Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cusano P1 Robusto

Cusano P1
Price: ~1.49 for a unit from a 5-pack of Cusano bundles
Size: 5X50
Filler: Dominican
Binder: Dominican
Wrapper: Connecticut Shade Maduro
Humidor Time: Directly from smoke shop to desktop humidor for about a day
Smoke Time: ~ 30-45 minutes
Drink: I did not, but I could see a red wine being an excellent match

Some Interesting Points on the Cigar:
  • The cigar is part of the bundle series that cusano puts out.
  • Bundles are sold 2o a piece and price at $52.99 @ Famous Smoke (the robusto size).
  • This bundle cigar is rated a 9.0 by Smoke Magazine.

Appearance and Construction:
This is one of those cigars that I would categorize as "rugged" looking. It had some very noticeable veins, and had a big "seam" of a vein that had the look like that was the spot where the cigar was sealed up by the roller, thus finishing the creation of the cigar. The construction itself, minus some of its appearance, was good for what one expects from a bundle line of cigars. I was impressed by just that alone, especially since the cigar is put out by Cusano cigars!

The cut was as clean as could hope for from a bundle cigar. Cold flavors were rich and hearty. Black coffee jumped out from this unlit cigar, and had some underlying peppery spice to it. Seemed like some sort of "corojo-maduro hybrid" to me.

First 3rd:
Body: Medium-Full.
Very thick, dense smoke from the draw. I detected a mildly peppery, sweet, hearty smoke. I could really see the parallels between this cigar and a steak dinner. Quite pleasing! The smoke scent was of what one would expect from a maduro: sweet natural-tobacco, and black coffee.
Finish was long and lingering. The finish had a syrupy-like weight to it, and was slow to dissipate. The finish still reminded me of that steak dinner!

Second 3rd:

Body: Medium-Full
Smoke was slightly more peppery than the first 3rd. I could also detect a more sweet, floral flavor. The finish was creamy, and as it dissipated had a dry-fruit flavor (maybe similar to raisins.)

Last 3rd:
Body: Full
Spicier, with a walnut-taste. Smoke was still rich and dense. The cigar to the touch was warm, so I attribute that to the more fuller, spicier smoke. At about a thumb-size amount of cigar left, I put my smoke down.

The Verdict:
The cigar gets an 8.5 from me. The Cusano P1 was a great cigar, almost ignoring the fact that it was from a bundle line. The burn was only slightly uneven during the duration of the smoke, and the ash retained its shape very well and stayed attached for about as long as I allowed it to. I can therefore say that this bundle cigar had better construction than just by its appearance. I would have to agree with Smoke Magazine's 9.0 rating. It was a great cigar and I would recomend it to anyone that likes fuller cigars and is someone that isn't scared of the quality of dirt-cheap bundled cigars!

Until Next Time,
Keep Lighting Up

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Carlos Torano Signature Collection Toro

Carlos Torano Sign. Toro

Price: ~$2.95, but most likey cost much more for a single (single unit from a box of 25 from Famous Smoke Shop)
Size: 6x50
Filler: Dominican Cubano Ligero, Nicaraguan Habano Ligero
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Wrapper: Sun Grown Brazillian Maduro
Humidor Time: ~ 3 months
Smoke Time: ~ 1 hr 15 mins

The Carlos Torano cigar company is a family-owned cigar company that was started by Don Santiago Torano when he moved from Spain to Cuba in 1916. The company began as Torano & Co. and was mainly a buyer and reseller of tobacco. In the 1930's, the company bought farms and became tobacco growers. The farms main crop was cigar wrapper leaves. After the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Carlos relocated the business to the Dominican Republic, and was attributed with being the first to introduce Cuban seed tobacco to the region. Today, the Carlos Torano cigar company focuses more on producing cigars out of its Honduran and Nicaraguan Factories rather than growing tobacco.

