Cigar Reviews

90 Miles Unidos

90 Miles UnidosAs stated in my last review of a 90 Miles Cigar I was a late to the FDG party, so I wanted to get another review up quickly just incase anyone else has been missing out on these. The 90 Miles Unidos is a lovely looking barber pole style cigar with a story behind it. The name of the company 90 Miles is, of course, the distance from Florida to Cuba. Inspired by the changes taking place both in Cuba as well as in the relationship between Cuba and the United States, the two wrappers of the Unidos are symbolic of the two countries.

The overall look of the cigar shows great construction, the seams between the two wrappers are tight, visible veining but nothing off putting to the overall appearance and it is fairly smooth to the touch. There is an interesting paly between the different oils and texture of the two different wrappers, which adds to the entertainment value of the cigar. The body feels well rolled with no apparent dead spots and gives to even pressure when pressed between the fingers. The double cap is well applied and is removed easily with no structural damage to the cigar.

The smell from the body reminds me of standing in a wheat field. It’s airy, light and gives off a grassy aroma, from the foot the grass scent is more apparent but also muddled with dried apricot, chocolate and a hint of leather.

The first half of the cigar lands a bit on the mellow side with a dry citric and coffee flavor, reminiscent to an espresso with a twist of lime. In the background is a touch of bread. The draw is on the medium side but is not a struggle, the burn line remains even and it produces plenty of smoke that weights nicely on the tongue.

Normally I don’t notice much difference between thirds and tend to keep my reviews broken into halves but, with this stick in the second third an interesting grapefruit taste kicks in adding to the citric flavors. The ash remains consistent and is charcoal in color, has nice tight rings that fall off about every quarter inch.

Reaching the second half there is a generous increase in spice and pepper. As the flavor picks up the cigar takes on a new life for me. The light citric tones drop off with the addition of these spice and pepper. In the final third the leather and chocolate flavors that were first noticeable in the aroma come in. The cigar finishes with a medium-full flavor.

This was not only a fun cigar to smoke because of the design and thought behind it but was also great in the flavor profile. With the flavor changes it’s a cigar that will keep you on your toes. Cigar pairs well with coffee, a crisp lager or, for me, a nice bourbon that has just a touch of sweetness to it. I recommend going out and picking up a few sticks and trying them out, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Wrapper: Connecticut Shade/Ecuadoran Habano

Binder: Dominican and Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Price: Around $10.00

Website: FDGCigars.com

Rating: 4.3 out of 5 pints

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90 Miles Limited Edition RA Lancero

FDG RA LanceroBeing a little late to the game when it came to trying the FDG line I missed some opportunities to write about their products closer to the time they were released. After meeting Yadi at an event and trying a few of her cigars I decided to write about a few of them anyway just incase anyone else was behind like I was. I decided to start with the RA Lancero, even though this cigar has been out for nearly 3 years and was a limited production of 1,500 boxes of 20 you can still find some with relative ease if you know where to look.

The over all look of the wrapper is dark espresso in color with a slightly lighter color near the veins and has a slight oily sheen to it. Veins are clearly visible but are light, there is a small amount of toothiness but still mostly smooth to the touch. The roll looks solid and the seams are tight, the cigar feels nice and spongy through the entire stick with no apparent empty spots.

The smell from the body is sweet like smoky chocolate. The foot is covered but I remove the covering to get a better smell. From the foot the odor is very sweet and candy like with rich cedar notes, similar to a sweet unflavored pipe tobacco.

The cap has a small pigtail to it, which cuts easily and cleanly with no issues. The cigar lights with no trouble and immediately produces a good amount of smoke. The draw offers a fair amount of resistance but it isn’t a struggle.

Through the first third the flavors have a bit of spice with charred oak and fruit and a touch of pepper. These flavors slowly change to a bitter dark chocolate, leather and spice when approaching the halfway point and up to the final third.

In the final third those chocolate, leather and spice notes move to the back and all but disappear leaving a rich sweet tobacco flavor. It shoves its way to the front pulling a slight taste of graham cracker with it. Throughout the smoke the ash stays a medium to dark grey color falling off about every ¼ inch or so.

