Oasis

I am a Baltimore City Native with a Love and Passion for smoking cigars . I am also intrigued by the History, Lifestyle and Culture associated with cigar smoking. I have worked as a retail tobacconist for 2yrs. and I've been smoking cigars since 2013 but not seriously or correctly for that matter until 2015 after being schooled by a good BOTL of mine. I still consider myself a student to the game even though I teach people about cigars regularly and for some time even, professionally. With that being said, I do not consider myself a know it all nor do I call myself an Aficionado (besides an occasional Instagram hashtag, LOL). I'm just a guy who loves everything about cigars and sometimes, I have an opinion. I'm here to be a part of something special, to learn, to possibly teach and to share some memorable experiences with you all. Cheers and Salute!!!

Cigar Review | Flor y Nata Flower of Courage

I came across the Flower of Courage from the Flor y Nata brand by chance. My man Gabe from Cigar Pointe cigar shop in Texas threw these in a sampler for me. He put together one Hell of a package with some heavy hitters, and they were all sticks that I hadn’t tried yet. As a matter of fact, this was intentional because I like trying new things when it comes to smoking cigars. I knew what the majority of them were gonna be, but this Dominican Puro corona was a bonus.

Flower of Courage

Modern Tobacconist Art, the Dominican based company that created this cigar, entered the US market in 2015 after initially launching in the D.R. in 2013. After revamping the image of the brand, Joan Manuel Rodriguez gave the collection a name, comprised of two lines. The “In the Garden of Good and Evil” Collection includes a maduro line (Temptation) and a natural line (Loyalty). Each vitola has it’s own name as well. Today we’ll be talking about the corona aka The Flower of Courage from the “Loyalty” line.

The Flor y Nata "Flower of Courage" is a Dominican Puro with a Natural wrapper. It's a corona at 5.5 x 46"with a  buttery brown leather complexion.
Dominican HVA wrapper – Dominican Negrito binder – Dominican Corojo, HVA & Habano 2020 fillers

The Pre-Light

  • The color is medium brown with a buttery leather texture and sheen. There are some tiny veins and some prominent veins around the cigar. There appears to be a triple or possibly quadruple cap, depending on the angle.
  • On the wrapper I’m getting peanut butter, slight manure laced soil, oats, hay and fermented baccy
  • The cold draw is very musty and woody. That fermented baccy is showing itself here as well.
The Flor y Nata "Flower of Courage" is a Dominican Puro with a Natural wrapper. It's a corona at 5.5 x 46"with a  buttery brown leather complexion.

First Third|Let’s Get Nutty!!!

The pre-light aromas of this cigar almost guarantee that there are some intense flavors hiding inside. I take that first puff and my intuition was right on! I’m bombarded with a very rich combination. It’s sweet, spicy, nutty and peppery with a chalky nuance of cedar, if that makes any sense. Bare with me now, I am just thee Oasis and I’m giving you exactly what i am getting. For example, there is a dominating presence of flavor in the retrohale that I just can’t decipher but I’ll try anyway. It’s like a floral bouquet of roasted mixed nuts sprinkled with red and white pepper. Seriously!!! I’m honestly digging this cigar right now. I’ts a smoke for the adventurer for sure.

The Flor y Nata "Flower of Courage" is a Dominican Puro with a Natural wrapper. It's a corona at 5.5 x 46"with a  buttery brown leather complexion.

Second Third|What is this Nuance?

Getting into the 2nd third, the spice has toned down and the woodsy components are in the foreground. I failed to mention earlier that the the cigar has a medium light draw and is burning perfectly. It’s practically a dime stack minus a flake or two. Besides that, I was picking up peanut butter in the pre-light and mixed nuts in the first third. But now, I’m getting an almond and cashew combination. The smoke itself has a dry powdery texture with an almost perfumey essence, but not in a bad way. I’m sure I’ll learn what this nuance on my palate is later on in my cigar adventures, but for right now, I’m really feeling this Flor Y Nata blend!

Final Third|The Flavor Shift

As I approach the end of the “Flower”, I can say the strength has been a light medium to medium throughout. However, the flavors have shifted a bit, which adds to the complexity of this great corona. Flavors of yeast, burnt caramel and leather have joined the cedar. The remaining hints of white pepper are united with leather, clove and a mildly sweet warm bread through the nose.

The Flor y Nata "Flower of Courage" is a Dominican Puro with a Natural wrapper. It's a corona at 5.5 x 46"with a  buttery brown leather complexion.

I’m telling you guys, I used to cringe at the things reviewers would come up with to describe the flavors in cigars. As a result, I almost cheated myself from taking the time to really appreciate and capture the essence of what I was smoking. But now, especially after delving into the realms of boutique brands created by master magicians, I totally get it! Now, I’m the crazy one.

But you can’t let anyone tell you what you are experiencing in ANY capacity. Whether it be cigar tasting, some type of emotional involvement or how you view life in general. And that’s certainly not why I write these reviews. I’m simply having a conversation with my Brothers & Sisters Of The Leaf about my personal experience with a specific stogie. And hey, if you decide to try something based on my thoughts and fall in love with it, that’s just the beauty of being a part of this dope cigar community!!!

Cheers and Salute

-Oasis

Cigar Review | Emperor’s Cut: Natural Pleasurer

I became aware of the Emperor’s Cut brand after seeing them frequent my Instagram timeline and stories. Then I became intrigued with the look of both the cigar itself, and the simplistic elegance of the band. Later, I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg Willis, who handles Sales, Advertising & Marketing, Social Media and Business Development. He is also one of the founding Members.

Emperor's Cut

Our Story, Our Brand

This is a labor of love! Seeing people receive our product so well, has been a true Honor.” – Greg  Willis 

Greg explains how there were many obstacles while trying to get things going early on. FDA rules, finding the key people to work with, paired with all the stigma that comes with being a newcomer in the cigar game, were a few of the challenges faced. After some time, a Dream, some strategic planning and partnering along with plenty of financial investing, the Emperors Cut place in the game is being well established.

“Finding the best cigar is a never ending story. We’re focused on consistency at a great price point. we want to be a stable with our customers, not a fly by night cigar brand.” – Greg Willis

“The Players”

  • Darnell Streat – Is the Managing Partner and “Our Leader.” His background is in Business and Supply Chain.
  • Maurice Holland – Handles the Customer Outreach and Concierge Program.
  • Gregg Hurt – Handles Sales and Logistics and has an extensive background in international Logistics.
  • Robert Howard, MD, JD – Handles the Legal Affairs.
  • Greg Willis – Handles Sales, Advertising & Marketing, Social Media and Business Development with an extensive background in these fields.
  • Themille Bush – Handles Business Development and is a significant driver to the strategic partnerships and sales.

All are founding members with the exclusion of Themille Bush who joined the team later on.

“The Beauty of having so many experienced palates is that we could articulate clearly what we wanted to accomplish in a stick, and got it right with a few iterations.” – M. Holland (The Louisiana Weekly Newspaper, Aug 6, 2018)

“Natural Pleasures”

This 6.5″ x 52mm cigar is a finely rolled work of art with tiny veins and a leathery Snickers bar colored wrapper. It looks like a double cap and is firmly rolled with the slightest give to it. The foot is packed, while still showing some airflow.

This Nicaraguan puro is emitting an aged tobacco aroma from the wrapper with light soil, tobacco and cocoa powder on the foot.

The cold draw with a woody pencil shaving and a slight brown sugar on the palate.

The Emperors Cut is a dark brown leathery work of art, with seamless construction and a solid burn.

1st Third- Hello Emperor

The light medium draw creates ample opportunity to capture plenty of tasteful clouds. I am greeted with a delicate mix of brown sugar and black pepper anchored by an earthy, woodsy component.

The retrohale is generous with a prominent cedar followed by vanilla and a cinnamon/brown sugar nuance. (Note- At the 1in. mark, the spices of the cinnamon and pepper are slightly muted but still enjoyable.) The burn is perfect with a firm white ash showing off the craftsmanship.

2nd Third- Look at that Ashhh!

The Emperors Cut has a perfect burn with a solid white ash. Impressive construction.

A little roasted coffee and leather began to join the party but the original flavors are still at play. The cedar and brown sugar are trading places as if they were playing a game of leap frog. They take turns owning the spotlight while the earthy, mineral like flavors began to increase their presence as well.

While all these notes are doing their thing, a cream flavor is holding it down in the background. As far as the retrohale, some white pepper is noted as opposed to the white pepper and the leather is present in the nose as well. The finish is lasting longer and the strength is getting into the heavier side of medium.

Final Third- The Emperor Shows His Power

The Emperors cut has performed with grace. You can't help but to gaze at the simple yet elegant band as you take this smokey journey.

We’re getting to the muscle now, as the strength hits that med+ to full realm. A bitter espresso and what I’m gonna call a licorice note have stormed the party, demanding their respect. The minerally earth and cedar wood are still present. There are hints of molasses and a strong white pepper on the retrohale.

A common practice for me when smoking stronger cigars, is to clip the cap a 2nd time. Especially with Nicaraguan cigars, this removes the tar build up from the head. Doing this alleviates the bitterness and opens the cigar back up to it’s intended flavors.

And WOW! After clipping the cap, the bitterness was alleviated in a good way. I started getting a zesty citrus, followed by the cream and white pepper which aslo translated well on the retrohale. The leather at this point, comes and goes with various puffs. What a pleasurable surprise this cigar has been!

The Emperor's Cut Finale

“Emperors Cut is a lifestyle brand, synonymous with good times. The smoker defines the good time; we just want to be the stick that they know augments their fun!” -Maurice Holland (The Louisiana Weekly Newspaper, Aug 6, 2018)

I truly enjoyed this cigar from beginning to end. I was impressed with not only the taste, but the design of the cigar itself. This company also stands as a shining example of Elite African American owned boutique brands making waves in the extremely insular cigar business. I highly recommend giving this cigar a look. I’m certainly glad my curious nature led me to this experience.

Cheers to you all and thank you for sharing this cigar smoking experience with me. I’ll see you all again real soon.

Cigar Review | K by Karen Berger

First off, I must say that this K by Karen Berger is a beautiful cigar! It’s an exquisite sharp box pressed Solomon with a pleasantly dark and shiny marbleized Maduro wrapper. I mean it is flawless!

K by Karen Cigars Head

This will be my 2nd time smoking this beauty, so I already have a baseline of what to expect. The first experience however, was at a cigar lounge paired with good company, some silver screen entertainment and my 1st bottle of Havana Club Rum. The point being, I was a tad bit distracted. I enjoyed it so it was a no-brainer to purchase again.

On this go round, I am in my safe happy place at home where I can focus and hopefully dissect the nuances and characters at play in this cigar. The Dungeon, aka my basement, (which by no means is the place that most aficionados would call a smokers paradise) is where I will be enjoying this cigar. Think of it as one of those basements that my Brother Lee Mack describes when he talks about the musky aroma he gets from certain wrappers in his reviews. Minus the funk. Haha!

I have however created my own little Oasis [no pun intended] for smoking at home. To be honest, once I’m in my zone, vibing with a good cigar and a good bourbon or coffee, I soon forget the struggle and turmoil of Baltimore City, right outside my window. Cigars provide that escape for us as smokers and it doesn’t matter where we are in the world. I’m sure all my BOTL & SOTL can get behind that concept.

As a new writer to the iROBUSTO team, I just wanted to give you all a glimpse into what I’ve got going on as I’m doing my review. With that being said, let’s get into it.

Who Is K. and What is The K

Karen Berger is the mistress of the late Don Kiki (Enrique Berger), and she’s also known as the “Cigar Queen”. The nickname stems from her vast knowledge and experience from being submerged in the cigar industry for many years. She is a native of Esteli, Nicaragua, and this cigar is a Nicaraguan Puro. This particular vitola is the 6×54 Solomon Maduro and as I mentioned earlier, it is a total treat to look at. It also comes in a Habano wrapped version, housed in boxes of 10 and priced roughly between $11-$13.

Pre-Light: (I’m so ready!!!)

Again, this is a dark, oily and marble textured wrapper with a sharp edged box press. The creases were so sharp, one could assume this cigar was ironed. The cap is applied perfectly and the wrapper smells of fermented tobacco, hay and herbs. I was expecting barnyard and musky earth from the look of the cigar, but it was more of a grass and tea kind of thing going on. The foot however, was a whole other level. Because of the tapered foot of this Solomon, I damn near jammed the whole thing up my nose (LOL)! But when I did get a whiff…Wow! I still got the hay, but it was accompanied by a sweet cocoa and milk chocolate blast. [And I did remember this from the 1st time I smoked it] I’m excited and optimistic at this point.

1ST THIRD: (Dessert before Dinner)

Right out of the gate, it was as delicious and sweet as the foot aroma premeditated on the cold draw. This cigar was super smooth too. Honestly, I don’t get my hopes up too often concerning actual palate taste by what I get on cold draws. Especially when there’s sweetness involved, or when the cigar is labeled as full body. It was a perfect match in this case. The tobacco core was almost as if the sweetness was added in some way or another. The chocolate was in cahoots with something that just kept telling my brain, “warm cookies”!!!

I’m puffing away at this gem and I start to notice a transition in flavor as the burn reaches the end of the tapered foot and gets into the body of the cigar. It made perfect sense because there’s no way that sweetness was gonna hold up. I mean, as I said, I’ve smoked this before and I would have remembered smoking a 6 inch candy bar and sure enough, change has come.

As the chocolatey dessert like sweetness mellows, a subtle spice starts to move in. It’s hinting more towards an allspice or cinnamon as opposed to a pepper spice. Then, low and behold, that herbal tea thing that happened during prelight has manifested itself and is peeking in and out, wanting to play along. I’m not mad at all.

2ND THIRD: (Construction, Complexity and Retrohales)

Before I ramble on about what I’m getting from this cigar, lemme just say that the draw and construction has been perfect. It’s not just pretty to look at and well made, it’s functional.

That whole sweet dessert factor has definitely toned down significantly but it has been replaced by a tasty nuance that I’m just gonna categorize as gingerbread since it’s a more subtle sweetness with a warm spice to it. I should also mention that this note is mostly experienced through the nose via retrohale and room aroma. (Sidebar- I’m the guy that retrohales probably 85-90% of the time because from my experience, the tongue and palate can only handle so much. I also prefer to smoke indoors or away from wind, fans, vents, etc., because I like to release clouds of smoke directly in front of me to actually smell the smoke. Not to inhale, but smell. This, paired with the retrohale and my palate, is how I pick up the notes in a cigar when I smoke.)

K by Karen Cigars Half

At this point, the herbal tea is leading the charge accompanied by dark roast coffee and some leather. This cigar is officially adulting now. I can now deem this cigar as complex.

Further along, the tea is morphing from what it has been to a floral lemongrass like note, then back again. The coffee and leather are still very much present while the gingerbread spice is more like a white pepper and cinnamon combo thru the nose. I can’t say that the power of the cigar has been evident before now but at this point it’s at Med+ for me.

FINAL THIRD: (Holy sh*t! She’s Back!)  

K by Karen Cigars Final third. The return of some of the great sweet nuances that dominated the 1st light.

The chocolate sweetness has returned, and here I was waiting for a peppery bitter finale. Not only has the chocolate returned, but the gingerbread is back as well. I’m pretty positive that this is a direct result of the shape of the cigar. The Solomon is tapered at the foot and the head. This means less baccy in these sections, which is where the sweetest most dessert like experiences were. Note to Self…we need a lancero version!!!

As the cigar comes to a close, the coffee has come down to a medium roast. The strength has definitely reached med to full and there is a minerally soil flavor coming thru. As enjoyable as this ride has been, it’s time to put this nub to bed and call it a night.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There were so many welcomed yet unexpected moments with this cigar. I would have never expected such a sweet comeback in the 4th quarter. I’m used to coffee notes getting stronger towards the end of most sticks, not the other way around. I was also expecting some black pepper blast. Although there were spicy moments, they were more of an allspice, cinnamon and maybe a touch of white pepper type of deal.

I was super impressed by the burn as well. We all know how spot on you gotta be when toasting and lighting solomones and figurados, but she burned like a champ from start to finish.

K by Karen Cigars was super complex and delicious down to the nub!

I’d like to Thank You guys for joining me for this ride. I look forward to sharing many more of my cigar adventures with you and I’m also hoping to hear some of your experiences with the same cigars. Please feel free to comment and share this post.

Cheers & Salute BOTL & SOTL

Oasis