Double Cigar Review: Emanuel Cigars “Classic Premium” and “Hemingway”

Double Cigar Review: Emanuel Cigars “Classic Premium” and “Hemingway”

I met an agent for Emanuel Cigars online. Her company is HERE. It’s a bit difficult to find your way to the cigar vitola and price list, but if you contact her she will send you a pdf of the list with prices. After looking over their product (see links above), I ended up buying two each of two of their cigars. You will notice two things about their product. First they have a lot of cigars, and second each cigar comes in four or five vitolas! What I purchased was their “Classic Premium” Petit Corona ($8) and the “Hemingway” Petit Corona ($10). These are not inexpensive cigars.

At this link you will find some more information about the company and their tobacco. The owner, Nelson Medina is I presume the blender, and he seems to know what he is doing. Both of these cigars were very flavorful. All Emanuel Cigars seem to be Dominican puros and come exclusively from farms in the North of the Dominican Republic; a place called the Cibao Valley. There is nothing on the website that says anything specific about the wrapper, binder, and filler. It seems not to be written for the aficionado who expects at least that much. So how do they smoke?

Classic Premium

Vitola: Petit Corona 5 x 42 ($8 retail)
Wrapper/binder/filler: Dominican

Cold smell: Grass, flowers, faint barnyard, sweet
Cold draw/taste: Black tea, some vegetal mushroom combined with a flower sweetness

Construction: Evenly packed if a little light. The wrapper a little rough, medium brown. After cutting draw was excellent throughout. Both of the sample cigars canoe a bit at the beginning, but a single correction takes care of it. Smoke output is nice and thick. Stays that way throughout the smoke. Both samples required a little correction here and there but I give them an “A” for construction on this one.

Strength: Mild to medium all the way through. This would be a good cigar for a casual smoke and for beginners. Will not overwhelm.

Flavor: Leather, flowers, warm sweet woodiness, nutty. No pepper to speak of on the taste until near the end, but there is some on the retrohale. The flavors include a certain meaty sourness that I find a lot in Dominican tobaccos. I don’t like it at all when it dominates the flavor, but here it mingles with enough sweetness, almost raw-sugar like, that it works. All the various flavors, even a cinnamon-like warm spice come and go throughout. The stick keeps its flavors until the nub. All good. Smoke time was about 50 minutes, about right for a small stick.

I think Emanuel has a winner here depending on what you think of that meaty note that pops in on every other puff. I’m not a big fan, but there are smokers who are attracted to that very flavor. There is a reason, after all, the Dominican Republic sells a lot of cigars.

Hemmingway

Vitola: Petit Corona Figurado 4.5 x 42 ($10 retail)
Wrapper/binder/filler: Dominican

Cold smell: Manure, black tea, barnyard, grass
Cold draw/taste: Pepper on the wrapper, barnyard

Construction: OK, figurados are harder to roll than parejos. This tiny one (both samples I smoked) was way too tight. The first was almost plugged. I had to use a draw tool, something tough to do on such a small cigar. The second had a better draw, but was still pretty tight all the way along by my standards. On both of these I had to cut off the little foot extension to get it lit. For what it’s worth, the wrapper, a dark brown, was smoothly applied, pack was even.

Once it got going I had to fight the first one all the way along. The second smoked better requiring only a little correction here and there. Smoke output was fine once fully lit, but had to pull at these a lot more to get that smoke. I can only give Emanuel a “B” for construction — well wrapped, even pack, way too hard to draw. I like figurados, but if you don’t do them right it doesn’t do any good.

Strength: Medium

Flavor: Again Mr. Medina seems to know what he is doing with tobaccos. There were sweet woods here, brown sugar, roasted nut, and even something like candied fruit in here. There is also that Dominican sourness I don’t particularly like, but as with the other cigar, it melds pretty well with everything else here alternating with sugary sweetness and diminishing toward the end of the cigar. Lots of flavors melding on the retrohale and pepper too. Again a very flavorful cigar if a little bit of a fight to smoke.

The first of these smoked only 37 minutes probably because I had to correct it a lot. The second was better, smoked straighter with but a little correction and lasted 47 minutes. For $10 I think these need a little more work.

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All in all, good flavors in both of these smokes especially if you like that “Dominican twang” as some have called it. Use the links above if you want to check out the company and try their smokes.

Cigar Review: My Father le Bijou

Cigar Review: My Father le Bijou

I haven’t posted a cigar review in a while. I am smoking a few sticks not reviewed yet and there are literally dozens, probably hundreds of reviews of this cigar. So why am I reviewing a 10 year old cigar (the le Bijou debuted in 2009) that I’ve been smoking since 2010? The answer is that this cigar illustrates some of the subtlety in the cigar smoking hobby. Some tastes change, some do not.

My taste in rums has changed entirely in the last few years. Rums I loved as little as 3 years ago are now vanished from my collection. There are only 2 rums, El Dorado 15 and Dos Maderas (when I can find it) I drank in years past that I would even consider now. But cigars are another story. Sure my taste has changed. There are dozens of cigars I smoked back in 2010, even down to 2015 that I no longer buy. Some because they have become too expensive, but also many that I enjoyed, even a few boxes worth, and then stopped buying because they weren’t interesting any longer.

Yet unlike the rums, there are quite a few cigars I enjoyed back in 2010 that I still smoke today, or would if most of them had not become so much more expensive. The le Bijou is one of those I still like and while its price has gone up in 9 years, it hasn’t yet priced itself out of my budget.

The le Bijou is released in some eight or more vitolas. Five of them (7 x 50 Churchill, 6 x 52 toro, 4.5 x 50 Petit robusto, 6 1/8 x 52 torpedo, 5 5/8 x 55 robusto grande) are regular production, and three (at least) were special releases made for specific retail outlets (a lonsdale [6.5 x 42], corona gorda [5.5 x 54], and short Churchill [6.5 x 48]), released with varying wrappers. Of all these vitolas, I have smoked only one, this petit robusto! The reason? For one I shy away from larger vitolas generally, and second, all of the others are more expensive. The blend is Nicaraguan puro. Little is said about the specifics of filler and binder but the wrapper is supposed to be a Habano Oscuro which Halfwheel also calls “Pele del Oro”. This is rather confusing so I quote from the HALFWHEEL REVIEW (linked):

“The wrapper on the Le Bijou 1922 was particularly notable as it is known as pelo de oro, or golden hair, which is considered to be the father of the modern corojo wrapper. TobacconistUniversity.org explains that the name references a Cuban varietal that was popular in the early and middle 20th centuries but fell out of favor due to its susceptibility to disease. It was created by combining pelo de oro and Sumatran tobaccos and is regarded as being strong, flavorful and sweet”.

I do not find “Habano Oscuro” and “Pele del Oro” connected anywhere else.. Which is it really?

Wrapper: Habano Oscuro (??)
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraquan

My vitola: 4.5″ x 50 Petit Robusto

Cold Aroma: Manure and barnyard. Rich and heady.
Cold Draw: Same notes as the cold aroma and a little leather

Construction: Always well made, the cigar is of medium weight for its size. Evenly packed, but not dense. With a simple straight cut the draw is always good. When smoked likewise, the smoke is rich and plentiful, though see below. The burn stays pretty even most of the time though I have smoked a few hundred of these and sometimes they do get a little wonky and require correction. These smoke pretty slowly. Takes about an hour to get down to the last inch of it.

Flavors: I have smoked many cigars made by My Father. Most are rich in flavors. The newer “La Opulencia” (see Review) is rich and sweet, but not this one. The le Bijou seems more like an A.J. Fernandez blend. Flavors of hay, flowers, black tea, barnyard, the barest hint of leather, perhaps an occasional hint of roasted nut. All of these flitter in and out of a general flavor of tobacco and mild pepper. The flavors first appear after the cigar is smoked for a few minutes. They come and go as the cigar progresses and do not change very much. They are never more than light hints at what should be a much richer cigar from a company like My Father. While the flavors here follow the cold aroma, that aroma is richer than anything in the flavor of the smoke. The flavors are good, even distinct, but they seem barely there.

My biggest gripe about this cigar is that the flavors often disappear completely in the last inch and a quarter of the stick and the smoke gets hot and flavorless no matter how slow I smoke it. An inch plus is a lot to throw away for a four-and-a-half inch stick. I can take any other My Father cigar and smoke it down to a half-inch before the flavors disappear. The flavors of the le Bijou vanish much earlier than that, though to be fair about one out of three of them remain flavorful down to about three-quarters of an inch.

This is a big disappointment in a My Father cigar. Perhaps this has something to do with how I buy these cigars. I buy boxes when there are good deals and discounts bringing the price down to $5 or so. Maybe I’m getting boxes that have sat around the warehouse a little too long and this is not one of those cigars that gets better with a lot of age? I keep telling myself not to buy these any more and then another deal comes along and I forget my own advice. This has gone on for years and I’ve probably been through a dozen or more boxes in that time. I do like the way they smoke.

Cigar Review: Last Call from AJF!

Cigar Review: Last Call from AJF!

I love it when my favorite blenders put out a low-ball product complimenting their otherwise-always high-ball line. The Illusion Rothchilds is one of those, and also Drew Estate’s Papa’s Fritas. Now we have this one from A. J. Fernandez called Last Call, rolled at Tabacalera Fernandez S.A.

For a long time now I like to vary the sweeter, darker, dry-chocolate variety of cigar flavors with something, well, more woody and less sweet. To my palate, A. J. F. usually fills that bill. I think of these as a “real cigar man’s cigar” but that’s just how it strikes me. I’m smoking a 4.75 x 48 petite robusto, one of my favorite vitolas. Let’s have a look.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

I always wish they would say more about the blend…

Construction: The wrapper is a light to medium brown. The cigar has a folded over closed foot. I like those. Self-toasting when you light it up. Only takes a little flame. Nicely done wrap and cap. Smoked, the burn line stays pretty even throughout. Even I, an inveterate corrector, rarely have to touch it. Lots of smoke, light draw, just right for me. The stick is evenly packed, but not heavy. A. J. gets an A+ for construction.

Cold Aroma: A nice rich mix of barnyard and manure mixed with leather. Heady!

Light it up and get a bit of pepper which quickly settles into the background. Burnt wood, maybe cedar, comes to mind. About a quarter inch in the cigar comes into its own. There is a nice aroma of burning leaves on the retrohale. The burnt wood becomes sweeter. I get an occasional hint of light brown sugar, fresh hay, and leather. It reminds me a lot of the A. J. F. Puro Authentico (a more expensive cigar), but not as sharp, a little more toned down in the tobacco-woody notes.

In its second half Last Call gets a little sharper, the pepper and the cedar notes come back, sweetness retreats but never disappears. I don’t think the stick ever gets past a medium in strength. Most importantly, flavors stay in the mix down to the last half inch as befits a great cigar.

I don’t think this stick is as richly apportioned as either of the last two sticks (Crowned Heads le Careme and My Father La Opulencia) reviewed but it happens to also be $2, about 30%, less expensive! In some ways, I enjoy this sort of cigar flavor as much as the richer variety. This one gets my A+ full thumbs up, especially at its price!

There are a lot of reviews of this cigar. Here is HalfWheel’s and here is one from everyone’s favorite cigar kitten Delicia.

Cigar Review: My Father La Opulencia

Cigar Review: My Father La Opulencia

Another of my recent discoveries, this one from My Father. Delicious of course. Lets have a look shall we?

Wrapper: Mexican Rosado. Never had this before that I can recall.
Binder: Dual. Does that mean there are two complete binders? They are said to be Nicaraguan Criollo and Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: This is a box press stick, the “Petite” at 4.5″ x 48. Almost identical to the Le Bijou 1922 “Petite Robusto”, at 4.5″ x 50 which is not however a box press. The wrapper is dark brown, a little rough looking and toothy. Draw is perfect, and it puts out a satisfying creamy smoke. Burn line stays pretty good requiring only a lite correction now and then. I’ve smoked three from this box and they have all smoked well. Even these little sticks will go for an hour.

Cold aroma: mild manure and barnyard, tobacco

Flavor: There is a little pepper in the beginning but also caramalzed onion, leather, roasted pepper, and cedar. As the cigar smokes the pepper comes up slowly. In the second half the vegetables fade a bit and the chared wood and maybe coffee comes forward. Strength is medium all the way along. The cigar is distinctly sweeter and a little richer than the le Bijou, a little less sharp. Flavors stay with it down to the nub as befits a My Father cigar. Call this one a smoothed up le Bijou, a very satisfying smoke. Another hit, “A+” for this one over-all.

Cigar Review: Crowned Heads “le Careme”

Cigar Review: Crowned Heads “le Careme”

I stumbled on new (to me) and very good cigars at some reasonable prices. Some of these I’ve known but never bought as their prices are normally over my limit. But a deal is a deal and I couldn’t let them pass. These include the “T” which I have already reviewed here, and a couple of Punch sticks (the Elite and Bareknuckle) which are never very expensive but came to me at a very low price. Also the Surrogates “Cracker Crumbs” which I think is pretty good. Another discovery, AJ Fernandez’s “Last Call” (I love AJF’s blends), like the Surrogates, pretty darned good for $4.25/stick, and finally, the two best of all, My Father’s “La Opulencia”, and for this review, the Crowned Heads “le Careme” both costing about $6.25/stick after discount (all prices at the box level)! I will try to review them all at some point (and will place links here when I do) but the short and sweet of it is that they are all good cigars!

My source for all of these other than the Punch was the web site for Cigar and Pipes. They don’t give an address, but they are in the U.S. East Coast timezone. Any order over $80 is shipped free by USPS priority mail. I get these sticks (on the West Coast) 3 mail days after ordering! Get on their mailing list and look for their discounts.


I have smoked two vitolas of the “le Careme”, the 5.5″ x 42 box pressed corona (pictured) and also the box pressed robusto at 5″ x 48. The flavor profile is the same. The robusto (3 of them) came in a sampler. The folks at Cigar and Pipes will send a sampler (in my case other Crowned Heads cigars) for every two or three boxes you order. I didn’t ask for them. Great service, and a great store!

Wrapper: Connecticut broad leaf
Binder: Ecuador Sumatra
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: The wrapper is slightly oily, toothy, and dark brown shading almost to black here and there along its length. The first stick I smoked was a very difficult draw, close to plugged, but I managed to free it up enough to smoke it. I’ve had 5 more since and they were all fine. Maybe a little tight for me, but only a little. I’m one of those smokers who prefers a loose draw, so for many of you these would be just right. The robusto has a somewhat looser draw.

Pack is firm and even all the way along the stick. For a smallish vitola, these are heavy in the hand, a densely packed cigar, explaining the tight draw. There are no veins in the wrapper, and the seams are well done. The stick produces a lot of creamy smoke all the way along. Smoke time about an hour and 10, a slow burning little cigar! Crowned Heads gets an “A” for construction here.

Cold aroma: Strong black tea, manure, barnyard. A very rich and rewarding cold aroma!

Light it up and you get some pepper along with a sweet flavor reminding me of Melba Toast and butter. As it smokes you get brown sugar, dried fruit, dry chocolate, cedar, and something that reminds me of salty ocean air. The burn line stayes pretty straight all the way along with a few minor corrections. In the second half there is a little more pepper and the stick adds something minty while all the other flavors and sweetness remain. The smoke begins at about a medium strength and gets a little fuller as it smokes.

Superb, the cigar keeps all of these flavors down to the last half inch, the mark of a great stick!

My score on these comes out to “A+”, a really good cigar and another winner for Crowned Heads!

Review: The T by Three Masters of the Cigar Blending Art

Review: The T by Three Masters of the Cigar Blending Art

Robert Caldwell, A. J. Fernandez, Matt Booth: Three well recognized names in our favorite industry. This is their second release together, this one produced at the Fernandez factory in Nicaragua. The cigar was to be named “The Truth” but Tatuaje seems to own that name. Really? You can own the word “Truth”?

I’ve been over a half dozen other reviews of this stick and the principals are not revealing much about the blend except that it is Nicaraguan puro.

Wrapper: Ecuador Habano (grown in Nicaragua)
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

There are five different vitolas, all box pressed. The one I’m smoking is the Lonsdale, 6.5″ x 44.

Cold Aroma: Black tea, manure, barnyard are the aromas I get, especially the tea. Some other reviews have been all over the place with this.

Pre-light construction: Dark brown wrapper, slightly toothy. No veins, almost invisible seams. Box pressed, firm, no soft or hard spots. Looks fabulous.
Draw: Just about a perfect medium here that stays consistent throughout the smoke.

I have seen this cigar reviewed everywhere and everyone loves it. Alas is too expensive for me usually $12/stick at the box level. So when Cigars & Pipes recently had a fire sale and I saw these for $8.50/stick (still a full $2 above my present budget cap) I had to grab a box. Might be the only box I ever have, but I am glad I went for it.

When you light this up you get a little pepper that rapidly dials back and stays in the background. I get sweet wood, nuts, coffee, and lots of leather in the flavors, even sometimes a hint of fruit in the retrohale! Smoke output is great, and the cigar wants to smoke slowly. What strikes me most though is the cigar’s smoothness. All the flavors come out as a marvelous sweet meld. I cannot think of its like in any other cigar except maybe the 1924 Anniversary Padron, a cigar I have not smoked now in a few years as their price just went too high. Back to the T, as the cigar smokes down it gets a little less sweet while pepper and barn yard flavors come forward. The burn line stays straight throughout. This is a very well constructed cigar!

Flavors here are so well blended that none of them come out and really strike you, instead shifting back and forth with every puff. And this is a kick ass cigar, very full strength, or perhaps it is just the length of the stick. I’ve been through four of them now. The first two made me dizzy. I tried to let one go at the 3″ mark and come back to it, but even after a few hours when I pick it up the pepper comes way up and the other flavors have disappeared. I have to smoke this stick very slowly. Total smoke time ends up being about 90 minutes!

The ash does not hold very long, dropping at about 1/2″ but that might have something to do with how slowly I am able to smoke it. This is truly a cigar to savor. The subtle flavors here seem to go best with a subtle rum. The 40% ABV Real McCoy pictured is perfect. I reviewed this rum’s stronger brother a while back before I tasted this version. Turns out they are exactly the same rum (I believe) with this one watered down to the 40% level while the more limited edition version stands at 47%.

Over all, a great stick from three great masters of the cigar blending art. Given today’s cigar prices these are worth their $12/stick sticker even if I can’t afford them. If you find them at any price substantially under that, don’t miss out!

Cigar Review: Room 101 Serie HN Papi Chulo

Cigar Review: Room 101 Serie HN Papi Chulo

Released in June 2013, this must be one of the Room 101 sticks prior to Matt Booth retiring from the business. I gather he is back now, but will not be re-releasing old blends. So this is one of those rare deals (the only kind I can afford these days). Famous Smoke dumping odds and ends for steeply discounted prices. This 50 count box came out to $3/stick including shipping! The cigar is a cousin of the Namakubi and Daruma also released in limited numbers with a Papi Chulo vitola. I think this is a less “dry chocolate” (Namakubi) and “vegetal wood” (Daruma) and more light brown sugar sweetness. In any case all three are delicious and I am happy to have this deal. Let’s get to the cigar.

Wrapper: Honduran Criollo 98
Binder: Brazillian Mata Fina
Filler: Honduran Criollo Ligero and Dominican Navarette

Vitola: 4″ x 42 “Papi Chulo”

Open the box and what hits you is strongly aromatic black tea along with barnyard, manure, and leather. Wrapper color is medium brown, the pack is even all the way around and medium. The stick is not as firmly packed and dense as the Namakubi. The wrapper has a few fine veins, but everything looks very well made. I did a straight cut, draw is superb for me (I like it on the light side) and stays that way throughout the smoke.

Burn line stays pretty straight. I made minor corrections on one of three sticks I’ve smoked so far. The other two required none. Smoke output is very good, and stays steady throughout the smoke. Smoke time for me about 50 minutes. These smoke a bit faster than the Namakubi or Daruma which are more densely packed.

Flavors: Light on pepper until the final inch when it comes up considerably. Much of it is a charred sweet woodiness or toast and nuttiness combined with leather, brown sugar, and warm baking spices. I didn’t notice a lot of transition. Various flavors came up and dialed back, but all stayed present until the very end when pepper dominated. This is one hell of a great cigar! Buy them if you see them! Another review linked HERE is from Halfwheel.

Strength: A solid medium all the way along

I’ve paired this smoke with coffee (great) and two rums, both having an effect on the cigar. A sweet rum brought out some coffee flavor, and the less sweet rum emphasized the brown sugar notes of the cigar.