Wednesday, January 29, 2014

History Series: Padron Cigars

http://www.coronacigar.com/Padron/
 
When you hear the name Padron, it congers up thoughts of great memories; sitting around with the guys at the local smoke shop swapping stories and smoking one of the many cigars that Padron has to offer. While the Padron we know today has only been around since the mid 1960's, their story starts much earlier.

Demaso Padrón, Jose Orlando Padrón's grandfather, immigrated to Cuba in the mid 1800's from Spain. As a young boy, Demaso worked in the tobacco fields to make a living. The wages were quite minimal with the elder Padron only earning pennies a day for his back-breaking work. It's here that the Padron Cigar story really begins. Demaso Padron began to grow his knowledge of tobacco. He also managed to save every penny he earned, outside of what he needed for food and clothing. Eventually, the Padron family purchased their very first tobacco farm from their meager savings, in the Pinar del Río region of Cuba, Las Obas. As their farm began to produce high quality tobacco, the market demand grew, and they bought several more farms in the surrounding areas. One particular farm was in an area called, Piloto. It's from this farm that Jose took his company name from: Piloto Cigars.

As the Padron factories and farms grew, so did the family. Jose Orlando Padrón was born in 1926 in the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba. As a boy, Jose began to learn all the various aspects of tobacco farming. As he grew, so did his knowledge, and eventually Jose was running the family farms and factories. Then one fateful day in 1961, Jose and his family found their farms taken over and nationalized by Fidel Castro. Jose fled Cuba and headed for Spain. From Spain, Jose made his move and headed for the U.S, where he ended up in Miami.

Once in Miami, Jose took a job working for the government helping Cuban refugees. For this he was paid $60 a month. Shortly after, a friend of Jose's gave him a hammer and he began to work as a carpenter. After months of work, Jose was able to save $600, which was just enough to launch his cigar business. Jose hired a torcedor, who rolled cigars for Jose in the traditional Cuban style. With this one employee, Jose was able to make two hundred cigars per day and began to supply the locals with premium hand-rolled cigars.

Eventually, Jose became friends with a business man who had a factory and farm in Nicaragua. He asked Jose to come to Nicaragua to inspect his tobacco for quality. Soon after, Jose traveled to Nicaragua and he was so impressed with their tobacco that he started to exclusively use it in his cigars. However, due to the inability of the farm being able to supply him with the amounts of tobacco he needed, Jose decided to move his operation to Estli, Nicaragua in 1970.

The late 60's and 70's were a turbulent time in Nicaragua. Political unrest was rampant and riots and violence was the norm. The Padron factory became a casualty of the unrest and was burnt to the ground. Determined, Jose found a new location and rebuilt his factory in Nicaragua, and built a second one in Honduras. With this accomplished, Jose thought his troubles were behind him. Although, the 1980's U.S embargo on Nicaragua brought new troubles for Jose. He found himself scrambling to export all his warehoused product to Tampa, before the embargo took place. While the embargo was in place, Jose sold cigars from his stockpile and then returned to Nicaragua and resumed operations, after the embargo was lifted.

Today, the brand Padron Cigars is recognized as one of the premier names in cigars. Jose Orlando Padrón and his son, Jorge Padrón, run the Padron cigar business. Jorge currently serves as the company’s president and is taking the steps to move in as the Director of the Padron family business. Their farms in Nicaragua continue to grow and produce some of the finest tobacco available. Their rolling and storage facilities cover more than 75,000 square feet of space, and they store enough tobacco to make 25 million cigars. They export more than four million cigars per year, and truly are recognized as the standard in the premium cigar world.


