BrooksW

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  1. Yeah, just don't Google images of it while eating 🤢 Thanks for the kind words!
  2. TBH, I have be diagnosed with Onychotillomania (which I have endured for as long as I can remember, just did not know it was an actual thing) and so have always held cigars like this to cover my nails in photographs going back to the SmokingStogie days, because trust me, you do NOT want to see them lol.
  3. Hey, look, we do say nice things every once in a while! https://halfwheel.com/hoyo-de-monterrey-primaveras/395375/ FWIW, this was really, really good. Anyone else had one recently?
  4. Easy: Edmundo Dantes Conde 109 or La Escepción Selectos Finos. I would be more than happy to smoke nothing but those two the rest of my life lol.
  5. FWIW, I don't think anyone on the hw staff takes criticism about something in a review personally (I know I don't.) I have no issues with someone saying they don't taste/note what I do, or that they have smoked 50 boxes of the same cigar and had no problems like I did. Cigars are hand-made products, and each person is going to experience each cigar differently, so who am I to judge or say what they did or did not taste/feel/experience? And perhaps more to the point, how can we expect to be taken seriously as people who make at least part of their living criticizing creations other people make, if we can't take criticism of what we "make", (i.e. reviews)? My main issues come when someone has comments about personal things, which go well beyond those boundaries, although they are thankfully rare. Someone calling us ignorant about Cuban tobacco/cigars is incorrect for a number of reasons (that I detailed earlier) but anyone certainly has a right to write it about us if they choose, IMHO.
  6. I have always found this type of sentiment interesting. You admit that you know nothing about the cigar in the review, and yet are perfectly willing to pass judgement on it, based (presumably) solely on the fact that it is a non-Cuban Cohiba. How can you have a valid opinion on a cigar that you have not even seen in person, not to mention have never smoked? After doing this job for the past decade or so, I have learned at least one lesson that seems pretty obvious when you really think about it: never, EVER pass judgment a cigar before you smoke it for yourself. No matter who makes it. No matter where is rolled. No matter what country it comes from. No matter who blends it. Tell you what. We have plenty of these Serie Ms at the office. I am happy to send you a couple to try and report back your results on how you liked it, providing you assure me you will be as unbiased as possible in your assessment and post a full review (with photos) on this forum. If you hate it, great. Thankfully, my belief in my cigar reviews is strong enough that I can take the fact that someone on the internet disagrees with me. If you don't hate it—or, God Forbid, love it—then I will get satisfaction, not in in being correct (since the flavors found in a cigar are different for every person, there is no "being correct" when it comes to cigar reviews), but in the fact that I have played a small part in cracking the door on a new way of thinking for someone. If you agree with the above, feel free to send me an email with your address to [email protected] If not, no harm no foul, of course.
  7. This thread has been quite enlightening, and I appreciate everyone's thoughts. Charlie has done a great job in detailing everything on his end, but here are a few things from my perspective for those that care: We don't take price into account on any of our reviews — TBH, half the time I don't even know how much a cigar cost until I put that info into the final notes section (which usually happens after the cigars have been smoked, the score sheet has been filled out and the tasting notes/bottom line has been written.) It just does not matter to us if a cigar costs $500 or $5, although I will make an effort to mention it somewhere in the review if it is really expensive/inexpensive compared to how it performs. I don't care what score any specific cigar gets — For both Charlie and I, hw is a full-time job (one that we take very, very seriously), and I am pretty much smoking a cigar a day for my reviews in any given week. After rating cigars on a website for almost 12 years (and full-time for about eight years) I can assure you that—at least in my case—who makes the cigar or what country it comes from or what tobacco is in it rarely even enters my mind until I am writing up the Final Notes section (which I use as a catchall for random tidbits of information.) There are just too many cigars to be smoked, too many reviews to be written and too many photographs to edit for me to give much thought into things like that. We don't know what score a cigar is going to get until after the review has been submitted — Quite a bit of the conversation on this thread concerns the scores, and so you may be surprised to learn that due to how Charlie set up our system, there is no way for a reviewer to know exactly what the final score will be until the numbers from the spreadsheets are run through an algorithm. Each reviewer fills out an Excel spreadsheet that has slots for different aspects (flavor, burn, draw, etc.) in thirds. So, for (almost) every review, there are a total of nine thirds (i.e. three cigars) that are scored. Those final numbers (which don't mean anything to me) are then put into the algorithm after the sheet is submitted, which then spits out the final score. I don't consider myself an expert on Cuban cigars, but I have been around the block — I have smoked quite a few Cuban cigars in my life—some of which many here would probably consider among the best cigars ever produced—but from a pure numbers perspective, I cannot hold a candle to the amount some FOH members smoke on a weekly basis. Having said that, unlike quite a few (most?) of the members on this forum, I have actually visited Cuba multiple times: I have covered the Habanos Festival five years in a row from 2016-2020 (albeit before the pandemic screwed that up earlier this year), I have visited the fields in Pinar del Río, I have talked to the growers while they show me the plants in the ground and smoked cigars they have rolled themselves, I have visited most of the major factories and I have interviewed a number of higher ups in said factories. I would never call myself an expert, but to say that I am uninformed about Cuban cigars would be an incorrect statement on a number of different levels. Thanks again for everyone's thoughts, it is a real pleasure to know that something we created is enjoyed (or even just looked at!) by some many people who love cigars.