Appearance and Construction:
Dark veins, chocolate-brown appearance. The cigar was adorned with an excellent silky-smooth wrapper. Cigar felt tightly packed.

Scent of wrapper was peppery; scent of the foot was earthy, hay-like.
Cold draw flavors were cocoa from the Brazillian wrapper and earth. Coffee flavors were also noticeable. The cigar seemed to have a tight draw.

First 3rd:
Immediately from the first draw you are hit with a full, peppery spice. The spice lingers around in the back of the throat for a bit, but eventually goes away. If you do not like fuller-bodied cigars, then I would have to say already that you should not pick this cigar up! The other base flavors that make up the cigar are the standard cocoa and coffee you get from Brazillian and maduro wrappers. Also the earthy hay flavor from the pre-draw was present, but wasn't too prevalent. The finish was rich and left your mouth feeling clean, and also somewhat dry. I would recommend having a beverage while smoking this cigar (now I know to have a drink the next time I come across this cigar). The aroma is robust and will give the area around the cigar a pleasant sweet, natural tobacco scent.

Second 3rd:
Not much differnt from the first 3rd. The spice has been intensifing since the first 3rd however. If you have sores on the roof of your mouth, then you may not like all the peppery spice. The ash was a nice dark gray held its shape for about an inch or so.

Last 3rd:
If you thought that the peppery spice was going to end here, you are sadly mistaken. This is the point in the cigar that is the most peppery and full bodied. The cigar does get hot quickly, so take your time smoking the last 3rd as to not create too much tobacco bite on your tounge. The cigar, at least for me anyway, will get to the point that the spice mixed in with the heat from the cigar will make for a rather unpleseant smoke in the last 3rd, so that's when you know that its a good place to put the cigar down for good.

The Verdict:
This cigar definitely gets a 9 out of 10 for me. It was just steller! Smoke Magazine rated the cigar a 4.7/5, which is their highest rating ever (I agree with their rating 100%). The only compliant I have is some of the intense spice. Even though I had the cigar in my humidor for as long as I did, I am sure that the cigar would more than likely mellow out with more humidor time. The flavors and the aroma of the cigar just reminded me what cigar smoking is suppose to be like. If I ever run into this cigar and the price is good, there would no way I would miss the opportunity to smoke it again.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hoyo de Tradicion Epicure

Hoyo de Tradicion

Price: ~$4.07
Size: 5 1/4x50
Filler: Honduran, Dominican, and Nicaraguan
Binder: Connecticut
Wrapper: Honduran Rosado
Body: Medium-to-full
Humidor Time: ~ 2 months
Smoking Time: Between 1 hr 30 min-1 hr 45 min, depending on how one smokes

The Hoyo de Tradicion is produced by the Hoyo de Monterrey line. Hoyo de Monterrey is one of the oldest and most respected brand names in the cigar industry. The company was started by José Gener in Cuba and began producing cigars in 1960. The Hoyo de Tradicion line was created to honor the rich history of Hoyo de Monterrey.

Appearance and Construction:
Dark, silky-smooth wrapper with small veins and no visible blemishes. Foot of cigar had a small, maybe a centimeter long, hole were there was no tobacco, but that wasn’t a major concern whatsoever. The feel of the cigar was wasn’t too soft, but it wasn’t rock solid either. The cigar gave way some with a light squeeze, so I was to believe the cigar was in good smoking order.

Sent was of hay, earth, slight pepper
Chocolate, earthy- hay flavor, clean pre-smoke

First 3rd:

Immediately after the first puff the flavor was reminiscent of the pre-smoke: earthy, hay, and there was a slight pepper. The burn was nice and slow, so I knew I was in for a while of smoking. The finish of the cigar lasted only a couple of seconds. The body was medium, dancing around full after 2 or 3 puffs. The smoke had clean, smooth texture to it.

