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Staff Reviews

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  • Inspirado Rundown

    Joey J.
    92
    A few months back, I did a quick review on all of the Oliva 2nds blends that we carried and told you my favorite. It’s one of my shortest reviews ever, but has a ton of views. Since then, the review has become a little dated (we get new sizes and versions of their 2nds all the time), but it remains one of the most useful pieces I’ve penned. Two lessons from that write-up: 1.) I write too …
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  • Some CAO Nostalgia

    Sean G.
    92
    The CAO brand holds a special place in my heart. In the early 2000s, as an amateur looking for his first cigar, the bright green and yellow of the CAO Brazilia caught my eye. I mean, how could it not? And fortunately, my choice paid off. I picked up a few sticks and never looked back. Now, nearly decades later, I’m picking up CAO Nicaragua with the same youthful excitement I had in the past. How …
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  • Ramon Allones: The Best Cigar of 2018?

    Joey J.
    96
    Ramon Allones is the best cigar AJ has made to date. That’s right boys and girls, I’m skipping all the mumbo-jumbo and history I normally stuff into the beginning of my reviews and jumping right to the good stuff: this cigar is the best. Seriously. My favorite cigar I’ve tried this year. And when you’re going through 10-12 cigars a week that says something. Call me a sucker, but I love everything …
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  • Cream of the Crop

    Joey J.
    93
    The year’s winding down around here, which means it’s almost time to start enjoying the holiday season and pack on a few pounds for my upcoming hibernation. As a man of habit, there’s a few things I do every Thanksgiving and Christmas: stuff my face until my belt is uncomfortably tight, drink what some fun-suckers would consider “too much,” and then throw some football on TV, crack open a bottle …
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  • The Devil's In the Details

    Joey J.
    91
    Today, we live in the world of small batch. From the thousands of coffees and bourbons on the market to the bizarrely hipster artisanal water bars and toast houses (thanks, Portland!) it seems all you need to do to make a mark in this day and age is tell people something’s rare. Off-breed, exclusive, the forbidden fruit… I’m not even sure what artisanal means, really, but it’s damn provocative …
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  • I'm Nubbin' It!

    Joey J.
    92
    I love cigars. If you’re surprised by that, you may be reading the wrong website… but bear with me a moment, because I want to lodge a little complaint against our handmade industry. Quite simply – there’s a lot of “noise” out there. Every cigar brand likes to hearken back to their century old history, their great-great-grandad’s original vision of “proper, Cuban” fermentation methods, the magic …
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  • All day, Every day, Ave

    Chase M.
    93
    All day, Every day, AveEveryone knows AJ by now, but most people associate him with his full-bodied Nicaraguan blends. Immaculata shows he’s just as capable at crafting a gentler cigar. Before I divulge into the cigar, let me tell you why I chose to review this cigar – Every year, CI sends a group of its “greener” employees (guilty) to Nicaragua to tour the farms, the factories, do some taste …
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  • Pour Me A Cup of that New Devil's Brew!

    Joey J.
    90
    For today’s review, I’ll be performing two cardinal sins of the uppity-up cigar snobs... that’s right, not only is this cigar a bundled option (gasp!) but it’s also flavored (oh no!). If you pop into your local cigar lounge and listen to the “experts” you’ll come away thinking that everyone only lights up Padrons, OpusX, and ultra-rare small-batch creations… but guess what? They’re lying. You …
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  • The Thrilla in the Villa

    Sean G.
    90
    Look, I’ve never been into cigar reviews. Who the hell cares what some semi-bald, big-headed nerd thinks about a bunch of cigars? Right? But then it dawned on me. Not everyone out there is bombarded with hordes of premium cigars like I am (I know, first-world problems) and works in an environment where their co-workers burn down sticks faster than greased lightning. So I’ll admit it: I was wrong. …
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  • A Safari of Complexity

    Joey J.
    93
    2003 — a momentous year for cigars. You see, fifteen short years ago is when the Five Hour Energy shot was first introduced to the market, and after becoming incredibly wired and going on a two week buying bender, the team at Cigars International began mutating into the deal-driven, price-slashing monsters we are today. Wait, wait, my editors tell me that’s not quite right. Ah, yes, in addition …
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  • Bahia's Rio de Flavor

    Joey J.
    90
    Let me start this review off with an apology. For the last year, I’ve been diligently reviewing cigars here, and to my surprise this morning I noticed only one of the cigars I reviewed (Oliva 2nds) has been an affordable option. My bad! Before you get the wrong idea, I don’t take down Padrons and Alma Fuertes everyday. No, in fact, my cigar rotation leans much more towards the “budget” side of …
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  • The Big Brands Get Bigger

    Joey J.
    92
    There’s a few types of people you run into when you work in a cigar shop. Guys that only like maduros, that only like big-rings, that swear by Connecticuts, that won’t touch anything unless AJ’s name is on it — the list goes on. But there’s one type of cigar enthusiast I’d like to shine the spotlight on today. The guy who hates popular brands. Maybe you’ve met this guy before: the resident …
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  • Always Save Room for 2nds!

    Joey J.
    91
    There’s two things I love in this world: real nice cigars, and scoring them on the cheap. So naturally, a product line like Oliva 2nds immediately gets my heart pumping. For those that aren’t familiar – Oliva 2nds are the cigars from the same award-winning cigars from the Oliva factory that fail to meet their aesthetic perfection standard. Typically this is just from a slight cosmetic mark, …
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  • AJ Does H. Upmann

    Joey J.
    90
    Let me be frank — I haven’t been excited about an H. Upmann cigar in… well, ever, honestly. I don’t have anything against the brand, but when I go through my humidor or browsing through the shelfs, it’s not something I seek out. All that being said, I’m a sucker for AJ. Light up an AJ stick in the office, and I’ll immediately float over to your desk like a cartoon character seeking out a hot pie …
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  • Plasencia's Mindblowing "Debut"

    Joey J.
    94
    Five generations is one helluva long lineage. And that’s exactly what the Plasencia family brings to the table. If you’re not familiar with the name, I’m almost positive you’ve enjoyed some of their cigars. Check out this résumé — Nestor Plasencia currently makes 5 Vegas Gold, Alec Bradley Black Market Esteli, Romeo 505 Nicaragua, and many, many more. So, back in 2017, Nestor decided it was …
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  • 2006 - The Year of Corojo

    Chase M.
    92
    This holiday season brought many joys my way. The family finally accepted that I’d prefer a bottle of booze over new undies, my Grandmother gave me my annual jar of pickles, and on the work front, I was gifted a plethora of dynamite sticks (who ever said giving was better than receiving?). Take that last comment how you will, all I know is my humidor is now filled to the brim and raring for …
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  • The Original

    Steve R
    92
    After writing up my thoughts on Ave Maria, I got an email from a guy who was part of a customer trip to Nicaragua in September. I read his, then scrapped mine. He says it all:"....the surprise highlight (by far): Ave Maria. Arriving in Esteli late I was jet-lagged and dragging the next morning. Come noon I was seven cigars deep and hadn't had lunch yet. So when his factory manager approached us …
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  • The Best Around

    Joey J.
    96
    Sometimes in life, you have to roll up your sleeves and do the hard job that no one else is willing to do. Today, however, is not that day. Could I have picked an underrated gem, or an obscure boutique to review this fine Monday morning? Almost certainly. Instead, I’m going to review one of the highest-rated and most beloved cigars in the industry: Padrón 1964 Anniversary. You see, the holiday …
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  • A True Classic

    Joey J.
    92
    I think Drew Estate’s Undercrown is the cigar I’ve burnt the most of, in my life. Seriously. I’d guess that over the last five years or so I’ve gone through maybe… six boxes of these in total. That’s across almost every size – I’ve gone from Gran Toro, to the Gordito, to the Corona Viva, to the Corona Doble, and back to the Gran Toro over the years. Now six boxes might not seem like a lot for …
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  • Red is the New Joya

    Jeff K
    90
    As a self-appointed ambassador of all things cigars, I spend a lot of time thinking about branding. And if there’s one thing that makes me nervous it’s the words “rebranding” and “new directions.” Normally well-intentioned, many “rebranding” campaigns unfortunately end up as big failures (New Coke, anyone?). So you can understand my initial hesitance around Joya Red. A classic Nicaraguan brand …
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  • Uncut. Uncompromising.

    Greeby
    91
    Unlike some of the guys around here, I don’t have a cigar lit at all times of the day. A few of the clowns around here burn ‘em like they’re going out of style. But when I light up a cigar, I want to make sure I’ve got the time to savor and enjoy it. Plus, my personal preference is for full-bodied, powerhouse sticks. And they taste so much better when the sun’s down, and there’s a beer in my …
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  • Putting Quintessence Through the Ringer

    Joey J.
    94
    Quintessence. A quick Google search tells me this SAT word means, “the most perfect or typical example of quality or class.” Sounds a bit hoity-toity, no? It’s fair to think so — San Cristobal has certainly built themselves up as a boutique brand, a bit of a connoisseur’s favorite. Today, we’re going to take a look at the newest release from San Cristobal, and …
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  • Try Post-Embargo Post-Haste

    Joey J.
    92
    Where do you start reviewing cigars? With an old classic, with something edgy and new? With grape flavored cigarillos? Well, probably not that last option. Picking a blend to review was a tough choice, but ultimately it came down to one simple answer. Review something that we haven’t reviewed before. And in all of our staff reviews, I could only find a few Alec Bradley blends. …
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  • Escape Mediocrity - Explore Excursion

    Erick V
    94
    Summer is coming to a close. Maybe it’s a bit early to be thinking about, but it’s true. It’s a bummer, too, but it does mean one thing is right around the corner: the return of Sunday night games, and Fantasy Football. As I write this we’re one week away from the CI Office Draft, and if you look closely at anyone’s browser, you’ll probably see an ESPN tab …
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  • Diesel Heart of Darkness

    Steve R
    95
    Long overdue, but hashtag-ohsoworthit. Boss-man has been telling me to write a review for a year. It’s been on my back burner for equally as long. Then we received lovely news from the FDA about 88 days ago. Priorities changed, but boss-man has still been riding me. Over the past 88 days, we’ve worked like mad, creating new products with everybody under the sun. From AJ …
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  • Macanudo Inspirado Black

    Jason B
    90
    Macanudo is known for creating some of the best cigar blends on the market. High quality control, smooth flavors and mellow blends are what this classic Cuban brand is best known for. It is one of the most asked for cigar manufacturers in our retail locations. When Macanudo becomes inspired to create something new and unique, it is something that just needs to be experienced for yourself. …
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  • Master Built?

