All posts by Diana

Cigar Review – Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged

Cigar Dojo Collaborates with Camacho for an Innovative Taste Experience

Iron sharpens iron.  So one man sharpens another. – Proverbs 21:17

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About

Collaboration is nothing new in the cigar industry but there are some partnerships that that truly potentiate the creativity of each other.  The joining of Cigar Dojo and Camacho is a great example of that enhanced effect.  When ideas start out with “what would happen if….” either wonderful things or major disasters are about to happen.  The Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged takes the idea of barrel-aged cigars to a new level.  Tobacco is aged in barrels that have previously been used to age bourbon and then Imperial Stout.  The combination of the bourbon, stout and tobacco creates a flavor profile that is unique and stand-alone in the cigar industry.

Construction

Only 4000 cigars were made so sorry readers, if you don’t have one, they are already sold out.  However, stay tuned……you never know what the Dojo has up its sleeve.  Might find some sneaking into the market down the road.

The cigar felt sturdy with no soft or hard spots noted throughout the length of the stick.

Wrapper  –  Mexican San Andres Maduro

Binder  –  Original Corojo Maduro (Honduras)

Filler  –  Barrel-Aged Original Corojo Maduro (Honduras), Brazilian Maduro, Dominican Maduro

Vitola  –  6″ x 50 Toro

Price  –  $9.99/each   /  $99.95 bundle of 10

Smoke-Inn Exclusive (Currently Sold Out)

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Appearance

At first glance one might think this is a Camacho Triple Maduro. The wrapper and bands are similar in color and style. Once you take a closer look however, the Imperial Stout words pop out on the foot label.

This is a good looking cigar. Not fancy but not really plain. The wrapper is a nice deep brown, smooth with some veins which gives it the appearance of a sturdy and substantial stick.  The vitola is perfect in my opinion.  Substantial enough for a man’s hands but also a perfect ring gauge for my fairly large lady hands which has me feeling like an accomplished lady SOTL and not a beginner fluffy flavored cigar smoker.

Draw

I used my customary and favorite punch for my cut and found the cap to be sturdy with just the right amount of give.  There was no cracking or breaking of the cap during the cut.  The dry draw was plentiful but not sloppy.

The IS (Imperial Stout) lit nicely and produced an abundant plume of smoke in the first few draws.

First Third

There was no pepper in this baby, but plenty of flavors mixed onto my palette right out of the gate.  It was surprisingly smooth.  An immediate flavor of charred wood mixed with cocoa and leather hit my palette.  The combination gave the IS an earthy but not dirty flavor.  The hint of malt was there and came forward during the retrohale.

The flavors are already blending for a scrumptious palette experience.  Plenty of smoke is produced and I am anticipating where this cigar is going to go as the smoking experience proceeds.

Second Third

The ash is a nice yellow white with gray interspersed.  It is solid and does not fall off as I move the cigar around for inspection. Burn line is crisp and even with mild touch ups done just to please my anal OCD need for a straight line.

The ash finally fell when I really jiggled the stick around while taking pictures.  A cooler burn is noted in the center of the filler as noted by the way the ash detached.

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Malt flavors have moved forward as have some hoppiness.  The mix of stout and bourbon is there but what amazes me is that it is not overpowering.  It is subtle yet strong enough to let you know it is there.  The chocolate cocoa and leather balance the flavors nicely.  It has settled into a well balanced and flavourful smoke.  Not sweet, not peppery, yet not harsh or bitter.

Last Third

The label was easy to remove and there was no damage to the wrapper.  This is a fairly fresh cigar so I am always cautious about the integrity of the wrapper.

More of the barrel-aged flavors are coming out and there is a taste of hops on the tip of the tongue.  The IS has settled into the home stretch with mostly malt, barrel-aged and hops flavors.  However, just as I am getting to the nub portion of the cigar I get a blast of leather again, as if the cigar wants to tell me, I’m not done being complex.

Tasting Notes

I like to put my cigar down for a few minutes as I smoke and one thing that stood out was the blast of flavor I experienced every time I would pick the stick back up.  This is a flavor bomb of a cigar that is only going to get better with age in my opinion.

Malt, cocoa (chocolate), bourbon, leather, charred wood, and hops lend itself to a cigar that might sound a little odd but makes the most of an innovative and creative mix.

Overall Rating – 91

Whether a Stout drinker, bourbon drinker or some other beverage drinker, the flavors of the IS Barrel-Aged cigar are subtle enough to be noticed and enjoyed but never enough to turn-off non-beer / bourbon drinkers.  That raises the ante on this smoke for me.  I am more of a coffee and liquor drinker and I could easily pair this cigar with some dark roast, Guatemalan, Nicaraguan, Cuban coffee and have a superb combination.  I am very excited to try many different pairings with this in the future as I think the possibilities are quite endless and will bring out different aspects of flavors.

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Cigar Review – DTT Muestra De Saka Exclusivo

A Tasty Morsel of Refreshing Repose

“Come to me, all you who are burdened and weary, and I will give you rest”                                    – Matthew 11:28

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About

When I first heard about the Muestra De Saka, it was through Facebook posts by the Wunderkin himself Steve Saka.  He was adamant that “if you prefer powerful cigars this is not the cigar for you”.  Being a fuller bodied cigar lover, I was not discouraged, as I have come to find out that much like in life, if you exclude what isn’t your norm, you stand a very good chance of missing out on a plethora of great experiences.  The Muestra De Saka is just that – a great experience.  Muestra in Spanish interprets to “sample” so it is interesting to note that this cigar is truly a sample of the passion and spirituality in blending cigars that Steve Saka possesses.