Second 3rd:

The body started full at the second 3rd. The hay flavor was more predominant as the second 3rd’s flavor. I was surprised that the cigar actually went to a mild-to-medium flavor after about 1-1 ½ inches of the second 3rd. The cigar seemed to be more heavily packed, or at least the draw was harder at this point, and took more to get a good amount of smoke. After 4 or 5 draws, the cigar managed to open up. This could have just been the particular cigar that I had, so I can’t definitively say this is a universal problem or not amongst other cigars from this line. The cigar was more in the mild range by the end of the second 3rd.

Final 3rd:

The body was full for the duration of the cigar. The final 3rd had a surprising floral flavor to it, along with the initial earthy-hay flavors. The cigar’s tight draw came back. It wasn’t like drinking a thick shake out of a straw bad, but it was nonetheless difficult to get a good draw. The cigar wasn’t burning real even, so I had to keep correcting it with my butane lighter. At about 1-2 inches remaining, I called the cigar quits.

The Verdict:
The cigar gets 7 out of 10 for me. Cigar Aficionado gave the Hoyo de Tradicion line a 91 rating, which I’m not sure that it deserved that rating. In my book, a rating in the 80’s would have been good, but a 91 seems a bit steep. If you think that a smooth, earthy, slightly floraly smoke sounds like your cup of tea and want a cheap cigar with a good rating/reputation surrounding it, than the Hoyo de Tradicion Epicure is the cigar to explore.

Until Next Time,
Keep Lighting Up

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Anti-Tobacco Legislation in the United States

It's seems that in today's society more and more of our personal freedoms are under increasing attack. Seat belt laws are being enacted by almost every state in the county, using cell phones while driving is coming under fire, smoking while children are in the car (something that I understand, but government should not be trying to regulate such things), amongst other outrageous laws that Congress wants to enact are ruining citizens freedom of choice.

I can understand why smoking bans sound good to the government: they help to prevent ordinary citizens that are non-smokers from being around people in public that are smokers. But what if you are someone that does not drink? Do you think that there should be a ban on alcohol to prevent people from becoming drunk and disorderly? Looked what happened when the 18th amendment of the Constitution was passed in 1919 banning the sale and consumption of alcohol. This newly ratified piece of the Constitution basically led to an underground movement all over the country that drank illegally, caused people to make alcohol in their bathtubs that was poisonous and lethal, and led to a whole crime network that lasted until the law was abolished in 1933. I don't quite think that a mass amount of smoking laws would create such a radical movement as alcohol, but at the same time I believe that smokers would seriously protest their rights to be allowed to smoke.

Currently, smoking laws have just about banned all smoking in public places and even places outdoors in a lot of states. Cigar bars in this country, especially in Boston, are coming under serious heat. The health director for Boston's belief is that closing down the cigar bars will help to "de-normalize" smoking and encourage people from taking up smoking. My problem is that smoking should be allowed in cigar bars. That is what cigar bars are built for, people that want to smoke cigars. If you are not a smoker and go into a cigar bar and becomes bothered by the smoke, then that is your fault. You went into that establishment knowing what was going on inside the bar. There are places for non smokers, so it is only fair that there should be a place that smokers can go. It's not fair that Boston's health director is singling out tobacco use as the main health concern in the city. Personally, any kind of disease you can get from alcohol is just as bad or even worse than from consuming tobacco.

The CRA, or Cigar Rights of America, is an organization that is trying to combat the ensuing amount of smoking bans in this nation. The organization's belief is that smokers should have just as much the right to choose to smoke as non smokers do to not smoke. Smoking is a personal choice, and that these personal choices should be protected. The best way the organization advices to combat anti-smoking legistlation is to contact your representative via email. Handwritten letters get even more attention by politicians because someone took the time and effort to sit down and write out a letter about an issue that is important to them. The CRA's website is http://www.cigarrights.org/, so go check them out tell them that you support there cause.

