29 October 2010


My very good friend and drinking buddy, Rob Garrison (Territiory Manager - Altadis U.S.A.), recently gave me a new release from one of their premium brands, the H. Upmann - Sun Grown.  The Sun Grown was debuted at the 2010 IPCR and is currently making its way onto Tobacconist's shelves.  It is made in Honduras at the La Flor de Copan cigar factory and is being released in six vitollas: Churchill - 54 x 7, Magnum - 54 x 6, Short Churchill - 54 x 4-1/2, No. 2 - 52 x 6-1/8, Corona - 44 x 5-1/2, and Lancero - 40 x 7-1/2.  It is made with an Equadorian sun grown capa, a Connecticut broadleaf capote, and a Nicaraguan and Honduran blend tripa; ranging in price roughly between $6 - $8.  For this review I smoked the Magnum and No. 2.

The Sun Grown's capa had a few veins which gave it a good look and was smooth to the touch with a color I put somewhere between colorado maduro and maduro.  It squeezed nicely and was very firm, perhaps a little stiff in places but nothing of concern and there were no soft spots or visible flaws.  The foot revealed what appeared to be a well packed cigar, which I certainly like and explains the firmness of the squeeze.  The pre-light aroma was mild to moderate and very sweet and pleasant.  I made a straight cut with a double guillotine and tested the pre-light taste and draw.  The taste was sweet like the aroma and woody, while the draw gave decent resistance while being very smooth.  Using a match it took a little bit to light, due to the ring gauge and apparent good pack, but once lit was very even.

The Sun Grown started off with a little bit of spice on the tongue and retro-exhalation was easy with some spice around mid-sinus.  It didn't produce much smoke until about 1/4" to 1/2" in leaving behind a light grey ash with dark rings.  The spice essentially subsided early on and relatively mild woody flavor notes took over.  A little past 1" in a taste developed at the back of the throat which I couldn't really put my finger on and no other flavors jumped out or dominated through the first 1/3.  The ash dropped off at about 1-3/4" and shortly afterward I began to detect leathery notes that lingered pleasantly after each puff.  From then on through the final 1/3, wood and leather was the consistent flavor with a bit more spice emerging again in the last 2".  Throughout the entire smoke the burn was very even and never required a touch-up or re-light.

All in all the H. Upmann - Sun Grown was a pleasant, enjoyable smoke.  Fans of medium body cigars I think will certainly like it.  The sweetness of the aroma was one of my favorite aspects of this cigar and because of its over-all mellowness, it makes a good mid-day choice.  It is also a good choice for relaxing alone or with friends because you don't have to devote your attention to a complex flavor profile.

25 October 2010

CIGAR REVIEW - LIMITED RELEASE: Tatuaje - Private Reserve Black Tubo

I know I haven't written a review for some time now, but I have read your e-mails and listened to the comments from those I have spoken with.  2010 has been a hectic year leaving me precious little time for some of the things I enjoy most; so to all the readers, web-sites, magazines, and news letters I write for, I apologize.  That being said, on to the good stuff.

The topic of this review is the Tatuaje - Private Reserve Black Tubo.  You may notice that as the background for the photos I used my chopper (another of those things I haven't had much time for).  I did this as a tribute to Pete Johnson, owner of Tatuaje, because the first time we met I had been out on it and Pete and I spent some time talking about our shared enjoyment of riding.  Pete said the inspiration for the Black Tubo came from a trip he took to, "an island famous for its cigars", which one can only assume is Cuba.  While there he was given an un-banded, very rustic looking cigar by a man who had it in his shirt pocket.  He later learned that among many of the local cigar lovers is a tradition of rolling their own blends for themselves to suit their personal taste, hence Private Reserve in the name of this cigar.  Pete never forgot how much he enjoyed that cigar and the Black Tubo is his tribute to it.

Released in 2009 the Black Tubo in my opinion is a Pyramid, even though it doesn't flare outward at the foot.  Some have called it a Torpedo but by definition a Torpedo tapers at the head and foot which this does not.  Made in Nicaragua and distributed only in a 6-1/8" x 52 vitolla in boxes of 10 each, it has a Belicoso style head and unfinished foot, and is a Nicaraguan puro with a Criollo '98 capa.  The capa, which I put between colorado and colorado rosado in color, was rugged in appearance with plenty of teeth and veins present, although surprisingly soft to the touch.  It passed the squeeze test with flying colors being very firm but not hard and had no flaws or soft spots.  The pre-light aroma was very sweet with strong woody and earth notes.  I thought I detected a cedar influence; however, it had been in one of my humidours for nearly a year so that has to be taken into consideration.  I have to say though that I spent many minutes just enjoying and trying to define the complexity of the aroma.

Finally I made a straight cut with scissors which was perfectly clean and never frayed or produced any debris all the way through to the end of the smoke; evidence of quality rolling and tobacco.  The pre-light taste was woody, like the aroma, and the draw was almost effortless.  It lit easily and evenly, even with the unfinished foot and produced plenty of smooth, light grey smoke.  The first puff was filled with pepper and had perhaps a slight woody finish.  Throughout the first 1/2", pepper was the dominant taste but then began to mellow and the slightest tingle started around the tip of the tongue.  Even in the first 1/3 this cigar was showing strongly bi-phasic qualities, coming right off the blocks with good strength which was followed by an extremely relaxed feeling even though I hadn't eaten in some time.  Retro-exhalation was a bit hot but that's expected from a strong cigar and the spice could be pleasantly felt throughout the sinuses.  The ash didn't drop off until almost a solid 2" in and was firm and crisp feeling, following which a slight touch-up was required.  Around mid-way mellow, woody notes were the dominant and consistent taste but as it progressed into the final 1/3, pepper and spice began to re-emerge but didn't overwhelm.  A slight tingle as well as what was perhaps a "roasty" taste also spread along the middle of the tongue and a second slight touch-up was needed.  It finished nicely and the taste lingered a little while but not at all in an unpleasant way.

I give the Tatuaje - Private Reserve Black Tubo very high over-all marks.  It was a very enjoyable cigar that you'll want to sit back and enjoy.  In fact, it was one of those cigars that you debate with yourself about when to let the nub go, probably right about the time that it burns your fingers because there isn't enough left to hold on to.  The bad thing about the Black Tubo is they are no longer in production, so if you see some at your tobacconist, grab them.

As always,
I wish you Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The Cap'n