H Town by Illusione (Guest Review by Abe)

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Price- MSRP $9.95

Beverage- None

Size – Lancero (7×40)

Strength- Demi (2/4)

Rating- Rocky IV (9/10)

Blend Details:

Wrapper- Nicaraguan Corojo 98

Binder- Nicaraguan Criollo 99

Filler- Nicaraguan

This year illusione snuck onto my rotation. It started as something polished and not in your face that I could smoke while getting some work done. After more frequency, I decided to sit down and enjoy the nuances one can miss if not paying attention.

The Experience-

As I light and begin my first draw I receive a taste of toasted nuts, with a healthy dose of spice on the retrohale. The toasty nut flavor then defines itself as toasted graham cracker (like on a baked cheesecake) the oils manage to coat my palette with the mentioned flavors. The retro then transitions to that classic illusione floral note; very faint but lets you know it’s an Illusione.

The retro then becomes more and more bakers spice with a light roast coffee ground emergence. The graham cracker flavor remains, but with added tartness very reminiscent to the oils found on an orange peel. All while the smoke provides a chewy texture.

As the cigar nears the end, the palette remains coated. Woodsy, and toasted nut notes with hints of pepper replace the flavors of citrus and graham cracker. The after taste is that of non-bitter espresso and slight mint. The spice on the retro increases followed with a slight pepper nuance. The cigar while being relatively cool finishes with some distinguished heat.

Construction- Superb

Flavor Notes- Graham Cracker, Coffee, Nuts, Citrus

Smoke time- 1hour 40 minutes

Now to the two questions:

Would I smoke it again? Yes

Would I give it humidor space? Heck Yea! Sitting on a couple boxes myself.

If you haven’t tried illusione, or perhaps want to give it another try this cigar truly embodies illusione. Refined, good construction and unique flavor that can’t be found anywhere else. I recall Dion, stating that his cigars don’t need to be paired with any drink as they really make your taste buds water. While I cant agree that is the case with all his cigars, this one truly accomplishes that goal. If you have a chance grab a box as these will be a beauty to age.

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Cruzado by Illusione

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Price – $10

Beverage – Sugar free Red Bull and Bottled Water

Size – Toro Gordo (Domenicos Extras 6 X 56)

Strength – Demi (2/4)

Rating – Sabotage (6/10)

Composition:

Wrapper – Nicaraguan Criollo Rosado

Binder/Filler – Nicaraguan

One of my favorite cigars is the Illusione Rothchildes and I’ve really grown to like the epernay and eccj as well. This was my first time with the Cruzado, here are my thoughts:

  1. Good burn, flawless draw, decent construction. We talked a little about this on our podcast this past week where we likened the Warped and Illusione cigar lines to finely tuned Mercedes or BMWs. What we meant was that these cigars are so finely rolled and somewhat delicate that it doesn’t take much to get a snag in the wrapper, which has been a common occurrence for me with both Warped and Illusione. These little hiccups haven’t necessarily affected my smoking experience, but it is worth noting.

2. Solid medium cigar and I’m calling it a Demi.

3. I experienced a little bit of wood flavor,  some pepper, nuttiness, and a little earthiness.

4. My smoke time was 1 hr and 50 minutes.

Now to the two questions:

Would I smoke it again? Yes

Would I give it humidor space? No

In terms of my personal brand hierarchy, Illusione has continued to creep towards the top. Admittedly, the toro gordo is not my favorite vitola in the world, but this was the one available/recommended to me in the shop. I would like to eventually try to give some of the other vitolas a shot, particularly the regular toro. Although I enjoyed the Cruzado, it didn’t wow me like some of the other Illusione cigars that I mentioned above. I would smoke this cigar in the shop if I’m looking for a nice medium stick that could last me a couple hours, but I wouldn’t necessarily take it home and put it in the humidor. Either way, if you haven’t explored the brand as whole, I’d encourage you to do so.

Please remember to check out our podcast:  SoS Podcast 3-6-16

Until next time friends!

 

Drinking Age by Tatuaje (Guest Review by Timbo)

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Rating – (9) Rocky IV

Strength – (3) Sylvester Stallone

Vitola – Robusto Extra (5 ½ x 54)

Price – $10.50

Wrapper –  Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo

Binder – Nicaraguan

Filler – Nicaraguan

Drink – Off Color Brewing Dino S’Mores Stout

Let me start off by introducing this awesome and unique beer from Off Color Brewing in Chicago, Illinois. It is a 10.5% ABV Russian Imperial stout with marshmallow fluff, vanilla beans, molasses, graham flour, and cocoa nibs added.

The Drinking Age was one of Tatuaje’s more limited 2015 releases at 300 boxes of 21 cigars (6,300 total cigars). I hadn’t smoked one in awhile so I thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit this stick.

From first glance the wrapper on this cigar deviates from my typical broadleaf cigar, but this cigar kicks you in the mouth with flavor. Right off the bat I’m getting a little bit of black pepper accompanied by a nutty flavor. The nutty flavor complemented the beer quite nicely. It was almost as if there was peanut butter added to the S’mores. Now I am starting to taste notes of a smoked wood, which matches the S’more aspect of the beer beautifully. Through the rest of the cigar I am getting the same flavors, except the pepper starts to subside.

All in all, this was a wonderful cigar and definitely worth trying. As for the beer, if you are in the Chicagoland area get yourself a 4-pack! I could argue that even people who don’t particularly like stouts, would enjoy this beer.

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TAA 2014 by Tatuaje (Guest Review by Timbo)

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On one of our recent podcasts we discussed how prevalent cigar and craft beer pairings have become in the cigar community. Since we admittedly do not partake, we recruited our buddy Tim to write about such a pairing. Thanks Tim!