I’ve really been enjoying the catalog from FDG cigars and the lancero has been a lot of fun to smoke. It has great complex flavors that pair well with most drinks however I would recommend a nice bourbon, (I preferred mine when I had it with a Bookers over when I had Elmer T Lee) and the price point won’t break the bank. I recommend tracking these down and stocking up since once they are gone they are gone.

 

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan Habano

Filler: Nicaragua

Vitola: 7” x 38 Lancero

Price: Around $7.50

Website: Fdgcigars.com

Southern Draw’s The Rose of Sharon

Rose of SharonSouthern Draw’s The Rose of Sharon is named after the owner Robert’s wife, Sharon Holt. They say is the mildest cigar the company’s offers to date. It is covered with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper that houses a blend of a Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos that include Dominican piloto cubano and Nicaraguan seco and visas

The smell from the body is of light cedar and nutmeg. I removed the covering from the foot to get a better smell, the aroma is essentially the same but stronger and has the addition of damp hay. The wrapper is golden brown with a nice sheen to it, very smooth and with very light veining. The construction feels solid all the way through but gives when pressed.

Pre-light draw is light and sweet and reminds me of biting into a fresh plum.

The flavor is very mellow and bready with a hint of earthiness to it. There’s also a touch of sweet and spice to it on the finish. The draw offers good resistance but not to the point that you feel like you’re fighting with it and plenty of lightweight smoke is created with each draw. The first half keeps all of these flavors with the spice starting to out weight the sweet on the finish.

With the second half, flavors intensify a bit with the pepper, roasted nuts and hay flavors becoming more prominent than the bread taste. Still mild but a fuller flavor than when it started. The burn remains pretty sharp and the ash hangs on for as long as I like until knocking it free.

Entering the last third the flavor really picks up and the pepper and spice reaches a level of a solid medium flavored cigar. The burn, smoke and ash all do exactly what they should to show off a well-crafted cigar.

In all this was a great stick and could easily be recommended for beginning as well as seasoned smokers. It’s not overpowering but gives a great example of what you should expect from a cigar when it comes to construction and flavor dynamics. So far I continue to be impressed with what’s coming from Southern Draw (like their heavier bodied Jacobs Ladder) and look forward to smoking many more.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican

Sizes: Robusto 5 1/2 x 54, Toro 6 x 52, Gordo 6 1/2 x 60

Price: $9.00-$10.50

Website: Southerndrawcigars.com

Drew Estate Undercrown Sun Grown

Drew Estate Sun GrownWith the Undercrown Maduro on one end of the spectrum and the Shade on the other people were left wondering if there would be something to bridge the flavor gap. In walks the Undercrown Sun Grown. Released at ICPCR 2017, the Undercrown Sun Grown is the third full release from Drew Estate in their Undercrown series and it offers the same use of the T52 leaf for the binder, an extensively aged ligero in the filler from Nicaragua and of course the Ecuadorian Sumatra seed sun grown wrapper. Following the same story line as the other Undercrowns it was blended on the factory floor but with the help of Willy Herrera.

The appearance of the cigar is great as always. The wrapper is the color of coffee beans with medium veining but still wrapped smoothly and with tight seams. It is full filled cigar that doesn’t offer much give when pressed between the fingers.

The smell from the body gives notes of cedar, leather and cocoa and from the foot hints of chocolate and a punch of leather. The pre-light draw has a medium pull with a touch of sweetness and the distinct flavor of raisins. The cap cuts easily with no damage to the wrapper as well as it lights easily and evenly.

First half gives flavors that are peaty and earthy with a bit of barnyard. It’s a bit tighter on the draw then I prefer but manageable. Smoke production is light until about a third of the way down where is begins to produce a rich thick smoke you can almost chew on. To me the flavor intensifies slightly while smoking the first half but note enough to make note of.

The second half has a touch more bite of salt to the tongue; sweetness and fruit kick in a bit more with pepper stalking the other flavors shortly after. By the last third the cigar really comes into its own, the smoke produced becomes lighter and all the flavors begin to mesh into each other making for a relaxed warm tasting smoke. The flavor overall, to me, is medium to medium heavy with a dark chocolate flavor accompanied with a hint roasted almonds and a slightly spicy finish.

