Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Liga Privada No. 9

 

Fatal Halo Rating

A

Dimensions: 6” x 52 (Belicoso)
Price:  $10.00
Burn Time: 2 hours
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf (ligero)
Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
Tobacco: Honduran & Dominican
Purchased at:  Montecristo House of Cigar (Powell, Ohio – www.houseofcigar.net)


Ligas are truly in a league of their own when it comes to the cigar world.  Created by Drew Estates – famously known for their line of infused “ACID” cigars, the Liga is something special on its own as it was created specifically for the company’s President, Steve Saka.  As detailed on StogieReview.com: “During the creation of this cigar, 10 starting blends were created, then expanded to 4 unique blends within each starting blend (a total of 40 blends).  Sanka didn’t find what he was looking for until they got to blend #9 (after 32 different cigars)”.

That fact alone really impresses me because the amount of time and work that went in to finding the perfect blend for the President of a prestigious cigar company really makes you feel that special attention was paid in the development and creation of this cigar and that, for me, allows me to savor it that much more.  I’ve had a Liga No. 9 before and remember it as an excellent smoke.  I’m actually very excited to be reviewing this one today because it is the cigar I picked out to celebrate my recent engagement to my now fianc√©.  In fact, the engagement photos we had taken had pictured the ring sitting atop a Liga Privada No. 9 cigar box.  How’s that for classy?




Pre-Smoke Analysis
This is just a magnificent cigar in look, feel, aroma and construction.  It is a dark and oily Oscuro wrapper that is velvety smooth.  Packed tight and firm, there are no noticeable soft spots and the wrap is damn near flawless.  It has a perfect double-cap at the head and nice bunching at the foot. Indeed, this cigar looks as if it had been hand-rolled for the President himself.  The aroma off of the wrapper has absorbed the cedar of my humidor very well and there’s a faint hint of sweetness and spiciness present at the foot.  It is smooth and quite alluring on the senses.


The First Third
The clip on the head was very easy and presented no fraying.  Because of the tightness of the roll, I expected the draw would be a little tight as well, but I’m happy to say that is not at all the case and the smoke is pulling quite smoothly and easily.  I decided to light this cigar differently than most by using a cedar spill, but because of the texture and oiliness of the wrapper, I had to follow up with a butane torch to get a full burn going.
The Liga is right away going to hit you hard in the senses.  This is most certainly a full-bodied cigar – but for those aficionados out there looking for something special, this is just what you’re looking for.  Flavors and aromas are strong yet sweet.  Very subtle nuances dance on the palate and thick white smoke lingers long enough for each draw to impress you with something new.  The flavor is a bit fruity, but still smoky and rustic.  I am picking up on some chocolate/roasted cocoa notes as well, but they’re very subtle and perfectly balanced.  There is a fairly even burn around the rim and it is just an absolute pleasure to sit back and enjoy.

The Second Third
Strength kicks up a little bit, but just enough to not be overwhelming.  I’m being careful not to breathe the smoke in too deeply through my nose because it does have the potential to kick you in the boo boo a little.  The burn is still very even and hasn’t needed any correction.  The ash has been strong beyond an inch and a half and needed a good knock against the ashtray to break it off.  The thick, creamy smoke is coating the tongue nicely but doesn’t leave a stale or bitter taste in the mouth.


Burning Out
The last little bit is full of flavor and the strength really kicks into high gear now.  It started to die out on me a little bit, but I knocked off the ash and torched it up again and didn’t have any more problems after that.  I may have let it burn on its own a little too long.  The smoke is still rich and creamy.  More experienced cigar smokers will be fine with the heaviness of this cigar at this stage, but it’s not a bad idea to have a good beverage on hand just to clean the plate a little.  All the smokey, syrupy flavors really come together here and bless the palate with a very unique and satisfying taste.


Final Thoughts
Overall, this cigar remains one of my favorites and I reviewed it for that reason; it is a cigar worth sharing with others.  I’ve tried a few of the ACID cigars from Drew Estate, but the Liga is by far my favorite and one worthy of lighting up for a special occasion.  That being said, it is a cigar that may not appeal to those who are looking for something a little lighter and smoother.  It is robust and full of flavor and a little on the strong side.  However, it burns nice and slow and eases you into its more complex flavors and aromas.  Some might get a strong buzz as they finish up the last third of it, but that’s partly what makes it what it is.  Truly a magnificent cigar in every category and well worth the price.