    Jeff K
    90
    Powerband is the newest addition to the Master Built Series from Camacho. There are two other cigars in that line: Triple Maduro and American Barrel Aged. Triple Maduro has been a crowd pleaser since the blend debuted. And I liked American Barrel Aged enough to review it last year, and give it a 90 point rating. Needless to say, Powerband had some big shoes to fill if it was going to live up to …
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  • CAO...at it again.

    Jeff K
    92
    More and more today, new cigar releases seem to be hyping up some sort of gimmick or “uniqueness” factor. Some work, some don’t, and it’s nice to see the industry moving forward in different ways. But most nights, when I’m looking for a cigar to unwind with after a long day, I don’t want something flashy. I want something simple and elegant. Enter CAO Pilon, a …
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  • This one handles beautifully...

    Jeff K
    91
    Bugatti accessories have been around the cigar world for a while now, and they’ve always been solid performers. When I heard that they were going into cigar manufacturing, I must admit, I had some doubts. When you’re good at what you do, I want to see you do that, not something else. No one’s lining up to watch Jordan Spieth play football (although, after the recent Masters, …
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  • One Village, one helluva good coffee.

    Jeff K
    92
    When I got the call from Woody at One Village Coffee, a local company, asking if we’d be interested in carrying their line of coffees, I was skeptical…after all we are a cigar company. He grabbed my attention though with his passion and enthusiasm about coffee and by explaining the similarities between growing coffee beans and growing tobacco, and it didn’t hurt that he was a …
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  • They had me at Bourbon...

    Jeff K
    90
    Cigar makers are always seeking out ways to innovate and bring new experiences to the cigar smokers. Some of these work well, while others, ehh not so fast my friend. Camacho successfully capitalizes on the ever growing popular trend of barrel aging by utilizing a blend of tobaccos placed in Kentucky bourbon barrels for 5 months with their new release, Camacho Barrel Aged.   My love for …
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  • Relic by AJ Fernandez

    Steve R
    94
    Don’t ask how the sausage is made, son, just feast. Relic hit us by surprise. As strong as our relationship is with AJ Fernandez, he somehow kept this beauty out from under our nosey noses. Probably a good thing, otherwise we surely would have bought every Relic cigar produced on the spot. It’s just that good. So yes, I will be giving this cigar a very strong rating. And yes, this …
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  • Relaxing at the Hudson Bay

    Jason B
    90
    A few perks of working for Cigar’s International are, I get to work next to like minded people, talk to all sorts of customers from around the world, and try a different cigar every single day. Some of the best day’s are when something brand new comes in and we all give it a shot and compare between ourselves what we like or dislike about every cigar that comes through out doors. …
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  • Ladderball Pro Steel

    Erick V
    Let me tell you, I have been to my fair share of tailgates…Go Phillies...and I have played just about every game in the book while under the influence of certain intoxicants. Washers, Quoits, Corn Hole, KanJam, Flip-Cup, 500, Chandelier, Beer Pong, etc…I’ve done it all. And no matter what, I always find myself partaking in a few rounds of, “Hey! I bet I can beat you in …
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  • Alta Gracia Natural Cigarillo

    Brock
    85
    Commitment is a challenging part of life. For me, this whole notion of committing to one thing means a painful, unappealing obligation which commonly ends with dejection and despair. Perhaps I am off-base with this whole idea of commitment. Maybe commitment is a virtuous trait that should be revered. Having said this, I’m just not into it. Anyway, I’ve grown quite a reputation …
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  • Latitude Zero

    Brock
    92
    If there’s one thing you need to know about me it’s this: I have hair on my face and I sell cigars. Allow me to entertain you for just a few measly seconds about the mysterious cigar that is, Latitude Zero.  Before I swan dive into this meticulously crafted blend by the Oliva cigar making family, I must speculate on the naming of this blend. As a matter of fact, I have a few …
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  • A game-changer from Oliva.

    Jeff K
    90
    Football’s back and some things never change. Seahawks look dominant on both sides of the ball. Romo takes all the blame. And the commish’s list of friends is dwindling with every passing day. But among the constants, there’s always change. The Jags show signs of life. Johnny Football has come to save Cleveland. And the Patriots hold sole possession of last place. New year, and …
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  • Romeo y Julieta Media Noche

    Erick V
    91
    As I was sitting at my computer puffing away on sample after sample, looking for a new blend worthy of a place in the humi, I got fed up with getting one dud after another. Either it was just an off day or someone else kept all the good samples to themselves…I’m going to guess it was the latter. By this point I was craving something delicious and remembered that the boss man had …
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  • Caution: WIDE load

    Greeby
    91
    You recognize that mug to the left of this review? You should. No, I’m not that cocky of a fellow. But I am the poor schmuck who got dubbed John Freebie in the catalog. An event that has forever changed my life… alas, It hasn’t been all bad. I quickly became a bit of a CI celebrity. For starters, the Bethlehem locals love me. When I go to the bar, people shout, …
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  • CAO Extreme

    Steve R
    93
    Welcome back, CAO   If you know me, you know I’ve always been fond of CAO. Brazilia, Sopranos, Black, Italia....hell, I’m man enough to admit I’ve even burned through a fair share of Moontrance and Bella Vanilla over the years. Bottom line is, CAO makes a damn fine cigar, but more importantly, CAO cigars are among the most consistent and reliable in the boutique realm. …
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  • Davidoff Maduro Series

    Steve R
    88
    So you may have noticed an increased number of staff reviews lately. You guys love’em, we enjoy talking shop, and our marketing guru Scott tells us that content is good for the site. It’s a win-win-win!   Scott, the marketing whiz I just mentioned 5 seconds ago, stresses SEO. That’s marketing speak for marketing stuff. Apparently our reviews help you find our site when searching The Google, …
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  • Oliva Saison

    Steve R
    92
    Oliva. I’ve always loved the brand. Back when it was lesser known, and the Serie ‘O’ cigars came in felt bands and the maduro variety came in toilet bowl shaped boxes....yeah, I loved them back then. Some of you might remember the days I’m harking, some may not. Either way, most folks know the name Oliva, and the brand has been flourishing, at a feverish pitch, over the …
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  • Dunhill Aged Dominican

    Jeff K
    91
    I’m bad at this. It’s been too long since my last review, but I’m making a promise to do better.  So expect more this year, and if you’re bored, shoot me a request on a cigar you’re interested in and I’ll write something up. Dunhill. It’s a brand you’ve likely heard of, but not necessarily for their cigars. They’re a pretty big company, with roots in pipes and now a full line of pricey …
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  • Gurkha Beauty

    Brock
    90
    There’s a lovely young lady that stops by the CI Super-Store from time to time and, for the sake of anonymity, let us refer to her as “Lola”. Lola is an avid Gurkha fan and has a way of pushing the brand on me (keep in mind, I’M the cigar salesperson and she’s the customer!) Days ago, she graced us with her presence at the shop and, while it’s tough to get my male co-workers to focus on …
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  • CI Knock-Offs: Cohiba

    Brock
    92
    “Pequeno” in size, “Grande” in flavor… For those who pay attention to detail, I whipped up this review the day after CIGARfest 2012, still jacked up from the weekend’s festivities. As we wrapped up the CIGARfest 2012 aftermath, I was embarrassed, humiliated, and appalled at the fact that I didn’t smoke many cigars. Between drawing raffles, running between the band stage and the main stage, …
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  • Punch Bareknuckle

    Steve R
    92
    If you’re on our mailing list, you’ve likely seen Punch Bareknuckle on the cover. Eye-catching, no? Rightfully so, because I’ll say it up front: the mighty Punch brand was desperate for a blend like this. Years ago, Punch was among the strongest blends on the market. Times have changed, new makers have entered the fray, powerful new tobaccos have been produced, and Punch quickly …
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  • Genesis The Project by Ramon Bueso

    Steve R
    This is the question I heard over and over (and over) throughout CIGARfest 2012. Indeed, aside from us hosting our 9th annual CIGARfest, which turned out to be a huge success for 6,000+ cigar lunatics, Ramon Bueso was the buzz word of the day, every day, between May 2nd and May 6th. So who is Ramon Bueso? Lemme fill you in with some back story. The first tobacco farm in Honduras was located on …
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  • 5 Vegas Gold Maduro

    Brock
    89
    One of my favorite people to visit when I travel down south to cigar country is Nestor Plasencia, Jr. I don’t know whether it’s the greeting of a cigar and Cuban coffee when arriving to his Esteli factory, the bales-upon-bales (properly called “pilones”) of tobacco at his fabrica in Ocotal, or possibly the delicious feast his family puts on at his home outside of his Danli, Honduras …
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  • Obsidian

    Steve R
    93
    A lot has happened since my last review. The Phillies collapsed. The Eagles have gone from the best team in the NFL, to the worst, to the best, then back to the bottom of the barrel about....oh, eleven times. MLS became the number 3 sport in America - I love soccer, but really? Kim Kardashian got married, again. And divorced, again....all while Gurkha released 17 new small-batch brands. …
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  • Graycliff Turbo Edicion Limitada 2010

    Brock
    92
    With the exception of the G2 line, there is nary another Graycliff cigar available for under $10 or so.  Despite the hefty price tags we sell a ton of these top-dollar cigars in our retail stores, and there are a lot of loyal fans out there who aren’t afraid to pony up 12 to 22 bucks for these Bahama made delicacies.  Because of the steep prices on the premium lines of Graycliff …
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  • Cohiba

    Steve R
    89
    We just finished up our Christmas catalog, and added a nifty little gift-buying section for all types of buyers. Some of us were chosen to play the role of everyday characters folks can relate to. Characters you work with, associate with, are related to, etc....characters best described as, ‘that guy.’ My character, in a word, was superficial. Makes a lot of money (completely false), …
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  • Dark Shark

    Brock
    79
    For the last several years one of the most popular week-long segments on television is “Shark Week.” Something I’ve learned from the ominous documentaries of these man-eating monsters is that they can literally smell fear.    Normally, the fear is detected through the substance commonly known as “shark sugar”. This, of course, is when the individual bobbing up-and-down …
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  • Alec Bradley American Classic

    Brandon S
    90
    You don’t make great cigars sitting behind a desk and Alan Rubin will be happy to tell you that. Alan Rubin started Alec Bradley Cigars (named after his sons, Alec and Bradley) in 1996. Since the company’s inception, they have garnered several 90+ ratings. To say that I’m excited to try this blend would be an understatement. Alec Bradley’s American Classic intrigued me …
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  • Obsidian

    Brock
    92
    As a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s during the professional wrestling boom, I was a huge fan. However, my favorite part of pro wrestling wasn’t particularly the matches, the promos, or the hellacious chair shots to the back of an unsuspecting wrestler.  I loved the intros! Every time I hear the guitar intro of “I am a Real American,” I still get chills. With cigars, …
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  • La Herencia Cubana CORE

