tea

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

Cigar Review | MBombay KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out a new brand to my humidor. The MBombay KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka builds off the original release of the MBombay KeSara line with filler tobacco being aged three years longer on this new release. This 6.5×46 stick features a velvety smooth Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper securing an Ecuadorian binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Peru. It has a pigtail cap and appears to be expertly rolled.

MBombay KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka

The wrapper gives off a potent aged tobacco and manure aroma. The closed foot produces more of the same with a fruity element. On the cold draw, I pick up a salty cedar flavor. Once lit, the draw offers a buttery, creamy cedar flavor with a clove and leather mix. Through the nose, I find caramel and graham cracker alongside mild black pepper spice. The finish is smooth giving me more buttery cedar with spicy leather and a peanut note.

The first third ends at twenty-five minutes. On the draw, I find creamy cedar with caramel and mild leather. Through the nose, there is a distinct floral tea note on top of vanilla and toast. The finish consists of peanut alongside white pepper and sweet cedar. Strength is very mild, but the body of the smoke is a steady medium.

MBombay KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka

The second third gets me to fifty minutes. The draw offers black pepper and floral cedar. On the retro-hale, I pick up more vanilla with the addition of caramel and just a hint of tea. The finish is very smooth with more peanut flavor on top of white pepper and spicy hay. There is no change to strength or body.

MBombay KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka

The final third closes out at one hour and twenty minutes. The draw gives me a tasty mix of creamy toast, cedar, and sweet tea. Through the nose, there is a huge bomb of tea and floral earth. The finish consists of even more floral tea flavors on top of some spicy white pepper. Strength and body both finish out at the medium mark.

MBombay KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka

The KeSara Vintage Reserve is a pleasant change of pace to the world of mild to medium cigars. It offers up some moderate complexity with a lot of unique flavor. This is an elegant cigar that performs well aside from a few minor burn issues. If you enjoy lighter cigars, this is certainly one I recommend trying out.

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | MBombay Cigars KeSara Nikka

Recently I was contacted by Mel Shah of Bombay Tobak. Mel is the owner and brainchild of MBombay Cigars a.k.a. Bombay Tabak. Mel had come across iROBUSTO and the reviews of our staff members and wanted to know if we were interested in reviewing his cigars. “Sure why not?” I said. But I didn’t know much about Mel Shah or MBombay. I previously marveled at the design of the MBombay logo, but what was this mysterious cigar that seemed to continuously elude my grasp?

In a previous life, Mel Shah worked in the IT industry. In 2001, he retired and opened Fame Wine and Cigar Lounge in Palm Springs, California. After spending 10+ years on the retail side of the tobacco industry, Mel decided to utilize some of the tobacco farmer and dealer contacts. He set up deals to purchase tobacco and set about to find a factory that would ferment and roll according to his specifications. That was easier said than done. Eventually, he settled on Tabacos de Costa Rica. This choice of manufacturer would add 15-20% to the final cost, but allowed Mel to produce cigars which meet his standards.

The MBombay cigar line debuted in June 2014. It currently features 5 lines: the Classic (Ecuadorian Connecticut), Maduro (Corojo Oscuro), Mōra (Dominican Corojo), KeSara (Ecuador Connecticut Deas Florado), Habano (Ecuador Habano) and the KeSara Vintage Reserve “Nikka”.

MBombay Cigars

Today we will be reviewing the KeSara Vintage Reserve “Nikka”. These cigars come packaged in airtight jars with cedar lining and Boveda pack to preserve the flavor and humidity. According to Mel, the smell of the first cigar out of the box is different than the last one. Flavor and aroma are lost when stored in box. MBombay’s cans are lined with Spanish cedar and allows the cigars to age in the can. The KeSara Vintage Reserve Nikka uses the same blend as the original KeSara with the filler aged for an additional 3 years.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Deas Florado 2002
Binder: Ecuadorian Havana
Filler: Dominican and Peruvian (Aged an Additional three years)
Country of Origin: Costa Rica

MBombay Cigars

The Nikka features a closed foot and a pigtail head. Very smooth satin Ecuador Connecticut wrapper. The cigar feels firmly rolled with no soft or spongy spots. The aroma off the aroma is tobacco. Upon initial light I am met with a smooth sweet tobacco, cedar and white pepper flavor. The flavor is very smooth and the strength is mild. The draw is a little tight for my liking which limits my smoke output. On the retrohale I pick up nut, coffee and slight black pepper flavors. Within the first inch, the taste and aroma of sandalwood made a fleeting appearance. The cigar continues on the mild/medium side with a slightly tight draw throughout the first and second third.

The MBombay Vintage Reserve Nikka continues to be a smooth medium bodied cigar. The smoke output picks up and the white pepper increases ever so slightly. This cigar is pretty consistent from beginning to end. In the last two inches, the cigar experiences a shift in strength, flavors and smoke output. It picks up a cinnamon, intensified sweet tea and white pepper. The MBombay Vintage Reserve Nikka is a good solid cigar that tastes different than everything else in your humidor. This is a great cigar for both the new and experienced cigar smoker that wants to treat themself to a good cigar mild/medium cigar that is not super cost prohibitive. The Costa Rican manufacturing adds about $2.00 to the final sale price.