Construction

The presentation of the Muestra De Saka is simple yet elegant.  Each cigar, which only comes in one size, is encased in a cedar coffin.  The cigar is adorned with a yellow ribbon  and the name is superimposed on it in red and black.  The plainness of the cigar adds to its attraction.  A gorgeous muted satin with a hint of redness encourages you to want to touch and experience the obvious smoothness of the wrapper.

Wrapper  –  Habano

Binder  –  Nicaragua

Filler  –  Nicaragua (Jalapa, Condega, Ometepe, Esteli’)

Vitola – 6 X 52 Toro

Price  –  Coffin – $14.95 each

Box / 7 Coffins – $105

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Draw and Light

The cigar has a pleasant aroma when removed from the coffin and celephane wrapper.  Unlike a lot of cigar smokers, I do not overly enjoy a strong smell of hay.  This cigar is pleasant and the light hay did not overwhelm.  There were no additional heavy aromas of note.  As is my customary cut for most cigars, I used a punch which gave me no problems. The cigar was firm but no tight spots noted and the cap cut easily with the punch and did not crack of break.

The dry draw was again pleasant and had a sweetness that I am looking forward to experiencing.  The light was uneventful and as evidenced in the accompanying pictures, remained even and balanced throughout the smoking experience.

First Third

I immediately noticed a “freshness” to the cigar that surprised and delighted me.  The flavor of white pepper, leather, coffee and hay were all done lightly so as not to overwhelm the senses yet provided the revelation of complexity.  A mineral taste was noted in the background that felt as if it brought the other flavours together in synchronicity.  A touch of cinnamon was also noted and added to the sweetness of the tobacco.

The ash was “fluffy” yet sturdy.  Nice whiteness highlighted with light gray and hints of yellow and dark gray dispersed in the crevices.  Forging on the cigar revealed an almost hidden nut flavor that would come in and out between the coffee and mineral flavours. The white pepper created a tiny tongue tingle on the finish.  The retrohale produced an almost “minty” experience that added to my first impression of the refreshing nature of this cigar.

Second Third

The coffee notes came forward as the smoke progressed and I felt myself settling into my chair and my body relaxing a bit more.  The cinnamon and leather remained but I also continued to pick up on the minty notes which kept me perked up while the cigar relaxed me at the same time.  I could definitely pair this cigar with a Gin & Tonic, Mojito or Moscow Mule or even some mint tea or Mint Julip.

The ash tapped easily and burn line continued intact.  Except for a small corner of lifted wrapper, this cigar was constructed and burning well.  I did not touch up where the lifted wrapper was and let nature takes its course.  As I suspected, it corrected itself and no help was needed to keep the cigar burning even and clean.

Last Third

Coming into the homestretch, the Muestra De Saka continued to provide a flavourful experience.  Leather was taking over but the coffee, cinnamon and mineral notes remained including the refreshing mintiness that I first experienced

There is an earthiness that comes forward more in the last third but not enough to make the cigar taste “dirty.”  The balance of flavours while keeping this cigar in the mild to medium range is a testament to the extensive blending experience of its’ maker.

Tasting Notes

The soft sweetness along with the mix of leather, coffee, cinnamon and mint provide the ultimate in mellow relaxation.  This is a cigar that a true cigar connoisseur could enjoy even if they were more inclined toward full body cigars.  The complexity takes this from the possibility of mundane to an attention getting joy ride.

Overall Rating – 93

Flavor, complexity and a mild to medium cigar made with high quality makes the Muestra De Saka well worth the $14.95 price tag for each cigar.  From presentation to smoking completion, this is a cigar to savour for the ultimate in relaxation without boredom.  It is a limited edition cigar but one can hope that Steve Saka and DTT decide to grace us with its presence again in the future. Garcia’s por esta maravillosa muestra del Mundo de Saka.

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Cigar Review – Espinosa Crema

Espinosa delivers a hit in the Connecticut cigar market

“And you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey.” – Jeremiah 32:22

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About

The name Espinosa has long been associated with powerhouse cigars with tons of spice and erring on the side of full bodied cigars.  The decision to create a “gateway” cigar to introduce cigar smokers to the Espinosa brand resulted in a mild to medium bodied cigar that all cigar smokers can enjoy.

Construction

A solidly constructed cigar, the Crema is a good looking stick that appears a bit more “golden” than some other Connecticut wrappers.  My preference toward Robusto cigars led me to do this review on this vitola. The label is the identifiable Espinosa artwork that is both classy and distinctive to their brand.  The white, cream, gold and black really accents the wrapper and the white ribbon at the foot of the cigar adds just a bit more aesthetics to the cigar.

Wrapper –  Ecuadorean Connecticut Shade

Binder – Nicaraguan

Filler – Nicaraguan Long-Fillers

Vitolas:

5 1/2 X 52 – Robusto

6 X 56 – Toro

7 X 48 – Churchill

Box of 20 – $150 – $161

5 Pick – $38 – $41

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Draw and Light

I used a punch for my “cut” and was excited by the smell and flavours in the cold draw.  The cigar had a smooth draw; not too loose and not too tight. There was not as much hay as I’ve experienced in other Connecticut Shade cigars.  A hint of sweet was noted and the buttery toast was immediately noticeable.  The cigar lit nicely with no extra work noted.  This is a cigar that lights right from the beginning.

First Third

I noticed right away that this was a fuller Connecticut than I have smoked before but it certainly didn’t produce any spice or pepper.  It was smooth with cedar notes and the butter and toast was noticeable right away.  There is a hint of honey that is more predominent on the retrohale.  The combination is very pleasing to this reviewers palette.

The burn line is dark and shows a well constructed wrapper and binder.  The ash is predominently white with dark gray dispursed throughout.  Smoke output is plentiful and creamy.