    Brock
    94
    Just when I think A.J. Fernandez has finally put together a cigar so grand that I consider it his pièce-de-résistance he puts together a new blend that proves me wrong.  How can this one guy make so many terrific cigars, really?  Never before have I become so fond of a cigar that falls near my upper price-range of my cigar budget (that price is at the $10.00 mark if …
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  • Gran Habano Azteca Double Maduro

    Brock
    88
    I have a friend who’s about the same age as me (for sake of argument, let’s call him Dos Cubos) but has easily smoked 4 to 5 times more cigars I have in my lifetime.  His knowledge in the industry is vast and if you have questions about a cigar, he has smoked it.  With this in mind, I find that Mr. Cubos really enjoys cigars that I hate and vice versa.  A brand that Mr. …
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  • Hoyo Excalibur Cigarillos

    Jeff K
    89
    With a small cigar, there’s really not much to say. So I’ll keep it short and sweet. Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Cigarillos are my favorite small cigar. In between my normal rotation, or when time demands something quick, these are my go-to.  First, they’re all tobacco....no homogenized wrappers or even, God forbid, paper like some of the other stuff out there. Second, they …
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  • Don Pepin Garcia Blue

    Brock
    85
    In this industry, I learn something new every day. Whether it’s from a cigar manufacturer, manager or co-worker, if you have something interesting to say about tobacco, I’m all ears. Believe it or not, one of my finer resources for good information is customers from the CI Super-Store. It amazes me how much these folks know about tobacco growing, fermenting, rolling and so much …
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  • Blue Label 'B2'

    Steve R
    90
    With CIGARfest this weekend, time is of the essence. We’re all pumped as hell to welcome 3,000 cigar lunatics representing all 50 states, but let’s face it: it’s a lot of work and takes a lot of prep time. Work that’s fully worth it, but work that leaves little time for a staff review. Fortunately, I have some added incentive to write this review. Some inspiration if you …
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  • Man O' War Puro Authentico

    Brock
    94
    It sounds almost boastful to say, but I have had the pleasure of smoking each & every cigar brand & line that we carry in our retail stores.  If you take a look at our “Big List of Brands” section of our website you’ll notice that we have a list of 576 BRANDS that we sell online – plus we have quite a lengthy list of “in-store-only” …
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  • Cu-Avana Punisher

    Brock
    89
    If you’ve read my past reviews, which I expect you have since I have a cult following, you most likely remember my statement about being a “glorified cigar-smoking therapist.” Throughout several years of dealing with customers, male and female alike, I’m at the conclusion that men love to be punished.  Now before you go writing my boss emails of disagreement, please …
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  • Fonseca Arana

    Brock
    87
    A few people have already asked me my thoughts on Fonseca Arana. But up until now, the thought of burning one hasn't even crossed my mind.  I’m not knocking it, but I like fuller-bodied cigars....and the mellow, Dominican Fonseca brand doesn’t even make its way onto my radar. And to boot, it’s a cheap, bundled cigar. But I’m a man of the people, so I grab a 5-er of these cheapies …
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  • Davidoff Millennium Blend

    Brock
    89
    Since I began working in this industry, I find the most commonly used phrase within the retail paradigm of the cigar universe to be, “I feel like a kid in a candy store,” as most customers are overwhelmed with the different brands, sizes, and colors of cigars. One of the more sought-after brands I have the privilege to sell is Davidoff, which brings me to the second-most commonly asked …
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  • Cuba Libre One

    Steve R
    94
    SPOILER ALERT: Rarely will you see me give a cigar a 94-point rating. But guess what, I just did. Here’s why. Throw out what you think you know about Cuba Libre....even if you’re one of the many that enjoys this hearty stick on a regular basis. Cuba Libre One is bold, fresh, and entirely new. A bigger, darker, badder brother fully equipped to soothe your palate into submission. …
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  • Puros Indios Viejo

    Brock
    88
    There are numerous reasons why I like and dislike cigars. Taste, construction, appearance, duration of the smoke, volume of smoke and many other factors determine whether I describe a cigar as a gem or a vomit-inducing turd. Because I grew up in an era where babysitting equated to sitting a little one in front of a Sega or Playstation, I find it difficult to pay much attention. As …
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  • Mark Twain

    Brock
    88
    Being in the CI retail stores for many years now, I noticed that I get a lot of requests for specific styles of cigars & one of the most popular requests in general is for “Good, BIG, mellow, cheap cigars that are reasonably priced.”  Some of these guys don’t want to pay much more than a Buck-a-Stick for anything 8” or bigger, but then again they’re probably not smoking for the taste …
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  • Rocky Patel 1961

    Keith
    85
    In 2010, Rocky Patel cut the ribbon on his very first factory. Wait, I can hear some of you saying....hasn’t Rocky Patel been selling cigars for years? Indeed. But until this point his production had been contracted out. Rocky would work to create new blends, and then farm out the work to various well-established factories across Central America. Now he’s begun shifting to his own …
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  • Edge Counterfeit Toro Corojo

    Brock
    88
    After spending more than a decade in the cigar industry I’ve seen tons of cigar brands (and “Cigar Super-Stars” come & go. Don Juan, Don Smith, Don This & Don That…the list just never seemed to end. Now, long after the dust has settled from the Cigar Boom of the 90’s we’re well past the end of the Don’s & only the strong are left …
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  • Alec Bradley Tempus Maduro

    Steve R
    91
    I’ve long been a fan of Alec Bradley Tempus. This 94-rated stud is damn tasty and always well-made. Especially the Quadrum size, which sits heavy in the hand and comes jam-packed with delicious tobaccos. I just received a Tempus Maduro in this very same size: 5.5”x55 Quadrum. It looks and smells amazing, offering a sweet tobacco pre-light aroma and a bready pre-light flavor …
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  • La Flor Dominicana Air Bender

    Brandon S
    89
    Just to prove that I actually do read the ol’ e-mails that people send, I’m going to do this review based on a request from Jack W. who hails from Marysville, MI. Jack e-mailed me saying that he enjoyed the La Flor Dominicana Air Bender and wanted to know my thoughts, specifically on the Maestro Size. So I moseyed on out to the humidor and picked up a 5’er of these 5.5”x52 …
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  • La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor

    Jeff K
    90
    La Aroma de Cuba has always been a brand to which I didn’t give much attention. But I’ve recently seen the light. La Aroma de Cuba is an old Cuban brand with a great back story. Supposedly, the Cuban La Aroma de Cuba brand was a favorite of Winston Churchill. In 2002, Ashton released a Honduran-made La Aroma de Cuba which initially made a big splash. Quickly earning some impressive …
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  • Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo

    Steve R
    91
    A few days ago, my December issue of Cigar Aficionado was delivered. Today, I got around to leafing through it. Amongst the ads for countless items I’ll never be able to afford, something caught my eye, inspiring me to write this staff review. Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo received an ‘88’ rating. Wait a minute.... Let’s go back 10 years. An 88-point score would be a dynamite rating. I cry …
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  • Gran Habano Corojo Vintage 2002

    Steve R
    92
    To be honest, I have no idea why I am even writing this review. Watching truckloads of Gran Habano Corojo Vintage 2002 cigars hit our docks (seemingly) monthly tells me you already know about the brand. Hell, this cigar is nearly impossible to keep in stock, and writing a review could potentially make it even more difficult to maintain a decent level of inventory. But, I’ve been burning …
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  • Diesel VS. Tatuaje Havana VI

    Brandon S
    89
    By popular demand I’m switching up my normal mantra of reviewing a cigar and giving it my personal rating…for this round I’ve decided to review 2 CIGARS! That’s right gents…side by side comparison of two truly boutique blends – The Diesel Unholy Cocktail vs. Tatuaje Havana VI. Both of these blends have received high praise from consumers since they hit the …
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  • Diesel VS. Tatuaje Havava VI

    Brandon S
    92
    By popular demand I’m switching up my normal mantra of reviewing a cigar and giving it my personal rating…for this round I’ve decided to review 2 CIGARS! That’s right gents…side by side comparison of two truly boutique blends – The Diesel Unholy Cocktail vs. Tatuaje Havana VI. Both of these blends have received high praise from consumers since they hit the …
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  • La Perla Habano Morado

    Brandon S
    92
                    Well well, here we go again! This time I have a selection that’s not only pleasing to the palate, but also to the wallet! I, along with a few of my fellow colleagues were recently on a trip to Nicaragua. While there, we visited many factories where we worked on new blends and sampled blends already in …
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  • La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor

    Steve R
    90
    New 2010 Release: La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor As some of you may know, I was a HUGE fan of the old La Aroma de Cuba blend from Honduras. Chewy, rich, tasty....I loved this cigar and have missed it considerably ever since it left the market. Now, this brand is made in Nicaragua by Jose ‘Don Pepin’ Garcia, and it’s drastically different. Some claim it’s better, some claim …
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  • Rocky Patel Sun Grown

    Jeff K
    91
    Over the last couple of years, Rocky Patel’s been a busy man. Decade, Patel Bros, 1961, Renaissance, and now, the upcoming 15th Anniversary…in addition to the innumerable private labels that are popping up all over the globe. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just takes a little bit of luster off of the old. And if you’ve forgotten, his older stuff is …
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  • Blue Label's B2 Cuban Wheels

    Keith
    88
    Blue Label - the original Blue Label - is simply delicious. Frankly it does not get the attention it deserves. Medium to full-bodied, rich in flavor, handcrafted by Gran Habano in Danli, Honduras. The cigar equivalent of nymphomaniac centerfold model with a trust fund. You get the idea. Smokes like a gem, priced like an economy cigar....in all, a winning set of attributes.  But now there's …
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  • 5 Vegas Gold Maduro

    Steve R
    91
    When word got out about a new, maduro version of the top-selling 5 Vegas Gold, I instantly grew nervous. The Connecticut-wrapped Gold Series is the golden goose of the 5 Vegas line, a mellow but flavorful stud that outsells bigger name brands like Macanudo and Ashton. You don’t want to mess with that kind of success. However, I soon learned that 5 Vegas Gold Maduro would be sporting my beloved …
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  • La Perla Habana Black Pearl

    Steve R
    90
    In case you haven’t seen our latest catalog, get on it, son. We have some mighty fine deals in there, let alone some fantastic new blends....in addition to the return of classic gems such as this: La Perla Habana. Currently, the Black Pearl and Classic are here, in house, and the Morado, Rojo, and Cobre are on the way. Since the Black Pearl was one of my favorite cigars many moons ago, …
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  • Graycliff 'G2'