Friday, November 8, 2013

History Series: Avo Cigars


http://www.coronacigar.com/Avo/

Avo Uvezian, is known to us as the maker of some of the finest premium cigars, but to many, Avo is much more. Born in 1926 in Beirut, Avo Uvezian is an accomplished and highly respected jazz pianist. Both Avo's parents were musically inclined. His father was a composer and conductor of an orchestra and his mother was an accomplished singer. As a young boy, Avo traveled the country performing all over the Middle East. Eventually, he joined a boys group called, “Liban Boys”. They traveled the country and eventually received a contract to play in a Baghdad hotel. From there, they received an invitation to play for the Shah of Iran, where Avo became the personal pianist for the Shah. Then in 1947, Avo was able to travel to the U.S and become a legalized citizen. This allowed Avo to attend school at the prestigious, Julliard School of Music in New York, where he studied classical piano as well as music composition.

However, The Korean War forced Avo to put his music career on hold, as he was drafted into the infantry. One day while playing the piano, one of Avo's officers over-heard him and was blown away by his talent. It was not long after Avo was taken out of the infantry and placed into band training. When he arrived in Korea, Avo play at the Officers Club where he received accolades from all his superiors for his musical talents. In 1953, Avo was honorably discharged and was free once again to pursue his dream of music. Throughout the 1950's and 60's, Avo played with all the great jazz musicians of the period. Avo was not just limited to his talents at the piano, he wrote songs, one of his finest being, “Broken Guitar” which just so happened to be the early version of "Strangers in the Night," which Frank Sinatra recorded and released in the mid 1960's.

Avo's talents went well beyond music, as he was a businessman at heart. In the early 1980's, he spent some time in Switzerland where his daughter was christened. While celebrating with a friend, he bought several Cuban cigars and was disgusted by the price. During this same time period, Avo traveled to Puerto Rico where he opened his own restaurant and piano bar. It's at this point that Avo truly discovered his love of fine cigars and began to offer his own Avo hand-rolled cigars to his guests. They quickly became so popular that he decided he needed to move beyond just simply offering small quantities of hand rolled cigars at his restaurant. He needed a manufacturing facility that could produce his premium hand rolled cigars; cigars worthy of bearing the Avo name.

His journey took him to the Dominican Republic where for two years he searched before finally meeting Hendrik Kelner. In his words, the partnership with Hendrik was, "Success in perfect harmony". Avo's first cigar line was released in 1988, in New York City.  

Just like in his music career, Avo was a perfectionist. His career launch into cigars was and is no different. He first and foremost chose only the finest tobacco for his cigars. This paid off in a huge way. By the mid 1990's, the Avo cigar brand was selling millions of cigars per year and was receiving high praise from the cigar industry. Today, his recipe for success has never changed. His cigars are still highly sought after and continue to receive the highest industry marks. With lines like his Avo Lounge Edition, Avo 787, and Avo LE 85th Anniversary cigar, it's plain to see that Avo Uvezian has not only committed himself to his craft, but is committed to producing only the finest premium cigars that we have all come to know and love, and they are simply called, Avo.

Order Avo Cigars Here

Monday, November 4, 2013

History Series: Ashton Cigars

http://www.coronacigar.com/Ashton/

The name Ashton Cigars is synonymous with quality, craftsmanship, and premium cigars. It was founded in 1985 by Robert Levin, a second generation tobacconist. Ashton Cigars has grown to be one of the finest cigar brands in the world. Mr. Levin got his start in the industry as not only a tobacconist, but also worked as an importer. After years of obtaining insightful knowledge about the industry, Robert decided it was time for him to launch his own brand. Ashton Cigars was born.

Taking all of the knowledge that he had learned as a retailer and importer, Robert sought out a manufacturer who could produce the quality cigars that he wanted to create. His journey for this quest took him to the Fuente Family. Seeing the quality and consistency of cigars that the Fuente family was producing, Robert quickly settled on them and began the long process of creating the first line of cigars to bare the Ashton name.

Today, Ashton Cigars has grown and now is offered in six very different blends. Some of which come in up to thirteen different sizes. Ashton Cigars has gone on to produce a vast array of cigars, one of those is the Cabinet Selection. It's a vintage limited-edition cigar that has undergone an extensive aging process that lasts as long as five years. In 1999, Ashton unveiled its VSG line (Virgin Sun Grown) that is full-bodied and loaded with a bouquet of flavors. Cigar insider has given this line of cigars numerous 90 plus ratings, making it one of the most successful cigar lines from Ashton.

