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.

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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.


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


Cigar Review | Padron 1926 F75

Padron 1926 F75 Cigar Review: A Famous Smoke Shop Exclusive.

Today I will be smoking and reviewing the Padron 1926 F75…Famous Smoke Shop exclusive. This cigar will be paired with a very special and rare beer- the Goose Island Bourbon County stout. This pairing was providing by Matthew Nelson a member of the US Air Force and a special friend. The released near the end of 2015, this cigar was created to celebrate the opening of the New York Famous Smoke store by CEO Arthur Zaretsky’s parents (David and Rose) in 1939. Arthur Zaretsky subsequently took over the business and turned it into one of the largest on-line retailers in the country.

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When it comes to cigars, the Padron family has consistently created some of the best cigars in the industry. The Padron 1926 F75 is no exception. It come in a single box pressed size (5 x 54) and retails for $21 USD. They were crafted with 5 year old Nicaraguan tobacco. Truth be told, I am unsure if he smoke the natural or the maduro as Padron maduro’s tend to be lighter in shade than other cigars in the industry. The construction on this cigar was excellent. Minimal veins on the wrapper and a draw that was effortless. A quick look at the foot of the cigar makes me think that this was rolled using the entubar method.

I was surprised that this cigar was not very strong. It starts off medium strength with a medium body. The finish is interesting in that a part of it was short and another part was medium to long. I am pleasantly surprised with flavors of sweet brown sugar, chocolate, espresso and black pepper. As soon as the smoke left my mouth most of the flavors dropped off leaving the pepper to coat my mouth.

IMHO, THIS is what an anniversary cigar should taste like. Good strength, good flavor and excellently blended aged tobacco. This cigar pairs excellently with the Goose Island Bourbon County stout. At 13.8% alcohol you have to remember to sip slowly as you puff on the Padron. The pair makes for the makings of another great day

Price – 3/5
Construction – 5/5
Flavor – 4/5
Overall Experience – 4/5

Total – 4/5

Cigar Review | Fratello Boxer

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Fratello Boxer. This 6.25×52 box-pressed Torpedo features a gorgeous, reddish-brown Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. Underneath is an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and fillers from Nicaragua and Peru. It appears to be expertly rolled.

Fratello Boxer

The wrapper produces a bold manure aroma. Out of the foot, I smell an herbal earth and leather aroma. On the cold draw, I pick up a slight bitter earth flavor. Once lit, there is rich chocolate and black pepper on the draw. Through the nose, there is more chocolate with earth and white pepper. On the finish, I find more spicy black pepper, leather, and a dark wood.

After twenty-five minutes, the first third comes to a close. This third is much like the start of the cigar. On the draw, I pick up rich chocolate with a bomb of black pepper. Through the nose, I find sweet earth with white pepper. The finish offers cinnamon with charred peanut and leather. Strength and body settle in at the medium-to-full mark.

Fratello Boxer

The second third gets me to fifty-five minutes. I pick up more chocolate on the draw alongside a metallic grass. On the retro-hale, I’m treated with a delicious mix of salted caramel and molasses. The finish is oily with earth, more leather, and black pepper. Strength and body remain at the medium-to-full mark.

Fratello Boxer

The final third closes out at one hour and fifteen minutes. Chocolate continues to dominate the draw alongside a sweet oak. Through the nose, the oak carries through but with a smoky characteristic and a compliment of more molasses. On the finish, spicy black pepper and earth blast my palate. Strength and body jump to the full mark in this final third.

Fratello Boxer

The Fratello Boxer is a phenomenal cigar with flavors that keep you begging for more. It’s a complex smoke with a profile that just melts together to create a smooth and balanced experience. It’s got enough strength and body to keep things interesting, but it’s not going to knock you out, either. For my first Fratello cigar, this sure did impress me, and I can’t wait to try more. I highly recommend this cigar!

I’d like to give a big shout out and thank you to my friend, Joan, for sending this to me for review. I greatly appreciate it!