    Gonz
    Thank goodness for cheapskates like us, yeah, that means you and me there kid-o.  The chieftains at Graycliff rarely feast on our hard-earned dollars.  $300 for a box of cigars...whoa sonny....that just ain't in my appetite of daily cigar pleasures.  I think they finally realized that the bargain barrel, odd-lot shoppers just won't shell out that kind of mortgage payment …
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  • Ashton VSG

    Brandon S
    94
                    High praise and an even higher price… That’s one way that the Ashton VSG can be summed up. Another way is high quality and highly enjoyable. I’ve been saving the leftover change from my weekly Taco Bell runs and was able to scrape enough together to swing by our Super Store and pick one of these gems up and …
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  • Diesel Unlimited

    Steve R
    92
    I’ve decided to do something a little different with this Staff Review. Last week I was in Nicaragua visiting several factories, creating new blends, and trying some upcoming releases which we’ll soon be carrying. The latter was the most exciting, largely in part to the cigar I am writing about now: the new Diesel Unlimited. Although the final product is still a few months out, I felt …
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  • Bahia Maduro

    Keith
    90
    The current cigar deal threat level is red. Red as in Bahia Maduro and its bright red bands, that is. She’s a beauty that Bahia Maduro, bringing brains, brawn, and good looks: quality construction, generous ring gauges, smooth, rich flavor…. to top it off she’s a cheap date. To be sure, for $2 to $2.25 per stick it’s in the running for top handmade value. Bahia Maduro begins with an aged blend of …
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  • Cain 'F' Series

    Jeff K
    91
    I must admit, when I first saw the advertisements for Cain I was completely turned off. I mean, c’mon the motorcycle….and is that the Undertaker? I don’t get it. But maybe I’m just out of touch. So I held off as long as possible….until a couple appeared on my desk. And now I’m regretting not getting into these sooner. I should have known, because I …
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  • Reposado '96 Maduro

    Keith
    91
    “Wow” was the first thing that came to mind after lighting my first Reposado ’96 Maduro. Not because it’s an all long-filler 7.1” Salomon that retails for $2.50 (which is outrageously cheap). But because the onslaught of flavors that greet you right from the start is so astounding. If you’ve browsed through the (brilliant!) archives of my past reviews, you …
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  • Ashton Majesty

    Jeff K
    91
    The Ashton Classic line has been a force in the world of mellow cigars ever since their release. They’re not cheap, but they deliver every time. A consistently well-made, smooth Dominican handmade that has a long-time reputation for quality. Ashton was one of the first cigars I really enjoyed, but I later dismissed them for being too gentle and uneventful for my tastes. I like …
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  • Magellan Dominicans

    Jeff K
    88
    It almost feels a little weird to say this, but I actually like Magellan Dominicans. If you had told me that I would actually enjoy a 55-cent, mixed filler, small corona that comes wrapped in a map (yes, a freaking map), I would have told you that you were crazy. But the truth is, Magellans are pretty good....actually better than a bunch of brands that cost a whole lot more. When I first came on …
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  • Graycliff 'G2'

    Steve R
    90
    Finding a mellow-bodied cigar with substance can be tough. Tougher still is finding a mellow-bodied handmade with enough gusto to rival the likes of Ashton and Davidoff, without the hefty price tag. Well, one has arrived from the most unlikely of sources: Graycliff. First some info on Graycliff. This Bahamas-based factory is tiny, housing a mere dozen Cuban-born rollers that – combined – craft …
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  • Cuba Libre

    Steve R
    89
    Rarely do I have a chance to sit down and truly enjoy a cigar. As a member of the CI Merch Squad, I am constantly testing samples for potential blends, writing descriptions for new brands, or providing feedback for upcoming new releases. Yes, I enjoy many of these cigars and some are true gems, but having the freedom to dig deep into my humidor to find something I’ve been craving is rare at …
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  • Carlos Torano Dominico

    Gonz
    Gonz, the bargain barrel shopper of the century, finally coming out of a long slumber away from the famed Gonz Live studios, present to you, my loyal listeners, viewers, and readers, a deal of the century.  I couldn't get the video recording apparatus together quickly today, but I felt morally obliged to present you this opportunity before it was too late.  The cigar is …
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  • La Aroma de Cuba

    Brandon S
    92
    La Aroma de Cuba was always a decent smoke in my humblest of opinions but it lacked that certain something that could take it from simply “decent” to a whole lot more…and then some. The folks at Ashton seemed to agree with this as was evidenced by their recent factory change for production and subsequent re-blending of the La Aroma de Cuba. Now made by Pepin Garcia in his shiny …
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  • 5 Vegas Triple-A

    Jeff K
    93
    It’s Christmas Eve and I’m feeling the holiday spirit all through my veins. Grinning from ear to ear, drinking eggnog, trimming the tree, decking the halls and singing Christmas carols all throughout the CI office. Actually I’m not, but I figured it sounded nice. In reality, I just sat down to do what I love – burn a tasty, tasty cigar. That puts a smile on my face every …
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  • La Estrella Cubana

    Steve R
    91
    When I think of a maduro cigar, I imagine dark, rich flavors. I’m talking rich flavors....flavors that coat the palate with notes of chocolate, roasted coffee, and rich well-fermented tobacco. Flavors that linger on the palate and leave behind that velvety feel on the taste buds. Flavors that stick with you - in a good way - and urge you to draw in big, thick clouds of smoke with each puff. I …
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  • La Estrella Cubana Oscuro

    Keith
    90
    La Estrella Cubana's new Oscuro blend is an interesting handmade hailing from Nicaragua. What's extra interesting is that it's a quality handmade maduro costing you 2 bucks a stick (and under). That's a true rarity in these post-SCHIP days. In fact it could easily sell for $4 or $5. La Estrella Cubana - “the star of Cuba” - is eerily reminiscent of Gurkha Doble Maduro, from …
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  • LHC Oscuro Fuerte

    Keith
    90
    New off the rolling tables in Esteli, Nicaragua comes Oscuro Fuerte, a gorgeous line extension from La Herencia Cubana. This rich, extra-strong LHC brings big flavor and knee-knocking strength. Take a seat son, this will only hurt a little. Indeed, Oscuro Fuerte is a powerhouse blend packing heat and bringing the thunder. Its potent, sumptuous PA Broadleaf maduro wrapper pairs with bold, searing …
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  • Graycliff G2

    Jeff K
    88
    I’ve burned through most of the regular Graycliff lines (Professionale, Original, Crystal, Espresso, et al) and after each one, I kicked my self for dropping upwards of $20 on just one cigar (I know - I should have learned my lesson after the first one, but I’m an optimist). Don’t get me wrong, their stuff is not bad, and if I paid $5-8 I would be thrilled…but $20+, c’mon! So while I’m not …
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  • Diesel

    Steve R
    93
    The weather is changing and I love it. The days have been hitting mid to high 70s, allowing ample time for work - which warrants a cold reward (read: beer) in the end, while daylight still allows enough time for a nice cigar. Lately, I’ve been hooked on one full-bodied combination: a big 22oz bottle of Stone Russian Imperial Stout paired with the new, Nicaraguan-made Diesel. Believe me when …
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  • Humi-Care XG1000 Pro

    Jeff K
    90
    I’m a certified gadget nut. I love all kinds of electronic toys, because normally they make my life easier (which is always welcomed). Cigars aren’t normally a huge forum for gadgets, but I’m sure most of you have seen an electronic humidifier either within the pages of our catalog, on the web, or at a cigar shop. It’s been my experience that most people eye them up with …
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  • CAO Black

    Jeff K
    90
    CAO is a brand that makes a ton of great cigars, has accrued a lion’s share of 90+ ratings, and developed a devoted fan base of die-hard CAO nuts. Their cigars are definitely some of the best on the market today. A personal favorite of mine has always been the CAO Black. This is the unequivocal “everybody” or “anytime” cigar. It’s mild and smooth enough to …
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  • Rocky Patel Sun Grown

    Steve R
    90
    Today has been a crazy cigar day. At 10am, I embarked on a daunting task of testing nine blends. However, I had to burn these nine cigars at the same time in an effort to find the best of the bunch. I’ll be honest....some were horrific. Those were sent home from the island with haste and pleasure. However, a few did stand out, so I had to cleanse the palate, grab some fresh air, and …
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  • Man O' War Ruination

    Keith
    95
    Man O’ War Ruination. Oh yes. This holy cocktail of Cuban-seed Nicaraguan and Honduran long-leaf ligeros along with Habano Ecuador ligero leaf is a veritable powderkeg. Ligeros are the tobacco plant’s highest priming (the leaves on the top of the plant). This means more sun exposure which in turn leads to maximum strength and robust flavor. And since Man O’ War Ruination …
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  • 5 Vegas Classic

    Steve R
    Unless you’ve been asleep at the wheel the past few months, you know that SCHIP has hit home. This bill places a heavy tax on all cigars, and has resulted in higher prices starting 4/1. Some manufacturers are using this tax as a vehicle to introduce price increases that, in some cases, go above and beyond the level of the tax. In several cases, manufacturers have instituted multiple price …
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  • John Bull

    Steve R
    89
    SCHIP Buster Series - Volume 4 Unless you’ve been asleep at the wheel the past month or two, you know that SCHIP has hit home. This bill places a heavy tax on all cigars, and has resulted in higher prices starting 4/1. Some manufacturers are using this tax as a vehicle to introduce price increases that, in some cases, go above and beyond the level of the tax. In several cases, manufacturers have …
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  • Erin Go Bragh

    Keith
    Draped in a smooth and even Connecticut shade wrapper with a lovely, golden-brown hue, Erin Go Bragh is downright picturesque. Adorned with a colorful orange, white and green band styled after the Irish flag and appropriately infused with authentic Irish whisky, its name – Erin Go Bragh – as most will know, means “Ireland forever.” Slide it under thy flared nostrils and you’ll pick up a subtle …
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  • Oliva Connecticut Reserve

    Jeff K
    88
    Oliva has more than a handful of great blends in their portfolio, but no Connecticut among their signature lines…until now. Enter the NEW Oliva Connecticut Reserve. Utilizing a striking Connecticut wrapper and Cuban-seed Nicaraguan long-fillers, this Oliva is a welcomed addition to their already healthy sized line. The band is very similar to their other lines, but with a stark white background. …
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  • Reposado '96 Connecticut

    Keith
    89
    File under tobacco hysteria: I read an article in USA Today recently how cigar smoking has wafted its way into “children’s” movies. The movies cited were Iron Man and The Dark Knight. C’mon! I liked those movies – but ain’t no way in hell they are children’s movies. And while the article’s author and grievance mongers he quoted huffed about seeing a cigar on screen, nary a word was spoken …
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  • Reposado '96 Habano

