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  1. Tonight’s smoke was going to be something I had in my singles collection, most likely given to me 6-7 years ago by a good friend. I always thought it was a Partagas, until for the first time today I realized it’s a Romeo y Julieta by looking more closely at the band. Now, I don’t smoke many R&Js – in fact, most I don’t even like. Secondly, I had to go to CCW to find this cigar is called Romeo y Julieta Exhibición No.2. I am not a cigar history buff so the little knowledge I could find before lighting it up told me that the actual launch of the LE program was in 2000, and this being the first Double Corona Limited Edition that came out, making it… well, special. Given the situation today with just a few DCs left in regular production, and the insanely insatiable demand for anything of this size, I knew I had to cherish this cigar if I smoked it. Or sell it. A quick look on BR told me… sell it you fool! On the other hand, what better time than tonight to enjoy something special and appreciate life. Life is truly short. This cigar truly isn’t short. Let’s get to it. I must say that visually this is a stunning cigar. I don’t have better photos, but I can only say that if it was a piece of wood, it would be lacquered red cherry wood. Looking at the specs, the factory name is Prominentes, more commonly known as a Double Corona. It’s a mammoth of a cigar at 49 x 194mm (7⅝″) and the wrapper was aged 2 years when released, so it is more or less 24 years old now. The wrapper itself is almost tender to the touch, moist and still oily. There is not much aroma at cold, maybe a hint of sweet spices. Given it is aged, I carefully cut it and get a sudden feeling that this might be a very good cigar but I can foresee some construction issues. It looks too tightly packed. I take a long, deep draw and… it is not easy. Sigh. I gently move my fingers across this massive cigar and massage it a bit where I find it more tightly packed, all potential obstructions are in the top 1/3. The massage helps a bit and so I decide to light it up. From the first moments in when I start to smoke it, I can instantly taste numerous flavors. Some are easy to distinguish – trademark R&J cherry, sweetness, earthy, rich, black pepper with touch of dark chocolate. For sure, it’s over medium bodied. That richness. Other flavors are there too but I cannot distinguish them right now. About 30 minutes in, I am shocked over how powerful and rich it is, while being so refined and balanced. It’s an explosion of flavors - massive clouds of white smoke with incredible aromas of dark musk fill the air. A myriad of other flavors starts to come in, clove, woodiness, salt, sweetness, and I don’t understand how it can be so smooth with everything going on at the same time. Then I start to get toasted coffee as well. I realize that it is a full flavored and full bodied beast, a rare thing in my experience. There’s no sign that this cigar is going to slow down, it just goes on and on like the live poker tournament I am watching on YouTube and I try to puff on at a slow pace to match the tempo of some hands. Maybe one puff per minute is all I need. An hour goes by. Two. 2 hours and 30 minutes later, I decide it is not yet time to say goodbye. Some sparkling water cleans the palate, nothing else tonight. Got to watch the calories for the fat bastard weigh-in this weekend. I start to feel like I have been in the presence of greatness. Someone has really put together a brilliant, brilliant blend for the ages. The balance of the cigar is second to none. It is truly a unique experience. Pure class in all aspects. I smoke it as far down as I can go, but I could easily have smoked it for another hour. I am not even joking. The burn has needed a few touch-ups – no biggie. It is still incredible with all that cherry, sweetness, dark chocolate and coffee playing in perfect harmony. Did I already mention that I don’t even like Romeo & Julieta’s flavors normally? Or maybe I do. I don’t even know anymore because I have a massive nicotine buzz. To summarize this experience, I was not expecting that but am extremely grateful for this cigar. I send a thank you message to my friend who gifted me this cigar. It certainly belongs on my Top 5-list of all cigars I have ever had. With that in mind, I will rate this cigar as close to perfection as it gets. I have no hesitation giving it a 97 and won’t even deduct points for the draw issues. You can call me crazy but I think this cigar will be even better with another 5-20 years, and reach a 98 by then. The other day I read on a 24:24 post that there are a handful of cigars that just punch you in the face in terms of flavor. Well, today I got sucker-punched in the face. What a cigar.
