7-20-4 Cigar Review

June 18, 2013 · Posted in Cigar Review · Comment 

I received this cigar from the manufacturer, Kurt Kendall; as always, all review are my own.

I am reviewing the lancero – the thin and relatively long parejo – and it has had probably about a year’s worth of aging in my humidor. This lancero looks well constructed with some superficial veins and a decent amount of oils on it. There’s a pigtail on the cap and the texture of the cigar is a little bumpy.

When I started smoking cigars, I held the belief that lanceros weren’t as good as the other vitolas mainly because they were long and thing and, to my mind at least, they couldn’t perform as well because long, thin cigars inevitably had burn and draw problems. Since then, I have come to realize that lanceros can, in fact, be good cigars. Their thinness means that there is more wrapper in the blend than is the case for a cigar with a larger ring gauge and just because they are long and thin doesn’t mean they have any more burn problems than the more popular sizes. In fact, I like lanceros nowadays.

7-20-4 Logo

Cigar Stats
Vitola: lancero
Length: 7 ½”
Ring Gauge: 38
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Binder: Costa Rica
Filler: Columbia, Honduras, Mexico & Nicaragua
Price: $150.00/Box of 20

Is George RR Martin Dead? Flame!

It starts out very well with notes of mild sweetness, cedar and some sweet spice. All of the flavors work well together and the overall feeling I’m getting from this cigar is calmness. This isn’t to say that this is a mild cigar but, rather, it’s an elegant mixture of nice flavors. Also, I’m thinking the cedar wrap on the cigar might have something to do with the cedar flavor.

The middle third proceeds in much the same way as the first third and that means more easygoing enjoyment for me. What I don’t like about this cigar right now (no bold flavors and not a lot of evolution) is easily outweighed by what I like about it (flavors working extremely well together, elegant profile and it is tasty).

Maybe I was a bit too hasty with my summation of the second third. It is a longish cigar, after all, and I am oftentimes impatient. The flavor profile does evolve and takes on a definite creaminess to its texture and adds on vanilla to the flavor profile. It’s a plus in my book.

Vanilla and cherry represent the main flavors during the final third. There’s a strong tobacco flavor that augments all of these flavors and I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that cedar is still playing a part at this point. It’s definitely an interesting mix of flavors and even though none of the individual flavors stand out as stars, as a whole, the flavor profile is quite enjoyable.

Medium bodied with a good draw and burn; the 7-20-4 lancero is quite an enjoyable cigar. Deftly moving from cedar and spice to creamy vanilla and cherry, this cigar has enough changes to keep you interested and the flavors are elegantly married to one another. It’s a good cigar and should appeal to just about anyone but, if you are looking for a cigar with a bit of a wild side, this cigar probably won’t get you going. Usually, I’m in the latter camp but it is nice to have a cigar that is simply enjoyable. And this cigar is enjoyable in spades.

91 points

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Cigar Review

April 20, 2012 · Posted in Cigar Review · Comment 

Every once in a while there is a cigar that is just so good I do not want to do a review on it because doing a review makes it a little too much like work. But, eventually, I will do a review on the cigar because it is my fiduciary obligation to do so. With that said, here’s my review on a cigar I do not want to do a review for.

I have smoked the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial in a couple different vitolas (sizes) and they are all good. For me, the torpedo is one of my top three favorite vitolas and that is why I’m going to be smoking one for this review.

It’s a good looking cigar with a dark brown wrapper and this fuzzy, oily feel to it. Expertly made with some veins here and there. The torpedo’s head comes to a blunted point and the cigar smells like a strong cigar, loaded with flavor and some strength.

Cigar Stats
Vitola: torpedo
Length: 5 ½″
Ring Gauge: 52
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuador
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $135.00/Box of 20 | $7.50/Single

Of the Vanities, Bonfire!

The flavor profile is dry with a lot of activity going on. Dried meat coupled with leather and tobacco flavors. While some spice does linger in the back of my throat it is only an accent flavor. That’s fine, it all works together.

About halfway through this cigar there are some chocolate flavors coming through – another nice addition to the flavor profile. Besides the flavor profile, what I really like about this cigar is the feel of the smoke. It’s not quite grainy but borders on it.

It’s a very good cigar from beginning to end. I like this type of flavor profile but I’m sure others won’t. What you should expect is a semi-dry flavor profile with a lot of meaty flavors. It is a medium bodied cigar with a good draw and burn.

Honestly, when I was smoking this cigar just to enjoy it I liked it a little bit more. Usually, it is the other way around but, for whatever reason, this time was different. I still liked this cigar and would definitely smoke more. It’s not too pricey and smokes pretty slowly.

91 points

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.

Black Pedro Cigar Review

November 21, 2011 · Posted in Cigar Review · Comment 

I received samples from Felipe Gregorio; all reviews are my own.

Is this cigar somehow related to the Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite? But the Pedro in that movie wasn’t black so I’m guessing that there’s something else going on here, maybe a comment from someone in the know would help elucidate the etymology of this brand of tasty cigars.

The cigar is a good looking specimen. This particular cigar, named “Gitano” is a 6″ x 54 torpedo, which is part good and bad for me. Personally, I love torpedoes. For whatever reason, probably due to the fact that since torpedoes are more difficult to roll more experienced torcedores roll them, I have had a better smoking history with this vitola. On the other hand, the ring gauge is on the big side for me now. Earlier on in my smoking career (Really? A career?) I liked the bigger ring gauge smokes but now I find myself going for thinner cigars.

