Friday, December 20, 2013

Top 15 Cigars of 2013

As always, I do things differently than most other reviewers. My top 15 of 2013 list is comprised of the top cigars smoked for the first time in the past year, not released. So don't be surprised if something older made the list. Every one of the cigars listed here are fantastic smokes and recommend that everyone give them a try!

#1 Cigar 2013 1502 Ruby

#2 Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto
#3 Ezra Zion Eminece
#4 Sam Leccia Black
#5 Ezra Zion Tantrum Prensado Pequeno
#6 Rodrigo La Fortzleza
#7 1502 Black Gold
#8 AKA Nth Degree
#9 1502 Emerald
#10 Herederos De Robaina
#11 AKA Respect 2013
# 12 Cuban Stock Chubby
#13 Sam Leccia White
#14 Emilio Cigars Draig K
#15 Man O' War Maduro

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ezra Zion Tantrum box press Prensado Penqueno

I'll sum this cigar up right here, then tell you about the rest as we go, this cigar was delicious!

Quick Details

  • Cigar Size: 4.4 x 44
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Vintage Nicaraguan 99 Corojo Rosado
  • Binder: Nicaraguan 98 Criollo
  • Filler: 5 to 7 year aged Nicaraguan Lligero
Ezra Zion Tantrum Box Press Prensado Pequeno 44x4.4
Construction of the Tantrum was superb. Feeling down the body, it was firm, in fact very firm, with no soft areas. The maduro colored wrapper contained only the finest of veins and was rolled on with nearly invisible seams. Cold aromas from the body and foot were that of toasted tobacco and once the end was clipped the free cold draw had the same rich flavor notes. 

I toasted the foot with the first match and then lit it up with the second. The first two draws had a good dose of full bodied bold black pepper but it quickly left and never came back as the strength settled down into the medium range. What I found most interesting about this cigar was that I couldn't pin down a flavor in the first third. Don't get me wrong the cigar was delicious, but I just couldn't come up with a reference other than it was slightly sweet. 

By the cigar's mid point more recognizable flavor mix appeared. There was a complex, shifting mix of sugar, brown sugar, earth, oak and charred oak. The burn was a bit wavy in the first half but never enough to correct. In the final third the strength increased and the flavor shifting settled down giving me a tasty full bodied finish of brown sugar mixed with earth.

Overall I loved this cigar. Both the strength and the flavor mix was near perfect for my palate. My suggestion, give this cigar a try and see what flavors develop for you!

Rated: 94.5

This Ezra Zion Tantrum box press Prensado Penqueno is another sample provided by Ken from the Ezra Zion Cigar Company, which by the way is one of the lines included in the House of Emilio best of the boutiques.  I am pleased the Ezra Zion Cigar Company asked me to review their products and would like to thank them for the opportunity to enjoy their fine cigars.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sam Leccia White

Since the Sam Leccia Black with dark fire cured tobacco is one of my favorite cigars this year, it's about time that I gave the white a shot too. The buzz going around told me that the Sam Leccia White was much stronger than the black and it also contained a fair amount of pepper in the flavor mix. I am not that fond of pepper so hearing that made me a bit apprehensive to try the white. But once again, I should have know better and smoked the white long ago since this cigar is far from being a pepper bomb. Read on and you will find out what I think of this cigar.
Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5  x 50 Robusto
  • Wrapper:  African sun grown Cameroon
  • Binder: Ecuadorian
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero, Dominican and Pennsylvanian seco
  • Cutting Method: Vertigo guillotine
  • Paired with: Diet Pepsi
  • Price: $7.99 purchased at Cigar Train
Overall this was a great cigar with a semi-complex flavor profile of brown sugar, molasses, earth, tobacco and nuts. It had a nice burn and the ash held on until the band.

To read the full review visit

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ezra Zion Eminence

Several weeks ago Kyle Hoover from the Ezra Zion Cigar Company asked  me to review some of their products. I have wanted to try out the Ezra Zion line for some time so I gladly accepted the offer. When the cigars first arrived I was impressed by their appearance. The black and silver double band really stood out against the dark maduro wrapper. Looking at the cigar through the cellophane it was also apparent that the construction of this cigar was top-of-the-line. After letting the cigars acclimate in my humidor for a couple of weeks it's time to give the first stick a go.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 1/4 x 50
  • Wrapper:  Mexican San Andres Maduro
  • Binder: Double, Cuban Seed Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Grade AA Nicaraguan Tobaccos Aged 5 to 7 Years
  • Price: $11.50 - Sample provided by Ezra Zion Cigar Company
After removing the cigar from the cellophane wrapper the high quality construction really showed itself. Visually inspecting the cigar, the Mexican San Andres maduro wrapper was rolled on with virtually no visible seams, there were only the finest of veins present and it contained a fair amount of tooth. Feeling down the body of the cigar it was firm, almost hard, and well packed the entire length. Checking for pre-light aroma and flavor notes I found a woody chocolate aroma from the wrapper and the foot, while the firm but free cold draw contained enough espresso and chocolate flavor to get me very excited about this cigar.

With the all the preliminaries out of the way it was time to light this baby up. Once the Ezra Zion Eminence was toasted and burning I noticed two things right of the bat. First the maduro wrapper left and nice sweetness on my lips and second, the first two draws were a perfect mix of espresso and chocolate. A very tasty combination in my opinion. As the burn progressed the flavor notes rapidly changed. One draw would contain a mild splash of pepper, the next, brown sugar, then chocolate, oak, earth and one draw even had a touch of cinnamon. The retro hale had the brown sugar notes with raisin mixed in. This constantly changing flavor mix continued into the last third where espresso and chocolate to over giving the cigar a nice, long, tasty finish.

There were a few other items of interest that developed as I smoked the Eminence. The cigar produced a nice volume of smoke with a great aroma that I can only describe as woody, caramelized brown sugar. The burn line was a bit wavy but no where near being a problem and it left behind a light gray/black mottled ash that hung on until the mid point.

Overall this Ezra Zion Eminence was a fantastic cigar that gave me the flavor mix I look for in a maduro cigar and is defiantly going to be one of my top five cigars smoked this year. If you like maduro wrapped cigars like I do, this would be a great addition to your humidor.

Appearance and construction: 19.5
Flavor: 19.5
Smoking characteristics: 19
Overall experience: 19.5
Purchased Price: 17
Total: 94.5

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cigar Mechanic Rectangle Humidifier

When my new humidors arrived they worked perfectly except the stock foam filled rectangle humidifiers. The stock models came with stick on magnetic plates that stuck well to the humidifier, but would not stay attached to the Spanish cedar lined interior of the lid for more than ten minutes. This problem sent me on a mission to find a replacement that would not only stay attached to the lid, but one that was filled with beads or gel instead of foam. After several hours of research I decided upon the Cigar Mechanic rectangle humidifier that use bi-directional Nano-Beads. The bi-directional humidifier in theory will absorb excess humidity or release moisture as needed to keep the humidity level constant.

