Cigar Snob

Felix Assouline EGO Red Maniac

Felix Assouline Ego ManiacIn the search for things to write about I often ask people to send in requests of what they would like reviewed and a while back a DR member asked if I would do one on Felix Assouline. Since Felix became a DR member I have had it in the back of my mind to write something about his line and this request was the kick I needed to actually do it. I dug through my humidor and found a few things from him and decided to go with the EGO Red Maniac.

This Maniac is a 56 x 6 ½ box press stick. The construction feels solid and has the firmness you would expect from a box press. The wrapper is a red mocha color with tight seams, minimal veining and a slight oily sheen. The smell from the body is semi-sweet and has hints of dried fruit and jasmine. From the foot the odor retains the semi-sweet smell with the addition of cedar, coca and fresh tobacco.

Because of the box press style I chose a v notch and cutting posed no problems with construction. Pre-light draw is full of flavor with fair amounts of tobacco and. a nice bit of sweet and spicy to it.

The first third is somewhat mellow with a bit of a peppery finish to it, there is good smoke production that is nice and light on the tongue. It burns evenly leaving a nice dark grey ash that hols on for nearly an inch before being knocked free.

Through the second third the flavor moves from mellow to more robust and the peppery notes start to become more prominent. Smoke production is still full and plentiful, burn stays consistent and no construction issues.

Final third – Flavor begins to increase a bit more and bring the flavor to a solid medium. The spicy notes come to the forefront and then lingers for a well timed finish. Smoke production is plentiful during the whole smoke and it burn evenly. Due to the high humidity we have here in south Florida I did have to re-light a couple of times if I let the cigar rest for too long between draws but this was no real issue.

Felix Assouline describes the EGO as “a full flavored line of cigars. The careful blending of tobaccos from Jamastran, Jalapa and Indonesia are brought together to create a full flavor cigar that is further enhanced by “pressing” the Tobaccos together and aging them carefully before boxing them and shipping them to their eventual home, your humidor. EGO cigars range from a Perfect perfecto shape of 52 x 5 to the powerful Passion torpedo of 6 ½ x 58. EGO cigars also features a cedar lined box of 100 EGO Shots; a cigarillo of 24 x 5 when you don’t have the time or when you simply have the need for a Shot of EGO.” I enjoyed smoking this cigar and would agree with his description. While I felt is more of a medium flavor rather than a full I found it to be quite enjoyable and look forward to having it again. It’s flavor would be well suited for either a beginner or a well versed smoker. Would pair well with coffee or bourbon and even sparkling water to really catch all of the spice notes in this blend. If you have yet to try it I strongly suggest picking some up and if you have had it and don’t have any in your rotation then go get some more. As always if your local shop doesn’t carry it be sure to ask for it.

Wrapper: Habano Criollo 98

Binder: Indonesian

Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras

Vitola: 56 x 6 1/2

Price: $10:00 – $12:00 per stick depending on where you are.

Website: http://felixassouline.com

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints

Willy’s Cigars – El Brilloso

Willy CigarsA few days ago I wrote an article about one of Willy’s Cigars he calls “The Fuma”. While smoking it I was chatting with Willy and discovered that the cigar I was writing about isn’t one that he sells it comes as a gift when you order a handful of cigars from him. After discovering this I figured I better get up an article about one that you can actually get a hold of. Currently he offers two vitolas in his premium line. A 52 x 6 called the “El Brilloso” and a 60 x 4 called “The Shorty”. For this review I chose to smoke a couple of the Toro size.

The cigar is wrapped in a dark espresso colored Ecuadorian maduro wrapper. It has very minimal veining and a nice oily sheen to it. The construction feels full with no apparent dead spots, firm to the touch but yields to pressure when pressed between the fingers. The smell from the body has the odor of wood, leather and pepper. From the foot the wood is a noticeable cedar scent with a more pronounced pepper and slight smoky smell.

The cap cuts easily leaving the body intact with no damage to the overall construction. The pre-light draw is easy offering just a slight resistance. The flavor is rich tobacco along with a hint of the smokiness detected in the smell from the foot.

The first half offered flavors of tobacco, warm coffee and nuts. It is medium body and smooth. It burns sharp creating a nice dark gray ash with tight rings. The draw is easy and it provides plenty of medium weight smoke production.

In the second half the flavor picks up a bit more and becomes more bold. It starts to have a nice earthy flavor with a black pepper finish but still with an overall medium body. Approaching the last third the flavor comes out swinging. The cigar turns into a heavier tobacco and spice flavor that fills the pallet. This flavor remains until I have smoked it down to the point that I can no longer hold it and eventually have to sacrifice the nub to the ashtray.

