Tatuaje Avion 11 Cigar Review

January 18, 2012 · Posted in Cigar Review · 5 Comments 

The Tatuaje Avion 11 is a perfecto shaped cigar, which means it’s tapered on both ends. Chances are if you are looking for the Tatuaje Avion 11 in a search and happened upon this review you already know that, but I just wanted to make sure.

As the special edition Tatuaje Fausto for 2011, this cigar is a looker. And it tastes really good too, even better than the normal Fausto line, which still managed to place very well in my recently (and tardily) published Top 10 Cigars 2011 list.

Solidly and evenly packed. It does look like it got a little smashed (don’t look at me, Tatuaje did this on purpose since it is a box pressed cigar after all) but no bother, it’s not like it’s smashed like a pancake. The wrapper is a dark mahogany brown color webbed with insignificant veins. While it’s oily to the touch what really gets to me is the smell. It’s one of those cigar smells that is the equivalent to that Dirty Harry (paraphrased) line: “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Just the smell of it is aggressive.

Cigar Stats
Length: 6 ¾″
Ring Gauge: 48/52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $45.00/Box of 5 | $180.00/Box of 20

Game of Thrones Flame!

I’ve smoked a number of these so far and the only reason I have yet to do a review for one is because I just enjoy smoking them too much. This one is no different.

Sure, it’s a very strong cigar; definitely in the upper echelon of strong cigars. But that isn’t what I’m getting from it. To me, the Avion 11 is this full throttle study in spice, leather, oak, mesquite and very old tobacco flavors. It’s like a flamethrower of flavor enveloping my tongue’s taste buds. The retrohale is also very enjoyable.

During the second third the flavor profile transitions into being more of an oak and dry earth mix. Sure, spice and leather are still strong flavors but, with this cigar, they are relegated to being merely excellent backup flavors.

Besides the flavors being truly amazing this cigar’s smoking characteristics are exceptional. Every one of these I’ve smoked (this one is the seventh) has had an absolutely perfect draw and the burn line progress at a steady and even pace.

A couple of days ago I was watching Clubhouse Confidential, which is a baseball show that focuses on statistical analysis, and a question was posed. The gist of this question was, “What if there’s a player who was near the top for statistical ratings for eight or so years but since he played for twenty years his average statistics weren’t all that brilliant, should this player merit consideration for the Hall of Fame?” This question popped into my head again as I was progressing through the final third of the Avion 11.

It’s not as if the final third is bad. No, it’s much better than that, but it just is not quite as good as the first two thirds. The flavors have turned towards singed hay, earth and spice, which has come on exceptionally strong during this third.

From my point of view, the final third doesn’t mitigate my enjoyment of this cigar. I don’t think, in this situation at least, that what is a truly exceptional cigar should receive any demerits for lasting too long. What is the alternative? If they had made this cigar shorter the flavors during the first two thirds would be different and probably not for the better. It’s just that by itself the final third would not be Hall of Fame worthy. However, taken in its totality, this cigar is definitely Hall of Fame worthy. If anything, the final third should be considered as a highly deserved victory lap for an excellent cigar.

So, what am I to do? This cigar is not perfect and since I have been lauding this cigar from the beginning you would be right to surmise that I think this cigar is one of the best that I have ever had the pleasure of smoking. At the risk of being overly enthusiastic about this cigar I cannot do anything other than give this cigar an extremely high, and well deserved, rating.

98 points

PS: I feel I need to elaborate a little on why I did not weigh the final third as much as I did the first two thirds. If I had stopped smoking this cigar after the first two thirds, to be honest, it was a little bit into the final third when I noticed the differences in the flavors most fully, this cigar would have earned 99 points. It’s not a perfect cigar in my mind, the strength is a bit too much, even during the first two thirds, and can have the effect of lessening the impact of the flavors if you aren’t completely concentrating on the cigar.

During the throes of the final third the strength overpowers the flavors a little bit more. In my opinion, if the final third were to be segregated and given its own rating, that would make this a 94-95 point cigar. Still excellent but just not as excellent as the whole cigar is.

The reason why I am treating this cigar differently than other cigars is because the first two thirds were so extraordinarily good and it is those first two thirds (probably more like three quarters or four fifths) that has lead me to downplay the ending. It may sound trivial but I think there is a world of difference between a 98 point cigar and a 97 point cigar, which is what I’d given this cigar if I simply averaged the scores out.

Well, that’s enough babbling on for me. If you want a more sober review of this cigar head on over to Tiki Bar’s excellent review.

PPS: The picture on the band is a flying cigar.

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

Minotaur Cigar Review

November 3, 2010 · Posted in Cigar Review · 1 Comment 

This is another cigar I received from Felipe Gregorio (full disclosure and all that).

The best intro for this cigar has already been done by the Stogie Guys during their coverage of the 2010 IPCPR:

Felipe Gregorio is releasing the rosado-wrapped Minotaur at a price point of $15 a cigar for the only size in the line. Minotaur is sold in boxes of 15 and was made at the request of a prominent cigar distributor in France. It is blended to approximate the profile of Cuban cigars to make it more marketable in Europe.

The cigar itself looks beautiful. The rosado wrapper doesn’t have any raised veins, has some oils, evenly packed well and no visible imperfections. Looking forward to it.

A box of Felipe Gregorio Minotaur cigars

Cigar Stats
Length: 6″
Ring Gauge: 55
Wrapper: Rosado
Price: $15.00/cigar

Ricochet Fire!

