Rum Review: Pampero Aniversario Reserva Exclusiva


My second rum going back 5 years now as I was only beginning to explore the category and I chose well.

Very dark, deeply mahogany red color is very attractive. When swirled in the glass the legs take a long time to appear and then they are very thick, slow, and teardrop shaped.

A Venezuelan rum, blended from what I can read about it on the net. There is no age statement on the bottle, but I’m guessing the rums in the blend are reasonably well aged from their color, the lack of strong acetone notes on the nose along with the dark fruit notes, and the dark richness of the flavors. The rum is shipped at 40% ABV.

On the nose there is an amazing burst of aroma. First a little alcohol but not overwhelming and only the slightest hints of acetone notes telling me the rum is properly aged. In addition I note dark coffee, tobacco, apricot, pineapple (hint) prune or rasin, brown sugar, and molasses. A heady combination.

As it turns out aromas are easier to pick out here than flavors. There are spice-like flavors of cinnamon, burnt caramel, dark fruit, bitter chocolate, tobacco and coffee. The flavors are difficult to tease apart, but the mashup is very satisfying and seems to have a lot in it. There is a little creaminess but not nearly as much as some of my other rums. Like most of the others in this “better product” category there is but a little alcohol, but enough to tell you that it is there. The finish is medium and a little bitter reminding me of charred wood, perhaps from the charred oak bourbon barrels in which the rum is aged. The other rum I’m reminded of here is Old Monk, but this one is better. A similar darkness laced with fruit and spice, but in this case the blend is cleaner and there is less of the add-on spice notes than in the Monk.

Sweet, but not very sweet. According to recent sugar tests the Pampero comes out to 12g/l which is only very moderately sugared.

Would I buy this rum again? I’ve been through many bottles already and it has remained a consistent rum for me unlike some others which I loved at first and then didn’t. The price is getting up there though. Was around $40 when I first bought it years ago, but now getting into the $45+ range and so competing for my dollar with several other rums I love in that price range like Dos Maderas 5+5 and El Dorado 15, all three being about as expensive as I can go these days. Yes I will buy it again because it is a very good rum, but it will have to wait its turn.

Here are links to two other and more detailed reviews.

The Rum Howler Blog 

The Fat Rum Pirate

Cigar Review: E.P. Carillo La Historia


Format: 6″ x 50 (measured at 48rg) so a smallish toro.

Appearance: Dark brown smooth, slightly toothy, no veins, visible seams, medium weight, firmly packed all the way along.
Cold Smell: Dark Tobacco, barnyard, bitter chocolate, coffee. The richest cocolate cold smell I’ve experienced!
Draw/Smoke: Perfect for me from the beginning. Tightens up a little too much in the second half. Lots of smoke, very creamy.

Initial flavors: Cedar, molasses, roasted nut, coffee, and yes pepper!

Smoke output is great as is draw. Burn line stays even all the way down. I had to make one correction in the last third, and I also used my draw tool to free up a draw that got tighter in the second half of the cigar and became too tight in the last 3 inches.


I smoked the first inch before trying the rum I chose to pair with this, my Pampero Aniversario R.E. This is a rum I haven’t reviewed here yet, but I will get around to it soon as it is one of the good ones. Before the rum I was getting all the flavors above and along the way some sweet spice like cinnamon crept in as did leather and a bit of mint. After I sipped the rum the cigar took on a strong licorish with sugar flavor, wow! I rarely experience such a dramatic flavor enhancement this way, but the licorish kept coming back every time I sipped the rum until about the last third when it faded away.

As we get into the second half the flavors fade back, but never go away. The pepper seems to mellow for a while, but then roars back in the last third. Smoke output stays strong even when the draw tightens up but eventually I had to loosen it with a draw tool. I was still tasting the leather, sweet charred wood and other flavors down to the final inch. Not as strong as in the first half of the stick, but then perhaps my palate was just getting tired out. A good smoke time of 90 minutes, about right for a small toro like this. Construction was great. Clean burn all the way along to the last 3 inches where I had to make a little correction and loosen up the draw

I bought a box (10) of these some 18 months ago. Was not impressed at the beginning. I thought the EPC core line was better (and less expensive). I let half of them sit for a year and they got better, but still not worth their price (IMHO of course). Now at 18 months they are better still, sweeter. Perhaps this is their peak? I have one remaining and will smoke it sooner rather than later.

Smoke on BOTL & SOTL. Your comments always welcome.