LeeMack912 Rating:

Price – 2.5/5*
Flavor – 3/5
Complexity – 3/5
Construction – 4.5/5
Total – 6.5/10* Had the price been more competitive this cigar would have scored higher and as stated earlier it is due to Costa Rican manufacturing.

MBombay Cigars

Cigar Review | La Colmena Unico Especial by Warped Cigars

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I smoke and review La Colmena by Warped Cigars. This review will be of the Unico Especial size, which was limited to only ten thousand cigars. It comes in at 5×48 and features a tapered head and closed-off, pigtail-style foot. This cigar features an Ecuadorian Deflorada wrapper with an Ecuadorian binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

La Colmena Unico Especial

The wrapper gives off a wood and coffee aroma. As the foot is closed, there are no aroma notes from the foot. On the cold draw, I find some bitter leather and earth flavor. Once lit, the draw opens up with spicy coffee, cinnamon, and leather. On the finish, I find black pepper, and through the nose, there is a toasty earth and a mild bitterness.

After twenty-five minutes, the first third closes out. Performance is stellar as the burn stays razor sharp and the stick emits huge plumes of smoke. On the draw, I pick up some cinnamon alongside a very herbal coffee and some honey. Through the nose, there is grass with lemon tea and toast. The finish is delicious with smooth, buttery leather on top of some honey graham cracker and brown sugar notes. The flavors are very Cuban-esque. Body falls in the medium-to-full range while the strength is a steady medium.

La Colmena Unico Especial

The second third finishes at fifty minutes. The draw offers me more herbal coffee with the introduction of vanilla and citrus. The retro-hale is slightly spicy with more lemon tea paired with some hay and toast. On the finish, I find tons of honey with floral toast, corn, and buttery cream. Both the strength and body are now at the medium mark.

La Colmena Unico Especial

One hour and fifteen minutes gets me to the end of the final third. On the draw, I’m delighted with a sweet earth mixed perfectly with lemon grass and toast. Through the nose, there is some leather with a perfume-like earth and some black pepper. The finish is superb with a bomb of honey and lemon on top of a vegetal cedar. There is no change to strength or body as they both finish out at the medium mark.

La Colmena Unico Especial

La Colmena is a phenomenal blend reminiscent of some of the most delectable Cuban cigars. This stick has a very high level of complexity, and the flavors melt together perfectly. I can honestly say this is one of the best cigars I’ve had this year, and I highly recommend trying it out. Even though the price is steep around the $15 mark, you won’t be disappointed!

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Graycliff Casillero Privada

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this go around, I check out the Graycliff Casillero Privada in the Piccolo Extra size. This stick is a 5×46 Torpedo with an unfinished, shaggy foot and a simple, elegant white label. It has an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper holding together tobaccos from Nicaragua, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic. The cigar is said to be very limited and comes in around $12 for the retail price.

Graycliff Casillero Privada

The wrapper gives off a strong barnyard aroma with wood and tobacco. There is a faint leather smell off the foot. The cold draw barely gives off any flavor other than a slight cedar. Once lit, I pick up a creamy graham cracker with some leather and a hint of spice. I also find a cinnamon note on the finish. The smoke output is lacking at first.

The first third lasts fifteen minutes and struggles to give off much smoke without excessive puffing. On the draw, I get a pleasant cinnamon spice with leather, grass, and cedar. There is a dominant herbal tea with a hint of earth and some clove on the retro-hale. Black pepper spice bombs my tongue on the finish alongside musty leather. The strength and body are on the low end of the medium-to-full mark. The cigar is burning very hot at this point.

Graycliff Casillero Privada

After half an hour, I finish the second third with continued burn problems. The draw gives me similar flavors to the first third. Through the nose, there is a spicy cinnamon with toast and more herbal tea. Musty leather and black pepper spice are both still consistent on the finish. There are not many flavor changes so far on this stick, and the body and strength remain the same.

I hit forty minutes and decide I’ve had enough. The smoke is now burning my tongue. Flavors on the draw and through the nose are the same with the exception of some additional spice. There is a spicy herbal tea on the finish with bitter wood and leather. There is still no change with strength and body.

Graycliff Casillero Privada

Overall, this cigar was terribly disappointing. The flavors were decent but did not transition at all. The lack of smoke output and hot, wonky burn were just too severe to overlook. There are far better cigars for the price, and I do not recommend the Casillero Privada.

Smoke on!

-Noah

Cigar Review | Ramon Allones Gigantes

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I’ve got a whopper of a Cuban cigar to review. The Ramon Allones Gigantes is a 7.6×49 Double Corona. This stick comes from a 2014 box code, so it is still young as far as Cuban cigars go. It’s perfectly rolled with a gorgeous, smooth wrapper that gives off a slight nuttiness. Out of the foot, there is a barnyard aroma.

