauges (this somehow happened even though we used cigar presses to create some uniformity in shape) and many of the cigars have slight tapers one way or the other. First try or not it is obvious to me that the art of making a hand rolled cigar is not something that anybody can pick up over the weekend. It takes years of hard work and dedication to master that craft.

That is why I love smoking cigars that have a unique shape. Take the Miami Salomon as an example. It is a perfecto, which means the head of the cigar is shaped like a torpedo, the ring gauge increases as you near the foot until that last half inch or so where it tapers down dramatically. It’s a very impressive cigar to behold but these cigars do have one major potential problem.

The draw can be a little tight before the burn line crosses the shoulder (the shoulder being that part of the cigar where it tapers down from a rather large ring gauge to a relatively small ring gauge at the foot). After the burn line does cross that point I have found that it is smooth sailing with the Miami after that.

You already know that I am fond of the shape of this cigar. A couple of points working against the appearance of this cigar are the two smallish holes, one near the head and the other at the midway point of the cigar, and that lone vein that mars the the otherwise placid wrapper.

Cigar Stats
Length: 7 ¼″
Ring Gauge: 57
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $95.00/Box of 5

Cyclopedia Torch!

One happy note about the price. If you lurk long enough on some of the deal sites you can get extremely good deals on this cigar (usually it will be paired with the Padilla 1932 Salomon, which is just as good, or better, than the Miami Salomon).

The draw is almost perfect from the outset, which shouldn’t be expected from a perfecto. This has been a common occurrence for me with these cigars; after all, they are expertly fabricated. Likewise, the flavors are expertly fabricated, if that’s the right term to use in this situation. Almost from the instant when the foot was done being properly toasted I was able to pick up an extremely dry and pure spiciness. The image that this spiciness conjures up for me is the desert floor. In other words: it’s wonderful. As the first third progresses there is an oak flavor that begins to come through. It augments the spice very well.

Progressing into the second third it is obvious that this is a special cigar. It is less a symphony of flavors than it is an extraordinary guitar solo. No, that’s not right; it’s more like a rock super group like Cream than it is a solo. The spice is the lead in this case with oak and some grassy sweetness coming on strong during the middle third. It has a perfect draw and a passable burn. Even though it is a moderately full bodied cigar the flavor is only enhanced by the strength and not overshadowed in any way.

A little after the halfway point this cigar kicks it up a notch with its flavor profile. All the aforementioned flavors are there but there is more now. A creaminess has come on board along with some nuttiness.I’m pleased to note that the remainder of this cigar never loses its greatness. It’s one of those cigar that I have truly loved smoking.

95 points

Alec Bradley Family Blend Cigar Review

November 18, 2010 · Posted in Cigar Review · 4 Comments 

[A note from Travis: This is one of the cigars that will be featured in my cigar dinner on December 1st. If you are in the Los Angeles area and want to smoke some great cigars, eat excellent food and meet a great group of people go here for more info!]

I started seeing this cigar online during the spring or summer and finally pulled the trigger and purchased some a couple of months back. Lo and behold, I get my new issue of Cigar Aficionado and this cigar gets a rating of 94 points. And it was the same vitola that I bought a box of. Crazy, right?

The genesis of this cigar is interesting since it started out as the personal blend for the patriarchs of the AB dynasty.

Alec Bradley Family Blend cigars were created expressly for the fathers of the company’s three principal executives, Alan Rubin (President), Ralph Montero (Vice President), and George Sosa (National Sales Director).

Based off of my mediocre memory of cigar history, it is usually a good omen if a cigar starts out as the personal blend of the head of the company and then gets released to the public. (Some of the Fuente’s cigars and Drew’s Liga Privadas come to mind.) I’ve smoked a few of these Alec Bradley Family Blend cigars now and they continue that trend.

The Alec Bradley Family Blend T11 is a very well made torpedo. There can be some stretch marks on the wrapper and there are some minor veins; ho-hum. The Honduran wrapper has a nice chocolate brown hue to it and it is accompanied by a good allotment of oils.

Besides the good appearance the most striking thing about this cigar, besides the actual smoking of it, comes right after you pull it out of the cellophane. A potpourri of tobacco, sweet spice and leather greets you with a warm embrace.

Cigar Stats
Length: 6 1/8″
Ring Gauge: 52
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Indonesia
Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
Price: $7.25/Single | $125.00/Box of 20

AB Flame!

The flavor parade starts right after the cigar is lit. What I smelled after taking it out of its cellophane cocoon is pretty much what I am tasting. A restrained sweet spice, a background of leather and some tobacco flavors round out this little flavor parade. Add to that a pretty great draw and an even burn and it is shaping up to be a great cigar during the first third.

What is the most refreshing thing about this cigar, for me at least, is that it is a superb medium bodied cigar. This is a cigar that every cigar smoker will at the very least enjoy, probably much more than just “enjoy.”

During the second third and especially during the final third there is a distinct woody note that comes through. Also during this time the sweetness and the spice grows a little bit. The sweetness slowly morphs into a nuanced dark fruit and the spice deepens into a warm spice, something like cinnamon.

If you are looking for an excellent way to spend a couple hours of your time then you should definitely give these cigars a try. The Alec Bradley Family Blend T11 is a laid back cigar with a ton of flavor and well above average level of complexity. A must try.

95 points

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