Sig’s Cigar Reviews: 2011 NEW CIGAR RELEASES PART I

Cigar: Alec Bradley Black Market
Size: toro
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa
Handmade In: Honduras
Source: Samples provided by Alec Bradley Cigar Co.
Stick: $7.40
NOTES: All in all I am a fan of the AB house style (flavour and body), clearly Alan Rubin’s flavour profile preferences a rather akin to my own. The Black Market is no exception. This medium-bodied, limited-production stick has a four-country blend: Honduran and Panamanian filler, a Sumatra binder and a Nicaraguan wrapper—welcome to global commerce. The blend could be described as Earthy, with pepper and spice—and a hint of sweet cacao. All that said this is definitely not my favorite AB ever, but a solid effort.
Score: 83

Cigar: AVO Heritage
Size: robusto
Wrapper: Ecuadorian sungrown
Handmade In: Dominican Republic
Source: Samples provided by Davidoff of Geneva No. America
Stick: $ 7.50
NOTES: It had been quite some time since I had sampled something out of Avo Uvezian’s portfolio—however I’m happy I paid the visit. The AVO Heritage is evocative of the Avo house style blend, but nonetheless a departure from previous Avos. This stick has a farm cigar’s quality: earthy, shroomy/musty, burnt nuts with a green pepper undertone.
Score: 84

Cigar: Cohiba Edición Diamante
Size: Capa Reserva Robusto
Wrapper: Cameroon (Harvested in 1980)
Handmade In: Dominican Republic
Source: Samples provided by General Cigar Co.
Stick: $27.50*
NOTES: Plain and simple—I love this cigar. I will even go out on a limb and say, “The Cohiba Edicion Diamante capa reservas could very well be the best cigar produced by General Cigar Co.—ever.” It certainly ranks up there with the Partagas 150 (DR) and Benji Menendez Partagas.

All that said, this is not a cigar for everyone. It is soft, sophisticated, and subtle. The dry draw will leave you empty. So you anticipate little, and then—WOW!  A perfumed sweetness envelops the palette, but not in a sugary way, but like honey and wet green grass. It is playfully effervescent, insanely reminiscent of old school, very aged, lighter blend Cubans especially La Flor de Cano.  Two draw backs: This cigar will not age. Oh, it will get older, but it wont improve over time—this is ready to smoke now.  The other is the absurdly low production run—a scant 15,000 cigars will be rolled in this blend.  Scheduled for December 2011 release. *Sold in cabinet humidor of 150.
Score: 92

Cigar: H. Upmann 1844 Reserve
Size: corona
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Cubano
Handmade In: Dominican Republic at Tabacalera de Garcia
Source: Samples provided by Altadis U.S.A.
Stick: $5.25
NOTES: This medium-bodied cigars has been highly touted by Altadis USA, and for the price point I think the hype is more than justified. When one first noses the cigar you get a rush of fruit and berries. The dry draw is a rather noncommittal sweetness. The first third of the cigar is creamy and jammy, w/ a tinge of Hungarian hot paprika—all with a nutty undertone. By the second third, the fruit fades and the nuts and paprika remain. A smooth smoke coupled with a solid construction—I can easily see this being someone’s daily driver.
Score: 83

Cigar: J. Fuego Sangre de Toro
Size: toro
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Colorado
Source: Samples provided by J. Fuego Cigars
Handmade In: Nicaragua
Stick: $6.95
NOTES: I have been a long time admirer of the J. Fuego house style and the Sangre de Toro doesn’t disappoint in the least. This medium bodied cigar is like a perfect Schezuan BBQ dish— spicy, sweet with a woody undertone.
Score: 85

Cigar: La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especialé
Size: Especialé Club (corona)
Wrapper: Honduran CT Seed
Handmade In: Dominican Republic
Source: Samples provided by General Cigar Co.
Stick: n/a
NOTES: To those who know me, it is simply not a secret that the LGC Artisano de Miami is one of my favourite cigars, as such I had high expectations for the this Artisano (after I was supremely disappointed in the two tone/gimmicky Artesanos de Tabaqueros) and I will say I like this boarder line mild/medium bodied, double-binder (Nicaraguan and Mexican) cigar, but it falls squarely a middle of the premium pack for me. Slightly sweet almond body with a white pepper undertone (the ligero leaf in the filler clearly comes through), and a rather hot finish (even when finessing it along.)
Score: 80

Cigar: Macanudo Cru Royale
Size: toro
Wrapper: Ecuadorian (Habano seed wrapper)
Handmade In: Dominican Republic
Source: Samples provided by General Cigar Co.
Stick: $ 6.50
NOTES: The Best Macanudo Ever? Yes. This year the Macanudo brand turns forty-three, but it’s certainly not resting on its laurels. The Mac Cru Royal, created with an eye to the tastes of today’s cigar enthusiasts, is decidedly medium bodied—a notable departure from the classic light-bodied Mac blends that usually sported mild Connecticut shade wrappers.
Score: 86

Cigar: Winston Churchill
Size: Lancaster (petit belicoso)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian (Sun Grown)
Handmade In: Dominican Republic
Source: Samples provided by Davidoff of Geneva No. America
Stick: n/a
tin of 4: $23
NOTES: When time permits, I will reach for a larger vitola, however when it doesn’t I will go for (and enjoy) small cigars and without question the Winston Churchill Lancaster (a petit belicoso created and blended by famed cigar house Davidoff of Geneva) is the best non-Cuban one I’ve smoked in a long time. Initially sweet and nutty on the dry-draw, lighting this baby up sparks cinnamon, spice and white pepper taste-notes in full force. Think of a Chihuahua who believes he’s a Rottweiler…
Score: 83

Cigar: (Xikar) H.C. Series Habano Colorado
Size: Salomon Limitado
Handmade In: Nicaragua
Source: Samples provided by Xikar
Stick: $9.50
NOTES:I’ve liked the H.C. Series since it came out. So when I received this new limited-edition perfecto made by J. Fuego for Xikar I was pleased as punch—and that was before I even lit it up. The cigar is well constructed. The dry draw yields an earthy and rich quality. When I light-up this medium bodied smoke the blend comes through loud and clear about an inch and a half in: rich, pumpernickel bread, with a sweet molasses quality, with a very slight black pepper undertone. Though, I wish it had a little bit more to the finish. Scheduled for November 2011 release. Limited to 1000 boxes.
Score: 85

Cigar: Zino Platinum Z-Class
Size: 546 P (pyramid No. 2)
Wrapper: Dominican
Handmade In: Dominican Republic
Source: Samples provided by Davidoff of Geneva No. America
Stick: $9.00
NOTES: While certainly not a horrible cigar by any stretch, nonetheless ZP’s first foray into a mid- price category was monumentally disappointing—my expectations were very high, and the Z-Class was simply a disappointmnet. The Zino Platinum Crown and Scepter series (launched in 2003), set a certain benchmark in the domestic ultra-premium cigar market and the all-new Z-Class Series just didn’t live-up to what had preceded it.  I smoked every size available including the 546 P pyramid (a size exclusive to the US) and found the decidedly medium bodied cigar a perfectly adequate mélange of pepper flavor is rounded out with some sweet and creamy notes, as well as hints of grass.
Score: 81

[image by Nicola Majocchi]

About SIGnature

As a commentator and influencer, Aaron “Sig” Sigmond writes and speaks about male-positioned (often prestige) brands well before they hit the mainstream media and consumers—including those selected below. Sig, who coined the phrase, “Because Style Never Goes out of Fashion” as the tagline for his 1990’s men’s fashion periodical Dossier-For Everyman, is considered to be a true arbiter of good taste.
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