  2. Hey guys, hope everyone’s well! Recently just purchased a box of RyJ Churchill Añejados and wanted some opinions on if it’s genuine or fake. Everything seems to check out honestly but what got to me thinking was that the date on the box (SCO E000) I know this line is supposed to be aged at least 10 years but if I’m not mistaken does the code mean these would be around 20 years aged? And from there you know I started to overthink everything lol thank you very much and cheers?
  3. Well Well! I really wasn't expecting to have this cigars as a fav! Always wanted to try them but never pulled the trigger on a box until recently, and WOW was I impressed! I don't see them as harsh or strong but rather full of dark cherries with a floral base and some milk chocolate mixed in. its really tasty and I love them! and so young! can't wait to see how they progressively develop. Am I the only one who characterizes the cazadores in this way?
  4. Preliminaries: Romeo y Juliete Wide Churchill Montesco 5.1" x 55 Scored a quarter box during a 24:24. Believe it was a PSP/HQ listing. Straight off, this thing is gorgeous, with an oily and streaky rosado-colorado wrapper. Feels great, and very substantial in the hand. Feels a lot less great in the mouth. They call these Montescos, which sounds like the name of a lefty specialist relief pitcher from Venezuela or something. It's a fat 55, too. Probably the equivalent of a 56 or 58 RG non-Cuban. This is not my favorite size to say the least, but I have really enjoyed the first two cigars that I previously smoked from this 6 pack. I would offer them as examples of why I don't believe in blanket condemnation of the fat boys. The draw is a bit snug, but will be fine. The other two were pretty open. Takes a lot of work to get it lit, but right off the bat, it's toasted tobacco and dark fruit. I have to run my Perfect Draw tool through it a few times, and pull out a few gnarly leaf ribs. As the cigar gets to the halfway point, some notes of leather and coffee bean are coming through, replacing some of the sweetness from the beginning. This cigar is not as good as the first two I sampled. Less flavor, worse construction. The burn is very nice, even and slow. God, the wrapper on this cigar is superb. Gleaming with oils. I suspect it might have benefited from 24-72 hours of dry box time, though I can't remember if the other two samples received it. I'm having a hell of a time deciding the body and strength levels of this cigar. Maybe a tick over medium. Flavor intensity is medium. In the home stretch now, and the cigar is getting a bit tannic. The last few puffs are quite gutsy, and a little bitter. Time to put it down. The main issue I have with this cigar, even at its best, is that the value isn't great. For roughly the same price as the regular churchills, this is a cigar that will end up lasting me about 70 minutes. The first two examples carved out a niche for themselves, and were in 92-94 range. I'm going to say this is 88/89. Decent smoke, but nothing spectacular. I was eager to buy a full box after the others, but now I'm going to smoke my remaining 3 to make up my mind.
