Friday, December 12, 2008

Herf #19 - Not Ready Yet

December 7th, 2008 - Shoreline, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Pat, Joe, and Tom. As usual, we had gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner. This was a scaled-down herf, a little more informal than usual, after we decided to postpone our Snoqualmie Casino visit due to several of the members having travel conflicts. So we opted to settle for the low-key alternative of sitting under Fernand’s patio heater.

We ordered a big meat-zza from Pagliacci and washed it down with some of Joe’s excellent home brew, an IPA. Next we were off to Fernand's back patio where Pat provided hot buttered rums for us to sip. This was the perfect compliment to the patio heater for keeping us comfortable on a cool December evening in Seattle (and went well with the cigar too, of course).

Our selection for this Herf was the San Cristobal “Francisco”. This corona (distributed by Ashton) measures 5 1/2 inches long with a ring guage of44. It was Cigar of the Week back on October 20th, 2008 which received a 90 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel. They list for $7.25, but we got ours for about $6.50.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting.

The corona size seemed the perfect choice for a winter herf. Right off, we noticed how tightly packed it appeared to be for a relatively small cigar. The exterior attributes appeared very-well crafted. The dark Corojo wrapper was beautiful! Once cut, all agreed that each cigar’s draw was rather firm (tight).

The first puffs packed a punch, then calmed down. Flavors were leathery and woody. A very dark-roasted, often bitter coffee bean flavor was dominant with smoked wood backing it up. Unfortunately, this was about all it amounted to.

The cigars did burn wonderfully, but the smoke was a bit thin – no doubt a product of the tight draw. The ash wasn’t exactly the most stable we’ve seen either, falling repeatedly and catching us unawares.

The Francisco, as we experienced it, seems a little young. It’s fairly bitter, a little sour, almost metallic at times, and not really any sweetness to speak of. Perhaps, if the cigars were aged for some time, and these flavors mellowed and refined a bit, the richness would be able to shine through untainted.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the San Cristobal ‘Francisco’ corona is 87. A good cigar… with potential.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 15 pts (100% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 20 pts (80% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (86% of the points possible)

Incidentally, I had another Francisco, alone, a few days following this herf and experienced a very nice draw. The same flavors were present, however, thus reinforcing our group’s observations above. I’ll stand by my recommendation for additional aging.
--FR

Friday, December 5, 2008

Cigar Review - Ashton ESG Robusto

by club co-founder John

Another in our ongoing series of reviews of cigars given to us by the fine folks at Cigars Direct. Featured this time is the Ashton ESG (Estate Sun Grown) Robusto given to us in November 2008.

Vitola: Robusto
Origin: Dominican Republic
Length: 5.25
Ring Gauge: 52
Filler: Dom. Rep.
Binder: Dom. Rep.
Wrapper: Sun Grown Rosado from D.R.
Strength: Med.-Full
Price: $25.00

Produced by Tabacalera A.Fuente y Cia, it features a rich looking rosado wrapper and a nicely constructed robusto shape. Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a glass of Syrah Port and a cup of fresh coffee with my good friend Fernand on his back porch.











This cigar’s appearance got my attention right off the bat. It appeared well constructed, with a nice wrapper and a well-executed cap. I took off 2 points for minor blemishes and slight mottling of the wrapper near the foot.

It seemed firm throughout, in fact, I was a little worried that the draw would be too tight, but my concerns were soon allayed. I was very pleased with the roll (In general, I do prefer my cigars slightly tighter than some.)

The burn was also right on, with an easy light, a consistent burn throughout its length, producing plenty of smoke, and leaving a nice long and stable light grey ash.

The flavor was of a rich and creamy throughout. It started out a little sweet, wafting prune and molasses in the first third. Towards the second third, it eased into some leather and oak flavors, still very smooth, and finally ended by adding a little hint of pepper, but never too spicy or hot. In fact, the whole cigar was delicious, with subtle changes in flavor, and never overpowering. I’d say it was medium to full strength. The smoke itself was rich, plentiful, and silky, even towards the end. The flavors were complimented very nicely with the coffee and port.

This was one smooth and fine-flavored cigar. It was the kind of smoke that left me satisfied and without any lingering “taste bud hangover” half an hour later. My wife didn’t even voice the usual post cigar complaint when I climbed into bed…now if that’s not a good endorsement, I don’t know what is!

My rating for the Ashton ESG Robusto is 95.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 24 pts (96% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 24 pts (96% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 34 pts (97% of the points possible)

(click on images to enlarge)

© 2008 The Cohiba Club – All rights reserved.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Review – God of Fire by Carlito, Piramide 2006

This is the first in a new series of reviews of cigars given to us by the good folks at Cigars Direct. Featured this time is the God of Fire by Carlito, Piramide 2006.

