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Archive for the ‘Figurados’ Category

Liga Privada #9

30 Apr

Synopsis:
Maker: Drew Estate
Filler: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan and Honduran
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro/ Oscuro
Flavors: Cofee, Dark Chocolate, Roasted Meat, Umami
Draw/Volume/Strength: +1 / +3 / 4+
Rating: 9.5
Where to Buy: Famous Smoke Shop

Do you remember your first Liga Privada #9? I do.

I was in a small cigar shop in California with a friend and fellow member of the Cigar Sasquatch team, smoking cigars with a certain vendor rep who will remain nameless, but is quite well known in certain circles. It was a Tuesday morning in 2009, and no one else was in the place except me, my friend, the vendor, and the shop owner, whom I didn’t know well, but who was acquainted with my friend.

Photo of Liga Privada #9 cigars

Liga Privada #9

“What are you smoking these days,” said the shop owner.

“Oh, this and that,” I said. “I’m liking the heck out of Hemingway lately.”

“That’s fine,” said the owner, “if you want to smoke a piece of shit.”

I didn’t immediately get up and punch him in the face because it was his place, and well, I’m a lover, not a fighter. I smiled to myself, and said, “Okay, what should I be smoking?”

The vendor handed me a Liga Privada #9.

I understand the use of hyperbole in literature and in storytelling, but if you’re going to call one of the finest cigars on the planet, one of my top 5 cigars of all time, a “piece of shit,” you better be prepared to back it up. I knew who the vendor rep repped for, so I said, “I don’t really go for flavored cigars.”

“Don’t say the ‘F-word,’” the rep replied. “And this one isn’t infused.”

He went on to tell me the story of how this cigar was blended specifically for Steve Saka, then president of Drew Estate, and was only ever intended to be smoked by him, for his private stash. That’s what Liga Privada means: Private Blend. It was never meant to go into production.

The cigar world is full of this kind of story. “We were making something just for the boss—special tobaccos, limited crops—but it was so great, we just had to scale it up.” I generally take this sort of thing with a grain of salt. But I’ll smoke anything once, so I took the cigar and lit up.

Then I had to re-sort my top 5 cigars of all time.

In the years since, Liga Privada has become a modern classic. It’s one of the most highly sought-after cigars on the market. Its near-perpetual status on back-order has only enhanced the legend of this cigar, though they’re regularly available at Famous Smoke Shop. It’s a remarkable piece of marketing, but with Liga Privada #9, it’s not just hype. This cigar changed the game, putting Drew Estate on the mind of serious cigar smokers, not just fans of their massive selection of infused product. It sparked a veritable wildfire of ever-stronger, ever bolder cigars, and spawned series of follow-up releases, all limited, all special. And they are indeed special.

The blend features tobaccos from seven different farms, including Cuban-seed Nicaraguan and Honduran longfillers, with a Brazilian Mata Fina maduro binder and a US-grown Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro Oscuro wrapper. It’s the wrapper, they say, that makes this cigar so hard to come by. It’s expensive, and produces low yields. The wrapper is nearly black, and is dripping with oils.

For this review, I smoked the Belicoso (6×52). The roll is dense, with a chewy bite. The first tastes are an explosion of coffee and rich dark chocolate, with a round, roasted, earthy background. The flavors are meaty, caramelized, and robust, with a hint of spice and a hint of sweet dancing nearly imperceptibly behind heavy velvet curtains of umami.

The draw is open (+1) from a the smallest cut of the rounded Belicoso tip, producing a huge smoke volume (+3). In the first inch, the spice that was barely present at first slides away, leaving the subtle sweetness of the Connecticut Broadleaf to enhance the meaty, caramel, and coffee flavors that remain. The smoke is bold, with notable strength (4+), but with a silky smooth texture from the Brazilian Mata Fina which defies the richness and complexity of the flavors.

The burn is self-correcting for the duration, and the pure white ash is firm and nicely scaled, holding to about an inch. The flavors remain steady, with coffee and chocolate, and a layer of roasted meats, darkening slightly, but remaining buttery-smooth until the end. It smokes to an inch and a half nub in about 90 minutes. I rate it 9.5.

