Cigars

Alpha Cigar Co. Absinthe Infused Connecticut

Alpha Cigar CoNow I’m not normally an infused cigar kind of guy but since a few of our members are ambassadors for the company and a few of our DR Friendly Shops offering discounts on these cigars I figured it was time to give them a try.

The Alpha Cigar Co. Absinthe Infused Connecticut is their debut blend. Made from Cuban seed Piloto Cubano leaves make up the filler of these mild-to-medium bodied cigars, with the native Olor Dominicano leaf making up the binder and upholding Cuban traditions, the cigars are rolled in pairs, and bunched in the Cuban entubado style for optimal draw. Prior to rolling, a single leaf in each cigar is lightly infused with a premium French Absinthe.

The wrapper is milk chocolate in color. It is smooth and silky with very little veining, the seams are tight and feels well rolled and solid. No apparent dead spots and lite yield to pressure. The cap was easily cut with no damage to the delicate wrapper.

The smell from the body was a mix of botanical with a hint of sweet citrus like an orange blossom. From the foot the smell was less sweet and gave off the scent of sage and other kitchen herbs along with a punch of tobacco. The cold draw had the flavors of savory spices like rosemary and sage that was noticed in the smell.

The flavors from the first half are citric and salty with a bit of warm bread and slightly tannic. Over all it’s fairly mild smoke that, thanks to the difficult entubado rolling style they employ, it has an even easy draw with little resistance and rich lightweight smoke production.

Reaching the half-way point the botanical flavors start to jump in a bit more and help pull the flavor up along with a bit of pine but it keeps a solid citric flavor through the entire stick. While it does get a bit of spice towards the final third it remains a nice mellow smoke.

For everyone that might be worried about smoking this because it’s an infused stick don’t sweet it. Its very lightly infused and just adds a hint of flavor to the cigar, which I really enjoyed. The 15 different herbs used in the production of this Absinthe lend diverse botanical subtleties to the cigar, especially on the retrohale. Now until you’ve tried it I would run out and buy a box of them but I would say it’s a solid investment as a five pack to start. Check out the DR Friendly shop London Tobacconist to order yours with our 20% off code. (Contact us for discount code.) As always if you’ve ever had these sticks we’d love to know what you thought by commenting below.

 

Wrapper: Connecticut

Binder: Olor Dominicano

Filler: Piloto Cubano

Price: Around $36.00 for a 5 pack

Website: Alphacigar.com

Rating: 4.1 out of 5 pints

Cigars By Nicholas J: The Sea

Nicholas J CigarsWith all of the cigars out there being produced by what seems to be just a handful of companies it’s fun to change it up a bit and try something from more of a grassroots line. While rambling through various social media outlets I stumbled across Cigars by Nicholas J. After checking out their website I discovered that they are just that kind of company. They offer only two types of blends however they are available in a variety of vitolas and both blends have a story behind them. I chose to try The SEA, which is their Maduro wrapped medium-full cigar. This cigar was created to honor Nicholas J.’s father, Samy. The name, SEA, represents the initials for Samy’s first, middle, and last name.

The smell from the body is a mix of fresh cut pine and leather. From the foot there are much sweater notes, licorice and hay.

The overall appearance is a wrapper with a color of a dark roasted coffee bean and has a nice oily sheen to it, the seams are tight and well rolled. There is some veining but nothing that ruins the overall visual appeal of the cigar. The roll of the cigar feels full and even and it gives to pressure between the fingers without any damage to the structure of the cigar.

Cap cuts easily with no damage to the wrapper. Cold draw has a slightly sweet tobacco flavor, which always reminds me of fresh brewed tea.

It lights easily and my first impression is that it is a bit on the bitter side but within a couple of draws it quickly mellows to nice chocolate and citrus notes with a hint of leather.

Moving into the second third the flavor profile changes to a darker chocolate with a hint of pepper that starts to show up.

Reaching the final third the flavor deepens and becomes richer and the cedar notes become more apparent and more pepper starts to pick up on the back end.

During the course of the entire smoke the draw is easy and produces a fair amount of smoke that is light on the tongue. Ash holds tight until I knock it off and the burn is even without the need for a touch up.

Over all I enjoyed the experience. It was a good medium bodied cigar with some flavor profile changes that kept it interesting and easy to smoke. With the ability to buy sampler packs that contain 2 of each type of cigar ( The Sea and The Alma) for just a little over $30.00 its worth the investment to try a new smaller company that offers a more personal touch to their brand. In addition to reasonable prices customers can take advantage of the “Nicholas J Promise” where you can earn points with each purchase and once you’ve gained 70 points you get a free 25-count box! I recommend trying a couple and let me know what you think.

Filler and Binder: Dominican

Wrapper: Maduro

Price: $32.00 for a robusto sampler pack

Website: Cigarsbynicholasj.com

Rating 4.3 out of 5 pints.

 

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

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