Rodrigo Box Corojo Fino Dominican puro corona


5 x 43 Corona, my last cigar from the Rodrigo Sampler set.

Wrapper: Dominican Corojo Fino
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican

Light brown, a bit rough. Some prominent veins, visible seams, sloppy cap. Pack is good though, very firm all the way along, a rather heavy cigar, fully packed. Expect the draw to be a little tight.

Cold smell a light manure and barnyard, a little hay.. Not strong. Draw is a little tight, but not too much. Not much taste on it.

Initial light some pepper and other flavors immediately on the retrohale. An aroma like a lit fireplace, some barnyard. A little leather comes in very quickly, some roasted nut, and burning hay. As the cigar smokes these flavors take turns coming in and out. Draw stays consistent through the whole smoke, and the burn line too, not one correction throughout. Smoke output is also excellent, thick volume and creamy.

As the cigar gets into the second third there comes to be a little brown sugar, cedar, and some sweet spice. Burn stays perfect, draw consistent. Pepper stays consistent with other flavors coming and going. As compared to the last cigar, the Habana Dominican Puro, the sour note here is very faint, that’s good. As a faint note it adds complexity to the rest. I don’t like that flavor to dominate. At the last third the cigar is still sweet, still producing lots of creamy smoke. Perfect burn line and draw never changes. There is a little crack at the foot of the wrapper, but the cigar gets by that without any help from me. Some cracking around the head too as I get into the last few inches, but the wapper never really comes apart and continues to burn perfectly. Flavor and mild sweetness fade as the cigar gets down to the last inch, but it never completely goes away. I still taste some sweet mint. The pepper fades at the top of the third but then comes back at the end. Not a lot of transitions here, but complex well balanced flavors all the way along. Not strong flavor, but enough to be noticible.

Pairing this time was again coffee. I’m going to do more of my formal reviews with coffee. Coffee works with every cigar and perhaps the results will be more consistent.

A medium strength smoke all the way along until the last couple inches where it creeps up toward medium-full. Like all the other cigars in this sampler this is a slow smoker. I don’t smoke too many coronas that last an hour and 25 minutes. Another flavorful and superbly constructed cigar from George Rodriguez!

Why Free Will?


Let’s begin with physics. I love physics! The mechanisms underlying the physical universe in which we live are fascinating to me. What most strikes me about these mechanisms is that they are purposeless. Underneath the deterministic behavior of macro-physics (expressed today in classical Newtonian Mechanics, electro-magnetic field theory, and both special and general relativity) there is the quantum realm in which a true randomness replaces determinism. This is important. Randomness becomes determinism as quantum phenomena emerge into the classical. Neither exhibits any evidence of purpose in its mechanism.

Authors note: Since writing this essay I have come to learn and understand that quantum phenomena are not random, but indeterminate. The difference is technical and has to do with there being a definite and determined statistical distribution of quantum outcomes. The outcome is NOT determined, but the distribution of outcomes is. That’s indeterminate! The argument in the rest of this essay does not, however, depend on this difference.

If there is any evidence for the existence of God it does not come from physics. Oh we can observe the universe, note its fantastic propensity for delicate structure from strings of galaxies to the operations of the living cell, recognize beauty in it all, and suppose that all of this was brought to be in a purposeful way by a God having some purposeful end in view. As it turns out, this association might be true and not interfere with the progressive discovery, by physics, of purposeless mechanism. We attribute to God the power to paint his purposes on the canvas of purposeless mechanism. But when we get down to the physics of it, we discover not that God couldn’t do this, but that God’s hypothetical purposes are not needed to explain the effect. Gravity, heat, and the values of the physical constants together can get the job done. Of course that these things got this particular job done (including life and what has followed from it), and not some other less amazing result, was simply an accident as far as physics is concerned. But that’s ok. Physics’ job is to uncover the mechanisms, not to pronounce upon their justification in a wider context.

The evidence for God’s existence, if it comes from anywhere, has to come from consciousness, the fact of a libertarian free will (at least in persons), and the detection of values – truth, beauty, and goodness. All of this is discussed in far more detail in two of my books (published in Amazon Kindle format), “Why This Universe: God, Cosmology, Consciousness, and Free Will” (2014) and “God, Causal Closure, and Free Will” (2016). I’m not going to reprise those arguments here. Let’s assume that what I take to be “evidence of God’s existence” really is the evidence we need, at least provisionally, to accept God’s reality. The question I want to address is what the combination of a purposeless physical and libertarian free will accomplishes and how it helps to answer the question, why this universe? Why are free will and purposeless mechanism juxtaposed?