    Keith
    90
    Hoo baby! Reposado ’96 Habano Salomons are attention grabbing, 7.1” x 58 figurados. These beauties are dark, oily, toothy and down right attractive. Quite frankly, when I first saw these Reposados (knowing that they were going to be sold for only $2), I was floored. This cigar is a thing of beauty, a work of art, and a wallet-friendly crowd pleaser from AJ Fernandez. This …
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  • Punch Gran Puro

    Brandon S
    88
    With 23 million sticks in our monstrous humidor at any given time it can be tough to single out a cigar to review. I know, I know…poor Brando. Millions of premium cigars at your disposal and you can’t find one to write a review on? You’re right, it’s pathetic. Truth is, much of our time is spent evaluating new blends for upcoming releases and at any given time there are …
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  • La Herencia Cubana

    Jeff K
    92
    I burn a lot of cigars, so I’m always looking for something inexpensive, but enjoyable. I don’t mind spending $7-10 bucks on a cigar I like, but if I can find something good for less- bring it on. The eternal quest may just have ended. I discovered La Herencia Cubana, like an oasis in the desert, just at the right time. With SCHIP quickly approaching, most of the cigars are going …
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  • 5 Vegas Classic Vertical Tasting

    Steve R
    90
    Ever since I did the Nub vertical tasting, I have been receiving a relatively steady stream of emails requesting similar reviews on other brands. Of these emails, one of the most requested brands was 5 Vegas Classic, a brand that we showcase often and sell a ton of. Some made this request because they have yet to try it. Others have tried it, but have yet to try all the sizes. And, since I am …
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  • Romeo y Julieta Viejo

    Keith
    87
    Every time I’m at some kind of function or party that my wife drags me to, amidst other pleasantries someone always seems to ask the obligatory question of what I do for a living. Once in a while, the questioner is a genuine cigar guy, or a genuine cigar guy’s wife. The rest of the time, their reactions to my reply invariably fall into one of 3 categories:   1) “Wow I didn’t know people …
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  • Hoyo Excalibur

    Steve R
    87
    As I drove to the office yesterday, I thought about two things.... First, it’s great to be a sports fan in the Philadelphia area. Penn State is 8-0 and a hopeful for the national championship - curse the corrupt BCS system. The Phillies play in game one of the World Series this week in a very winnable series against the Rays (otherwise known to Mike Ditka as the Tampa Ray Bays). And Tony …
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  • La Herencia Cubana

    Steve R
    88
    If you read Keith’s review on this cigar, you understand the debate behind it. If not, it seems to be a love or hate blend. While most of our customers enjoy it, some do not....and our retail store has been marked as a meeting grounds for their (seemingly) weekly debates. Ever since Keith wrote his review last month, I have received a steady stream of emails asking me what my take is. …
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  • La Herencia Cubana

    Keith
    92
    Around the CI Campfire a debate has raged as of late - and it ain’t about politics. It’s about an interesting brand called La Herencia Cubana. It's one of those blends that 60% of folks absolutely love, but the rest hate - and not much in-between. It's a product of cigar maker AJ Fernandez, maker of a few Padilla and Rocky Patel lines, plus the exquisite Man O' War blend, among …
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  • Nub Connecticut - Vertical Tasting

    Steve R
    88
    It seems you folks enjoyed my previous vertical tastings for Nub, and many have asked when I’d be reviewing the Connecticut. That’ good to know, since they took an awfully long time to write, and resulted in me feeling lightheaded for hours. All in a day’s work, right? Today, I will be completing the Nub Vertical Trifecta. Before we start, here’s everything you need to know about Nub.... After …
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  • Nub Cameroon - Vertical Tasting

    Steve R
    89
    After tasting countless cigars and working hands on in the Oliva factory, Sam Leccia concluded that a cigar normally hits its ‘sweet spot’ within 3 to 4 inches of the burn. Therefore, one must invest a good amount of time with a cigar prior to being rewarded with its true character. So, Sam worked with the Oliva Cigar Family (maker’s of Serie ‘V’ and Serie …
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  • Man O' War

    Keith
    93
    I don’t want to overstate it but quite simply, Man O’ War is special. Let me count the ways. First, the maker – AJ Fernandez. His Esteli, Nicaragua-based Tabacalera Fernandez factory boasts a surprising list of quality blends; in fact, he’s the best maker you never heard of. His list of clients includes Ernie Padilla, Rocky Patel, Kaizad Hansotia and others. He was …
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  • Nub Habano - Vertical Tasting

    Steve R
    89
    Unless you’ve been living under the rock the past 3 weeks, you’ve probably heard of the Nub. If not, here’s your crash course: After tasting countless cigars and working hands on in the Oliva factory, Sam Leccia concluded that a cigar normally hits its ‘sweet spot’ within 3 to 4 inches of the burn. Therefore, one must invest a good amount of time with a cigar prior …
    Read More
  • Montecristo

    Brandon S
    86
    Montecristo is easily one of the world’s most recognizable trademarks when it comes to cigars and I’m quite sure you’ll agree with me on that. Ask a few folks to name three brands of cigars off the top of their head and I can all but guarantee you that Montecristo will be one of them along with Macanudo and Cohiba. What I find interesting is that for all of the fame and recognition this brand …
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  • Vega Talanga Rojo

    Gonz
    How many of you celebrate the Ides of March or actually have it marked in your calendar like I do?  Can I see a show of hands, please?  Um, yeah, that's what I thought.  You know, March 15 is the day Julius Caesar was killed, a date forever etched into every schoolchild's brain thanks to the famous verse of William Shakespeare.  Well, in case you were …
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  • Arturo Fuente

    Steve R
    86
    Just over 3 years ago, I wrote a review on the Arturo Fuente Double Chateau. If you haven’t read it, or would like to reference back, you can find it here. Despite being 2+ years old, this single review still (to this day) results in a constant stream of hate mail from diehard Fuente fans, in addition to in-depth debates with retail store customers. “How can you not like …
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  • Isla del Sol

    Gonz
    Lately I've been humbled by some very kind words from my readers - wink wink - please keep them coming so I can continue to forward them directly to my boss with the hope that I'll get a little more cha-ching so I can buy me some bling-bling.  Let me share a couple with you before getting into my latest masterpiece of literary contribution: MC of Sioux City, IA writes "Gonz, you …
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  • Graycliff Double Espresso

    Keith
    90
    The Graycliff Resort in Nassau, Bahamas is a wonderful old place. I've stayed there a couple of times when visiting Enrico and Paolo Garzaroli - the father/son duo that runs the resort and the cigar-making operation. This place is full of charm. The hotel is historic and old, featuring huge rooms, peaceful scenery, numerous cigar-smoking spots. Also, its guest list is utterly …
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  • Natural Ltd. Irish Hops by Drew Estate

    Steve R
    91
    Some of you may realize the cigar I am writing about right now and navigate elsewhere on our glorious web site in search of another fantastic deal. But those of you who enjoy Drew Estate cigars will surely appreciate knowing, Jonathan created a new addition to the Limited Natural line, and it has arrived. I’ll be perfectly honest. I love traditional cigars, and don’t care for much of …
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  • Cuba Libre

    Keith
    91
    When I received the samples of Cuba Libre, I admit to having experienced a little "approach-avoidance" at first. See, the "approach" part was that it looked fantastic, with a lovely, deep, medium-brown Cuban-seed Corojo wrapper that’s almost leathery in texture, and adorned with a simple, elegant, embossed band. Yet the "avoidance" part stems from the fact that …
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  • Victor Sinclair Triple Corojo

    Steve R
    88
    Christmas is now an afterhought, and my AMEX practically burned a whole through my wallet, so I decided to be a little more economical with my final purchase of 2007. I decided to pick up a new, full(er)-bodied cigar by Victor Sinclair which will likely catch on among Corojo fans. Partly because of the price, but mostly because of the flavor. I’ve long been a fan of Corojo …
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  • Hoyo de Tradicion

    Steve R
    89
    Over the past 2 or 3 months I’ve been enjoying a cigar pretty regularly. And by regularly I mean at least 1-2 each week. Now, that might not seem ‘regular’ to you, but considering the variety of cigars offered to me each week, between samples and new blends, 1-2 a week is surprisingly routine these days. That cigar is Hoyo de Tradicion, the latest addition to the legendary Hoyo …
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  • San Cristobal

    Steve R
    91
    The first few months leading up to each RTDA include a massive influx of hype, whispers, ratings, reviews, and of course excitement. Each year, several cigars remain the focal point throughout the show. Whether they’re from CAO, Felipe Gregorio, Perdomo, or Rocky Patel...these are the cigars we’re all waiting to try. And so we hit the show floors with burned-out palates, ready to …
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  • Rocky Patel R4

    Gonz
    I love cigars and I love cigars that have intriguing names - they get me so much more excited before I smoke them for the first time - 5 Vegas (of course), La Vieja Habana, CAO Black, Free Cuba, etc.  They create a drama into what I might be smoking and the flavor begins to embody that name.  When I think of 5 Vegas Series 'A', I can almost taste that rich maduro flavor and strength of …
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  • Brocatus

    Gonz
    Some cigar brand names will transcend time, no doubt - 5 Vegas (obviously), Montecristo, Perdomo, Cohiba, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, Brocatus (??).  Wait, what was that last one?  I'm not even sure how to pronounce it.  Where is the emphasis?  On the "o", the "a" or the "us".  Bro-cah-dus or Bro-cay-tus or Bro-cah-toos.  I don't know, be creative, whatever, but …
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  • 601 Serie Blue Box-Press Maduro

    Steve R
    90
    A while back I reviewed the original 601 Serie, a high-end cigar made by Don ‘Pepin’ Garcia in his Nicaraguan-based factory, El Rey de los Habanos. Since I wrote this review, a new breed of 601 has been released, in the form of a box-pressed maduro, which also represents one of the few, if not the only, super-premium maduros made by Pepin Garcia. CigarFest ‘07 was the first time …
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  • Gispert

    Steve R
    87
    The fact that certain cigars fly under the radar amazes me. I mean, there are some wonderful sleepers out there: anything by Felipe Gregorio or Oliveros, La Aurora Leoninos, and many, many more. These brands go unknown by most, who simply reply with a “who?” or “what?” whenever mentioned. Yet, Gispert is a great seller. Now, I’m not saying Gispert is a bad cigar, because I haven’t tried enough to …
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  • MAXX by Alec Bradley

    Steve R
    90
    Is anybody else sick of seeing Paris Hilton on the news every minute of the day? In jail, outta jail, in jail, finding God, changing her life...who cares?! It’s sickening. Last night I turned on the television to see yet another report on the status of Princess Parasite, a clip of her being carted away in a squad car crying her eyes out. After watching just long enough for a sheepish smile …
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  • Montecristo Media Noche

