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

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

Bolivar Royal Corona Cigar Review

Bolivar is a Cuban cigar company named after Venezuelan warrior Simon Bolivar and the cigars are rumored to be the strongest flavored Cubans ((http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bol%C3%ADvar_%28cigar_brand%29)).Today we review the Bolivar Royal Corona, the Robusto vitola that packs a lot of complex flavors.

I have a feeling I’m not going to be disappointed.

Bolivar Royal Corona

Origin: Cuban
Format: Robusto
Size: 4.8
Ring: 50
Wrapper: Cuban
Filler: Cuban
Binder: Cuban
Made: Handmade
Strength: Medium-Full
Smoke Time: ~45 minutes
Price: $7.16 in a box of 25

Construction

The Bolivar Royal Corona is a very well rolled Cuban cigar with minimal veins throughout the wrapper leaf. It has a nice rustic-brown color that is very similar to one of my other favorite Robusto cigars, the Ramon Allones Specially Selected (RASS), I have noticed that the Royal Coronas are consistently better rolled than the RASS with less construction issues. And like the RASS, the Bolivar Royal Corona has a slight box press.

Everyone of Bolivars that I’ve squeezed have no soft spots with a slight spongy feel. The triple-cap is nicely applied, but still not as nicely done as the ones on the Montecristo Edmundo, but obviously an issue that has little to do with taste or flavor and more with aesthetics. Looking at the foot of the cigar, it seems to be rolled tightly and packed with plenty of tobacco.

The Bolivar Royal Corona burns evenly requiring very few adjustments to correct any slight uneven burning. The ash holds firm for an inch to inch-and-half before breaking off. The draw is great, easy to pull with just the right enough of resistance.

Flavor & Taste

The Royal Corona is a full-body cigar with lots of powerful taste, but not overly kick-you-in-the-ass strong. Pre-light flavors are spicy, peppers, and mildly earthy.

Once lit, the predominant taste is pepper with roasted almonds and coffee. Occasionally I’ll enjoy the Royal Corona with a Grande Starbucks Chai tea and they compliment each other well.

I like how it’s almost buttery smooth like the Montecristo Edmundos and leaves a pleasant aftertaste. The flavors come out best, never getting harsh, at the last-third mark where you can’t resist nubbing it to where it burns your fingers.

Value

At $7.16 a cigar when purchased in a box of 25 is certainly not a bad value. With solid construction, great taste, and a 45-minute smoke time, you can’t go wrong with a box of these in the humidor.

Conclusion

Between the RASS and the Royal Corona, those are my go-to stick when looking for a daily smoke. With strong, complex flavors that never leaves you bored, it’s a great cigar for those days you’re looking for something different. A box purchase of these are a no brainer. This cigar is definitely on my recommended cigar list.

As always, be sure to checkout these other great reviews of the Bolivar Royal Corona:

Bolivar Royal Corona Gallery Pictures

Arturo Fuente Hemingway Best Seller

While many will agree that the Fuente Fuente Opus X cigars are great-to-excellent smokes, its hefty price tag makes it difficult to enjoy more than for special occasions. Fortunately, Arturo Fuente makes a number of very good, affordable cigars, one being the Hemingway line. Named after renowned author, Ernest Hemingway, who actually preferred Russian cigarettes ((http://www.cigaraficionado.com/Cigar/CA_Profiles/People_Profile/0,2540,15,00.html)). This line features a number of Perfecto vitola cigars such as the one being reviewed today: the Best Seller. With a name like that, this cigar has lots to live up to.

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A. Fuente Hemingway Best Seller

Origin: Dominican Republic
Format: Perfecto
Size: 5
Ring: 43/55
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Made: Handmade
Strength: Medium
Smoke Time: ~30-40 minutes
Price: $5.99, box of 25 or $6.35, 5-pack

Construction

While not a fan of Piramide/Torpedo or Perfecto vitolas, I can certainly appreciate the skills necessary to roll such a unique shape. The wrapper is a nice looking rustic Cameroon leaf with minimal veins and a light oily sheen. For the price, its rolled very nice with few, if any blemishes and sporting a double cap that is too often hastily applied.