Over all I enjoyed the stick although I didn’t notice a very large difference between the Undercrown Maduro and the Undercrown Sun Grown. I will say the main difference I noticed with this stick is that depending on what you choose to pair it with will have a heavy influence in what notes you pick up in the cigar. (And yes before everybody chimes in this is usually the case HOWEVER with this particular blend I found it to be more so than usual. The flavor profile seemed to change so much that I went through several of these before finally making the decision to smoke one with just a glass of water to write this article.) Be sure to pair what you’re drinking when you smoke this to the taste you want at that time. My personal favorite was having a strong bourbon on the rocks, which really brought out the spicy notes. The price point is more than reasonable and the overall construction makes it a solid win for your next cigar purchase.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Sun Grown

Binder and Filler: Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut/Cured Sun Grown Habano, Nicaraguan

Size smoked for this article: Corona 5 5/8 x 46

Price: $8.00-$9.00 depending on size and area.

Website: Drewestate.com

Rating: 4.1 out if 5 pints

Pappy Van Winkle Tradition

Pappy Van Winkle TraditionAs someone who drinks bourbon on a daily basis the idea of the Pappy Van Winkle Tradition cigar was an exciting event for me. Whether it had anything to do with the whiskey itself really didn’t matter it was the idea that a blend had been made for us whiskey drinkers and gotten the seal of approval from Julian Van Winkle himself. I might have been a little over zealous in texting photos to everyone I knew once I got them using the unicorn emoji and #bejealous but like I said I was excided. (What can I say, my friends and I are all immature.)

Willy Herrera made this particular blend during his tour of the Drew Estate factory in Nicaragua while deciding to join the Drew Estate team. Several other blends where given to Julian to sample and ultimately this was the one he found himself going back to and like that the Tradition was born. Now that we have the quick history behind it, on to the important stuff.

Construction of the cigar is solid as is the case with pretty much anything you get from Drew Estate. The seams on the wrapper are tight and even and the feel of the cigar throughout the body is full with no dead spots. The wrapper itself has very minimal veining giving it a smooth complexion. The color is a light roasted coffee bean with a just a hint of the oily sheen you’d expect from an Oscuro. The feel of the cigar is full but yielding to pressure between the fingers

The smell from the body is woodsy and semi-sweet. From the foot there is the distinct smell of raisins, leather and, perhaps it’s my imagination because of the excitement but bourbon as well. I choose a straight cut for this cigar and the cap comes off easily and has no effect on the integrity of the cigar. The pre-light draw is firm but not to the point that you feel you’re fighting with it. The pre-light flavor is that of fresh brewed tea and hay.

It lights easily and burns evenly as it starts with mild resistance on the draw. The cigar produced plenty of smoke that had a light mouth feel and had a nice sweet scent. The initial flavors to me were spice and pepper with a citrus finish but remained mellow making this an easy to smoke cigar and paired well bourbon. This flavor carries on for the first half of the stick.

The second half of the smoke shows the peppery flavor becoming slightly more prominent with the taste of fresh bread and hints of leather nudging its way on to the pallet. The ash was light grey and held tightly for the duration of the smoke, only falling off when requested. The burn stayed consistent and even through the duration of the cigar.

The overall construction of this cigar was top notch and the Belicoso size was perfect for me. The flavors were fantastic and were blended to the point that none of the flavors were overpowering but mingle together to as a great smoke. This made for a rich, complex smoke that you could either pay attention to all of the subtle nuances or just sit back and relax and enjoy. Not surprisingly this cigar paired very well with bourbon but could easily be enjoyed with coffee or sparkling water. If you happen to come across these pick up whatever you can because you will not be disappointed.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro

Filler: Indonesian and Dominican

Sizes: Coronita 4 x 46, Robusto Grande 5.5 x 54, Toro 6 x 50, Belicoso Fino 5 x 50

Also available in these sizes but only available in certain ways.