Quick details:
  • Dimensions: 6 1/2" L x 3 1/2" W x 5/8" H
  • Durable Polystyrene Molded Plastic
  • Stainless Steel Screen
  • Filled with 40 grams of Humidity Beads
  • Tape & Velcro for Easy Attachment
  • Price: $16.99 - $20.99
Cigar Mechanic Rectangle Humidifier
Once the Cigar Mechanic rectangle humidifier arrived I was quite anxious to give it a try. After unpacking the unit, reading the instructions and charging the unit with distilled water it was ready to go. I attached the mounts to the humidor inner lid, the unit attaches to the unit by using sticky Velcro, then attached the humidifier to the mounts. With eager anticipation I closed the lid and waited to see if the Cigar Mechanic rectangle humidifier would stay attached to the lid.
Well, it took less thank five minutes for me to learn the answer to that question. Within the first five minutes I could hear the unit fall and land against the top tray inside. Let me tell you I was extremely disappointed. The tape had unattached itself from the lid allowing the unit to fall. I though that perhaps I had done something wrong so I gave it another try by applying more pressure to the Velcro tape hoping it would stick better. Well that didn't work either. With my head hanging a bit, I ended up placing the new unit in an empty section of the humidor as I had with the OEM unit.
Now don't get me wrong, just because it didn't stick to the lid doesn't mean it's the end for this unit. I have been using it now successfully for over a year and it has been doing a super job of keeping the humidity constant. The  Cigar Mechanic rectangle humidifier is quick and easy to refill. I just submerse the entire unit in distilled water for about a minute or until the beads turn from white to clear, blot off the excess water with a paper towel and drop it back in to it's resting place for another month.
Overall, other than the tape problem, which I think would stick on a plastic coolerdor or tupperdor lid, the unit has worked perfectly and I am going to give it a 7 out of 10 star rating.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto

The other night during my weekly visit to Cigar Train, my favorite local cigar store, Brian gave me a sample cigar that he picked up at IPCPR show this year. The cigar just happened to be a Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto. I told Brian that I would make a post about it then next day, thanked him, paid for my other sticks and headed for home. It's rare for me to review a cigar while driving, however, with the first draw from this stick I knew that I had to write a review. Since this review was done while driving I didn't do many of the things that are normally done during my review process, but the vital information is all here.
Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 1/8 x 43
  • Origin:  Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper:  Dominican Oscuro
  • Binder:Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Price: $5.40
Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto
You can see in the picture that the Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto has a very nice wrapper with very small veins and top of the line construction. I had clipped the end while in the store and the cold draw was smooth and free with flavor notes of mocha. Since I was in the car I didn't really toast the foot, I just flamed on my lighter and cranked the cigar up. With the first draw the only word that came to mind was "WOW". The flavor from this stick was simply fantastic!

The farther up the cigar the burn progressed, the more impressive the flavor mix became. The mix shifted with almost every draw and I experienced notes of, mocha, espresso, chocolate, anise, oak, earth and dark chocolate as the burn progressed. The burn left behind a firm looking white ash as it progressed. Since I was driving my wife's care I bumped the ash long before it could fall as not to make a mess I would later regret.

Since the end of the year is drawing near, I am again working on my "Top 15" list for 2013 and the Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto may have just earned the top spot, although I still have three cigars to review that are in contention. The flavor mix of this cigar was perfect for me! I urge you to try it out and see what you think!

Rodrigo Cigars is one of the lines in House of Emilio and I'd like to thank Cigar Train for giving me the opportunity to review this cigar.

Appearance and construction: 19
Flavor: 19.5
Smoking characteristics: 19
Overall experience: 19.5
Purchased Price: 18
Total: 95

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Cuban Stock Extra – Torpedo

Back at the end of February 2012, Cuban Stock Cigars approached me about reviewing their line of cigars. Of course I accepted the challenge by first reviewing their Exqisto Limitado and Royal Selection blends, which by the way are top shelf cigars. So here we are on the third blend from their line-up the Cuban Stock Extra.

The Cuban Stock factory was established in 1995 and it is located in the Dominican Republic. Cuban Stock Cigars was originally known as Crown David Cigars. They now use the DBA Cuban Stock Cigar Company for better name recognition for their first cigar the “Cuban Stock”.

According to Cuban Stock Cigars the Cuban Stock Extra is manufactured using tobaccos grown only in the Dominican Republic from Cuban seeds and “the tobacco is aged for many years in oak wine barrels.” Since I am a huge fan of the first two blends I reviewed, I am anxious to light up this Cuban Stock Extra.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 6.25 x 52
  • Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper:  Dominican Maduro
  • Binder: Dominican
  • Filler: Dominican
  • Price: $6.50 Online


The only negative attributes with this cigar were a small wrinkle in the wrapper right at the mid-point and one medium sized vein.  Without those two small imperfections construction of this cigar would be perfect. The cold aromas that radiated from the wrapper and the foot were a nice mix of spice and cedar with a hint of chocolate.  I found the cigar to be well packed and once the end was clipped the cold draw was perfect containing notes of sweet cream, spice and the same hint of chocolate found in the wrapper.

Once I had the cigar burning the first flavors were a very nice, medium bodied, mix of sweet cream, earth and a bit of nuttiness. As the burn crept toward the mid-section nuances of chocolate began to build giving the cigar an overall mocha flavor that lasted well on my palate. As I puffed into the final third, notes of charcoal drove away the earthiness, building a long finish of my favorite flavor profile that I call, “scalded mocha,” a mix of charcoal or dark roast espresso, sweet cream and chocolate. Simply delicious!

I was amazed at how easily this cigar toasted and was burning; it took less than 30 seconds to toast and light. Once the cigar was burning it produced a nice volume of smoke with the aroma of nutty tobacco plus a touch of toasted oak. The burn line was dead-on the entire length of the cigar leaving behind a firm, white ash that held on for about two inches before falling away.

Overall Insights
This was defiantly a top drawer cigar for me because of the flavors and the appearance. If I were still using the old number rating system, this would be the highest rated cigar to date. I simply loved this stick from beginning to end and if you don’t give one a try, you are missing out!

Appearance and construction: 19
Flavor: 19.5
Smoking characteristics: 19.5
Overall experience: 19.5
Purchased Price: 18
Total 95.5

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cigar-Coffee Pairing: Leccia Black, Milton Made Sumatra Mandheling

One of my favorite things to do when time allows is pair my favorite cigars with my favorite coffees to see how they change the flavor profiles. Sometimes the pairing will change the flavor nuance of the cigar, sometimes the coffee and sometimes both.

When I'm reviewing cigars, diet Pepsi is my drink of choice. By using the same beverage for most cigars the flavor shifts remain constant. For this pairing I picked one of my favorite cigars, the Sam Leccia Black and favorite coffees Milton Made Sumatra Mandheling.

From the first draw and sip this pairing caught me a bit by surprise. The Sumatra Mandheling when sipped alone had nice mocha flavor notes throughout, but when paired with the Black, it brought out very noticeable notes of toast from the coffee, while at the same time changing the flavor profile of the Black a touch.