Liked It?:  Immensely.

Buy It Again?:  Most certainly.

Recommend It?:  100%.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

ACID Ming Dynasty

ACID Ming Dynasty

Fatal Halo Rating
B


Dimensions: 6” x 60 (Toro)
Price:  $11.00
Burn Time:  2 hours
Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Tobacco: Nicaraguan
Purchased at:  Montecristo House of Cigar (Powell, Ohio – www.houseofcigar.net)


I’ve only had a few of the ACID cigars in the past and for the most part, they’ve been kind of . . . “Eh”.  I much prefer the flavor and aroma of a natural cigar opposed to anything spiced or flavored like the ACID line, but seeing as how I always see them in their own special humidors in whatever shop I see them at, I assume there has to be a real winner among the line that I just have yet to find.  So, with that in mind, I picked up this beauty.  Looks nice and thick – capable of packing a punch, I hope.


Pre-Smoke Analysis
This is actually a beautifully constructed cigar.  The wrapper is a little veiny and you can feel some real tooth to it.  I am a bit disappointed because after removing it from the cellophane, I see that the wrapper near the foot is cracked in an upwards direction about an inch high on the cigar.  I hope this doesn’t cause any issues for me after lighting it.  The feel of the cigar is very firm with a mildly-rounded cap at the head that looks like its midway between being a standard rounded-cap cigar and a torpedo.  The band art is exquisite.  The aroma off the wrapper is very subtle, but it has a definite sweet spiciness to it.  The aroma intensifies at the foot and I’m picking up on hints of fine cognac and . . . baby powder oddly enough.


The First Third
The cigar lit up very quickly and without much fuss.  The split in the wrapper flaked away a little bit at first, but it didn’t cause any real trouble at all.  The draw was very easy after the clip, but the aroma and flavor doesn’t quite pack the punch I was expecting it would.  It’s nice and mellow and a little low on flavor considering it’s an ACID cigar, but not at all unpleasant.  The burn is staying pretty consistent and no major issues to speak of, so although it’s not a cigar that knocks my socks off, it’s not a complete disappointment either.


The Second Third
Not much change at all in flavor complexity or strength.  This is a very mild-bodied cigar in every sense of the meaning.  The burn becomes a bit hotter as the cherry closes in on the head, but still burns very even and doesn’t overpower your palate so much that you can’t enjoy pairing it with a good beverage.


Burning Out
The Dynasty picked up a little more flavor and strength right at the end, but I kind of hoped it would have kicked in a little sooner so I could have had longer to enjoy it.  It extinguished itself with a little less than an inch and a half left to go, but overall, it was a satisfying cigar.


Final Thoughts
From what I found in reviews on this cigar online, it didn’t get very high marks – and from seasoned cigar aficionados, I can understand why.  However, it burned almost perfectly as I didn’t need to correct it at any point.  The flavors were mild, but they lingered on the palate long enough to appreciate its uniqueness.  I don’t think it was necessarily worth the price I paid for it, but as far as ACID goes, it was alright.  I think those looking to try one expect more from it based on its size and construction and I’d like to try a Maduro version of it if one is ever produced.  Not a bad cigar for those new to the lifestyle.


Liked It?:  It was sufficient.

Buy It Again?: Perhaps.

Recommend It?:  Very likely . . . once the price drops a bit.

Pairing(s):  I enjoyed a Dundee Porter with this cigar and found it to be very well-matched!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A.J. Fernandez San Lotano Oval

A.J. Fernandez San Lotano Oval



Fatal Halo Rating
A+


Dimensions: 6.5” x 54 (oval-shaped box press)
Price:  $11.00
Burn Time:  2.5 hrs.
Wrapper: Habano 2000 (aged 4 years)
Binder: Nicaraguan
Tobacco: Nicaraguan & Honduran
Purchased at:  Montecristo House of Cigar (Powell, Ohio – www.houseofcigar.net)


I was interested in trying this cigar after seeing it ranked #2 on Cigar Journal’s Top 25 of 2011 and also because of its unique shape which can really only be described as an "oval-shaped box press".  Quite an amazing look.  The buzz around the smoke shop was also pretty high about this one in particular and the only deterrent for me from trying one sooner was its price tag – but I eventually had to give in and see if this one smoked as good as it looked.