  5. One of the best things about our FriendsofHabanos community are the regular competitions our host runs for the benefit of our community. It was one such competition in June this year, the Sublime Selfie Weekend Competition that, thanks to you, enabled me to win a prize of 5 regular production cigars. The timing of that competition was impeccable. I was coming to the end of a hectic June work period and looking forward to a well-earned holiday break, and this competition was coincidentally on the winter solstice so I made sure to get away as soon as I could to enjoy a cigar in the sunset. After acclimatising the cigars to my humidor for 90 days, I decided to review them in appreciation of their reception, and so give back a benefit to our members in sharing how these cigars smoked. The cigars in the image below are, from left-to-right; H.Upmann Magnum 46, Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills, Saint Luis Rey Regios, Cohiba Siglo II and the Montecristo No.2. Below are the cigars I smoked in order... Saint Luis Rey Regios Vitola: Hermosos No.4 - 48 ring gauge x 127 mm or 5.0 inches I started this review series with the Saint Luis Rey Regios. Why? I had an aged Saint Luis Rey Serie A the week before so I figured that it would be great to compare notes. Plus, with the Double Corona and Serie A in a current production hiatus or possibly deleted, it gave me a chance to see what Saint Luis Rey currently represents. The Regios has been in consistent supply in the last year, going by how often it comes up on 24:24 listings. Our host, El Pres, recommends smoking these sooner than later, and after researching the topic, I deduced that the Regios is indeed not a cigar that benefits greatly from aging, unlike the Serie A. This cigar was medium-strength, light toast and hay, with elements of a honey sweetness at times and a cocoa edge. The thing about this cigar is, it needed to be smoked slowly to prevent acridity, as that toast, hay and tobacco flavour was dominant, but when smoked slowly and allowed to remain cool, this Regios rewarded me with elements of those sweeter flavours. I wonder with marcas such as Saint Luis Rey and Trinidad, whether there is a 'fine line' between complexity and muddled blandness, you know, when it seems all the flavours roll-into-one. They can reward you and they can punish you, bring you joy and make you weep in frustration, yet you still feel inclined to persist because they can be so good. Cohiba Siglo II Vitola: Marevas - 42 ring gauge x 129 mm or 5.1 inches Cohiba is a marca that polarises cigar enthusiasts. Firstly, there's the marked-up price, which in the past 12 months was increased 10%, in comparison to most other marcas increasing by an average of 3% and then secondly, there's the flavour profile that leaves some people wondering where's the appeal (to them). I must admit, that the great majority of my friends who I share this noble hobby with, enjoy Cohiba (and Montecristo) just as much as I do, which is saying something when you factor in Australian taxes on cigars. So what was it like to smoke this Siglo II fresh? The grassiness was the dominant flavour, with espresso coffee just a little behind. There was a little honey, but not much and spice through the nose, but no cream texture to be found. It was distinctly Cohiba, but I admit I do like them rested at least 3 to 5 years. Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills Vitola: Montesco - 55 ring gauge x 130 mm or 5.1 inches If Cohiba and Montecristo represent two marcas I find great comfort in, than Romeo y Julieta and Bolivar alternatively represent two marcas which I find tend to make me suffer. If given a modern context, I wonder if Jesus would revise his famous saying in Matthew 11; "Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest, except if you've had a Romeo y Julieta cigar that is all toasted tobacco, then you are on your own!" Well, this Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills was such a pleasant surprise. In fact, of all these cigars, I'd consider this one to have been the best in light of their comparative youthfulness. It had excellent construction, great amounts of smoke per draw, the aroma at cold was a wonderful barnyard cocoa that instantly appeals to many an experienced cigar aficionado and it delivered. A touch under medium, this is not the type of cigar that obviates simplicity, it's not complex and that's not why you'd smoke this. Its combination of toast, tobacco and a cream cherry edge all throughout made it quite satisfying for me. Mind you, don't fret, I have Bolivar and Romeo y Julieta in my humidor, and it's cigars such as this one which make me re-visit the marca from time-to-time, even if the 55 ring gauge made me 'sip' it from the head. Then again, the larger ring gauge made me slow down and really savour this cigar. H.Upmann Magnum 46 Vitola: Coronas Gordas - 46 ring gauge x 143 mm or 5.6 inches I was reading over @ATGroom's excellent blog, (A Harem of) Dusky Beauties tonight, and apart from being elated that it's back online (I was only remarking to a few Sydney FoH members last night that it down since Cuban Cigar Website crashed in December 2016 - it's nice to be corrected in this instance), I was intrigued to learn that the H.Upmann Magnum 46 was the 9th most common vitola in Cuban Cigar Website members' inventories (the H.Upmann Half Corona was 8th). This Magnum 46 showed me how young it was. It had its H.Upmann espresso coffee and shortbread, but it had its toasted tobacco too, which made it a little over medium in strength. Perhaps some slight licorice redeemed this for me somewhat, as I did enjoy it well into its last third, yet my preference for Magnum 46's is a milder coffee, shortbread, cedar and hay expression, with a touch of spice. Then again, I think that this Magnum 46 was the type that @Chickenlassi enjoyed when he wrote this review a few years ago, you know, the kind of cigar that Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone would digest for breakfast, lunch and dinner without blinking! Montecristo No.2 Vitola: Piramides - 52 ring gauge x 156 mm or 6.1 inches I consider myself very fortunate to have had a great run of Montecristo No.2's this year, perhaps the last 8 to 10 have been all consistently superb. What can I say? I just love them, when they are 'on' that is. This cigar was exactly 'off' in comparison, it had excellent construction, a great draw and smoked well. So what was this issue? The wrapper shade! Yes, I prefer a lighter wrapper shade on my Montecristo No.2's, the type that give a lovely milk coffee, nut and cream combination. I find darker wrappers on Montecristo No.2's can make the cigar more intense, with more emphasised flavours of toasted tobacco and dark cocoa or chocolate, as this cigar was. But as cigars are a subjective experience, there's nothing wrong if you enjoy your Montecristo No.2's to be more intense in strength and flavour. If so, then this Monte 2 is for you!