A tidy group of pleasant flavors great you from the start. Mild fruitiness, tobacco, earth and some burnt hay. My one reservation about these flavors is that, at least in the beginning, they are not as strong as I would like.

As the cigar progresses the flavors do gain in strength to a certain extent but not in complexity. A lack of complexity, or, to be more exact, a lack in the evolution of the flavors over the course of the cigar, is not a big problem for me as long as those flavors are enjoyable. And they are.

Nearing the end now and the flavors are getting stronger, which is definitely a good sign. Good flavors.

The draw is a little tight and the burn requires some pretty sizable touch ups. It is a medium bodied cigar. My problem with this cigar is that the flavors are a little weak until sometime around the halfway point. That problem is somewhat overcome by its improved performance after the halfway point.

88 points

Quesada Tributo Cigar Review

September 1, 2010 · Posted in Cigar Review · 5 Comments 

This is a very special cigar from the Quesada family. According to Cigar Aficionado “…the Tributo brand was made by Quesada and his team of daughters, nephews and nieces—known as the “Fifth Generation”—at Matasa (Manufactura de Tabacos S.A.) in Santiago.” Before I jump headlong into the review I would like to thank Cigars Direct for this wonderful cigar.

It’s a great looking cigar; well-made and feels solid to the touch. The wrapper is oily. The only drawbacks I can see (and feel) is that there are a couple of discolorations on the wrapper and the cigar may be a little too tightly packed.

Doing some research on this cigar I found out from A Cigar Smoker’s Journal that the wrapper is unique. According to the indispensable Barry, the cigar “utilizes a special hybrid wrapper which was created using the seeds of  the Corojo, Habano 2000,  Habano Vuelta Arriba and Sumatra in Ecuador.” So lets see if this is a hybrid that we can all like.

Cigar Stats
Length: 5″
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Ecuador Heinz 57
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
Price: $6.50/Single

10 Light!

It is definitely an interesting mix of flavors right out of the gates. Instead of the spiciness that I was expecting the flavor profile is much more tame. Sure, there is some spice but there is also sourdough, darkly mild fruitiness and something else that I can’t quite pin down yet. It’s a seemingly minor flavor yet it slices through the other flavors like a light saber through a Jedi. The best I can come up with is something like a tangerine or some other kind of exotically fruity flavor.

The draw requires the slightest of tugs to get a good amount of smoke coming at your taste buds. Good burn and, after about the first third is through, I’m going to go out on a limb and peg this one as a medium bodied smoke.

As the burn line migrates from the first to the second third the flavors are meshing together very well. It is an interesting cigar. There are a good amount of flavors but I cannot say that any one of them stands out as being amazing. What I am willing to say is that these flavors are great when combined. Plus, it is just an interesting cigar. This may sound stupid but this cigar is actually making me think about it.

I’ve let it burn down quite a bit, nearly to the beginning of the final third, and here is what I’m getting. Basically a bunch of heavy but good flavors. The sourdough flavor is gone, it’s more like toast now. Burnt wood, that dark fruity flavor I mentioned earlier and some wheat. Still like it.

The only other mentionable change is in the strength of this cigar; it moved from being a medium bodied cigar to a medium-full bodied one. Thanks again to Cigars Direct.

89 points

Room 101 Cigar Review

December 23, 2009 · Posted in Cigar Review · 1 Comment 

I must admit that I am a big fan of Camacho cigars. They are full bodied and extremely tasty – basically what I am looking for in a cigar. So, when I found out that they were releasing a new line in collaboration with a Los Angeles jewelery maker, I knew I had to try a couple. (And if I liked those couple I would definitely be going back out to find some more!)

The Room 101 cigars that I smoked were the 305 (robusto) series. It looks good with a slight sheen of oils. Well packed, although on the verge of being too tightly packed. The pre-light draw is actually a little loose and there is a slight sweet taste to this draw as well. I just hope that this fusion of tobacco and style leads to a great cigar.

Cigar Stats
Length: 5″
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Semilla 101 (Honduras)
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras, Dominican Republic
Price: around $7.00

Tricked Flame!

An effortless draw reveals what could turn out to be a very good cigar; even though, right now, it’s merely above average. There are a group of deep, dark flavors that add a certain grittiness to this cigar that I like. Chocolate and some spice add some of the accent flavors to what is an extremely earthy cigar. And, by earthy, I mean dirt – good dirt though. As was the case with the other cigar I have smoked it starts out really well after a brief lull in the beginning.

As the cigar progresses that “dirt” flavor only increases. Now, as a flavor in a cigar, I like dirt but this is a new frontier of earthiness for me and I’m not liking it all that much. Sure, the flavors are pure but is that really a good thing when that flavor is dirt? Luckily, the final couple inches of this cigar has a change in the flavor profile that I like.

Spice really starts to come through and it becomes a more robust, full bodied cigar. In addition to the reinvigorated spiciness there is an oak flavor. The draw, which started out effortless, has become a little too loose and, as a result, the cigar is burning too quickly. The burn itself is even. There is also a slight hint of an herbal flavor at this time.

As the final puffs of this cigar leave my mouth I am finding myself loving this cigar. But then I start to think of the dirt, which lasted for more than half of the cigar, and I realize that this cigar isn’t a great cigar for me. It was just too much dirt – rich, kind of tasty dirt, but dirt nonetheless.

If only the second one-third-plus of this cigar had been the flavor from start to finish I would have loved this cigar. The spice, with a little bit of dirt, and some oak really mixed well together. It was a dark, complex cigar nearer the end and that is what I liked about this cigar. Maybe I’ll pick up a few more if the price drops a little.

88 points

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