Vitola: Torpedo
Origin: Dominican Republic
Length: 6 3/8”
Ring Gauge: 52
Filler: Dom. Rep.
Binder: Dom. Rep.
Wrapper: Cameroon
Strength: Medium-to-Full
This cigar is produced in the Dominican Republic at Tabacalera A.Fuente y Cia. for Prometheus. It features a beautiful Cameroon wrapper and a skillfully executed torpedo shape.

God of Fire is the creation of Keith K. Park, founder and CEO of Prometheus International, Inc.; maker of fine lighters, humidors, and ashtrays. Keith’s start in the lighter business dates back to 1992, in partnership with his brother and father. He set off on his own in 1997 and first teamed up with Carlos Fuente Jr. (‘Carlito’) in 1999 on a special project to make a limited edition OpusX humidor.

In 2003 Keith and Carlito forged the idea of creating a line of cigars for Keith’s fast-growing Prometheus company. The God of Fire cigars come in only two blends, one designed by Carlito and the other by his father, Carlos Sr. Carlito’s blend is described as being the stronger of the two. Carlos Sr.’s blend of the 2005 vintage, in the robusto size, recently received a rating of 93 by Cigar Aficionado. This torpedo, the Piramide, is a new addition to the line, making it’s debut in the 2006 vintage, and in Carlito's blend.

(click on images to enlarge)
Two bands adorn the God of Fire cigars. The first and primary band depicts the Greek tale of Prometheus, punished by Zeus for giving fire to humans. The second band lists the vintage (the year the cigar was rolled) and also the name of the blender (Carlito or Carlos Sr.).

The current release boasts two years of aging, as is customary for the line, having been rolled in 2006 and held until this year to achieve a level of refinement rarely seen in these high-demand, fast-paced times. The benefit is obvious. The cigars regularly receive accolades, such as the “Best of the Best” award given by Robb Report back in June to the Double Robusto by Carlito.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a glass of Glenmorangie "Port Cask" Single Malt Scotch Whisky.

The construction on this Fuente-made cigar is as good as any. The wrapper was smooth and shiny with a bit of tooth visible. The foot smelled of dark caramel. The pre-light draw added a tea character to the caramel. Only a slight modeled pattern in the wrapper, near the foot, detracted from it’s elegant appearance. To my great satisfaction, it drew and burned perfectly, so clearly roll quality was right on. This cigar produced a satisfying amount of smoke and the very white colored ash was one of the most stable I’ve seen in a long time, holding on for well more than 0ne and a half inches.

The flavor started out surprisingly smooth, no doubt indicative of the two years of aging. At the one-third mark, mild sense of coffee was soon joined by anise. At the half-way point, Carlito’s strength came to bear and the flavors intensified; the subtle anise now joined by leather. Never dry on the palate, it continued on like this to the end.
My rating for the God of Fire by Carlito, Piramide 2006 is 92.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 25 pts (100% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)

It’s not every day you get an opportunity to experience a cigar rarity such as this. Fortuantely, Cigars Direct has the ten-count boxes and also convenient 5-packs. Get your hands on some while they’re still available.

© 2008 The Cohiba Club All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Herf #18 – Back to Basics

November 2nd, 2008 - Shoreline, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, John L., Joe , Eric, Tom, John O., Peter, and Bruce. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

The nine of us dined at nearby Saltoro in Shoreline, where steaks and burgers were ordered all around. The great food was paired with wine, Scotch and a couple martinis, before heading over to John’s place to begin the tasting session and enjoy some much needed relaxation and camaraderie.

Our selection for this Herf was the Padron 6000 (natural). A sharp-tipped torpedo measuring 5 1/2 inches long with a ring guage of 52. This Padron was Cigar of the Week back on October 13th which received a 91 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of tasters.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Padron 6000 (Natural) Torpedo is 89. An excellent cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)

Made by the Padron family in Nicaragua, this cigar’s wrapper had a consistent, yet robust look to it, indicative of solid craftsmanship. The roll quality was a display in art with a beautifully executed taper complimenting a moderate firmness throughout.

All but one of these cigars drew freely (a couple actually drew too freely) while one had a plug. Everyone quickly commented on how relatively mild this cigar seemed in comparison to some of our previous herf selections. Adequate amounts of smoke were produced and the ashes were mostly stable and rather light in color. The burn on our samples was mostly quite even, though a couple did require re-lights toward the end.

The flavors were pleasant, but not particularly inspiring. A basic ‘tobacco’ flavor was predominate for most of us. There was perhaps a bit of wood in there, with a smooth and easy finish that was somewhat on the dry side. Everyone agreed on it starting out mild and progressing to no more than medium strength and body.

