Rocky Patel Burn — Sponsored by TrueTobacco.com

April 11, 2013

This review sponsored by TrueTobacco.com, who provided the samples. Visit them on the web and check out their boxes and convenient 5 packs!

The Burn by Rocky Patel is a Honduran puro that originated in his exclusive lounge in Naples, Fl. It became so popular that he released it to the public in several sizes. I was given five samples to test, and I have to say that for not being in the main Patel line, it’s a great vitola.

Size: 5×50
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduran long filler

The Burn comes with its Naples, FL band around the tuck to let you know from where it originates. The puro is nicely wrapped, a few small veins, but is a nice dark saddle brown. It has a hay and oak barrel smell on the wrapper, and the draw before lighting was nice–not too easy, not too firm.

Upon lighting, I immediately got a very crisp impression of pepper and leather.  It has spicy overtones on the retrohale, and the smoke is slightly astringent in the mouth. It’s not a really oily smoke, and it is a little sharp on the tongue. In the first third, a bit of a roasted flavor comes through as well as the leathery and pepper notes. It has an overtone of barrel oak as well as you move into the cigar.

As you move into the middle of the cigar, it takes on a smoother, more leathery taste with that roasted flavor. The pepper is still there, but it’s more subdued than in the first part of the cigar. The middle is a medium bodied smoke, a nice blend of leather and spice, and a nice potency to keep it interesting. It definitely has a little kick, giving its name some weight. It’s not too overpowering to be accessible though–despite its potency, the cigar never becomes so strong that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

The ash produced is a nice, smooth white, and in most of my samples hung on almost to the midpoint. None of the samples I had required even minor correction–Burn burns straight as an arrow and evenly with the wrapper.

As the cigar moves towards the head, it picks up more potency but smooths out even more, keeping its great leathery feel throughout. Around the last third it picks up its spice again, and continues to grow more robust as you get to the nub. The roasted flavor really comes through here, and the smoke has become less sharp and a little oily with a peppery aftertaste. The last third is definitely medium to full, and it pulls out all the stops. It kept me going to the nub on all the samples as all the flavors mixed beautifully in that last third, and I hated to put it down.

All in all, it may be a bit much for the new cigar smoker, but if you like a cigar that has dynamics, love Honduran tobacco and its leathery flavor, and at a price point that’s below the standard Rocky Patel Vintage line, the Burn might just be your cigar. Its easy smoking with no touch-ups, its nice potency and the richness of the blend made reviewing this cigar a complete joy.

Samples for this review were provided by TrueTobacco.com — the Rocky Patel Burn is available in boxes or convenient 5 packs with great packaging. The views above do not necessarily represent the views of TrueTobacco.com. This review may not be reprinted without express permission, except for TrueTobacco.com and its employees. See all the premium and value cigars available at TrueTobacco.com by clicking any of the links.

Nimish Patel Thunder — Sponsored by TrueTobacco.com

April 11, 2013

The Thunder by Nimish Patel vitola up for review is a 5×50 Robusto provided by TrueTobacco.com with an attractive knot at the head. Its initial impression is that of a spice market.

Thunder:

Size: 5×50

The Thunder gives off a nice hay and slightly ginger smell on initial impression. The pre-light draw is medium–not too firm, not too free. The cigar has a long, well-built shoulder and the top of the cigar is drawn into a small knot so cutting it is a breeze and it doesn’t peel as you smoke.

The five examples I got all had the same flavor palate and were very consistent. At the initial light, you get a green peppercorn and a touch of ginger and anise. The cigar has a feel almost like a spice market–as you go through the cigar, the flavor skews, and each puff gives off a slightly different overtone. It’s a very delightful and innovative blend. The cigar is quite punchy though, and definitely qualifies as a medium full to full flavor. All but one of my examples required minor touch up on the burn, but I attribute that to the fact that I received some very fresh cigars and I would certainly let these sit for a while in a humidor to develop–I got a cold after the first two examples and had to wait to review the other three, and just the week that I had to let them sit improved the burn and mellowed the flavors significantly,

The ash is a nice pure white, and doesn’t want to fall off. It’s certainly well constructed. The peppercorn mellows out through the first and into the second third, letting the more subtle spices come through. I could taste notes of ginger, sage, cardamom, oregano, and star anise on the palate and some notes that were floral in nature on retrohale. But around the halfway point, the cigar picks back up, and the peppercorn flavor with a little bit of leathery feel and oiliness becomes the prime flavor for the rest of the cigar. I’d love to say that it kept that beautiful dynamic through the last third, but in some examples the last 3/4 inch of the cigar was pretty overpowering with its flavor. That’s not to knock it entirely–the flavor was fresh on the palate, and had a nice crispness to it instead of a muted overtone.

All in all, I would recommend this to someone who wants an experience with a cigar that’s got a lot of interesting spice notes and likes a good, robust cigar. I can’t say I’ve smoked anything quite like it and I really think that just for that first half where it is more delicate and has the dynamic flavors it’s worth the price of admission.

This review does not necessarily reflect the views of TrueTobacco.com, who provided the cigars for this review. This review may not be reprinted without express permission except by TrueTobacco.com and the employees of TrueTobacco.com. This and other cigars can be purchased in boxes and convenient 5 packs at TrueTobacco.com by clicking on any of the links.

Ashton VSG Sorcerer

March 11, 2013

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The sorcerer is one of the longest VSG vitolas. Standing for virgin sun grown, this cigar packs a punch while remaining flavorful.

The VSG had a light hay scent and a medium draw before lighting. The initial impression is a little creamy and leathery, but as you progress into the cigar you start to pick up a bit of more tannin and earthy tones. The overtones are rich and spicy without being overstated.

Moving through the cigar, it burns cleanly with a smooth white ash that is nice and dense. It picks up considerably in the second third, becoming rich and full flavored. It’s got a leathery and oak base and increases in intensity as you pull through to the end.

The cigar gets very distinctly powerful at the end, its full body having the leather and oak flavors but also a hint of pepper and earth. Its smoke is clean and slightly astringent and while it has a pronounced aftertaste it isn’t exceptionally coating of the tongue or oily.

All in all, the Ashton is a very well constructed, very even burning cigar that is everything a sun grown cigar should be…strong, rich, and full of character. With its heavier price tag it’s not a daily smoke for most people but it is a treat for people who want a nice powerful smoke that won’t ruin the palate. Very well done.

Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Eligios

February 17, 2013

The Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Eligios:

Wrapper: 100% Nicaraguan
Binder: 100% Nicaraguan
Filler: 100% Nicaraguan

Box pressed, 5×55 (Eligios)

On initial impression, this is a beautiful box-pressed cigar. A true Nicaraguan puro, it doesn’t have any blends from other countries as is true with many Nicaraguan cigars–most people find 100% Nicaraguan vitolas to be a bit on the strong side so they are most often blended. In this case, I think blending would have been a mistake.

The cigar is without any visible flaws. It has a nice, well-wrapped body with no large veins, consistent rich brown color, and a well constructed shoulder that was a nice, easy, straight cut with my Xikar Xi1 cutter. The pre-light draw is very easy, and the cigar gives off a pleasant scent of fresh hay and a light herbal aroma.

On the initial lighting, which was done with my Blazer PB207, it had a sharp first draw. I knew this was going to be a somewhat potent cigar being a true Nicaraguan, and I wasn’t disappointed. The smoke was very clean and didn’t coat the palate with a heavy oiliness. The first few draws gave off an oaken quality with a little pepper; retrohaling gave slight floral and herbal notes.

The burn throughout the first third was very slightly uneven in the example I was given and required only very minor touch-up. It burned correctly from there on. The first third had a medium flavor slightly to the mild side, with a solid base and complex overtones. I got a definite oak quality from it, also some earthy and coffee notes on the base; on top, I got a flavor of fresh, just-cut oregano that mellowed to a more basil taste as I approached the second third. It also began to show off its potency as I got more towards the midsection–the strength of the flavor started to pull to the full side of medium, and the potency increased. I noticed that if I tried to smoke at any but a very leisurely pace, there was a slight kick to it from the strength of the tobacco itself.

Despite the light draw, the cigar took a surprisingly good amount of time to smoke–I would estimate between 40 minutes to an hour to get to just past halfway, and the ash held on to this point; slightly darker at the tuck but a nice smooth and dense white that held its consistency until it finally fell off before I reached the final third.

Coming through the middle third, I noticed a smoothing out going in, the oaken tones going down a bit and a less powerful, more earthy and coffee and, at times, cocoa base taking the lead with the herbal overtones still present, changing ever so slightly as I went, sometimes with a hint of floral notes. The cigar, despite being smooth, was definitely strong. At the end of the second third, a little pepper becomes present and blends with the oaken notes as they return. The intensity increased as well, becoming a full flavored stick at this point. I took care not to smoke with any great speed; firstly, it would have become very hot very quickly; and second, the flavor and potency were very complex and strong respectively and it would have ruined the cigar to have smoked it any faster. The oak and coffee notes are the front runners throughout the last third, with a rich overtone of darker herbal notes and the light hay scent of the wrapper joining in as the cigar’s foot comes towards the face. None of the mellow smoothness of the first half of the cigar remains–this is definitely a full flavored cigar by all rights, but it keeps its dynamics without becoming overpowering or forceful.

All in all, the cigar’s true dynamics are hard to describe without repeated smoking–I experienced a bouquet of different overtones over a strong, dynamic base that was linear in potency but not directly linear in flavor. It’s definitely not a one-trick pony; it at times defies a good description of its flavor but I consider that a good thing. If I have too easy of a time describing a cigar, it’s usually because it does one thing and does it from end to end. The Reinado Grand Empire Reserve is worth a shot for anyone who craves a good, powerful smoke and is used to the potency of such cigars as Aging Room and La Flor Dominicana, and wants something that is not a run-of-the-mill cigar that simply increases in potency but doesn’t change character. I highly recommend it, and plan to revisit it soon.

This cigar provided by the sponsorship of Auburn Cigars, 13303 W Maple near Dillon’s at the intersection of 135th and Maize Road in Auburn Spirits in Wichita KS. The views expressed in this review are solely my own and represent my personal subjective opinion without regard to any compensation. Please visit Auburn Cigars at their location, catch them on Twitter at @AuburnCigar, or call at (316) 440-1111.

Not reprintable without permission from the author, with the exception of Auburn Cigars, Wichita, KS, and Reinado Cigars.

Blazer PB207: Road Test

February 15, 2013

I previously reviewed the Blazer PB207 jet lighter.

I decided to revisit it several months down the road.

I still love my Blazer. Hot enough to solder and melt aluminum, and holds 5g of butane. Will light dozens of cigars without refueling. How did it hold up?

Mechanically, the Blazer works fine. The only downside to this lighter is it has lost its igniter twice. Quick fix: Thin wire, the same size as the hole (18-20AWG solid) and cyanoacrylate glue (super glue). Using small wire snips, you simply insert a 3/4″ long piece of wire, bend it over, snip it back, and adjust until it lights consistently. Put a drop or so of super glue in the hole right where the wire is, then kick the torch on and cook the glue until it hardens. It looks good, works like new, and costs next to nothing.

Cosmetically, it’s still intact except for pocket wear on the metallic paint and cap wear on the alloy head. The chain is still intact despite a few snags, and I’m hoping I’ll have a positive report in the future. I think my igniter is a fluke as I haven’t heard many complaints but it is an easy repair so the pros outweigh that small con.

Pros: Tool rugged, eats any butane, easy to clean with compressed air, rugged fueling nozzle, adjustable flame and lock-on, holds a huge amount of fuel.

Cons: Chain snags, igniter can fall out, conical refueling nozzle means that standard butane tends to leak around it when full, and in the same vein as the chain, the cap must be removed and put back on (as far from automatic as you get) but the chain has kept it within 3 inches the whole time.

So…blow a little compressed air through the top and sides every now and again, and this lighter is much more resilient than I’ve seen in a jet. I’m tired of buying $50+ jet lighters and having them give out in 3 months.

More updates in the future, as long as it doesn’t get lost or stolen. But if it does, I’m buying another in a brighter color. The dark color makes it hard to see on my dark upholstery.

Victor Sinclair 16 Churchill Powerhouse Sampler

February 15, 2013

Yeah, I got sucked into Thompson for my dailies. I can’t afford premiums every day and I love a good cigar.

And sometimes I got some not-as-good cigars but I had good luck with the Factory Seconds and overruns and a few samplers of premiums.

So when I reached the magic 250 point, I got my voucher for $53. What to buy? I could either get a discount on a box (I really hate buying boxes as I like to smoke different sticks with a few notable and increasingly expensive selections).

So, I did what any guy in the digital age would do. I went to Samplers, sorted by the price range of my voucher, sorted high to low price, and started drilling down.

Patel seconds were enticing, but given their strange monikers I wasn’t sure what was what. I saw some that were close but didn’t want 16 unknowns. I worked hard for these.

Past the tiny samplers. Past the ginormous samplers of second tier cigars. Then I saw a two-for on 16 packs of Victor Sinclair Churchills for just over $50.

Money well spent.

I got 32 very well constructed Churchills in 4 vitolas. Series 55, Series 55 Sun Grown, Series 55 Criollo, and Double Maduro.

I’ll do full reviews later, but here’s a quick rundown.

Series 55: A natural, mild to medium smoke with a nice flavor profile, a 5 country blend aged 5 years (as are all 55 cigars) that finishes well. Not terribly exciting, but not disappointing.

Series 55 Sun Grown: Like the 55, but with a stronger, medium full body and a more peppery and punchy taste. A more powerful version of the Series 55.

Series 55 Criollo: A more potent version, it has a more savory and complex flavor and a more powerful smoke. It’s smooth and medium bodied but has a good kick to it.

Double Maduro: A creamy, mild to medium smoke that’s a nice relaxing smoke and gets a little more powerful at the end. It’s got a lot of great quality for the price.

In the end, I got 32 Churchill cigars for < $2 each (well, less than 20 cents each after my voucher) and while they're not going to impress your cigar snob friends, if you're looking for a lot of cigar for not a lot of coin, the sampler is available in 16 or 32 quantity (4 or 8 of each vitola accordingly) and is more than worth the money. I see complete garbage seconds selling at a local B&M for more. These are first quality banded firsts that will keep you smoking for hours. Like I said, you're not getting the respect and admiration of your cigar snob buddies, but you are feeding your vice with a decent daily at a steal.

Happy Smoking!

New Year, New Content

January 8, 2013

I’m back from a brief hiatus.

I’ve been smoking a lot of good cigars, and been quite busy doing other things and getting wrapped up in other responsibility. I am looking at more reviews, more gear, and more advice in the coming months. I will hopefully also be adding more useful links and providing you with places to indulge your retail needs for cigars without changing the focus. I’m also going tto be adding to the DIY section.

Keep reading, as I return to the keyboard to bring you more cigar news and cigar reviews.

Thanks to all my readers last year– I’m glad to have all of you!

Kevin

Blazer PB-207 Torch: The Ultimate Cigar Lighter?

August 29, 2012

I have gone through several torch lighters over the years, ranging from the nichrome wire screen style to the venturi effect single torch to cheap duals and triples. I had a Vertigo by Lotus shown here that, unfortunately, lost its valve in 4 months and wasn’t expensive enough to warrant replacing due to its low price.

The Blaster PB-207 is ugly aesthetically. It looks like a small scuba tank with a box attached to it. It has a cover which is attached by a fine chain, which keeps dirt and debris out of the torch area and has an angled piece that prevents the lock from allowing the torch to be capped with the gas locked on. It also has the said lock, which will allow the torch to be locked in the “ON” position when ignited so that it doesn’t have to be held down in order to use it. You can simply light it, lock it on with a small red button, then use it. It is fairly windproof; only a strong breeze will interfere with the torch operation. Wind seems to affect ignition more than burning, so once lit it’s tough to put out. A small lever on the opposite side will turn a 1.5-1.75″ flame to a 3″ flame, and according to the instructions the burn temperature is between 2000-2500 degrees Fahrenheit. It will burn, on high, for 20 minutes continuously and will light approximately 100 cigars or probably four times that many cigarettes on one fill.

A con is that the chain can snag when pocketed. Also, I had the igniter fall out of the lighter when I tried to adjust the spark gap because it had been dropped with the cap off and struck something. I was able to easily service it with a small piece of 18 gauge wire and a small drop of super glue. It’s a fairly simple design which means there’s little to break and it’s fairly easy to fix when it needs it.

Another “con” is the childproofing/safety scheme. It is nice to keep it from dispensing all the gas in your pocket, but you have to push up on a knurled lever to move it free of the body then while holding push down to ignite. It’s tricky at first but it becomes second nature after a while. Modifying the lighter or removing the safety voids the warranty, and I could see instances where removing it may be useful, but really with some practice it becomes a technique, not a nuisance.

I find the flame is hot enough I can toast the foot of a cigar with non-contact heat…simply bringing the 2000 degree plus flame close to the cigar is enough to toast it, and bringing the flame in perpendicular to the end of the cigar without putting the hottest part of the flame on the cigar is more than enough to ignite the cigar without even the slightest amount of gas flavor or smell in your cigar.

Pro: It’s easy to clean and maintain with compressed air and a dry lint-free rag, it holds a TON of liquid butane, and it will:
–Toast a cigar in seconds
–Light a cigar in seconds
–Light a cigarette in less than a second
–Solder up to 10 ga wire in a couple seconds by heating then removing the flame and applying solder
–Punch a hole in an aluminum can on “low” in about 3 seconds

An issue, not really a con, is that it fills FAST and there’s a bit of a taper to the fuel nozzle which is harder than most fill nozzles so it doesn’t get nicked when you try and depress it with another metal object (a no-no for most expensive lighters). It purges easily, and when full that taper does allow a certain amount of liquid butane to spray out from around the nozzle. Be prepared to release when this happens to avoid freezing your hands or wasting excess butane. The torch is designed as a tool and while I wouldn’t put anything but triple refined (minimum) butane in ANY torch, according to multiple cigar forums and reviews I have found, it will run on the dirty cheap butane designed for stoves and soft flame lighters without issue due to the large ports and the very well designed valve system. Your mileage may vary; I wouldn’t put cheap butane in anything but a camping stove.

All in all, for the $35 plus shipping and tax ($44 total), I have been nothing but happy with this lighter despite the igniter issue, which seems to be unique to me because I had never heard of such a thing happening. I must just have bad luck, but it was an easy fix using cheap wire and a tiny drop of super glue.

So, if you don’t mind not having the slickest lighter in the room, and you want something that’s rock solid reliable and doesn’t need to be refilled every day or two, the Blazer PB-207 is an excellent choice. Blazer makes other, smoking-specific lighters based on the same design but I have heard mixed reviews of those. The PB-207 is the original, and most rugged.

Blazer PB207 product image

Photo of a Blazer PB207 from the manufacturer

Undercrown by Drew Estate: Regal Maduro

June 5, 2012

I debated this cigar on and off. I find that I don’t always care for the cigars everyone recommends solely due to the difference in palates.

The Undercrown was definitely worth picking up. I selected the Robusto due to my preference for smaller cigars, Toros being the high end of my comfort zone especially given the fact I prefer strong, full flavored cigars.

The Undercrown is a well wrapped, dark brown maduro that is slightly less than firm. It lit well with no correction and held its ash for about an inch and a half.

Right off the bat the Undercrown is robust. Cedar, earth, and herbal, sage notes are immediately present. There’s not a lot of spice yet but there’s a definite potency to the smoke.

Around the middle, the cedar remains, and it becomes more earthy and less herbal, with a peppery zing and a light bitterness that is savory, almost like hops. This bitterness smooths out going into the last third and becomes more of a peppery flavor on top of the everpresent cedar and earthy notes.

The cigar definitely becomes more potent going into the last third. The mouth feel is rich and slightly oily, the pepper is stronger, and you can still taste the cedary notes. It finishes with a slightly pepper and earthy aftertaste and clings to the palate but doesn’t overwhelm.

I really liked the complexity of this cigar. The power was definitely full, the cigar had a definite theme but was dynamic throughout with a nice change of pace in the middle, and a last third that was nice and robust without being too potent or spicy on the tongue. It is a nice, full flavored, well rounded cigar for those who crave potency without the overpowering nature of some of the recent vitolas of other brands that are very potent and can be difficult to get through for a newer smoker.

I will definitely try this in a larger vitola.  It will be interesting to see how it affects the dynamics. But I have to recommend this. In my opinion, it is well worth the moderate boutique price it commands.

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Cigar Advice: Smoking in the Wind

May 31, 2012

I live in the heart of the Midwest. 300+ days a year the wind is over 10mph. I don’t smoke in my house, and smoking is banned in every place but cigar shops and casino floors here.

Smoking in the wind presents unique challenges. Here’s some advice to keep your cigar experience good when you can’t be out of the elements.

1. Face the wind, or away from it. It sounds counter intuitive, but facing the wind head on creates the straightest burn. When you face the wind, the cigar gets struck by the wind, that ash you keep helps prevent it from fanning the fire too much, and if you face it dead on it is less likely to cause an irregular burn. Facing directly away from the wind is acceptable, but your body, thanks to the principles of aerodynamics, creates an interesting series of eddy currents and pressures as it goes around your body and can result in an erratic burn.

2. Rotate. Even in an ideal wind that doesn’t shift and a straight line, you’re going to be moving it, resting it, etc. Rotate the cigar after each puff to prevent one side from burning faster than the other. It lessens the impact of a side wind as well.

3. The leeward side burns faster. This also seems counter intuitive. But the side of your cigar away from the wind is more likely to canoe. Think of your cigar as an airfoil. There’s higher pressure on the windward side, and lower pressure on the leeward side. Through the magic of Bernoulli’s Principle (the faster air moves the lower the pressure on a surface) and the Venturi Effect (the resulting low pressure from fast moving air will draw air into the stream) the low pressure side of your cigar is being “smoked” by the difference in air pressure between the sides. If you keep this in mind, you can actually use this to your advantage to correct an irregular burn regardless of whether wind caused it or construction.

4. Size matters As we’ve discussed, the cigar is basically an airfoil. And there is almost a bell curve effect with size and how it is affected by the wind. Smaller cigarillos are directly affected by the wind due to their small size. Medium cigars, around 35-40 ring, less so, because they start to be big enough to hold their ash and don’t have a large enough profile to be majorly affected by aerodynamic effects. Large ring cigars, because of those effects, are more likely to skew in their burn.

So, as you can see, it’s not impossible to smoke a good cigar in the wind. I have heard people who have purposefully bought cheaper cigars because it’s “going to be windy” and they think they won’t enjoy them. I smoke 80 plus % of my cigars outdoors, and I assure you I enjoy them unless the cigar itself isn’t enjoyable.

So, get outside, put on your sunscreen, get a nice lawn chair or chaise lounger or porch swing, and feel free to light up that premium stick outside. You have to be a bit more mindful of how the wind affects your cigar, but I assure you it opens up a lot of places and occasions to enjoy a cigar without sharing your cigars’ profile with the fertilizer and petroleum product scents of your garage or waiting to get to a lounge to be able to smoke in a controlled environment. If I waited to go to the shop to smoke a cigar, I would only be able to have one, maybe two a week.

Plus, as an added bonus, the smoke from other people’s cigars won’t interfere with your ability to enjoy the cigar you’re smoking. Smoking and outdoors are now the de facto rule and you can adapt.

Trust me.

It’s not ideal, but on a nice, cool night, being outside with a good cigar is a beautiful thing.


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