  8. Glad we could help FWIW, I retrohale on just about every puff of every cigar I smoke, although sometimes a full retro and sometimes just a bit at the end. I honestly can't imagine smoking cigars without it, the practice would be a waste of time and money, IMHO.
  9. So, this is always an interesting discussion! For me, it comes down to personal experience with food and flavors: cigars obviously do not taste like chocolate chip cookies, or pencil lead, or chicken skin, or what have you. But there are quite a few flavors in cigars that remind me of certain things, and that is what I am describing in my reviews. For example, I remember talking with someone about 10 years ago who questioned some of the aromas/flavors I came up with, leather and manure in particular. "How can a cigar taste like leather?" he asked, multiple times, followed up by "When was the last time you sucked on leather??" I asked him point blank, "have you ever been to a farm or a leather tack shop?" He said no, he had lived in NYC all his life. I then told him that when growing up, I visited my extended family on a farm in North Carolina every summer where they raised horses and cows and other animals, and the scents of leather and (fresh) manure are extremely distinct and easy to identify (and yes, I remember putting leather in my mouth a few times), but if he had never been to a farm or smelled anything like that, what makes him think he was going to notice it in a cigar? Another quick example: while smoking a Fuente of some sort (I forget which), about halfway through the cigar I noticed a distinct flavor of honeysuckle, which if anyone has tasted it, is basically a combination of grass, vegetal and slight honeyish sweetness. The second I tasted that flavor on the retrohale, it took me back to when I was 10 years old living in Panama, and there was a huge field close to our house. We would go down the field during the times when the honeysuckle was there and basically make ourselves sick going from plant to plant and picking the stem out of each of them and putting in our mouth to taste the (very little) sweetness that was there. Now, did the cigar taste like honeysuckle? Of course not. But I had not thought of that memory in at least 20 years, and for something like that to come back out of nowhere, the flavor that the cigar was giving me was one that my MIND turned into that specific note. For someone how has never tasted fresh honeysuckle, their mind would either register it as general sweetness, or perhaps just ignore it altogether. The bottom line is that in order for you to taste flavors in a cigar, you have to do a few things: 1. Concentrate on each and every puff that is going in and out of your mouth and nose. For me at least, the flavors/notes I am picking up are sometimes fleeting, but normally, I only mention ones that are distinct enough for me to name with certainty. 2. Retrohale. You would be shocked at how many people ask about crazy flavors who are not retrohaling, and that is obviously going to be problematic. 3. Seek out new flavors all the time. In order for you to taste or notice flavors in a cigar (or wine, or anything really), you have to actually have tasted it before, and probably more than once. I have never in my life eaten anything that lives in the sea, so you will never read a review of mine that mentions tasting seafood of any sort. To my mind, that flavor simply does not exist, so it would either classify it as something else or ignore it completely. Hope that helps!
  10. Sorry about the link guys, I forgot it was there from the old days before the real site took off lol... Would love to have his contact info, if it can be provided, thanks so much!
  11. Hello all! I am going to Cuba next week to cover the festival, and just wanted to make sure the La Puntillas are still being made by Alex? Bought a bundle last year and loved them, did not know if there were new sizes, etc, so thought I would go to the source Thanks for any info!
  12. Smoked one while in Cuba, great flavor but a bit wet, so will sit on them a little while...other than that, I really loved the flavors in the one I had, construction was excellent and a great vitola.
