Reviews by Keith

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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 send out, the catalog you keep on the back of your toilet below the box of tissues but on top of the doily (any excuse to say the word "doily" I shamelessly seize). Well the last cigar I "officially" reviewed for the site was RP Connecticut. Smoking a bunch of these put me on a Connecticut leaf bender for the past 3 weeks. See, for a spell there this winter I was religiously smoking nothing but heavier-bodied, err at least medium-bodied, blends for the most part. But now I'm back, so very back, on the Connecticut shade wagon - at least for now. And Cu-Avana has been a steady part of that diet.

Cu-Avana is made by Manuel Quesada in the Dominican Republic. First of all, Manuel is a prince of a guy, a class act. He's made some extraordinary cigars including Fonseca (all the various incarnations including Vegas de Fonseca, Fonseca Series F, Fonseca Vintage, etc.) and was in fact the maker of the original Dominican version of Romeo y Julieta, plus a slew of other brands. Packed in a simple, painted box, Cu-Avana doesn't look like much on the shelf, I will concede. But there is a reason this cigar is such a horse in the sales department: consistency. Cu-Avana is as consistent as the day is long. Draped in gorgeous, golden Connecticut wrappers with nary a blemish to be found, coddling a super-tame, well-aged blend of long leaf tobaccos from the lush Cibao River Valley. One after the other, these things are meticulously constructed, and rolling it between your fingers you'd be hard-pressed to find a soft spot. The draw is just right - firm and not too easy, yet effortless, while booming out big smoke rings from its foot and beautiful blue-gray clouds from its head. Smooth and mellow, these pleasant cigars you could smoke all day long. And shit, for $2 to $2.50 apiece it's a helluva value too. As one customer once told me one day when I was hanging around our retail shop, "this is a Macanudo-killer!" Yet as consistent and as mellow as it is, it's no airball. In fact it reminds me somewhat of Ashton - ample flavor despite being so easy going, including a very faint but compelling lemon-like sweetness.

Oh and check this out: here's an old golf trick of mine when you're playing against a couple sandbaggers who have artificially inflated their handicaps. Chain-smoke Cu-Avanas while offering them something industrial-strength like The Edge by Rocky Patel. You'll coast through the round, improving with each hole, while the wheels start to come off their wagon as they get lightheaded and start shanking their drives into the woods. There's some free they say about free advice, you get what you pay for.