Punch Royal Selection No.12

Punch LogoPunch is next. Punch is Cuban Cigar brand, but as with many Cuban brands, also exists outside of Cuba. You know all about families fleeing the country and selling the rights abroad, and the Cuban government seizing the Fabricas and continuing production. The “other” Punch is made in Honduras.

Punch was founded by German born Mr. Stockmann and named it after a character from a puppet show. Don’t you just love the names for Cuban Cigars? The third owner of the brand was Manuel López Fernández, and it is his name that still is mentioned on the boxes. The Cigar I’m about to review is from before 2005, a time this Cigar was released without a band. Since 2005 is does have a band, like in the picture below. In 2010 the Cigar was discontinued. There is a finite amount of excellent tobacco, and other sizes, with larger ring gauges, are more popular these days, so they use the tobacco for that. Today it has to be at least ø50, so no use making and (not) selling something that is a mere ø42…

Punch Royal Selection No.12

Punch Royal Selection No.12 (42 x 129mm, Marevas, Petit Corona, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: Colorado with small veins. It has some small black spots and some green discoloration. Nothing major. Straight build and feels somewhat flexible. Cuts nicely.

A cru: Nice leather and wood. A deep smell with all kinds of dry leaves. After the cut, quite fresh and mild smelling.

Taste: Starts good, good draw and smoke. Unique spiciness combined with wonderful woody aroma’s with some distinct woody bitterness. Works well with mild coffee. Although overall very mild and soothing, there is a slight chemical edge to it, that stays behind in the back of my throat. After just a few cm’s it seems to be a bit stronger than the mild start. It’s still not a Bolívar, so no worries. The wrapper produces light gray ashes, the filler turns into a darker shade of gray, but also some white and pitch-black ash can be found deep in the heart of the Cigar. A bit of a mess actually. The ash is not firm since it falls off quite easily.

A big part of the taste does remind me of dry Dutch Cigars’ Sumatra tobacco. This definitely is a cigar that has been lying around for a long time. As I said above, this one works well with coffee, but it doesn’t like water as an accompaniment, turning it acidic. Going along, the creamy bit increases. This one doesn’t seem to be tightly rolled, but nevertheless stays firm all the way, even when warming up. Incredible amount of smoke. It may not be a very strong smoke, but the taste is a bit harsh and not completely inviting. I’m doing my best to smoke this slowly, not to let it get too hot. Not a lot of development and most definitely not my favorite Cigar. For me not something I would smoke by itself, it needs some kind of accompaniment. The was quite a bit left when the Cigar turned, so not something you smoke untill you burn your fingers or your lips. Dry and woody throughout and definitely after dinner.

Marevas is a great size, maybe a bit thin for todays taste, but it still is a Cigar, you still are holding something in your hand, without it being tiny like a cigarette. It is most definitely thinner than a Robusto. This would seem a good one when you don’t have a lot of time on your hand. Not so. An older Royal Selection No.12 tends to be woody and harsh. It has to be smoked slowly, because when this gets hot, it is overly woody and even gets bitter. More recent examples, lets say from 2008 and later, are more creamy and definitely milder.

Points: 76

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Bolívar Petit Belicosos Edición Limitada 2009

Bolívar LogoAhhh, finally a Bolívar. This is a first one on these pages. Bolívar isn’t a big global brand for Habanos, but it is available in a lot of markets nevertheless. Not a big brand, but it has a specific and fanatical following under seasoned Cigar smokers. Bolívar is known for heavy and strong Cigars.

This 2009 is the first of two Edición Limitadas there are. In 2014 the second and last was released, which was a Super Corona. Don’t think that this means there aren’t a lot of special releases around, because there are. A lot of Edición Regional versions were made. These are limited editions, released in specific countries or markets. In 2006 the first was released for the German market only, and since then 25 more saw the light of day.

This Petit Belicosos is just like its bigger brother the Belicosos, just 15mm shorter. Another difference is that just like other Edicíon Limitadas the tobacco was aged for two years. As far as I know this Petit Belicoso is made in three different factories and thus boxes exist with three different codes: STA MAY 09, OMA JUL 09 and LRE AGO 09.

Bolívar Petit Belicosos EL 2009

Bolívar Petit Belicosos Edición Limitada 2009 (52 x 125mm, Petit Belicosos, Petit Pyramid, Box code unknown).

Color & Looks: Oscuro. Dark brown. No veins, quite stiff to the touch. When it warms up it becomes more flexible.

A cru: Strong leather smell. Cigarette ashes, mocha coffee and dark chocolate. Sawdust and (old) wood in general. Promising power.