All in all, a very enjoyable cigar which we highly recommend.
See you at the next herf, December 7th.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cigar Bars - Victory Bar & Cigar

56 Shrewsbury St.
Worcester, MA 01604
(508) 756-4747

Club member Robert recently observed, "They ask that you purchase your cigars there. Have no fear, it has a top-shelf selections with reasonable prices. Even my favorite Don Pepin is well represented alongside Oliva, Davidoff, Ashton, CAO, Monte Cristo, Gurkha and H Upmann. Excellent beer and wine selection and the best smoke filters I've come across. Definitely stop by."

From their website:

When in Worcester, we invite you to discover our lounge and smoking rooms. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a premium hand rolled cigar with your favorite spirit. We guarantee a very comfortable environment and you will always receive a great value at the Victory Bar & Cigar in my home town of Worcester, Massachusetts. If I can be of service, please feel free to call or write anytime.
Sincerely, Mark W. Piscillo
www.victorycigarbar.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Casa Fuente Cigars Revisited

Excerpted from "Desert Leaf " by Aaron Sigmond

The Casa Fuente cigar from A. Fuente -- exclusive in more ways than one. (click image to enlarge)

For most Fuente cigar enthusiasts, a visit to Las Vegas would be incomplete without venturing over to the world's only Casa Fuente, a trip itself incomplete without smoking at least one (one box, that is) of their favorite Casa Fuente "house" cigar.

What's more, the cigar is sold exclusively at the cigar bar and boutique; they don’t accept Web or phone orders. As managing partner Michael Frey told me when Casa Fuente first opened: "You either need to come here and buy them yourself, or have a friend in Vegas if you want the Casa Fuente cigars. Period. If not, then you're out of luck."

With a Cameroon wrapper and Dominican binder and filler, the cigar continues in the tradition of the Don Carlos and Ashton Heritage lines, albeit with some unique taste notes. It may take a little doing to get your hands on these sticks, but since they are available in a full seven sizes, once you do, there's most assuredly a size for you.

Belicoso fino: $23
Robusto: $21
Corona Gorda: $18
Double Robusto: $22
Churchill: $25
Double Corona: $28
Pyramid: $26

Credit to Cigar Report Daily

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gift Review – Padilla Series ’68 Torpedo

Another in our ongoing series of occasional reviews of cigars given to us as gifts. Featured this time is the Padilla Series ’68 Torpedo, given to me by club member Pat back in March.

Vitola: Torpedo
Origin: Honduras
Length: 6 1/8”
Ring Gauge: 52
Filler: Nicaraguan Criollo & Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan Criollo
Wrapper: Corojo
Strength: Medium to Full
Price: around $6.00

Produced for Padilla by Flores Tobacco in Honduras, it features a medium-colored Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper and a skillfully executed torpedo shape. The current Cigar Aficionado rating for it is 87.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a glass of Bacardi 8 Rum.

Despite a few rough veins in the wrapper, it appeared very well-constructed. Unfortunately, the draw was way too tight. This affected the amount of smoke I was getting out of it, of course. I also found the ash a little on the darker side of grey, but it was stable enough.

It’s too bad I had so much trouble with the draw because the flavors were quite nice. An initial spice yielded to leather & wood, before the ending became peppery. All in all, however, it just wasn’t that great of a cigar smoking experience due to the draw being so tough.

My rating for the Padilla Series ’68 Torpedo is 81. Still a 'very good' cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 19 pts (76% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 28 pts (80% of the points possible)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Herf #17 - Gentle Giant

October 5th, 2008 - Shoreline, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Pat, Joe , Tom, Peter, and Bruce. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

The six of us were treated to a very special dinner prepared by Fernand’s wife, Debra. It featured her famous bourbon glaze salmon, a tantalizing fruit-topped spinach salad, and a very creative sun-dried tomato and pepper couscous. There was not so much as a crumb left. Once everyone had their fill, it was time for the tasting session. Beverages included beer, wine, bourbon, port, and rum.

Our selection for this Herf was the Alec Bradley Tempus ‘Centuria’. A dark looking, sweet smelling churchill measuring 7 inches long with a ring guage of 49. This Alec Bradley was Cigar of the Week back on September 15th which received a 94 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of tasters.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Alec Bradley Tempus ‘Centuria’ churchill is 91. An outstanding cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 33 pts (94% of the points possible)

Made by Alan Rubin in Honduras, this cigar’s wrapper had a dark, well-aged look that gave off a sweet smell; rich from fermentation. The texture was smooth and velvety and the roll quality was firm and uniform across the group of our six samples.

These cigars drew perfectly. Everyone commented how it was just the way they liked it. Ample amounts of smooth smoke were produced. The ashes, however, could have been more stable and maybe even a little lighter in color. The burn was very even, though a few did require a couple re-lights as things progressed.

