Ortega Serie D 9Shape: Lancero
Size: 6 1/2 x 38
Strength: Full
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper Type: Mexican San Andres
Color: Maduro
Binder / Filler: Nicaragua / Nicaragua
Blender: Eddie Ortega

Starts with spice (but not pepper) and sweet cocoa.

First third sees a building of the spice and cocoa sweetness.

No changes in the flavors during the final third, but they grow more intense with each puff.  Incredibly rich.  If there were such a thing as chocolate honey, this is what I imagine it’d taste like.

The spice kicks up a bit in the final third, still sweet underneath that.

Somewhat tight draw in the first half, often requiring a double or triple puff to get any sort of smoke output.  Perhaps extended downtime will take care of this. as this particular cigar was just a few days OTT.  Draw opened up after the halfway point.  Straight burn, decent smoke output.

Rating: 4.  The only thing holding it back from my highest mark was the draw for the first half of the cigar.  As far as the flavor was concerned, it was my favorite from any vitola in the Serie D Maduro line.  Great stick.

LGC Retro EspecialeShape: Grand Corona
Size: 5 3/4 x 47
Strength: Medium – Full
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper Type: Honduran Connecticut Seed
Color: Colorado Claro
Binder / Filler: Nicaragua, Mexico / Dominican Republic, Nicaragua

Cigar started with biting cedar and just a hint of pepper.

Both flavors ease up by the end of the first third and are joined by a sweet nuttiness, but nothing overpowering.  Perhaps creamy is a better descriptor.

And, well, that’s about it for the rest of the cigar.  Fairly one dimensional but it’s a good dimension, so no complaints from me.

Easy enough draw, decent smoke output, straight burn with just one touch up near the end.

Rating: 3.  These are relatively cheap and are a nice enough cigar when you’re not really sure what you want, or perhaps you’ll be distracted by something else and don’t want to have to pay attention to flavor changes and/or maintenance.

MUWAT Kentucky Fire CuredShape: Corona Extra
Size: 4 x 46
Strength: Medium – Full
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper Type: Brazilian Mata Fina
Color: Maduro
Binder / Filler: USA / USA, Proprietary
Blender: Drew Estate

This is the third fire cured tobacco cigar I’ve had, the others being the Leccia Black and the Spectre by AJ Fernandez.  Pre-light, the KFC is the one that smells the most similar to what I’m used to with fire cured pipe tobaccos – a real smokey, firey, meaty scent.

Initial puffs are intense.  Smoke, charred meat.  Seared wood.  Almost too much to handle, and I can feel it all in the back of my throat.

Flavors are incredibly strong in the first third.  Ultra smokey, spiced meat, like I’m smoking a stick of beef jerky.

The flavors don’t let up at all as the first third comes to a close.  I probably couldn’t stomach anything larger than this 4×46 petite corona.  Too heavy.  The various other review sites aren’t exaggerating with the mesquite BBQ flavors, but these flavors would be a bit much even if was meat being discussed, and not tobacco.  Much smokier than any pipe tobacco I’ve ever had.

A nice sweetness emerges at the halfway point, taking some of the edge off the fire cured flavors.

Combo of sweet and spice as the cigar burns through the final third.

Easy draw, straight burn, loads of smoke output, but not so much while it’s resting as is the case with virtually every other cigar from Drew Estate.

Rating:  4, mostly when compared to the other fire cured cigars on the market.  It’s certainly one of the more interesting cigars I’ve smoked recently.  The KFC is intense and I don’t think I could handle anything larger than the ‘Chunky’, as at times it’s what I imagined eating a spoonful of something like Dunhill Nightcap pipe tobacco would taste like.  Total change of pace cigar that I couldn’t smoke every day but that I’d definitely reach for again.

Surrogates Tramp StampShape: Robusto
Size: 5 1/4 x 48
Strength: Full
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper Type: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
Color: Oscuro
Binder / Filler: Nicaragua / Nicaragua
Blender: Pete Johnson

The Tramp Stamp started off with sharp, biting cedar and pepper notes.

Pepper and cedar fade a bit by the end of the first third, revealing more earthy and coffee flavors.

Pepper and cedar rejoin the earth/coffee flavors at the halfway point.  “Sharp” is the word that comes to mind, like a black pepper crusted piece of meat.  Not so much that it burns, but more of an overpowering black pepper sensation.

Increase in the coffee flavors in the final third, but the pepper/earth remain strong.

Straight burn, easy draw, lots of smoke output.

Rating:  3.5.  Nice cigar but not a whole lot of nuance with the flavors.  Everything seemed to fight to come to the front, full flavored from the first puff to the last.  The dominant flavor?  All of them.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a matter of preference for the strength of your cigars.  Personally, I like just a little more subtlety.  This is my second Surrogates – I’ve also had the Skull Breaker – and I do enjoy them more than the L’atelier line but not as much as the equivalently priced offerings from Tatuaje.

San Lotano Oval ConnecticutShape: Corona
Size: 5 x 44
Strength: Medium
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper Type: Connecticut Shade
Color: Colorado Claro
Binder / Filler: Nicaragua / Nicaragua
Blender: AJ Fernandez

Started a bit harsh, very heavy cedar flavors.  Dry.

The harshness faded a bit by the end of the first third, revealing the nutty/creamy flavors that I recalled from the toro I had a few months ago.

The harshness returns at the halfway point.

More harshness in the final third.

Straight burn, easy draw, lots of smoke outpit.