Taste: Good smoke and the draw is good as well. Dark taste with hints of petrol. Stong mahogany wood. The whole is also quite on the woody side. It lacks the creaminess we know from Hoyo de Monterrey, but both brands couldn’t be further apart. This Bolívar is dry and sharp. Heavy indeed. Maximum strength dark chocolate. No stuff for beginners. This definitely isn’t one to start the smoking season with, so to speak. Strong powerful stuff, but by now I believe you get the picture. Extremely dry and woody, almost hard to smoke by itself. I wonder with what to combine this to balance the strength out a bit.

To be honest this doesn’t show a lot of development, even after six years in my humidor. Over halfway through some soapyness appears. The dryness is aided by some herbal notes like cumin and some restrained basil. These are all mere hints since the whole is wood, even more wood and some paper. I don’t know if my palate was anesthetized by this Cigar, but even given its power it doesn’t even have a long-lasting aftertaste, like I had with some Partagás from the past, which I could still taste the next day.

Well built and smokes very easily, but it does burn unevenly. It has a thick wrapper. Luckily the uneven burn is easily corrected. In the end I expected more of this. Ashes is darkest grey, black and brown. No white ashes at all. All the way through I had a craving for apple pie with lots of cinnamon, which I don’t even eat that often, so what does that mean? Will it go nicely with pie? I can tell you it went well with very strong coffee, two hammers, hammer as one.

What can I say. This is a heavy Cigar, and for me it was too much. Did I recognize the quality then? No, not really. I found it harsh, lacking development and it didn’t have a long and lasting aftertaste. Having said that, people who like these heavy Cigars do like this one very much, so I won’t argue with that. It probably is not for me. I have still a few of these lying around, so I’ll let them age more, and see what will happen. Maybe the Cigar will change or maybe I will.

Points: 77

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Prince

Hoyo de Monterrey LogoThe year 2015 passed, without even one Cigar review. How is that possible? Did I quit smoking? No way, but I do have to admit I never started smoking either. Cigarettes are not for me. From the start it was always about Cigars. I smoke for taste I used to say and I never smoked a lot. The place I write from, The Netherlands, is not a tropical country, and I do have to find me a spot for smoking and reviewing Cigars somewhere, since I don’t want to smoke inside the house. As long as I don’t have a place for smoking, I’ll have to wait for some nice weather, and especially time. I need to be left alone with my Cigar for as long as it takes, and that is maybe the real problem here.

Getting the Cigar part of Master Quill back on track, we’ll start with another Hoyo du Monterrey. Hoyo du Monterrey has been featured before on these pages with the Epicure No. 2 and Le Hoyo du Maire. As I said before Hoyo de Monterrey is known to be a light Cigar yet meant for the connoisseur, aren’t we all? I do like Hoyo de Monterrey, untill now they have always been full of aroma, well-built and all smoked very good. I like the blend of tobacco used for this brand. The Cigar I’m about to review is and old one. Aged for a long time. The band you see in the picture was introduced around 2005, and mine doesn’t have that, and no, it hasn’t been removed. I bought a batch of old Hoyo’s quite some years back. Today this Cigar is only released in an SLB 25 (Sliding Lid Box, containing 25 Cigars).

le Hoyo du Prince

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du prince (40 x 130mm, Almuerzos, Corona, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: Light brown, with small veins and very straight. Tightly packed.

A cru: Light chocolate. Leafy with some nice leather notes. Still smells young and leafy. Grassy even. Fresh mown grass. Well I didn’t expect that from this old Cigar.

Taste: For a tightly packed Cigar this still had a reasonable draw. Starts out nice and friendly, not hitting you over the head like some Bolivars. Creamy. Doesn’t produce a lot of smoke, yet tastes great. Warming and creamy and is and goes together well with my coffee. What a great smell. Even second-hand smoke smells great. Becomes slightly spicy with young wood. The leather aroma is young and fresh. A freshly made and oily saddle. Great. The wrapper turns into white ashes and inside it turns black and grey. It’s just a shame it is a bit plugged, and I have to work at it so hard. Maybe this needs to be smoked at a lower humidity. This one here, has a RH (relative humidity) of around 70%.

After 1/3 the wood becomes more serious. Sandalwood and definitely less creamy. Hints of menthol on my lips. Since this is plugged, the smoke gets channeled and flows rather fast and hot. The whole experience gets dryer and more herbal. Half way through, the creaminess surprisingly reappears keeping the whole rather tasty and keeping it relatively mild. Second hand smoke is still great with added mint. That is what ageing will do. The great taste stays untill the very end when you almost burn your lips. It doesn’t become harsh at all. After putting it down I taste some thyme in the back of my throat.

Very tasty and accessible Corona. Definitely worth trying out. I loved it, even this tightly packed one.

