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.