Over the past few months I have smoked several of the Blacks and it seems one thing is constant, the flavor from the dark fire leaf increases as the cigar burns. However when paired with the Sumatra Mandheling, the toasted flavors were bolder much earlier into the burn.

Overall this was a very rewarding pairing, since it enhanced the flavor from the cigars, and changed the profile of the coffee. I am looking forward to more experimentation in the future and will post the results here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kona Blend Coffee: Cascade Pride

This is another supermarket whole bean coffee that I ground at home and brewed in my French press. I like the French press because I think you get bolder and richer flavors over using auto drip. I know, a great many coffee purists use the pour over method of brewing and they would probably get a better flavor profile than I do, but I like the press. So lets see how this sample of Kona blend from Cascade Pride turned out.
Quick Details
  • Roasting Company: Cascade Pride
  • Description: Kona Blend, mild flavor & medium body, a smooth and sweet taste.
  • Roast: Light
  • Brewing method: French Press
  • Price: $9.00 - 1 pound
Kona Blend Cascade Pride
It's still morning and I have already had three cups of coffee and a diet Pepsi, but I still wanted more coffee.  I really need to review a cigar, but I chose this coffee review instead and Kona has always been one of my favorites.

I always check the aroma radiating from coffee while it is still in the bag and Kona blend gave off a nice mix of chocolate and coffee getting me excited to get going. As I poured beans into the grinder I could see a few oil spots on about half the beans. After the beans were ground the aromas changed a bit to a mix of coffee, chocolate and nuts. I poured the ground coffee into the press, added boiling water and sat down to wait for the coffee to brew.

Once the brew time was up I poured the first cup. The aroma from the cupped coffee was a mix of coffee and nuts with a light amount of chocolate added in. There was also a nice oil sheen floating at the top. Well, it was time for the taste test andI took the first sip of the Kona blend.

Like I said, Kona is one of my favorites, but I have never brewed any in a press before. The first sips I was semi rewarded interesting mix of flavors. Again the taste of nuts came through but to my surprise the prominent flavor was bitter sweet chocolate. The coffee was bitter, but sweet at the same time and it left behind a nice sweetness on my pallet. Other than the bitterness, this was a nice blend, it was crisp and light, but robust at the same time. With the second and third cups the strength increased as it always does since it has been in the press longer and the bitterness didn't really subside, but it fall more into the acceptable range.

Again, this supermarket coffee comes no where close in quality as most of the small batch coffee I have reviewed, but this Kona blend was OK. I give it a 3 out of 5 star rating.

To read even more coffee, cigar and pipe reviews visit

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Humi-Care HX10 Rectangle Humidifier

Earlier in the week I posted an article about removing mold from a humidor. In that article I mentioned that I replaced all the humidification devices that were in with the mold. The main reason the mold problem occurred is the rectangle humidifier that came stock with my humidor would not stick to the lid so I had it resting against a lower partition and it fell over landing on the face trapping air and moisture resulting in mold.
In my other humidor I already have a third party replacement rectangle humidifier, but like the stock units it won't stay attached to the lid. I will review that humidifier here in the near future.
Quick Details
  • Humi-Care HX10 Rectangle Humidifier
  • Dimensions: 6.5" x 2.5" x .75"
  • Crystals containing propylene glycol
  • Price: $14.95 - $20.00 retail
Humi-care humidifier
In the past I have read good things about the Humi-Care Rectangle Humidifier so I went on the hunt for this unit. It didn't take long to find one listed in an auction.  I bid on the Humi-Care HX10 Rectangle Humidifier and the next day it was on it's way at a really great price.
Well unpacked this nice looking unit and read the instructions. To my surprise once it had the proper amount of distilled water added into the unit, I was instructed to let it rest for 45 minutes so the crystals could absorb the water. So that's just what i did. I also said turn it off and daub off the excess water after the correct absorption time. When I turn it over a fair amount of unused water poured out even though I had filled it to the recommended level. OK, no big deal really. I took the protective coating of the mounts and stuck it to the inside of the humidor's lid and hoped this one would finally stick.
Well it did stick! Three weeks later it is still attached to the lid and is keeping my 100 count humidor at the proper humidity level.
I'm giving this Humi-Care Rectangle Humidifier a high 9 out of 10 star rating!

House of Emilio Cigars and Cigar Federation


Gary Griffith of Delaware Cigars and House of Emilio, announces an official online cigar store for the House of Emilio brands.

Cigar Federation already serves as the online store for our 27 Delaware Cigars retail locations. If we were going to have an “officially endorsed” online home for these special brands, this was the place.” noted Griffith.

House of Emilio currently distributes 9 boutique brands: Ezra ZionRodrigo CigarsNomad Cigars1502 CigarsGuayacanEpicurean CigarsHerederos de RobainaBodega Cigars, and Griffith’s own Emilio Cigars.

Cigar Federation is owned by Kyle Hoover and Chris Kelly of Ezra Zion Cigar Company. The site is managed by Logan Lawler and Rob Rasmussen.

“Being in the House of Emilio family as one of the distributed brands, we are honored to serve our brothers and represent their cigars well.” said Kelly.

“The notoriety around these cigars has caused a groundswell of demand around the country. We are inundated everyday with calls, emails and Twitter DMs from folks who want to get their hands on them but may not have a retailer that has them within a 5 state radius.” noted Hoover.

“I don’t want any of our brick and mortar retailers to worry about competition. I’m a B&M retailer just like them. These cigars are price protected just like they were sitting on a shelf in any of my 27 retail locations. Our goal is to make these available to those who don’t have shop close by that carries them just yet.” added Griffith.

To purchase all the House of Emilio cigars online, please visit the Cigar Federation Store.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Remove Mold From a Humidor

Remove Mold From a Humidor
Well it finally happened. MOLD! I found thick, green, fuzzy, mold in the bottom of a humidor. So here it is, How to Remove Mold From a Humidor.

The other day I was checking the humidity in my humidors when I noticed that the humidity had dropped to 60% in my "daily smokes" humidor. I have been doing reviews most of the time whenever I do get the chance to smoke, so I hadn't checked it in a few days. After removing the top tray I could see the humidifier that had been leaning against one of the lower partitions had fallen over (I have not found a humidifier that will stick to the inner lid of a humidor yet). When I picked the humidifier up to refill it, the entire area underneath was growing dark green mold. Instantly I was in panic mode, there were about 50 cigars in this humidor.

First things first, I was more worried about the cigars than the humidor. Luckily I had the humidifier in a partition that had no cigars and every stick was still in original cellophane. I gave each cigar a close examination as I place them into a Ziploc bag. My other humidor is over capacity and my tupper-dore was still in storage since we'd moved so I knew they were destined for a nap in the refrigerator. Once they were all bagged up, I threw in a couple humidipaks, zipped up the bag and put them safely away. First I should pass on my past experience with refrigerator storage of cigars.