Pre-Smoke Analysis
The shape itself is pretty amazing, but the wrapper is very smooth and silky to the touch.  It is a firm cigar with very few (if any) noticeable soft spots.  The head seems to be double-capped – and they do look a little flimsy, so I’m hoping the clip won’t cause the wrapper to unravel.  I also found that the wrapper has a split leaf about half-way up on the stick.  Not sure if that’s my handling that caused that or the cigar shop’s, but I’m hoping that won’t cause too much trouble after lighting.  The aroma off the wrapper is very mellow and smooth – kind of leathery and earthy, but just subtle enough that I can’t pick up on any specifics.


The First Third
I clipped the cap very slightly so as not to cause any unraveling and it took just a pinch to get the proper level on it.  The dry draw pulled very smoothly and easily, so I went ahead and torched it up.  I could tell right away by how quickly the foot took the flame that the reason for the cracked leaf wasn’t in the handling at all, but because the cigar was a little dry.  Regardless, the first pull of smoke after toasting the foot was surprisingly mellow and at precisely the right strength that I can really enjoy the flavors!  Thick, billowing white clouds of smoke rise out of this bad boy with each puff – but it is not at all overpowering.  I cannot yet tell if the cracked wrapper is affecting the smoke at all as it feels I am pulling in more air on the draw than I should be, but the cigar is burning evenly, so I do not see any issues yet.  Perhaps there might be in the second third when the cherry hits that segment.

Still hard to describe in terms of flavor, this cigar certainly has a refined, aged aroma to it.  For the amount of flavor it does have, I would expect it to be much more potent and full-bodied, but it is very mellow with just the right amount of spice and pepper to linger on the palate. I have never had a cigar quite like this one before, but if it is true that that majority of the flavor of a cigar is found in the wrapper, their Habano 2000 selection is right on the money.  I am making sure to handle the cigar delicately when smoking it and using my free had to hold the broken wrapper in place while taking my draws to be sure that it stays intact until I burn past that point.


The Second Third
Burned right down to the cracked wrapper, and although there was some minor flaking, the cigar corrected itself very quickly all on its own and didn’t lose a hint of flavor or compromise the burn!  I’m actually incredibly impressed as I was expecting a much more dramatic issue to arise – but no.  The cigar remains a consistent medium-body and the flavors begin to betray a bit of a cedar taste.  It is still producing large billows of white smoke but remaining as mellow as first light.  This cigar is a bit of an oddity, but one I’m actually marveling at!  I’m really enjoying what I think may actually be a masterpiece rivaling (or at least equaling) the Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial!


Burning Out
I had to manually correct the burn a couple of times once I burned down this far, but it didn’t detract from the enjoyable experience of smoking this cigar.  The flavors kicked up a bit at the end with a little more spice and pepper, but the consistent mellowness of the cigar up until this point really eases you into it gently and allows you to enjoy the subtle nuances that await.  I tend to appreciate cigars that have more complexity to them, but in this case, the balance was perfect from the first draw and I was really glad it remained as consistent as it did.


Final Thoughts
This cigar has certainly become one of my new favorites.  From the unique shape and flawless construction to the buttery flavor and aroma, the San Lotano is an absolutely exquisite cigar that I think experienced smokers and newbies alike will appreciate.  Initially, I was hesitant to buy one because of the price tag, but after researching more about the components used to construct it and the experience of smoking it, the Oval is worth every penny.  It most certainly deserves it’s #2 spot on the top 25 cigars of 2011 and I am looking forward to my next one.


Liked It?:  Profoundly.

Buy It Again?:  Without question.  I may even buy a few to share with others!

Recommend It?:  100%.

Pairing(s):  Magic Hat’s “Howl (Black as Night Lager)”.  Has a real distinct malted-chocolate flavor that really compliments the cigar.  I could also see myself enjoying a nice Irish coffee with this cigar as well.  May have to try that next time just to be sure!




Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cain Daytona Torpedo

Cain Daytona


Fatal Halo Rating
C

Dimensions: 6” x 54 (Torpedo)
Price:  $8.00
Burn Time: 
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Tobacco: Nicaraguan Long-filler Ligero
Purchased at:  Montecristo House of Cigar (Powell, Ohio – www.houseofcigar.net)


I read that this cigar was on Cigar Journal’s Top 25 list, so I figured I’d give it a shot and see what it was all about.  Cigars by Olivia have never really been exceptional in my experience, but knowing that each blend has different characteristics and nuances, I’m certainly not going to pass up an opportunity to explore further – and being that this cigar rated pretty high among the others, I’m interested to see what it has to offer.  Noted as a more “mild” smoke than others in its brand, it may provide just the cut off the top I’m looking for.

