Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro Review

When I usually reach for a cigar from my humidor, it is almost always a Cuban. It’s not that I’m snob or anything, but I find, more often than not, I like the Cuban taste over Dominicans, Nicaraguans, and so on. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t found some wonderful non-Cuban cigars that I equally like, one being the Oliva Connecticut Reserve that I’ll be reviewing today.

Oliva is generally better known for their full-bodied cigars such as the Serie G, Serie O, and Serie V. The Connecticut Reserve is a special line of Oliva that is meant to appeal to mild-bodied cigar smokers who aren’t looking for an over-powering cigar. The Connecticut Reserve comes in five sizes: Churchill, Lonsdale, Robusto, Torpedo, and Toro. This review will cover the Toro vitola.

Also an interesting tidbit is that you will not find anything about the Connecticut Reserve on Oliva’s website except on their ratings page, not sure why that is.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro

Origin: Esteli, Nicaragua
Format: Toro
Size: 6
Ring: 50
Box Date Code: n/a
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Made: Handmade
Strength: Light/Medium
Smoke Time: ~45 minutes
Price: ~$5/each

Construction

For the price, these cigars are absolutely gorgeous! Solidly constructed and firm when squeezed, the Oliva’s Connecticut wrapper has a nice caramel color with no visible discoloration or blemishes.

Inspecting the foot, it looks well rolled with a good amount of tobacco. The Oliva Connecticut Reserve has, what looks like, a double-cap on the head. There are very small veins  throughout the wrapper and for the value, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better looking cigar. I think this is probably one of the best looking cigars I’ve had.

This cigar in the Toro format certainly feels long in my hands, given my general preference for Robusto sized cigars. The burn is decent, requiring the occasional minor touch-ups to keep the burn even, and stayed lit when I had to put it down for restroom breaks. The salt-and-pepper ash stays planted to the cigar anywhere from 1-to-2 inches before breaking off.

One thing I’ve found is that the wrapper leaf is extremely thin and can easily tear or rip if you’re not gentle with it, so take care when removing the cigar band.

Flavor & Taste

The best part of this cigar are the flavors and taste. Prelight taste is muted with just a bit of sweetness one would expect from the Connecticut wrapper and once lit, the predominant flavors of toasted almonds and creamy butter explode on your palate for a wonderful experience. The first time I had the Connecticut Reserve, I was blown away at how flavorful it is. Originally penned as a light-bodied cigar, I’ve found the Oliva Connecticut Reserve is more of a light-to-medium-bodied cigar, that is hardly overpowering. My buddy, who I gave two to try, has said: “This is the cigar I would give to someone who is new to smoking cigars.”

The flavors don’t really change much as the cigar progresses, but the taste does get smoother with a hint of bitterness starts developing at about the 2/3rd mark which I think helps balance the sweetness of the Connecticut wrapper.

Value

The Oliva Connecticut Reserve is definitely worth a box purchase. You can find these guys for like $5 or less online. I got lucky and scored a 10-pack from JoeCigar.com for $2.99 a cigar! Well worth it.

Conclusion

I can’t really find anything bad to say about this cigar. For the price, the taste, and the looks, this cigar is a winner in my book.  This is a great morning or lunch cigar, something light that won’t make you sick and works just as well as an after dinner cigar. A number of times if I’m enjoying a cigar with my buddy and I finish before him, I’ll light up a Oliva Connecticut Reserve and it works out perfectly.

If you haven’t tried an Oliva, definitely try one! If you’re looking for a cigar that has a lots of flavor but not over-powering, try the Connecticut Reserve and even if you’re accustomed to stronger bodied cigars, try one of these anyways as you might find it compliments your taste.

Be sure to checkout these other great reviews:

Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro Gallery Pics

Round 2: Opus X Super Belicoso Cigar Review

After my last horrible experience with an Opus X, I was very hesitant to try another one, but a buddy of mine gifted me an Opus X Super Belicoso (purchased at the Cigar Loft and Lounge) and after letting it rest in my humidor for a good few months, it was finally time to tackle this firecracker. If you haven’t read my review of the Opus X Churchill I had, long story short: I didn’t like it, couldn’t finish it, and didn’t like it. I’ll talk a bit more about that in this review.

Opus X Super Belicoso

Origin: Dominican Republic
Format: Belicoso (Figurado)
Size: 6.5
Ring: 52
Box Date Code: n/a
Wrapper: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Made: Handmade
Strength: Medium/Full
Smoke Time: ~66 minutes
Price: ~$30/each

Construction

With very tiny veins and no blemishes, this is one of the most beautifully constructed cigar I’ve ever smoked. An Opus X cigar could be used as the gold standard by which all other cigars should be constructed. When this Super Belicoso is squeezed, there is no sponginess or soft spots, just firmness throughout the body and inspecting the foot, the leaves are bunched nicely together with no visible gaps, indicating a very skillful torcedor.