About 20 years ago, or longer than that, pre internet days. I belonged to a cigar club that automatically shipped my chosen cigars every month. For one reason or another, I had about 250 more sticks than I could keep in the humidor so I bagged them up for storage in the fridge. Well after a couple of months in the fridge all the moisture had been pretty much sucked out of them. I did eventually find out how to save them. I double bagged them and added a damp sponge inside the outer bag and after several months they were back in shape well enough to smoke.

OK, well since the cigars were safe it was time to work on the humidor. I searched the web for ways to kill mold growing on wood and found suggestions ranging from UV lights to blow dryers to alcohol. I chose a combination of the alcohol and blow dryer methods. First I threw away the moldy humidifier block and the jar that were in use at the time (one website suggested throwing away the humidor, but that's not in my budget). The next step was to vacuum off the moldy area to remove the surface mold, then coated it with a heavy dose of rubbing alcohol. Then I used the hair dryer and dried the infected area thoroughly. Once it was dry I repeated this process two more times. Once that was done I soaked a rag in alcohol and wiped down the entire inner surface including the dividers and trays. Once that was done I left the humidor open and let it air dry for three days.

After the third day the humidor looked good and all I could do was hope it was clean. I had already ordered new humidifier blocks but they hadn't arrived, so I wiped down the interior surface of the humidor with distilled water and closed it up, repeating this process several times for the next two days. 

Well so far so good. There were no new signs of mold so I added new humidifiers, which this one did stick to the lid, and let it set for two days until the humidity was back in the normal range. With luck, the humidor still looked ok so I added back the cigars from the refrigerator.

It has been over a month since I reintroduce cigars back into the humidor and I am happy to report that so far all is well. None of my cigars were ruined and the humidor is mold free. I will post a review on the humidifier one of these days.

Finally I should mention this method worked for me and it may not work for you. If you use this information you do so at your own risk.

1502 Emerald Toro Box Pressed

The 1502 Emerald Toro is my third and final review of the three cigars produced by Global Premium Cigars, which by the way, are now included in the House of Emilio line of brands. The 1502 Black Gold and 1502 Ruby were such a pleasure to smoke and review I am very excited to try the 1502 Emerald.
Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 x 60 Toro Box Pressed
  • Origin:  Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Corojo Habano
  • Filler: San Andres – Mexico and fields from EstelĂ­ and Condega in Nicaragua
  • Price: $7.60 - Sample provided by  Global Premium Cigars

Construction of the 1502 Emerald was nothing but top notch. The wrapper contained only a couple very fine veins and was rolled on tightly giving this Habano wrapped cigar a great overall appearance.  Testing the aromas from the body and foot I found a light scent of toast and there was a slight sweetness to the wrapper when testing the cold draw. I found the cold draw free and containing a nice tobacco taste. Checking the body, it was firm the entire length with not soft areas.

Once the cigar was toasted and burning the initial flavor notes were oak and toast with a underlying hint of fruit. I could type an entire paragraph describing each time the flavor shifted, but I won't. The flavor mix shifted with almost every draw the entire length of the cigar. These are the flavors I found; oak, toast, fruit, cedar, coffee, citrus, tobacco, brown sugar and blends of all at one time or another. As the cigar burned it produced an ample amount of toast and tobacco scented smoke.

The burn on this cigar was a touch wavy but never bad enough that corrective action was needed. The solid light gray ash turned a bit flakey around the 1/3 mark, but held on until the burn reached the 1/2 way point.  Into the final third the flavor mix was still shifting with nearly every draw and the strength had increased from mild-medium into the medium-full range.

Overall this 1502 Emerald was another fantastic cigar from the line up of Global Premium Cigars. The flavor mix I found with this cigar was one of the most complex I have found to date and it was a nice relaxing, great tasting cigar. If you get a chance to try this cigar or any 1502 don't pass it up!

All three of these cigars will make it into my top 10 for 2013 and perhaps even one of them will be my cigar of the year.

Appearance and construction: 19
Flavor: 19
Smoking characteristics: 19
Overall experience: 19
Purchased Price: 18
Total: 94

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cult Blood Red Moon Mini Perfecto

I've smoked a couple cigars from CULT Cigars the past few months but didn't have time to review them (they are on the to-do list). So when the guys at Cigar Train shared with me that other locals have been reporting that these small Blood Red Moon cigars packed a lot of flavor in a small package,I decided that was all the encouragement I needed to pick up a 5 pack and give them for myself.

This is my last stick from the 5 pack I purchased so I figured that I had better take notes and do a review this time. Looking at The Blood Red Moon it,s a well made mini perfecto. Feeling down the body I found the Blood Red Moon is packed well and there were no soft spots. The wrapper looks nice and contains only the finest of veins. Clipping off the end I found a firm, but free cold draw with flavor notes of black pepper and fruit.

Since this is a mini perfecto toasting the foot and lighting the cigar was a breeze. From the first few draws I tasted flavor notes of earth, oak, toast and tree fruit from this medium body stick. The clean burn line left behind a light and dark gray striped ash that held until the mid point. By the mid point the flavor mix shifted to a blend of light black pepper and oak, while at the same time the strength had moved more into the full range. Into the final third, which doesn't leave much in a mini perfecto, the red pepper hit. In the beginning the red pepper was mild but after several puffs it increased to tongue burning strength and I was done.

Over all the Blood Red Moon is a well made, high quality cigar. I am not a fan of red pepper at all so I left a bit of this cigar in the ashtray but, until that point it was a very enjoyable smoke that took longer to smoke than you would think for it's size.

Total: 91

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

1502 Ruby Robusto Box Pressed

The 1502 Ruby Robusto is my second review of the three cigars produced by Global Premium Cigars, which is now included in the House of Emilio line of brands. The 1502 Black Gold was such a pleasure to smoke and review I am very excited to try the 1502 Ruby.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5x50 Robusto Box Pressed
  • Origin:  Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Maduro
  • Binder:  Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Price: $6.50 - Samples provided by House of Emilio and Global Premium Cigars
1502 Ruby CigarIf you have read any of my previous reviews, you know that maduro wrapped cigars are at the top of my list and this 1502 Ruby has a great looking maduro colored wrapper. Boxed pressed cigars are not really my favorites, but this cigar was put together nicely. There were only fine veins in the wrapper, there were no hard or soft spots in the body and the wrapper was rolled on tight and neat. All of this adds up to one well made, good looking cigar.

Testing the cold aromas from the body and foot I found notes of chocolate and molasses. Once the end was punched the firm but free cold draw yielded the same flavor notes. Well it's time to put a match to the foot of this 1502 Ruby and try it out. If the flavor profile come anywhere close to matching the cold draw this cigar is going to be great.

