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Posts Tagged ‘Dominican Republic’

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Size: 5×50, Robusto

Wrapper: Connecticut

Filler: Cibao Valley, Dominican Republic

Strength: Mild

Price: Box of 20, $39.95; 5-pack, $12.00

Grade: 8.4

Resurrected by Fonseco’s master blender, Manuel Quesada, this Dominican filled, Connecticut wrapped cigar is a consistently smooth smoke at an exceptional value. Available in the mild Connecticut and Maduro for some time, a fuller-bodied option was recently released, the Intenso.

As much as anyone, I enjoy a great value smoke to have on hand for family and friends and of course for myself. I often look for new 5 packs that I haven’t tried in hopes of finding a great, low-mid priced box purchase. The Cu-Avana is a winner in this category! I’ve worked through quite a few of the Natural and the Maduro and we’ve got some of the Intenso headed our way. You can read our review of the Maduro here.

So, I finally decided to put a pen and paper to my value smoke and see just how well it scores.

Appearance, 1.5:
Surprisingly triple capped, this Connecticut is wrapped with a simple blue and gold label. The exterior is a bit bumpy with a rustic, leathery skin. Though the cap is well done, the foot is quite bumpy and misshaped. The aroma on the cigar is predictably that of barnyard with some sweetness. The top 2/3 of the smoke was very tightly packed and dense. The draw was decent and had notes of sweet hay.

Burn, 1.8:
The burn on the Cu-Avana was very solid. Though the draw was a bit tight the first third of the smoke, it opened up nicely and carried a very tight and well-colored ash. The ash held well into the half-way mark of this Robusto before I knocked it off. This is a very consistent aspect of the Cu-Avana–always a clean, tight ash, a straight burn, and a good draw.

Flavor, 2.5:
If you are looking for a flavor powerhouse this is not the smoke for you. If, however, you want an unobtrusive smoothness, this very well may be your value smoke winner. The flavor is predominated by a sweet hay with the slightest bit of pepper on the opening few draws. There was little transition in this cigar—just a solid consistency.

Overall, 2.6:
At around $2 a stick, you will be hard pressed to find a better value. I’m sure I used the same sentence to describe the Cu-Avana Maduro, but it’s true. As I’ve spent some time with both of these smokes, I prefer the Maduro due to the added sweetness and a bit more complexity and transition. However, for an early morning read of the paper with a nice cup of coffee, this would do the trick nicely in my opinion. It’d also be a nice addition to yard work. Though the score is in the low 8s, this is because of a hit to the appearance, which I think most of us can overlook when it comes to value.

(Total: 8.4)

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Size: 6×50, Toro

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

Binder: Dominican Republic

Filler: Cuban-seed Seco, Ligero, Olor Dominicano, and Nicaraguan

Strength: Mild-Medium

Price: Box of 20, $115.99

Grade: 8.1

Flatbed Cigar Company recently sent us their two blends, the Panacea Black (Natural) and the Red. After sitting for about 6 weeks, I decided to fire up the Black.

Flatbed is headquartered in Pennsylvania and they describe their business plan as being very simple: get the best rollers, make a bunch of blends, have a lot of people sample them, and pick a couple blends out of the lot to go forward with. This approach created the Panacea Black, in the Natural and Maduro, and the Pancea Red, which was recently released. Flatbed was formed nearly three years ago, with the Black being released in October of 2007. Primarily distributed in the North East, the Panacea has made its way into over 40 stores and are working to reach other regions. Though based in Pennsylvania, their factory is located in the Dominican Republic. Give them a visit here.

Now, on to the review of the Panacea Black.

Appearance, 1.8:
The Black has a nice exterior and is packed tightly without any soft spots—it seemed that it may have even been over packed but the nice draw proved me wrong. It had a clean tobacco scent dominated by a barnyard smell with the slightest bit of mint. The band is a very clean black and gold—it neither detracts from nor highlights the overall appearance of the stick. The band did however conceal a very slight tear in the wrapper where it appears the roll didn’t properly match, leaving a slight gap in the roll. Overall, the Black has a clean appearance despite some oddly matching vein patterns.

