Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro

Cigar Review by Steve Royston (guest)
Cigar Photography by Jay L (cigarphoto.net)

Jay’s Notes:

This week we are photographing and reviewing the Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro - the latest project from the Oliva Cigar Company and a follow-up to well received Oliva Serie V Melanio (ecuadorian sumatra wrapper). 

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Mexican maduro from San Andrés Valley
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 52


Steve’s Review:

For starters, this cigar is aesthetically gorgeous. A smooth, dark chocolate wrapper with minimal veins and a beautiful box press. A sniff of the foot gives off a rich, sweet tobacco aroma. I used an angle cut, taking off about a 1/3 of an inch. Too snug. Took off about another 1/8 of an inch. We’ll see how it works out. Putting the cigar in my mouth to take a cold draw was instantly like chocolate hitting my lips. Very mild flavor on the cold draw, but a sweet richness is definitely there. Let’s put some fire to this stick.

Right away I’m hit with a boldness that I was not expecting. I can already tell that this is vastly different from its regular Melanio counterpart. A very smooth, but slightly gritty, feeling coats my palate. A powerful spice comes through on the retrohale. The aftertaste, crazy as it might sound, reminds me of Andes mint chocolates. Now don’t go taking this seriously. I don’t mean it literally tastes like chocolate mint. Just a subtle, rich, cocoa undertone with a slight effervescence to it. This combination makes me reminiscent of the holidays at my parent’s house as a kid eating handfuls of those candies. About 3/4 of an inch in, a slightly woody note comes through. I can’t quite pinpoint it. Sometimes it tastes like cedar and sometimes like oak. Both are enjoyable. At the inch mark, the burn has gone slightly crooked but has been almost razor straight up until now. Nothing to cry about. (side note: The draw has been perfect for me. Just enough tug for my liking.) That woody note I mentioned has gone full blown cedar, which I love. And the richness has gone the route of a slight mocha flavor. The retrohale spice is still present, but very toned down.

At the 1/3 mark, a strong, roasted coffee bean note has popped up with just a touch of cream in the aftertaste. Pretty consistent coming to the halfway mark. But now, a very slow and steady retrohale gives off a subtle, sweet clove spice. Into the final 1/3, the upfront flavor has turned to a dark, bitter espresso with a spice that tingles the tip of my tongue. The smoke has gotten very chewy and that prominent richness has taken a backseat in the aftertaste. This is pretty consistent through the finish with the exception of a smokey, toasty characteristic.

Final thoughts:
I was very pleased, overall, with this cigar. Much more so than when I first smoked the original Melanio, which had to grow on me. I think the finish could benefit from a little age, but I’d certainly recommend this cigar. Happy smoking my friends.


Please consider the following posts:

* Oliva Master Blends 1
* Oliva Master Blends 2
* Oliva Serie V Maduro 2011
* Oliva Serie V No4
* Oliva Cain F lancero 

- click on photographs (slideshow)-

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Sencillo Black

Cigar Review by Matt Zaccheo (guest)
Cigar Photography by Jay L (cigarphoto.net)

Jay’s Notes:

This week we are photographing and reviewing the Sencillo Black Short Churchill - a collaboration between Nestor Plasencia Jr. and Keith K. Park introduced to the market in March of 2010. According to Keith K. Park, Founder and CEO of Prometheus International, Inc. and God of Fire, Inc., “Nestor and I had been talking about doing a project together for many years. When we decided to add a Nicaraguan blend to our brand portfolio, Nestor and I worked on the Sencillo Black blend together for over a year. We are going to age Sencillo Black for 6 months or longer in order to deliver a more polished and flavorful taste to our customers.” The first batch of Sencillo Black was shipped to the authorized Sencillo dealers in June 2011.