I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a few boxes of #9s, having sampled each of the 4 regularly available sizes, plus one or two of the now-legendary “Flying Pigs.” I’ve had a few of the special editions, as well, along with a large number of the follow-up to the #9, the T52. They’re all excellent, among the finest cigars on the market today.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

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Posted in Figurados, Maduro

 

Obsidian Belicoso

31 Oct

Synopsis:
Blender: Flores y Rodriguez
Maker: PDR Cigars
Filler: Nicaraguan/ Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Brazilian Habano Ligero
Flavors: Dark chocolate, cappuccino, earth, peppers
Draw/Volume/Strength:
0 / +2 / 4
Rating: 8.9

This review of the Obsidian Belicoso is presented courtesy of Stogie Boys, America’s fastest growing online cigar retailer.

It’s Halloween time, and for the Cigar Sasquatch, it’s one of the best times of the year. I love this season. Halloween (or for adults, the Weekend before Halloween) is the one time of the year when we can forget who we are and be who we want, whether it’s a pirate, Indian, Viking, soldier, or for the ladies, sexy kitten, sexy nurse, sexy she-devil, sexy angel (you get the picture).

Photo of Obsidian Belicoso Cigar

Obsidian Belicoso (6½x52)

But more than that, Halloween is a time to remember childhood, a season to recall happy days when you and your friends and siblings could wander around the neighborhood and get free candy from your neighbors. It was a time of carving pumpkins and planning costumes with your friends and family, putting them together with your mom or dad, brothers or sisters, wearing funny clothes, eating yourself sick with candy, having as much fun as possible, and generally just being kids. And today, Halloween is a time full of nostalgia, of looking back, and longing for those carefree days of childhood.

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Posted in Figurados

 

Reposado ’96 Maduro

24 Jan

Synopsis:
Blender: AJ Fernandez
Maker: Tabacalera Fernandez
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Flavors: Tangy maduro, wood, fresh tobacco
Draw/Volume/Strength: +2 / +2 / 4
Rating: 8.2

I’m trying to rid my life of clutter. Call it a New Year’s Resolution, though I never formally resolved to anything. I’ve just found myself driven lately to get rid of the things I don’t need, and to organize the things I do (and praying for the wisdom to know the difference).

My cigar collection is no exception; I had a fruitful holiday season, and voluminous though it is, the Sasquatch-a-dor was bursting at its proverbial seams. A clean-out and reorganization was in order, so I solicited the aid of a willing helper, who imagined (not unwisely) that any unwanted cigars might fall his way.

Photo of Reposado '96 Maduro Cigar

Reposado '96 Maduro (7x58)

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Posted in Figurados, Maduro

 

Nub 464T Series Part 2: Maduro

12 Oct

Synopsis:
Blender: Sam Leccia
Maker: Oliva Cigar Co.
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro
Flavors: Black pepper, fresh tobacco, earth, oak
Draw/Volume/Strength: -1 / +2 / 3
Rating: 9.0

Today I present the second installment in the 4-part series evaluating the principal blends in the Nub line from the Oliva Cigar Company. Nub cigars are defined by their large ring gauges and short lengths, intended to turn the entire cigar into the “sweet spot.” The line offers a variety of vitolas with none longer than 4 inches, and all with ring gauges of 58 or more.

For this series, I’ll be smoking the 464T, a Torpedo (4×64), in each of the Habano, Cameroon, Connecticut, and Maduro wrappers. I’ll be delivering these reviews in no particular order.

Photo of Nub Maduro 464T

Nub Maduro 464T (4x64)

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Posted in Figurados, Maduro

 

Cigars in the Tropics

11 Jul

I used to be an avid skier. I still enjoy it very much, I just don’t do it as frequently as I have formerly. I’ve been all over the country for skiing. I would plan whole vacations around it, whether to Colorado, Utah, Tahoe, or even locations in Canada. That was my travel activity.