    Steve R
    91
    I’ve really been struggling this week. I can’t snap out of it. The weather has been flippin’ gorgeous and I just want to be out on the golf course. Despite putting the lives of others at risk with my horrific slice, it’s always good to be out in the sun with the guys and a great cigar or three. But, I’ve hardly had time to hit the range after work, let alone make …
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  • Ashton Aged Maduro

    Steve R
    90
    Wow. It’s literally been over a month since I posted a staff review. Don’t get me wrong...I’ve been burning my way through boxes of cigars during this time, but the craziness that is CigarFest kept me from actually sitting down and writing a review. Hosting 2,000 cigar lunatics and 26 of the world’s finest cigar makers for the best damn Herf on the planet can be very time consuming! It’s insanely …
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  • Brocatus

    Keith
    86
    If you're looking for an economically-priced golf course cigar, this is it. Over the years I've been asked a million times for a 7" cigar that's mild enough not to be intrusive, enough flavor to be interesting, and a cost of less than $1.25. While it might not fly with the chardonnay-and-brie crowd, for around a buck apiece I'll tell ya, this does the job every time.  The maker, Luis …
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  • Perdomo 2 Mistakes

    Gonz
    Ya'll have probably read my review on cigars called Mistakes many moons ago.  Well, these are different, so don't get your panties in a knot thinking that I'm writing about the same cigars from years ago.  I'm often afraid that Alzheimer's has kicked in early, but luckily I haven't lost my mind yet.  These Perdomo Mistakes are different, oh so different.  You can read the …
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  • Romeo y Julieta Viejo

    Steve R
    90
    The Romeo y Julieta Bully was one of the first cigars I ever had. It was about 9 or 10 years ago. I was in Mexico and forcing down my 4th or 5th Corona of the morning. (Before you ask, I brought my own cigars. Never buy smokes in Mexico!) I lit up a Bully from the 1875 line, Romeo’s top-selling blend. It was good...gentle enough for a new guy like me to enjoy with enough flavor to make …
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  • Perdomo Lot 23

    Steve R
    91
    Nick Perdomo is widely known for his super-high-end handmades, including Edicion de Silvio, ESV '91 and the amazing La Tradicion series. However, some of our top-selling brands happen to be his value-priced blends, like Slow-Aged Lot 826 and Tierra del Sol. It's clear, Tabacalera Perdomo can craft a top-notch smoke for enthusiasts of all shapes, sizes and incomes. He furthers this point with …
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  • Fonseca Habana

    Keith
    91
    Coming up is Super Bowl weekend, something I view with a mix of equal parts dread and excitement. We all know the game itself is often more spectacle than sporting event. But more than that, here's the reason why. This weekend marks the start of that gaping hole in the sports universe, the 6-week period amounting to little more than a barren, rocky place for televised sports. For many of us this …
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  • Partagas Black

    Brandon S
    90
    I must say, it’s been some time since I’ve last enjoyed the wonder that is the Partagas Black and I owe it all to an email I received from Angela who requested that I provide some thoughts on this blend. I think we all have tendency to write reviews on cigars we enjoy on a regular basis so when I received this request to review the Partagas Black, I was all too happy to oblige! For my …
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  • Zino Platinum Scepter

    Steve R
    85
    Davidoff is a name that needs no introduction. Whether you’ve managed to pony up the dough and buy one for yourself or not, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the name at least a hundred times over. Davidoff, founded by the late Zino Davidoff, is a symbol of pleasure and the good life. Well, naturally...you have to have a ‘good life’ to enjoy a Davidoff cigar with any type of regularity. I think I …
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  • 601 Serie

    Steve R
    91
    As per the usual, the Thanksgiving holiday called for an onslaught of primo cigars. Top-notch, full-bodied premiums that could stand up to my traditional (and supernatural) display of utter gluttony. Naturally, my favorites were chosen…Edicion de Silvio, Gurkha Centurian Double-X, Graycliff Espresso; the whole 9 yards. This year, a newcomer made the cut. 601 Serie, a cigar from the makers …
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  • Saint Luis Rey

    Steve R
    87
    Today, I realized I haven’t written a review since October. Amazing, considering I’ve probably smoked about 50 cigars since then. In the words of Nimish, the Prince of Indian Tabac, I am a “slacker.” About 2 weeks ago, I received an email request to review Saint Luis Rey. Interesting. I don’t think I’ve ever tried the Honduran blend and, since I love doing …
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  • Arturo Fuente Hemingway

    Steve R
    86
    Last night I decided to crack open the old El Presidente humidor at home. It’s been a long time since I’ve touched this thing, other than the routine re-charge of the humidifiers. After taking a peak inside and under the lift-out tray I was quite impressed with the collection of lovelies I’ve been sitting on. At the bottom were a few Hemingway Signatures. I don’t remember …
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  • Fonseca Hab. Seleccion

    Brandon S
    93
    In a word, Fonseca Habana Seleccion can best be described as WOW! Seriously, this cigar easily joins the ranks of the elite few who truly possess all of the characteristics in just the right proportions to elevate a cigar to legendary status. Perhaps I’m being a bit overzealous here but after having smoked well over 100 of these fine cigars in all of their various vitolas, I’m …
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  • Double Happiness

    Gonz
    It's funny, I've had a flurry of emails lately from guys offering to send me higher priced sticks ("Gonz, you've gotta try this Opus whatchamacallit with nine gazillion years of aging and plume drooling out of the wrapper leaf - it's orgasmic.")  Pa-lease.  I even had someone offer me food stamps so I could spend more on cigars.  I should probably lay off of the Lucky …
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  • 5 Vegas Gold No. 1

    Steve R
    90
    For the past 5 days we’ve seen nothing but rain here in Bath, PA. Flash flood warnings bombard the airwaves, while local residents can be seen paddling down the streets on the evening news. Craziness. Yesterday, there was a break in the rain and a few rays of foggy sunshine before the day came to an end. This was my chance to go outside and enjoy a cigar, and I’ll be damned if I …
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  • Victor Sinclair Vintage

    Gonz
    For some reason, this review took an extensive amount of "research"... Monday - "ok, Bob E. from Wyomissing, PA said that I need to spark up one of these Victor Sinclair Vintage Selects, haven't had one for a while, but that was when it was a pricey jobbie.  Whoah, not bad, easy draw, good looking box press, fires up easily, this is primed for a Gonz's Pick." Tuesday - "ok, one …
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  • Oliva 'O' Classic

    Steve R
    87
    While I was away on vacation, the guys here at the office decided to clean out my humidor. Considering most of my favorites have become their favorites, most of my favorites have become missing. So, I had to dig deep to find some enjoyable smokes to burn while working this past week. Underneath a handful of samples I’ll never want to smoke again, I discovered 4 Oliva ‘O’ Classic …
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  • Fonseca Habana Selección

    Steve R
    92
    Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve written a review on a cigar. Truth be told, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything! I’ve been away on vacation, enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Outer Banks. Warm, sunny days, mas Corona (no Keith, it’s still not a beer in my book) and plenty of R&R.   Anyway, it’s good to be back at the …
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  • El Mejor Espresso

    Brandon S
    90
    El Mejor, literally translated means “the best one’ or, “the great one”. Truly a fitting moniker in this case because the El Mejor Espresso is an excellent cigar no matter how you “cut” it. Nicaraguan cigars are most often likened to the Cuban cigars of old. They are typically stereotyped as being medium to full-bodied and spicy with a rich and robust flavor …
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  • Torano Exodus 1959

    Brandon S
    91
    Boy Howdy! If it could ever be possible to infuse a chocolate bar into a few leaves of tobacco and roll it into a cigar, it would unquestionably be called a Torano Exodus 1959! Now don’t get me wrong here because I’m not saying that this is a flavored smoke in any way. Instead, what I’m trying to get across to you without actually handing you one is the fact that this cigar …
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  • Punch Rare Corojo

    Steve R
    87
    I never quite understood why the Punch Rare Corojo is called, Punch Rare Corojo. After all, the wrapper is not Corojo. Rather, this box-pressed handmade sports a dark, oily Sumatra leaf from Ecuador. A head-scratcher indeed. Whatever the case may be, the Rare Corojo can be considered rare, since production is limited to just once per year, hitting retail shelves mid-to-late Spring. A few years …
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  • Romeo y Julieta 1875

    Steve R
    87
    Romeo y Julieta was one of the first cigars I've ever tried. Come to think of it, I believe it was numero uno. I was in Cancun - don't worry, I brought my own smokes - and had just a few too many Coronas, so my memory is a little hazy. Regardless, had I not enjoyed my first few cigars, I wouldn't have become the crazed cigar lunatic I am today. Therefore, I do give thanks to RyJ for beginning my …
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  • 5 Vegas 'A' Apocalypse

    Brandon S
    93
    If you haven’t tried a 5 Vegas Series ’A’ by now you should seriously consider re-prioritizing your life. Few are the times when a cigar commands this kind of attention and I’ll be damned if this isn’t one of those moments!   I’ve been a huge fan of the Series ‘A’ since it was first released. I mean, how can you not fall in love with this cigar …
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  • Xikar Envoy Leather Case

    Steve R
    This week, I’ve decided to do something a little different. Something a little crazy, that could get me in trouble with the ‘Big Guy’. But, guess what? I don’t care, because I am just so damn impressed with the Envoy 3-Finger Leather Case from Xikar. Here’s the deal. I have just about every cigar toy imaginable, including countless cigar cases, caddies, travel-dors, …
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  • El Mejor Espresso

    Gonz
    These hit the dock about 2 months ago, I loved the original box-pressed El Mejor, albeit slightly inconsistent but they were a hearty Nicaraguan puro with a beautiful and tasty Nicaraguan maduro wrapper. Now that they seem to have fallen off the face of the earth, this new "Espresso"-version appeared. The fact that it was called "Espresso" scared me for some reason, but now I'm smacking my head …
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  • 5 Vegas Series 'A'

    Keith
    92
    When you're inside CI headquarters, even if you're not looking for cigars, boy, cigars sure do find you. This place is a 49,000 square foot playground chock full of handmades, and resistance is just about futile. That's the position I found myself this past Sunday. I ran to the office with a plan to get a few things done and a promise to my wife to speed back home without delay. But on my desk …
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  • Carlos Torano Exodus 1959

    Steve R
    89
    This Editor’s Pick can be summed up with two words: HERSHEY BAR. As many have already found out for themselves, the Torano Exodus 1959 is gorgeous. Dark, sharply boxed-pressed cigars that seem to leak natural oils, causing me to froth at the mouth every time I reach into the humidor to grab one. In my opinion, this is the best Torano to date, and as an added bonus, it’s perfectly …
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  • La Vieja Habana - Fumas