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Colorado
Binder: Nicaragua Habano Jalapa
Filler: Nicaragua Ligero Habano Jalapa, Honduras Ligero Habano Jamastran, Mexico Viso San Andres
Length: 6.5”
Ring: 48

Matt’s Review:

Cut: Palio / Straight
Drink: None
Palate: Fresh, like virgin fresh….had not smoked for 7 days prior to review

# cigars smoked for review: two

Prelight: At first glance, my attention is focused on the embossed silver “S” stamped on the contrasting linen white and glossy, jet black band. It screams … formal … black tie … name on a list … event! Underneath the vest is a very attractive dark chocolate habano Colorado wrapper. There is a uniform and ultrafine tooth with scant oils that give it the feel of 180 grit sandpaper and a silky, burnished appearance. The seams are tight, there are no palpable veins, and the pack is firm throughout. Off the foot, it wreaks of barnyard. The cold draw yields straight tobacco, leather, earth and some subtle winey notes. She looks so refined and proper…….but she gives subtle hints………she has a wild side!

Draw: Comfortable and even throughout

Flavors: There is an initial muffled spice that is quickly overtaken by a dense core of deep, moist earth, glove leather, and mild cedar. The smoke is thick on the palate … you can cut it. There are distinct dark chocolate, coffee, and burnt toffee notes that find perfect balance and roll into a long, rich, creamy finish. At the midway point, the flavors transition a bit. The coffee fades and the burnt toffee exits to reveal the subtle complexity of stone fruits. There are jammy plum notes and a dark cherry twang that plays well with the gritty Mexican viso. The finish remains consistent throughout: long, dense, rich and smooth … almost honeyed. Although the mouth feel is huge, the body/strength remains a medium minus to solid medium. It is so smooth, balanced, and refined that I could see myself smoking it almost anytime. It would be right at home as a first smoke of the day, but it definitely has the shoulders to stand up to a single malt after a big meal.

Burn: Excellent. One touch up on each of the cigars I smoked. The burn line was a little wavy, but now where near wonky. The ash was flakey salt and pepper and flowered on the second cigar before the first drop. Burn rate and temperature were perfect. Smoke production was definitely above average. Total smoke time was 1 hour 25 minutes.

Construction: Excellent throughout.

Descriptive Adjectives: voluptuous … think red velvet cake!

Box Worthy: No question. The quality/complexity to price point ratio make it a clear winner.

Overall: Quite frankly … shocked! “Sencillo”, Spanish for simple, is anything but. This blend is a harmonious marriage of quality tobacco from different growing regions, each showcasing the attributes specific to the respective terroir. A distinctive, polished, and well-balanced flavor profile makes it complex … but not confusing. The long velvety finish will invite you back to the party!

Please consider the following posts:

Don Carlos Edicion de Aniversario 2007
God of Fire by Carlito 2007
* God of Fire Serie B

* DISCLAIMER: Sencillo Black sample was gifted by Keith K. Park of Prometheus International. Keith’s generosity had no impact on the actual experience. The cigar spoke for itself.

- click on photographs (slideshow)-

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‘JJ for JJ Day’ Tribute

Another year, another ‘JJ for JJ Day’ tribute.

The concept didn’t change. The ‘JJ for JJ Day’ is a global movement initiated via social media to honor the memory of the ‘Little Robusto.’ For those of you who are not familiar with this tribute, ‘Little Robusto’, who passed away at the age of 3.5months from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), is the son of recognized and respected cigar blogger - Jerry Cruz (stogiereview.com). This special day is recognized by smoking a cigar made by Don Pepin Garcia, appropriately calledSeries JJ.’

Take your time, enjoy your ‘Series JJ’ cigar and remember The ‘Little Robusto.’