Points: 84

Los Statos de Luxe Delirios

Los Statos de Luxe LogoLos Statos de Luxe, as you might have guessed from the name, was one of the cheaper brands coming from Cuba. Not a lot is known about the brand. Founded around 1940, and was totally discontinued around 2005. From 1980 on, the brand was no longer hand-made and all the models were machine-made and had a ring size of 40. Three of the five produced models were 140mm long, and the other two were 123 mm long, which makes our Delirios their smallest cigar. Delirios were only sold in a cardboard packaging containing 10 cigars.

This is a  Cuban Delirios by Los Statos de Luxe (40 x 123mm, Standard Mano, Petit Corona, Box Code Unknown).

Los Statos de Luxe Delirios

Color & Looks: Colorado, mocha brown. Looks smooth but the wrapper is very thin and cracks easily. No veins. The Cigar is very light and is very loosely packed. Mediocre build, but it doesn’t look bad and keeps it together.

A cru: Light and grassy. Typical light cigar with hints of leather.

Taste: Initial taste is light and pleasant. Tasteful and easy-going. An excellent everyday smoke and dirt cheap to boot. Actually a shame it isn’t available anymore. It used to be quite unremarkable, but with some extended time in the humidor it picked up really well. Tasty! Ash is light grey and almost white. Due to the loose build, the cigar burns extremely fast, and just after two cm’s an added note of gasoline enters the fold. as do some other chemicals. Ash falls off quickly. Fennel and grassy and wine-cellar notes. Good puffs of smoke and tastes rather well with a mild coffee.

The second half is less interesting than the first half, but there is enough quality in the whole to begin with. The second half is a bit harsher, stronger and lacks complexity. More wood and dirt now, but also leather and ammonia, altogether more chemical toward the end. To sum up, a pleasant Cigar with some chemical off-notes. A good start of my Cigar smoking season I would say…

Points: 78

Partagás Serie D No. 5 Edición Limitada 2008

Partagas LogoReaders that like my occasional reviews of cigars will know by now that I don’t smoke inside the house. The sparsity of these cigar reviews are only caused by long stints of bad weather. It almost seems to me that the last five years, we didn’t even had one decent summer! It’s june, and here we had only a few whole days of Sunshine! You do not have to be a rocket-scientist to figure out when that happens, a cigar will be freed from its humidor. This time I chose a Partagás. Partagás usually are on the heavier side and I thought let’s start the season with a nice nicotine rush!

This is a beautiful day. Sunny not too hot and a little bit of wind. Even without the cigar I’m enjoying the silence, the rustling sound from bamboo in my garden and the sloshing sound of the water behind my house. Don’t worry, no flooding, it’s supposed to be there. So, sun, water, bamboo and hopefully an excellent smoke.

This is a  Cuban Edición Limitada 2008 version by Partagás (50 x 110mm, Petit Robusto, Box Code Unknown).Partagás Serie D No. 5 Edición Limitada 2008

This Edición Limitada from 2008 was made with Tobacco that already was aged for two years. First released in 2008 obviously it turned out to be an immediate success. Since 2011 it is added to the current series of Partagás cigars.

Color & Looks: Nice wrapper, tightly wound with small veins. Packed with a lot of tobacco and clearly well-built. Draw is good, especially for such a tightly packed thick cigar. Right from the start, this is a good smoke.

A cru: Chocolate, dusty old books with a nice creamy touch and with a slight hint of toffee.

Taste: I have just set fire to it, and already this tastes very good. Not as strong as I have come to expect from a Partagás. Very rich taste, fabulous spicy taste. I actually have smoked just 5 millimetres from this cigar, but it already is one of my favorites! How’s that for a bold statement! Soapy feel on the lips. The Tobacco was harvested in 2006 and aged for two years, after that it almost aged another 5 years in my humidor, but still the cigar shows some youth. Still, it is already very, very good, but consider the additional ageing potential!

My cigar burns a bit uneven, so I had to “correct” that a few times, but that’s no problem. Dark chocolate, woody, warming and a fabulous smelling smoke, even for the one sitting next to the smoker. The ash is almost white (another good sign). After 1/3, the cigar becomes more like a Partagás, a very good one. Spicy and full of character, woody and dry. I’m having a mild arabica coffee with this, but the cigar doesn’t overpower it. So it is full of Partagás character, but it doesn’t pack that Mr. T. punch Partagás so often have. Excellent. With water on the side the cigar tastes more sour, so I wouldn’t recommend drinking water with this cigar because it changes the fine constructed character of the cigar.

The cigar is very consistent. There is some minor development in the beginning, but after that the cigar is linear. The first ash fell of after the half way point. Taste wise the first half is the better half. The second half is drier and more woody. But the difference isn’t that great. As mentioned before, the ash of the cigar is almost white, and near the end, the cigar shows a caramel colored heart. More wood towards the end too.