In comparison to the firs cigar I smoke from Willy this is a much more rich and complex cigar. Easy to smoke whether a novice or pro it would be a great cigar for your rotation. While he currently offers just these two sizes there is a third vitola in the works and will be released soon. Currently the “El Brilloso is available from him for $7.50 a stick and “The Shorty” for $8.50 however while we talked the other day he has said that he would like to offer the “El Brilloso to DR members for only $5.50 a piece and “The Shorty for $6.50. Shipping is set at $7.50 when ordering 1-9 cigars and shipping is free when you order 10 or more. After having a few of these sticks my recommendation would be get at least 10 you won’t be disappointed.

@Willycigars (On Instagram)

Price – $5.50 – $6.50 for DR members, $7.50  – $8.50 for non DR members

Vitola – “El Brilloso” 52 x 6 or “The Shorty” 60 x 4 with a third one on the way

Blend – Colombian, Brazilian, Nicaraguan long filler, Nicaraguan binder, Ecuadorian maduro wrapper

Contact for purchases – DM on Instagram @Willyscigars or email bfigueroajr@yahoo.com

Willy’s Cigars – Fuma

Willy's CigarsA couple of months ago the family started to grow in Puerto Rico. As we added members the discovery was made that a tabaquero from San Juan had joined in with us known on Instagram as @Willyscigars. Willy has been selling Premium Small Batch cigars out of his home for several years now. When I asked Willy why he stared making his own cigars he had this to say, “I have been smoking cigars for 25 maybe 30 years, I was tiered of finding the same flavors everywhere, regardless of brand the flavor profile seemed to be mostly the same. So a few years ago while talking with a friend, who I used to buy cigars from, offered to teach me how to make cigars. I told him once I know how to make cigars you know I’m not going to buy from you anymore.” Thankfully his friend was not concerned about this part and the learning process began. For years he had been experimenting and practicing and found a blend that he had been using in his premium cigars until last year when he and his wife lost everything in Maria. Determined not to give up, he spent his retirement savings to rebuild his house. He gave his entire retirement savings into the rebuilding. Left with only roughly 400 cigars he started selling and rolling them again out of his home. His customers helped to spread the word of his love of the leaf and the business began to grow again. Currently the “53 year old fart”, as he put it, is the only one rolling along with his wife helping with the molds. His day begins at 4:00 A.M. With a cup of coffee and the Fuma and rolls until 9:00, then rolls again from 1:00 to 3:00 and then rolls again from 5:00 to 10:00. (That’s a 13 hour day by the way.) Now he in addition to all his time spent rolling he is teaching classes on how to make and roll cigars for free out of his home. He feels that since he wast taught for free he should share his knowledge saying “You can’t only take, you have to give also otherwise the circle is not complete.”

Today I am smoking the Fuma just like Willy does each morning. It’s the surprise cigar because they have a mind of their own. Because of how they are made they are not for sale, rather given out as a thank you for people who make larger purchases. In an effort to not wast anything this cigars are made from short filler from what is left over so the blend is ever changing but still yields a great smoking experience. While still maintaining the core ingredients of his premium blend, a Colombian, Brazilian, Nicaraguan filler along with a Nicaraguan binder all held together with an Ecuadorian maduro wrapper the ratio will change depending on what amounts are available. For something that’s given as a gift are you really going to complain? If so you should probably stop reading now.

Inspection of the construction is solid and it feels full, there are no noticeable dead spots. The wrapper has a slight color variation which goes from milk chocolate in color to a light coffee color near the foot. There is some light veining a soft oil sheen and an attractive pig tail cap.

The smell from body is light and floral, with a calming aroma. From the foot there are notes of dried fruit, hay, and the sweet floral tones again. Instead of twisting the pig tail off I choose to cut the cap and it is removed with no issue. The pre-light draw has the flavor of dried fruit again and sweet tobacco and there is little resistance when bringing air through. It lights easily and begins burning evenly.

The first half smokes well with a nice creamy mild flavor with good weighted smoke that rests on the pallet. Burn is even and the ash is a light gray that hold tight until knocked free. As we continue to talk the flavor profile begins to change, becoming a bit more fuller.

The second half becomes a bit more intense with more of the woodsy flavor coming to the forefront, the dried fruit becoming sweeter and a nice mellow port finish. Smoke production is still plentiful, burn is still even and the draw is smooth.

While we talk I finish up the stick enjoying every minute of our time spent talking and smoking. I have been fortunate enough to try a few of Willy’s cigars and have enjoyed each one of them. For a cigar that is tossed in for free as a way to say “Thank You” for buying other cigars it really can’t be beat. His other line of premium cigars are fantastic and if you haven’t had a chance to try them yet you should. I’ll be writing about those cigars in just a couple of days and maybe we’ll have some extra incentive to make you try one or ten.

@Willycigars (On Instagram)

Price – Only available as gifts

Vitola – 52 x 6

Blend – Colombian, Brazilian, Nicaraguan short filler, Nicaraguan binder, Ecuadorian maduro wrapper

Contact for purchases – DM on Instagram @Willyscigars or email bfigueroajr@yahoo.com