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The Great Outdoors Beckons

Cigar season is in full swing, thank heaven. For southerners and temperate left coasters, cigar season is a year-round phenomenon - you lucky sons of guns. But for the rest of the nation, we giddily celebrate the receding snow lines and the packing away of the winter gear, and find great joy in hosing down the patio furniture and declaring the official return of "get your rear end out of the house - shoes optional" season. It is not something to be taken lightly, or for granted.

But what to smoke? Old favorites, for sure, but Smoke's latest cigar panel has been busy checking out lots of new offerings - here's some of their favorites.

It's only been a short few years since Bill Paley Jr., the grandson of former Congress Cigar Company owner Samuel Paley, revived the defunct company's leading brand, La Palina. Absent from the market since 1926, when Samuel retired and the business was liquidated, the new La Palina has steadily expanded to include five distinct lines. Panelists took a shining to the La Palina Classic Robusto sampled here, with its medium-bodied, four-nation blend of tobaccos.

SMOKE Cigar Ratings
RatingQuality
96-100Superior
91-95Excellent
86-90Very Good
80-85Good
70-79Average
60-69Fair
Under 59Poor
George Rico, son of GR Tabacaleras Unidas factory founder Guillermo Rico, continues to prove his mastery of cigar blending as the family team notches another entry on the winner's list. The ginormous Gran Habano Gran Reserva #5 2010 is the latest release in George's limited edition Gran Reserva series, and this one is packed with well-aged, full-bodied tobaccos that deliver plenty of power and flavor. It's also a monster at 7 inches by 70 ring gauge. Better set aside the rest of the afternoon to enjoy this one.

Dunhill is a venerable cigar brand that elicits instant name recognition. In recent years, its owners - Scandinavian Tobacco Group - relocated the Dunhill Aged Selection to the Dominican Republic factory of its subsidiary, General Cigar Company. While the cigars sport new bands and boxes, the storied tradition lives on without missing a beat: these golden-hued lovelies continue to deliver the familiar Dunhill profile that speaks more to smooth subtleties than a raucous assault on one's tastes buds. Thank goodness we can count on some things in a world of rapid change.

Jameson Cigar Company of Proctorville, Ohio is the singular vision of founder Brad Mayo, who tapped the talents of cigar maker Luis Sanchez and his Dominican Republic factory, La Tradicion Cubana, for his specialty cigar lines. One of his newest cigars - the reinterpretation of an old Cuban brand from the mid-1800's called La Resolucˇon - comes in a single robusto size, and uses an unusual Dominican hybrid wrapper and a blend of Dominican, Nicaraguan, and U.S. leaf. The recipe proved enticing to our panel.

In all, there are 32 premium cigars sampled in this issue, which plenty of inspiration to shake things up.
-E.E.H.


Want more? For the full details of each review, including all the panelists views on aesthetics, construction, flavor, and more, subscribe now - or pick up a copy of SMOKE Magazine at a Tobacconist near you!

UNDERCROWN Gran Toro
Country:
Nicaragua
Manufacturer:
Drew Estate
Size:
6 x 52
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Nicaragua
Panelist #1 I smoked the first sample with a sweet milk stout and then another without a beverage. It was better with the stout.
88 very good
Panelist #2 My overall favorite and a great smoke. Enjoyed this by the fire pit with a glass of Talisker Scotch.
89 very good
Panelist #3 This is for those who like smoking strong cigars in a library surrounded by high mahogany bookshelves.
92 excellent

LA PALINA CLASSIC ROBUSTO
Country:
DR
Manufacturer:
La Palina Cigar Co.
Size:
5 x 52
Filler:
DR, Nic
Binder:
Ecuador
Wrapper:
Brazil
Panelist #1 This cigar pairs favorably with a single malt scotch and/or an extra dry martini. I found it versatile and enjoyable.
92 excellent
Panelist #2 I anticipated the cigar based on the look and feel, but I just did not favor that bitterness. Might just need aging?
91 excellent
Panelist #3 This cigar is strong and I would not recommend it as a first assignment. But it is definitely a bold choice.
92 excellent

DAVIDOFF PURO D'ORO GORDITO
Country:
DR
Manufacturer:
Davidoff of Geneva
Size:
3 3/4 x 58
Filler:
DR
Binder:
DR
Wrapper:
DR
Panelist #1 A full-stomach smoke. Powerhouse from start to finish. Would definitely try this cigar again.
97 superior
Panelist #2 Love this smoke! Particularly in the morning instead of a morning cup of joe. Pleasant start to the day.
93 excellent
Panelist #3 An impressive full-flavor cigar. It has just enough spice and complexity without offering too much punch.
92 excellent