The burn is very even requiring only a minor burn correction. The ash is flaky with mostly gray and the occasional black spots. The ash holds firm for two inches easily before succumbing to pressure.

20100108-Arturo-Fuente-Hemingway-Best-Seller-Bui4Ever-004The Hemingway Best Seller is well packed and tightly rolled, no soft spots throughout when squeezed, with a slight spongy feel. I have nothing but excellent draw from the Hemingway Best Sellers I’ve smoked.

It looks deceiving large in photos, but when you actually hold a Best Seller in your hands, you’ll be surprised at how small it is. At 4-inches long, it’s shorter than the Robustos I’m accustomed to and smoke time on average is 30-40 minutes, a great after lunch or on-the-run choice.

The cigar band is an attractive fusion of red, gold, and black gorgeously designed with the Fuente seal.

Flavors and Taste

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The reviews I’ve read mentioned how much of a flavor firecracker this little guy is and after smoking a couple already, I can’t say I totally agree. Pre-light draw has a peppery taste with a slight bit of wood. Once lit, the flavors do start off fairly quickly, but I never got any of the flavors that wowed me. Right off the back you are treated to a nice sweet taste because of the Cameroon wrapper which progresses to a woody and peppery taste as the cigar progress. Once you get to the nub, the wood flavors start getting overpowered by the peppery taste.

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All-in-all, the flavors weren’t bad, but not terribly exciting either. I wouldn’t go out of my way to find more, but would pick up a few sticks if the price is right.

Here’s a great explanation by Matt from MattsCigar.com on the Perfecto vitola:

The other reason I like the shape is because it lends itself to a more complex smoke. When the cigar starts off narrow, there is less filler mixed with the wrapper and so the wrapper plays a larger role in the flavors of the smoke to start. As you progress through the smoke and the burn starts to widen into the thicker part of the cigar you are burning more filler and the wrapper’s role is less dominate and the flavors begin to change. It’s not long before the cigar begins to narrow and the flavors begin to change again. It makes for a complex, attention holding, fun smoke. This has been my experience with the Hemingway cigars including this Best Seller.

Value

20100108-Arturo-Fuente-Hemingway-Best-Seller-Bui4Ever-010I purchased the Hemingway Best Seller in a 5-pack sampler for $32.75 from Famous-Smoke.com, as I wanted to give these a try but not commit to a box purchase just in-case I didn’t like them and they’re not too bad. I’m not sure that I would pick up a box, but a couple of 5-packs would be good to have. Many of the reviews I read also mentioned that the Hemingway Best Seller is worth, at best, ~$4.00 per stick, and I would probably have to agree.

Conclusion

This is certainly a decent tasting cigar, when found for under MSRP price. It doesn’t take very long to enjoy and has decent flavors making it ideal for enjoying in the colder winter months or an after lunch treat. At the very least, the Perfecto shape is an interesting conversation starter at any cigar lounge.

Also note, the Hemingway Best Seller is the larger version to the very similar looking Hemingway Short Story, and I’ve heard the flavors are very similar.

Be sure to read these other great reviews on the Fuente Hemingway Best Seller:

Gallery Pictures

Montecristo Petit Edmundo vs Montecristo Edmundo

Every Montecristo Edmundo cigar I’ve smoked have been exquisite, but I don’t always have the 90-minutes to enjoy them fully. I was super excited to see that Montecristo offers an 1-inch shorter version, aptly named the Petit Edmundo, that retains all the great flavors in a shorter vitola.

I was planning to review the Petit Edmundo without many comparisons to its larger brother, the Edmundo, but there are more similarities than differences of the two vitolas. So this review will be different that other cigar reviews in that it is more of a comparison between the two Edmundos.