Second Third

As I got into the second third of the smoke, the honey remained interspersed with butter and toast.  The cedar and mild hay remained in the background which was a nice departure from other Connecticuts that I’ve smoked.  I would classify this cigar as on the high side of mild and low side of medium and it keeps my attention even though I am not expecting a lot of transitional flavors in this experience.

The ash is light and fluffy yet sturdy.  As a side note; those looking for a good cigar for long ash contests might be interested in this cigar.  It’s not overbearing yet it has a solid enough ash to hang in there for a long while.

Last Third

The cigar continues to burn nicely and only required one touchup because I’m just a bit anal retentive about straight burn lines.  When I reached the label I found that it was difficult to remove.  I actually find this with the majority of Espinosa Cigars.  I always swear I’m going to ask Erik Espinosa what he used for glue as the labels are extremely difficult to remove without tearing them or damaging the wrapper.  As I’ve experienced before the removal of this label is no different.  I wound up using the point of a sharp knife to cut the label off.  I did minor damage to the wrapper and not enough to cause any unraveling or further cracking but it still remains a pet peeve of mine with the Espinosa line.  It certainly won’t stop me from smoking them though!

The honey has subsided and I am now getting more of the cedar mixed in with the butter and toast.  I am well pleased with the flavors of this cigar and the creaminess that I’ve experienced all the way through.  I nub the cigar as I approach the end.  This was a great smoking experience.

Tasting Notes

Cream with hints of cedar and subtle hay.  Honey drizzled on a buttered roll or toast.  This cigar pairs nicely with coffee and makes it a perfect breakfast cigar or after dinner treat.

Overall Rating – 92.5

Extremely well balanced, well constructed Connecticut Shade cigar.  Pleasant and easy smoking experience that is well suited for a breakfast or after dinner cigar for the advanced smoker yet provides a great beginner stick for those exploring the Espinosa line of fuller bodied cigars.  Great with coffee or perhaps a light bourbon with minimal peat.

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Cigar Review – Plasencia Alma Fuerte Generacion V

The Alma Fuerte (tr – Strong Soul) is a Cigar well suited for a long repose of relaxation and reflection

Ephesians 3:16  –  He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner man

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About

I was blessed with the Plasencia Alma Fuerte, Generacion V, as a gift from a very generous BOTL who resides in New York.  He has superb taste in cigars and always seems to know where to find the “special” ones.  Just the appearance of this cigar reeks of elegance without being fragile and beauty without being weak.  This is a smoke that should be savoured for a time when deep reflection and deep conversations will take place.  Time is needed to truly bask in the flavours, the feel and the slow burn of a truly special cigar.

Construction

Puro – Variations of Criollo 98′ grown in Nicaragua (Jalapa, Condega, Esteli’, Ometepe)

Wrapper  –  Dark Shade Grown (Jalapa, Nicaragua)

Binder  –  Nicaragua (Jalapa, Condega, Esteli’, Ometepe)

Filler  –  Nicaragua (Jalapa, Condega, Esteli’, Ometepe)

Vitola  –  Perfecto, Box Press, 7″ x 58 (Generacion V)

Made  –  Plasencia Factory, Esteli’ Nicaragua

Price  –  $22.00 / single     $220 / box 10

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Draw and Light

After smelling and handling this gorgeous perfecto box press, I made a straight cut about 1/4″ off the head of the cigar.  As I suspected there was a mild tightness to the dry draw due to the vitola. However, the taste was rich and unlike the some of the more “barnyard” type smells often noted in many cigars.

The wrapper has a slight oily feel but appears more like brown suede.  This is a fairly substantial cigar so it is meant to be enjoyed most while no physical activities are involved.  It has a solid feel and appearance and just enough wrapper edges to make it beautiful rather than pretty.

The toasting process was easy although I did note that it took a bit longer to make sure the foot was lit thoroughly even with the small perfecto tip.  This is a cigar jam packed with Nicaraguan tobaccos and extra care should be taken to make sure the toast is thorough.

First Third

My initial reaction was one of a bit of surprise.  Along with a shot of spice and red pepper, I was hit in the nose with an almost “perfume” type taste.  It quickly smoothed down and I was able to distinguish a more floral note rather than perfume.  However the spice and pepper were predominant as I enjoyed the plethora of creamy smoke this cigar was producing.

In between the spice and pepper the floral continued along with some dark cocoa and leather.  The retrohale provides a spicy hot cinnamon flavor that reminded me of the “red hot” cinnamon candies that are often used on baked goods.  There is a nice smokey flavor (not BBQ) that seems to be mixed in as I get ready to start into the next third.

Second Third

As I initially thought, this cigar is taking some time.  I’m okay with that though as I’m truly enjoying the creamy smoke and various flavours that come in and out.  The smokey flavor has come forward more and reminds me a little of pipe tobacco.  Just enough to help me relax even more.

The ash holds extremely well and is a light gray with lots of white dispersed throughout.  After deciding whether I would attempt a “long ash” I decided to give it a tap and did so throughout the rest of the smoke each time the ash reached an inch or two.

There is a richness to this cigar that keeps the ebbing and flowing floral taste from becoming too overpowering yet enough to keep it flavourful.  Without it I believe this cigar would be a bit boring down the long haul.

The dark cocoa is mixed with some dark chocolate and nuts and the pepper is backing off to reveal a nice mix of leather, smoke, cocoa, chocolate, nuts and floral.  I feel like I’ve hit the sweet spot as I near the end of the second third.  With this being a 7 inch vitola, I still have a couple of inches of smoking for my last third, so I’m happy with where I am so far.

Last Third

Now I’m in my zone.  There is a nice smokey, creamy flavor that I am thoroughly enjoying.  The pepper has receded and the dark chocolate and nuts mix nicely with the leather while the floral comes in and out in just the right amount.

The cigar has remained lit without any need for touch up, although I did do so once.  This was only due to my now revealed anal retentive need for a straight burn line.

I feel like I’ve been smoking for hours as I near the end of this cigar.  It has been a couple of hours and I feel relaxed and almost ready for a nap.  The power of this cigar is noticeable throughout but not hard hitting in a sneaky way as I am in the last third.  I am ready to be done with this smoke, yet I am still desiring the flavours that I experienced.

Tasting Notes

Be prepared for the burst of spice and pepper out of the gate.  This cigar will let you know that it means business.  It will also provide you with scrumptious amounts of smoke, smooth creaminess, and a multitude of floral, leather, cocoa, chocolate and a few other flavours sneaking in and out.

Where your sweet spot is on this cigar depends on your palette but for me it was the end of the second third and lasted into the end of the cigar.  This cigar is meant to be paid attention to while smoking.

This is a phenomenal cigar in my opinion.  Definitely box worthy even with the higher price tag.  I have many “go to” cigars in my line up and aside from the Opus X’s, Padron’s and other higher end cigars saved for special occasions, I am sure that the Alma Fuerte now has a place among them.

This is a cigar that I will crave when I am on vacation and have plenty of down time.  I would use this for celebratory times and for celebratory gifts to my BOTLs and SOTLs.  It is special enough for just those times.

*Overall Rating – 94.3

The Plasencia family really hit a homerun with the Alma Fuerte.  It’s class.  It’s flavor.  It’s box worthy.  Not the cigar for every day smoking but it definitely made my top 10 of the cigars I save for special celebrations and memories.

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Cigar Review – DTT Steve Saka – Umbagog

A Spritual Experience for the Everday Man & Woman

Matthew 13:1 – On that day after Jesus went out of the house, he sat by the lake

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About

Located on the New Hampshire and Maine border sits a lake call “Umbagog”.  It is a favorite fishing spot for this cigar’s creator, Steve Saka.  Dunbarton Tobacco and Trade is the manufacturer and distributor of Steve’s premium cigar lines such as “Sobremesa” and “Mi Querida”.  Both are elegant and tasteful smokes which have a huge following among the cigar aficionado community.

I myself am a fan, but when I heard about the release of the “Umbagog” I was excited to see what Steve had come up with.  Always a man to speak his peace, I have always viewed him as a no-nonsense, everyday man’s man.  Not knowing much about this new cigar, I decided to locate a bundle and try it for myself.

Manufactured with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that was said to be “too ugly” for Steve’s premium Mi Querida line, I had to wonder what this stick was going to look like.  Perhaps a bit “saka sasquatch for me?  It was time to delve into the wilderness and get a taste of what the Umbagog is all about.

Construction

Wrapper – Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder – Unknown (Nicaraguan?)

Filler – Nicaraguan Blend

Vitolas:     Corona Gorda – 6 x 49    $6.45/ea

Robusto Plus – 5 x 52     $6.45/ea    (Size smoked in this review)

Toro Toro – 6 x 52     $6.95/ea

Gordo Gordo – 6 x 56     $7.45/ea

Appearance 

The Umbagog comes in a bundle of 10 cigars wrapped in brown paper with a simple label affixed to the front. The single stick is quite plain with a simple green label with off white borders and lettering.  Plain and simple.

When I first viewed the cigar I was surprised that just by it’s simplicity and color label (Army Green), it brought out the “Soldier” in me.  The cigar felt good in my hand; substantial with a good grip but not rough and “hairy” like I thought a Saka Sasquatch might be (laughing).  It’s a handsome looking cigar and does not try to be its more premium and elegant relatives.

For a woman who is over that beautiful and sexy woman time in my life, I found myself relating to this cigar.  Simple, handsome (yes, women can be handsome) and exuding a quiet statement of “I might not be fancy and gorgeous anymore, but I’m sturdy, comfortable and trustworthy”.  Like me, this cigar tells the world, “I’ve earned my imperfections and I come from a great bloodline!”

Draw and Light

Choosing to use my large punch for this 52 gauge cigar, I was able to make a nice cut into the cap with no dryness or overt softness noticed.  The dry draw was mildly tight but I was not surprised with the overall feel of the construction – sturdy. It was comfortable and revealed the taste of being in a straw and hay barn, much like its smell when I removed it from the cellophane wrapper.

The cigar toasted well and didn’t seem to take much effort to get a nice even burn right out of the gate.

First third

I was expecting pepper but did not get it.  The immediate flavor was that of dark cocoa and some leather.  There was a very subtle sweetness behind the scenes with just a hint of nuts and coffee.  As I took more draws I noticed that chocolate came through but again, not in an overly sweet way.  The retro provided a nice leather and chocolate experience.

Second Third

Going into the second third of the cigar it felt like it settled into it’s prime flavours.  Mostly leather with a nice balance of chocolate, nuts and coffee to keep me interested.  The dark cocoa floated in and out but I was too busy enjoying the leather to really care if it was there or not.  I was actually wanting a cup of coffee at this point as I felt it would be the number one pairing for this cigar.

The ash is a nice white overall with some grey accents throughout.  As the rest of the cigar seems to be sturdy, so is the ash.  It held nicely and I even hit it once while moving around and it didn’t come flying off all over me.  The burn is even and the feel of the cigar is warm but not hot.  Not the slowest burn in the world but not a speedster either.

Last Third

The Umbagog settled down even more as I came into the last third.  It was mostly leather with a bit of earthiness to it.  Dark cocoa continued to join in and it surprised me as the power sneaked up on me during this last stretch.  Since leather is one of my favorite tobacco notes, I was very happy to see this cigar all the way through.  I didn’t quite nub it but I may have if that desired cup of coffee had been along for the ride also.

Tasting Notes

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this solid smoking experience.  The Umbagog is definitely a cigar I would like to keep in my smoking portfolio.  It can be smoked as a yard gar or after a nice dinner with friends hanging around for drinks and fellowship.

*Overall Rating – 89

The Robusto Plus was a good size for me and I think the Corona Gorda would be my other choice.  Anything larger would get a bit “old” for me but might be perfect for other smokers.  I can honestly say this was a really good smoke and I had a great time bonding with the concept and roots of the name and it’s intentions.  I feel a kinship to this cigar and I will definitely save these sticks for the times I long to be sitting by a lake with coffee and my tasty Umbagog.  Thank you Steve Saka!

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Cigar Review – Viva Republica Jason Holly – IVY Dudley

A CIGAR OF HAPPINESS AND COMFORT

Jonah 4:6 – Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort.  So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.

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About

The Ivy cigar is the creation of Jason Holly and Viva Republica Cigars.  Released in April of 2016, the Ivy is a break in the more aggressive styles of Viva Republica’s line of cigars and provides an experience intended to revive memories from days gone by. Jason Holly was a student of the Ivy League College, Harvard.  He would find time to smoke cigars in Harvard Yard and found out that John F. Kennedy did the same.  An iconic picture of Kennedy smoking a cigar in the Yard inspired Holly to create the Ivy.  This elegant yet robust cigar is meant to honor and show respect to JFK, Harvard Yard and the cigar smoking experience.

Construction

Wrapper – Ecuadorean Habano

Binder – (Double) Cameroon and Dominican

Filler – Dominican (Cibao Valley) and Nicaraguan (Esteli’ and Condega)

Vitola. –  5 X 50

Average Price. –  $13.25 / single

Manufactured  –  La Aurora SA (Dominican Republic)

Appearance

The Ivy has a rustic and old school appearance.  There is a reddish hue to the golden brown wrapper and it is enhanced nicely by the label which is reminiscent of a time gone by. Even the paper used for the label give the cigar a rugged yet classical look.  The Dudley is a 5 X 50 vitola that feels very comfortable in the hand.  The wrapper is slightly oily and there are some veins throughout which contribute to the rustic yet sophisticated nature of this cigar.

Draw and Light

I began with my preferred method of preparation which is a punch for most any cigar that is a 48 or larger ring gauge.  Using a large circumference punch was accomplished easily with very little resistance and no dry cracking or extreme softness was felt.  The draw was easy and there were hints of wood and leather prior to the light.

Using a triple jet butane to light the cigar I did notice that it took a little more care to make sure the cigar was sufficiently toasted.  I attributed this to a thicker wrapper and double binder combination. I suspect this will be a longer burning cigar than I may have anticipated.

First Third

My first couple of draws immediately revealed leather and black pepper.  However, it did not take long for very pleasant floral notes to come forward while the pepper calmed.  The retro confirmed the floral notes and was not as peppery as I thought it might be.

Settling into the first part of the smoke, I tasted dark cocoa and an unexpected saltiness on the finish.  I was pleasantly surprised by the saltiness and found the mix of leather, cocoa, floral and salt to be quite unique and interesting.  There was way more complexity right out of the gate than I had thought there would be.

Second Third

As I was finishing the first third and going into the second, I picked up on a slight “pipe tobacco” flavor. This floated in and out but never came into the forefront too much.  Even though the pepper had definitely receded, a hint of white pepper still remained in the background.  The leather and floral notes had definitely taken over by the second third of this surprising cigar.

The Ivy remained burning well and although a bit of edgy points on the wrapper were slow to simmer on the burn line, overall the cigar smoked well.  Again, I attribute any slow burning issues to be related to the combined thickness of the wrapper and double binder.  It was nothing that caused me to have to touch up or keep relighting though as it seemed to take care of itself as the smoking experience proceeded.

Farther into the second third I noticed that the floral notes had muted and there was a little hint of nuttiness mixed in but very briefly.  What surprised me again, was the change in flavours.  A “meatiness” came forward that tasted like a good steak cooking on a wood fire.  Just a hint of smokiness along with saltiness made me want to light up my grill and get a steak going!

The burn continued to be slow and steady with a cool touch as I finished the second third.  The ash holds nicely through the smoke and produces a nice amount of smoke yet not over abundant.  Even with the increased movement due to taking pictures of the Ivy and repositioning my hand and cigar, the ash never broke off on its own.

Last Third

Just as I was getting comfortable with the flavours at the end of the second third, the floral notes re-emerged and mixed with a slight mineral taste.  That didn’t last long, maybe 4-5 puffs, before the leather, wood and floral notes took over again and brought this cigar into the home stretch.

Tasting Notes

Leather, floral, smoked wood, nuts, mineral, dark cocoa, salt

*Overall Rating  –  90

The complexity of the Ivy blew me away.  Very different than anything I had ever smoked, I found this to be a cigar that made me pay a lot of attention to it.  Ironically, I’m not sure that I relaxed like a wanted to with this smoke.  I seemed to just settle in when the flavours would change unexpectedly. The foundational notes of leather and floral remained consistent throughout although to varying degrees, while everything else around them seemed to continuously change.  Be prepared for the unexpected  –  this is one complex smoke.  It will leave you feeling pleasantly surprised, happy and content that you just had a truly unique cigar!

Cigar Dojo Advanced Cigar Rating Tool 

(Download your own rating tool at http://www.cigardojo.com)

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Cigar Review – Quesada Dojo De Luxe (Limited)

A CIGAR FIT FOR A KING

Psalm 45:13-15 – The King’s daughter is all glorious within; Her clothing is interwoven with gold. She will be led to the King in embroidered work; The virgins, her companions who follow her, Will be brought to You. They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing; They will enter into the King’s palace

About

The Quesada Dojo De Luxe is the result of collaboration between Quesada Cigars (Terence Reilly, Manuel Quesada) and Cigar Dojo (Eric Guttormsen, Jordan Guttormsen).  Seeking to bring about the reminiscent experience of cigar days gone by, the De Luxe was designed and crafted to remind us of the cigar’s roots and it’s glamour, all while maintaining the Cigar Dojo mantra of being affordable to the “every day” cigar smoker.

Construction

Wrapper  –  Ecuadorean Connecticut

Binder  –  Dominican

Filler  –  Dominican

Vitola  –  5 3/4  X  52  Perfecto

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Appearance

The Quesada Dojo De Luxe is packaged in a traditional Quesada Box (black with gold letters) with the addition of the Cigar Dojo nomeker.  Each box contains 10 individually wrapped (cellophane) cigars, and in this case, as is customary with the latest Dojo release cigars, a Boveda Pack is inserted before the boxes are wrapped for delivery.

Once removed from the box and its cellophane wrapper, the De Luxe exudes a certain classy and suave appearance.  The wrapper is a golden blonde brown and is oily and smooth to the touch.  This is a cigar that feels immediately comfortable in the smoker’s hand.  The labels (2) again exhibit the traditional and very recognisable Quesada logo but also include a second label in complimentary black and copper gold with the Dojo name and cigar title “De Luxe”.  It is a great combination of old tradition and new innovation with just that subtle addition in label.

Draw and Light

A straight cutter was used to make a slice about 1/4 inch off of the foot.  Once the cut is made the dry draw is clean and easy.

There is a certain carefulness that must be taken when lighting a perfecto as it can be the start of either a great burn line or a battle to keep it from being extremely crooked.  The limited lighting area can be a challenge with this vitola but in the case of the De Luxe (this is my fourth one) it has been minimal.

First Third

There is a slight hint of pepper at the start but this quickly fades to the back.  My immediate reaction is to the smoothness and cubanesque flavor.  I feel like my body is starting to relax already after only a few substantial draws.

A slight caramel flavor comes into my mouth with butter and toast notes adding a nice creaminess.  I notice that the wrapper is very thin and fragile so I am going to keep a close eye on construction as the cigar burns.

The retro is smooth.  I am not a big fan of retro simply because it can flare up my sensitive antihistamine reaction.  However, in this case I am almost wanting to keep retrohaling in order to soak up more of the subtle flavours.

Second Third

As I begin to move into the main body of the perfecto I am still enjoying the smoothness of this cigar.  The butter is beginning to taste more like whipped butter that has just the right amount of sweetness accenting the caramel notes that have been there from the beginning.

Cedar and a bit of nuttiness reminiscent of almonds also float in and out while I watch the white smoke rise when exhaling.  The smoke is quick to disperse yet it is abundant enough to fill the mouth nicely.

The ash is holding well and does not easily drop when I finally tap it into the ashtray.

As I near the end of the second third I notice a slight bitter citrus taste that comes forward only to retreat as I begin the last third.  It is a bit of a surprise but not unpleasant as it is mixed in nicely with the cedar, nuttiness and whipped butter.

Last Third

Consistent to the end, the De Luxe continues to be smooth, creamy and buttery.  There is more of a muted cedar now and the nuttiness is almost reminiscent of cashews.  The burn is cool and I am having no trouble being able to “nub” the cigar which is definitely my desire.

Miscellaneous Notes

The cigar burned well, fairly even and the wrapper remained intact throughout the smoke. There was a curious “split” in the ash at the beginning (first half inch in) but it had no effect on the burn nor the smoking experience.

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Tasting Notes

Butter, whipped butter, caramel, nuts (almond and cashew), cedar, toast, bitter citrus

*Overall Rating – 93

The Quesada Dojo De Luxe definitely provided a relaxing smoke experience.  I felt as though this would be the smoke I would definitely bring with me on an evening out for dinner and drinks, dressed to the nines and feeling like a classy lady, sporting a very classy cigar.  However, this will also be a great Sunday morning cigar for me when I am drinking my coffee and watching a church service online on my deck or in my Gal Cave.

Ultimately no matter where or when you smoke the Quesada Dojo De Luxe you are going to be in good company and your bros and sisses are all going to know that you are one classy guy or gal. Definitely a cigar fit for a King, or in this case the Queen!

*Cigar Dojo Advanced Ratings Tool

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Cigar Review – Protocol Probable Cause

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Today is Election Day and since I already voted a few weeks ago I figured what would be better than to do a cigar review on my day off from the office!  I’ve been sitting on this cigar since July and with a few months in the humi I figured it was time to give it a whirl.

Now if any of you have ever had the pleasure of meeting the Cubariqueno guys, Bill Ives and Juan Cancel, you just can’t help but believe this is going to be a great smoke.  They have got to be two of the funniest and most passionate BOTLs in the business.  Both have LEO backgrounds (law enforcement) and bring a special vibe to their company.  Pair that with the support of Erik Espinosa and La Zona Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and you know this should be a good cigar!

I have to admit that my first experience with their premiere cigar , the Protocol, didn’t impress me, BUT, I was in Managua, Nicaragua and had just smoked a few too many cigars before I got to theirs, so it wasn’t a fair assessment.  I have yet to go back to it almost a year later but after smoking the Probable Cause you can bet I will have one on a clean palattee – gotta be fair and again, these guys make me want to believe in their brand!

So, after coffee, lunch, mouth rinsing and a little time, I set out on my Probable Cause adventure.

This dark and oily robusto (5 x 52) soft box press, was given to me via the Cigar Dojo Party in Las Vegas at IPCPR this past July.  It’s a good looking cigar and I think the box press adds a little class to it.  The feel in my fingers is smooth and comfortable at 52.

My sniff test doesn’t reveal much except a little bit of hay and some dry oak leaves.  I used a punch and got a comfortable dry draw.  The light was easy and produced a lot of billowy smoke on the first few puffs.  I was immediately introduced to leather and dark cocoa.

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I’m a big fan of leather and so this cigar was immediately right up my alley.  I was just getting into the great leather and cocoa when I decided to retrohale.  I was pleasantly surprised to get a slight floral note mixed in and a faint hint of white pepper in the background.

As I got through the first third I continued to get the floral coming out more but never overwhelming the leather and cocoa flavours.  The ash was gray with a nice white shroud; holding together well until I decided to tap.

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Going into the second third of the cigar the leather remains and the floral has faded but what was once cocoa now tastes like coffee.  In reality I don’t believe the cocoa went away but instead some coffee notes emerged on top of it.

The burn line was spectacular and had a thick black edge that I found very aesthetically pleasing in contrast to the wrapper and white ash.  I only touched up the cigar once and in actuality it wasn’t because it needed it but more because I’m anal retentive about a straight burn line.

The draw was consistent throughout the smoke and was easy but not sloppy.  This cigar is going to last you awhile so find a BOTL or SOTL to settle in with and enjoy the experience.

As I went into the last third of the cigar I once again began to get the floral flavour coming into the mix again.  There was a slight bitterness that crept in but not in a bad way.  It was reminiscent of the slight bitterness of dark chocolate and was not in the least bit unpleasant. Leather continued to shine through and never dissipated throughout the entire smoke.

The subtle strength of the cigar caught up to me in that last third.  It is a medium to full smoke but wields some power that sneaks up towards the end.  It was a solid one hour and 20 minute smoke which for a 5 inch cigar is pretty impressive.

I nubbed it and was very satisfied with the total experience.  I wanted more because of the flavour but was happy with the robusto size and ring gauge overall.  The wrapper remained intact throughout the smoke with no cracks or unraveling.

This cigar is a solid 91 rating for me.  So Juan and Bill, Yes, after this experience I am a believer!  I will definitely consider more of these for my humi.  For the numbers guys and gals I’ve included the Cigar Dojo Review Sheet to provide the breakdown for this delightful, full-flavoured, and good looking stick.

If you haven’t tried the Protocol Probable Cause then I would say this review is cause enough to do so!!

Until next time…….Stay Smokey and Be Blessed…….I know I am!

Diana

aka~Queen Of Cigars

aka~ArmyRN

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Cigar Etiquette Nightmare

Today is the first day of October and for all you fans of Halloween it is the bewitching month!  I truly enjoy fall and all the pumpkin spice and apple smells that are either delightfully abundant or the bain of ones’ existence.  Fall is my time.  Maybe it’s because I was born in October?  There’s just something that begs for home, harvest, hanging out and enjoying great cigars around a backyard fire pit.  As for the Halloween thing; I hang with my neighbors to give out candy to Trick or Treaters and do some decorating in my house but I’m not really into the scary stuff.  However, I have decided to start the Halloween month out right and share a cigar “horror” story with you.  I hope you find this as disturbing yet hysterical as I and my BOTL/SOTL did when it occurred.

One of my cigar bucket list items was a trip to Tampa, FL.  You can’t be a cigar smoker and not know that Tampa is the cigar capital of the US.  I wanted to go and explore a bit and of course check out what treasures I could find in the many, many cigar bars, lounges and stores.  When my cigar besties Mike and Sharon (great cigar couple – everybody should have a set), talked about heading to Tampa to hang out with some family who lived there, it was an opportunity for me to get in on the action and get to Tampa.  We did just that over the Labor Day weekend and I have to say, Tampa did not disappoint!  I came back with some great cigars, met some fantastic people and got some much needed rest and relaxation.  Where’s the horror story you say?

So, some cigar smokers walk into a dive bar.  Now it is important to know that this dive bar is special.  It is home to many Vietnam Veterans and many members of the local chapter of the “Nam Vet” motorcycle club hang out there.  It is a homey dive bar.  You walk in and even though you get the feeling you wouldn’t want to start any trouble you also know you are welcome and that they are not going to let anybody mess with you either.  Mike’s brother Ryan and his wife Melissa are very active in Nam Vets so this is a fave hang-out for them.  Anytime I can hang with fellow Vets I’m always a happy camper.  So, we all cram into seats at a small table and we are having a great time.  Laughing, joking and meeting new people.  As a cigar smoker you know that special times call for special cigars.  

I carefully selected one of my prized Quesada Tres Reynas Limited Edition White Label cigars.  This cigar was manufactured at the My Father factory in Nicaragua and was the creation of Janny Garcia, Patricia Quesada and Raquel Quesada – the 3 Queens of Quesada!  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Patricia Quesada and have to say what a fantastic lady. She and her sisters did a superb job on this White Label version of the 3 Reynas.  

3 Reynas Limited Edition White Label          

With its Connecticut Broad Leaf wrapper and Nicaraguan Binder and Filler, this is a rich and luxurious smoke.  I find all cigars relaxing (isn’t that part of why we smoke them?) but this cigar in particular slows me down and makes me savour and soak in the abundance of flavour.

But alas, I digress.  So, here I am sitting in this fantastic dive bar where everybody knows everybody and you quickly beome friends.  Sharon is sitting to my right and Mike is sitting across from me.  I’m seated near the door and with my back to the wall I have a great viewpoint of what’s going on, including who comes in and who goes out.  I’m not quite half-way through my Quesada treasure when this older “gentleman” walks through the door.  In true Veteran fashion he yells, “hello mother f’ers!”  To which a few of the regulars yell back the same term of endearment.  Alright bro, you got this gals attention.  He stops and talks to a few people including my friends brother and they proceed to introduce him to us.  He fixates on me, I think mostly because I’m sitting on the end of the table most convenient to his proximity.  I politely listen to him as he talks and we share a few military quips that he aptly replies to in his now obvious gruff and loud way.  I find him amusing and since he is a brother in arms I am most willing to listen.  

But then it happens.  I’m sitting with my half smoked 3 Reynas in my left hand when I see him zone in on it.  He doesn’t ask what I’m smoking but rather he reaches out and takes the cigar out of my fingers.  I’m still not alarmed as I innocently and quickly decide that he just wants to look at the label to see what it is.  I have never been more wrong in my life!  As if I am seeing things in slow motion he begins to move my cigar up to his lips.  It is like a bad accident that you are so terrified to look at but can’t stop looking at either!  He takes a few puffs from my smoke and hands it back to me.  I say nothing as I’m in shock.  What makes it even more horrifying is that Mike is sitting across from me with a wide eyed deer in the headlights look while to my right I can all but feel Sharon throwing up in her mouth.  You have to understand, Sharon can’t even handle sharing a cigar with her own husband Mike.  This had to be her worst nightmare.  

My new “friend” continues to talk to me while I hold my tainted cigar in my hand.  I don’t hear a word he is saying because all I can think is “Dang it!  I LOVE this cigar!! I don’t want to put it down!  What the “bleep” am I going to do?!!  I’m on vacation right?  You live dangerously while on vacation, right?  You do things you wouldn’t normally do, right?  Somehow I convince myself of all these things and yes, I do it, I put the cigar back in my mouth and take a few puffs.  Sharon is now beside herself as I can hear her groan ever so softly at the sight of me.  I can’t help it.  I’m in too deep now.  I turn around and say to her “Geez Sharon, the flavours have really changed in this cigar”.  We both burst out laughing like people nervously do when they’re at a funeral and don’t know what else to say.  We are beside ourselves and yet I continue to smoke my cigar.  This my friends has become a Cigar Etiquette Nightmare!

And so one thinks it has ended, but NO……here comes my new “friend” back to visit again.  I notice he has a nice looking churchill lit but I don’t recognise the label.  Forever being a glutton for punishment, I can hear myself say to him “What are you smoking?”  Why?  Was I so far gone from the first horrific incident that I no longer cared at all?  Now, in even slower motion, he removes his cigar from his mouth and hands it to me with the head of the cigar facing me.  I notice his glistening saliva on the cap and once again I am forced into the previous web of irrational lies I had somehow convinced myself were okay.  As I slowly reach for the cigar I can hear Sharon let out a groan next to me and I can tell she wants to lurch forward and swat the cigar out of my hand.  I take the cigar and take a puff.  Only one, how gouache can that be I decide.  There is nothing left to hide between this man and myself. Perhaps a new reality series – Smoking Cigars Naked?

Once again I am sitting in shock and feel as if I need a shower and some listerene after a date that has gone horribly wrong.  I tell Sharon and Mike that when I get back to the hotel I am going to wash my own mouth out with soap for doing what I did.  In the meantime I manage to finish my 3 Reynas and now know that I will never be able to see that cigar without thinking about this horrifying night.

As we finally get ready to leave, I am met once again with my new “friend”.  He hands me a cigar and gives me a hug.  I quickly look to make sure it is an unopened cigar and let out a sigh of relief when I see it still in it’s cellophane.  We whisk off to the hotel where I am still laughing with that hysterical laugh one has when they are not sure whether to laugh or cry.  Sharon is still gagging at the thought of it all and Mike is just putting one liners out there in coup de gras fashion.

Our trip ends a few days later and we head home to Jersey without further incident.  However, I wind up with a wicked cold and in bed for a couple of days.  I have time to reflect on our trip and once again am drawn back to this wickedly funny yet horrible story.  The moral of the story?  I have no f’kn clue other than I got a cold and free cigar out of it.

Until next time, Stay Smokey and Be Blessed, I know I am.

Diana

aka – Queen Of Cigars

Please feel free to share your cigar etiquette horror stories in the comments section throughout the month of October!


Las Vegas Bound!

Yes!  I am currently sitting in 90 plus temps with humidity aplenty!  Nope, not Vegas Baby, LOL.  I’m still in New Jersey but I’m only hours away from heading to Philadelphia International Airport to enjoy a roomy coach seat on a non-stop flight to the biggest event in the Cigar Industry!

I’ve never been to Vegas and honestly it was barely on my bucket list.  However, when you mix cigars in with a destination…..well…..that’s a different story.  Add to it, the opportunity to connect with new and old friends such as Eric (Master Sensei), Jordan (Sumatra Sensei), their entourage, Dojo friends and industry acquaintances; you have the perfect inspiration to go from 90 plus to 112 degree weather for a few days!  Yep, I’m all about the heat NOW!!!

Seriously though, even if you are like me and have no ability or standing that allows you into the actual IPCPR “secret garden” of cigars, it is a worthwhile trip to make.  I’m heading out with my bestie, Matt (a diehard cigarette smoker who dabbles in cigars…..I’m working on him, honest!!) and my service dog Gunnar.  I have no particular plans other than to explore, hang-out, attend the Dojo Bash on Monday night, 25 July and…..smoke, smoke, smoke, some cigars!

I’ll be collecting pictures along the way.  Plan on hearing from me again when I resurface back in New Jersey later this week.  Of course I will have to re-acclimate to boredom (which on a normal day is Good!) but I will be sharing the experience with you all and hoping that if I didn’t meet you in Vegas we will catch up perhaps next year!

Until next time, Stay Smokey and Be Blessed; I know I am!

Diana

~aka “Queen Of Cigars”

~aka “ArmyRN”

(Photo property of and courtesy of Cigar Dojo and Master Sensei)