Feel free to contact me with any questions about my commentaries, cigar reviews or cigar hunting in Costa Rica.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
One of the nice things about living in Costa Rica is that it has developed a cigar culture that did not exist before. Not only do we have access to the most Cuban cigars, but also there are a variety of cigar factories and brands produced right here in Costa Rica.
Some are better than others- but there are really 4 categories in my opinion; Bad, Smokable, Good, and Great. Unfortunately most of the cigars are in the first two categories, and only one is in the last (that I have found); however it is always a pleasure to find another good cigar.
Habanos Hernandez is defiantly one of these good cigars.
I received an email from a nice couple here in Costa Rica that have been working on the development of their cigar brand, and they asked me to give it a try. As things are here in Costa Rica, in the end we knew several people in common, and I gladly looked forward to trying their cigars.
The presentation that I saw was crisp with that simple elegance I prefer.
All of the cigars has a similar construction and blend, however for the sake of the review I used the Extra Robusto.
The cigar was lightly rolled, but was not missing material. It's wrapper was light and delicate with an attractive shine.
The cigar was a smooth cigar with an easy draw. I expected it to be a little stronger for it's ring gauge (52), however it was not that it lacked strength, rather it was just a lighter smoke; easy on the throat and lungs...
It has a light aroma and a natural flavor. The nut, wood and spice characteristics came through from the first puff and carried through until the end. I am happy to report there was none of that damp-earthy flavor that I despise.
The burn was even and consistent, and I did not have to relight it.
Habanos Hernandez is one of the cigars that exceeds the run-of-the-mill reputation that has defined many of Costa Rica's other cigars.
Their website is growing so check back often. For more information visit them at:
Monday, August 11, 2008
Nevertheless, I welcome the cigars- I like to see what is happening out there. Several months ago I got an email about Black Patch Cigars, that included some tobacco grown in the USA. I am not talking about Connecticut seed wrapper, I am talking about actual "Kentucky Broadleaf ligero."
I was quick to show interest in this cigar because to my knowledge I have never seen or tried this type of tobacco. Eric, the marketer, distributor and perhaps inventor of this cigar, was kind enough to send me a handful of cigars that I received when I was States-side... importing cigars to Costa Rica is a painstaking and expensive process.
The actual cigars looked good. Simple construction, attractive wrappers, and a clean smell when unlit. I smoked a couple after my return, and I was immediately impressed. It is not that they are the best cigars that I have ever smoked, maybe not top 10... remember I smoke A LOT of cigars... but this cigar was a total surprise and a real treat.
There are two things I despise about most non-Cuban cigars 1) a damp grassy flavor, and 2) an aftertaste; Black Patch Cigars have neither of these. They were really clean.
I reviewed a Classic Toro... at least that is what I think it was. It was an easy smoke. A great draw, clean taste and a very even burn. All of the cigars including the Toro has a special tang that is accounted for in the True Cigars Puff Chart as spice. Some of the other noticeable flavors that I noticed were wood and peat.
Just slightly less then a medium smoke, it was easy on the lungs. I did not experience any discomfort inhaling the normal bit I take in. Again, this is not characteristic for many non-Cuban cigars that try to compensate a lack of aroma with added strength. The aroma was light, but not pungent.
The ash was light and flaky- maybe even weak, however I kept a good inch on the cigar after I lit it and I did not lose it. It's simple construction gave it this characteristic that reminded me of cigars I smoked rolled in super-small productions.
This is a cigar than any proud North American should try. As I always say, tobacco is something distinctly American (in terms of it coming from the New World), but to have a cigar with some North American leaves in it's blend, it is even a more unique experience. Kind of like that first sip of bourbon or corn whiskey- maybe it is not the best tasting thing you have ever tried, but it is good- and it is ours.
For more information you can visit their website: Black Patch Cigar Co.
A "thank you" to Eric, and I wish him the best of luck.
