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

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

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

NUB 460 Cameroon Cigar Review

Since I’ve heard about NUB Cigars by Sam Leccia, I’ve been wanting to try it out. For those who have never heard of NUB, the concept is simple: create a cigar which packs a lot of flavor in a short size. Why the short size? Because the best flavors of the cigars generally come out near the final 1/3rd of a cigar and because Leccia’s “natural impatience he wanted a high quality cigar that developed it’s optimum flavor extremely quickly” and so NUB was born.

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Fortunately my local brick-and-mortar, Cigar Loft and Lounge, happens to be one of the few places in San Francisco/Peninsula Bay Area to stock all the various NUB blends and vitolas, I was in luck. I picked up a NUB 460 Cameroon, a medium-bodied smoke, to try out and here are my thoughts.

NUB 460 Cameroon Cigar Details

Origin: Nicaragua
Format: 460
Length: 4.0
Ring: 60
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua
Made: Handmade
Smoke Time: ~36 minutes
Price: $4.65 single/$110.99 box

Construction

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The first thing I noticed about the NUB 460 Cameroon is that it’s beautifully constructed. There aren’t really any flaws and it’s solid with no soft spots when squeezed. It feels quite large due to the 60 ring size and stubby being only 4.0 inches long. It has a slight oily sheen to it with some small veins throughout with a nice double-cap at the end. The Cameroon wrapper is a nice rustic green/brown color that is pretty consistent all over. The cigar comes wrapped in cellophane.

The cigar band is plain, simple, and elegant adorned with gold, white, and blue. In the middle is the NUB logo with Cameroon written below it. Of all the cigar bands I’ve seen and tried (Cuban and non-Cuban), this is by far the easiest to remove without damaging the wrapper.

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The NUB Cameroon I tried for this review had a slight loose pre-light draw and continued up until the beginning of the second-third of the cigar. It wasn’t bad, but a bit annoying. Once the draw issues are out of the way, it starts really getting very good. The Cameroon is nicely packed with tobacco and rolled very well. The ash stayed on solid all the way up until the final 1/3rd when it broke off and fell to the ground and broke into flaky pieces. I only had to do one minor burn correction, otherwise the NUB burned quite well.

Flavor and Taste

The flavors come right out at the very beginning and hits you like a medium-bodied cigar with the flavors of spiciness, leather, a touch of sweetness, and coffee. It’s very buttery/creamy smooth all the way down to the nub. About 2/3rds of the way in I was shocked to suddenly taste pepper and nuts with a very nice aftertaste. The pepper taste started letting up near the final 1/3rd.

Overall I found the NUB 460 Cameroon to be very good, but the taste a bit lacking. It might be that Im starting to develop a taste for stronger bodied cigars or this could have been a fluke and I’ll need to try another one, but I think I may step it up and try the NUB Maduro next time out.

Value

I purchased the NUB 460 Cameroon from my local cigar store, Cigar Loft and Lounge, for $6.83 plus tax making this a decent value. If you purchase from online from stores such as Famous-Smoke, the price is certainly cheaper. I do urge that you try and buy from a local store when possible for a number of reasons: support the local economy, if there is something wrong with the cigar you can easily switch it, no worries about damage to the cigar because of shipping, and we need more local cigar lounges. I can’t tell you how annoying it is when you buy a sampler or a single and it has loose draw or a cracked wrapper. That extra couple of dollars goes a long way.

I try to base what I perceive as value on smoke time and the flavors of a cigar. This is definitely a “shorter” smoke, as it took me ~36 minutes to enjoy it, but I’ve heard you can smoke the NUB in ~15 minutes with constant and consistently puffs.

Conclusion

Sam Leccia doesn’t disappoint with his creation: NUB. I definitely can see picking up a box or having at least a handful in the humidor as this would be a great smoke for the winter months or even an after lunch smoke year round. The flavors are good, the construction is very good, and the price is not bad.

I’ll definitely be trying more of the NUB cigars. If you live in the San Francisco/Peninsula Bay Area and looking for an authorized NUB dealer, be sure to checkout Cigar Loft and Lounge for their great prices, great service, and a gorgeous cigar lounge.

Be sure to checkout these other great reviews:

NUB 460 Cameroon Gallery Pictures

Ramon Allones Specially Selected (RASS) Cigar Review

One of my favorite cigar formats is the Robusto because it generally packs a lot of flavor and takes about ~45 minutes to enjoy making it great for after lunch, after dinner, and/or enjoying with friends. The Ramon Allones Specially Selected consistently tops the list as one of the top in its class. This Cuban puro rated an 82 by Cigar Aficionado in its August 2009 magazine and is consistently highly rated by many other online cigar aficionados here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Being so highly rated by so many, I knew I couldn’t go wrong with the RASS; my thoughts inside.

Continue reading Ramon Allones Specially Selected (RASS) Cigar Review