Burn, 1.9:
The biggest highlight of this stick was the burn. The draw opened up as the stick progressed and by the 2/3 mark it had an excellent pull with a nice thick cloud of smoke exuding from each exhale. The ash also held very well and was a nice white that stacked well atop a clean burn line. The Black did not require any touch-ups or re-lights.

Flavor, 2.1:
By far the greatest deduction, the flavor profile on this stick was bad. The problem was the aftertaste. The overall flavor on this stick was what you would expect from a mild-medium Connecticut—nice barnyard notes with a moderate amount of creaminess. There was also a bit of pepper on the finish which was nice. However, by the 2/3 mark on this cigar, the bitterness and harshness was overwhelming—it even tasted a bit sour. Having allowed the stick to rest for 6 weeks prior to smoking, I was very surprised by the aftertaste. My review partner experienced the same aftertaste when he smoked the other Black we received.

Overall, 2.3:
I was disappointed with the Black for several reasons; it carries a decent price point, at around $5.79, and the appearance and burn is very solid, which made me hope for a great experience. The flavor of this cigar fell completely flat and bore one of the worst aftertastes I’ve ever had in a handmade. My only suggestion is to let these rest 6 months or more and see if the flavor improves. I don’t have any of these left, nor do I plan to buy more, so I will not be able to participate in the wait and see experiment. I can’t recommend this cigar for purchase unless you find a deal on it and have no problem letting it sit for a while.

(Total: 8.1)

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Size: Robusto, 5×52

Wrapper: Nicaraguan

Binder: Honduran

Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan

Strength: Full

Price: Box of 20, $110

Grade: 8.7

The Lx2 had a lot of buzz when it first came out; I picked one up at my local shop and let it rest for about six months. The Lx2 is slammed full of ligero, the highest priming on a tobacco plant. This portion of the plant receives the most sunlight and produces a dark and thick leaf that is stronger and more flavorful. Here is CAO’s word on the powerhouse:

CAO Lx2 (“Ligero Times Two”) is the third and final installment to the CAO “x2” trilogy. This ligero-heavy powerhouse possesses a full-bodied flavor profile and was inspired by tobacco grown on the 140-acre “Pueblo Nuevo” farm located just outside of Condega, Nicaragua.

CAO Lx2 features a sungrown Nicaraguan wrapper, Honduran binder, and three different ligero fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

CAO Lx2 boasts a bold, muscular structure but also shows flavors of bittersweet chocolate, paprika, and woody tobacco notes that fan out superbly on the palate. Available in three shapes, CAO Lx2 cigars have been draw-tested to ensure a consistently flawless smoke.

You can learn a bit more here. Let’s get to it, shall we…

Appearance 1.8:
The dark chocolate wrapper on this smoke is very appealing. The texture is smooth and the cigar is very firm with good weight. The label is very eye-catching and really draws you in with its double banding. The cap was a little rugged but when cut it came off very clean. The pre-light aroma was that of cocoa along with the clean smell of dark tobacco; the foot had an aroma of hay. The cold draw followed the above profile with some spice, but the barnyard was not present in the cold draw.

Burn 1.5:
The Lx2 lit well but, as far as burn goes, it was downhill from there. The ash did not hold past ¾ inch, and I had to re-light going into the 2/3 and the cigar starting flowering into the 3/3 mark. The draw was also very tight throughout the smoke, though it did loosen a bit when reaching the 3/3 mark—however, it was never comfortable and required consistent thought and work. This is the biggest point deduction for this smoke and a better burn would have marked this cigar a 9.0+.

Flavor 2.8:
As to be expected, the Lx2 was very flavorful. The first puff produced notes of green pepper and smoothed out into a earthy tobacco profile with a cocoa finish. About halfway through the first third, I picked up a nutty flavor on the finish coupled with the continuing cocoa, which was quite nice! The second-third of the Lx2 continued to smooth out and notes of fresh cut grass seemed to jump out at me. There was also some mint on the finish. The final third returned to a more pronounced earthy tobacco taste with a caramel type finish. The smoke was very complex and I enjoyed the transition in the smoke.

Overall 2.6:
The complexity of this smoke makes it a good value at around $6 a stick, but the burn issues really detracted from the enjoyment of the stick. I am going to pick up another one the next time I see it in a shop and I will re-review to see if the burn issues are consistent or if I just got a bad one. Overall, a very interesting and engaging smoke.

(Total: 8.7)

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