The Nature of Free Will

Free will comes down to our capacity to initiate novel chains of causation in the physical. Chains whose beginning cannot be attributed to an infinite regress of physical causes. The higher animals also have something of this power, but human-initiated causal chains, are novel in a much stronger way than chains initiated by animals. If a lioness hunts and kills a zebra for food, feeding parts of the carcass to her cubs, there are causal chains precipitated from those events, chains that would be absent if the lioness misses the zebra(or chooses to leave it be), while other causal chains would ensue – perhaps her cubs would starve.

Animals can manipulate purposeless physical mechanism to initiate different futures by manipulating pre-existing agents and processes. In doing this, they introduce purpose into universe process. For animals, such purpose is limited to manipulating what already exists. The zebra already exists when the lioness sees it. She can leave it alone or hunt it. If she hunts it, she can succeed or fail. The result is a still-living zebra, a dead zebra, or a tired (but still living) zebra. None of these things would be new in the world.

Humans can also manipulate existing objects and processes in this way, but we can do something animals cannot. We can create genuinely unique objects and processes. These begin with ordinary pre-existing things, but we are capable of assembling such things into new things that did not exist before. Human initiated causal chains not only rearrange what existed prior, but from that re-arrangement build up new things whose effect on the world is entirely novel, emergent, an effect that never existed prior to the object (or process’s) creation.

Human purpose imposes an entirely new level of order on deterministic physics, an order that did not exist prior to its imposition. In Aristotelian terms, mind, including animal mind, adds “final and formal cause” to the universe.  But in the animal case, both are restricted to the biological demands of the organism. Human mind, our capacity to create new realities, novel orders on top of deterministic mechanism, is novel in itself. We create much that is but tangential or has nothing whatsoever to do with our immediate biological requirements. Human volitional choosing incorporates both abstract time and [sometimes] the values into its purposes. Something no animal can do.

Let’s imagine an analogy. God is a master artist, and we are his beginner student. The master can work in any medium, any paint, on any surface, sculpt in stone, clay, or bronze, compose and play magnificent music in any style, write masterpieces of literature, write, produce, and act in dramatic work. One might notice right away, that art is in fact one of the channels through which humans use free will to create what is new, but here the art analogy stands for novel creation in general. As beginning students of our master, we are given only one medium on which to create, a canvas which happens, in our case, to be a purposeless physics. Further we are given only one physical instrument with which to create, that being our bodies. It’s pretty obvious how the analogy goes. We impose purposeful order, the purposes being chosen by ourselves (freely) on the canvas we are given, the physical universe, with the only instrument we have, our bodies – and other instruments that we create using them.

But what purpose are we to impose? What are we to create on the canvas that surrounds us? We began by creating simple tools, stone axes, and clothing. A million years later and we have reached atomic bombs, aircraft, computers, vast scientific instruments, medicines, and more. Much of what we have created has, over all, benefited human life on Earth, or at least some portion of it. Much of course has brought also misery on a scale not imagined by our stone-ax-wielding ancestors. Here is where the values come back into this picture. In the theistic view, values, truth, beauty, and goodness, are not invented in human minds, but detected by them. They are the compass, a suggestion from the master (keeping to the art analogy) as it were, for what sorts of novelty we are supposed to create. But for free will to be genuinely free, the master can suggest but not dictate the creation.

Why not? Surely many masters dictate to beginning students. Here I have to leave my teacher-student analogy. In our real case, in the real world, the decision as concerns what to create lies only and exclusively in our will. Why should that be? Given that this can, and has, resulted in much misery throughout human history. Couldn’t God have arranged everything so that we were free in just about anything except as concerns the kinds of choices; choices that initiate causal chains having direct and deleterious impact on other human beings? I have to suppose he could have so arranged things, but the restriction must have an impact on the intended outcome (and God would know exactly what the difference would be) such that it wouldn’t work out to be what God intends.

How can we begin to say what God intends? In fact though, supposing God to be both infinite and [infinitely] good, allows us to say something at least of what must be true of what God wants. It must be the most repleat possible manifestation, in the physical, of God’s values, pointers to his intentions, which for now we know only as our dim detection of truth, beauty, and goodness. This idea is expressed by the phrase “best possible universe”. Whatever else he might want, God must want the “best possible universe” that can be made. Clearly this is not the case now, at least not on Earth. This place is literally hell, tormented existence, for billions of people alive to day, and countless more who have come and gone since human history began. If we can imagine better, so can God.