The last thing I want to metion is the Tobacconist Preservation Act. If this act were passed, then all people that work at smoke shops would be allowed to smoke on the job. This protects a tobacconist do there job. Sometimes tobacconists need to sample there products, and this act would help them in doing and keeping their job. If we don't allow smoking in smoke shops, where else are we to legally smoke? It only makes sense to me that smoking in smoke shops remain a legal procedure. You can sign a petiton for the act at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/the-tobacconist-preservation-act.

I hope that this country starts to realize how many personal freedoms they are taking away from honest citizens that just want to relax and smoke with other buddys out in public. Please contact your representatives and senators and tell them to lay off the smoking bans. If you do not smoke, then at least protect other's rights.

Until Next Time,
Keeping Lighting Up

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cutters and Lighting Tools

Ok, Erik is back for the second time today. I'm still new at the whole blog thing, so bare with me. I'm trying to come with things to write about. While I wait for the snow to come into Massachusetts and hopefully shut down all of my activities for tomorrow (*crosses fingers*), I have thought of a topic that I am sure has come up on a number of cigar sites, forums, and blogs: cigar cutters and the methods of lighting a cigar. I will talk about each of the various methods used to cut a cigar and light a cigar and will tell you what I use and why I use my said method. Let's begin.

Cutting a cigar is the first step one needs to take in order to smoke a cigar. Otherwise, how do you expect to draw the smoke into your mouth? It is critical that before I even mention the different types of cutters out there that I explain to you how to cut a cigar.
Cigar Cap
As you can see in the image, every cigar has a cap. A cigar's cap is what keeps the wrapper from unraveling itself. You can tell where the cap is by identifying the lines on the head of a cigar. Once you find the line that defines where the cap is, all you have to do is cut just above that as to not cut more than needed. No one wants to have a cigar fall apart on them due to poor cutting!

The guillotine cutter is used to take an entire section off of the head of the cigar, just right above the cap. What's left on the head of the cigar is the tobacco of the cap of the cigar. That would be where the cigar will be smoked from.

Guillotine Cutter

The V-Cut does not remove an entire section off of the head of the cigar. As its name says, the cutter will cut a v shape into the cigar's head, giving the smoker adequate draw and also be good for people that either don't wish to take that much off of the cigar or want less smoke volume.


This style of cutter is much more creative, in a sense, than any of the other cutter styles. With cigar scissors, you are able to open up the head of the cigar as much or as little as desired. This method can help with tight draw issues and can produce an overall more favorable draw out the cigar than other cutter types.

A punch literally punches a hole into the head of the cigar. This helps when you want to smoke a fuller bodied smoke but do not want to have so much of the flavor coming out at you. I find that the punch is extremely good when you don't have scissors available and have a cigar that is too fat for other cutter styles.

Lighting Tools:
First and foremost about lighting tools is the idea that the cleanest burning flame is desired for lighting a cigar. Disposable lighters, Zippos, and paper matches are big no-nos because the oils from these flames will tamper with the flavors of the cigar.

When lighting a cigar, it is a good idea to toast the foot, or the bottom of the cigar first. This simply insures that your cigar will burn even and will not have patches where the there is unlit tobacco. When toasting the foot, remember that the idea is that you want light in a circular motion around the foot to get create a brick red char. Once that is achieved you can either put the cigar in your mouth and draw while lighting in a circular motion, or blow on the foot to get the cigar to burn evenly. Once the foot is a gray color all the way around, the cigar is lit. Now onto the tools that are used to light cigars.

Matches are the classic way to light a cigar. Some even say that matches are the only, proper way to light a cigar. Wooden matches are the only kind of matches that should be used to light a cigar, because the wood will help to preserve the flavors of the cigar. When lighting a match, you want the cellophane to burn off before rolling the foot of the cigar with a match. If you do not have wooden matches around, here's a good tip: you can light a piece of Spanish ceder that comes in some cigar tubes and light the cigar that way.