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | E.P. Carrillo Maduro No. 4

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the E.P. Carrillo Maduro in the No. 4 size. This 5.1×42 Corona features a blotchy Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper that looks as if it could be dyed. This wrapper leaf is aged three years prior to rolling. Within is an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

EP Carrillo Maduro

The wrapper puts off a minimal manure aroma. Out of the foot, there is a raisin aroma. The cold draw is snug with chocolate and raisin flavor. Once lit, I pick up dark chocolate, mild raisin, and earth on the tongue. Through the nose, I find smooth leather with cedar and chocolate. The finish is short with black pepper spice and more chocolate.

Twenty-five minutes in, the first third comes to a close. On the draw, there is dark chocolate alongside black bean and oak. Through the nose, I find a delicious blend of dark earth, vanilla, and heavy cream. The finish is long with espresso, black pepper, and black licorice. Both the strength and body settle in at the full mark.

EP Carrillo Maduro

The second third gets me to forty-five minutes. The draw offers a chocolate-covered raisin note on top of more oak. On the retro-hale, there is more tasty vanilla complimented by leather. The black pepper is toned down on the finish and mixes with espresso and butterscotch. There is no change to strength or body.

EP Carrillo Maduro

One hour and fifteen minutes in, the final third comes to a close. On the draw, I pick up toast with a bold, bitter espresso and some char. Through the nose, cocoa and leather dominate as vanilla falls off. The finish continues to be long with fruity earth, black pepper, and the return of black licorice. Strength and body drop down slightly in the final third to the medium-to-full mark.

EP Carrillo Maduro

The E.P. Carrillo Maduro is a delicious cigar for an exceptional price. It retails for around $5 and can be had for even cheaper if you know where to look. The flavors I found in the cigar are reminiscent of the Drew Estate Papas Fritas mixed with the Cohiba Secretos. Not often do you find a stick in this price range that offers so much complexity and depth. The burn and construction is spot-on aside from a slightly snug draw. This is the kind of cigar that would be perfect as a “daily driver,” and I highly recommend it.

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Drew Estate MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured Yard Bird

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Drew Estate My Uzi Weighs a Ton Kentucky Fire Cured Yard Bird. This 5×50 Torpedo was recently released at the annual Kentucky Fire Cured Barn Smoker in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. I was fortunate enough to attend this event and published in-depth coverage right here on iROBUSTO. Be sure to check that out as well! The Yard Bird is an event-only size for the Kentucky Fire Cured blend, meaning you can only get them at the Barn Smokers and other select Drew Estate events. I find varying information regarding the exact blend of the cigar, but it appears the cigar features two wrappers, one being a San Andres Maduro. Inside is a blend of Nicaraguan, Brazilian Mata Fina, and of course, American Kentucky Fire Cured tobacco.

Drew Estate MUWAT KFC Yard Bird

The wrapper gives off a smoky hickory aroma reminiscent of a bonfire alongside a slight floral smell. Out of the foot, I find a similar aroma with an extra barbeque element to it. The cold draw only gives me some bitter wood flavor. Once lit, I get a mild smoky hickory flavor and black pepper spice on the draw. Through the nose, I find sweet caramel and hickory. On the finish, I pick up similar flavors with spicy coffee.

Twenty-five minutes in, I finish the first third. There is some salty earth alongside meaty wood and smoky barbeque flavor on the draw. Through the nose, I find more smoky barbeque and hickory notes. The finish gives me a little black pepper spice and undertones of smoky mocha and caramel. Strength and body are at the medium mark.

Drew Estate MUWAT KFC Yard Bird

The second third closes out at fifty-five minutes. On the draw, I find an oily, bitterness to the smoky notes on top of a creamy chocolate. The retro-hale produces cedar with a hint of molasses and maple syrup. The finish is bold with a smoky chocolate note alongside salty hickory. All of these flavors are topped off with a barrage of smoky, bonfire-barbeque-hardwood goodness. The strength and body jump up to the medium-to-full mark.

Drew Estate MUWAT KFC Yard Bird

After one hour and twenty minutes, the final third closes out at the nub. The barbeque, bonfire, and smoked hardwood notes continue to be dominate. The draw also bombs me with molasses on top of a charred peanut flavor. Through the nose, I find hints of caramel, cedar, and coffee. I pick up on some oily earth and black pepper on the finish. Strength and body close out at the medium-to-full mark.