  6. Sat down to review the Romeo y Julieta Piramides Anejados.
  7. I aint sure if this qualifies, as i was just about to post a review (which happens once in a blue moon) in the much neglected cheap and cheerful category (once in an eclipse of a blue moon), and lo and behold a review comp is on the site. Anyways ye olde Mille Fleurs ... as Forrest said, it's like a box o chocolates, you ain't never gonna know what you gettin. Definitely the type of cigar that i'd be passing over, unless i'm in that time and space where i don't wanna waste a good one. However these are total cheats ... as i got'em on Rob's solemn vow that they were a once in a million type of Mille Fleurs a few weeks ago. Was he playing foot loose with the truth? I'm a sittin here in the dark on a humid summer evening with Joe Pass doing his magical thing in the background. My cousin gave me a box of his tapes (yes cassette tapes) when i was about 15, and one of them was Joe Pass - Blues for Fred. A guitarist is my cuzzy Raph and I still thank him now for his gift of good music. Back to the cigar. I'd love to sit here and pontificate about our good man El Pres robbin me blind, especially on his own forum. Just for controversy value, you know? Fact is i can't ... as this is a farkin good cigar. Farcking good! Love you Rob. Man cuddles. (can anyone tell i've been drinking all evening) The draw is as fast and loose as your standard nicaraguan puro with excess wrapping and marketing slogans, as you generally expect on these. A ton of smoke. But from the first herf, you are hit by a wave of RyJ coffee grinds with hints of charred cherry... and quite a rarity, a ton of saltiness. I'll spoil it for you straight away and say it lasts throughout. I really don't know where this saltiness comes from, are these the hoyos that were hit by a tidal wave? Or from the fields Batista vengefully sowed with salt before running off into anonymity? Anyways, the last time i had a cigar this salty was ye venerable Sancho Panza Bachilleres. To be precise, this salt is quasi cumin-spiced peatiness with mushrooms. It's followed by a familiar white pepper ending and encased in an oaked leather body. It's youth is betrayed by the strength in flavour and relative lightness in body, and no great depth or richness. But who needs those idle luxuries when you have such highly distinctive flavours leaping out at the palate. It smokes fast and goes out often, burning out like a drunk bogan on an abandoned carpark ... the evidence is in the ashtray. I cheat again by pairing it with a port slightly above its pay grade - a Penfolds Father 10y.o. Light but treacle sweet, a true sticky. A great match. I'll sign out here and say that this is one of the best 3rd grade cigars i've ever had. Almost as dissonant as Joe Pass still playing well on a 30 year old tape, or a refined 10 yr port masquerading as a "sticky" - a definite once in a blue-moon oxymoron. I promise to finish the box within the year, before they lose their wonderful brashness. My love to the team at Czars for calling it out.

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