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Montecristo Petit Edmundo

Origin: Cuba
Format: Petit Robusto
Size: 4.3
Ring: 52
Wrapper: Cuban
Filler: Cuban
Binder: Cuban
Made: Handmade
Strength: Medium/Full
Smoke Time: ~45 minutes
Price: $7.56, box of 25

Construction

The Petit Edmundos has a nice oily-sheen milk chocolate-brown wrapper with many fine veins very similar to the Edmundos. I noticed with the Petit Edmundo, the triple cap seems to be hastily applied on more than a few sticks, surprising since the Montecristo Edmundo has some of the best looking triple caps I’ve seen of the Cuban cigars I’ve tried.

20091229-Montecristo-Petit-Edmundo-Bui4Ever-011The Petit Edmundos I’ve tried so far, all of them have exhibited consistent smooth draws; not too tight and not too loose giving you nice bellows of smoke. The Petit Edmundo is solidly built with no hint of soft spots when squeezed. The burn is decent, solid and slow with salt-and-pepper colored ash that holds on for an inch or more easily. The occasional minor burn corrections are needed to keep the Petit Edmundo burning evenly.

I was surprised to find that the Petit Edmundo has a larger ring guage (52mm) than the Edmundo (50mm) despite advertising suggesting otherwise. I can’t imagine this is a typo as many other online cigar review sites have listed the Edmundo and Petit Edmundo as having 52mm ring gauges. The Edmundos I own are not counterfeits, so it’s a bit perplexing. So as an FYI, the Montecristo Petit Edmundo has a 52mm ring gauge and the Montecristo Edmundo has a 50mm ring gauge. [2010-01-22 UPDATE: So this is quite interesting, I just received a box of 25 of the Montecristo Edmundo and it has a ring size of 52mm. It seems like the Montecristo Edmundo tubos have a slightly smaller ring gauge for whatever reason.]

When purchased in a box, the Montecristo cedar dress box is absolutely beautifully constructed with perfect hinges and a similar decorative lock type latch found on the Cohiba dress boxes, minus the shiny veneer finish on the Cohiba.

The Montecristo cigar band has also changed. The 2007 band on my Edmundos are plain, faded milk chocolate-brown and cheap looking where the 2009 cigar band is darker brown with raised lettering and accents. The new bands look better and less counterfeit looking. According to this website, the Montecristo band was changed sometime in 2007.

Flavors & Taste

20091230-Montecristo-Petit-Edmundo-Bui4Ever-013According to the box code, the Petit Edmundos I have are dated as May 2009, unusually young Cubans, and despite better judgment, I couldn’t resist trying one as soon I received my box. While I can taste the same flavors as the Edmundo, there is a bit of bitterness which I attribute to the youngness factor. The Edmundos I have are more than twice the age and the flavors and taste on those are finally settling in real nice. That’s unfortunate as I don’t think I can let the Petit Edmundo sit undisturbed for a year or more without enjoying some. They don’t taste bad, but when you know how good they can be with age, it’s hard to fully enjoy. I’ll try and let them sit in my humidor for a month and see if the taste settles any better.

Otherwise, pre-light taste has hints of almond, chocolate, and pepper. The flavors of the Petit Edmundo is identical to the Edmundo. Flavors remain consistent throughout to the nub. The Petit Edmundo is classified as medium-full bodied as with the Edmundo. There are also a number of people who seem to prefer the Petit over the full-size Edmundo.

Value

A box of 25 sets you back $189 USD where the Edmundo is slightly more at $220 USD. Despite being slightly shorter than a typical Robusto, the larger ring gauge should make it burn about the same speed.

Conclusion

I’m a big Robusto fan and the size of the Petit Edmundo is about right for my on-the-go life where the Edmundo is better suited for when time is not a concern. In short, the Montecristo Petit Edmundo has the famous Montecristo taste and you can’t go wrong with having a box or even a few sticks of these in your humidors. Despite designed to be a quicker smoke, I would definitely suggest that you take the time to savior each and every draw and the wonderful taste of this cigar.