Then in 2003, the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol was released. It has received high marks for its quality craftsmanship and premium tobacco. On its release, Cigar Insider gave it a 90 rating. This continued the 90 plus rating streak that Ashton Cigars continues to receive to this day. The cigar features a gorgeous African Cameroon wrapper; it's the first to do so in the company's history. This cigar is a collaboration of two industry giants, the The Fuentes and The Meerapfels families.

For its 20th Anniversary, Ashton released the Ashton Estate Sun Grown, a rare exclusive limited-edition cigar blended by Carlos Fuente Jr. The wrapper for this cigar is grown on the Chateau de la Fuente farm and is a one-of-a-kind.

Since the inception of the Ashton brand and their partnership with the Fuente family, Ashton Cigars has partnered with another industry giant, Don Pepin Garcia to create the San Cristobal cigar line. This cigar line has received high marks from industry leaders as well as from the cult following it has obtained.

It's clear to see that with a dedication to quality, flavor, and craftsmanship, Ashton Cigars is truly one of the premier cigar companies in the industry today. Their premium lines of cigars have truly entered the halls of cigar history. For the past 27 years, we've enjoyed the pleasures of smoking the fruits of hard labor by Mr. Robert Levin.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Experience the Corona Gold Series

http://www.coronacigar.com/Corona-Gold-Series/

Today, we have several cigars from Corona Cigar Co. We are going to look at their Gold series which comes in a Natural, Sun Grown, Maduro, and Dos Capa. I will be smoking the Churchill size 7” x 50, for all of the reviews.

http://www.coronacigar.com/cigar-brands/Corona-Gold-Series-Natural/

Corona Gold Series Natural

Pre-light:Glancing at the cigar you will notice the wrapper, which has a beautiful satin finish that looks almost perfect. Slight veining is visible, but the appearance of the wrapper seems to be seamless. The cigar has a slight sweet hay aroma. The band features a white background with gold lettering and logo. It's simple and very classy. The cigar uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, and a binder and filler from the Dominican.

Light & First Third: Using a cedar match, I couldn’t help but notice how easily the cigar lit. The draw is perfect and allowed for a nice start to the cigar. Notes of dry hay and hints of white pepper are fresh on the palette from the start. As mentioned, the cigar is drawing perfectly and releasing beautiful plumes of white smoke.  It's moving from more of a mild flavored cigar to a stronger tone of pepper with tones of roasted walnuts.

Second Third: The cigar profile begins to really pick up during the second third of the smoke. In addition to the flavors already noted, I began to notice tones of fruit. They are light, but are found lurking in the background. It's quite enjoyable and adds to the cigar tremendously. It continues to produce vast amounts of aromatic white smoke and the burn has been perfect.

Final Third: The final third begins with a flavorful bit of baking spices on the palette. It's a new flavor that I didn’t notice in any portions of the cigar up to this point.  The cigar continues on with a core of hay, pepper, and spice for the remaining portion of the smoke. It is mild-bodied, but has lots of flavor characteristics that make it very intriguing. It's definitely not a typical profile that you would expect from a cigar with a Natural wrapper.

Final Thoughts: This is an excellent cigar that features a nice flavor profile. The draw and burn are exceptional and the changing flavor profile keeps the cigar interesting. It's an excellent everyday cigar that I would smoke without hesitation.

http://www.coronacigar.com/cigar-brands/Corona-Gold-Series-Sun-Grown/

Corona Gold Series Sun Grown

Pre-Light: This is a beautiful looking cigar to say the least. The Sun Grown wrapper is rich looking with a nice oily patina to it. The cigar has some slight veining and is crafted in the Cuban tradition with bunching of the fillers, and then topped off with a triple cap. A premium Habano 2000 wrapper is used, while a recipe of Dominican fillers are used to complete the blend profile.