The pre-light draw is effortless giving me a hint of wood on my tongue. Once I light this bad boy up, I am greeted with some toast and leather. The finish is short with additional toast. Through the nose, there is a mild spice alongside an earthy flavor.

Ramon Allones

The first third lasts twenty-five minutes. The cigar is very complex and I experience flavors of earth and leather on the draw. Through the nose, there is spice, sweet black licorice, and some hay. The finish leaves me with a pleasant berry accompanied by black pepper and smokiness towards the end. The finish is now lasting quite a while. Performance is stellar, and the cigar remains around the medium mark for body and strength.

The second third brings me to fifty minutes. The draw surprises me with a fragrant tea and a floral note as well as cinnamon spice. The retro-hale gives me some cedar, leather, and the same tea flavor as the draw. On the finish, the spice ramps up and compliments a walnut note. The strength is now at the medium to full mark. Performance remains consistent.

Ramon Allones

The final third closes out the experience at around two hours. On the draw, I pick up leather, more floral notes, and a slight char with a sweet pastry flavor. Through the nose, nuttiness and black licorice are dominant with a bit of a buttery cream. The long finish treats me to a spicy berry note with an orange zest and some black pepper. The strength finishes at the medium to full mark.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Gigantes. It’s a moderately priced Cuban that will give you a lot of complex flavor and some serious smoking time. Even being so young, this cigar performed great. This stick is one that would benefit tremendously with five to ten years of age, and I would certainly recommend smoking it. Aye, aye, Allones!

Until next time, keep on puffin’!

-Noah (CutLightSmoke)


To enjoy more videos from Noah, visit his cigar review page on YouTube. iROBUSTO is all about social collaboration and spreading the passion for cigars.

Cigar Review | Casa Magna Colorado Gran Toro

The Casa Magna Colorado Gran Toro has an amazing orange tint to it and a huge ring gauge of 56 and a standard toro length of 6 inches. The wrapper harnesses tightly packed tobacco. The Casa Magna Colorado makes a real appearance in the humidor with its colour and mass. It has that bold “Colorado” wrapper and an attractive golden cigar band.

The Cigar Details:

Wrapper: Ligero Colorado
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Ring Gauge: 56
Length: 6 inches
Color: Orangy Brown (I had to add this)

Casa Magna

The draw starts off as a tight draw and right away you can taste the ligero tobacco, there is a lot of flavour with peppery notes at the back of the throat. The cigar is a full bodied mammoth. Sporting a tight draw and low smoke output. This titan of a cigar burned well, and perhaps the tight draw was intentional as the strength of the cigar is very high right from jump.

The flavours I detected were a musty, tea, almond taste and a sticky nutty feel that coated my mouth. The finish is very short and then it subsides and then the finish comes back with a musty, tea, almond burst of flavour. This lead to a head rush, so be careful and pull accordingly.

At about ¾ of an inch in the ash dropped off, revealing a flowery foot, hiding the cherry. The spiciness almost disappears, making way for prominent tea and nut tastes. The experience smoothed out and perhaps that was because I was getting used the cigar.

As you can see in the cigar review video, Ligero tobacco plays a big role in this cigar. It’s not that cherry red hot taste that one gets from double ligero cigars, it jumps up over a very strong tea flavour and musty barnyard aromas and flavours. As I continued to get through the cigar, carefully, I might add because of the strength, I found the sweetness like sugar in tea. A quite welcomed flavour indeed.

Half Way

Can someone say, “toast” no, not cheers, toast as in charred bread, as in toast that one might have with tea. The flavours just run rampant on the palate as the finish is eternal from one puff to another. The cigar has toast and tea like bread and a smell of what it’s like being next to a bread factory. This is a must retrohale, to get these flavours..

Added Notes:

I had to double puff this cigar to the cigar to continually be stoked. I think I do that out of habit, not sure it was necessary.

This cigar burned oddly at times, but due to what I felt was a good constructed cigar, I left it alone and it always corrected itself; there was no need to touch this cigar up.

Near the Band

At about 60 to 70 minutes, earthy tones have picked up and the tea, almond and spice are all present. With all this flavour, it was very smooth. Much like the band and how easy it was to be removed. Very easy, but intricate in look and feel. After the band the Casa Magna Colorado held its own, it started to loosen up and the flavours intensified as you would expect as a cigar comes to a crescendo.

Final Thoughts and Challenge

Experienced cigar smokers only, this is not for rookies. The cigar is full bodied and full of flavour. I think a lot of critics held it to a high standard because it won cigar of the year 4 to 5 years ago. So their perception of expectation was way too high, if they can take themselves off their pedestal, try it again, I dare you.

Having said that, this is a very good cigar that needs to be enjoyed more than once before making any assumption. If you’ve had it and didn’t get the same flavours I did. I’d love to know, leave me a comment below in the comment box and let’s share our enthusiasm for cigars.


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