After the end was toasted and the cigar was burning the first flavor notes to meet my palate were a medium bodied  mix of earth and white pepper, but those flavors only lasted for a minute. After the first two or three draws the pepper went away and was replaced with something like molasses, then sugar, toast, brown sugar and chocolate. Through the first third with each draw the 1502 Ruby presented a different flavor. To sum the flavor mix up it continued like this the entire length of the cigar until the nub where this mix changed to my favorite burnt mocha. The only other point of interest was the retro hale produced notes of oak.

As the cigar burnt it left behind a fairly firm looking gray striped ash that fell right at the end of the first third. The burn was a bit jagged but never deviated enough that it needed correction and by the final third it had straightened itself out. Just a side note, this cigar actually kept it's box pressed shape clear down to the nub.

I have to be honest here, the flavor profile you find may be considerably different than what I found doing this review. Why you ask? Well inadvertently I received samples of this cigar from House of Emilio and Global Premium cigars. This cigar has been aging (and quite well I might add), for well over a year in my humidor. Anyway, over all I was very impressed with this cigar! It had one of the most complex flavor profiles of any cigar I have smoked. I am sure the 1502 Ruby will end up in my top 5 cigars smoked this year list. If you get a chance to pick some of these up, do it. You won't be sorry.

Appearance and construction: 19
Flavor: 19.5
Smoking characteristics: 19
Overall experience: 19.5
Purchased Price: 18
Total: 95

Monday, November 18, 2013

Victor Sinclair Triple Corojo Torpedo

I read quite a few posts where people say, "life is to short to smoke cheap cigars". While that sounds good, I disagree to an extent. My thoughts on this matter are; life is to short to smoke bad cigars! Victor Sinclair produces some, what I think are, great tasting cigars that can be picked up at super low budget prices from time to time. Just because a cigar is low cost doesn't always mean it's cheap. Besides that's what this site is all about. Finding cigars that give you the most bang for your buck. I don't have money to throw away and I bet most of you don't either!

This triple Corojo torpedo from Victor Sinclair is another prime example of a high quality, low cost, great tasting cigar.

Construction of this triple Corojo cigar was nice. The cigar was firm the entire length and the wrapper contained only few smaller veins. Putting the cigar to my nose I detected faint notes of earth and tobacco from the body and the foot. Once the end was clipped the cold draw was firm but not to tight and the flavors again were an earthy tobacco mixture.

Once the triple Corojo was toasted and burning it produced a nice volume of peaty scented smoke and had flavor notes the first third of earth, leather with a touch of brown sugar. Testing the flavors by retro haling,  peat was the primary aroma. The firm looking dark gray ash fell near the 1/3 mark.

Soon after the ash fell the burn started to wander off. Eventually it became so bad that it needed correction. The flavor mixture remained about the same the entire length of the cigar, but the burn continued to plague this stick and once it reached the 2/3 mark it tunneled, so I ditched it.

Overall this medium body cigar had good flavors and construction, but the burn issues became a real problem at the end. I smoke quite a few Victor Sinclair cigars and this burn is abnormal. Perhaps I will update this review after I smoke a couple other sticks from this five pack.

Total: 88

Sumatra Dark Organic: Cascade Pride Coffee - Revised

The other day my pour over maker finally arrived so I decided to revisit some of the coffees that had not fared so well in the press.  With this Cascade Pride Sumatra Dark Organic coffee, I gave it a finer grind, dropped my water temperature around 10 degrees and used the pour over  maker. After sampling the brewed coffee, I found that the flavors had not changed much, but the bitterness was gone. I am going to raise the rating on this coffee to 3 out of 5 stars.

Original review below:

Today nearly all supermarkets carry some type of whole bean coffee. I know, you are thinking who buys good coffee at a supermarket? Well, a great many people think they are buying good coffee because it is whole bean. So lets see how supermarket coffee stacks up to those made by small roasting companies.
Quick Details
  • Roasting Company: Cascade Pride
  • Origin: Sumatra; Organic
  • Roast: Dark, Single origin
  • Brewing method: French Press
  • Price: $9.00 - 1 pound
Sumatra Dark Organic: Cascade Pride Coffee
When pouring this Sumatra Dark coffee from the bag into the grinder I was surprised by how much oil was on the surface of each bean. Each bean was entirely coated with oils, it looked good. The aroma from the bag was a mix of dark toast, coffee, and chocolate. After grinding up a batch of beans the aroma was nearly the same. as the bagged beans. So far so good.

When boiling water was added to the coffee in the press a small amount of foam rose to the top and a nice strong coffee aroma filled the air around me. After the proper brewing time I cupped my first cup. To my surprise these nice oily beans produced no oil slick in the cup. The cupped coffee had a nice toast and coffee aroma.

With eager anticipation I took the first sip. Wow, what a surprise, the coffee was heavy, meaty and very bitter. The aromas present through the entire process didn't come through in the flavor of the coffee at all.  The only bright point to the first cup was after several sips the coffee left behind a pleasant, light aftertaste of toast. With the second cup, the flavor was more intense, but so was the bitterness and the aftertaste it left behind was heavy and a touch sour.

Perhaps this blend would perform better in an auto drip maker and I will test that at a later date. I don't really have a solid rating system yet but I will give this Sumatra Dark from Cascade Pride a 2 1/2 of 5 star rating.

Update: I ground up a batch of this coffee for my auto drip coffee maker and again I was surprised at the results. While it was brewing the aroma was fantastic. I could smell the dark toast and coffee notes in the air. However, once it was cupped, the first sip had  more bitterness than the batch from the French press. I'm glad that I only purchased a few ounces of this blend since I really don't want to brew the rest.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rodrigo La Fortaleza Cinco 5 Toro

The Rodrigo La Fortaleza Cinco 5 Toro is the first Rodrigo cigar I have had the opportunity to smoke. Rodrigo Cigars are part of the House of Emilio cigar line up and I am pretty excited to give the La Fortaleza Cinco 5 a spin.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 6 x 55 Toro
  • Origin:  Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper:  Dominican Oscuro
  • Binder:Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Price: $7.75
Rodrigo La Fortaleza Cinco 5
The La Fortaleza Cinco is a Dominican Puro with a dark Oscuro wrapper; oscuro wrappers are one of my personal favorites. Looking at the wrapper it looks, thick, meaty and tasty with a small amount of tooth and fairly smalls veins. Putting the cigar to my nose I could sense notes of spicy cedar and earth from the wrapper and the foot. Since this was a pigtail cigar I clipped the end instead of using a punch. The cold draw was firm, but not to tight and I could taste notes of mocha and cedar that lingered on my palate.

Once the La Fortaleza Cinco was toasted and burning, the first few draws had a nice flavor mix of chocolate, cedar and a hint of mild black pepper. After the first quarter of an inch the pepper disappeared completely. I also tested the flavor mix by retro hailing which  produced a nice flavor mix of earth and chocolate.

As the burn progressed up the cigar, the burn line became a bit jagged, but no where close to needing correction and left behind a firm looking white ash. At the one third mark the ash fell without any help. This stick also produced a high volume of smoke with a nice robust earthy aroma.

