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Tobacco Plus Convenience Expo

CIGAR
OLYMPICS!

photos by Jeff Schnorr

"The toughest thing about success is that you've got to keep on being a success" - Irving Berlin

Whether you believe the season begins on Memorial Day (the first official "beach weekend") or you're one of the sticklers who still mark the Summer Solstice on June 21 as its offi-cial kick-off, by the time you hold this issue of SMOKE in your hands, there should be no doubt that summer is here. That means barbecuing out in the yard, softball in the park, road trips out to the ballpark, and, for many of us, the decidedly unmatched experience of lounging out on the porch, lighting up a good cigar, and letting the rest of the world go on without us for a while. And in the spirit of another summer tradition, albeit one that hap-pens only once very four years, SMOKE welcomes you to the Summer 2000 Cigar Review, or as we've been affectionately referring to it, the first Cigar Olympics.

The Summer Games take place this September (still summer, officially, if you're one of the sticklers) in Sydney, Australia. Inspired by the Olympic spirit of international competition, we're breaking from our usual formula of focusing on cigars of a specific shape, size, or type. Instead, we throw the field open for an unlimited variety of smokes, from as many tobacco-pro-ducing nations as we can represent.

SMOKE Cigar Ratings
RatingQuality
0-2.0Poor
2.1-2.9Fair
3.0-3.7Good
3.8-4.4Excellent
4.5-5.0Superior
You'll find the expected good number of offerings from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras; a select few from Cuba; and a handful of entries from Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the Canary Islands. Throw in the wrapper contributions from nations like Cameroon, Ecuador, Indonesia, and the good ol' U.S. of A, and we've got a veritable U.N. of cigar producers. There are coronas, robustos, torpedos, lonsdales, and figurados (the odd-looking but well--received Huevo de Cuba from Carlos III being possibly the most unique). Whether you like your smokes long or short, fat or thin, mild or full-bodied, we're betting one of our "member nations" has something in here to fit the bill.

The Gold Medal went to the Cuban Sancho Panza belicoso, which racked up a rare and impressive 4.6. Silver and Bronze honors were spread out among a host of others. The other Cuban entrants did well (4.3 for the Montecristo No. 4 and 4.2 for the Partagas Serie D No. 3), and Honduras snagged high honors for the Punch Gran Cru 11 (4.4) and a charming little robusto from Dunhill (4.1).

One of the Dominican Republic's top per-formers, Davidoff, did well with a couple of new offer-ings, the Special B (4.4) and the tubed Anniversario No. 3 (4.3). Typically well-represented in the review, the DR also scored big with the Fittipaldi Toro (4.4), and -proving that great things come in little packages - with Fuente's Short Story, the smallest cigar in the survey, racking up a 4.2. Nicaragua had some top vote-getters with two offerings from Perdomo, the box-pressed Exponente (4.3) and the Reserve T La Tradicion (45); and Cupido's Corona Canela (43). Costa Rica impressed the judges with a few from Tony Borhani, the Hoja Cubana XXO (4.4) and the Bahia Gold Maduro (4.1).

Thanks to our panelists, who this month included first-timers James Templeton, Steve Schoeffel, and Tim McDaniel - all winners of SMOKE's "Become a Reviewer" contest. If you're a cigar smoker who's anx-ious to share your opinions, visit our contest page and enter the fray. It's a lot easier than trying out for the Olympics.

- Mark Bernardo


Rocky Mt. Cigar Fest.


Still want more?
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BALMORAL ROYAL SELECTION Torpedo
Country:
Dominican Republic
Wrapper:
Brazil
Binder:
Dominican Republic
Manufacturer:
Agio Caribbean Tobacco
Filler:
Brazil
Price:
$5.75
Panelist #1This smokes very well and has a good mix of flavors. With some more aging, this has the potential to be a real winner. SCORE: 3.9
Panelist #2A great cigar for the novice, because of its smoothness. Complexity of the flavor is appealing to every spectrum of taste. SCORE: 4.6
Panelist #3This cigar was good all-around, except that the wrapper could have been chosen more carefully. That takes it down a notch. SCORE: 2.7
Panelist #4Combined with a good merlot and soft-shell crabs, it made for quite an enjoyable experience. All smokers should try it.SCORE: 4.5

ESTAVAN CRUZ Belicoso
Country:
Costa Rica
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Binder:
Ecuador
Manufacturer:
Estavan Cruz
Filler:
DR/Nic
Price:
tk
Panelist #1Some terrific things going on flavor-wise, but a terribly stingy draw. Should be fine for someone looking for a lighter smoke. SCORE: 3.7
Panelist #2To whomever made this cigar, I say, lighten up on the roll. The flavor is there, but it's too hard to draw it out. SCORE: 4.6
Panelist #3The uneven draw makes these a little hard to smoke, but worth the work for someone who enjoys a rich smoke. SCORE: 4.2
Panelist #4Highly recommended. It has a firm roll that held up to a hot smoke, and a rich tobacco flavor to the last draw. SCORE: 4.3