Rating: 2.  Notice a theme?  What happened here?  This was NOTHING like the toro Oval Connie.  That one was all cream and cigar, very pleasant, and this was brutal.  I struggled to even finish the cigar, and did so only out of hope for a return of the solid core flavors that made a very, very brief appearance in the first third of the cigar.  It never happened.  I hope it’s just a bad stick – or perhaps the coronas need A LOT of down time.  I’ll revisit in another month or two and update (or confirm) these thoughts.

Fuente Rosado Sun GrownShape: Toro
Size: 6 1/4 x 54
Strength: Medium – Full
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper Type: Ecuadorian Sungrown Habano
Color: Colorado
Binder / Filler: Dominican Republic / Dominican Republic
Blender: Fuente

This was very similar to the Magnum R 44 I’d reviewed previously, here.

Mild sweetness and cedar throughout.  Leather.  Didn’t get as many pepper notes as I did with the smaller 44, nor did I find as many flavor transitions throughout despite the fact the that R 54 was significantly larger.  I’d noted “cinnamon sugar” with the R 44, and nothing similar came to me with the toro version.

Easy draw, lots of smoke output, fairly straight burn that tunneled just a bit through the first half but never needed correction.

Rating: 3.  It’s not a terrible cigar but I much prefer the smaller R 44.  Found this one to be a bit too one dimensional for my liking, especially given the size/time required to smoke it.

Ortega Wild BunchShape: Lancero
Size: 6 1/2 x 38
Strength: Medium – Full
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper Type: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Color: Colorado
Binder / Filler: Nicaragua / Nicaragua
Blender: Eddie Ortega

Starts with an interesting clash of strong pepper and rich cocoa.  It’s a lot to handle on the retrohale.  Pepper is clearly the dominant flavor in the first half inch, so much that it’s making me sneeze.

The pepper dies down after the first inch, letting the cocoa come to the front.  It’s taking on a much dryer profile, though it’s still what I’d consider to be ‘rich’.  Cocoa powder comes to mind.

The pepper returns before the halfway point and the cigar has taken on a cedary profile.

The final third was a mash up of all the previous flavors – pepper, cocoa, cedar, all making one last appearance as the prominent flavor.

Straight burn, nice draw with just the slightest tug of resistance (which is idea, to me), and lots of smoke output.

Rating: 5.  All kinds of flavors with this cigar, and each inch was different than the last.  Quite frankly, this was one of the more complex lanceros I’ve ever had.  If each Wild Bill release hypothetically served as a sort of small batch experiment, this was a stand out that I hope becomes a regular production cigar.

JdN Cuatro CincoShape: Toro
Size: 6 x 54
Strength: Full
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper Type: Nicaraguan Criollo
Color: Colorado Maduro
Binder / Filler: Nicaragua / Nicaragua

Starts with a berry sweetness.  Somewhat mellow flavors, thick mouth feel but there’s nothing that’s overwhelming the senses.

The draw opens up a bit deeper in to the first third and the flavors intensify.  Berry sweetness remains and there’s now hints of cedar in the background.

Little more leather/earth at the halfway point.

Not a whole lot of change through the final third.  Flavors continue to amplify, and the berry sweetness returns to the front.

Draw started a tad firm but opened up quickly.  Straight burn, decent smoke output.

Rating: 3.  The standard Joya de Nicaragua flavors haven’t always been my wheelhouse when it comes to cigars so I didn’t enjoy the Cuatro Cinco as much as the price tag indicated I should.  It’s clearly a super premium cigar, just a matter of personal preference.  To me, it’s a richer version of the JdN Antaño line.  There are other cigars I’d reach for first at this price ($10-$12) but I do think the cost is justified.

Camacho Corojo MachitoShape: (Very) Petite Corona
Size: 4 x 32
Strength: Full
Country of Origin: Honduras
Wrapper Type: Honduran Corojo
Color: Colorado
Binder / Filler: Honduran / Honduran
Grade: Hand Rolled – Long Filler
Blender: Eiora

This is about as small as premium cigars get, so naturally there isn’t much complexity to write about.  Straight forward, rich earthy flavors, a little bit of pepper, and hints of a sweet chocolate/coffee in the background.  The pepper/sweetness may be a bit of a stretch but there’s definitely more going on than just straight up ‘earth’.

It was a little difficult to cut given it’s small ring gauge and I did shatter the wrapper, but I was using a cheap $2, single blade guillotine so perhaps it would’ve shattered ANY cigar.  That said, it didn’t affect the smoking experience.  Easy draw, tons of smoke output, and a straight burn.  Can’t ask for anything better out of such a small cigar.

Rating:  Factoring in price ($1 per stick on CI’s Jam), size (I sometimes find it tough to compare these small cigars to their larger counterparts), I’ll give this one a 4.  I don’t always like corojo but by the time I tired of it with the Machito, the cigar was done.

Surrogates Skull BreakerShape: Torpedo
Size: 5 1/4 x 52
Strength: Full
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper Type: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Color: Maduro
Binder / Filler: Nicaragua / Nicaragua
Grade: Hand Rolled / Long Filler
Blender: Pete Johnson

Intense pepper to start, hints of sweet chocolate after the first half inch.

The chocolate sweetness has disappeared before the end of the first third.  Mostly pepper at this point, with a little bit of cedar in the background.

The pepper dies around the start of the second third and an earthy coffee flavor comes to the front.

Halfway point and the pepper has really taken a back seat to the rich, earthy flavors.

Coffee takes over as the main flavor as the cigar burns through the final third with very little pepper at all.

Easy draw, loads of smoke output, sharp burn.

Rating: 3.5  This is a very nice cigar with distinct, interesting flavor transitions throughout, it’s just not really in my wheelhouse when it comes to what I like in a cigar.  I’d definitely bump this rating up a full point if it were a tad sweeter.