In the final third the flavor mix shifted slightly as the earthiness decreased and the coffee notes increased creating my favorite flavor mix of dark roasted mocha--or as I like to call it, burnt mocha
Overall this cigar didn't have a very complex flavor mix, but that's fine in my book, it was a total chocolate bomb! I look forward to smoking many more of these great tasting Rodrigo La Fortaleza Cinco 5 cigars. If you like this flavor mix like I do, I think you will really enjoy this cigar. I do believe will make  my top 10 list of cigars smoked this year.

Appearance and construction: 19
Flavor: 19.5
Smoking characteristics: 19
Overall experience: 19
Purchased Price: 18
Total: 94.5

For more coffee, cigar and pipe reviews visit

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Draig K Limitado Robusto: Emilio Cigar

I have been a fan of Emilio Cigars for some time now because of their high quality and flavorful cigars. Once I had my first look at the 2012 Draig K Limitado I knew it was on my to-smoke list. Why, you ask? Other than what was already said, it was the band. At one time I collected dragons and am still interested in any type of dragon art work. As an added bonus, it has a maduro wrapper and I love maduro.
Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 x 50 Robusto
  • Origin:  Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Rare Colombian maduro
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Price: $9.00
Emilio Draig K Cigar
Like I said, the dragon on the band created my initial attraction to this cigar, but I do care how a cigar smokes and tastes. Once the Draig K was out of the cellophane I put it to my nose and found it had a spicy maduro aroma from the wrapper and foot. I punched the end to test the cold draw and found it to be free with flavor notes of dark mocha and spicy cedar. The wrapper contained a couple of small to medium veins with a fair amount of tooth.

With the first  few draws I could taste the mocha combined with just a hint of oak. Very tasty! The flavor profile didn't change much throughout the first half and on the retro hale all I could taste was chocolate. The burn, which was a bit uneven at times, left behind a flaky dark gray ash that fell at the 1/3 point of the cigar. The longer I smoked this Draig K the sweeter the wrapper became on my lips. The cigar also produced a large volume of oak scented smoke. As the burn progressed into the last half a note of espresso developed into the flavor mix and the Draig K finished with my favorite maduro flavor of burnt mocha.

In my own terms, I would call the Draig K a total flavor bomb, plus it has a dragon on the band. Other than some minor burn problems this was a great cigar and should be on your to-smoke list. The 2013 release is the Draig Cayuquero, with any luck I can track down a couple of these to review.

Appearance and construction: 18
Flavor: 19
Smoking characteristics: 18
Overall experience: 19
Purchased Price: 18
Total: 92

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Xikar HC maduro Robusto

While at Cigar Train the other day I picked up a budget stick to smoke on the way home and then didn't smoke until days later. I've seen these Xikar HC maduro cigars advertised but never took the time to pick one up. That was a mistake on my part. Read on and you'll find out why.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 x 52 Robusto
  • Origin:  Honduras
  • Wrapper:  Connecticut Havana Oscuro
  • Filler: Nicaraguan / Dominican
  • Price: $3.99 @ CigarTrain

At first glance you can tell the HC maduro is well constructed for a budget cigar. You can see a few medium to small veins in the maduro wrapper but feeling down the length of the cigar it is packed well. I didn't find any overly hard or soft spots. The cold aroma from the foot and body was a faint mix of toast and oak. Once the end was punched the flavors from the cold draw were another story. With the first draw I could taste notes of bold chocolate mocha. The draw was a tad bit tighter than I like but it should smoke just fine and I was anxious to light this baby up.

With the first few draws the predominate flavor was earthy but I did notice a nice mocha aftertaste and notes coffee on the retro hale. After the first few draws the chocolate mocha flavors began to get stronger and the wrapper had developed a nice sweetness.

The light gray ash fell around the 1/3 point of the cigar and it was producing plumes of earth scented smoke. Around the mid point, oil began to appear just above the burn clean burn line and the flavor shifted a bit adding notes of nuts and oak as the mocha sweetened up a bit. As the burn got into the final third the HC maduro put out a few puffs of bitterness but I purged the cigar and it was gone.

Overall this was a very good cigar, with a great price, that didn't smoke like a budget cigar. These can be found online for around $2.50 each and that's a sweet deal for a really good cigar. I will defiantly be smoking more of the HC Cigar line.

Rated: 93

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dominican Bani #Coffee Review

This sample of Dominican Bani coffee was provided by Milton Made Coffee in Folkston, GA. Milton Made Coffee specializes in small batch roasting of organic coffees from around the world.
  • Dominican Bani Fair Trade, Organic Certified.
  • Roasted and certified by @BaristaOnDuty
  • 6 oz. bag yields approximately 22 cups.
Dominican Bani Coffee
When I opened the bag, as usual the first thing I noticed was the oil seeping from nearly every bean. The second thing of interest was the whole beans had a nice rich mocha aroma rising from the bag. Once the beans were ground the mocha aroma was even more pronounced. As boiling water was added to the ground beans in the press, the aroma from the Dominican Bani changed to more of a toast and mocha combination that reminded me of nice maduro wrapped cigar.

On the first sip I was expecting to taste that rich, robust maduro cigar that the coffee's aroma had put in  my mind, but to my surprise that's not what I found. The first sip actually took me a bit off guard. I found the first sip to be brisk, light, crisp coffee with perhaps a hint of sweet, but tart citrus on top. It was a very pleasant surprise. However, after a few sips of the steaming hot brew I did find that the Dominican Bani left behind a light maduro cigar aftertaste of toasted mocha that I found quite pleasant.

Like every batch from my press the second cup was a bit bolder and a bit more robust but it still carried the same refreshing flavor profile. I didn't smoke a cigar with this batch but I think this Dominican Bani would match well with a mild Connecticut cigar by bringing out the mild nuances of the cigar and the bolder flavors of the coffee. I am already looking forward to brewing another batch!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fighting Cock Robusto

While on my weekly run to my favorite local cigar store, Cigar Train, I found the Fighting Cock robusto in stock. I've seen these advertised in a couple of the catalogs at a pretty good price but had been unwilling to drop $30 on a box of cigars that could be hit or miss so I picked up one stick to try them out.

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 x 52 Robuto
  • Origin:  Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Nicaraguan Habano
  • Binder:  Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Price: $3.99 @ CigarTrain
Fighting Cock Robusto Cigar
The overall construction of this Fighting Cock cigar was pretty good. There were some medium veins in the wrapper and the cap had a crease that wasn't glued down, but overall it passed. The cold aroma from the foot and wrapper was nice mix of spicy cedar and earth. Examining the cigar's body I found it was packed firmly with no hard or soft spots and once the end cap was punched the draw was a bit tight but it should be work out just fine.

Once the Fighting Cock was burning it produced a nice volume of earthy scented smoke and the initial flavors were sugar, cream and earth. At the mid point I was hit with several mouthfuls of black pepper but that was soon replaced with notes of buttery sweet cream. Around the same time, the light gray, flakey ash finally gave way. In the final third the flavors came back to more of a sweet cream earthy mix that actually produced a nice finish.