Of course we do not know the status of life on other worlds, but a generally inhabited universe is easily supported by theism. More importantly, even as concerns this world, time must be factored into the eventual emergence of “best possible universe”. Since “God’s will” must be the highest truth, beauty, and goodness, a “best possible universe” emerges in time when every creature freely chooses to do that will to the best of its ability at any given stage of that creature’s life. Doing God’s will means doing that which increases the value content of the world’s particulars.

Human beings (value-discriminating personalized minds on this and other worlds), must make this choice of their own free will. They must choose purposes and create novel reality based on what they perceive to be alignment with the values! God cannot create a logical contradiction. He cannot make a square circle. Nor does God do anything purposelessly. If the best possible universe could be brought about without free will and its attendant potential problems (evil), God would have done that.

What God must want (at least. among other things) is that world resulting from that choice when the choice is utterly free and made by everyone. Apparently, those people will live in the best possible universe and it will be better, even than a universe that evolves through the same amount of time but in which humans were not free as concerns value entangled choices.

So there we’ve got the whole thing sort of summed up. To make the “best possible universe” human beings, all of them and for all future time, must (and will eventually) choose to align themselves with the values, with truth, beauty, and goodness, and all of that happens to come out to God’s will (metaphysically) and love in human experience. God could, by himself, have created a fantastic universe. But what seems to be the case is that an even better universe can (and will) come from a partnership between God and creatures who detect values and freely choose to incorporate what they detect in the causal chains they initiate. This cannot happen unless human beings are actually free to make those kinds of decisions. That means they are free not to make them, and that, in turn, leads away from the best possible universe, at least temporarily. I will return to this last point below.

The Relation between Free Will and Values

I want to say something more here about values, in particular how and why they figure in this process of human instantiation (literally making-an-instance-of) of God’s will. Three things are traditionally taken to be values as such; truth, beauty, and goodness (see “What are Truth, Beauty, and Goodness”). Separately, they are the root concepts of three major branches in philosophy, epistemology, aesthetics, and ethics respectively. Within these separate domains there are outcomes or instantiations within the world of values, and these outcomes are taken to be “of value” because they do in some sense embody one or more of the core values. A true proposition is “of value” because it instantiates truth, fairness is “of value” because it embodies goodness. Beautiful things are “of value” because they are beautiful, etc. Truth is value in the intellectual domain, beauty is value represented in physical, while goodness is the value of personal choice, the value of interpersonal relationships.

Taken together, all the values raise the same metaphysical question: from whence do they come? In rejecting any theological metaphysics, most philosophers assert one or another version of human invention of values. Phenomenally, they are entirely subjective although it might turn out, as we share much of our phenomenology, that they come out roughly the same in most persons. Their subjectivity is under normal circumstances constrained to a range. Your notion beauty might be different than mine, but it is rare that I would find beautiful what you find repulsively ugly. Truth we normally take to be somewhat more objective, less tolerant of subjective interpretation, while our sense of goodness falls somewhere in between beauty and truth. This view seems to explain how it is that while most persons seem to have some shared sense of values, many do not. Not only are there persons who perceive values in almost exclusive terms, there are those who do not appear to respond to them at all.

Importantly however, as much as philosophers have tried to ground “objectivity of value” on our shared biological experience, such grounding offers no reason why any one individual should pay attention to values. If on the whole the universe is purposeless, its only purpose being our purposes, who is to say that your purpose, to love others, is any more right than my purpose, to make all people my slaves? You might argue that more people will come our happier given your purpose. I might even concede your point but note that if values are invented by us, in the end, the happiness of the many is not any more intrinsically valuable than the satisfaction I derive from being slave-master of all. As concerns the purposeless universe, from my viewpoint, neither outcome is intrinsically to be preferred. If values are metaphysically subjective, the happiness of others can be justifiably irrelevant to me.

As already noted, in the theistic view values are not invented they are detected. They are extrinsic to us, a signal as it were from God, detected by human (and not animal) minds. Now as it might happen, minds are not equally sensitive to this signal, sometimes altogether, and sometimes separately. This explains some of the variation we have as concerns them, but more importantly, however well we perceive them, we are free to ignore them and this explains the rest. Of course our detection capability is imperfect as is our capacity to effect what we detect on the universal canvas. Importantly, value’s metaphysical objectivity provides the reason why any given individual should pay attention. Your purpose to love is in alignment with God’s will, while my purpose, to make slaves of all, is antithetical to it! “Knowing the end from the beginning”, God’s will must eventually come to pass. Your free will choices are dedicated to assisting in the bringing about of that end, precisely the use God (apparently) foresees will result in the best possible universe! My will, by contrast cannot possibly contribute to that inevitable outcome. It must be, that while I might appear to gain something for a time, that which is gained has no intrinsic value. It incorporates nothing of truth, beauty, or goodness. This has consequences not only for others made miserable, but for me. I will deal with some of these issues in a future essay.