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Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Petit Lancero Limited Edition (prerelease)

Cigar Review by Matt Zaccheo (guest)
Cigar Photography by Jay L (cigarphoto.net)

Jay’s Notes:

This week we are photographing and reviewing the Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Petit Lancero prerelease. Antonio Lam of Reinado will be making a follow-up splash at this year’s IPCPR’13 by introducing additional vitolas to his popular Grand Empite Reserve line – Petit Lancero Limited Edition (6 x 38), Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46), and Toro (6 x 52). In addition, “couple months” after the IPCPR, Antonio will be releasing the Gordo size (6 x 60). When asked why Gordo is not coming out at the same time as the other 3 new vitolas, Antonio responded – “Blend needs work for the size. We want to be able to translate the essence of the GER notes as close as possible and don’t feel it is there yet.” So, there you have it. Four additional vitolas to the popular Elegidos (5 x 55) original release.

If you have enjoyed the flavor & performance of the Elegidos but prefer the lancero format, the Petit Lancero might be just what you have been waiting for. Keep in mind though, the Petit Lancero will be a limited edition – 10 count boxes (250 boxes total).

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Length: 6”
Ring: 38

Matt’s Review:

Cut: Palio
Drink: Unsweetened Lipton Cold Brew iced tea
Palate: Fresh

# cigars smoked for review: One…..it was all I could get my hands on!

Pre-light: The cigar presents itself with an oily and attractive mocha brown maduro wrapper. It’s not as oily as the Elegidos, but it still exudes that sexy, velvety tactile experience. The palpable veins and ultra fine tooth create subtle color variations and accentuate deeper dark chocolate and reddish hews. Perfect symmetry: tight, crisp seems and evenly packed throughout. Off the foot, the pre-light aroma is gripping: huge plum, raisin and sweet tobacco. Way too sexy for the barnyard! The cold draw gives up more sweet tobacco and jammy notes balanced by earth and hints of leather.

Draw:  Classic lancero: a little snug, but not uncomfortable.

Flavors: The lead in is an initial warm blast of red pepper spice(tip of the tongue) that commands your attention and gradually fades out into a wave of sweet cedar, dark chocolate, and moist earth, while soft wisps of leather try to emerge from the depths below. It’s a much more lively and spirited red pepper spice up front and on the retro hale when compared to the Elegidos. It may be petite, but it sure as hell is bold as brass coming out of the gates! Saucy……I like it!

The smoke starts off bright and sharp on the palate. There are delicate floral and herbal notes that unfold to soften the cedar edge. The core is earth and dark chocolate. The finish is long…….coffee, roast nuts, and soft leather. Getting into the second third, around the second ash drop, it is clear that act I has closed………but the show must go on.

A very interesting transition / transformation occurs: the smoke becomes much more dense and lush, yielding a bigger mouth feel on the palate. The crisp floral and herbal notes are put to rest and the overall texture gets much creamier. A distinct sweetness, not present at all in the 1st third, starts to reveal itself. It’s not the blackstrap molasses I get from the Elegidos. It is a lighter / less aggressive and more delicate sweetness … it’s honey! This in and of itself is worth the price of admission … but it’s not even close to the best part.

Simultaneously, as the mouth feel is becoming much more substantial and creamier, the warming sensation of the red pepper on the tip of my tongue changes dramatically!  The honeyed sweetness builds and a particular floral note becomes readily apparent … it’s mint! On the tip of my tongue, throughout the second third of the cigar, a wonderful cool minty, fresh grated nutmeg spice led into a long, smooth finish of earth, coco, coffee, leather, and more roast nuts. The leather is more assertive throughout the remainder of the cigar and the mild cedar evolves into more of a toasted oak. The honey and mint mesh well and subtle graham cracker notes fleet in and out…… it’s truly a happily ever after moment going on here.

The strength and body build throughout the cigar. For me, it was a solid medium that developed into full throttle…..hitting the final third! The flavors are BIG and diverge and contrast at points, but are never conflicting or opposed.  She will tangle you in an elaborate complex web. Damn….MORE please!!!

Burn: Required one touch up. Tight potash grey salt and pepper ash.

Construction: Excellent

Description Adjectives: Rollercoaster. Big things come in small packages. Petite….my ass!

Box Worthy: Oh HELL yes!