The only real problems with the cigar were the bursts of black pepper and a wrapper split above the ring that happened before I took the ring off. I also thought the Fighting Cock tasted and smoked more like a Connecticut, but that could just be me. For the price this was a nice tasting cigar and if I can find a deal, I will pick up a box or two.

Rated: 90

Bean Box Coffee Subscription

Folgers Classic Roast vs. French Press

Well since I am reviewing more and more coffee, I wanted to test something as a baseline. The wife and I go through about 4-6 pounds of Folgers classic roast per month in our auto drip coffee maker. She doesn't really like strong coffee so we drink this medium roast day-to-day. We break pretty much all the rules with this coffee; we buy it in 3 pound containers and we keep it in the original container instead of an air-tight canister.

Anyway, I decided to see how this Folgers coffee performed in my press to establish a baseline for all my other reviews. This seemed like a good idea at the time and I think did find out what I wanted to know.
After measuring out the proper amount of coffee, I filled the press with boiling water. To my surprise the combination of water and coffee did produce some froth at the top and it gave off a nice strong coffee aroma. So I thought to myself "this may turn out OK". Well, I was wrong.

After giving the coffee a few minutes to brew I pressed it and poured my first cup. The first thing that was apparent was the absence of any oils rising to the top. There was still an nice aroma rising from the cup, so with apprehension I hoisted the cup and took my first sip.

This is where the fun ended with this review. The coffee was strong, which is a good thing, but it was bitter and acidic. Bitter? That's not really an adequate description, it was pucker your mouth, make your face cringe bitter.

Although this test didn't turn out the way I thought it would, it still provided me with valuable information and a greater appreciation of good coffee!

I give this 1 out of 5 stars.

For more reviews visit

Friday, November 8, 2013

Sumatra Mandheling Coffee: by Milton Made

In the past my favorite coffees have been Sumatran or Kona blends so when this Sumatra Mandheling coffee arrived from Milton Made Coffee I was pretty excited to throw some in the grinder give it a try.
Here is the description provided by Milton Made Coffee:
  • Semi Washed Sumatra Mandheling DP Grade 1
  • Region: Mandheling North Sumatra
  • Varietals: Ateng, Bergendal and Djember
  • Elevation:1100 – 1300 meter
  • Process: Semi-Washed / Wet Hulled / Sun-dried
Milton Made Sumatra Mandheling Coffee
When the bag was opened could see the oils resting on many of the beans and I was greeted with the deep, rich aroma of coffee and mocha. I grabbed the grinder, poured in the beans and let it rip. Several seconds later that task was done and the ground beans were headed for my French press. The aroma coming from the ground sumatra mandheling coffee was a mix of coffee and toast. I filled the press with boiling water and let it brew while I searched for my Sumatra tiger cup. Yes I know I get a bit odd like that at times, but that's me.  Well time was up and the coffee was ready, as I poured the first cup the aromas of mocha, coffee and toast rose to greet my nose and I could see a nice sheen of oil sitting on the top.

With great anticipation I took the first sips. My initial impressions of this coffee were that it was light, crisp and refreshing, yet it had enough body to make it satisfying and as an added bonus it had pleasant lingering aftertaste. My last cup from this pot is setting about three feet from me, yet I can still smell the fantastic aroma radiating from the cup. From the first to the last cup the flavor remained constant, light mocha and coffee. The last cup is a bit bolder since it has been in the pot longer, but as with any of the other coffees from Miltion Made, there is no bitterness, no acid and no bite at all.

I didn't have time to smoke a cigar with this, but I think this Sumatra Mandheling coffee would pair well with a Connecticut or a maduro wrapped stick. I'll try timing it right with the next pot so I can test that theory.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Herederos de Robaina Toro

While searching the web for information on this Herederos de Robaina cigar I noticed there are quite a few reviews out there but they all lack the same information; tobacco details. To the best of my knowledge this cigar is manufactured in Nicaragua using all Nicaraguan tobacco.  I do know this cigar is part of the House of Emilio line up. As I mentioned earlier, there a quite a few reviews posted for this cigar, but I believe this one will be a little different than the rest. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you why. This cigar has be aging in my humidor for well over a year and I bet that the pepper other reviews mention has either mellowed or disappeared completely in this stick. Let's take this cigar for a ride and find out if I'm right!

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 6 x 50 Toro
  • Origin:  Nicaragua
  • Wrapper:  Nicaraguan
  • Binder:  Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Price: Estimate: under $10.00. Sample provided by Gary Griffith of Emilio Cigars
Herederos de Robaina Toro Cigar
At first glance and with further inspection, the construction of this cigar was top notch. The natural wrapper contained only a few very fine veins. Felling down the body of the cigar it was firm but not hard and there were no soft spots that I found. Putting the cigar to my nose it gave off a nice spicy and sweet, coffee and cedar cold aroma. Punching the end cap I and checking the cold draw I found it firm, but not to tight and I tasted the same spicy and sweet flavors that I found from the body. With these aromas and flavors I was anxious to fire this baby up.

Once the cigars' foot was toasted and lit, I was rewarded with a mouth full of cedar, earth and oak flavored smoke. I thought to my self "not bad, not bad". After a few draws the wrapper developed a nice sweetness that stayed on my lips. The cigar also produced a fair volume of nutty scented smoke. The burn line was crisp and behind it formed a firm looking white ash that held on nearly to the mid point. The flavor mix also remained constant until about the mid point. At that point the strength of the cigar changed from mild more into the medium/full range and there was a drastic shift in the flavor mix. About here, a bit of brown sugar developed mixing with the cedar, earth and oak and remained until the final third where it changed again into a creamy, earthy mix that was quite tasty.

The only problem I found with this cigar was a wrapper tear when I removed the band. I did prove my theory that the ageing would remove any traces of black pepper since I tasted none. From my previous experiences, if House of Emilio carries a cigar line, it's a good one and the Herederos de Robaina is no exception. If you get a chance give one a try!

Appearance and construction: 18
Flavor: 19
Smoking characteristics: 19
Overall experience: 19
Purchased Price: 18
Total: 93

How to smoke a pipe: Part VIII Pipe Tobacco

Written by: Pipe Tobacco Place

So we've learned some basics about how to properly smoke and care for a tobacco pipe, now let's briefly discuss the tobacco that you will put into it.

There are basically three different types of pipe tobacco-aromatic blends, Virginia blends and English blends.
These tobaccos exhibit their own characteristics but generally the aromatics are flavored, Virginia blends tend to be sweet and English blends are typically stronger.

Choosing the appropriate tobacco is an important part of pipe smoking. Take time to reflect on your mood and choose wisely. Consider the blend by reading the information on the container. What types of tobacco have gone into the blend? Some blends are so complex that they incorporate tobaccos grown on as many as three, sometimes four continents.

Look at the blend. How is it cut? Blenders pay close attention to how the different tobaccos will look in the tin. How does the dark leaf look next to a bright yellow strand of Virginia tobacco?