    Gonz
    We recently completely revamped our office space, and if I must say-so myself, this required an incredibly e-fficient, pro-ficient, and su-fficient IT team to relocate the office staff to temporary cubicles. Our network admin Brian somehow kept his sanity through the project and worked around the clock to get it done. Why is this important to you? Good question. Well, one late night after all of …
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  • Java by Drew Estate

    Keith
    The idea for Java was conceived in Allentown, PA. I know that ain't sexy, and you might rather believe it was divine inspiration one day in Central America when Jonathan Drew and Rocky Patel were inspecting tobacco plants in the vegas of the Jalapa Valley....but it's the truth. It was May 2, 2004, and all the major cigar manufacturers were here in Pennsylvania for CI's annual mega-herf called …
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  • Gurkha Centurian

    Steve R
    94
    The Gurkha Centurian is not your every day cigar. Rather, it’s a special cigar for a special day. Let’s be honest, how often do you get the chance to enjoy a $30 cigar that was made exclusively for the Sultan of Brunei? In case you're wondering, Brunei Darussalam is an oil-rich country located in the island of Borneo, and the Sultan is not just the Sultan, he's also the country’s Prime Minister, …
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  • Gurkha Centurian

    Brandon S
    91
    I reviewed this fine smoke some time back before we started "formally" reviewing cigars and I have to tell you, it's as good if not better than the very first one I ever tried. After speaking with Kaizad Hansotia (founder and blender behind Gurkha cigars) I was nearly foaming at the mouth to get my hands on one. In fact, the very moment these arrived at our warehouse I was opening boxes to find …
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  • Cu*Avana Maduro

    Steve R
    89
    Although I will burn a gentler cigar every now and then, it’s very rare that I’ll choose a mellow smoke from my humidors full of medium to full-bodied cigars, let alone find one. The other day I was fishing through one of my desktops in search of something different. Way down at the bottom I found a Cu*Avana Maduro Churchill. About a year ago I put this stick to rest, knowing I’d …
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  • 5 Vegas Series 'A'

    Steve R
    92
    Wow. Winter just started and already it's rough. Bitter cold, windy nights, sleet, snow...I absolutely despise the cold. For one, I hate having to warm up my car. I am way too impatient (and usually running too late to wait). Second, the winter marks the end of the NFL season – why can't football be a year-round sport? Lastly, and most importantly, the cold weather seriously cuts into …
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  • Natural Ltd. Pimp Stick by Drew Estate

    Steve R
    89
    Drew Estate is known for their Acid line, a series of unique, aromatic blends. Whenever I am in our retail store and recommend a Drew Estate product, I see the gears inside their head start to turn, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re thinking ‘flavored’ or ‘aromatic’. Considering my DE recommendations usually include the Natural line, this is not a …
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  • El Mejor Espresso

    Keith
    90
    As the saying goes, "beauty may only be skin deep, but ugly goes right to the bone." But this is one beauty that's got a pretty face and delivers the goods, in all respects from substance to flavor to construction to price. Bold statement. If you're a maduro nut, the new El Mejor "Espresso" blend will wow you. I received a small advance shipment a few weeks ago (the full shipment to arrive next …
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  • Montecristo White Label

    Steve R
    85
    Montecristo, one of the biggest names in the business, and a ‘staple’ among enthusiasts everywhere. I’ll start out by telling you, the White Label is a gorgeous cigar. Silky and smooth with a flawless wrapper that’s been applied perfectly around a dense bunch of fillers that shows no signs of a soft spot. It’s a perfect representation of the name printed on the band. Unfortunately, my smoking …
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  • Bolivar 2005

    Steve R
    87
    When I received word of a new Bolivar being released, I grew a little antsy. Wrapped in an oily ligero wrapper and touted as a full-bodied, full-flavored blend that’s bold and aggressive, I figured it had to be good. Of course, I instantly hoped the new blend would resemble its older brother from The Island – an assertive, robust, heady smoke that pops with flavorful goodness – …
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  • Gurkha Symphony

    Steve R
    90
    Those of you that know me are well aware of my love for Gurkha cigars. I can easily look you straight in the eyes and say that I’ve yet to find a disappointing Gurkha. Granted, I haven’t smoked them all (yet), but I’ve definitely had my fair share. Kaizad Hansotia, the man behind Gurkha, came out with some new lines with K. Hansotia secondary bands. Of course, I had to try them all. …
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  • Natural Root

    Keith
    89
    Until a year or two ago, I never viewed Natural as a serious, conventional cigar. In most consumers' minds it is so closely tied to Drew Estate's insanely popular, highly-infused ACID brand that the popular misconception holds that Natural is also such an "imbued" cigar as well. To be sure, Natural is made with unconventional tobaccos from such sources as Haiti and Turkey, as well as more common …
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  • Partagas Cifuentes Seasonal Blends

    Steve R
    92
    I was fortunate enough to taste a few of these at this year’s RTDA in Las Vegas. Long story short, it blew me away. In my mind, it was the best release at the show, and I’ve been waiting to receive our shipment ever since, ready to make an employee purchase. It finally hit the docks about 3 weeks ago - the card was swiped, and I was puffing away by 5PM that same night. I’ve …
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  • Perdomo Fresh-Rolled Cuban Wheels

    Gonz
    Well my friends, I've got a doozie for you this month. Like my last pick, this too is very different, not quite as "out there" as the green one, but close. I'm sure I'll get my share of "gonz, I wouldn't try that if you paid me to smoke it" emails, but it's your loss. To legitimize my selection, I'll quote an email from one of my loyal readers (TC of Enid, OK) "you should …
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  • Flor del Todo

    Keith
    88
    Rolando Reyes, Sr. is tireless. The man is over 80 years old, widely acknowledged as the best blender alive, and he still works like a horse day in and day out. Actually, it's probably more like night in, night out: his work habits are legendary - he sleeps during the day, wakes up late in the afternoon, and then stays up the entire night sorting cigars until rollers arrive the next morning. He …
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  • Oliva ’O’ Maduro

    Brandon S
    92
    ‘O’ Maduro….Oh wow, where do I begin... Like a monkey attracted to a shiny object, I first picked one of these up when the fabric band adorned with gold sparkly stuff caught my eye some years back. I love Maduro cigars and I also love full-bodied cigars and when I first laid my eyes on this beauty it was love at first sight! Oily, dark and superbly constructed, the …
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  • CAO Brazilia

    Steve R
    88
    I recently re-introduced myself to CAO Brazilia, my favorite CAO blend prior to the re-release of CAO Black. I particularly enjoy the Brazilia because both the flavor and strength varies drastically between the different sizes. I find, ironically enough, the strength decreases as the size increases. Because of this, my favorite size is the Gol! – a well-fed Robusto shape that boasts a solid …
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  • RP Vintage 2nds

    Gonz
    I've hesitated to write this pick for a few weeks now, I admit it, I was trying to keep these for myself and not let the masses know how awesome a deal this is. I'm not kidding, first time I saw them in our catalog I did a double-take...what? RP Vintage Seconds? Can't be. Well my friends, it's true. Strap me up and call me Sally if I'm not telling ya that these are the best darn Seconds I've ever …
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  • La Gloria Cubana Serie R

    Keith
    88
    I just returned about a week ago from New Orleans, where the annual RTDA cigar industry trade show was held this year. Man, talk about a roll in the catnip. I always look forward to RTDA - catching up with friends in the industry, working out deals, discussing new projects, smoking 20 cigars a day....and hatching schemes to destroy the competition (he he he). It's sensory overload, with cigars as …
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  • Nat Sherman Host Selection

    Gonz
    Back when I was cigar newbie, I think it was the summer of '95, I walked into a tobacco shop down in the west village of NYC. I pressed my eyes against the dirty glass case to get a better look at the goods. $11 - wow, that must be a great cigar. It was a Nat Sherman brand. Never heard of it, but if it cost $11, it must be phenomenal. And next to doin' the wild thing, it was the best darn …
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  • Natural Dirt Torpedo by Drew Estate

    Steve R
    90
    As I write this, we do not have the Natural Dirt Torpedo in stock. However, it will be arriving shortly, and the more I think about the cigar, the more I am looking forward to its arrival. Drew Estate sent us samples a few months ago, and I burned through them quite quickly. They were good, but nothing too exciting. I thought, “It’s the same as the Dirt, why do I need a torpedo?” I’ll tell you …
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  • Perdomo 2 Milenario ‘Mistakes’

    Steve R
    89
    I decided to pick up the game of golf this summer. I call it a game simply because it’s always playing with my mind. One day I’ll do well, the next day I’ll go through $25 in balls. Although I can’t always control how I play on the course, I can control what cigars I’ll be burning while looking for my ball. I’ve always been told never to have ‘good’ …
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  • ACID Ltd. Def Sea

    Gonz
    Smooooooooooooooth! That's pretty much all this review needs. Soooooo Smoooooth!!!! Spark'em up. This is a great summer smoke. This gar is the complete opposite of last month's pick. Let me start by saying I'm not a huge fan of anything imbued with anything. I used to think flavored cigars were for sissies. Well, things sure have changed around here. I've got two in the rotation now, Cuban Honeys …
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  • Graycliff Espresso

    Brandon S
    84
    You might recall a short time ago when the Robb Report labeled this bad-boy as being “nearly hallucinogenic”. I suppose that might be an applicable description by some, but in my humble opinion it’s merely a buzz word designed to attract attention to Graycliff’s original Espresso line. Certainly the blend is enticing enough with a combination of long-fillers …
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  • Flor del Todo

    Gonz
    This cigar has been around forever, literally as long as my cigar memory serves me. And I can remember the first time I picked up this, um, beauty in about '98, it was a grimy, dry looking blah that tasted just like it looked. I'm not sure who schnookered me into smoking it, but I called it like it smoked and went on referring to it as "flor del doo-doo". Ya know what I mean, like doggie-doo-doo. …
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  • Don Diego

    Steve R
    85
    Don Diego is one of those names that’s become synonymous with ‘gentle’. It’s a go-to brand for beginners – they know the name, it’s easy to say and you’ll find it in just about any cigar shop across the country. They’re consistent, well-made and make for an easy introduction to the wonderful world of premium handmade cigars. Heck, one of the first cigars I ever had was a Don Diego, given to me by …
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  • 5 Vegas Series 'A'

    Gonz
    a·nom·a·ly, n., deviation or departure from the normal or common order, form, or rule. Let me get it out of the way 'geez Gonz, back to back 5 Vegas reviews???' Well, after my incredible string of good fortune in furthering the supremacy of 5 Vegas (in my mind at least) with my last review of 5 Vegas Gold, I couldn't resist picking up the recently released Series 'A'. I …
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  • Macanudo Cafe

