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, September 10, 2007
Origin: Costa Rica Construction: Hand(?)
Purchased: N/A Price: See Website
Smoked: Living Room Accompanied by: Old Parr 12 (Scotch)
Some months back a nice fellow by the name of Lynn contacted me about blogging his cigar on my site. He offered to drop off the cigar next time he was in San Jose, and some weeks later he stopped by and dropped me a sample.
At first glance, I saw a well built cigar with a flawless wrapper- dark in color. It did not appear to be rolled too tight, so I knew the draw would be easy; easy draw is a plus for me.
I did not waste any time, and I opened one up. I had a hard time distinguishing the seco from the ligero, but that might just be part of the blend. It was rolled slightly different that I have seen many other cigars, the leaves were slightly more curled, but since it did not appear to be rolled to tight, that did not affect the draw.
For my review, I smoked the Espendido, a 6 inch by 50 ring cigar. I unique vitola that is like the uncommon Cuban "double." The cigars smoked well, proper coning, no significant runners.
Every smoke had a sense of peat in it, and when the smoke first hit the tougue, a tickle of spice come through. "Earthy," would be the term I use to explain this cigar, but do I mean earthy, not grassy. A strong woody flavor mixed with significant hints of roasted coffee passed through my pallet with every draw.
The smoke was thick and less pungent than many Nicaraguan cigars. Overall the cigar lacked aroma, but this was not a show stopper. No overheating, and no relights. The wrapper, although delicate, complimented the cigar well by burning evenly.
Overall, I enjoyed them. And, for being a 100% Costa Rican cigar, I was surprised and happy smoke it.
For more information on Don Leon Cigars, visit their website: http://www.purosdonleon.com
Lynn is a real gentleman, and I appreciate his effort with this cigar in Costa Rica.
Overall Score: 75/100
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Less herby than Nicaraguan or Dominican, strength of a Honduran, and unique spice that tickles the tongue. This is a good cigar.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Origin: Honduras Construction: Hand
Purchased: N/A Price: See Website
Smoked: Porch Accompanied by: Glenmorangie 10
The name Gomez alone is a good start for me. It is a family name on my wife's side- but let me get back on track. A distributor from the Western part of the US contacted me sometime back asking if I would be interested in reviewing their cigars.
From the onset, I laid it out frank- I can be rough- however, fearless, they sent me the cigars. I have been working on this document for a while, and apologize to the R.D. Gomez distributors for my lateness.
I smoked a sample of robustos and piramides/torpedos that were noted as ?Reserves.? The robustos had both a proper and maduro wrapper, and the reserve had only the proper wrapper. No problem by me, I am over the whole maduro thing as you know.
The presentation of these cigars is sharp. Well constructed, simple ring, and an attractive wrapper. The Reserves come with a cedar band.
All of the cigars drew well, one was probably drawing "too well," but it didn't get too hot- but it did burn fast.
The blend was very similar from cigar to cigar. I opened up a robusto and a reserve, and noticed that there was a good amount of short filler in the robusto. The reserve had full leaves throughout. The robustos did not smoke as equally as the reserve, but it was not unmanageable. I only needed a "catch up" light once or twice per cigar max.
The aroma was a little flat but they have a nice spicy flavor. It was not mild, but not as harsh as many other cigars from Honduras. I especially noticed that there was almost no aftertaste.
My overall impression was that this is decent cigar. It was not a high-end cigar, but it is not carrying a high-end price tag either. I would defiantly recommend some added time in the humidor to let it mature, but for a reliable smoke at a good price, you can not go wrong. In addition, go with the reserve if it is available.
Overall Score: 78/100
For more information, visit: http://www.rdgomez.com
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.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Subject: Venezuelan Cigars
From: Alberto Farinez Lapioli
Date: Fri, November 24, 2006 4:56 pm
Dear Keith, Your opinion about Venezuelan cigars is what every body believes, in other words is the general thinking and not without reason. It is my goal to produce true and respected cigars in Venezuela, not quite simple but I think I am already on the right track. I would really appreciate your honest opinion about Farinez Premium Cigars. How can I send you a sample? I would like for you to take the Mundano, since you liked so much the Cohiba Siglo VI. Please find attached a presentation. Best regards,
Alberto Farinez Lapioli
I did a little research and it looks like Don Alberto is a successful marketer of some exclusive pleasures. I bumped into an article that said an Alberto Farinez had brought an award-winning premium Venezuelan Rum to market called Ron Macuro. I have not tried this rum, however it was a Gold Medal winner in the Premium Rum section on the Ministry of Rum website, where I have tried several of the other Rums in that winner's circle- for it to be even close to the Zacapa, it must be good.
The Farinez cigar website is currently under construction, but can be visited here. The presentation he included said 100% of the tobacco is from Venezuela. As I mentioned, I am not sure if this is good or bad, but it is professed in such a way, that I have to assume they have something good. Their tagline, "Enjoy the ritual of sharing..." appears throught the presentation slides.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Honestly, I have never smoked a cigar from Venezuala, atleast not that I can remember. This is an interesting article that deserves a little read.
Everyone claims to have cigars that compare with the Habano, but in my opinion few have come even far from close (if that makes sense). Don Miguel Patino, president of the Bermudez tobacco factory in Venezuela, makes this claim. Don Miguel, I wish you the best.
Next trip to the states, I will see what I can find and give them a try.
Read the article HERE
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.