Black Patch (Classic Toro)
Overall Score: 87/100
Monday, January 01, 2007
1. R.D. Gomez Cigars -This is a cigar from Honduras, that off the line was a little premature for me, but after some time in my humidor, it became a decent smoke for a very fair price.
2. Marina Maco Cigars - I bumped into this cigar by a reverse link into my site. I have only sampled the first one, but for a non-Cuban cigar... watch out Miami... this is a smooth cigar that may end up as my #1 cigar rolled in the USA.
I hope everyone had a great Holiday season. I look forward to sharing these upcoming reviews.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Don Benigno Cigars was created nearly 10 years ago in beautiful Costa Rica, although the story of Don Benigno, and his family's tradition of cigar rolling began generations before.
Don Benigno Arronte was was born in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba in the 1950s. Pinar Del Rio, right in the middle of the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba, is known as the international capital of tobacco cultivation. Pre-revolution Cuba had hundreds of cigar factories throughout the country. One of these factories, Ceniza (Spanish for ash), was owned by Benigno's grandfather. Benigno, at a very young age, was involved in Cuba's tobacco world.
In those times, most affluent (and often most experienced) cigar smokers would not be caught dead smoking a brand name Habano, rather they had a personal tabaquero, or cigar roller. Their tabaquero, often a friend, would roll them the best cigar possible, using the finest materials and strictest quality controls. One of Benigno's uncle's, Jose, was a reknown master cigar roller and personal tabaquero for many prestigious friends and clients, mainly from Spain. It was this uncle, that taught young Benigno how to roll cigars. Jose loved to roll cigars, and rolled his own cigars up until his death several years ago.
Following the Revolution, the needs of Cuba changed, and the Ceniza Cigar Factory closed as the large cigar factories of Havana took precedent. Professionally, Don Benigno and his family pursued other callings. Don Benigno studied education, and became a history professor, but his love of cigars and cigar rolling never ended. A life long smoker, he rolled his own cigars while living in Cuba. Not only were the name brand cigars too expensive for the average Cuban, but he was unable to find a cigar that consistently satisfied his needs as a smoker.
In 1997, Don Benigno immigrated to Costa Rica and immediately pursued a career in his true calling, cigar rolling. Starting with basically nothing but his skills and bare hands, Don Benigno Cigars was born. First on his kitchen table with the most basic tools, Don Benigno quickly gained notoriety in Costa Rica's cigar smoking circles. Shortly there after, Don Benigno opened his first Cigar Shop in a historical district of San Jose near the city's beautiful National Theater (Theatro Nacional) where he rolled cigars and administered the store.
After building a solid clientèle, and wanting to focus more on the production of his brand, Benigno and his wife rolled cigars full time in there home. Don Benigno was please with the success of his signature cigar brand, and with the help of a close friend and fellow cigar smoker Gary Naffer they developed a logo, rings, and a box design, and registered the brand. These designs have not changed since their creation.
Within no time, Don Benigno knew that they were going to be unable to keep up with demand, and had to find additional cigar rollers to help produce the now popular Don Benigno Cigar. Starting first with one, and incrementally adding more, Don Benigno hired career cigar rollers from Costa Rica. Knowing that he needed to instruct them in the meticulous art that had been passed down to him, Don Benigno cautiously moved them through the ranks in his family workshop. But, being trained educator, he had great success teaching them his family's methods.
Today, Don Benigno has become the Cigar Guru of his adopted country, Costa Rica; he has been interviewed by the local media both for feature pieces as well as a source in cigar related articles, he is frequently visited by national and international dignitaries who are (or become) friends and clients, and hundreds of tourists annually are introduced to his cigar when they arrive to Costa Rica and ask, "Where can I get a great cigar?"
The story continues today, in a quiet suburb of San Jose he produces his cigars with the tradition of excellence that he was taught in his youth. Don Benigno Cigars are a limited production that cigar aims to satisfy the most demanding smoker. His commitment to quality, skilled methods, and impeccable final product have distinguished Don Benigno as a True Cigar Master.
For More Information about Don Benigno Cigars, see the link in my earler post.