Well, my leisure pursuits have changed over the years, and as it turns out, so has my vacation style. You see, a ski vacation is a busy thing. And as my non-vacation life became more busy, I wanted my vacations to be less busy. I think that makes sense. On a ski trip, you have to get up, get dressed, get your boots on, carry your skis, and spend your day trying to get the most out of your (fairly expensive) lift ticket. It was a lot of fun, but it ends up being a fair amount of work, too.

Photo of Arturo fuente Hemingway Classic cigar resting on a natural lava rock bowl

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Classic (7x48) resting in a natural ash tray.

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Posted in Figurados, Perfectos, Special Edition

 

La Flor Dominicana Mysterio

05 Apr

There’s a certain hierarchy to any social structure. Bees and ants have their Queens and workers (termites even have Kings), elephants have their Matriarchs, and wolf packs have their Alphas, Betas, and Omegas. Countless comparisons can be drawn between the social arrangements of animals and those of humans, but one of the most compelling is that of the Lone Wolf.

Such a man is Litto Gomez, owner of La Flor Dominicana. Obsessed with quality, Gomez doesn’t fixate on numbers like many manufacturers do, beyond using them to gauge the excellence of his cigars. He didn’t come from a cigar family, so he’s not bound by the constraints of doing things they way they’ve always been done. He embraces tradition, but shrugs off any that prevent him from doing things his own way.

Photo of La flor Dominicana Mysterio Cigar showing details of head and foot.

La Flor Dominicana Mysterio (7x54)

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Posted in Figurados, Perfectos

 

Diesel Unholy Cocktail

02 Apr

To get a new cigar talked about in 2011, it needs to be strong. There’s a whole cadre of pundits and commentators out there who won’t even look at a cigar unless it rates a 9 on the strength scale.

Well, the Cigar Sasquatch Strength Scale only goes to 5, and I’m here to tell you, there are more important things in cigars than strength. Namely flavor and balance. And burn characteristics. And draw performance.

As regular readers may know, I don’t assign a value judgment on strength. A cigar’s strength is what it is, and I can enjoy it whether it’s a 1 or a 5, as long as it has flavor and balance. And burns and draws well. I find those factors far outweigh the strength of a cigar in determining whether or not I’m going to enjoy it.

Photo of Diesel Unholy Cocktail Cigars

Diesel Unholy Cocktail (5x56)

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Posted in Figurados, Maduro, Torpedos

 

Reposado ’96 Connecticut

19 Mar

Everyone knows the Cigar Sasquatch is Coo-Coo for Connecticut, and it’s also no mystery that I like my cigars big. But one thing I may never have mentioned is that I’m a Sucker for Salomons. So when I found these Reposado ’96 Salomons (7×58), I felt like I had hit the Cigar Jackpot! I just had to try a fiver.

For those unfamiliar with the shape, a Salomon is like a perfecto in that it starts narrow, then gets fat, then tapers to the head. But in a Salomon, the thickest portion is the first inch past the foot, like little baseball bats you can smoke. Also (sometimes) called a Diadema, they’re front-loaded with flavor, delivering the fullest smoke at the beginning when it would otherwise be most mild, then dialing it back down the length, counteracting the cigar’s natural tendency to grow darker and heavier towards the finish. It delivers a consistent flavor profile, and allows for a large cigar to remain smooth and pleasant for the duration.

Photo of Reposado 96 Connectcut Cigar from cigars International

Reposado '96 Connecticut (7x58)

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Montecristo #2

29 Jan

My current obsession with Connecticut-wrapped cigars has driven me to extremes. From massive Presidentes, to tiny Petite Coronas, big rings to small rings, box-pressed to, well, not box-pressed, I’ve smoked them all. But rarely have I wandered into territory such as this.

In my reviews, as in life, I generally attempt (sometimes flailing) to follow the advice of poet Robert Frost, when he suggested that it’s a good idea to get off the beaten path. I try to feature cigars that are either new or rare, perhaps less well known, or which are in some way rather mysterious or unique. Occasionally I venture to review a classic cigar, one that is neither new, nor rare, nor little known, but which may be a curiosity to you, the reader, because of its exceptionality. But few cigars are as well-known—or as controversial—as this one.