    Keith
    84
    Whenever I'm asked what I do for a living, I get one of three reactions: 1) a puzzled look on his face, "I'll be damned. You can make a living selling cigars?" 2) shocked look from a soccer mom who slowly backs away as if I just told her I sell arms to Syria 3) excited …
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  • Onyx Reserve

    Steve R
    87
    Not too long ago, the Onyx Reserve Mini Belicoso blew up the cigar scene with an astonishing ‘94’ rating from Cigar Aficionado. It quickly became all the rave, causing backorders lasting too many months to count. Never before have I seen such demand on a cigar, so naturally, I had to see what all the fuss was about. I remember my first Mini Belicoso like it was yesterday. I was still …
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  • "Original" Cubans

    Gonz
    I used to think this column was an easy task. I smoke a couple of cigars per day, I know what I like and I just need to explain it in gonz verbiage. I used to smoke a cigar once and know it was going to be one primed for Gonz's Pick. Now, I smoke 2, sometimes 3 in a row before I can qualify it. There are so many good cigars out there right now. The market has really come full circle and it's …
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  • La Gloria Cubana Serie ‘R’ #5 Maduro

    Brandon S
    84
    A couple of days ago Steve-O and I received an email from a customer requesting a review/ score on the La Gloria Serie R. First off let me just say “Thank You!” to Chris S. for taking time out of his day to shoot us an email! I love getting feedback from you guys and just discussing cigars in general. The fact that our reviews help you to decide which cigars might be worth your …
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  • Cu-Avana

    Keith
    89
    A bunch of us at CI, naturally, smoke several cigars daily, sampling tons of blends new and old alike, some great and some just decent, sprinkled in with the occasional atrocious, unsmokeable samples. Despite this I only get around to writing an "official" review once every few weeks. That's probably because I also write all the useless catalog drivel. You know, product copy for the junk mail we …
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  • Rocky Patel Connecticut

    Keith
    90
    The more one smokes cigars, generally speaking the more one tends to gravitate toward strength and complexity over time. I guess that's natural, just like beer, wine, coffee or anything else - as you get more sucked in your palate evolves and you explore the boundaries. Thing is, mellow cigars never really get fantastic ratings or wild-eyed reviews because most of the people who write that stuff, …
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  • Park Avenue Serie 44

    Brandon S
    87
    Finally! An everyday smoke from Kaizad Hansotia (maker of Gurkha cigars) without the Ferrari price tag! Seriously, I don’t mind ponying up the big bucks every now and again for a cigar as unique, complex and well-constructed as a Gurkha Master Select or Gurkha Regent but for me, it certainly is not a cigar that I can afford to enjoy daily! Don’t get me wrong now as I do believe that …
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  • Slow-Aged No. 826

    Gonz
    "Slow-Aged No. 826", tell me that isn't the perfect Barry White song title? Or maybe one of the lost Mozart Concertos, who knows? I've been smoking this for the past week and brought some along on my first round (well 9 holes) of golf for the year. Lesson #1: it was windy as hell so learn from me - you need 1 cigar per hole on windy days or you'll feel like a schmuck b/c the 5-pack you …
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  • Cu-Avana

    Gonz
    Have you ever had one of those weeks where nothing, and I mean nothing, could get you in a good mood? No special cigar, no special lovin' from the wife, no special wine, no 12 shots of tequila, no nuthin'. I never thought I'd make it to Saturday. But here I am, finally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after a solid 6 hours sleep (woohoo!), with tremendous hope that this week will be the week I hit …
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  • Sun-Grown by Rocky Patel

    Brandon S
    90
    Unless you have been wandering the Gobi Desert for the past few months without food or water, chances are you are becoming increasingly familiar with name Rocky Patel. Rocky is the brilliant founder behind the Indian Tabac brand and after a few tough years in the beginning, Rocky is really coming in to his own with a recent string of releases that have quickly become some of the hottest and most …
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  • Rocky Patel Connecticut

    Steve R
    90
    Yes, I know...I just did a write-up on the Rocky Patel Sun Grown. What can I say, Rocky makes some phenomenal cigars, and I am enjoying each new line that he’s come out with. Every time I crack open a box of Vintage, I know exactly what to expect from each cigar found inside. The same goes for the Sun Grown and the Edge, and Rocky’s latest creation, the Connecticut, is no different. The only …
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  • Victor Sinclair Vintage Select

    Steve R
    88
    If there’s one thing I love, it’s a super dark, super smooth, super oily box-pressed cigar. Among my favorites are the Torano Exodus, Gurkha Regent and Nester Reserve. Slow-burning, densely packed, hefty handmades filled with chocolatey goodness. Victor Sinclair of the Dominican Republic has their own version of dark, box-pressed beauties called the Vintage Select. Truth be told, this …
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  • Rocky Patel Sun Grown

    Steve R
    90
    The 2004 RTDA in Vegas showcased a slew of great offerings from some great makers, and of all the makers, it seems Rocky Patel was the busiest. His booth was utter madness, spilling over with onlookers trying to catch a glimpse of his new releases. The Edge, Java, Royale and Sun Grown – each one causing what seemed to be a riot, only less gunfire and more flashbulbs. But don’t worry, …
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  • Bohemian Bamboo

    Gonz
    "Hey mon, ya wanna smoke some bamboo with us tooonight?" - a dark-skinned Jamaican student said to me during my first week of college 15 years ago. "Um, well, hmm, I'll, um, maybe, well, I promised my parents, um, well, hmm, smells good, well..." This time on Gonz's bargain train, I've got some Bohemian Bamboo "for ya mon". No, not the wacky-tobaccy kind, but a deal coming from Dominican …
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  • Puros Indios by Rolando Reyes, Sr.

    Steve R
    89
    Rolando Reyes, Sr. is a living legend. I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand just how important this man is to the cigar industry at the 2004 RTDA in Las Vegas, as everyone there helped celebrate his birthday. It’s difficult to put into words the amount of respect that he receives within the industry, fellow cigar-makers went out of their way to shake his hand and made it a point to …
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  • DARK SHARK

    Gonz
    With pure delight in my fingers, I write this review. This has been one of my favorites for years. I'm like a kid who just found Dad's stash of nudie girl magazines. Dark Shark is one of those elusive brands that has just the right mix of the good, bad, and the ugly. About 4 years ago, I smoked my first. It had a dark Sumatra wrapper on a nice Dominican filled cigar with a surprising punch in …
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  • Ashton Vintage Cabinet Series

    Steve R
    86
    Since I’ve been leaning towards the lighter side of cigars lately, I figured I’d treat myself to one I’ve never had. Indeed, finding one was a task in of itself, almost as difficult as forking out the dough to try the chosen cigar, Ashton Vintage, otherwise known as the Cabinet Series, or Cabinet Selection. Whatever you want to call it, Ashton is a consistent cigar that receives a lot of praise, …
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  • "MISTAKES"

    Gonz
    Do I look like a guineau-pig? Well, I sure feel like one. This month, I've been given the "pleasure" to try a brand that got messed up. Yes, this thing was destined for the dumpster and it gets put on my desk. Gee thanks! You can read the story of how we got these by clicking the link above. In short, it's designed to be a Knock-off of the Dominican Montecristo in flavor and appearance. …
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  • Slow-Aged by Perdomo

    Steve R
    88
    Every now and then I catch wind of a new cigar that makes me grow as impatient as an eight year old kid on Christmas morning. Carmen our inventory manager tries to keep these shipments a secret, knowing I’ll bug him on a daily basis to see if it has arrived. Slow-Aged was one of those shipments. It only took a few words for me to grab my attention: Perdomo, bundle, bargain. I love Perdomo …
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  • Cu-Avana Maduro

    Gonz
    Every winter, I get into this rut. I feel like I'm always running the 2 minute drill. You football nuts out there know what I'm talking about. The no huddle offense. Move the ball quickly, plow forward, hope the defense goes into the "prevent" defense, or as I refer to it - the "prevent winning" defense. Anyway, about February of each year, this happens. Go go go go go go go go. I start hoping …
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  • Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970

    Steve R
    91
    I’ve noticed a landslide of quality mellow bodied cigars hitting our docks as of late. As a result, almost everything that I’ve been smoking these days has been lighter than the norm. Since I’ve made my way through most of the new product, I’ve decided to treat myself to one of the strongest cigars I’ve ever had. The Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970, a 90+ rated firecracker that’s been named one of …
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  • Natural Ltd. Pimp Sticks

    Gonz
    You've got to be kidding me! Webster's Unabridged defines "pimp" to be "one who provides gratification for the lust of others." Interesting! That's not exactly the vision that comes to mind, but I guess I have a lust for cigars and my pimp could be any one of the manufacturers that produce them. So, you could say I've been smoking pimp sticks for years. Just don't tell my wife, she won't …
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  • Arturo Fuente

    Steve R
    86
    Arturo Fuente, one of the most widely known names in the cigar industry. On a daily basis, I come in contact with enthusiasts that live and die by the Fuente name, swearing off all cigars unless it has this infamous signature somewhere on the band. Why? Beats me, there are so many great cigars out there it’s hard to believe a true enthusiast would limit himself to just one maker. …
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  • Fonseca Vintage

    Steve R
    90
    By now I think you’ve come to realize that I don’t usually care for lighter bodied cigars. To add to this, I rarely light up a mellow bodied cigar on a regular basis. There are some exceptions, like K. Hansotia’s Symphony, AVO XO, 5 Vegas Gold and the new Perdomo Reserve Champagne. It’s safe to say that it’ll take a damn fine cigar to rank among my favorites...I mean come on, those are some …
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  • 5 Vegas

    Gonz
    Yup, it's been a full month since my last pick and I can't possibly describe the details of the past 30 days. Here's the short of it: on Nov. 25 I became a Dad for the first time and on Nov. 25 my amount of sleep went from little to none. I have more respect than ever for the other Dads out there. I've heard you guys complaining for years now and I just figured you guys were soft, but now I know. …
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  • Carlos Torano 1916 Cameroon

    Gonz
    Sometimes I'm just a naive newbie cigar smoker. I get excited about the simplest, stupidest, things. But don't tell me I'm wrong 'cause I don't want to hear it. I'll give you an example. Perusing down at our retail store a few weeks ago, I heard some customers talking about the Carlos Torano 1916 Cameroon - oohing and aahing like school kids. "Toothy, leather Cameroon wrapper." …
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  • Carlos Torano 1916 Cameroon

    Brandon S
    91
    Last year I had the pleasure of attending my first RTDA show in Nashville and needless to say, I felt like Charlie in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory! Unless you have been to one it is hard to describe the pure, unbridled exhilaration that one experiences in such a place. For the most part, days spent at the RTDA consist of sampling cigar upon cigar from the very moment you wake up until …
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