Butane Torch Lighter:
The flame that is produced from a butane torch is very clean burning, so none of the cigar's flavor will be tampered with. I am a firm believer that it is easier to use a butane torch to toast and light a cigar. Butane torches come in single, double, and triple flames. Butane lighters require to only be filled with a butane fuel, and not the liquid fuel Zippos use. The cheapest option in butane lighters is to go to Wal Mart and pick up a Ronson butane lighter for $3.

Personal Preferences:
When I am preparing myself for a nice smoke, I usually pull out a guillotine cutter and a butane torch. I like the guillotine cut because it allows the cigar to give off the most amount of flavorable smoke possible. When lighting the cigar, the butane torch just makes sense because I am able to get a much more even burn with less time worrying about a match going out or the match dying out too fast. Plus, butane torches are windproof!

That's it for this post, so I hope you will read this post and make the correct decision on how to perpare you cigar for smoking in your style!
Until Next Time,
Keep Lighting Up

La Aurora Barrel Aged Robusto

La Aurora Barrel Aged
Filler: Nicaraguan, Corojo, and Piloto Cubano

Dominican Corojo oscuro (also known as Maduro)

Body: Medium-t0-Full

The La Aurora brand is supposedly the oldest maker of cigars in the Dominican Republic. All of the tobacco that is used in La Aurora cigars is aged inside of rum barrels for a least a year made from oak, which you can sense in the taste of the cigar during the smoke and even in the pre-draw. The idea behind using barrels to age the tobacco of La Aurora cigars is the thought that they bring the tobacco blend to their peak flavor profile.

Appearance and Construction
The wrapper of the cigar was dark brown, but not as dark as black. It had a reddish-tan tinge to it. The cigar looked like it had several large veins in it and had minor, almost pimple-like, dots that adorned the cigar, but nothing to be concerned with. Overall the cigar did not look like it's wrapper was damaged, so good construction. It seemed tightly packed, but that could have just been the particular cigar that I had. The band of the cigar looks modeled after one of the rum barrels it was aged in.

The Smoke:
In latter posts, I'll try to write a more detailed review of my experience while smoking cigars. For now, I'll give you a general overview of what the flavors of the cigar were and my overall thoughts on the smoke.

After several failed attempts with my crappy white-tipped Cigars International matches, I got the cigar to light and immediately noticed the flavor was a mild spice which was in the medium-body range. Just like I stated earlier, you could really taste the oaky nodes, almost as the main theme, mixed with the slight spice and an almost undetectable amount of sweet. The smoke had a supprisingly dry, salty flavor (if that at all makes sense). It was more like in the aging process someone put 1-2 drops of vanilla on the tobacco, it was that slight. The finish of the cigar lasted around 10-20 seconds max, almost making you want to smoke faster than normal. As the cigar was smoked closer and closer to the band, the spice kept intensifying and at this point the slight vanilla sweetness was nonexistent. Towards the end of the smoke the predominant flavors were a peppery spice and the oak flavor came through as the main feature in the cigar. There were leathery nodes in the smoke as well. The flavors of the cigar kept me smacking my lips the entire time I smoked, the same way that you smack your lips while eating a peanut butter sandwich. I finally decided that the weather in Massachusetts did not want me to continue to smoke the last 1 or 2 inches of the cigar, so I put down for good knowing that I just had a real treat of a cigar.

The Verdict:
I enjoyed the La Aurora Barrel Aged Rubosto very much. When rating the cigar out of 10, I give the cigar a 7.5 out of 10 for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I've had much better cigars that were in the medium range than this cigar. I also tend to like more creamy and smooth cigars, simlar to the Perdomo Lot 23 Natural. The lack of a smooth, creamy smoke did not detrack from the experience, it's just a personal perference. I think that the flavors of this cigar are an aquired taste, which is another reason I don't rate the cigar as high as I do. So to wrap up the review, great smoke that I recomend you try if you like the flavor profile and want to try something cheap from your local smoke shop!