Check out these other great reviews on the Petit Edmundo:

Montecristo Petit Edmundo Gallery Pictures

How I Won A Zippo Blu Butane Lighter

One of the cigar blogs I frequent, CigarInspector.com, was running a New Year’s contest and all you had to do was be subscribed to their RSS feed. Then near New Years, they would publish a review with a secret link visible only to those who subscribe via RSS to a page to where you enter your email into a random drawing. Having never won anything online (probably because I never really enter any online contest/giveaways), It was shocking to receive an email from the Inspector indicating I’ve won!

The prize was a choice of either Capri 50 Cigar Humidor, Zippo Blu cigar lighter, or Lotus Spectre Switchblade Cigar Cutter; all really great prizes. Since I already have 3 humidors and a couple of cutters, I opted for the Zippo Blu cigar lighter since I really like them and you can read my review here.

© CigarInspector.com
© CigarInspector.com

If you enjoy cigars, I urge you to bookmark and subscribe to CigarInspector.com, you won’t be disappointed. They have top-notch reviews of all kinds of cigars (Cubans and non-Cubans) and the occasional cigar related accessories.

Merci beaucoup Denis!

CAO MX2 Robusto Cigar Review

When I had first tried the CAO MX2 Toro, I was impressed at how much I liked it despite being a very strong medium-to-full-bodied smoke. The MX2 line looks very intimidating because of its black Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper, but looks are certainly deceiving. If you’ve been a big fan of medium bodied, medium-full bodied cigar, add the CAO MX2 to your must try list; you never know, you might end up liking it.

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CAO MX2 Robusto

Origin: Nicaragua
Format: Robusto
Size: 5
Ring: 52
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Peru
Binder: Brazilian Maduro
Made: Handmade
Smoke Time: ~60 minutes
Price: Famous-Smoke.com: $6.50 for single or $5.15 each in box of 20, CigarsDirect.com: $32 for a 5-pack or $4.95 each in a box of 20 ($99)

Construction

20091229-CAO-MX2-Robusto-Bui4Ever-002While the CAO MX2 Robusto isn’t the best looking cigar, it is very well-built without any soft spots when squeezed throughout. Present are some minimal veins that runs throughout the oily sheen maduro wrapper. While most maduro cigars have a maduro wrapper, the MX2 has both a maduro wrapper and binder, thus the MX2 designation, Maduro x 2.

The CAO MX2 Robusto is slightly larger than the standard size Robusto being 5 inches long with a 52mm ring instead of 4.8 inches long with a 50mm ring. The slightly longer length and thicker ring gauge makes for a longer smoke. Because of the great build quality, it required no burn corrections as the cigar burned evenly throughout, leaving a dark solid gray ash. The draw was very smooth with just about the right amount of resistance enabling you to draw in good amounts of smoke.

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As one of the online blogs had mentioned, the CAO MX2 band is reminiscent of a tuxedo with a faux-dual band and silver lettering of the brand’s logo, CAO, on one band and the MX2 designation on the second. I had no trouble removing the dual band.

Flavor

20091229-CAO-MX2-Robusto-Bui4Ever-006So what does this cigar taste like? Dark chocolate, coffee, and pepper are dominate tastes I get throughout, all of which are quite pleasing to the palate. The Mx2 leaves a nice spicy tingling feel on my tongue each time I take a draw. The unique flavor has to do with the four different fillers blended with the maduro wrapper and binder.

The cigar starts out mellow and creamy and then gets stronger and stronger and less creamy until you’re close to the nub where the taste starts becoming harsh. I was able to almost nub it, but decided to put it down before I got sick from the very strong taste. A number of other reviews I read have the same conclusion that near the last third, the cigar loses its creaminess and becomes harsher to the taste.