Churchill 7 x 48: Exclusively available at Drew Diplomat Spirits Retailers

Lonsdale 6.5 x 44: Box Exclusively at Drew Diplomat Rewards Events in October, November and December 2017

Corona 5.5 x 44: Available exclusively from Jonathan Drew and Julian Van Winkle

Price: $21.00-$26.00

Website: Drewestate.com

Rating: 4.7 out of 5 pints

Suicide King From Traficante Cigar Company

Traficante Cigars Suicide KingBeing fairly involved in social media it was hard not to notice the serge in Traficante sticks being passed around and quite a lot of them through our club members. Finally curiosity got to me and I checked out their website. I liked their stance on how they operate and their idea of building camaraderie in the industry aligned with our philosophy so of course I placed an order. Some of the prices are slightly above average but from a vendor who produces less than 1,000 sticks a day the prices are justifiable.

For my first smoking experience with Traficante I chose their box pressed Suicide King. It comes in one size, a 6×50 Toro. The wrapper is a rich dark espresso color, is fairly smooth with some veining. The cigar feels spongy to the touch but the rolling is consistent all the way though with no dead spots. The pre-light draw is easy which goes with the soft feel of the roll. Even though it feels soft and the pre-light draw is easy the construction is solid and it is a well crafted cigar.

It lights easily with no issues and seems to burn well. The flavor is rich and earthy with a lasting finish. Smoke production is full but feels light. Even though it has an easy draw to it the cigar does not burn hot or fast. This held up until just past the first third of the cigar.

Just past the first third the burn line became A bit uneven and an inspection of the foot showed a bit of tunneling. This began to worry me but I hit the uneven burn with my torch to bring it up to speed and carried on. After about 1/4 – 1/2 an inch more the burning kept even and the tunneling disappeared. (Side note: This has not happened again with either the second one of these or others from their line that I have since smoked. We’ll chalk this up to a one time occurrence.)

The flavor profile stayed consistent throughout the cigar with a bit of nuttiness being more apparent towards the final third. The cigar burned with no issues for the remainder of the smoke and had a tight greyish ash that held on for a good inch or so before knocking it off.

For my first go around with a company I was pleased with the taste and overall construction of the cigar. While there was that moment of uncertainty I was glad to see that it was just a minor hiccup and I’m sure that the other cigars I purchased from them for reviewing will not have this issue. If your looking for a break from your everyday cigars I suggest giving Traficante a try you won’t be disappointed.

 

Wrapper: Maduro (Most likely Nicaraguan)

Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican

Sizes: Toro (6 x 50)

Price: $13.44

Website: Traficantecigar.com

Rating: 4 out of 5 pints

 

AK-47 Cigar Punch From Hollow Point Gear

Hollow Point Gear Cigar PunchWhen it comes to cigar accessories everybody needs a good reliable cutter. Now I know we all have our favorite one that stay with all of our usual cigar accoutrements, whether it’s a guillotine, scissors or a maybe a V notch. However how many times have you ended up somewhere with your travel kit, pulled out the cigar you’ve been looking forward to smoking all day and your lighter then had that “Where the hell is my cutter moment”? So what do you do then? Well you could break out your knife and hope you remembered to sharpen it recently so it’s sharp enough to cut the cap properly without damaging the whole thing (No comments Fran we all know you sharpen your knives religiously) or you could have the convenient AK47 cigar punch from HollowPointGear.com that slips right onto your keys with the attached grenade ring so you always have a solid back up plan.

I’ve had this little guy now for about two months or so now and have used it on at least 30 cigars and AK47 Cigar Puncheach time I’ve had no problems getting a solid, clean punch. It makes for a good draw on the cigar and most importantly doesn’t cause any damage to the wrapper. My only complaint with this thing is that there is no opening on the back of the shell to clear it so the cut caps do build up inside but this in only a minor issue. The bullet cigar punch is handcrafted with a real once-fired AK47 (7.62 x 39mm) bullet casing, and a real once-used (not sure what they did with the grenade after pulling the pin) grenade pin.

Do yourself a favor and pick up one of these AK47 cigar punches from Hollowpointgear.com. At a cost of $11.99 the first time you need it because you don’t have anything with you to cut that $12.00 stick this guy has already paid for itself. While your on the site be sure to check out their other items as well.

Cost: $11.99

Website: Hollowpointgear.com

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints