Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review: Arturo Fuente Special Selection Maduro

  • Price: ~$3
  • Size: 6.5" x 43
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Maduro
  • Time to completion: ~45min

Smoking Experience: 

The holiday weekend is unfortunately over, and today was business as usual. I am on call for work this week, which means a lot of time sitting around at home waiting on emergencies to come on in. I took a quick call at around 6, and the Sons of Anarchy Season Premier was at 7, so it has been a good night so far. My girlfriend got home from school around 7ish so once the show was over, we headed downstairs to have a smoke.

I did get to swing by the cigar shop on the way home to pick up some fodder for a trade I am doing this month, and while there I saw this stick and figured I would give it a go. It is a "seconds" selection which means it has not made the cut as far as quality controls go (supposedly) and it looked like it was wrapped by an apprentice, but for the $3 price tag, I was willing to give it a shot.

I went through the bin they were in and while some of the sticks looked to be in less than great shape, this one didn't appear to have any major construction issues out side of not looking so pretty. There were no major soft spots, but the cap was sloppy as was the wrapper. There were no tears but some of the leafs had some discoloring.

Aesthetics were the only place this cigar lacked. I was able to cut the cigar with 0 problem. The pre-light draw was a little loose, but good. Lighting this stick was easy and even after lighting it a bit crooked (my lighter was out of fuel so I had to use matches) it evened out on its own and burned perfectly.

The cigar burned nice and cool for the first 3/4, the burn speed was consistent, and it gave off a good amount of smoke for a smaller cigar. It really was much more than I expected it to be.

The ash on this cigar was a bit loose, but burned as a medium grey and broke off every 2-3 inches.


I was pleasantly surprised by the flavors in this cigar. The first few puffs of this cigar have a nice sweet and spicy blend. Really mild, but you know they are there. The smoke isn't incredibly thick, but there is a nice consistency to carry the flavors.

As you get to the end of the first third, there is an undertone of chocolate/coffee that sort of leaves the spiciness in the background. There are some short bursts of sweetness along with the coffee taste that sort of lingers in your mouth as you blow out the smoke. Very nice, very smooth and mellow.

The trade off of spice and sweetness has sort of a rolling feeling, where one gradually leads into the other and back throughout the cigar, it is nice, never too harsh, never to mild, just a smooth and almost creamy blend of the two.

The finish of the cigar brings a noticeable change to a mild tobacco and spice taste, which I very much enjoyed. I am not a big fan of most plain tobacco flavors, but this was smooth and just sweet enough (with some hints of that chocolate) to be very well received by me.

Overall this was a cigar that I didn't have high expectations for but really shocked me. I will certainly go hunting for a few more in that bin the next time I am at the shop as they make a nice smooth smoke on an evening and something I could keep around for friends who don't smoke frequently or don't really like the big bold flavors of some of the other cigars I have come to enjoy. Apprentice rolled or not, this cigar is a winner.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review: Perdomo Tierra Del Sol Corona Maduro

  • Price: ~$3-5 (Gift in a trade)
  • Size: 6.5" x 42
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Maduro
  • Time to completion: ~45min

Smoking Experience:

Its been a nice Holiday weekend. Off from work, spending time with friends, going to the gym, and relaxing. Tonight I wanted to just relax after a long day of relaxing, so I reached into the humidor and grabbed this guy out. After a brief fight with my lighter (which almost resulted in it getting thrown into the pool) I was able to toast this smoke and light up.

The construction of this box pressed cigar was good, there were a couple of small veins in the wrapper, but nothing horrible (especially considering the price), the wrapper was in good condition, no tears, no water spots, etc. The draw was good throughout the entire smoke, not to tight, not too lose.

The cigar was really easy to light (which is good for my lighter, because it would be in the trash had it ruined my time) and released bellows of thick smoke right from the start. The first third of the cigar burns really hot and fast, it was actually surprising how fast it burned, I thought it was going to be a 25 minute smoke, not the 45 that it ended up being. The burn speed slowed down at the start of the 2/3 but kept a good pace, and continued to let off A LOT of smoke. 

The ash on this cigar was sturdy and grey, and held on until about the halfway point, at which time it fell on me - my own fault for always trying to see just how long I can get the ash, but for this smoke, I really wanted it to hang on to slow and cool the burn.


The cigar starts off really spicy. Combined with the heat from the fast burn, it is an OK flavor. It isn't really strong, but definitively noticeable. There is an underlying earthy taste in the first and second third of the cigar, its pretty mellow and goes well with the spice, but it is all sort of...boring. There were no massive kicks of flavor in the first or second thirds, so it is just kind of meh to me. Not -bad- but not really memorable either.

The final 1/3 of this cigar is a whole different store. Those earthy notes fade away and there are flavors of charcoal and a woody flavor. The flavors were too overwhelming in my opinion and felt like I was sucking the smoke off a newly lit charcoal grill. My girlfriend actually commented on the face I made when the flavor hit me, it was not good. It tasted like fuel. I tired to get passed this, but after a few draws, I just put out the cigar, as the taste was just BAD at that point. Certainly not the finish I was looking for. 

I could have dealt with the first and second third of this cigar as being a really mild, slightly spicy smoke, maybe something cheaper to keep around for friends, but the final 3rd really killed this for me, so I wont be buying it in the future.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Review: La Perla Habana Black Pearl

  • Price: ~$5 (received in a trade)
  • Size: 4 3/4" x 54 
  • Wrapper: Habano
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Time to completion: ~70 minutes

Smoking Experience:

It's been a long week at work, and after getting home last night, all I wanted was a drink and a smoke. I opened my humidor and saw this little guy sitting off to the side. I had received it in a trade a couple of weeks back and had read some good things, but didn't know what to expect, I was not disappointed.

The cigar is just under 5" long, and looked to be of decent construction. There was one noticeable soft spot in it, and a small tear in the wrapper, but nothing major. I was able to easily cut it, even with my cheap cutters, and it didn't appear to cause any damage, which was nice.

Upon lighting up, the draw was a little tight, and the smoke was somewhat thin and sort of limited. Still plenty to taste, but not the massive clouds of smoke I have had with some other cigars.

The cigar smoked very well for the first 1/3. It was nice and cool burning, easy to keep lit and the draw loosened up a bit at around the 1/3 mark. During the 2/3 the outer wrapper began to separate. I'm not sure what caused this, but it produced a drastic change in the characteristics of the cigar. As the outer wrapper separated,  they wouldn't burn properly, so the taste of the filler was a lot more apparent than the wrapper, then all of a sudden the outer wrapper would light up, generate a huge amount of smoke as it burned down quickly to catch up with the filler, and the process would repeat. It was actually a very...nice...experience.

The rapid change in heat, flavor concentration, smoke density, etc made this a very exciting cigar to smoke. The ash hung on like a champ (It probably helped that I was laying almost all the way back as I smoked), and this seemed to keep the cigar nice and cool, down to about the last 1/5.

At the 4/5 mark the cigar heated up quickly, the draw was still very nice, no clogs, still lots of flavor, and a very nice finish.


I was actually caught off guard by the wide array of flavors produced by this cigar. The first few puffs you take are a mild spice with some noticeable woody undertones. The flavor is pretty mild as there isn't a lot of smoke at this point, so it was a nice way to get started.

About 1" into the cigar, there is a noticeable sweetness that starts to appear. It isn't overwhelming and nicely compliments the spicy taste (like spice cookies!).

At around the 2/3 mark the flavors changed and varied a lot as the wrapper acted up (see above). Each time   the wrapper would separate from the filler, you would get a nice nutty/earthy taste, and when the wrapper lit, you would get a burst of think almost chocolate tasting smoke. The spiciness takes a backseat at this point to the ebb and flow of nutty/earthy flavors and chocolate sweetness. It was fantastic.

The finish of this cigar was very good. As you get into the final 1/3 of the cigar, the spiciness comes back and in the final 1/5 of the cigar there is a smokey peppery taste that takes over and finishes this smoke off with a bang.

Overall it was a great cigar, despite the construction issues (which turned out to probably improve the smoke by making it more interesting). I will definitively be picking up more of these in the future.