Overall: Another clear winner from Reinado. I love the GER blend and this vitola showcases it’s different characteristics and attributes extraordinarily well.  When I was growing up my parents taught me if you were going to do something….do it right. This is a job well done…done right….. and not to be missed.

Please consider the following posts:

* http://cigarphoto.net/blog/2012/11/reinado-grand-empire-reserve/
* http://cigarphoto.net/blog/2011/02/reinado/


* DISCLAIMER: Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Petit Lancero sample was gifted by Antonio Lam of REINADO. Antonio’s generosity had no impact on the actual experience. The cigar spoke for itself.


- click on photographs (slideshow)-

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Tatuaje Avion 2013 ‘Habano’ (prerelease)

Cigar Review by Steve Royston (guest)
Cigar Photography by Jay L (cigarphoto.net)

This week we are photographing and reviewing the Tatuaje Avion 2013 ‘Habano’ prerelease. Back in May of 2013 Pete Johnson of Tatuaje reported mid production change to the Avion 2013. Instead of using the Habano Ecuador wrapper, the official Avion 2013 will be wrapped in the Connecticut Broadleaf. For those who were excited about the Habano wrapper, there is good news. The Tatuaje Avion 2013 ‘Habano’ is now arriving at your local B&M as ‘limited’ release. Here is the breakdown:

Avion 13 Habano Ecuador (aka. Avion 13 FFs):

  • Habano Ecuador (wrapper), Nicaraguan binder & filler
  • 6 7/8 x 52
  • bundles of 10 (total of 7,500 cigars)
  • LIMITED band

Avion 13 Connecticut Broadleaf Reserva:

  • Connecticut Broadleaf (wrapper), Nicaraguan binder & filler
  • 6 7/8 x 52
  • Boxes of 20
  • 2 bands - Standard Avion & Reserva


The Tatuaje Avion 2013 ‘Habano’ is aesthetically perfect and the roll is firm to the touch. Wrapper is gorgeous with just a touch of a mottled look. Cutting a little more than a 1/4 inch reveals an impeccable draw. The cold draw allows flavors of strong tobacco and cayenne pepper to come on strong. Cayenne flavor without the spice. The initial light up gives off bold spice notes across the palate and in the retrohale. The aftertaste turns to a sweet, slightly creamy, cedar flavor. A full inch in, I am amazed how smooth this cigar is for being as fresh as it is. The spice really backed down quickly. (side note: As was expected with the perfecto shape, the burn started a bit crooked but evened out nicely.) The dominant flavor now is sweet, creamy cedar with a touch of toastiness in the aftertaste. There is also a wonderful effervescence on the retrohale. I’ve noticed this a lot in Tatuaje cigars. The way I’ve described it before is – menthol without the mint, just the cooling sensation.

Passing the 1/3 mark, a spice note has picked back up, both across the palate and in the retrohale. But more like a softer, white pepper spice. At the halfway mark, the spice is creeping up and intensifying. A subtle richness is starting to develop and is very enjoyable in the aftertaste, especially after the spicy retrohale. It’s a really enjoyable combination to get a creaminess across the palate, while getting an intense spice on the retrohale.

Coming into the final 1/3, there is a slight tingle on the tip of my tongue and a spicy heat in the back of my throat. I should have mentioned this sooner, but the cedar flavor basically disappeared going into the halfway mark. I would have liked to see it stick around, but I’m not complaining about the direction the smoke went. The effervescence I mentioned earlier has really intensified. It is certainly not unpleasant, but I might attribute it to the freshness of the cigar. Coming into the finish, the profile has remained fairly consistent. Spicy retrohale, creamy across the palate, and a nice richness in the aftertaste.

Final thoughts:
I was amazed at how smooth this cigar was for how recently it was rolled. It was complex enough but with very discernable flavors. I see no issue with smoking these right out of the box upon release. However, I believe that putting some age on these will reward you handsomely. I know I will be smoking a lot of these! Happy smoking my friends!

- click on photographs (slideshow)-


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