Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Zack the Stogie Man's Honorable Mentions for 2011

After spending the last couple weeks working on my Top 10 of 2011, I found it difficult not to give the proper respect to all the cigars that were worthy. There are five other cigars that were very close to making the list, but I felt that they just didn’t leave an impression like the others did.

I felt it was only fair to create the list of some of some honorable mentions for the best cigars I reviewed this year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Zack the Stogie Man's Top 10 of 2011

Back in March of this year, I set upon a mission to find some of the best cigars. Throughout the year I have visited a wide variety of shops, as well as different online retailers. But without the help of family, friends, social media, and of course, my friends over at /r/cigars, none of this would have been possible.  Another special thank you goes out to all of the cigar companies that have been in contact with me and their sales representatives for all of the samples they have supplies me with. The people I have met over the past nine months have really helped this website become what it is today. With total page views creeping up on 30,000 views, I feel this website is going in the right direction, and I have all of you to thank for this wonderful feeling.

Now I will get into the part that everyone has been waiting for. This is a compilation, of what I feel, were the 10 best cigars that I reviewed in 2011.

Tatuaje Cojonu 2003 Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $13.00

As some of you may know, Tatuaje cigars are fairly new to me. I finally found a store relatively close to me that carries them. But this particular cigar was sent to me from a friend in Texas. He said that I had to try this one and review it. So I let it set for a couple weeks until I had a good day to enjoy a cigar like this. Well this past Friday, I got out of work about an hour early due to the holiday, so I had the perfect time to relax and enjoy this one.

This cigar’s Corojo wrapper is dark brown and very smooth. There are a couple of very thin veins that run the length of the stick, but I wasn’t too worried about them. The stick is also very solid throughout from cap to foot. The cap is perfectly flush, which lead to a very easy and clean cut. The smell coming off of this cigar was very sweet, notes of chocolate stuck out a little bit. Lighting this cigar was pretty easy because of how evenly packed to filler tobacco was.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Viaje White Label Project Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $7.50

Surprisingly there aren’t any Viaje retailers in the Philadelphia area. According to their website, the closest retailer is two and a half hours away in Wilkes-Barre, PA. When a couple different Viaje cigars were sent to me by a reader, I was ecstatic. I held this one aside for a little bit because it was one of the smaller ones sent to me, and with the cold setting in, smaller cigars are a better choice at the moment.

Now this cigar features a very nice, chocolate brown Nicaraguan wrapper. The wrapper is very smooth to the touch and appears very oily. The cap is placed on perfectly flush, and the foot is covered by excess wrapper tobacco. There are no veins running through the wrapper that would cause any sort of burn issue. As for the stick itself, it is very solid. There is a slightly softer spot near the band, but it isn’t enough to concern me just yet. Once I cut this cigar, I noticed how evenly packed the tobacco was. And the closed foot also helped to light this cigar so easily.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

San Lotano Oval Toro Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan & Honduran
Price: $9.00 - $10.00

Ever since I first heard about this cigar a couple months ago, I have dying to get my hands on some. I am a fan of the cigars that A.J. Fernandez makes for other companies, especially the Man O War lines, the Diesel lines, and the Ave Maria.  A couple weeks ago, another Brother of the Leaf sent me an Oval gordo in the mail, which was my first ever Oval and it blew me away. Well just the other day, my local shop got in a few boxes. Needless to say, I grabbed a couple.

This cigar gets its name from its shape. It is not box pressed, but actually oval pressed. The wrapper is a chocolate shade of brown and is very oily. Along with having a nice oily shine to it, the wrapper is very smooth with only a couple thin veins running through it. This stick is solid all the way through, even though most pressed cigars require them to be softer so they don’t split the wrapper. There is also a sweet and spicy smell coming off of this cigar. This is also a cigar that I highly recommend using a punch cut on. The couple I have tried seem to give out the most flavor through the punch cut.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rocky Patel Thunder by Nimish Toro Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $6.00

Back in October I was at a cigar event down in Delaware. One of the venders there happened to be Rocky Patel. This cigar was just released before this event so it was new on the market. When I was talking with the rep, I mentioned my reviews, and he gave me a couple of  the Thunders to try out. I had one there, and thought it was good that I had another one I could save for review.

The cigar features a dark brown habano wrapper. The wrapper is very smooth and oily. There are no veins throughout the entire wrapper that would cause any burn patterns. This stick is very solid and tightly packed throughout. The cap is perfectly flush and featured three layers. There is also a good aroma coming off of this stick. It is slightly spicy and earthy.

As soon as I lit up this cigar, I knew how it got its name. The spice was very powerful. There was also a slight sweetness to help mask a little bit of the spice. The sweetness quickly mellows out and the spice keeps picking up. Once the sweetness was practically gone, there was a good amount of earthiness comes out. Already I could tell that with a couple months age, this cigar has developed wonderfully.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Partagas Cifuentes Febrero Review

Wrapper: Dominican
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano
Price: $3.00 - $4.00

Towards the end of last week I asked a group of cigar smokers what cigars they would like to see in the upcoming week. Since I have a “Coming Soon” list on here, they had an idea of what cigars were available. After several ideas were tossed out there I gathered them I chose a few of the ones that were asked. This particular cigar has been on the list for some time, so it was a perfect time to finally review it.

After looking over this cigar, I could tell it wasn’t the best constructed cigar out there. The wrapper looked good. It was a dark brown, almost like dark chocolate and was very oily. There were also no thick veins throughout the cigar. But on the downside, there were quite a few soft and spongy spots throughout this stick. The cigar had a very distinct bittersweet smell to it. The cap was perfectly flush and cut clean, but I was still worried how it would burn. There was also quite a bit of extra glue behind the band.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gurkha Royal Challenge Toro Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Price: $7.00

As some of you may remember, Gurkha sent me a couple samples of their newer lines to try out and review. The first one I reviewed for them was the Seduction. I have reviewed several Gurkha cigars, and the majority of them have been pretty full-bodied. So when I got the chance to review a Connecticut shade cigar by them, I was very interested. I figured this would be a good cigar for me to try out in the morning.

Like most Connecticut shade wrappers, this one was very light brown and very smooth. There were a couple thin veins throughout the wrapper, but they were not a worry to me. There were also a couple thin cracks in the very thin wrapper. The cracks tended to be more towards the cap, so the huge, ornate, bands helped to prevent the wrapper from peeling off. Other than that, this stick appears to be constructed great. It is a very solid stick with a flush cap that cut clean. There is also a sweetness to the earthy smell coming off of this stick.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Drew Estate Undercrown Toro Review

Wrapper: San Andres Maduro
Filler: Brazilian Mata Fina and Nicaraguan
Price: $7.50

Last month was my birthday, and for my birthday I wanted to spend the day in Center City Philadelphia. While I was over there, I had to go into Holts. As I’m browsing around like a kid in a candy store, I came across the Undercrown. There were a few boxes there, so I grabbed two toros: one for review, and one to enjoy while walking around the city.

The San Andres wrapper is a dark brown shade. The wrapper is rough and oily. There is a nice shine to the cigar. The stick is very solid from the cap to the foot with not a single soft spot. The cap appears to be two layers, both of which are perfectly flush.  There is also a sweet chocolate-like smell coming off of this cigar. The cap cut very clean and the cigar was very easy to light.

As soon as I lit up this cigar there was a nice sweetness and a little bit of spice. The sweetness subsides quite quickly and leaves the spice as a main player. Then there is a nice earthiness that comes out strong. By an inch into this cigar, the flavor is very earthy. There are some slight wood notes mixed with a little bit of leather. That little bit of spice that was there continued to mellow out.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ashton VSG Illusion Review

Wrapper: Dominican Sun Grown
Filler: Dominican
Price: $9.50

I have been asked several times to review the VSG. One of the reasons being that I like full bodied cigar and sun grown wrappers. A couple weeks ago a friend of mine sent me one to review. So now that I had my hands on one, I couldn’t refuse it. The reason I never reviewed it before was honestly because it never crossed my mind to.

The Virgin Sun Grown wrapper is dark brown with a couple very thin veins. The cap was perfectly flush and double layered. The cigar itself is very solid with a slightly softer foot. There is also a very sweet smell coming off of this cigar. Its almost like the smell of sugar and vanilla. The cut was very clean and this cigar required no effort to light.

As soon as it was lit, there was a nice helping of spice. There was also a good amount of wood that started to enter the picture. Right after I picked up the wood notes, I started getting a good amount of earth as well. The peppery spice actually started to stick to my tongue, which is not a bad thing at all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vegas de Santiago Secretos del Maestro Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan and Costa Rican
Price: $4.00

Since this week has been pretty busy, I haven’t been able to review as much as I want to. Between work, Christmas shopping, and appointments, I really haven’t had much time to do anything. Well this morning I decided to try something new. I decided to try and do a review on a smaller cigar on my way to work. Luckily I hit a ridiculous amount of red lights driving to work, so I had time to jot down notes along the way. Since I only have roughly a 35 minute commute, I had to pick a smaller cigar, which is why I chose this one.

This cigar’s wrapper is a medium shade of brown. It is also very oily and has a nice shine to it. The cigar itself is very solid from cap to foot. The construction appears to be flawless. There are no veins throughout the entire cigar and the cap if perfectly flush. The smell coming off of this stick is slightly earthy and slightly bitter. The cut was clean and the light was very easy.

Upon lighting this cigar, I was greeted with some strong earthy tones. As the cigar progressed, more and more flavors started to emerge. There was a little bit of spice that came out after about a dozen puffs or so.  About the same time, I was greeted with some woodiness. The bitterness that I smelled on the cigar, transformed into flavor about an inch in. It resembled that of a light roast coffee.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Illuminati Crusade Robusto Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan
Price: $7.00

I want to start off by saying how much I do not like daylight savings. Now when I get home from work to review a cigar, I have roughly an hour. So during the week you are going to be seeing many more robustos reviewed. So as I was going through my humidor to find a good cigar for today’s review. I stumbled across this Illuminati. I heard from one of their distributors that this was a great cigar. So it was the perfect size for my time constraint.

The dark brown Habano wrapper was very nice looking. It had a nice oily sheen to it, and only had a couple thin veins throughout it. The cigar itself is a little softer than I am used to, but it wasn’t a worry because it felt even throughout. There is actually a very spicy wood smell coming off of this stick. The spice actually tingled. The cigar cut very clean, and was very easy to light.

Right off of the light, I was picking up some serious wood notes. There was a peppery spice that built up quickly as well. Along with the pepper, I was grabbing some notes of a cinnamon-like flavor. As this cigar progresses, the wood notes as well as earthiness keep building. I was actually getting a nice combination of flavors coating my palate. There seemed to be a little bit of leather and pepper that stuck around.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Alec Bradley Black Market Toro Review

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
Filler: Panama & Honduras
Price: $7.50

As many of you know, Alec Bradley is constantly pumping out new blends. The Black Market is one of his newest blends that I have had my eyes on. When I finally got my hands on a couple, I smoked one right away and set one aside to do this review on. I have been asked several times when I was finally going to review this cigar, so I gave in a reviewed it.

The Maduro wrapper is very nice. It is dark brown, oily, and very smooth. There are also no thick veins throughout the entire length of the cigar. There are a couple very thing veins, but these would not throw off the burn pattern in the slightest. This cigar is also very solid except right around the cap. There is a very distinct smell off sweetness and coffee coming off of this cigar as well. The band is also eye catching. It covers from the foot to about halfway up the stick with a black stamp saying “BLACK MARKET.”