We all got some spice initially, but that soon calmed down nicely. The flavors were rich & meaty and the intensity would come and go. At one point I actually got the notion of meats over smoldering wood chips in a smoker with even a subtle garlic in there. Everyone kept commenting how smooth it was for such a full-bodied cigar.

All in all, a very enjoyable cigar which we highly recommend.
See you at the next herf, November 2nd.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cigar Bars - The Occidental

The Occidental Cigar Club
471 Pine St
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone: (415) 834-0485www.occidentalcigarclub.com

Cohiba Club co-founder Robert says,
"A great atmosphere and friendly regulars. Limited selection in the humidor, but very good scotches as well as other liquors, and an extensive wine list.
Don't worry about the limited cigar selection, Grant's Tobacconists has a great walk-in humidor just a short walk away at 562 Market St.
Bring your wallet, it's San Francisco."


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Herf #16 – How Sweet It Is

September 7th, 2008 - Edmonds, WA

In attendance were Fernand, John, Pat, Tom, Peter, and Bruce. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

The six of us devoured every last morsel of Pat’s home-made lasagna (heavy on the meat). Combined with salad and garlic bread, it was a meal just begging for a good after-dinner stogie. Once everyone had their fill, it was time for the tasting session. Beverages included beer, Syrah, Cognac, port, and Scotch.

Our selection for this Herf was the LA FLOR DOMINICANA LIGERO OSCURO L-250. A dark looking, sweet smelling robusto measuring 4 3/4 inches long with a ring guage of 48. This La Flor was Cigar of the Week back on August 18th which received a 90 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of tasters.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the La Flor Dominicana L-250 robusto is 89. An excellent cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 32 pts (91% of the points possible)

With a dark, seductive-looking wrapper that gave off a sweet, rich smell, the anticipation was instant and unanimous. The wrappers may have been a little rough looking, but the roll quality was firm and uniform across the group of our samples.

These cigars drew perfectly. Everyone commented how it was just the way they liked it. Ample amounts of smooth smoke were produced and the ashes were quite stable. The burn was very even, for the most part, just wavering a bit (and requiring a couple re-lights) toward the end.

The flavor was tasty right away, sweet and rich, with a great balance of gentle spice and a background strength that came and went as we progressed. Though the label reads Ligero, we were all pleasantly surprised how smooth and easy smokin’ these cigars were. No one complained of excessive strength and most of these got pretty short, capping off a beautiful September evening.

All in all, a very enjoyable cigar which we highly recommend.
See you at the next herf, October 5th.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Gift Review - Havana Dreams 'Datil'

Another in our ongoing series of occasional reviews of cigars given to us as gifts. Featured this time is the Havana Dreams ‘Datil’, given to me by club member Robert back in November of 2007.

Vitola: Robusto
Origin: Tampa
Length: 5”
Ring Gauge: 50
MSRP: $5.00

Produced in Tampa’s Ybor City by Cuban refugee Lazaro Rodriguez, it features a somewhat rustic looking wrapper that’s still pleasingly crafted.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a glass of scotch.

With a pretty toothy texture, it comes off looking a little rough, but the roll quality was fine. This cigar drew a little tight, but it burned perfectly; which surprised me. I guess the appearance just didn’t give me confidence that it would perform well – but it did. The amount of smoke and the build of the ash were ok.

The flavors started out with a sweetness on the lips that had me wondering if they dip the tips in sugar. I didn’t come away from it recalling discernable flavors and it never really wowed me, but it was just a nice average cigar. If anything, it left me intrigued; ultimately I suppose that I really need to try more of them one day.

My rating for the Havana Dreams ‘Datil’ robusto is 84. A very good cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 20 pts (80% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 28 pts (80% of the points possible)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Herf #15 - Coming to 'America'

August 10th, 2008 - Woodway, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, John, Pat, Matt, and Sean. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

The five of us who came to John’s house were this month’s lucky few to experience (for the 2nd time) the bounty of John’s kitchen. The slow-cooked Cuban pork, black beans, rice, and a wonderful garlic sauce were all amazing and washed down with some of Fernand and Pat’s home brewed summer ale. Once everyone had their fill, it was time for the tasting session. Beverages included Robert’s cigar malt Scotch and John’s espresso.

Our selection for this Herf was the CAO America ‘Monument’ Torpedo. A beautiful pin-striped figurado measuring 6 and 1/4 inches long with a ring guage of 54. This America was Cigar of the Week back on March 3rd which received a 90 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of tasters.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the CAO America ‘Monument’ Torpedo is 90. An outstanding cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 32 pts (91% of the points possible)

With the double wrapper providing a gorgeous pin-stripe effect, we found ourselves captivated by the appearance of this cigar. These cigars all drew perfectly and produced ample amounts of pleasant smoke.

