Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rocky Patel Nording Robusto Review

Rocky Patel Nording Robusto

Origin : Honduras
Format : Robusto
Size : 5 1/2 X 50
Wrapper : Costa Rican maduro
Binder : Mexico
Filler : Honduras/Nicaragua
Paid 4.40 USD at Atlantic Cigars

I received my first shipment of NCs last week and I was anxious to try one. I was able to wait 4 days (it seemed like a long time...) for the cigar to stabilize in my humidor (68%) and I tried it. I picked this one because I wanted to try a cigar of which I already knew the CA rating (90 in the April 2011 issue) to be able to see what a 90 cigar tastes like.


The wrapper had a few veins, some bigger than others, but more on that later.
This cigar has a nice corkscrew cap, but when I was preparing to clip it, I accidentally knocked it off along with a piece of the wrapper ... Thankfully the binder underneath it was almost at the cap level and manage to hold everything. But just as a precaution, I removed the top band and moved up the lower one to cover the rip in the wrapper to help hold everything together. The draw was easy, which it stayed until the end, and it's aroma was of a deep tobacco taste. I don't really care for the design of the band, but that's irrelevant.

First third

It lit normally but the burn was uneven all the way through and I had to correct it 3 or 4 times and even relight it 2 or 3 times.
A big vein ran almost all the way to the foot and constantly prevented the burn to be even, slowing it compared to rest of the circumference.
The smoke was easy to produce and tasted of a deep tobacco taste, some spice and a little burned wood.
The ash stayed on for about an inch.

Second third

The spice intensified, more so than the burned wood and tobacco aromas. Some slight bitterness started to appear as well as a bit of a caramel aftertaste. The ash fell a bit quicker this time.

Last third

The aromas stayed the same but intensified. At that point, the wrapper had started to unravel and I had to move the band over it again but it didn’t hold very long. It was becoming more and more difficult to enjoy the cigar with it breaking apart, so I had to throw it away before finishing it. I still took me about 1 ¼ hour to get to that point.

Overall it didn’t make for an enjoyable smoke. Having to correct the burn over and over was the factory’s fault for choosing a bad wrapper, but the unravelling of it was my fault. I know that those two things have no impact on the taste of the cigar and I have to forget about that to give a fair rating. So based on the taste of the cigar, I would rate it average, maybe 3/5 stars.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m still new at cigar smoking or just picky, but I would have expected more out of a 90 rated cigar …

And on to the next smoke !

Saturday, March 12, 2011

H. Upmann Coronas Major Tubo Review (dominican)

This is my first review ever, so it might not be very well done...
But you have to start somewhere !

H. Upmann Coronas Major Tubo

Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Corona
Size : 5 1/2 X 42
Wrapper : Indonesian TBN Select Shade grown
Binder : Dominican
Filler : Dominican and Brazilian
Paid 8 USD at Bahia Principe Ambar in Punta Cana (paid too much...)

I had not smoked a cigar in about 2 or 3 weeks and I was happy to have the time yesterday to do so. But since I won't smoke in the house and it's still winter and it was about 5 Celsius, I decided to smoke in our sun room with 3 patio doors open and with my old winter coat I wear when I use the snow blower. It was comfortable for the first 30 minutes and then I got a bit cold, but I wanted to finish that cigar.


This cigar has a nice wrapper with fine veins and a double cap (maybe triple...). Construction is good, the density is pretty uniform.
This cigar has been in my humidor for about 6 weeks, out of it's tube.
The wrapper didn't smell like anything special and the foot had a regular tobacco smell to it.
Pre-light draw was a bit tight and again only gave off a nice tobacco taste.

First third

It lit easily and the burn was very even until the end. The draw stayed the same from pre-light to the end.The first few puffs didn't have much flavor, it took maybe 6 or 7 to show something. Yet again nothing more than tobacco notes with a slight bitterness in the back of the tongue.
After a while, some medium coffee notes started to appear.

The ash held on for about 1 1/4 inch and then fell on the table without me noticing.

Second third

The tobacco taste intensified as well as the coffee which became espresso like. The bitterness became a bit stronger and by the end of this section, a bit of black licorice started to appear. The ash fell off at the same length as before.

Last third

Within 3 or 4 puffs, a bitter almond flavor was really noticeable and was interesting, but the harshness/bitterness of the tobacco that was intense at that point made my enjoyment of this cigar go down to zero. I had to put it out about 3/4" to the the band. By that time, I also had a good nicotine buzz that I didn't enjoy, I even was a bit nauseous.
Even though it took me an hour to finish it, I think I smoked it too fast because I was getting cold and I wanted to go inside the house and that might have contributed to the last third not being as good as it could have been.

Overall it was an ok smoke but I guess it would have been a lot better if the smoking conditions were easier on me. I would rate it medium but full by the end. For now, I'm going to give it 2,5/5 stars but I have a second stick in my humidor and plan to smoke it this summer to see if it's any better.

And on to the next smoke !

Finished DIY humidor and more

So here's a couple of pictures of the end result with the hardware on :

I've ordered a couple of 250 count rectangular humidifiers from eBay, they were 2 for under 11$ including shipping.

But since I haven't received them yet, I built my own to use in the mean time.

I bought some green Oasis foam made for cut flowers from my local flower shop. A brick, as they call it, cost me around 3$. It's 3"X4"X9". I also bought 2 soap travel boxes to use as containers and they were 2 for 1$.

I cut pieces of foam to fit snuggly in the soap boxes and drilled holes in the covers. Saturated the foam with 50-50% propylene glycol/distilled water and voilĂ  !

Here"s what they look like (not pretty but it does the job...) :

As for the hygrometer, I bought a digital one, again from eBay, for under 6$ including shipping.

Right now I'm in the process of seasoning my humidor, so I can transfer my cigars from my small humidor and to store a shipment of cigars I ordered last week, that I should receive in about 4 days.

Here's what I ordered :

Vallejuelo Cigars Gran Toro Single
Vallejuelo Cigars Robusto Single
Saint Luis Rey Reserve Especial Rothchilde Maduro Single
Dominican Supreme Robusto Natural
Baccarat Havana Selection Rothschild Single
Bona Vita Maduro Churchills 5-Pack
Atlantic Cigar Mild-Medium Robusto 10-Pack
Rocky Patel Nording Robusto Single
Arturo Fuente Brevas Royale Maduro Single
Hoyo De Monterrey Excalibur Cameroon Lancelot Single
Atlantic Cigar Grab Bag Sampler Gold - 10 Pack

And in a little more than 2 weeks a friend of mine will bring me back some nice sticks from Cuba, one box of Bolivar Royal Corona and a box of Hoyo De Monterrey Hoyo Des Dieux. Can't wait !

Until the next post ...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My DIY humidor

So I bought a humidor on eBay a couple of months ago for 75$ with shipping (had to pay 40$ more in duty...) It's very nice, works well, but seemed like I was going to run out of space pretty soon.

I wanted to be able to let some cigars mature for a few months or years, as they supposedly get better with age (but not all apparently...), but for that you need either several humidors (75$+40$ times ???) or a "Coolidor" / "Fridgidor".

I didn't want to pay a lot of money and I wanted something nice to look at and display, so I decided to build my own.

I did a lot of research on the web for plans or tips, but I didn't find anything I liked. I did find some humidors for sale that looked nice, so I drew up some plans based on a mix of a few of them.

Now the shopping for the material. It wasn't easy to find a lumber yard type place that had spanish cedar for the interior lining. I found a couple places in the US online : even if they had shipped to Canada, it would have been expensive.
So I looked around some more and what did I find ? A specialty lumber yard right here in Montreal. They're called Langevin et Forest, here's the link :

They sell spanish cedar planks in bundles for 29$ each. I needed at least 4 or 5 bundles, so I tried to find something else and I found a great deal : an 8 foot by 9 inches wide and 1,5 inch thick board for 39$ ! Good deal but I would have to mill my own planks. I have a nice table saw at home so what the heck, I bought it.
For the exterior of the humidor, I wanted to buy some maple or another hard wood and stain/varnish it. But the more I thought about it and the work it would be and the possibility of the varnish smell ruining my cigars, the more I wanted to find another way.
I remembered that I had some boards and mouldings left over from when I build the kitchen in our new house 2 years ago. They're solid cherry with a dark stain (Kraftmaid calls it Peppercorn) and a nice gloss finish. I looked in the basement and found just enough leftovers for my design.

So here I go (or went ) :

The cedar board

A plank I milled

The brown marks are burn marks that the blade made on almost everything I milled.

Here's my garage/workshop :

A lot of clean up afterwards ...

I used a bit of cabinet grade plywood for the bottom and for the backing of the lower half of the sides because I wouldn't have had enough cherry for everything. But since it was going to be covered by the cedar ...

The lighter shade wood is the plywood

On right : the lid taped to hold it while the glue dryed

The almost finished product
(hinges and hardware still to add, as well as a good cleaning...)

The stick holding the lid open is for the picture only

The end result with less wood dust ... I still have to stain the joints with a special marker that came with my kitchen cabinets for touch ups.

One of my two cats wanted to be in the picture ...

The burn marks on the wood are less noticeable in reality.
The darker tray is the lower one.

The interior : the dividers are not fixed, just very snug so I'll be able to change
the size of the compartiments as I need to.

Now, for a bit of details on how I built it :

- every joint is mitered, glued (special wood glue) and nailed from the inside behind the cedar with a compressed air nailer

- the cedar is only nailed and I left very small gaps between the pieces for expansion and contraction with the change in humidity

- the cherry is 3/4 " thick, the cedar is 3/8 " thick, so 1 1/8 " thick in total

- the interior dimensions are 15" deep X 21" wide X 11" high

- the exterior is about 17 1/4 deep X 23 1/4 wide X 14 high

- as it is very heavy, I put it on my bathroom scale : empty, it's 51 pounds !!!

It took me from Friday afternoon to Sunday night to finish (and clean up the garage and hose down my wife's car to remove all the wood dust ...).

All in all, it took me almost 20 hours to make, but it was well worth it ! The inside smells great, can't wait to put on the hardware and start using it.

Speaking of hardware, I found a great website for handles, locks and hinges. The company is called Lee Valley tools and they have stores in the US and Canada :

I ordered these :




cigar box lock

and various brass screws to put it all together

It cost me about 56$ with tax and shipping. I bought stays instead of quadrant hinges like have most of the humidors I've seen, because they're easier to install and I needed the extra strenght because of the weight of the lid. I admit quadrant hinges look better...

As for the humidifier and the hygrometer, I still need to buy those on eBay (will cost between 20 and 30$ total)

 And now, a little comparaison between my eBay humidor and the one I made :

My eBay humidor is rated for 100 to 120 cigars.

The humidor I made will be able to hold between 375 (churchills) and 500 (robusto and smaller) cigars.

Maybe I over did it a little ... While laughing with (at ?) me, my wife even told me that we had to buy a new end table or something to put it on, since it can't fit on anything we have and it doesn't go on the floor. What a great wife !

Finally, here's my current collection of cuban and non-cuban cigars :

 I added the blue paper bands to put a name on the cigars as I still don't
recognize them all just by their size, being new to this

 From left to right : 2 X Leon Jimenes #3, Romeo y Julieta Mille fleurs, RyJ Romeo #3 tubo, Fonseca Delicias,
Punch something, 2 X Cohiba Siglo I, Cohiba Siglo II, Don Thomas clasico robusto,
Flor de Raphael Gonzalez something, H. Upmann majestic, CAO La Traviata

 From left to right : RyJ Churchill (DR) Montecristo white label robusto grande (DR),
Montecristo #4 (cuba), 2 X H. Upmann coronas major (DR), 4 X Guantanamera cristales, unknown mini,
Guantanamera short something, Quorum robusto, 8 X Cohiba club

From left to right : Guantanamera decimos, Bravos torpedo-robusto-robusto gordo,
RyJ reserva real cuentos, cheap and fake cigars in the middle third, Jose L. Piedra conservas, cazadores, nationales, cremas, brevas

I hope you liked it and if you have any questions, feels free to ask.