Notoriety has its price, and in this case, it’s a steep one. So categorize this review however you wish, into either the “Is it worth the price” category, or perhaps into the “Is it as good as everyone says” category. Or finally, you may wish to sort this review into the “Is it as overrated as I’ve heard” category. Regardless, I present to you the Montecristo #2.

Photo of Montecristo #2 Torpedo Cigar

Montecristo #2 (6x50)

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Cigar Sasquatch Cryptids: Flor de Oliva Torpedo

14 Dec

Today I introduce a new category of cigar review on “The ‘Squatch,” and that is the “Cryptid.” From the greek kryptos meaning “hidden,” these are cigars that exist outside the realm of the well-known and universally accepted catalog of “good” cigars, but which are, nonetheless, premium longfiller cigars of excellent quality in construction and taste.

These non-canonical cigars may have plain-looking bands (or no bands at all), they may be sold in bundle packs instead of boxes, you may have even heard of them, perhaps seen them on the bottom shelf or spotted them in an on-line brand list. Like any mysterious creature, they can be a little unnerving, even downright scary, most of us eschewing them in favor of better-known brands. But the Cigar Sasquatch embraces these mysterious creatures, and will assist you in confirming or “proving” their status as REAL Cryptids (the ones worth smoking), and separating them from the “Hoaxes,” the ordinary junk which truly belongs on the bottom shelf. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cigar Sasquatch Special Edition: Graycliff “Fresh Rolled”

12 Dec

Cigars are as unique as the people who enjoy them, and every once in a while, you run into one (a cigar or a person) that defies categorization. On a recent trip to the Bahamas, a member of the Cigar Sasquatch team was privileged to visit the Graycliff cigar factory in Nassau, and sample their fine goods. Among the many treasures he returned with was a small handful of freshly rolled cigars, hand-made while he watched. These are the Graycliff Fresh Rolled.

Cigar production in the 21st century is like manufacturing in almost any other industry, at least in certain aspects. Separation of job functions is central to efficiency, and a visit to a cigar factory may expose you to strippers, bunchers, rollers, and the famous torceadors, along with dozens of other functionalities. And of course there are inspections at almost every step in the process.

In the case of the Graycliff Fresh Rolled, these many functions are consolidated into one person, in this instance, a gentleman named Maurice.

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Posted in Dark Natural, Figurados, Full Reviews, Natural, Special Edition, Torpedos

 

Cigar Sasquatch Special Edition: Holiday Gift Guide

04 Dec

Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re anything like me, you get asked one question countless times every holiday season: “What do you want for Christmas?” I also hear a lot of, “I don’t know what to get you, you always get anything you want for yourself.” And while that may be true, I’m forced to ask myself, is it that hard? Sure, I understand. Men are difficult. We’re complex in our simplicity. We’re independent, but love to be a part of the team, we’re rugged, but relish in our creature comforts, we’re predictable in entirely unpredictable ways. But with a little guidance, holiday gift giving—and receiving—can be the joyful and stress-free experience it should be.

No one who has a cigar lover on his or her Christmas list should ever have to ask “What do you want for Christmas?” I can run down the list of guys in my herf and name their top three cigars at three different price tiers, and I can also probably tell you which retailer has the best prices for each of them. But unfortunately our wives and girlfriends, mothers and sisters probably don’t know anything about cigars, and wouldn’t have a clue where to buy them or how much to pay. So this guide is not so much for the cigar lovers out there reading this, but rather, for the ones who have to shop for us. Translation: Men, forward it to your ladies.

The best thing about cigars as gifts is, you can never have too much of a good thing. I never once opened a gift of Montecristos and thought, “This is great, but I’ve already got a box of these.” It’s the ultimate answer to the question, “What do you give to the man who has everything?” Answer: More of what he loves.

Stocking Stuffers

Single cigars are a great treat for the holidays. But if you’re going to buy a single, make sure it’s something special. Most of us have a brand or blend we’ve never bought for ourselves because of the ridiculous price tag. Padron Family Reserve #45 comes to mind. But if you’re not comfortable spending $30-$40 on a single cigar (if you can find it in a single), I suggest going with something big, like the Arturo Fuente Hemingway Masterpiece.  At 9 inches long, it’s certainly an “impact gift,” but with singles readily available at B+M retailers for $18-$22, (and less on-line), it’s a great gift at an approachable price.