  13. For those of you that don't know... In the annals of cigar history, Dunhill is considered to have produced some of the best sticks of all time... The cigars that Dunhill produced are legendary (including the Mojito, which I reviewed here), and it has been theorized that the reason the cigars were so good was that Dunhill was using superior tobacco in their blends... What some people may not be aware of is that for a time, Dunhill blended their tobacco with other cigar manufactures in Cuba, and released these creations in joint ventures called "Selección Suprema", most notably El Rey del Mundo, H. Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Montecristo, Partagás, Por Larrañaga, Ramón Allones and Romeo y Julieta...Wikipedia says it thustly: In 1907, Alfred Dunhill opened his first tobacco shop on Duke Street, London. Before the Cuban Revolution, Dunhill had numerous distribution and marketing agreements with several Cuban cigar manufacturer, selling exclusive and hard to find brands such as Don Cándido and Dunhill's own Selección Suprema line, with various sizes from many famous cigar makers such as Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. After the Revolution, Dunhill's unique relationship with Cuban cigars would continue with the communist government's tobacco monopoly, Cubatabaco. Dunhill was given the exclusive rights to three different brands: Don Cándido, its own Don Alfredo, and La Flor del Punto, plus the numerous Selección Suprema sizes produced by the marques that had survived nationalization. In 1967 the tobacco branch of Alfred Dunhill Ltd was sold off and became its own separate entity. In 1981 tobacco blending (of the Dunhill pipe tobaccos, at least) was transferred to Murrays, of Belfast. In 2005 it was transferred to Orlik of Denmark, renewing debate about blending/flavor changes in Dunhill's pipe tobaccos. According to Cubatabaco records, all Dunhill Selección Suprema cigars of various brands and the 3 Dunhill Exclusive brands (Don Cándido, Don Alfredo, Flor del Punto) were discontinued in the year 1982. 1982 was the year the contract for the production of the Dunhill brand was started. (Dunhill cigars were not available for sale until mid to late 1984.) In fact, here is a page from a 1959-60 Dunhill Catalogue that details them (you can find the original link here): The only vitolas that Partagas is widely known to have worked on with Dunhill is the Partagás Dunhill Selección Suprema No. 151- a 4 7/8" x 34 small panetela, the No 153, the No. 154, and the No. 777 (as mentioned above)...but, there are always other cigars coming to light that are were not even known to exist... The Partagas Dunhill Selección Suprema No.150 is one of these vitolas...from the information I was able to gather, only a few cabs have been found, but they were found intact and in perfect condition from family lockers at the Dunhill store...I was able to purchase a few of these, and waited until my birthday (March 25th) to smoke one to review... As I said, the cigars that were found in this vitola were in cabs of 50, and below are photos...From what I have been able to gather, cigars in cabinets of 50 were typically (although, in true Cuban fashion, not always) unbanded, thus the lack of any ornamentation on these: (photos courtasy of Allan Bush) Enough of that, let's get down to business, shall we? * Country of Origin: Cuba * Wrapper: Cuba * Binder: Cuba * Filler: Cuba * Size: 5 6/8 Inches * Ring Gauge: 46 * Shape: Corona-ish * Est. Price: Varies (but expect to pay at least $120-$200 each) * Date Released: 1979 The Cigar itself has a fairly light brown wrapper, fairly dry to the touch, and nicely firm when squeezed...it is obviously well constructed, but it does feel just a bit light heft wise...The wrapper has a bit of a floral scent to it, with some spicy undertones...almost tea like? It punches very easily, and there was a very nice amount of spice right off the bat (but no pepper) with a dominant flavor of cedar and just a hint of espresso...a very nice beginning... The second third started out the same, but then took a Major turn...I have often heard reviewers mention "Jalapeno Peppers" when talking about the strength of a cigar, and always kinda hoped I would someday taste it in a smoke...well, this cigar had a STRONG note of Jalapeno pepper (again, more of a description of the strenth or heat, as opposed to the actual flavor, if that makes sense) for quite a bit of the 2nd third...It hit the back of my throat like a bomb, and while it was strong, it was NOT overwhelming...I could still taste the woodish note from earlier, and even picked up a new flavor of leather... The last third calmed down quite a bit...the Jalapeno pepper dissipated into a nice background note, and I was left with the leather and cedar flavors...There also seemed to be more of a creamy, chocolate, sweetish undertone to the smoke, and it contrasted with the other flavors very nicely...a great end to a cigar... Final Notes: * This cigar had one of the longest and dryest finishes I have experienced in quite a while... * The Draw and Burn were great, I did not have a