Light & First Third: Lovely notes of cream and sweet cedar are noted on the start. The burn is cool and smooth right out of the gate with lots of blue-white smoke coming off the foot. A smooth profile that's mild-bodied is consistent throughout the first third. I can't wait to see what the rest of the cigar has to offer!

Second Third: The second third has notes of citrus. It brings a nice touch to the cigars flavor profile, and it's sitting well on my palette. Next, I began to notice some overtones of oak, with a touch on the back of black pepper. It's not overpowering, but a great change to the cigar. Also, at this point, the burn, draw, and smoke have been superb. It's an impressive cigar that's featured a cool burn.

Final Third: The profile picks up a bit in the final third with notes of earth showing through, and bits of leather on the back. The sweet cedar is still in the profile, along with tones of baking spices. Overall, the cigar has a mild to medium-bodied profile, and has been consistent throughout. A bit of spice sits on the back of the tongue, which gives the cigar a slightly stronger tone. It finishes up with notes of hazelnut and dried apricots.

Final Thoughts: I'm a sucker for Sun-Grown wrappers and this is no exception. Great construction, nice flavoring, and a sweet aromatic smoke make this an instant winner, in my book. I definitely would give this a rating of “Must Buy!” This is an excellent smoke that can easily rival the best of any everyday cigar on the market.

http://www.coronacigar.com/cigar-brands/Corona-Gold-Series-Dos-Capas/

Corona Gold Series Dos Capa

Pre-Light: The Corona Gold Series Dos Capa is another magnificent looking cigar. It features a dual wrapper that has a matte finish and smells of earth and dark chocolate. The construction is firm and feels solid. Like the rest of the cigar line, it's rolled "entubado" and finished off with a triple cap. Also, like the rest of the Corona Gold Series, it uses a blend of Dominican tobacco for both the binder and fillers. Let's dive in and see what we find.

Light & First Third: A rich earthy overtone is ripe on the palette from the start. The flavors that I'm picking up are that of leather, grass, and bark. The draw is smooth and the burn is crisp and clean. While I'm getting a lot of rich dark tones, the cigar itself is mild to medium-bodied, at this point. It's been an excellent start to the cigar. Now on to the second third!

Second Third: The second third starts with notes of green pepper and coffee. The cigar has moved to more medium-bodied with the flavors picking up somewhat. A bit further in, and I've noticed the green pepper fade into the back, and the coffee mellows out. Delectable tones of spices, leather, and wood begin to combine for a flavor burst of premium goodness. It finishes off with notes of coffee, pepper, spices, and earth.

Final Thoughts: This is a great medium-bodied cigar that's loaded with a rich flavor profile. The double wrapper gives the cigar a great depth. It releases vast amounts of dark earthy notes laden with coffee and spice. It's excellent construction, and large plumes of aromatic smoke are all added bonuses. This is a must-try, if you love cigars!

http://www.coronacigar.com/cigar-brands/Corona-Gold-Series-Maduro/

Corona Gold Series Maduro  

Pre-Light: The wrapper used is Oscuro Maduro has a rustic look to it, along with a nice matte finish. The color on the wrapper is a dark chocolate and it shows very little veining with several tiny bumps. The cigar smells of earth, chocolate, and coffee which creates a beautiful aroma. I'm looking forward to lighting this one up...

Light & First Third: The cigar starts off with a smooth sweet note, and with a touch of earth and wood in the background. I was expecting some really harsh earthy notes, but was surprised to find the cigar so mild and smooth. I worked the cigar a bit longer and have about a one-inch of ash on the foot. At this point, it begins to take on a dark earthy profile with lots of black coffee on the palette. This is a pretty consistent flavor found throughout the first third.