With such great construction, the burn line is excellent requiring no burn corrections. The mostly solid white ash builds easily to almost 2-inches before breaking off. If you look in the pictures below, you can see how very nice the ash is!

I also wanted to take a moment and recognize the amazing artwork and effort that goes into the Opus X cigar band. It is by far one of the most ornate and beautiful cigar bands I’ve ever seen grace a cigar.

After snipping off a bit of the head and taking a pre-light draw, I was immediately rewarded with perfect draw, not too tight or loose with just enough resistance. And after conversing with my smoking buddy, we’ve came to the conclusion that the last Opus X I had suffered from an extremely tight draw. It kept going out on me and a number of times I tried to “save” it from going out and I most likely got sick from the hyperventilating. With the perfect draw from this Super Belicoso, I was able to blow out opulent clouds of smoke.

Flavors and Taste

Pre-light draw revealed some nice pepper and wood and I knew this was going to be a fun tasting cigar from the get-go. The first-third of the Opus X starts off as a weak medium body that gives you a preview of things to come with predominate flavors of wood, tobacco and a taste of nuts, all in a nice creamy package. By the second-third, some spicy notes and pepper start getting introduced to the wood and nuts flavor and the cigar begins developing into a medium bodied smoke, still quite enjoyable. By the final-third, the Opus X is at it’s stronger taste, medium-full body. The creaminess has subsided a bit and becomes slightly bit bitter while the other flavors (wood, tobacco, nuts, pepper, and spicy) become more pronounced, but nothing unpleasant.

This is one of those cigars that you need to be patient with to fully enjoy. Suck this thing down in less than 30-minutes and you’ll probably be quite sick. To get the full enjoyment of the flavors, take a puff every 30-seconds to a minute. I personally was at a puff every 30-seconds and it took me over an hour to enjoy this Super Belicoso.

Value

SUCKS! MSRP for an Opus X is generally $11.50 ((http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Static/BigSmoke/Vegas2001/fuentes_dd.html)), but because of the supply and demand for these, most places sell these upwards of $30 each. If you find a place that sells them for MSRP, please let me know.

Conclusion

So the big question is, is the Opus X Super Belicoso worth ~$30? For the most part, no, but that depends on the person you ask. For me, when I’m paying for a cigar, I’m looking for value in that the flavors and taste is what I like worth how much it cost and how long it takes to enjoy it. The flavors and taste were very good, but otherwise uneventful for me. As I was smoking the Opus X with my buddy, half way through he mentioned I looked bored and I was. The flavors never really change and only get a bit stronger as you near the finish.

And while this Opus X Super Belicoso took over a solid hour to finish, the price is a bit sticking point for me. I have enjoyed a number of other cigars, including my current all time favorite the Montecristo No. 2, at the ~$10 or less mark and wouldn’t hesitate to grab one of those over the Opus X Super Belicoso any day. But if I was able to purchase these at the $11.50 price point, I would’t hesitate purchasing more sticks to have in my humidor.

As it is a tradition with Opus X cigars, I was left with a nice parting gift in the form of a nicotine buzz that lasted for maybe 15-20 minutes.

Be sure to check-out these other great reviews on the Opus X Super Belicoso:

Opus X Super Belicoso Gallery Pics

Overpriced brand-name cigar: Thou Name Is Cohiba Robusto

Cohiba is one of the cigar brands that need no introductions. The flagship brand of Habanos S.A. and the personal brand to Dictator Fidel Castro, Cohiba is the cream of the crop for Cuban cigars and you certainly pay top dollar for that.

As the Robusto is my favorite cigar vitola, it should come as no surprise that the Cohiba Robusto would be a cigar I would be interested in. I have looked forward to having one for a very long time and opportunity came knocking. Here are my thoughts.

Construction

I’ve read from a number of sites that construction issues plague Cohiba; complaints range from loosely rolled cigars to cracked wrappers. Fortunately the three Cohiba Robustos I sampled exhibited no problems, physically anyways.

The Cohiba Robusto has very small, minor veins on it’s otherwise ordinary looking milky chocolate wrapper. When squeezed, there is some slight sponginess, but no soft spots so no odd burning issues are anticipated. The burn is decent, I did touch it up a few times with my Zippo Blu. The ash is an unimpressive flaky salt-and-pepper color that refused to hold for more than an inch at a time.

Flavor & Taste

Pre-light draw revealed very subtle hints of…hay/grass…? The foot of the Cohiba Robusto smelled like nothing but perhaps the subtle scent of floral.

The first third of the cigar is the worse in flavor. A combination of what I can only describe as chewing on wet, bitter grass. Of the two Cohiba Robusto I smoked, as well as my buddy who had one, that inital crap taste was consistent on all three. Yum.