A couple of us did experience splitting wrappers as a result of the build-up of internal heat and moisture, but the cigars continued to smoke right on through with no performance detriment. The ashes were white and stable, for the most part, and some got quite long (though one did ‘flake’ a little bit).

The flavor was fairly mild up front, which gradually increased as we progressed. There was some sweetness, perhaps caramel-like. Unfortunately, some bitterness did creep in during the 2nd half, but certainly not enough to diminish the overall experience.

All in all, a very enjoyable cigar which we highly recommend.
See you at the next herf, September 7th.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gift Review – Gurkha Vintage Shaggy Churchill

Another in our ongoing series of occasional reviews of cigars given to us as gifts. Featured this time is the Gurkha Estate Select Vintage “Shaggy” Churchill, given to me by club member Pat back in December of ‘07.

Vitola: Churchill
Origin: Dominican Republic
Length: 7
Ring Gauge: 52
Filler: Dom. Rep., 5yr aged
Binder: Dom. Rep., 5yr aged
Wrapper: Dominican, natural, 8yr aged
Strength: Medium
MSRP: $7.70

Produced by Kaizad Hansotia’s Beach Cigar Group, the Dominican puro features a somewhat course-looking wrapper and eye-catching ‘shaggy’ (uncut) foot. The current Cigar Aficionado rating for it is 85.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a pale ale.

The course wrapper gave it a rather rustic looking appearance and texture. The draw required a bit of a tug, but this thing burned perfectly! This cigar could have produced a little more smoke for my liking. The ash, like the quality of burn, was super.

The flavor, though not particularly complex, was very pleasant throughout. In the 2nd half I did get a chocolaty sort of sweet character which was very nice. All in all, a very good cigar smoking experience.

My rating for the Gurkha Estate Select Vintage Churchill is 86. An excellent cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (86% of the points possible)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Herf #14 – Mixing It Up

July 6th, 2008 - Edmonds, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, John, Pat, and Joe. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

Unfortunately, this time an ordering snafu resulted in us not getting our selected cigar in time. They did arrive the day after the herf and will be carefully stored and enjoyed on the 10th of August at Herf #15.

The five of us were treated to delicious homemade brews and salsas, crafted by Pat, as we relaxed and chatted out on his back deck. The slow-cooked chili he served up was fabulous and really hit the spot. Once everyone had their fill, it was time for the tasting session; which took on a different twist for us this time since the occasion was now a BYOC event.

Not to be deterred by this change of operation, we persisted in our tradition of rating the cigars that we smoke together. As it happened, two of the guys smoked the same cigar so we have four cigar ratings to present this time; there were two Don Pepins smoked, one Gurkha, a Rocky Patel, and a Vegas Robaina. The ratings, done in our customary fashon, follow Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression). The ratings are as follows:

89 and 89 given by Robert and Pat for the Don Pepin Garcia Blue Label Invictos (robusto), an excellent cigar.





Here's their points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 15 and 14 pts (100% and 93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 23 and 22 pts (92% and 88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 20 and 21 pts (80% and 84% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 33 and 31 pts (94% and 89% of the points possible)

86 given by Fernand for the Gurkha Estate Select Vintage Churchill, an excellent cigar.




Here's his points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (86% of the points possible)

93 given by John for the Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo, an outstanding cigar.




Here's his points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 24 pts (96% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 33 pts (94% of the points possible)

84 given by Joe for the Vegas Robaina Famoso (robusto), a very good cigar.






Here's his points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 19 pts (76% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (86% of the points possible)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Gift Review – Cohiba Siglo I

Another in our ongoing series of occasional reviews of cigars given to us as gifts. Featured this time is the Cohiba Siglo I, given to me by club member John on June 18th.

Vitola: Demi Corona
Origin: Cuba
Length: 4”
Ring Gauge: 40
Filler: Cuba
Binder: Cuba
Wrapper: Cuba
Strength: Medium
MSRP: $11.00

Produced in Cuba by Habanos, S.A., it’s small and beautiful, but also a little bit rustic. There’s just something special about looking down at that Cohiba wrapper that makes it feel extra special. The current Cigar Aficionado rating for it is 88.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a glass of cognac.

Despite its slightly rustic exterior, it did appear rather well-constructed. I gave it perfect scores for texture, appearance, and roll quality; which was evident in its perfect burn. The draw was a tad tight, but perhaps appropriate for this small size to prevent me from going too fast with it. This cigar could have produced a little more smoke for my liking and I also found the ash a little on the darker side of grey, but it was quite stable.

The flavor was not particularly complex, for me, but I did detect some of the classic ‘grassy’ taste that I’ve had with previous Cubans. I found it to be of mild strength through the first third, with it eventually ramping up to a nice enjoyable medium body. The nub got pretty short on this little guy, while sitting with John out on his back deck enjoying a pleasant June evening.

