black pepper

Cigar Review | El Artista Buffalo TEN

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the El Artista Buffalo TEN. This budget focused cigar comes in a 6 x 50 box-pressed format and retails for only $4.50! It features a Mexican San Andres wrapper covering a Dominican Negrito binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Nicaragua, and the USA.

El Artista Buffalo TEN

Pre-Light

Pre-light, the cold draw gives flavors of oats and wine. The wrapper produces a leather and manure aroma while I smell dried fruit out of the foot. Once lit, I taste light hay, black pepper, and cocoa. Through the nose, there is a blend of sour earth and black pepper. The finish is full of body with cocoa and earthy leather.

El Artista Buffalo TEN

First Third

Twenty-five minutes in, the first third comes to a close. On the draw, I find black pepper with bitter earth and sharp cocoa. Through the nose, burnt graham cracker mixes with black pepper. The finish offers leather and oak alongside floral notes. Strength and body settle in at medium-to-full.

El Artista Buffalo TEN

Second Third

The second third ends around one hour and fifteen minutes. Sour earth takes over the draw with more cocoa. On the retro-hale, black pepper and spicy red pepper dance through my sinuses. The finish displays grass with light cocoa and more floral notes. There is no change to strength or body.

El Artista Buffalo TEN

Final Third

The final third wraps up around two hours. On the draw, a salty cocoa attempts to cover underlying sour earth. Through the nose, pepper dominates with some added leather notes. On the finish, I pick up more cocoa and floral notes. Strength and body finish at medium-to-full.

El Artista Buffalo TEN

Overall Thoughts

The Buffalo TEN by El Artista is an okay cigar. It didn’t blow me away, but it’s not terrible, either. This cigar displays some decent flavors with a few unpleasant notes, but for $4.50, it performs better than expected. I think with some lengthy rest in the humidor, the flavors will become more refined.

Construction of the Buffalo TEN is superior to most budget smokes and even better than a lot of higher-priced cigars. Again, for $4.50, this thing performed well. If you only smoke the cream of the crop, this probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a decent value cigar, it’s worth a try.

Smoke on!

-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX. This cigar was made with Paul Rosenberg, president of Shady Records, to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary. It comes in one size, a 5 x 50 box-pressed Belicoso, and retails for $10.40. A Mexican San Andres wrapper adorns a Connecticut Stalk Cut Habano binder and fillers from Nicaragua and Brazil.

Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX

Let’s Get Started

On the cold draw, the Undercrown ShadyXX produces a raisin-dominant dried fruit flavor. The wrapper gives off a rich earthy aroma while I smell much the same out of the foot. Once lit, rich dark cocoa and black pepper appear. Through the nose, sweet cocoa is touched by a hint of black pepper. The finish exudes black pepper, leather, and earth.

Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX

First Third

Twenty-five minutes in, the first third comes to a close. On the draw, I pick up cocoa with black pepper and espresso. Through the nose, red pepper blends with oak. The finish gives me grassy earth and black licorice. Strength and body settle in at medium-to-full.

Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX

Second Third

The second third ends around fifty minutes. Strong black pepper and bitter cocoa dominate the draw. On the retro-hale, sweet cocoa is tamed but present along with vanilla. There is more black licorice on the finish with leather and grassy earth. Strength and body remain consistent at medium-to-full.

Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX

Final Third

An hour and twenty minutes in, the final third sees the end. On the draw, I get more black pepper and cocoa. Through the nose, sweet cocoa and vanilla are topped off with additional black pepper. The finish hits me with more black licorice and even bolder black pepper. Strength and body finish out at medium-to-full.

Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX

Overall Thoughts

The Drew Estate Undercrown ShadyXX is a solid cigar. It produces a lot of bold, dark flavors that work well together with a decent amount of complexity. Aside from a brief wavy burn and required touch-up in the final third, construction was on point with huge plumes of smoke.

Price is competitive with other cigars on the market, and I would say this is one of the best blends currently in the Drew Estate portfolio. These cigars are a limited production, so they’re a bit hard to come by. I recommend giving the Undercrown ShadyXX a try if you can find it!

Smoke on!