problem with either for the entire cigar... * This was a slow burning stick, and the final smoking time on this cigar was 1 hour and 20 minutes... * There was quite a bit of smoke that came from this cigar, and it smelled as spicy as the cigar was... The Bottom Line: Before I first smoked the cigars for this review (2 of them), I really had no idea what to expect...Would there be a more "Sweet" overtone (which is a Dunhill signature) that would overpower whatever other flavors were present? Well, I am happy to report that this cigar took the best that Partagas had to offer, and made it a MUCH more balanced (and therefore infinitely more enjoyable) cigar...It looked, tasted and smelled like a Partagas (jalapeno note notwithstanding), but this cigar succeeded in combining the best of both worlds (the "in your face spiciness" and flavor with the balance of the Dunhill)...Unfortunately, 99.9% of cigar lovers will never smoke one... Final Score: 94
  14. I recently purchased a 4 pack of Romeo y Julieta Perfectos from 1968(ish) to see what they would smoke like over 40 years after they were rolled... Now, there is not a bunch of historic info on these specific cigars...According to various websites, these were released pre-1960s (nobody knows an exact year, apparently) and were discontinued in 2003. These cigars were made with all Cuban Tobacco (unlike Clear Havanas, some of which will be reviewed soon) from the Pinar del Rio region of Cuba... A Machine-made cigar (as most were back then), the price of each stick was approximately $.25 (or 100 for $25)...which was quite a bit, considering that most cigars cost between $.05 and $.10 each or so...Here is a price list from a cigar store named Park & Tilford which details some of the most popular imported brands of sticks and their prices...the Romeo y Julieta Perfectos price can be found about 3/4 of the way down the page on the left hand side...(image credit Gotham Cigar Museum): Enough chitchat, let's get down to business, shall we? * Country of Origin: Cuba * Wrapper: Cuba * Binder: Cuba * Filler: Cuba * Size: 5 Inches * Ring Gauge: 44 * Shape: Petit Perfecto * Est. Price: Varies Wildly * Date Produced: 1968 The first thing I noticed when I picked up this cigar was the wrapper...while obviously well made, age seems to have turned the silky wrapper (or at least I assume it was silky at one point) into a material almost like parchment: dry (albeit not fragile) and a bit rough...The color is a light brown, and while the cigar is quite bumpy in places, I am impressed that the it has held together as long as it has without any major issues (although perhaps I should not be, considering the source)...The cigar itself is quite spongy when squeezed, and the wrapper does have much of a smell at all besides a VERY light cinnamon scent... (As an aside, I have also been a bit surprised at how small most of the cigars from this age (and older) are...they look almost more like cigarettes then cigars (but I DO love the perfecto shape of this one ... After cutting it, I took a few predraws, and the only thing I noticed was a VERY old musty tobacco flavor...not unpleasant at all, but if someone gave you this cigar blind, you would know immediately it was an aged stick... After lighting it, I got a little bit of spice in the first few puffs, along with notes of woodsy cedar and that (very) aged tobacco flavor again... The cigar turned totally mild in the second third, with any and all spice departing for parts unknown...there was still that aged tobacco flavor and some cedar, but I also picked up some floral notes as well, albeit faint... The last third held a bit of a surprise...honestly, I was expecting it to continue as it had for the first 2 thirds, but out of the blue, I tasted what I can only describe as peppermint oil (if you have ever tasted any, you will know what I am talking about)...NOT sweet peppermint, but like the taste (and tartness) of peppermint without the sweetness that is usually associated with it...the woodsy and tobacco flavors were still there, but the peppermint note stuck around until the end...The stick did get hot at the end, but I was able to get close to the nub... Some Final Notes: * The draw was great for the entire stick, but the burn was VERY up and down...I had to relight 5 times total... * After reading various reviews of other older sticks, I was prepared for a mild cigar, and I was not disappointed...other then the first few puffs, there was little to no pepper or spice for the entire smoke... * This cigar produced an astounding amount of smoke for something so old and so small... * The final smoking time was 1 hour and 10 minutes... The Bottom Line: While it was VERY cool to be smoking a 40 year old stick, the flavors and burn were really nothing to write home about...As I said earlier, anyone who picked up this stick and started smoking it would know it was an aged cigar...Not a waste of time or money by any means, but I am hoping that my next Vintage stick is better ~brooks
  15. Thank you all, I am looking forward to hanging out here! ~brooks

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