Value

At $4.95 for the Robusto, this is quite a good value for about an hour-long smoke. You can buy a box of 20 for $99 from CigarsDirect.com. If you’re not sure if you will like this cigar or not, I would recommend picking up a 5-pack from CigarsDirect.com for only $32 to try before buying an entire box. You could also pick up a couple or few sticks from your local tobacconist.

Conclusion

I purchased this stick from my local store, Cigar Loft and Lounge and it sit for a few days in my humidor before I couldn’t resist smoking it any longer. The last CAO MX2 had been aged 2 years before I had it and I can say aging does nothing for them. Typically aging a medium-full to full-bodied cigar will take some of the bite out of the taste, but the 2-year-old MX2 Toro I had still had plenty of bite. The Robusto tasted identical to the Toro, same chocolate and spicy pepper taste.

I can’t say this cigar is for everyone, but I think it’s a definite must try. If you’re used to the lighter smokes, this guy will have some kick. Definitely an after dinner cigar. This has certainly become my favorite non-Cuban cigar and I would definitely pick up a box.

Be sure to read these other reviews on this cigar:

CAO MX2 Robusto Gallery Pictures

Debunking the Undeserved Criticism: The Zippo Blu Butane Lighter Review

Zippo is an iconic company for the last 77 years producing nothing but lighters and is proud to still be manufactured in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Owning a Zippo is more than just owning a lighter, but rather an heirloom or a piece of jewelry to be passed down from generation to generation like a Rolex is more than a just a time-telling instrument. It’s more than a lighter for smokers, but a tool with a rich heritage of being at one time used by the U.S. military, the Boy Scouts, campers/backpackers, and so forth for many reasons including the ability to stay lit in harsh weathers. The distinctive Zippo click when opened or closed, the flint wheel, and all the cool Zippo tricks adds to the appeal of the Zippo.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpogpiOCTqU[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9rRkgnMVNg[/youtube] [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOHwjDzUDnE[/youtube]

Unfortunately for cigar aficionados, using a Zippo to light a cigar is not ideal as it introduces a gas taste to the cigar. Fortunately, Zippo offers us a wonderful alternative: the Zippo Blu butane lighter, a gorgeous butane lighter but does it live up to the Zippo name? Having read many online reviews about the lack of reliability, the answer seems to be no, and it certainly discouraged me from picking one up. I ended up doing the Zippo/Z-Plus Blazer conversion, but had a number of frustrating issues such as inconsistent lighting, so I ended up rarely using it. Fortunately I didn’t give up on owning a Blu and with enough digging online I found these positive reviews which changed my mind enough that I bit the bullet and did it. And I’m glad I did!

20091219-Zippo-Blu-butane-lighter-Bui4Ever-002

Construction

The pictures do not do the Zippo Blu any justice whatsoever. The moment I held one in person, I was sold. It feels incredibly solid and looks amazing. Originally I wasn’t feeling the modern design of the Blu compared to the simple iconic Zippos, but it’s really starting to grow on me now. With the lid closed, it’s smooth, sleek, and modern looking but still retains the Zippo look and feel.

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20091219-Zippo-Blu-butane-lighter-Bui4Ever-009If there are any complaints to have about the Zippo, then there are four (semi-minor) things. First, the lid doesn’t always close fully. About 8 out of 10 times it works fine, but sometimes you sometimes have to nudge the lid to the side slightly to get it to fully close securely. Second, there is no way to adjust to the flame height. One trick I’ve found is to press down on the flint wheel and let some gas out before spinning the flint wheel to ignite the butane which works. Third, the gas tank indicator is a nice touch, but you can only see it clearly in bright light. Finally, the refill slot isn’t your average size meaning those cheap butane refill kits you buy from the gas station won’t fit correctly, which is good because you shouldn’t use cheap butane for such a great lighter as the Zippo Blu. If you use quality butane gas such as Vector, it comes with a handy adapter that lets you easily refill the butane gas tank.