There is another important property of our relation with values. Our value-entangled free will choices are the only choices about which we are absolutely free. As such, they are the crucial link in the chain of process that (apparently) brings God’s will into the world; evolving purposeless mechanism into the best possible universe. All our other non-value related choices, while yet free, are hemmed in, constrained by what we can do physically with our tools. Only as concerns value-laden choices are we free in an unconstrained sense. It is with respect to this freedom that we become agents of the connection between God’s will and the physical universe. True our capacity to instantiate value in the physical is limited by all the constraints that limit our other choices. We can act only with our bodies and the tools created with them. But the choice to attempt that instantiation (or to refuse to do so), however imperfectly, is radically open.

The best possible universe not only requires freedom, it requires radical freedom. Given that we are otherwise constrained to the physical, it is only with respect to value-entanglement that we are radically free. It isn’t merely through choice that we incorporate God’s will into the world, it is specifically through choosing to instantiate the values! The values are the link that connects God’s will and purposeless mechanism with human freedom. It is by following their compass that human choices remake the world over into God’s image of what must be the best possible world.

None of the foregoing is meant to suggest that the process of human partnering with God in the making of the best possible universe is straight forward. Although we are radically free with regard to attempting some mapping (instantiation) of value as we perceive it into the physical world, the process of carrying out that decision depends on our skills utilizing the same tools, starting with our bodies, that we employ in carrying out any other action-demanding decision we make. As concerns the individual’s relationship to God it is said that only the motive of the agent is important. An omniscient God knows us each most intimately, and would be an unfailing discerner of motive. The consequences to the individual of such choosing can be the subject of another essay, but I note that as with many kinds of physical action, practice contributes to skill.

As concerns the world however, that is as concerns the effect of some individual act on the world, much depends on both the skill of the actor in effecting the action, and also on the state of the world (including other actors) in which the action is set. Although this last is outside the control of the actor the two arenas do interact. A part of what constitutes skill with respect to a particular act at a particular time takes the state of the world into account up to some limit of which the actor is capable. I’ve already noted that we do not detect value perfectly. As some people have better eyesight than others, some are better value detectors. Detection capacity contributes to an individual’s skill as concerns value instantiation, but it is the state of the world that underlies the apparent relativity of values as they manifest in the world.

Any attempt at value instantiation that impacts more than one or a few near-by persons comes to interact with a wider milieu of states and personal actions that affect its outcome. On a crowded world, vastly different economic, social, political, and geographic circumstances, along with their specific outworking as concerns any particular individual, guarantees that no attempt to do good, aver truth, or enhance beauty will have straight forward and universally beneficial effects. This can be true even as concerns two individuals! If I give some money to two hungry people on the street one might buy alcohol while the other buys needed food. True I might have been more skillful in my choice of action, perhaps bringing food instead of giving money, but even in this case I have no way of knowing (unless I subsequently follow these individuals) how my meager attempt at bringing some goodness into the world plays out.

On larger scales the problem becomes more severe. Ethiopia wants to dam the headwaters of the Blue Nile, electrifying parts of the country for the first time, bringing economic opportunity to millions. But if the dam is built, the flow of the Nile will be much reduced and those nearer the mouth, in Egypt, will loose economic opportunity and their food supply as the river level falls. These kinds of problems are playing out all over our world, and anything the world community agrees to do as concerns these things invariably helps some and harms others. This would remain true even if the community’s motives were purely moral. As it happens, many more motives are typically involved.

The values are not a formula for success in building the best possible universe. They are a compass pointing in a direction but otherwise incapable of yielding specific measures having desired outcomes. Those measures, their implementation and adjustment as one comes to know their outcomes, is our collective task. The compass is important however, and for reasons noted above recognizing its objectivity is also important. But all of that only gets us to justifying the demand for action and that the action be motivated by a desire to benefit those affected. The rest, the creativity, will (personal, economic, and political), and specific action to take are all entirely up to us. Not only is it our mission (at least as concerns God’s intent) to bring values into the world we must learn progressively how to do it! Part of that learning experience involves comparing outcomes of acts back to the compass! But this would make no sense, it would not be guaranteed, or even likely to work, if the compass were not objective.

Theodicy: Free Will and Evil

I have covered this subject in great detail in my first and third book. Here I can only summarize it all. Philosophers divide this problem into two parts, natural and human-caused evil. Natural evil is an oxymoron. The universe God needed includes physical events (for example stars exploding, earthquakes, and naturally-evolved diseases, that harm (or can harm) human beings. Death by gamma ray burst, earthquake, or disease are all bad for us, but they are no more technically evil than are the natural events that give rise to them. No one would assert that an exploding star is morally culpable.

Philosophers also accuse God of being evil for just this reason. Why would he create a universe in which such processes harmed human beings, or for that matter any sentient beings? Consider that the meteorite that ended the dinosaurs was very bad for them, but without those animals disappearing from the face of the earth we likely would not have evolved. The universe God needed, where an animal capable of perceiving value and freely choosing to instantiate it, who evolved through purposeless physical mechanism, could not function if the same mechanism that gave rise to that animal could not, sometimes, also destroy it. The “accidents of time” are not as such evil. An earthquake that kills people is no more evil than an earthquake that doesn’t, either because people have learned to mitigate its effects (earthquake-proof buildings) or because no people happened to live where it occurs. Either way, it is just an earthquake. Remember also that there are other aspects to this theology, personal-survival of death (see “What is the Soul”), but lets move on.

Besides natural evil, human beings also cause harm to other sentient beings, humans included. Philosophers call all of this evil, but they fail of a crucial distinction here. Humans cause harm in two ways. One is by making mistakes. We make decisions and perform actions, both moral and amoral,  that cause harm to others because we do not have a full understanding of the future consequences of our actions. It is not our intent that these actions subsequently cause harm, but they do. Mistakes are not evil, they are just errors.

But there is another category. Human beings can deliberately and freely choose to do that which they know is a mistake, to do deliberately something that is antithetical to the values. These actions are true evil. It is through error, deliberately and knowingly chosen, that evil enters the world. It is for this reason that free will is so intimately related to both the building-in-partnership-with-God the best possible universe, and to the degradation of any progress made in that direction, by the willful choice to contravene it. That choice is evil.

My view has been criticized on the grounds that “death is death” whether from earthquake, some error, or evil. This of course is true, but not to the point. Theology coheres together as a piece or not at all. Death from any source is temporary (see above link on the soul). What is important about the difference is that with evil human will is being freely (willfully) deployed in opposition to the direction of value compass. Because free will is so deployed there are consequences in addition to whatever might have stemmed from the action had it been purely a mistake.

Besides those impinging, psychologically and spiritually, on the person who commits evil, the consequences of evil are sociological. They impinge on human life in ways that error alone does not. They are, for example recursively reinforcing (one evil act leads to others by the same agent and others) where error is recursively-correcting. Agents, including the agent committing the error, tend to work toward mitigating the negative effects of a mistake once they are known. Errors serve to teach. Evil can also serve to teach, but typically those who commit it resist such teaching and it is left to others, using their free will, to mitigate its effects.

To make the [future] “best possible universe” God juxtaposed free will and purposeless mechanism in a physical universe capable of evolving value-discriminating mind. He could not do this without allowing that sometimes the physical mechanisms destroy the very minds (and bodies) that evolve from them. In the same way, he had to allow that free will might, if it was really free, be deployed in direct opposition to the universe plan.

The plan must eventually come to pass and be completed. That means the consequences of evil can only be temporary albeit from our viewpoint can extend in time over multiple human generations; all a blink-in-the-eye from God’s viewpoint. As concerns our agency, God must permit much more than he himself wills if free will is to be genuinely free.

Rodrigo Box Cigar Review: Habana Dominican Puro Corona Gorda


Wrapper, Binder, Filler, all Dominican. No further details.

5.75″ x 46 Corona Gorda

Appearance is rough. Several prominent veins, visible seams, dark brown, toothy wrapper. Pack is firm. This is a heavier and more fully packed cigar than the others. Smell again is light, tobacco, a little barnyard. Draw is much tighter than any of the other cigars in this collection. A little over-tight for my taste, but some people like it this way.

On initial light there is only a little pepper, some vegetal or meaty note. I’ve tasted this before, something characteristic of Dominican cigars that I never taste in Nicaraguan smokes, something sour on the back of the tongue with a sensation not unlike red pepper. Some people go after this taste and there are cigars that have even more of it. But this sourness stays distinctively up-front throughout the smoke and it isn’t something I particularly care for. I didn’t get any of this note in the first three cigars from this sampler.

Construction stays good. I had to make a few minor corrections to the burn. The draw is too tight for me, but it stays consistent. Smoke volume is not as good as the other sticks in this sampler, but this improved about half way down the smoke. It helps to have a draw tool as these often improve smoke volume even when you don’t need them for the draw itself.

Other flavors in the first third include some sweet notes, something like mint, and as the cigar progresses, leather, a sweet burning wood and roasted vegetables. But over it all is still that sour note on the tongue. Pepper stays mild and consistent until the last third where it begins to come up strongly. The cigar also goes from the medium to the medium-full range in strength. Unusually, there is less pepper on the retrohale and more sweetness than on the tongue until the cigar gets into its final few inches. Interestingly, the retrohale has none of the sourness I sense in my mouth.

As the cigar gets into the last few inches the draw opens up a bit, smoke volume improves. The flavors remain, especially leather and the sweet note of burning wood, but they all dial back. Pepper comes up on both the tongue and in the retrohale, but behind it all remains that sour note consistent throughout. I got down to almost the last inch. There is still flavor in the cigar, especially if you like what comes across to me as that sourness. There is lots more pepper now in the retrohale. Strength picks up. I can feel the cigar now and if I smoke much more it would make me dizzy. Another slow smoker, this stick went 1 hr. 25 minutes!

Rodrigo Box Cigar Review: San Andres Mexico Robusto


Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Binder: Indonesian Sumatra
Filler: Dominican

My third cigar from the Rodrigo Box now getting into those vitolas I like. This one a beautiful dark 5″ x 50 classic robusto. The wrapper is dark, a little oily, with a few prominent veins. Cold smell is very mild like the other two sticks in the collection. A little manure and barnyard, tobacco. Construction seems good. No soft spots, nicely packed. Cutting it gives a perfect draw with just a little resistance.

On lighting you get a lot of pepper and a huge waft of creamy smoke. Like the other two cigars so far, the construction stays perfect all the way to the last inch. No burn corrections, thick creamy smoke, perfect draw all the way. This says a lot about the factory making George’s cigars. The blends might come out good, bad, or in between, but every one of these has exhibited perfect construction.

The pepper on this one is bright and stays that way throughout the cigar. It doesn’t drop out or get stronger as it goes, but it’s always there and out front. In the first third I also get some baking spice (like cinnamon), leather, balsa wood, burning hickory, and some nutty flavors. Somewhere in the second third the sweet overtones fade back and I get hay and other barnyard notes. The wood changes a bit to a cedar. Pepper stays forward. As the second third ends I get a little spearment and nut. Most of the sweetness is gone (perhaps covered up by the pepper) but other flavors keep coming and going. In the last third all the flavors fade back while the pepper remains always.

But the flavors never completely disappear. As I finish the cigar there is still a little flavor in the last 2 inches, even down to 1 inch where I let it go. Total smoke time was one hour and ten minutes. This is a mild cigar to begin with and turns medium as it smokes down. All in all a very good experience, especially as concerns smoke production and other construction elements. The flavors are not as rich, sweet, and distinct as the cigar in the prior (Sumatra Ecuador Piramide) review, but they were certainly present throughout.

Pairing this time was a Costa Rican coffee. Coffee works with all cigars!

Another good cigar from the Rodrigo Box. This one not quite as good as the Piramide, but much better then the Arapicara toro. More to come…

Rodrigo Box Cigar Review: Sumatra Ecuador Piramide


Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican

Format a perfecto variation, 6″ x 50 at the foot but tapering smoothly to about 44 just before the perfecto-style cap. George tells me this shape is called a Piramide, a very interesting looking cigar. There is a visible network of very fine veins giving the wrapper a distinctively translucent look. Even a few more prominent veins in the wrapper seemed there for artistic effect. Evenly packed, no soft spots. Smell was vey light, tobacco and a little barnyard. Salty to taste. Perfect cold draw and some pepper in the wrapper itself.

