tobacco

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 | Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez Toro

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the new Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez. This cigar was released at the 2017 IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas. It is one of the newest Altadis USA cigars blended by AJ Fernandez. For this review, I check out the Toro, a 6 x 55 box-pressed stick. It retails for $11. I’ve enjoyed most anything AJ Fernandez has blended, so let’s see what we get!

Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

On the cold draw, I get light bourbon flavor, specifically, the spicy, oaky notes in Maker’s 46. The wrapper produces a grassy earth aroma, while I smell damp woods out of the foot. Once lit, I’m greeted with cinnamon, black pepper, and leathery earth. Through the nose, there is a nice sweetness with cedar and bread notes. The finish offers hefty body with black pepper, toast, and molasses.

Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

Thirty-five minutes in, the first third closes out. On the draw, I pick up grassy earth with some black pepper. Through the nose, salty leather blends with a burnt caramel. The finish hits me with leather and more black pepper. Strength and body settle in at the medium-to-full mark.

Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

The second third finishes after one hour. There is a rich tobacco core on the draw complimented by black pepper and sweet earthy flavors. Red pepper and leather blow through my sinuses on the retro-hale. The finish offers me black pepper spice and earth. Strength and body both remain at a steady medium-to-full.

Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

The final third wisps away at an hour and a half. On the draw, I find leather and black pepper. Through the nose, cinnamon makes an appearance with additional leather. There is no change to the finish. Strength and body close out at medium-to-full.

Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez

The Monte by Montecristo AJ Fernandez is a pretty good smoke. It offers a moderate amount of complexity with some enjoyable flavors. If you’ve had other AJ Fernandez blends, this will be a familiar experience with its own uniqueness. Construction is perfect with giant chunks of ash stacking like quarters. I feel this should be a few dollars cheaper, but I would guess the Montecristo name drives the price. At any rate, it’s definitely worth trying, but I wouldn’t rush out to grab a box.

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | LEAF by Oscar Sumatra

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I review an eye-catching cigar. The LEAF by Oscar in the Sumatra variety comes wrapped in an actual tobacco leaf instead of the traditional cellophane. For this review, I smoke the Toro size that comes in at a classic 6×50. The wrapper on this stick is an Ecuadorian Sumatra, and the binder and filler tobaccos are all from Honduras.

LEAF by Oscar Sumatra

I unwrap the outer tobacco leaf and find a rough looking stick with crooked caps and minor wrapper imperfections. The wrapper gives off a very pungent barnyard and damp soil aroma. Out of the foot, I find a light floral aroma. The cold draw offers almost no flavor with just an airy grass. Once lit, there is noticeable tobacco and black pepper spice with leather on the tongue. Through the nose, I am blasted with sweet caramel, cedar, and sweet earth. The finish gives me black and red pepper spice with leather and creamy wood.

LEAF by Oscar Sumatra

Thirty minutes in, the first third closes out. On the draw, I find almond alongside nutty earth and toast. Through the nose, there is a blast of fruity wood and black pepper. The finish gives me more black pepper with the addition of delicious, creamy leather. Both strength and body settle in at the medium mark.

LEAF by Oscar Sumatra

The second third ends at fifty-five minutes. The draw is dominated by a tobacco core with creamy cocoa and black pepper spice. The retro-hale offers up a mix of cedar and roasted coffee. On the finish, I find sweet caramel with a perfect combination of toast and leather. Strength and body remain consistent at the medium mark.

LEAF by Oscar Sumatra

The final third closes out at an hour and a half. On the draw, there is fruity cedar with more tobacco and cocoa notes. Through the nose, I am treated to spicy vanilla alongside black pepper and coffee. The finish consists of earthy leather with more black pepper and some walnut flavor. Strength and body finish out at the medium mark.

LEAF by Oscar Sumatra

The LEAF Sumatra is a fine cigar with smooth, mellow flavor that blends beautifully. It’s got enough complexity to keep things interesting, but it’s not overwhelming. This is a cigar you can light up and not think too hard about. Price is not bad at around $9, and it’s something I would definitely smoke again and highly recommend.

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Inferno 3rd Degree by Oliva

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out a shop exclusive cigar. The Inferno 3rd Degree is made by Oliva exclusively for Famous Smoke Shop. For this review, I check out the 6×50 Toro size. The cigar is a Nicaraguan puro with a Habano wrapper. It appears to be rolled well with near invisible seems and an even pack.

Inferno 3rd Degree

On the first light, my palate is blasted with black pepper spice on top of underlying leather and coffee. Through the nose, I pick up tobacco with earth and more black pepper spice. The finish offers me coffee and spicy red pepper. I prepare for a pepper bomb as I make my way into the cigar.

Thirty minutes in, I finish the first third. On the draw, there is black pepper spice up front mixed with coffee and earth. The retro-hale offers me red pepper with leather and tobacco. I find a distinct charred peanut note with more black pepper and hay on the finish. Strength and body are both at the medium-to-full mark.

Inferno 3rd Degree

The second third closes out after one hour. The draw presents me with a spicy dried fruit note on top of a large amount of pistachio flavor and black pepper. A tobacco core alongside spicy red pepper dominates the retro-hale. On the finish, there is a mix of smoky leather and black pepper. Strength and body both creep up to the full mark.

The final third finishes at an hour and a half. On the draw, I pick up smooth earth with black pepper and cedar. Through the nose, I continue to find tobacco and red pepper with the addition of a creamy peanut note. The finish transitions to a combination of black pepper, toast, and char. The strength and body drop back down to the medium-to-full mark in this final third.

Inferno 3rd Degree

The Inferno 3rd Degree is an affordable cigar with moderate complexity and enjoyable, bold flavors. Being made by Oliva, construction is top notch and consistent. This cigar is by no means in the ranks of the most popular super-premiums, but it fits the bill for a quality stick that doesn’t break the bank. Consider this a highly recommended budget-friendly option for any pepper-heads out there.

Cigar Review | Ted’s Farris Cigar Toro

The Ted’s Farris Toro is part of the Ted’s Select Collection and comes in 6 x 50, 5 x 50 and 5.5 x 56 all box-pressed. The Ted’s Farris Cigar was released in 2014 and created to match the attributes of his grandmother… “strong but likeable”.

One of her favorite sayings was, “Don’t Borrow Trouble”.

The cigar reviewed here is a Dominican cigar and is the 6″ x 50 Toro which came in a glass tube (Box-pressed). Generally, they are available on the website in boxes of 20.

Ted's Farris

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo
Binder: Dominican Olor
Filler: Nicaraguan Viso, Dominican Cuban Seed Ligero & Seco
Price: $8.75

The cigar has a medium firm roll and has a single cap. The aroma is of glue, must and earth along with sweet tobacco. The draw is medium to firm.

Before lighting, the cold draw has tingly pepper on the lips and tobacco flavor.

Ted's Farris

Flavors

There are three flavors present in this cigar: tobacco, pepper and the infamous LeeMack912, “Domincan Twang”. Overall the flavors are medium body and the finish is short/medium.

LeeMack912 Rating

Price- (2-3)/10
Flavor- 3/10
Complexity- 3/10
Construction- 5/10
Total – 6.7/10

Ted's Farris

Final Thoughts

I liked the glass tube presentation. This is a decent cigar though I feel it is a bit overpriced. Flavor and strength were likeable just not a set of flavors that I enjoy very much.