By the second third, things definitely started getting better. The bitterness resided and flavors of coffee as well as dark chocolate began to overtake.

The last third is where this baby starts to shine and becomes what one would expect of a Cuban cigar. A touch of pleasant spiciness develops and becomes an enjoyable smoke.

Despite all the talk about the strength, power, and kick of Cohiba cigars, I hate to say it but, it is overstated. The Cohiba Robusto, in my opinion, is more of a decent medium body cigar compared to, say, the Bolivar Royal Corona. But let me add, what I consider a strong cigar isn’t one that necessarily is overpowering, kicks the crap out of you and churns your stomach like drinking heavy liquor on an empty stomach, but rather the quality and complexity of taste.

Value

At $15 a cigar, the Cohiba Robusto, to me anyways, is hardly a value buy. A box purchase of 25 will certainly set you back a pretty penny. Had this cigar been more enjoyable from the get-go, it would be worth having a few sticks lying around in the humidor for those special occasions.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, I’m sure some readers may find my observations and experience with the Cohiba Robusto a bit harsh, but when a cigar passes the $10 mark, I’d expect to pay for more than just the brand name. Given the many Robusto choices, I have to say I’m more likely to reach for a Bolivar Royal Corona or a Montecristo Petit Edmundo for more half the price of a Cohiba Robusto. Obviously everyone’s taste varies, but for my taste, despite how much I’ve been looking forward to having a Cohiba Robusto and finally having one, the experience came up short.

I’m sure down the road, I may consider trying a couple or few more to be sure, but that won’t be anytime soon.

Best Cuban Cigar: Montecristo No. 2?

I finally tried, what many would consider, one of the best non-special edition Torpedo-shaped Cuban cigars on the market: the Montecristo No. 2. I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of Torpedo-shaped cigars despite all the good reasons: easier to draw and more consistent draw, concentrated flavors, easier to grip in the mouth, and so forth, but everything is worth trying at least once, right?

Montecristo No. 2

Origin: Cuban
Format: Piramide (Torpedo/Pyramid)
Size: 6.1
Ring: 52
Box Date Code: June 2009
Wrapper: Cuban
Filler: Cuban
Binder: Cuban
Made: Handmade
Strength: Medium
Smoke Time: ~80 minutes
Price: ~$9 in a box of 25

Construction

As I’ve come to expect from Cuba’s largest exported cigar brand ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montecristo_%28cigar_brand%29)), the No. 2 is beautifully constructed although not the most attractive looking stick. The No. 2 feels heavy and solid in my hands, firm with no soft spots when squeezed and very well rolled as evidenced when inspecting the foot. The closes I have in size to the No. 2 are my Montecristo Edmundo which are about an inch shorter than the No. 2.

One interesting feature of this Pirámide vitola is that the foot is the thickest (ring gauge of 52) and tapers down slowly until it reaches the pointed head of the cigar which lends itself to the taste because the pyramid shape helps concentrate the flavors on a smaller part of your tongue.

A smooth and excellent draw, the No. 2 has very little veins throughout the cigar.

Of the few I’ve smoked so far, the burn is excellent requiring just the slight burn correction on one of the stick. The ash is mostly white with a few flakes and holds for about an inch before breaking off.

Flavor and Taste

I was initially hesitant on whether the No. 2 could live up to the hype; after all, many well-known celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Jack Nicholson, Michael Jordan, Michael Douglass, John Travolta, Demi Moore, Tom Selleck, Kinky Friedman, and James Woods count the No. 2 among their favorite smokes ((http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/People_Profile/0,2540,178,00.html)) and what celebrities like don’t always live up the hype. I’m so glad I broke down and tried them because the No. 2 is not only every bit as good as everyone says they are, they are mouth-watering good!

The Montecristo No. 2 starts out mild in the first third with hints of cedar and coffee and starts picking up strength in the second third with more pronounced flavors of coffee with some leather and chocolate with a touch of spiciness. By the last third, the cedar, leather, chocolate, coffee, and spicy flavors are at its peak until finish. I would definitely classify the No. 2 as a strong medium bodied cigar that is very smooth from beginning to end with complex flavors that leaves a very pleasant aftertaste that lingers for hours, as a great cigar should. The larger size will mean you need some time to fully enjoy the amazing flavors and is a great choice to enjoy when entertaining with friends. This is a cigar you do not want to rush or risk ruining the taste of this fine cigar.

Also, this is a personal preference, but I recommend not snipping off too much of the pointed cap. Snipping off too much may cause the cigar to unravel and you don’t get the same level of flavor concentration that comes from a Piramide shaped cigar.

According to the box code on my Montecristo No. 2 dress box, these sticks are from June 2009, not even a year old at the time of this writing and they already taste amazing. Given a few more years, these sticks will be divine, but I don’t see how I’ll be able to let them sit undisturbed for that long!