My rating for the Cohiba Siglo I is 90.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 15 pts (100% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gift Review - Padron 6000 Torpedo (Nat.)

Another in our ongoing series of occasional reviews of cigars given to us as gifts. Featured this time is the Padron 6000, given to me by club member Pat back in August of '07.

Vitola: Torpedo
Origin: Nicaragua
Length: 5 1/2"
Ring Gauge: 52
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua

Strength: Medium to Full
MSRP: $7.40

Produced by Orlando and Jorge Padron, it features a dark, rich looking Nicaraguan wrapper and a skilfully executed torpedo shape. The current Cigar Aficionado rating for it is 92.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar, in of all places: Las Vegas - while enjoying a margarita that I picked up at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, on the strip.

With a severe conical-shaped head, it appeared very well-constructed. To my great satisfaction, it drew and burned perfectly, so clearly roll quality was right on. This cigar could have produced a little more smoke for my liking and I also found the ash a little on the darker side of grey, but it was quite stable.

The flavor was of a dark, roasted sort of character, with a good amount of spice up front. Once that mellowed, I found it to be of medium strength through the first third, but would occasionally get these bursts of power that eluded to some serious flavors to look forward to. Through the second third, the flavor really ramped up, as expected, and I'll admit that the strength in the final third was just about too much for me. All in all, a great cigar smoking experience (need to get more of this brand).


My rating for the Padron 6000 is 87.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 15 pts (100% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 28 pts (80% of the points possible)


--Update-- (11/5/08)
Just discovered that I errored when typing this review. The 6000 I smoked (above) was not a 'natural', but in fact a 'maduro'. My bad!
--FR

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Herf #13 - Meat Lover's Paradise

June 1st, 2008 - Woodway, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Eric, Pat, Joe, and Tom. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

The Six of us feasted on Tom's famous smoked meats, on his back deck. The slow-smoked beef and pork roasts were amazing and combined with his artful grilled romaine heads and washed down with Joe's home brewed winter ale. Once everyone had their fill, it was time for the tasting session.

Our selection for this Herf was the Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo. A beautiful figurado measuring 6 and 1/2 inches long with a ring guage of 52. This Decade was Cigar of the Week back on May 12th which received a 95 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of tasters.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Rocky Patel Decade Torpedo is 91. An outstanding cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 32 pts (91% of the points possible)

With an appearance of high quality construction, we couldn’t find much wrong with these torpedoes (though there were a couple previous Patel horror stories recounted which did have us a bit cautious going forward).

As for the draw, several of us remarked that this was exactly the degree of draw that we like to find in a cigar. Perhaps a bit thicker smoke would have really made it, but this did not inhibit the experience much.

The flavor was powerful up front, very rich, pretty spicy. It was strong, but smooth in that there was little or no harshness or bitterness. We kept noticing throughout that the strong flavors would smooth out and then return again repeatedly.

All in all, a very enjoyable cigar which we highly recommend.

See you at the next herf, July 6th.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blind Cigar Swapping

The Cohiba Club Blind Swap

Rarely do we get to do a truly blind cigar tasting. Simply taking the bands off of cigars that you’ve purchased yourself doesn’t quite cut it because in the end, chances are you’ll know what you bought. To really do it properly, you must depend on someone else providing the cigars for you to judge. Alas, we’ve come up with a way to do this which should prove to be fun and educational.

Between our regularly-scheduled monthly herfs, a few of our club members will be engaging in our new blind swaps. The following is an explanation and guidelines for how these blind swaps may be accomplished.

· This is a swap in which we'd simply trade equal numbers of cigars to each other.
· Since our regular herfs are usually four weeks apart, how about picking three rather different cigars to trade.
· Three because you'd have 3 weekends in which to smoke them before presenting your findings at the next herf (my kind of homework).
· They'd be unbanded at the time of swapping in order to conceal their identity, but numbered (of course) so that the 'giver' of the sticks knows which is which.
· I suggest picking cigars from different price ranges to make it interesting, so one would be 'a little spendy', 2nd a middle-of-the-road one, and last a bargain stick (country of origin could be different too).
· The recipient of the three blind sticks will not know which is costly or cheap and is encouraged to make that guess as part of his evaluation.
· Prices might range: $10-$12 for the high-end cigar, $7-$9 for the medium one, and $4-$6 for the value stick (one with great potential that you feel might surprise somebody).
· Also, the vitola shouldn't be overtly recognizable, like a Fuente Short Story, or an LFD Mysterio.
· So for those of us with cigars, it may simply be a matter of plucking a couple from your humidor and maybe supplementing with one more interesting choice from a shop to round out the trio.
· For those with no cigars at home, a quick stop by CigarLand in Shoreline will get you in the game.
· By trading, you're getting back roughly the same as what you gave away, so in reality, you're spending the money on yourself anyway.
· Remember, it's not a contest, only a 'blind' taste-test. There's no winning or loosing, just rating objectively (which we'd never get to do otherwise).
· To make it more interesting, we could also try guessing other stuff about them like where they're from or who they're made by.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Herf #12 - Spring At Last

May 4th, 2008 - Sammamish, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Eric, Pat, and Joe. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

The five of us dined at nearby DC's Grill in Sammamish. The steaks were very good and next we were off to Eric's back patio where we relaxed around his outdoor heater for the tasting session.

