Guest Reviews: The Brick by Toraño and Viaje Exclusivo

As you may or may not know, my father, Paul Vanderslice, passed away on Thursday morning, he would have been 81 today.  I am honored to present not one, but two reviews from honorary Craigs today. These two gentlemen generously lent their talents to give me a day off, which I greatly appreciate. The upside for you, the reader, is that you are treated to some actual cigar reviews. :-) My dad was a career music educator, US Navy veteran, lover of baseball and Moosehead beer, and a good dad. He touched a great many lives in his career, and he worked right up until the end of his life as a church choir director.  We will miss him, and, although he was almost 81, he left us too early. I’ve been dipping into some of my best cigars over the last couple days as I think about life. Please enjoy these reviews from honorary Craigs for a Day, Anthony and Jeff, many thanks to them.



The Brick by Toraño – by Craig Anthony Lund (Agent 86)


I just want you to know my prayers and my brothers prayers are with you. We had the same kind of situation a couple years ago and it is one of the hardest things to do. All I can say is to think of all the good times. I know my brother and I talked about all of the great times we had with our father, most of which involved cigars (at least for the last 10 years or so).


For tonight I decided to revisit one of my regular favorites, in fact one that Craig has already reviewed, though he was having some dog issues that night. I don’t pretend to have quite as exciting of a review as that one, but I am quite content to be enjoying my cigar from the sedate location of my couch while watching Expedition Unknown. This cigar is The Brick, from Toraño. This one is in the Churchill size because, quite frankly, I’m somewhat of a size junkie with cigars lately and would much rather be having the 6X60 BFC but my local B&M doesn’t have it right now. The Brick is a nice, big, box pressed cigar with a dark, chocolaty look. The wrapper is a nice even color with a couple of prominent veins. The smell fresh out of the cellophane is the rich smell of a recently turned field of dark soil.


Upon using my punch the wrapper cracked, this is a problem I have seen a few times with this cigar, I believe it has to do with Toraño using a thin wrapper. Of course this particular one had been in my humidor for a while and apparently I had let the humidification level drop a bit. Hopefully this won’t affect the flavor. Right after taking my first draw I noticed the sweet flavor and large amounts of smoke. Not a lot of cigars give quite the level of smoke that these do, the larger one puts out even more. As it burns the ash is a nice light grey and holds together really well. The flavors are strong in chocolate and coffee with just a hint of a peppery taste. The burn remains pretty consistent as it goes, with just a little bit of canoeing that required a touch up from the lighter. As I smoke this cigar, there isn’t a huge change in the flavor profile or strength. It is exceptional at remaining completely consistent beginning to end. The pepper notes rise and fall but the chocolate and coffee flavors remain steady throughout. As I got past the mid point the ash did flake up a bit and I wound up ashing my keyboard a couple of times.


As I reach the end this cigar remains as just a nice pleasant smoke with a great flavor. It doesn’t really vary in taste or intensity as it reaches the end. All in all this is a really great cigar with a solid, medium body and a consistent medium flavor until the end. The best part of this is that the cigar is priced right. I find it rare to find such a good, solid stick for under 5 bucks. Also, this is one of the least marked up cigars in my local area coming in at $4.60. The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper is thin, but holds together pretty well, though I have had some cracking and splitting on other ones I’ve had. I have in the past really disliked Sumatra wrappers but with this cigar it really melds well with the Honduran binder and filler. I really lean heavily toward the Nicaraguan made cigars, and this is one out of Nicaragua that really shows why. If you’re looking for a really solid stick at a great price this is the one. It works perfectly for a good every day smoke and works well in every situation as long as you have the time, it does burn pretty slow and steady.


Viaje Exclusivo Double Edged Sword II – by Craig Jeff Oda (jjo)


Hello all.  I am an unofficial member of the Casas Fumando cigar review website, and a long-time fan of Cigar Craig.  When Craig put up his last post alerting us to the condition of his father and asking for a contribution of a review, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer what little I could for a guy who I consider to be not only a great BOTL, but a good friend.  We have communicated via email over the last few years, and I have always had a great deal of respect for not only his blog, but for his viewpoints on ethics and life in general.  I have not yet met Craig in person, but hope to someday, and I am honored and grateful that he would allow me to contribute to his blog in a time of need.  I would like to dedicate this review in honor of Paul Vanderslice, and hope that you will all join me and Casas Fumando in wishing the all the best to his family.  With that in mind, I scrapped the review that I had originally had set up, and went ahead with one of a limited release that carries a bit more cachet to it.