Value

For a cigar that taste this good at ~$10, this is a no-brainer box purchase. My buddy CigarInspector.com says it best: “Not overpriced, yet expensive – and worth every penny” ((http://www.cigarinspector.com/montecristo/montecristo-no-2)).

Conclusion

I have a buddy who really, really likes the Cohiba Esplendidos, willing to shell out $25 per stick, but after having the Montecristo No. 2, he’s hard-pressed on justifying the extra $15 for the Cohiba. Granted they are completely different cigars, but the Esplendidos and the No. 2 represent the best offerings of their respective brands so there is some room for comparison.

Prior to having the Montecristo No. 2, I thought the Edmundo was Montecristo’s best cigar as I couldn’t imagine how it could get any better, but the No. 2 changes all that,  fastly becoming my all-time favorite cigar, Cuban or not.

I can safely say that my humidor will never run out of the Montecristo No. 2.

Be sure to read these other great reviews on the Montecristo No. 2:

Montecristo No. 2 Gallery Pics

Cohiba Esplendido, Cuba’s Best Cigar?

The Cohiba Esplendidos often considered one of the finest Cuban cigars in the world as it is the perhaps the most counterfeited ((http://www.wsbt.com/news/consumer/17369179.html)) ((http://www.stogieguys.com/2008/05/05202008-stogie-review-cohiba-esplendido-cuban.html)). It’s not hard to see why: each cigar cost upwards of $30 USD, there is a huge profit margin to be made by counterfeiters and unless you regularly smoke the Esplendidos, it can be difficult to spot a fake. There are a number of great websites such as Havana Journal which has detailed photos and information on identifying fake or counterfeit Cohiba Esplendidos, but the old adage of “If it’s too good to be true…” should be a good starting point, although that’s not always the case. But this post isn’t about how to spot fakes, but what rather if the Cohiba Esplendido is as good as everyone says it is.

Cohiba Esplendidos

Origin: Cuban
Format: Churchill/Julieta No.2
Size: 6.9
Ring: 47
Wrapper: Cuban
Filler: Cuban
Binder: Cuban
Made: Handmade
Strength: Medium-Full
Smoke Time: ~80 minutes
Price: $30 per each, $18.60 in a box of 25

Construction

I have always found how unimpressive looking the Esplendidos are; other than for the famous Cohiba cigar band and the large size, there is nothing distinguishing or flashy. Compared to how beautifully constructed a Fuente Opus X is, the Esplendido looks like a Honda Accord next to a Ferrari. There are few minor veins on an otherwise smooth dark caramel wrapper.

The two Esplendidos I’ve had so far did not have any burn issues, but did need a few burn corrections. My buddy who also smoked one with me did experience some crazy burn issues that resulted in a very bad burn that was never correctable, although it did not affect the taste. The salt-and-pepper ash is unimpressive and barely held on for more than an inch, even when I was trying. The cigar remained lit and the draw was initially tight in the beginning, but clipping off more of the cap resulted in a looser draw.

Otherwise, no construction issues.

Flavor & Taste

For the first 1/3rd of the cigar, I found it to be ever so slightly bitter with a grass taste, but once we progressed into the 2nd and final third of the cigar it settled to more woody/cedar with some spicy tastes to it. The Cohiba Esplendidos starts off mild to medium and becomes be mostly medium body in the 2nd third and a bit stronger by the final third, but never really reaching full bodied taste. The final third is probably the best part of this cigar as the flavor is at its most intense yet the cigar remains buttery smooth.

Throughout the entire smoke, you can get decent clouds of white smoke on each draw. Many tend to describe cigar smoke as pungent and disgusting, but I’ve found the smoke produced by the Esplendidos to be pleasing, although I wouldn’t recommend prolonged (or any) exposure to second-hand smoke…

Value

Next to the Opus X, these are the most expensive cigars I’ve smoked. For nearly $30 a cigar, this will definitely be a special occasion treat. But in all honesty, I think the Cohiba Esplendidos are overpriced.

Conclusion

While many go ga-ga over the Esplendidos, I have to say, considering the price, I wasn’t impressed. There are a number of other cigars that I am quite happy with that can be “daily-smokes” without breaking the bank such as the Montecristo Edmundos or Bolivar Royal Coronas, but then again those aren’t Cohibas. There’s a certain prestige, justified or not, smoking Cohibas just as there is choosing a Rolex over a Timex, but to each his own.

Would I purchase the Esplendidos if I could? Probably not. The flavors and tastes just wasn’t there enough for me to justify the three times the cost over the Edmundos, which are one of my favorite go to cigars. YMMV.

Be sure to check-out these other excellent Cohiba Esplendidos reviews:

Cohiba Esplendidos Gallery Pics