Second Third: Much like the end of the first third, the cigar continues on with dark coffee and earth. I found additional notes of leather, bark, and some undertones of spice. None of the flavors found to this point have been harsh or overpowering. It has been mild to medium-bodied, full-flavored, and a great smoke, so far. Nearing the final portion on the second third, the notes of baking spices pick up. The cigar is beginning to move more towards a full-bodied profile.

Final Third: Roasted walnuts start things out on the final third. This is followed up with more coffee and spices. The smoke has been superb with an excellent draw and dead even burn. The construction is great with the cigar consistently holding a one to two-inch ash on the foot. I nubbed the cigar out and it finished consistent with the rest of the cigar profile. It has lots of earth and coffee, with sporadic notes of leather, wood, and spice.

Final Thoughts: This is a great everyday cigar that I would definitely have as an afternoon smoke. It's well constructed with a good flavor profile from start to finish. If you like Maduro cigars, this would be an excellent choice.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Monte by Montecristo Cigars


Today, we're looking at a new cigar from Montecristo, called Monte. As many of you know, Montecristo has a long storied history. You can check the cigar history section of the blog for a more in depth look at the brand and its history. The Monte is quite the impressive cigar, so let's dive in and take a look.

Pre-light:
The cigar uses an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that's quite impressive. I couldn’t find any flaws in the wrapper, and it has a nice oily patina finish to it. A double binder from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic encases a blend of long fillers from the Dominican. The cigar feels firm in the hand, and I haven't noted any soft spots in the cigar.

Light and First Third:
I'm smoking the 6x60 size and it lit quite well. I used an extra long cedar match and in no time smoke was bellowing off the foot. I was greeted with a nice profile of baking spices right out of the gate. They were strong, but not overpowering and very pleasing on the palette. The second wave revealed lots of nice floral notes. They were light, but prevalent, and notes of sweet prunes were found alongside it. Towards the end of the first third, the cigar turns to a more peppery profile with cinnamon tones in the background.

Second Third:
The second third of the cigar continues on with a light peppery backbone with touches of spice. The cigar is smoking very smooth with lots of smoke still coming off the cigar. The draw has been great and the burn is nice and even. I'm attributing the aromatic spices to the Dominican Olor binder that’s used. It's very flavorful and adds to the cigar profile quite nicely. The Nicaraugan Corojo, which is the second binder used, is adding lots of depth to the cigar with a nice peppery aftertaste.

Final Third:
The cigar is a break from the regular Montecristo lines. The Monte, to this point, is very robust with lots of complexity and flavor. The cigar has performed perfectly in every category, as you would expect from a Montecristo cigar. At this point, I’m picking up notes of nuts, spices, and a touch of orange peel. The peppery notes are still showing through, but are much more balanced in the final third of the smoke. The Monte finishes out with a refined, rich spice and a black pepper overtone.

Final Thoughts:
This is an impressive smoke that's equally balanced from start-to-finish. It's an excellent cigar if you're looking for a mid-afternoon to late night smoke. The cigar has loads of flavor that keep you intrigued from the get-go. I'm adding the Monte to my new personal favorite list, and it will become a regular in my humidor. While it breaks from the traditional Montecristos, it's a definite winner and you should enjoy it, if you like robust flavorful cigars. It's a must-smoke cigar in my book. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Order Your Monte by Montecristo Here!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Rocky Patel Royale Sumatra



Today, we are looking at the Rocky Patel Royale. Known for being one of the hottest cigar brands on the market, Rocky Patel Cigars continues to amaze us by producing outstanding cigars year after year. I'm smoking the Toro box pressed size for this review. Let's check it out together...

Pre-light:
The cigar has a sweet tone, along with nice hints of coffee. The sumatra wrapper is dark with a slight oily leather finish. After a quick check, there are no soft spots found in the cigar. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian Sumatra, the binder is Nicaraguan, and the fillers are triple ligero from Nicaragua. The wrapper is securely rolled, as the seams are very hard to see. A Cuban style touch is added with the triple cap completing a very nice looking cigar.