Our selection for this Herf was the Oliva Serie V Torpedo. A beautiful figurado measuring 6 inches long with a ring guage of 56. This Serie V was Cigar of the Week back on December 17th of 2007 which received a 94 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of ‘tasters’.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Oliva Serie V Torpedo is 90. An outstanding cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)

With an appearance of high quality construction, we couldn’t find much wrong with these torpedoes (though one did split from the foot not long after lighting). During the pre-light inspection, we detected a very sweet and rich ‘barnyard’ aroma along the wrapper.

As for the draw, a couple required a 2nd clip to get the airflow going then all agreed that these were beautifully smoking cigars. It should be noted that the smoke seemed a little thin, but this did not inhibit the experience.

The flavor was powerful up front! Very rich, but not really spicy like some others we've had recently. It was strong, but smooth in that there was little or no harshness or bitterness. We kept expecting the ligero in this full-strength cigar to sneak up on us, but it never happened.

All in all, a very enjoyable cigar which we highly recommend. The price is right too; we got them for around $7 (just under $8 with taxes). Why didn't we score it as high as CA, you ask? One reason may be that the flavor, as pleasant as it was, didn't have that complexity that you sometimes get. It seemed one-dimensional. There weren't any discernible like-flavors that we could pick out (except one of us thought he detected a cinnamon-like aftertaste in the finish). But then again, we're not exactly aficionados either. Bottom line - we did like it and a 90 is not too shabby.

In addition, a couple very nice liquors were consumed during this herf that deserve mention: A wonderful Pyrat rum with a mild, fruity, perhaps citrus flavor and a Dalmore's Cigar Malt. The latter possessed a hefty body with flavors quite complimentary to the Oliva.

Good times!


See you at the next herf, June 1st.

(click on images to enlarge)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gift Review - Romeo y Julieta No. 1 Tubo

An occasional feature here on The Cohiba Club blog is a review of a cigar received as a gift. This current subject is a Romeo y Julieta No. 1 Tubo 'Cremas' Petit Corona, given to me by club member Tom, back in January of this year.

With it's tube design recently overhauled by Habanos, S.A. (no doubt a marketing attempt to make it a more appealing package) I was very hopeful and intrigued about what this little gem (5 1/2 x 40) might be like.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a glass of Scotch.

With a bumpy exterior, it appeared pretty rustic, though still seemingly well put together. The roll quality felt fine and the pre-light draw confirmed that it wouldn't give me any trouble there. Ultimately, it burned great, so I couldn't find much wrong with the construction except for the rough outward appearance.

Sadly, however, this little cigar produced smoke that was quite thin. The ash fell on me twice, not that I held it that long, and it's color was somewhat dark grey.

Flavors consisted of a floral character with a nice sweetness for the first half, mild and enjoyable. The second half was a different story. I began to notice that coming on rather quickly was an acrid, metallic, bitter flavor that I just couldn't get past and ended up putting it down after only having about two-thirds of it.

Unfortunately, what started out as a nice cigar simply 'turned' way to quickly. Perhaps the next one will provide a better experience. After adding up the scoring, my rating for the Romeo y Julieta No. 1 Tubo is 81.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 12 pts (80% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 19 pts (76% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (77% of the points possible)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gift Review - Ashton VSG Robusto

A new feature here on The Cohiba Club blog will be an occasional review of cigars given to us as gifts. First out of the gate is the Ashton VSG Robusto, given to me by my brother-in-law back in August of '07.

Created by Carlito Fuente, it features a dark, rich looking Ecuadorian-grown wrapper and measures 5 1/2 inches long with a ring guage of 50. The current Cigar Aficionado rating for it is 91.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a Smithwicks Irish Ale in honor of St. Patrick's Day (when I conducted this tasting).

With a slight box press, it appeared well-constructed, though I did notice a minor cosmetic flaw in the wrapper. As for roll quality, my initial impression was that it felt kind of light (in weight) as if it were rolled loosely. Ultimately, it drew and burned perfectly, so clearly roll quality was right on. This wonderful cigar produced lots of rich smoke and left a stable, white ash.