FITTIPALDI Toro
Country:
Dominican Republic
Wrapper:
Dominican Republic
Binder:
Dominican Republic
Manufacturer:
Alliance Cigar
Filler:
Dominican Republic
Price:
$4.50
Panelist #1Best in the survey. Have a good steak, a single-barrel bourbon, and one of these honeys, and you're in for a real treat! SCORE: 4.8
Panelist #2This was a good, middle-of-the-road cigar, great for after dinner. The overall flavor was masked a bit by its lack of aging. SCORE: 3.9
Panelist #3I highly recommend this one. Definitely a perfect after-dinner cigar. Enjoy it with a glass of your favorite port wine. SCORE: 4.5
Panelist #4I would buy this cigar. It was consistent in looks, roll, and taste. Pair this with a nice microbrew with body, and enjoy. SCORE: 4.5

CUPIDO Corona Canela
Country:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Habana 2K
Binder:
Nicaragua
Manufacturer:
Cupido
Filler:
Nicaragua
Price:
$4.50
Panelist #1This was an enjoyable smoke that got bitter in the last fourth or so. If you're a fan of sweet smokes, it's certainly one to try. SCORE: 3.9
Panelist #2By far the best I reviewed. A great smoke, well-made, with lots of flavor and comfortable draw. All smokers should try it. SCORE: 4.9
Panelist #3Looks can be deceiving. I didn't expect much from this cigar at first glance, but I enjoyed the flavor and the draw. SCORE: 3.6
Panelist #4I enjoyed these with a good beer like Sam Adams or Anchor Steam. Complex flavors assert themselves but don't overwhelm.SCORE: 4.6

RAFAEL GONZALEZ Corona Extra
Country:
Honduras
Wrapper:
Connecticut
Binder:
Ecu/Sumatra
Manufacturer:
Cigar Domain
Filler:
Hon/DR/Nic
Price:
$5.95
Panelist #1It's hard for me to get terribly excited about this one. It's a well-made cigar, but otherwise very ordinary. SCORE: 3.8
Panelist #2Perfect this blend to promote the rich, soft nut flavor and you'll have a great one. As is, it's all right for light smokers only. SCORE: 3.4
Panelist #3Don't buy a box without trying it first. It's too young and green, with a long lingering aftertaste of hay. This one needs to grow up. SCORE: 3.3
Panelist #4Highly recommended by this reviewer. For the lover of a good, well-made, milder cigar, this is a fantastic choice. SCORE: 4.4

Puro Express

BOCK Y CA Perfecto
Country:
Dominican Republic
Wrapper:
Habana 2K
Binder:
Dominican Republic
Manufacturer:
Santa Clara
Filler:
Dominican Republic
Price:
$3.75
Panelist #1If I were to crave something on the milder side, this would be a top contender. Some very pleasant flavors going on here. SCORE: 4.0
Panelist #2A very consistent cigar that never lapsed in taste or draw. I would recommend this highly, for smoking at any time of day. SCORE: 3.7
Panelist #3Highly recommended. This reminds me of how nice it is to smoke a cigar with consistent flavor. I enjoyed it after lunch. SCORE: 4.4
Panelist #4After smoking it, I craved another. This is perfect for the person who usually smokes Macanudos and drinks Budweisers. SCORE: 3.5

PERDOMO 2 Exponente
Country:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Cameroon
Binder:
Nicaragua
Manufacturer:
Nick's Cigars
Filler:
Nicaragua
Price:
$5.99
Panelist #1I wanted to like this more than I actually did. A good performer, it needs a bit more fill and some smoothing out. SCORE: 3.9
Panelist #2One of the best I've smoked in a while. There's a full depth of flavor, yet it's soft on the palate. Smoke this one with a fork! SCORE: 4.6
Panelist #3I found this to be a really good cigar, combining the elements of looks, taste, and a great roll. This would be a fine mid-day smoke. SCORE: 4.4
Panelist #4I recommend trying this one. It's a smoke that really comes around in the second half, with some good, complex flavors. SCORE: 4.3

BUCANERO Primeros
Country:
Costa Rica
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Binder:
Nicaragua
Manufacturer:
Bucanero Cigars
Filler:
Nic/DR
Price:
$7.00
Panelist #1This will probably become smoother given time to age.Too high-maintenance for me; why fight through poor construction? SCORE: 3.2
Panelist #2This was a very mild cigar that performed fine, but doesn't offer much excitement. I recommend it only to lovers of mild smokes. SCORE: 3.5
Panelist #3For solid consistency and classic cigar flavor, put this in your humidor. You can always be sure of a quality, no-frills smoke. SCORE: 4.3
Panelist #4Recommended. Based on the size, draw, and mild coffee taste on the palate, I'd recommend this for an early tee time. SCORE: 4.0

PUROFINO DOM El Fumo
Country:
Honduras
Wrapper:
Connecticut
Binder:
U.S.
Manufacturer:
Purofino Cigars
Filler:
Nic/DR
Price:
$5.95
Panelist #1A home run. I'm going to look for this one. Terrific with rich beers after a meat-laden meal, or with a complex French wine. SCORE: 4.6
Panelist #2As a morning smoke with coffee, I found this to be a great companion. Not a knockout, but a very consistent 'go to' smoke. SCORE: 4.1
Panelist #3This was a cigar worth trying for just about any smoker, at just about any time of day. It went especially well with espresso. SCORE: 4.0
Panelist #4This is a smoke I can mildly recommend; not for the beginner, though. A rough exterior hides a complex interior. SCORE: 3.8