Drew Estate MUWAT KFC Yard Bird

The Drew Estate Kentucky Fire Cured cigars are an awesome change of pace for a unique, delicious experience. The Yard Bird is no exception and is a welcome addition to the growing profile this blend offers. It’s not overly complex, but it doesn’t have to be. The flavors I pick out in this review are to be taken as light hints of flavor I’ve found on top of the phenomenal blast of smoky hardwood, barbeque, and bonfire-esque flavors that dominate this smoke. It’s not an everyday cigar, but it’s certainly one I’ll be keeping in my “every-once-in-a-while” rotation. The fire cured tobacco segment in the premium cigar industry is small, but Drew Estate successfully leads the charge with the Kentucky Fire Cured line. I highly recommend these cigars.

It’s all about the smoke!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | La Dueña

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I review an old favorite of mine and see how it fares after a long vacation from my palate.

La Duena

The wrapper gives me a tobacco and leather aroma, while the foot produces a smell of spicy nutmeg. The cold draw offers some black pepper spice and cedar. Once torched up, I get a smoky fruit on the draw with some spicy black pepper and cinnamon. Through the nose, I get a classic My Father pepper bomb and coffee. The finish gives me bitter black pepper, earth, and almond.

After twenty minutes, I finish the first third. On the draw, I find some dark chocolate with blackberry and coffee notes. Through the nose, there is spicy black pepper with some toast and a dark earth. The finish is delicious with a chocolate-covered peanut note on top of smoky leather. Both the strength and body settle in at the medium-to-full mark.

La Duena

The second third closes out at forty minutes. The draw presents me with some raisin alongside more dark chocolate and metallic earth. Through the nose, I pick up more black pepper with hay and what is now very nutty earth. The finish is long offering up salty cocoa with more smoky leather. There is no change to strength or body.

La Duena

The final third gets me to the one-hour mark. On the draw, there is some bold espresso with more dark chocolate flavor and cedar. The retro-hale gives me additional black pepper with an earth that has now become very meaty. The finish is a lovely mix of buttery, salty chocolate on top of grass and leather. The strength and body finish out consistently at the medium-to-full mark.

La Duena

La Dueña is a complex cigar with flavors that balance well together. It has enough strength to be recognizable, but it doesn’t knock you out. At the $8-9 price range, it’s not too shabby on price, either. I highly recommend this cigar and can say that this blend ages well, too. Don’t miss this one!

Keep it smoky!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Curivari Reserva Limitada Cafe Noir

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this go around, I check out the Curivari Reserva Limitada Café Noir in the 56 size. This 6×56, slightly box-pressed Toro features all Cuban-seed, Nicaraguan tobacco. The wrapper is velvety smooth, and it looks to be rolled very well with a dense pack.

Curivari Reserva Limitada Cafe Noir

The wrapper gives off a mild tobacco and grass aroma. Out of the foot, I find a cinnamon smell with more tobacco. On the cold draw, there is a slight wood and black licorice flavor. Once lit, there is a noticeable smokiness with black pepper and leathery wood. Through the nose, there is a bomb of black pepper spice with an espresso and coffee mix. The finish is very spicy and earthy.

After twenty-five minutes, I finish the first third. On the draw, I find a cherry and chocolate mix alongside some espresso and rich earth. Through the nose, there is spicy cedar and a nutty char note. The finish is long with fruity leather, black pepper, and cinnamon. Both the strength and body fall in the medium-to-full range.

Curivari Reserva Limitada Cafe Noir

Fifty minutes in, the second third closes out. The draw gives me toast on top of coffee and a nice mix of sweet hay and chocolate. The retro-hale has some spice to it with cayenne pepper and cedar. On the finish, I find black licorice with smoky leather and some earth. There is no change to the strength or body of the smoke.

Curivari Reserva Limitada Cafe Noir

The final third gets me to one hour and twenty minutes. On the draw, there is more coffee and chocolate with the addition of some bitter char. Through the nose, I pick up some floral cedar with a spicy vanilla note. The finish is still long with more smoky leather on top of a grassy earth and black pepper mix. Both the strength and body jump up to the full mark in the final third.

Curivari Reserva Limitada Cafe Noir

The Café Noir is a tasty cigar with a wide range of balanced, complex flavors. It’s got a decent amount of strength in the final third, topping off the smoke, and performance is spot on. In the $8-9 range, it’s not a terrible price, either. This one is worth a try if you get the chance.

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)