Pre-Smoke Analysis
The wrapper itself is almost seamlessly rolled – looks as if it were rolled from a single leaf with no seams or breaks anywhere to be seen.  Very nice job.  The Habano wrapper itself is a little veiny, but doesn’t feel that way when I run my fingers along it. Very smooth and delicate.  The aroma coming off of the wrapper is exquisite.  Very aromatic.  It has a sweet yet earthy aroma to it that is very pleasing indeed.  The tightly bunched tobacco at the foot looks like the cross section of a fallen tree and I’m tempted just for a moment to count the rings as if that will be any prediction as for what’s in store!  The strengthened aroma coming off of the foot is a little more earthy and roasted, but still very enticing.

The First Third
The cap clipped cleanly with no fraying and the cigar took the flame from my torch well and the draw was surprisingly perfect for a torpedo.  Occasionally I’ll have some difficulty with drawing off of a torpedo because my guillotine cutter tends to smash the tobacco together and makes it hard for any smoke to pass through, but this one seems to be just fine for now.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the way the ligero filler is rolled?  It was certainly impressive to see it so finely packed at the foot before lighting it.

The first draw was a little strong, so I’m sampling it gently as the burn begins to even out.  The aroma is unique to anything I’ve smoked before – somewhat difficult to pinpoint specific flavors, but I’m picking up a sweetness blended with coffee and spice which is very satisfying.  That earthy/cedar-like aroma that was present on the pre-smoke is certainly still evident and even more pronounced now.  Though the Daytona is toted as being more on the mild side, it will still likely pack a punch to the inexperienced smoker, but the flavors are certainly worth experiencing for yourself.

The Second Third
I am starting to have some real difficulty keeping this cigar lit – and I’m beginning to wonder if the torpedo cap is mostly to blame.  I’ve had to correct the burn several times, relight once and re-clip the cap to try and get a better draw.  The flavors remained pretty consistent throughout this segment of the cigar.  Smoke was thick and heavy, but full of flavor – particularly pepper and spice. I really have to draw hard on it and give it a good couple of puffs before I get any substantial smoke to sample though.  I’m beginning to wonder if the number of times I’m having to torch this cigar to keep it lit and to keep the burn even is charring the tobacco and affecting the flavor though as it is beginning to leave a bit of a bitter taste on my palate.

Burning Out
The flavors have remained consistent right up until the end.  Nothing notable or revolutionary about it in my opinion.  It is a milder version of some of the other Olivia cigars I’ve had in the past, but it wasn’t as complex a cigar as I was expecting it to be.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this one and not sure if the Olivia brand is really one I appreciate as much as the others.  The cigar started off very well, but the trouble I had keeping it lit was maddening and really detracted from the overall experience.  It was constantly canoeing in the burn and I’m sure at least half of the cigar was burned up just in the process of relighting and correcting it.  Looking past the difficulty I had with that, the aromas and flavors just weren’t packing that punch I like to have in a cigar.  Consistency is generally a good thing for some brands, but I was expecting more considering how highly it was rated by more experienced connoisseurs than myself.  On the appearance and construction aspect, I give this cigar high marks, but the real proof of quality should always be on the smoking experience and for this one I feel it was a bit of a let down. I would like to think that maybe a different shaped cigar of this same line may smoke more evenly so I can give it a proper review, but I don’t see myself looking into buying another one any time in the near future.

Liked It?:  I’ve had worse.

Buy It Again?:  Not likely.

Recommend It?: Probably not.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary

Rocky Patel Fifteenth Anniversary


Fatal Halo Rating
A

Dimensions: 6.5” x 52 (Toro)
Price:  $10.00
Burn Time:  2.5 Hours
Wrapper: Equadorian (grown from Habano seeds)
Binder: Nicaraguan (2 binders)
Tobacco: Special Nicaraguan blend (grown especially for this cigar)
Purchased at:  Montecristo House of Cigar (Powell, Ohio – www.houseofcigar.net)


I’ve seen a lot of Rocky Patel cigars in the store that I purchase most of my cigars from, but I’ve never really had the desire to try one.  However, I decided to try this specific blend after seeing it listed among the top 25 cigars of 2011.  It has a very interesting box-press shape (which I later found out is called “trunk-pressed”) and from what reviews I read about it, I was intrigued enough to give it a try.  For a $10 stick, I am expecting a lot, but from the construction and presentation, I’m confident that it will deliver.  I really like trying cigars that are unique from anything else on the market, and after seeing that the filler tobacco blend was grown on a farm especially dedicated to this line, my interest was piqued.