INDIAN TABAC Figurado
Country:
Dominican Republic
Wrapper:
Cameroon
Binder:
Dominican Republic
Manufacturer:
Indian Tabac Cigar Co.
Filler:
Dominican Republic
Price:
$6.80
Panelist #1Overall, a decent smoke for after lunch, but not for after dinner. Good for fans of shaped smokes looking for mild to medium. SCORE: 3.4
Panelist #2Smokes are consistent, but I had to work too hard to find good aspects. That sounds harsh, but so was this particular cigar. SCORE: 3.1
Panelist #3This one shows promise. The burn and the draw are terrific; I enjoyed one with coffee. I'd put some in the humidor for aging. SCORE: 4.6
Panelist #4It reminded me of a Cuban cigar: rich and powerful. I had one with a Scotch, and they complemented each other perfectly. SCORE: 4.4

Bovida Humi-paks

CUESTA-REY Cabinet #47
Country:
Dominican Republic
Wrapper:
Cameroon/Conn.
Binder:
Dominican Republic
Manufacturer:
J.C. Newman
Filler:
Dominican Republic
Price:
$4.25
Panelist #1This is a no-nonsense smoke, not for the timid. Experienced smokers will love them. Feel free to send me a box. A keeper! SCORE: 4.2
Panelist #2Overall, this is a cigar that could use a lot more aging. Nice-smelling smoke doesn't make up for lack of flavor and bitter finish. SCORE: 3.1
Panelist #3This cigar showed little character or depth. There were flaws in taste and workmanship; its good points aren't good enough. SCORE: 2.9
Panelist #4A good draw and some neat flavor plus only fair construction equals an above-average cigar. worth it if price is right. SCORE: 3.7

FONSECA Lonsdale
Country:
Dominican Republic
Wrapper:
Connecticut
Binder:
Mexico
Manufacturer:
SAG Imports
Filler:
Dominican Republic
Price:
$2.99
Panelist #1I put down my coffee, because this was smooth enough to compete. A very nice smoke, but not if you're seeking a powerhouse. SCORE: 4.7
Panelist #2This was a very mild but nice cigar. Not much flavor, but great-smelling smoke and an easy draw make it worth trying. SCORE: 3.9
Panelist #3This would be fine as a midday smoke, or as a cigar for beginners. I give it a neutral recommendation; not bad if price is right. SCORE: 4.0 medium smoke. SCORE: 4.2
Panelist #4You need a beverage to pull the most flavor out of this one (cognac worked well), but it's a good

MARIA MANCINI Magic Mountain
Country:
Honduras
Wrapper:
Habana 2K
Binder:
Honduras
Manufacturer:
Santa Clara
Filler:
Honduras
Price:
$3.50
Panelist #1This was a middle-of-the-road cigar to me I was looking for more depth. It should go over well in the right setting, though. SCORE: 3.5
Panelist #2Definite potential here. With a little time in the humidor, these babies should mature into a nice, full-bodied rich smoke. SCORE: 4.0
Panelist #3A good, solid smoke. Lots of great flavors going on here. I think a little extra age to smooth it out will make this one a contender. SCORE: 4.2
Panelist #4This is a good smoke for a night on the porch with friends. Some age would bring out more flavor, but not bad at all. SCORE: 4.2

CARLOS III Huevo de Cuba
Country:
Honduras
Wrapper:
Connecticut/Mex
Binder:
Ecuador
Manufacturer:
Carlos III
Filler:
Hon/Mex/U.S.
Price:
$3.90
Panelist #1I will buy these. Quick, what are they? Give the roller a raise. This little bomb should find a place in many humidors. SCORE: 4.3
Panelist #2Tons of fun. Not really for the casual smoker, it's shaped for the enthusiast looking for adventure. Stands and delivers. SCORE: 4.5
Panelist #3This was a nice little short, novelty smoke. A little short on flavor, but the huge amount of nice-smelling smoke made up for it. SCORE: 4.0
Panelist #4I can't recommend this one, folks. This smoke is cute to look at, but the draw was terrible. Mine had to be relit constantly. SCORE: 2.8

LA TRADICION Perdomo Reserve T
Country:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Binder:
Ecuador
Manufacturer:
Nick's Cigars
Filler:
DR/Col/Mex
Price:
$7.00
Panelist #1Highly recommended! This cigar lends itself to contemplation and to complementing food and drink. Buy a few boxes. SCORE: 4.6
Panelist #2This one truly kicked ass! Solid con- struction, great taste, and lots of complexity. This is a cigar by which others are measured. SCORE: 4.7
Panelist #3This one would be good with a lager or a strong drink. I'd call it an outdoor cigar because of the strong, abundant smoke. SCORE: 4.4
Panelist #4This was a well-constructed, easy drawing, fuller-flavored cigar, great for after dinner. I give this a high recommendation. SCORE: 4.2


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