Personally I find the 50 gauge a bit too much. It doesn’t look very elegant and it cramps the jaw, but that’s probably my european opinion. The cigar is quite mild altogether, no big nicotine rush. And no turning points. I enjoyed this cigar thoroughly. I smoked this as long as I could, and burned my fingers, but it is that good, all the way through. This will probably score even higher after some additional ageing.

Points: 86

Juan López Selection No. 1

Yeah!, I got a bonus day! Somehow the weather gods decided that we have here, deep in autumn, one nice day. Nice temperatures and sometimes some sunshine. And dry! Why not try, what will probably be, the last cigar of the year.

Juan López was founded in 1876 by Juan López Diaz, today a local brand with a minor market share. The cigars are considered to be medium to strong. Today there are only three standard cigars in production. A Petit Corona, and Selection No. 1 (a Grand Corona) and No.2 (a Robusto). As far as I know, there never was an Edición Limitada, but there have been 11 (eleven) Edición Regionales, almost three every year. Here we’ll have a look at the Selection No. 1. First release of this Grand Corona, was in 1990. The band was placed on the cigar since 2005. I believe the one I’m smoking, has aged for about 4 years.

Juan López Selection No. 1 (46 x 143 mm, Corona Gorda, Grand Corona, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: Colorado. Bulgy. Wrapper looks OK, but through it you can see that the binder has a large vein. Let’s hope this doesn’t disturb the draw. Tightly packed. So it looks somewhat smooth, yet it’s nicely cut without any frails.

A cru: Lots of aroma to boot. Fresh, almost a kind of lemon juice freshness. Old books and leather. Milk chocolate mousse. Gentile. After the cut the smell stays the same. And it really looks tightly packed.

Taste: Surprisingly good burn. Taste is quite woody, and a little bit sharp and dry. Right from the start a lot of smoke. Woody and a bit sour. When taken with coffee it enhances the acidity of both. Water suits the cigar better, but it really needs a Cognac or a Whisky.  The wrapper has a nice white ash, but the binder and the filler are really dark. Mostly black with a little gray in it.

It’s really not the taste bomb I expected, and it is medium to strong. The second-hand smoke is really beautiful. After 3 centimetres the taste mellows out a bit and the second-hand smoke becomes even better. At last its warming up a bit. It’s a little creamier now. The white ash from the wrapper looks stunning. Not a lot of development and the taste is half strong. During the half way point the smoke got less thick, but picks up again quickly. Draw was good throughout the whole cigar.

The finish comes quickly. When It turned ‘bad’ I still had a considerable amount of cigar left.

Buy this cigar for a friend and go and sit beside him/her to really enjoy the cigar, since I thought it to be better from the second-hand smoke than to smoke it yourself. The cigar doesn’t develop at all and stays the whole time on dry wood. I think this will do great when accompanied by Cognac or a whisky.

Points: 73

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Maire

It’s a rainy day today, grey and bleak  and I am a little bit under the weather too. Luckily I have some notes lying around I can work with. Otherwise not actually a nice day to go out and have a smoke. But a nice day to put some Art Blakey on. I have A Night in Tunesia & Moanin’ to warm me up and write something about Le Hoyo du Maire.

Compared to the picture below, my Hoyo du Maire is much older. Just have a look below at the ancient box code. Mine is without band. Bands on the Hoyo du Maire were placed somewhere around 2005. Another difference that is very obvious is that my Hoyo du Maire is a lot darker than this one and looks less rustic. It looks a lot smoother. Another thing you don’t get from the picture below is how small it really is. For me it’s almost cigarette-size, and you will never believe how small the wooden box with 25 cigars is. It’s unbelievably cute! Today it comes in Sliding Lid Boxes (SLB’s) with 25 or 50 cigars or in cardboard pack’s with 5 cigars.

Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo du Maire (30 x 100mm, Entreacto, Small Panatela, Box code FR NNSR)

Color & Looks: Maduro and looks very elegant and well-built. Oily.

A cru: Mocha, dry and chocolaty. Hints of paper and altogether mild.

Taste: Oily wrapper and salty on the lips. Just lit and it tastes immediately great. Very woody, but a great overall taste. The wood becomes a little bit sour but the cigar still has good balance. The draw and the smoke are good. It’s a sour-woody and spicy cigar. Ash is light grey with some whites. As often, ash has tiny white spots. It’s very thin so it is stronger than your usual Hoyo. A cigar to ‘sip’, otherwise it will burn too hot. Sometimes you do get small whiffs of…fireworks. The development is linear, still it does have a lot of character for such a small cigar. The draw diminished in the second half, but rolling it between my fingers solved this minor problem.

I don’t know how newer versions hold up to this, since this is really well aged. I can’t tell you what ageing did for this cigar untill I can taste a new one. I don’t think such a small cigar will have to age for a long time, to get to a decent level. In the end it seems somewhat stronger than Hoyo’s usually are, but this is never overpowering. Ideal very short smoke.

Points: 77