-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca No. 552

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I do a full review of my #1 cigar of 2019, the Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca No. 552. This beefy 5 x 52 Robusto retails for $10.75 and features a Connecticut Broadleaf No. 1 Dark Corona wrapper with a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca

Pre-Light

On the cold draw I taste bitter, damp fruit notes. The wrapper produces a rich musty molasses aroma while the foot smells similar. Once lit, I pick up toast and molasses. Through the nose, toast blends with sweet cinnamon and brown sugar. The finish consists of cocoa and coffee.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca

First Third

Thirty minutes in, the first third closes out. On the draw, I pick up coffee with brown sugar and smoked almond. Through the nose, I find light cinnamon and oak notes. The finish hits me with rich molasses and deeper coffee alongside light black pepper. Strength is a steady medium while body is very full.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca

Second Third

The second third wraps up at one hour. The smoke off of this Mi Querida Triqui Traca is extremely thick and chewy. The draw continues to give me coffee with molasses and underlying tart cherry. On the retro-hale, cinnamon picks up with a delicious gingerbread note. Coffee turns to espresso on the finish with a complementing molasses and leather core. There is no change to strength or body.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca

Final Third

The final third wisps away at one hour and forty minutes. On the draw, black pepper and molasses dominate with occasional hints of tart cherry. There is more gingerbread through the nose with hints of cherry and orange peel. Leather comes up front on the finish with smoky oak and more coffee. Strength finishes at medium while body closes out very full.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca

Overall Thoughts

The Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Mi Querida Triqui Traca No. 552 is simply a phenomenal cigar. It displays an impressive amount of complexity with flavor depth beyond most blends. Construction is spot on with a perfect draw and sharp burn. It’s certainly a finger-burner.

One of the most satisfying elements of this cigar is the density of the smoke with a rich chewiness. It’s also one of the rare cigars that provides an enormous level of flavor without being overpowering on strength. There’s a reason I named this cigar my #1 of 2019 – I can’t stop smoking these. This is one of my favorite cigars of the last decade, and you just have to try it!

Smoke on!

-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | CAO Session Garage

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the CAO Session Garage. This cigar retails for $8.59. It features a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper with a Dominican Vega Especial binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The Session line is a nod to Rick Rodriguez’ “Sessions” with friends smoking in his garage. It’s touted as something any smoker can enjoy.

CAO Session Garage

Pre-Light

Pre-light, the wrapper produces a rich barnyard and fruit aroma, while I smell the same out of the foot. Once lit, there is black pepper and saltiness on the tongue. Through the nose, I pick up subtle cedar and cocoa notes. The finish is bitter with a lead and graphite note.

CAO Session Garage

First Third

Twenty-five minutes in, the first third comes to a close. On the draw, I find black pepper with damp wood. Smoke is thick and oily. Through the nose, I pick up prune and black pepper notes. The finish offers leather with clove and ginger. Strength and body settle in at medium-to-full.

CAO Session Garage

Second Third

The second third gets me to fifty-five minutes. The draw consists of black pepper and char. On the retro-hale, black pepper and toast dominate with subtle raspberry. The finish hits me with more leather and clove with an oiliness coating my tongue. There is no change to strength or body.

CAO Session Garage

Final Third

The final third ends at one hour and twenty-five minutes. On the draw, there is more black pepper with leather. Through the nose, I pick up sweet toast and black pepper. On the finish, more leather and clove blend together, but the last 10 to 15 minutes present an unpleasant and bitter graphite flavor. Strength and body finish out at medium-to-full.

CAO Session Garage

Overall Thoughts

CAO Session is an okay cigar. It displayed excellent smoke output and construction, but it was generally underwhelming. For the most part, flavors are enjoyable enough, but the profile is somewhat simple.

The big downside for me is the bitter graphite flavor the cigar finished with in every sample I smoked. It doesn’t present itself until the very end, but it’s what sticks in my mind most. As with any cigar, I always recommend trying it for your own evaluation, but the price doesn’t justify the CAO Session for me.

Smoke on!

-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres. This cigar comes in a single size – a 6 x 54 Toro – and retails for $15.99. It features a Mexican San Andres wrapper covering a double Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan fillers. El Milagro San Andres is rolled at El Titan de Bronze in Miami, Florida.

Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres

Pre-Light

The cold draw offers black licorice and plum flavor. The wrapper produces an earthly chocolate aroma, while I smell more of a chocolate out of the foot. Once lit, I pick up black pepper spice with leather. My nose finds toast and black pepper. There is spicier black pepper on the finish with very light cocoa.

Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres

First Third

Thirty five minutes into smoking, El Milagro San Andres mellows past the first third. The draw offers me very light flavors of black pepper and grassy earth. Through the nose, I pick up hints of burnt marshmallow with smoky almond. The finish consists of black pepper and an unpleasant, sour earth. Strength and body settle in at medium.

Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres

Second Third

The second third disappears after an hour and fifteen minutes. The draw is a blend of earth and cedar with black pepper. On the retro-hale, things change with light floral notes and earth. The finish gives me more black pepper and earth. Thankfully, the sour element has vanished. Strength and body remain unchanged.

Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres

Last Third

An hour and fifty minutes in, this slow-burner sees its final puffs. Light black pepper blends with cedar and underlying citrus on the draw. Through the nose, more floral notes appear with toast. The finish offers grassy earth with citrus carrying through and a distinct fresh green pepper flavor. Strength and body finish out at a steady medium.

Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres

Final Thoughts

The Black Star Line Cigars El Milagro San Andres is a decent cigar. It starts out with some unpleasant sourness, but flavors improve as it’s smoked. I was hoping for a little more depth and body in this blend. It didn’t blow me away, but it was pleasant enough. I believe this blend would benefit from six months to a year of rest in the humidor.

The big gripe I have with El Milagro San Andres is the price. My reviews are focused mainly on flavors and performance, but price does play a part for most cigar smokers. It’s not the most expensive cigar around, but $15.99 is a lot to pay for what I call an average cigar. If the price doesn’t bother you, or you just want to support a small, lesser-known cigar brand, give it a try.

Smoke on!

-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM Belicoso Fino

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM in the Belicoso Fino size. This 5 ½ x 52 box-pressed cigar was created to celebrate Southern Draw’s fifth anniversary. This initial run is limited to 2,500 bundles of 10.

Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM

Kudzu LUSTRUM features a Nicaraguan Medio Tiempo Habano wrapper covering a Nicaraguan Ometepe binder and Nicaraguan fillers. Retail price is set at $11.89, and the cigars are packed in camouflage paper bundles.

Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM

Pre-Light

The wrapper produces a rich leather aroma, while I smell dried fruit out of the foot. The cold draw gives me flavors similar to the pre-light aroma. Once lit, there is rich leather and earth with saltiness on the draw. Leather and cocoa come through the nose. Heavy smoke output and a perfect draw are notable. The finish brings saltiness through with coffee and earth.

Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM

First Third

Thirty-five minutes in, the first third comes to a close. On the draw, oak and leather coat my palate. Through the nose, I pick up nutty toast with black pepper. The finish offers up rich cocoa and coffee. Strength and body settle in at medium-to-full.

Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM

Second Third

The second third gets me to one hour. Salty earth and citrus complements continued oak. On the retro-hale, I taste what I can only describe as a delicious spicy sourdough loaf. There is more cocoa on the finish with dried cherry and leather. Strength and body remain medium-to-full.

Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM

Third…Third

An hour and a half into this gem, my final puffs wisp away. On the draw, there is buttery toast with black pepper and more citrus. Through the nose, more spicy sourdough notes pair well with dark coffee. I find no distinguishable changes to the finish, and strength and body finish out at medium-to-full.

Final Thoughts

The Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM Belicoso Fino is a phenomenal cigar. The depth of flavors on this cigar are where it really shines. It’s not the most complex smoke, but the notes coming through are rich and full. It begs to keep being smoked, and it’s one of those cigars you simply itch to have again. I’m inclined to say this is now the crown jewel of the Southern Draw portfolio, and I highly recommend you get a bundle or two before they disappear.

The Southern Draw Kudzu LUSTRUM was my #4 cigar of 2019. Check out my entire top 25 list of the best cigars of the year here.

Smoke on!

-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Highclere Castle Victorian Toro

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the new Highclere Castle Victorian in the Toro size. This 6 x 52 cigar is a follow up to the original Highclere Castle – a cigar created for its namesake made by Foundation Cigar Company which became my #1 cigar of 2017. The return features a similar blend with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder, and Nicaraguan fillers. It retails for $15.

Highclere Castle Victorian

Pre-Light

On the cold draw, I pick up a dried fruit flavor. The wrapper produces an earthy barnyard aroma while I smell rich tobacco out of the foot. Once lit, I pick up buttery toast. Through the nose, I taste a little cocoa and toast. On the finish, strength and body are immediately present with cocoa, toast, and cinnamon.

Highclere Castle Victorian

First Third

The first third closes out at thirty-five minutes. On the draw, I pick up buttery toast with black pepper. Through the nose, cedar blends with earth and more buttery toast. The finish offers roasted coffee with light cocoa and a little black pepper. Strength and body settle in at medium-to-full.

Highclere Castle Victorian

Second Third

The second third ends around one hour. Black pepper steals the stage on the draw with notes of hazelnut. On the retro-hale, I find more black pepper and buttery toast. The finish is delicious with roasted coffee and hazelnut. There is no change to strength or body.

Highclere Castle Victorian

Final Third

An hour and a half in, the cigar finishes out. On the draw, black pepper mixes with cedar and vegetal earth. Through the nose, floral notes appear with black pepper. The finish explodes with additional black pepper and potent nutmeg. Strength still floats around medium-to-full, but body jumps to full in this final third.

Highclere Castle Victorian

In Summary

The Highclere Castle Victorian is an excellent cigar. It burns great and puts out plenty of smoke. Flavors work well together, and complexity is sufficient. For $15, I expected a little more depth, but it was still a fantastic experience and a worthy follow-up to the original Highclere Castle cigar.

It’s hard to compare to the original as it’s a very different cigar. The original is much lighter but more refined. Regardless, the Highclere Castle Victorian definitely holds its own, and I highly recommend it.

Smoke on!

-CutLightSmoke