Accessories make great stocking stuffers too. The Xikar X8 Carbon Fiber Cigar Cutter is as stylish as it is functional, and with a lifetime guarantee, it’s a step up from the throw-away cutters on the cigar store counter. And most of us have a cigar torch (or two), but this holiday season, set the torch down and grab a handful of Davidoff Giant Cigar Matches. At under $4.00 for a box of 40, they’re probably the cheapest thing you’ll ever find with the name “Davidoff” on them, and are far more reliable than most cigar torches.

5-Packs

Everyone loves a 5-pack. They’re affordable, available, and we can usually get exactly the brands and blends we want. But for this holiday season, think variety, not just in blend, but in size and shape. If your cigar buddy always gets himself the same robustos time and time again, upgrade him to the torpedoes. The Romeo Y Julieta Belicoso is only a few dollars more for a 5-pack than the venerable Bully in the same blend, and makes a thoughtful and impressive gift. Or for an elegant option, the Oliva Serie V Lancero is a highly-rated cigar in the Cuban tradition, delivering loads of flavor in a slim package that most cigar lovers wouldn’t normally buy for themselves.

Boxes of Cigars

Box-quantities of cigars are the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. In one package, you can give hours of satisfying pleasure and enjoyment, and show yourself as a truly thoughtful gift giver. But a word or caution: Make sure it’s something he’s going to love. Now’s not the time to try him on a new blend or to throw something against the wall to see if it sticks. Every cigar lover has a favorite blend, and if you don’t know what it is, just ask! If he’s anything like my cigar buddies, he’ll be happy to tell you all about it. Chances are he even knows where to buy it at the best price.

If you find that the cigars you’re planning to give as a gift are a little out of your price range, shop around. Many retailers offer first-quality premiums in bundle packs that save money in packaging and shipping. I for one don’t care if my Excalibur #1 Maduros come in a box or a bundle pack, as long as I get them. Or for the Cohiba lovers in your herf, consider downsizing to a box of Cohiba Pequeños, small cigars that offer 20 or 30 minutes of great Cohiba flavor, at an affordable price.

And the best thing about giving boxes of cigars, if you’re lucky, your grateful recipient may just thank you with the first cigar from the box!

Holiday gift giving shouldn’t be stressful or difficult. With a little planning, and some advice from our resident Cryptozoological Cigar Lover, you’ll have more time to spend doing what you love, and celebrating the season with friends and family. And that’s about the best holiday gift I can think of.

Until next time, this is the Cigar Sasquatch saying, “Love what you smoke, and smoke what you love.”

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Tasty Tuesday: Famous Exclusive Sampler

17 Aug

For this edition of the Tasty Tuesday Sampler, I present reviews of three cigars exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop. Most retailers have house-brands, and Famous is no exception, but Famous also has an impressive selection of cigars from major manufacturers made exclusively for and available only at Famous. I selected one house brand and two manufacturer brands, which include natural, dark natural, and maduro cigars, in Churchill, Toro, and Torpedo vitolas. They are the Final Blend Churchill (7×50), the Alec Bradley Overture Toro (6×50) and the Rocky Patel Cuban Blend Natural Torpedo (6×52). Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted in Churchills, Dark Natural, Figurados, Maduro, Natural, Tasty Tuesday, Toros, Torpedos

 

Cigar Sasquatch- La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Chisel

31 Jul

The strength of a honey bee is not in the sting but in the wing.

Bees appear to be aerodynamically incapable of flight. But they don’t let that bother them. They overcome gravity, not just with furious flapping of their undersized wings, but with a tiny, nearly imperceptible flourish at the peak of each wing stroke that shifts the balance of air pressure just enough to send them airborne.

There’s a lot of talk about the distinction between strength and power. Power comes from position or influence, strength comes from effort and sacrifice, from willpower and drive Read the rest of this entry »

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