Evenly packed with some stretch marks around the veins this dark, dusty brown maduro wrapper gives off a rustic impression as if embodying the hard scrabble lifestyle that many people in the cigar industry come from. It is a bit hard to the touch but there are some oils on the wrapper and the wrapper itself feels a little rough.

Cigar Stats
Length: 6″
Ring Gauge: 54
Wrapper: Sumatra Ecuador
Binder: Dark Nicaragua Habano
Filler: Corojo Dominican & Nicaragua Habana 92
Price: One of each four sizes + 2 others for $27.00

Pulling John Flame!

When I looked at these cigars the first time and saw the ominous name – “Black Pedro” – I thought “uh oh, this is going to be one of those kick you in the teeth kind of cigars.” But that isn’t the case. It actually has some refinement to it, some nuance. Black pepper may be the leading flavor here but the smoke also has a creamy feel to it and there are other moderating flavors to notice like tobacco and coffee with cream. Black pepper really is the leading force in this cigar though and I’m thankful for that. It may be a bracing flavor for some but I like it… a lot.

Entering the second third I thought that there was going to be some flagging of the black pepper flavor but there was no such thing. It’s quite astonishing that something so simple, black pepper, could be so enjoyable but that is where I’m at. Black pepper isn’t the only flavor I have observed. There are also flavors in the nut spectrum and creamy coffee. Very good mix of flavors but without a lot of complexity and, so far, no evolution in flavors.

One of the things that separates the good from the great cigars for me is how the flavors manifest themselves. With great cigars the flavors are strong and clean and those little flavor molecules permeate around every taste bud wrapping them in a tasty cocoon. This is one of those cigars.

Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case when there is one predominant flavor, even when that flavor is a great example of its archetype, it can become too overpowering by drowning out the other flavors. That happened with this cigar a little ways into the final third. My cocooned taste buds have become numb to all the other flavors and has decreased my enjoyment of this cigar a little bit.

Overall, I can safely say that I have enjoyed this medium-full bodied cigar with its good draw and burn, which only required minor course corrections a couple of times. If there had been a little more complexity and evolution to the flavor profile this would have been an amazing cigar. As it stands it is still a great cigar because it is one of the best examples of black pepper that I have had in a long time and there was enough complexity in the early goings of this cigar to make it interesting. If you can find some then do yourself a favor and pick a couple up.

91 points

Camacho Diploma Corojo Cigar Review

October 24, 2011 · Posted in Cigar Review · 2 Comments 

With just a quick glance it is fairly evident that this is not one of the best looking cigars ever made. It is dotted with a couple of pinprick-sized holes, a number of bumps that runs from foot to cap and a number of veins mixed in as well. There is not much oil covering this cigar and it feels like it may be too loosely packed; which is something that happens frequently with Camacho cigars. This cigar’s wrapper is made with corojo tobacco but also comes in a maduro (which has received some pretty bad scores).

According to the Camacho website, the Camacho Diploma is comprised solely of Cuban seed corojo tobaccos. The leaves come from the fifth priming, which is important because these are the leaves at the top of the tobacco plant and they are the ones that receive the most exposure to the sun and the elements. This means the leaves that make up this cigar should have a lot of flavor packed into them. Oh, and it should also be a full bodied cigar. Let’s see.

Cigar Stats
Length: 5″
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Honduran
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Honduran
Price: $30.50/5 Pack | $191.00/Box of 21

Contagion Conflagration!

Cutting the cigar reveals a good pre-light draw that is accompanied by a slight molasses sweetness and a mildly spicy tingle that lingers for a moment on my tongue. The smell is akin to a robust barnyard (think more hay than excrement).

Lighting the cigar confirms some of the pre-light flavors right away. Barnyard is prominent but it is perceptibly lighter than I thought it would be. Spice is evident in both the inhale and the retrohale but it is not overpowering; it is a soft and warm spicy flavor. That molasses sweetness is not present, however.

In addition to those flavors there is a strong oak presence. It starts out dark and smoky but then the oak starts to gradually become sweeter. Of course, this is no pushover of a cigar, so sweeter is a relative term.

Another flavor, which I can only identify as tobacco, is a major flavor in the beginning. I like it because it provides an edge to the flavor profile of oak and barnyard hay.

So far (about an inch in), this cigar is a very good cigar. It is a full bodied cigar with a lot of hearty flavors – I’m loving this cigar. The draw is a shade below effortless and the burn is even. Also, at around this point, a fleeting anise flavor is present on the back of the tongue. It is nice and adds to the complexity (and to my enjoyment as well).

If billowing clouds of smoke was the mark of a great cigar then this would truly be one of the best that I have ever had. While I can’t say it is one of the best that I have ever had it is still very good. The flavors are very alive and are enjoyable.

Over halfway through now and the anise flavor has only grown in prominence. That doesn’t mean it is the major flavor in this cigar, not by a long shot. The main flavor profile is still the smoky tobacco and oak mixture.  Burnt hay is also a major flavor as well.

I really want to peg the Camacho Diploma as this dark and brooding cigar. One that is full of force and in-your-face flavor. But it isn’t that at all. It is much more refined than that. Yes, it has some strength to it but the flavors are a melodious mix of farm, oak, spice and a touch of sweetness.

The end of this cigar is an uninterrupted continuance of the middle segment. Barnyard flavors may increase a bit – so have the oak flavors – and the anise fades just a touch but it is basically the same. The strength has grown somewhat.

I can call this a delicious cigar. And that is what this cigar is: delicious.

91 points

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