EZRA ZION HONOR SERIES REAGAN 40TH BOX PRESS
Country:
Nicaragua
Manufacturer:
Ezra Zion Cigar Company
Size:
6 x 52
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Nicaragua
Panelist #1 Pleasant well-made cigar with a solid core of earth and smokiness. A cigar for smoking on a windy patio.
85 good
Panelist #2 This cigar is a good all day smoke. Good flavor, not too complex. Never bitter or hot. Welcome to my rotation.
91 excellent
Panelist #3 Have a nice big meal before you fire this one up. Pair cognac, grappa, or a 107 proof bourbon with this guy.
89 very good

VILLIGER COLORADO DOUBLE ROBUSTO
Country:
Nicaragua
Manufacturer:
Villiger North America
Size:
5 1/2 x 54
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Nicaragua
Panelist #1 Did not knock my socks off, but it was certainly good enough to try again.
87 good
Panelist #2 A great mid-day cigar enjoyed with a cup of strong coffee. I will put this in my humidor.
90 very good
Panelist #3 Mild-to medium strength with a nutty and rich flavor profile. Not the least bit bitter.
90 very good

Rabbit Air Purifiers

PAUL STULAC WHITE BLINDING LIGHT ROBUSTO
Country:
Miami
Manufacturer:
Paul Stulac Cigars
Size:
5 x 54
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Sumatra
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Panelist #1 This cigar is the product of a skilled roller and each sample was better than the last. Pairs well with Jim Beam.
92 excellent
Panelist #2 Consistent and refreshing. Great feel and a perfect pairing with Malamars and a cold glass of milk.
91 excellent
Panelist #3 My profile does not run to a floral taste in cigars. The complexity and balance was very good, but it's not for me.
87 very good

GRAN RESERVA #5 GRAN HABANO 2010 GRANDIOSO
Country:
Honduras
Manufacturer:
G.R. Tabacleras Unidas
Size:
7 x 70
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Nicaragua
Panelist #1 For the most experienced smokers. Pairs well with XO Cognac. To light, you should use a Swan Vista
96 superior
Panelist #2 Perfect cigar if you're eating in a really nice Italian restaurant somewhere in the Bronx.
87 good
Panelist #3 Good complexity and balance. I enjoyed the cocoa taste coupled with the earthiness. I would buy this cigar.
92 excellent

E.P. CARRILLO CARDINAL SERIES NATURAL 54
Country:
DR
Manufacturer:
EPC Cigar Company
Size:
6 x 54
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Panelist #1 All samples were consistent. Because of the lack of flavor, I might not necessarily smoke this one again.
84 good
Panelist #2 Nice stick to end the day on the porch. Would take to the golf course- but would not share with other golfers.
90 very good
Panelist #3 This cigar is decidedly on the mild side and well suited for a casual smoking experience.
87 very good

CLE 2012 COROJO CORONA GORDA
Country:
Honduras
Manufacturer:
CLE Cigar Company
Size:
5 3/4 x 46
Filler:
Honduras
Binder:
Honduras
Wrapper:
Honduras
Panelist #1 My favorite cigar in the review pak. It kept a strong ash, even burn, and great aroma for the entire smoke.
90 very good
Panelist #2 Overall, a mild cigar, though nothing too exemplary. Still, it was quite an enjoyable smoke.
88 very good
Panelist #3 An average cigar with a mild profile. Nothing really stood out, good or bad, but still a pleasant smoke.
84 good

DUNHILL RESERVA ESPECIAL ROBUSTO GRANDE
Country:
DR
Manufacturer:
Dunhill Tobacco of London
Size:
6 x 54
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Panelist #1 This cigar was mild, and I smoke several medium to strong cigars a day. Excellent for mild palates or beginners.
90 very good
Panelist #2 A decent medium bodied cigar particularly for a morning smoke. Good complexity and balance.
93 excellent
Panelist #3 An impeccable, early smoke. Flavors are complex but subtle. This cigar solidly exceeded my expectations!
94 superior

The Island Smoke Shop

SENIOR SOLOMON MADURO ROBUSTO
Country:
Nicaragua
Manufacturer:
Solomon Cigar Co.
Size:
5 x 54
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Brazil
Panelist #1 Good early smoke, or a golf course goody. Great look but could use character and depth, perhaps in the aging.
90 very good
Panelist #2 Enjoyable from the first draw to the last. Effortless smoke. I may adopt it as my new session stogie.
95 excellent
Panelist #3 Ideal for celebration, whether to close out an exclusive event or conclude a special evening.
93 excellent

HERMITAGE TORO
Country:
DR
Manufacturer:
Klin Tobacco Company
Size:
6 x 54
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Panelist #1 I do not usually smoke box pressed cigars but this cigar is a real treat and was obviously a quality product.
92 excellent
Panelist #2 A good cigar that has both great complexity and balance. The flavors were very enjoyable and lasting.
88 very good
Panelist #3 More flavorful than expected, given the mild pre-light aroma. However, in some stretches the flavors faded.
89 very good


C-Gars Ltd.


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