Another thing I like about the Zippo Blu over other lighters such as my Blazer Venture dual-torch is the large capacity fuel tank. I’ve lit up some 4 Robusto size cigars, did numerous burn corrections on those cigars, I’ve played around with it by igniting it for fun and the tank is still showing 3/4 full! Typically with my Blazer Venture, I’m out of gas by the 4th cigar.

There are a number of attractive finishes of the Zippo Blu that you can buy. My local store only had two and I chose the better finish in my opinion.

Usage (Read The Damn Directions)

I’m like most people, just give me the damn thing and I’ll figure it out. If you decide to take that approach and it doesn’t work, don’t blame it on the product until you’re sure you’re doing it right. I’m sure when the Zippo Blu was first released, there might have been problems as you would expect with anything new. But what I know is, when I purchased my Zippo BLU Shadow Lighter Dark Chrome from Cigar Loft and Lounge, it has worked perfectly. Sure, it doesn’t always light 100% of the time, but I’ve never had a lighter that did. What I’ve found with the Zippo Blu is that it’s a different kind of butane lighter. The flint system on the Blu is a bit tricky, but once you get it down, you’ll find it works great. I, too, was hesitant about how well the butane flint system would work, but when people see me using it and try it out, they love it.

20091219-Zippo-Blu-butane-lighter-Bui4Ever-005

I have not found the Zippo Blu is any less reliable than my Blazer dual-torch butane lighter, which was my most reliable lighter to date. There are a number of reasons why the Blu might not light and like computer troubleshooting, it’s best to do a process of elimination. First, make sure you’re using either Zippo Premium Butane Fuel, Vector Quintuple Refined Butane Gas Fuel Refill, or some other high-quality butane gas. The cheap stuff can cause clogs or weak flames. Second, did you refill the gas correctly? Remember that to refill a butane lighter, the lighter has to be completely upside down and not at an angle or you might get air which will cause the lighter not to light. Third, did you know that cold butane doesn’t light very well? If you just refilled your lighter, let it warm up to room temperature before attempting to light. If the lighter is already filled or has adequate supply, make sure it’s not cold by wrapping it in your hands for a minute or so to warm it up. Finally, with the Blu’s unique flint system, you have to press down and let some gas expel before spinning the flint to light it up. If you spin the flint as you’re pressing down, you’ll get horribly inconsistent lights and weak flames. The longer  that you let the gas expel, the higher and more intense the burn will be, to a point. If all that still doesn’t work for you, let someone else try it and if they have the same problems as you, then it might be time to send the lighter in for repair. Fortunately all Zippos carry a lifetime warranty.

Value

I purchased my Zippo Blu in-store at Cigar Loft and Lounge for a little over $54 plus tax. I could have purchased the same exact lighter on Amazon for $34.95, but I wanted to see it and feel it in person. At $34.95, it is a steal compared to other crappier lighters such as Colibri that you can easily pay hundreds for. I would purchase another at $54 without hesitation.

Conclusion

The Zippo Blu is one of the best looking lighters I’ve seen, period. It’s neat, it’s sleek, has a large tank, fits beautifully flat in your pockets, and the build quality of Zippo. People who see me using the Blu are always asking about it and once they try it, they are quite impressed. Sure it takes some getting used to, but if you give it a chance, I think you’ll find this is the lighter you’re most likely to carry with you daily. The cost is quite reasonable compared to other high-end lighters, but I like the shape and feel of the Blu best.

Also another thing to remember about the Zippo Blu is that you will have to occasionally replace the flint because of wear. The flint replacements aren’t terribly expensive and are fairly easy to do yourself. The Zippo website has excellent directions on how to replace the flint yourself and not void your lifetime warranty. You can also read more Zippo Blu FAQ on their website here.

I’ll leave you with one last video, a pretty good Zippo Blu review by CutleryLover. The only issue I have with the video is that he is lighting it wrong. Make sure you hold down the flint wheel for about a second before spinning it!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw5mwpwll08[/youtube]

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Zippo Blu Gallery Pictures