Pre-Smoke Analysis
This cigar has some amazing aromas that really just relax the senses and create a “hum” of buttery flavor with each inhale.  The wrapper is a bit veiny, but smooth and silky to the touch.  The shape itself is interesting and it feels comfortable in the hand and between the fingers.  The aroma intensifies at the foot and has the distinct smells of hazelnut and chocolate – almost as if this cigar was sold from Starbucks!  It is a soft and alluring aroma that has me anxious to clip and toast.  The head is triple-capped and the gun-metal double bands on the body really compliment the overall appearance of an undeniably fine cigar.  The chocolate/cocoa aroma kicks up a bit on the cold draw and seems to have an easy pull.  No cap fraying after the clip.  I’m already impressed and I haven’t even pulled out my lighter yet.

The First Third
Well, the new butane torch I bought didn’t make it through lighting even one cigar, so I guess the search continues to find  good one of those, but the cigar took the flame very well as I torched the foot and got a decent cherry burning.  I really like how the shape of this cigar contours to my lips when I take a draw - and it’s almost effortless to pull rich, creamy smoke off of it.  Not at all over-powering and just the right balance of spice that is only noticeable on the back of the palate.  There is a dusty, nutty aroma complemented by roasted undertones to dull the sweetness still present on the lips.  This cigar smokes like a dream and puts me to ease almost immediately.  The burn was a little uneven, but nothing so severe that it required any manual correction.  The ash is a flaky, marbled gray, holds strong beyond an inch and a half and maintains the shape almost flawlessly - all indicative of a well-constructed and finely-blended cigar.

The Second Third
The spiciness kicks up a bit during the second third but the rich, creamy smoke stays very consistent.  I’m also picking up on a bit of vanilla under the expanded nutty aroma.  The burn needed a little correction at this point, but I attribute that to how frequently I’m drawing off of it to savor the taste.  The overall flavor remains pretty consistent yet picks up on strength and balances out to a fairly medium-bodied cigar.  I typically like to wait until this point to truly judge the body of a cigar as this is where the real concentration of the flavor/aroma mix tends to reveal itself.

Burning Out
As with the second third of the burn, the cigar retains its flavor and aroma, but intensifies in strength with a notable increase in pepper that tingles the palate.  The burn has evened out and the smoke draws heavier.  Uncommon to cigars I have smoked previously, this one seems to adopt a more full-bodied status than was present earlier in the burn.  I am pleasantly surprised, though it is almost a bit overpowering.  Each draw leaves a cool, menthol-like burn on the lips.

Final Thoughts
This cigar was one of the more interesting ones I’ve had.  As an introduction to the Rocky Patel line, I think it has convinced me to explore more of what they have to offer.  A superbly crafted smoke rich with flavor and aroma, it had an excellent burn and though it had a little bite at the end, it was enjoyable down to the last draw.  I can see why it ranked as it did among Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 of last year and I am almost a little regretful that I did not try one sooner!

Liked It?:  Indeed

Buy It Again?:  Absolutely

Recommend It?:  Yes – but more so for seasoned cigar smokers who will appreciate its strength.

Pairing(s):  I enjoyed a “Java Head Stout” from the Tr√∂egs Brothers Brewery to compliment this cigar.  Very appropriate.



Monday, January 30, 2012

K. Hansotia (Gurkha) "Ancient Warrior"

K. Hansotia “Ancient Warrior”



Fatal Halo Rating
A

Dimensions: 6” x 58
Price: $11.00
Burn Time: 2+ hours
Tobacco: Dominican & Honduran long-filler blend
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Brazilian

I decided to take a deviation from visiting my usual cigar shop today and popped into another one nearby to see if I might be fortunate enough to find some rare gems – and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. On a friend's recommendation, I stopped into Timba Cigar Company (www.timbacigarco.com) in Powell, Ohio and introduced myself to the owner, Thom Barber, who graciously welcomed me into his store.  He ushered me into the humidor so I could begin my search and though the picking were a lot more slim than I am used to at my usual store, I did manage to find this cigar nestled among the Gurkha selections.  As a fan of the Gurkha line, I decided it was worth checking out – and for such an attractive price, I couldn’t turn it down.  Thom even gave a nod to it himself as I was checking out, so before even lighting up, I had high hopes for this monster of a cigar.