Initial light had a little pepper and salt, but within the first quarter inch I began to get hits of sweet wood, leather, something like roast pecan, and sugared peppermint. Draw is perfect, no corrections in the first third, in fact this stick burned perfectly down to the last inch before I had to make a slight correction. Flavors stayed in too! In the second third something like cinnamon makes an appearance, and the sweet sugars become brown sugars. The retrohale is spicy with pepper but also leather, and burnt sugar all very well balanced throughout the first half. Smoke output all the way along has been fantastic. Somewhere in the second half something like roast portabela mushroom comes up once in a while. The brown-burnt-sugar never leaves the cigar, and the pepperment turns warmer into wintergreen! Pepper also comes up steadily in the second half. At the end the pepper dominates everything. The cigar has been medium in strength all the way along until it kicks up a bit in the last third. Flavor and creamy smoke stay with the cigar down to the last inch and beyond. At 1 hour 30 mins., I called it quits. The cigar still had a little flavor but I’d had enough pepper at that point. Nice cigar! Perfect construction, slow even burn, tons of smoke, and lots of flavors, even noticible transitions. I have 3 more blends to try, but I’d say George hit the nail on the head with this one.

What about the rum? I did pair this, both with water (separate) and Mocambo 20, a very dark rum reviewed by me at this link. I made sure to smoke the first half inch or so without sipping any rum, so all those cigar flavors were there for me from the beginning. The rum did make a difference. A hit of the rum brought out deeper burnt-brown-sugar notes in the cigar. I also made sure that I had a little water and a quarter inch of cigar (at least) between sips. These two make a good pair actually, but the cigar’s richness stood out on its own too. I hope George will put this blend into production! It’s really good!

Rodrigo Box Cigar Review: Arapiraca Ecuador Claro


Vitola: 6″ x 52 toro
Wrapper: Arapiraca Ecuador Claro

The largest cigar in the Rodrigo Box, a vitola I do not smoke very often. But it was a nice day out on the porch and there was nowhere in particular I had to be so I allowed myself the luxury of a very long smoke.

From the picture you can see the cigar is a light brown. I can’t find any seams in the wrapper and there are but a few small veins. The pack is very even and firm. Not a heavy cigar for its size but not a lightweight either. The cold smell is a mild grass and barnyard, neither very strong. The wrapper tastes distinctly salty. A straight cut revealed a very open draw, a little too open for some of my friends, but fine for me if the cigar doesn’t smoke too fast. As I got into the second half of the stick, the draw tightened just slightly, perfect!

On light there is a little pepper, but it isn’t at all a peppery cigar until the last third. The initial flavors are sweet, wood, leather, and flowers, but all very faint. Smoke output is great. As the cigar progresses other flavors come into it. I get something like wintergreen, and maybe cinnamon along with a light brown sugar. Pepper is minimal, but the flavors are not at all prominent. Mostly I get thick creamy smoke with only a light touch of flavors. I’m pairing this with English Harbour rum at the moment my lightest rum which I hoped would go with the lightness of the smoke. It does OK, the rum brings out a little more leather in the smoke. In the first third the cigar is on the mild side of medium. As I get into the second half of this, the flavors are all still there but they never become prominent, always just hints. Burn line stays straight, and the cigar smokes very slowly.

As I get into the last third the pepper comes up a bit but the other flavors fade back. They pop in once in a while, but mostly its smoke though still creamy, thick, and cool. This is a long smoking cigar. I had to let it go at about an inch and a half as I just wasn’t getting any more flavors, but that was an hour and forty five minutes after I started. The cigar never rises above about medium in strength, but it’s bigger than what I normally smoke and I was a tad dizzy at the end.

All in all a superbly constructed cigar with a distinct sweetness to it especially in the first half but always mildly in the background.

The Rodrigo Box


George Rodrigo of Rodrigo Cigars has released a sampler box, 5 cigars of his own blend. George was kind enough to send me one of these samplers and I’m going to review them one by one here. When all 5 are finished, I will link the separate reviews into this post.

Alas none of these cigars is for sale! George sent these samplers out to his customers for feedback. He tells me he will look into producing one or two that his customers like best.

Here are the reviews. Along with the link I’m going to put my bottom line!

  1. Arapiraca Ecuador Claro (not very good).
  2. Sumatra Ecuador Piramide (fantastic!!!)
  3. San Andreas Mexican Robusto (good but not fantastic)
  4. Habana, Dominican Puro (lots of Dominican twang if you like it)
  5. Corojo Fino, Dominican Puro (good but not fantastic)

That’s it, I have completed the Rodrigo Box! 4 out of 5 cigars had perfect construction! All of them were slow smokers lasting a long time. A great experience. Appreciate George sending these to me.