Rating – (9) Rocky IV
Strength – (3) Sylvester Stallone
Vitola – Toro (6×52)
Price – $11
Wrapper –  Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder – Nicaraguan
Filler – Nicaraguan
Drink – Jackie O’s Barrel Aged Champion Ground

The Tatuaje TAA cigar line was started in 2011 by Pete Johnson to reward shops that are Tobacconists Association of America (TAA) members.  The blend is based on two Tat “unicorns” the Pork Tenderloin and Barclay Rex.  Tatuaje has done a TAA release every year since, and the line has consistently gained popularity.

Upon pre-light examination of the cigar I found the biggest vein I have ever seen on a wrapper, which particularly excited me because I am a sucker for a mean looking, dark wrapper.

Time to light this box pressed, closed-foot bad boy up!  This cigar started with very earthy notes, which is expected from its broadleaf wrapper.  On the retrohale there was a strong cocoa flavor that complemented the coffee notes from my beer pairing beautifully.  Through about an inch of the cigar, I realized that this cigar has definitely mellowed out compared to the Tatuaje TAA 2015.  I found the mellowness helped improve this cigar by eliminating any harshness, which I attribute to the aging of the cigar (~1.5 years).

So I’m about 2/3’s into this Tat and all of a sudden I am getting buttery popcorn notes on the retrohale.  I have discovered these notes in another Tatuaje cigar, which was the Anarchy 2015.  As I am enjoying the buttery popcorn flavors, the coffee flavors from my beer starts to shy away, while the robust bourbon barrel stout flavor moves to the forefront, which I attribute to the beer warming up to room temperature.

The construction on this cigar was impeccable, and did not require any touch ups, or re-lights.  The draw was fantastic so much so that I would consider this a “smoke bomb”.  If you are a Maduro guy and have not tried any of the cigars from the Tatuaje TAA line I highly suggest you give them a try.  The TAA 2015 is still available in several online cigar shops.

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1633 Toro By Alec Bradley

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Rating – (7) Rambo
Strength – (1-2) Bruce
Vitola – Toro
Price – 5 pack for $32.99 over at Famous Smoke
Wrapper –  Connecticut Ecuadorian
Binder – Costa Rican
Filler – Panamanian, Honduran, and Nicaraguan
Drink – Dr. Pepper

Fired this one up from Famous Smoke for the morning drive.  This is a fantastic morning smoke and would have been so much better with some coffee I think.  I started to drink more coffee these days and cigars go so well with it but I had to run quick and just grabbed a Dr. Pepper.  This one is going to be on the lighter side of things but has some wonderful flavors to it.  I love a cigar with some good smoke to it as well and this one had it.  For the size and price of these you can’t beat them for a wonderful morning smoke.  Pick them up over at Famous Smoke Shop.

 

 

 

Limited Edition 2015 5th Anniversary by My Father Cigars

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Price – $23

Beverage – Coffee w/cream and water

Size – Toro (6 1/2 x 52)

Strength – Demi/Sly (2.5/4)

Rating – Rocky IV (9/10)

Composition:

Wrapper – Ecuadorian Habano Rosado

Binder/Filler – Nicaraguan

The first thing you will notice when coming across the My Father 5th Anniversary is the beautiful box that houses the coffins that the cigars come in. Here are my thoughts:

1) Great construction, even burn, perfect draw. My only complaint is that out of the three I’ve smoked, two of them needed quite a bit of attention in order to keep them lit. As a disclaimer though, I more or less nursed these cigars and did not power through them.

2) Solid medium-full on the strength scale, most seasoned smokers should be able to enjoy these without a problem.

3) One can expect creaminess, some wood flavor, a little mocha, and some pepper. I also found the cigar to have some earthiness to it at points during the smoke.

4) On average, my smoke time was 1 hour and 45 minutes

Now to the two questions:

Would I smoke it again? Yes

Would I give it humidor space? Yes and I’m calling the 5th Anniversary box worthy

As any cigar smoker knows, presentation can only take you so far and the cigar better be damn good to command a $20+ price tag. Not only did I purchase a box of these, it is also my 2015 cigar of the year. The 2015 is also what I call a “growth stock” cigar. If history is any indication, we must look at this cigar through the lens of past My Father/Don Pepin LE cigars. In other words, this cigar is almost guaranteed to get better with time and in two years they will be far more expensive on the secondary market than their current $23 price tag. I decided to buy at $23, rather than take a chance and want these two years later only to pay $40+/cigar. If you are a My Father fan, I recommend you do the same.

Until next time friends!

TNT (2015) by Viaje

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Rating – (9) Rocky IV
Strength – (3-4) Arnold
Vitola – Double Robusto
Price – $11
Wrapper – Connecticut broadleaf
Binder – n/a
Filler – n/a
Drink – Dr. Pepper

 

Here we go ladies and gentlemen!!! This right here is the real deal for me, and if I might say cigar of the year for 2015 for me at least.  This dark broadleaf wrapper is perfect, very oily, thick, and just looks amazing and smokes even better. This cigar just has everything I am looking for,  the first light it is smooth but has complex flavors to it,  it is on the stronger side of things for most people so I would suggest eating something small at least.  This one stays smooth all the way to the nub, never got harsh or hot for me and I have smoked many of these now and they are all consistent.  These are box worthy and when I say that they do come in boxes of 50 and they are worth it.  These are also a one time deal so once they are gone that’s it until the next batch when viaje decides to make them again, and even then the blend will prob be different.  Get them while you can!