Bring the tin up to your nose and take a deep sniff. What do you think of when you first sniff the aroma? Is it light and fruity or is it pungent?

Pipe smoking is as much ritual as it is enjoyment and the smart pipe smoker will take time to study the blends that he smokes.

Remember, tobacco blending is an art and the tobacco blender an artist who must account for his blends' appearance, aroma and taste.

Smoking a pipe should garner your respect and attention and it can be a vehicle for thoughtful contemplation.

*A very popular pipe smoking tobacco is Captain Black Pipe Tobacco. It features rich blends of Cavendish, Burleys, and other fine tobaccos.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Milton Made: Peru Femenino Chanchamayo: With Cigar Pairing notes.

Peru Femenino Chanchamayo beans
Johnny from Milton Made Coffee sent me a few more samples to review this week. Milton Made Coffee is a small batch roasting company that produces top-of-the-line small batch coffees from organic beans. This selection is the Femenino Chanchamayo, from Peru. The picture below does not really do the beans justice. They are a medium dark roast and many off the beans have spots of oil on them. This batch looks great.

Once the bag was open the pre grind aromas were toast, nuts and chocolate. After grinding the nuttiness of the beans became the prominent aroma. By then my water was boiling so I poured beans into the press and filled it with boiling water. The aroma from the steeping coffee was very robust and toast became top aroma. I love great coffee and couldn't wait to get this brew cupped. After waiting a bit over five minutes the coffee was ready so here we go!

After the first cup full was poured the first things I noticed were the oils sitting on top of the coffee and the great toast aroma rising from the cup. On a normal day I use around a half teaspoon of sugar per cup of coffee, but I didn't want to taint the flavor so I left it black. The first sip was very hot but the coffee was bright and crisp with a nice sweet nutty flavor and aftertaste. A couple of sips into the cup another flavor began to appear. It took several minutes to figure out exactly what it was, but what ever it was, it was good. Once it hit me, I was shocked that I found this flavor in a cup of coffee. To my amazement I had decided it was beef, this coffee had underlying flavor notes of beef!

With each cup the coffee became more robust and lost some of the brightness, but it was still crisp and flavorful. I found absolutely no acid, bitterness or bite and after three cups, the coffee left a sweet aftertaste that lasted for quite some time.

Like always I am impressed with the quality of coffee's produced by Milton Made Coffee and I am actually boiling water for another pot that I will pair with a nice maduro cigar! I don't yet have a rating system for coffee, but I do strongly recommend this roast and it can be purchased at

Pairing notes: I chose a Fighting Cock cigar with a habano wrapper with the idea that the cigar and the coffee would complement each other. Boy was I wrong. The cigar and the coffee were in stark contrast to each other, but they ended up being what I think was a perfect pair! The coffee brought out the milder nuances of the cigar and the mild cigar brought out the bolder complexities of the coffee. I had wondered before hand if a mild cigar would change the flavors of the coffee but it didn't. The mild cigar heightened the bolder flavors in the coffee.
Overall the pairing was a success and I had the opportunity to enjoy a great cup of coffee and I nice cigar!

How to smoke a pipe: Part VII Pipe making

Written by: Pipe Tobacco Place

Pipes come in all shapes, sizes and materials but the most popular material for today's pipes is briar. Briar comes from the burl of the White Heath tree, which is a small shrub plant that grows in the dry, rocky areas around the Mediterranean Sea.

Briar is the best-suited wood for pipe making because it is tough, porous and almost impossible to burn. The briar is harvested from the ground and taken to mills where skilled woodcutters using circular saws remove the soft and cracked portions of the burl, leaving only the dense, hard, tightly grained center. This is then cut into smaller blocks, called ebauchons.

After the ebauchons have been cut they are boiled in water to remove much of the briar's natural sap and resin. It is then dried for several years, allowing the remaining sap and resin to seep out of the wood. This curing and aging process is important to bring out briar's best smoking qualities. It allows the pipe to breath, absorb moisture and resins from the tobacco and helps to ensure a cool dry smoke
After the curing and aging process, the mills sell the ebauchons to pipe makers around the world, who may elect to age the briar for several more years before shaping it into a pipe.

Pipe making involves a series of steps that are performed by both hand and machine. Usually the more handwork that goes into the construction of a pipe the more expensive it will be. After a pipe bowl has been shaped it's fitted with a mouthpiece, sanded, stained, polished, waxed and ready for your enjoyment.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sam Leccia Black Robusto

Not only am I a cigar enthusiast, but I have been smoking pipes for thirty plus year as well. When I heard about this Sam Leccia Black containing a fired cured leaf I was quite excited to try it since I already know what dimensions fired cured can add to pipe tobacco. It took me a while to chase a few of these down, but once I did I knew it was worth the effort! Normally when I smoke a cigar the flavor nuances jump right out, but not with this cigar. I had to smoke several of these Blacks before I could sort out the flavors and I am still not sure how good of a job I did. What I do know though; this in one fine tasting cigar no mater what the flavors you find. Let see what I did come up with...

Quick Details
  • Cigar Size: 5 x 52 Robusto
  • Wrapper:  Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Rosado
  • Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican, Brazilian , fire roasted Kentucky Dark Fire

Right from the cellophane I could tell this was a completely different cigar than I was used to smoking. Construction of this cigar is superb, the habano wrapper is above average, it was smooth and contained only the finest of veins. I put the cigar to my nose and was pleased to fined a nice sweet aroma that reminded me of smoke, nuts and toast. Feeling the cigar body I was surprised to find that it was firm to the touch and made me think that perhaps it was packed to tightly and the draw might be tight. Well, I was wrong. Once the end was clipped I tested the draw and it was just about perfect. While testing the draw I found the same flavor mix as the cold aroma. Another thing about the cold draw that intrigued me was the sweet aftertaste that lingered for a minute or two. The cold draw was so tasty I had to test it a few more times before putting a match to the foot.

Two wooden matches were used toasting the foot and lighting the cigar. Once it was going I was rewarded with a mouth full of toasty, nutty, full bodied smoke. On the second draw I could taste just a hint of black pepper and an underlying tartness below the toast and nuts. Through the first third hints of earth and oak appeared and disappeared at times. Around the mid point I could taste a bit of tree fruit and the overall sweetness of the cigar seemed to be building. In the final third, hints of sweet cream and tobacco entered into the gamut of flavors already present giving this cigar a very pleasant finish.

Construction wise, this cigar was top notch. The burn was even the entire length and the grey mottled ash held until the halfway point. The farther the burn progressed the more oil appeared on the wrapper.

Overall I don't know what else to say about the Sam Leccia Black Robusto other than it has a great flavor profile, great construction and burn. I believe the presence of the fired cured leaf in this cigar gives it flavor characteristics normally not found in a cigar. This stick will defiantly make into this years top 5 list for me. This is a cigar that you should not pass up in my opinion. Well done Sam Leccia!!

Rated: 94