Characteristics and Flavors:
Lighting up, it's evident that a substantial amount of Ligero leaf tobacco has been used. The start of the cigar is marked with rich earth and coffee notes; hints of pepper are in the background. Large wafts of smoke are easily produced, thanks to the smooth airy draw. The flavors are not harsh in anyway; actually, they are very refined. While I'm not a particular fan of the box pressed shape, I have to say the cigar feels fairly comfortable in the mouth. The ash forming on the foot is a dark gray with splotches of black showing through. Overall, it's been an excellent start to the cigar.

Entering the second third of the cigar, hints of caramel start to emerge. The RP Royale has consistently remained very smooth. With the vast amounts of Ligero used, I wouldn’t expect such a smooth flavor profile. Whether this has to do with the type of Ligero or any fermenting, I'm not sure. Normally, I would expect a very spicy and peppery backbone, but so far the flavors are very mild to medium-bodied with just touches of both coming through. The core remains with an earth and coffee backbone. The ash is holding strong at four inches.

The final third features a stronger earthy tone. Dry walnuts are found with the coffee notes remaining. The strength picks up some, giving off a medium-bodied overtone. The burn has been perfect, after the initial light, I haven’t had to touch the cigar at all. Also, the draw has been spot on. It's airy, light, and pleasant to smoke.

Final thoughts:
This is another great cigar from Rocky Patel. It's very consistent, has a great flavor profile, and is of excellent quality. The Royale would work well as an afternoon smoke, or if you prefer, an after dinner cigar. It doesn’t knock you off your feet, but it gives you some strength with an excellent flavor.

Order Your Rocky Patel Royale Sumatra Cigars

Friday, September 27, 2013

History Series: Acid Cigars by Drew Estate


When you hear these two words: Acid or Drew Estate, you think of two very important people: Jonathan Drew and Marvin Samual. These two exemplify what hard work, passion, and dedication can bring you. Both Jonathan and Marvin attended college together and formed a friendship that would later become business partners. In 1995, they formed that business partner relationship and opened a small kiosk in the original World Trade Tower building. They sold cigars to the various business men and woman working there. This modest start proved to be at best shaky for them, but they forged ahead and eventually launched their own cigar line called, La Vieja Habana. Their line proved to sell quite well out of their kiosk.

In 1997, Jonathan and Marvin attended the yearly RTDA show where they were warmly greeted by industry insiders. They received high accolades for the Vieja and came away from the show invigorated and with renewed hope. It also made them realize that they needed to start their own production facility in Nicaragua. After borrowing money, Marvin and Drew purchased a facility in Nicaragua and dove in head-first. Jonathan moved to Nicaragua and began immersing himself in the craft that he loved. Everything from the growing and cultivating process to fermentation and rolling. Jonathan learned from the ground floor up. He slept on an old dilapidated mattress in the facility and was the first one hard at work every morning. Then of course, there was the whole running of the facility that JD had to learn. Everything from hiring and overseeing the rollers, to finding the perfect tobacco.

It's during this time that the ACID brand was born. With a vast array of botanical oils, spices, and herbs available in South America, JD began experimenting with infusing these natural ingredients into the tobacco. Wine was also added and the result was a truly unique line of cigars. In the early part of 1999, JD returned to New York with his new blends. To accomplish what would prove to be a successful line of cigars, a third element was added. An aspiring artist named, Scott “ACID” Chester who worked in whats called the DUMBO scene. This was a mixture of graffiti, urban, and industrial design made for unique packaging and never before seen art in the cigar industry. Marvin and JD launched the ACID line at the 1999 RTDA show in Las Vegas, NV. The ACID line proved to be an industry hit in the flavored botanical cigar realm.

The Acid cigar lines have gone on to become some of the most popular cigar lines for all those who enjoy rich botanical, herb, and spice laden cigars. For JD and Marvin, this daring and at times shaky business venture proved to be a genius move. Through the good and the bad, their passion never wavered. The result of that dedication was the birth of a brand new expansion of the cigar industry, ACID by Drew Estate.