Flavors consisted of a dark cocoa bean, a hint of spice, and something nutty, perhaps like black walnut. I found it to be of medium strength through the first third. It sure was easy smokin'! Through the second third, I enjoyed it so much that wanted to smoke it too fast. An outstanding cigar to say the least!
My rating for the Ashton VSG Robusto is 90.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 25 pts (100% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (86% of the points possible)

Photo credit to Ashton Cigars

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Herf #11 - Return to the Scene

March 2nd, 2008 - Tulalip, WA
In attendance were Fernand, John, Robert, and John.
This herf marked a return to the ‘scene of the crime’ as it were, back to where it all began at Herf #1 – the Tulalip Casino. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.
Initially, we’d planned to eat at Scuttlebutt Brewery in Everett, but once it was discovered that they would be closed on this Sunday evening, it was an easy choice to proceed to Tulalip Bay, the steakhouse inside the Tulalip Casino. There was no hesitation on our part in ordering steaks all around, and they were very good too! Paired with a great wine, it was a superb meal to enjoy with the anticipation of a good cigar to follow.
Next stop; the smoking lounge. Just a few minute drive back to the South, we arrived at Sassy’s Bar & Grill complete with smoking section (because the Tulalip Best Western sits on Tribal land).

Our selection for this Herf was the 601 Habano Robusto. A beautiful robusto from the ‘red label’ series measuring 5 inches long with a ring guage of 50. This 601 was Cigar of the Week back on October 22nd, 2007 which received a 90 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.
Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of ‘tasters’.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the 601 Habano Robusto is 90. An outstanding cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 15 pts (100% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (86% of the points possible)

Clearly, Pepin’s high quality construction is exemplified in this cigar. We just couldn’t find anything wrong with them. During the pre-light inspection, we each detected that classic ‘barnyard’ aroma (a product of fermentation) . The draw was almost too easy, initially, but it corrected so quickly upon lighting that not another thought was given to it. Perfect.
The flavor was one of just good, clean tobacco, perhaps a slight leather, a little grassy maybe, but not too rich and never any harshness or bitterness. A good example of a quality, medium-to-full bodied smoke. We were very pleased to have made this selection and would not hesitate to recommend it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Herf #10 - Pure Sun

February 10th, 2008 - Shoreline, WA
In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Pat, Tom, John, Tom, and Ed.
As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.
Six of us dined at nearby Saltoro in North Seattle. The steaks were heavy on our table and were paired with a beer, a scotch, some wine and a couple martinis. Next we were off to Fernand's back patio where Pat joined us under the heater for the tasting session and some very enjoyable discussion.
Our selection for this Herf was the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Robusto. A beautiful robusto measuring 5 1/2 inches long with a ring guage of 50. This Heritage Puro Sol was Cigar of the Week back on January 21st, 2008 which received a 91 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.
Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a well-liked cigar among our group of ‘tasters’.
After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol Robusto is 87. An excellent cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 12 pts (80% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)
There were some minor construction issues with this cigar. Unfortunately, one of them split about an inch up from the foot not long after lighting. A few of them were rolled tight enough that the draw was a bit too firm. On the other hand, the flavor was the one attribute which received positive accolades during the entire experience; and some of these cigars got to be mighty short. There was a very pleasant nuttiness on the palate, some leather and never any harshness or bitterness. A good example of a smooth, medium strength smoke, and that aspect was appreciated as a nice respite from some of the full-strength sticks we've enjoyed recently. We were very pleased to have made this selection and would not hesitate to recommend it.
The surprise of the evening was the fantastic XO brandy brought to us by Ed. We highly recommend you try GERMAIN-ROBIN Alambic Brandy Select Barrel XO. Look for a future write-up here on this superb brandy.
Photo credit to Ashton Distributors, Inc.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Herf #9 - 7th Best

January 20th, 2008 - Shoreline, WA
In attendance were Fernand, John, Robert, John, and Tom.
As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.
The five of us dined at nearby Thai Bistro in Shoreline, where the Panang was fabulous and the beers were tall, before heading over to John’s place to begin the tasting session and enjoy some much needed relaxation and camaraderie.
Our selection for this Herf was the Illusione ~cg:4~. A beautiful corona measuring 5 5/8 inches long with a ring guage of 46. The ~cg:4~ was recently awarded 7th best Cigar of the Year for 2007, which received a 93 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.
Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of ‘tasters’.
After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Illusione ~cg:4~ is 91. An outstanding cigar.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 15 pts (100% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)
The Appearance, Construction, and Smoking Characteristics of this Nicaraguan puro are where it really stood out. The flavor scoring was also pretty high as well. There was an initial spice which mellowed into a smooth, consistent, and pleasant flavor profile over the remainder of the cigar.
A good example of a balanced smoke. We were very pleased to have made this selection and would not hesitate to recommend it.
Photo credit to Cigar Aficionado