Pre-Smoke Analysis
At a 58 gauge, I’d have to say that this is one of the larger cigars I’ve smoked and probably right within my comfort range.  Anything larger and I think it would affect the experience – but this is a perfect size and it sits well in my hand.

The wrapper is dark and oily with a noticeable toothy feel to it.  It doesn’t feel dried out at all and the texture is a bit spongy and soft, but it maintains an overall firm construction feel to it.  The cigar itself is a bit of a paradox.  Oily yet toothy.  Spongy yet firm.  The wrapper gives off a very pleasant thick and woody aroma that blossoms toward the foot, but doesn’t seem to become too overwhelming at any point.  It really has an enticing character to it and found myself eager to clip and light it.  The construction was impeccable despite a noticeably veiny Brazilian wrapper.  I picked up on a bit of chocolate in the aroma as well.  The cap clipped cleanly and the cold draw illuminated the aromas I previously described even more.

The First Third
Despite the complex aromas and the deceivingly dark wrapper, the first hot draw on this cigar produced a very mild and light-bodied bloom of smoke that was simultaneously bolstered with rich, complex flavor.  Truly an odyssey.  The draw was so light in fact that I was really able to pass the smoke over and around my palate to get a deep insight into how the different flavors mingled.  The overall tone was a touch woody, but it had a very robust and rustic aroma behind it.  Though difficult to pin down specifics, it provided a lot of flavor without thick-coating my palate so badly that I’d need a beverage.  The burn was excellent and stayed consistent.  Because of the thickness of the stogie, it definitely burned hot and produced a nice barrel of flaky, white ash but required no adjustment or correction.  This cigar was built to burn like this and I was savoring every moment of it as I puffed big billows of sweet, white smoke from this cigar.


The Second Third
The second-third didn’t really start off with much deviation from what was introduced at the beginning.  The ash was clearly showing remnants of the toothy bumps on the wrapper and I was a little surprised that it didn’t have at least a little more bite to it.  I assumed that would change as it burned down more though.  It was beginning to take on a bit more of a creamy, medium-bodied aroma.

Burning Out
Once this cigar burned down a bit, it started to take on stronger notes – and while the aromas stayed fairly consistent, it peaked in intensity just a little bit and puffed a bit hotter – really allowing it open up.  Still amazingly light on the palate, there was absolutely NO bitterness and produced plumes of thick, white smoke that I enjoyed blowing smoke rings with and inhaling back through my nose to further sample its bountiful complexity.  With this thick cigar between my fingers, the sweet taste on my lip from the wrapper and the hot smoke permeating the air, I felt a lot like a Mafia Don propping his feet up on his desk and finding that moment of contentment in one of life’s finer moments!

Final Thoughts
Judging by the name alone – “Ancient Warrior” – I was really expecting something exotic and spicy.  It was just the opposite though.  Amazingly smooth and while extremely flavorful, it wasn’t really spicy at any point.  It wasn’t a cigar that jumped down from above with a tomahawk and split your skull . . . it was just a very relaxed and enjoyable smoke.  I enjoyed the experience of smoking this one and though it doesn’t rank among my top favorites, I could easily see this being a cigar I’d pick up again when filling up my humidor – maybe giving it some time to mingle with my other cigars just to see how it affects its overall taste next time.

Enjoyed It?:  Immensely.

Buy It Again?:  Most definitely!

Recommend It?: Absolutely – especially to those new to the cigar lifestyle looking for a mild to medium-bodied cigar with complex flavor that isn’t too overwhelming.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Room 101 "323" Toro

Room 101 “323” Toro



Fatal Halo Rating
A

Dimensions: 6” x 50
Price:  $10.00
Burn Time:  2 Hours
Wrapper: Special Semilla 101
Binder: Honduran
Tobacco: Honduran & Dominican Republic blend


Room 101 was a cigar I had been meaning to try for some time.  Aside from their cigars, they have a wickedly impressive merch line that certainly catches the eye in any cigar shop you might walk into.  Definitely a style all their own, Room 101 cigars seem to be the type that is designed and made by Samurais and sold to Rockstars – and reality isn’t that different as they were developed by Christian Eiroa and musician Matt Booth.  Just to give you an idea of how col their style is, I had wanted (and received) a VERY nice Room 101 cigar ashtray for Christmas – well before I had even smoked one!  I was also impressed that the varying sizes of cigars in the Room 101 line were named according to different area codes.  This one was the “323” which corresponds, of course, to Central LA & Hollywood, California.  The rest of their line is as follows:

“213” Coronoa – Los Angeles, California
“305” Robusto – Florida
“404” Torpedo – Atlanta, Georgia
“702” – Las Vegas, Nevada
“808” Bertha –  Honolulu, Hawaii

I chose the "323" because it seemed to be of adequate size to produce a good smoking experience and because the price was right about where I was looking to spend.  The whole story of the Room 101 line is a pretty interesting one, but rather long to highlight here, so if this review interests you, feel free to check out their main site at: www.room101cigars.com and see what they’re all about.  It is notable to mention that Room 101 uses their own special wrapper that cannot be found on any other cigar anywhere else and this was a big reason why I was anticipating trying one.

Pre-Smoke Analysis
Right away, the design of the label stood out to me the most.  A simple black and silver tribal-style text design with obvious Japanese influence including some kanji on the back – renditions of the Japanese Irezumi tattoo style – were evident that this was more a work of art than just a clever marketing design.  The label itself was wrapped around a firm and well-made cigar – no noticeable soft spots with a triple-capped head.  The wrapper was a bit veiny, but no noticeable tears or defects to detract from its milk-chocolate colored body.  The feel of the cigar was smooth – like parchment – and didn’t really give off any noticeable aromas.  The cap clipped off cleanly with no fraying and lit as easily as the parchment feeling it had between my fingers.

The First Third
Right away, the Toro gave off a nice, woody aroma.  Medium-bodied with definite traits of nut and cedar; a real relaxed and earthy taste.  The flavor didn’t rest too heavily on the palate and remained surprisingly smooth.  It was a bit peppery, but not at all overpowering.  It was an easy cigar to draw from and produced a strong, solid ash with an even burn.  I couldn’t help but admire its construction as it burned and could really see the potential this cigar might have if it had marinated in a properly seasoned humidor with other cigars for a few months – but that would be difficult to allow with how enticing it is all on its own.  It’s leathery aroma to match its texture was also a bit of a welcomed surprise.

The Second Third
I was also surprised to notice that this cigar was virtually weightless.  It had no heft at all.  I don’t know if that made a difference in the burn or the taste, but it was interesting to barely feel anything in my hand at all – especially something that produced so much flavor.  The aroma and taste began to sweeten a little bit amid the enhancing spiciness.  It took on more “savory” characteristics but remained very woody and earthy.  Though it was teasing at a growing complexity of aromas and flavors, it balanced out to a pretty consistent level and the intensity of its characteristics were remaining just as strong as they were at first light.  The burn was damn near flawless and produced thick, white smoke that I allowed to linger on my palate for as long as it could before taking another draw.  The professionalism of the craftsmanship was very evident at this stage in the burn.

Burning Out
What was remarkable about this cigar was that it burns cool – as in to say that the smoke pulled into the mouth from the draw is surprisingly cool against the tongue – and it remained this way up until the end.  It didn’t grow hotter as the cherry burned up to the head.  The flavors kicked up a bit and the spiciness became a little more pronounced which allowed me to really taste the earthiness on my tongue.  I had to correct the evenness of the burn at this point, but was really able to overlook that one occurrence against all the positive experiences I had smoking this cigar.  Big billows of white smoke lasted right up to the end and this was not one that I wanted to put down.

Final Thoughts
My only regret about this cigar was that I wanted to kick myself for not trying one sooner.  This was an amazing cigar that gets a thumbs-up on all aspects from design, construction, flavor/aroma and burn quality.  It was unlike any cigar that I have had thus far and certainly worth the hype.  This is a cigar that matches well with my personal style and my preferred tastes.  I certainly think you are doing yourself a great disservice if you claim to enjoy fine cigars and do not give this brand – in any of its many incarnations – a try at some point.  I only wish these were a little more affordable as I could certainly see myself stocking my humidor with a box.

Liked It?:  One of my top favorites!

Buy It Again?:  Absolutely!

Recommend It?:  I’d be a fool not to.


Check out Room 101’s unique style through some pictures from their merch line:

The ashtray I received for Xmas!
Still can't bring mysef to use it!

A nice clipper/lighter with chain combo!

A double-blade cigar clip.  Great artwork.