P1000682The Viaje Exclusivo Double Edged Sword II was released in 2013 as a more widely available (700 jars of 19 cigars) follow-up to the ultra-limited 2010 Double Edged Sword, of which only 125 boxes of 25 were released.  The 2013 version comes in a slightly different vitola:  a 6.5×50 open footed perfecto, as opposed to the original’s 5.75×52 double torpedo shape.  According to, it was manufactured at Fabrica de Tabacos Raices Cubanas S. de R.L.  While the price of this cigar is something that would normally cause me to hesitate in grabbing one, this one was generously sent to me just over a year ago by Mike Forry of Stogie Review and Stogie 411 as part of a pay-off of a wager on last year’s Super Bowl, so a big “thank you!” to Mike.


Wrapper:  Nicaraguan Criollo

Binder:  Nicaraguan

Filler:  Nicaraguan

Size:  6.5×50 Perfecto, with an open foot

Price:  $18.63

Smoking time:  1 hour, twenty minutes

Pairing:  Silver City Brewery – The Giant Made of Shadows Belgian strong ale




The Viaje Double Edged Sword II comes draped in a reddish milk chocolate brown wrapper showing some minor veins and a few soft spots, including a rather large one just above the lower band which identifies the cigar as a part of the Viaje Collector’s Edition series.  There are also a couple of minor cracks present in the wrapper.  There is not much of an aroma to the wrapper, but that may be due the fact that it has been sitting un-cellophaned in my humidor for over a year.  The scent off the foot is mostly a mild tobacco.  Upon clipping the sharply pointed cap, I experience a nice draw, with light, mild spice, tobacco, and a hint of cedar.




First third

P1000683Firing up the $18.63 Double Edged Sword II with my trusty $2.69 Hong Kong torch, I’m greeted by light charred wood, pepper, and cedar, all of which are surprisingly light on the retrohale.  A half inch in, the cedar had moved to the forefront as the charred flavor recedes, and the pepper has strengthened on both the palate and retrohale.  A slightly sweet spice plays in the background, while the burn that started out quite wavy is trying to even itself out.  While the Double Edged Sword II started out needing double puffs to get a good amount of smoke, by the 1” mark, this is no longer necessary.




Middle third

P1000686Rolling into the second third of the Viaje DES II, the cedar continues to lead the way, with toasty bread, white pepper, some aged tobacco mustiness, and the lightly sweet spice also in the mix.  The ash had held on for the entire first third, but not wanting to tempt fate, I tapped it off into my ashtray. Subsequent ashings would be in the 1” – 1-1/2” range, with one of them landing unceremoniously in my lap.  The burn has continued to waver, but I have not had to think about touching it up, and it has burned through that largish soft spot without a problem.  At this point, it has been right at a solid medium in terms of body, and at the lower end in strength.  The smoke has been smooth both on the tongue and retrohale, but has been leaving a peppery tickle in the back of the throat.




Final third

P1000687Entering the final third of the DES II, the burn has continued to meander, but has not been a problem at all, nor have the few cracks and soft spots affected the smoking characteristics of the cigar.  The flavors have remained pretty much unchanged, although they have gotten a bit deeper and more cohesive, and I’m beginning to feel a slight nicotine kick.  With 1-1/2” left, some char has re-emerges, but a quick purge takes care of that.  I’m duly impressed by the lack of harshness and how cool it smokes all the down to a little nub.




The Viaje Double Edged Sword II was surely an enjoyable smoke that behaved quite well despite my misgivings on construction when I first did my extended once-over.  I can’t say, however, that I think it is worth the $18+ asking price.  A more realistic $10 – $12 would be more in my ballpark, but if Mike wants to send me another, I would gladly smoke and enjoy it, lol!  I would also add that based on how slowly the first third went, I was expecting it to be an hour and a half smoke, but the middle section went pretty quickly.



P1000679Although I know that Craig is a teetotaler, I wanted to salute his father properly, and in my world, that is with a proper alcoholic beverage.  The Giant Made of Shadows from Bremerton, WA beer crafter Silver City Brewery is a limited seasonal release Belgian style strong ale aged in Temperanillo wine barrels, and sports an ABV of 9.9%.  If I didn’t already know that it had sat in wine barrels, I probably wouldn’t be able to identify the flavor that the barrels impart to the beer, but it is definitely there.  The Belgian fruitiness and deep malt give it a nice sweetness and makes for a nice match with the flavors of the Viaje Double Edged Sword II, without overwhelming it, while the wine barrels contribute a depth of flavor and roundness that goes quite well with the cigar.  I think that any Belgian style beer, and even a Dunkel, would provide a good complement to the DES II, as well.



Once again, thank you to these two great friends and long-time readers. Their contributions are always welcome here, along with anyone else who would like to be a Craig for a day.  I also appreciate all the thoughts and encouragement you’ve provided me with over the last very difficult week.


Until the next time,




Filed under Guest Review, Review

A Fuente Hemingway and a Request

I’m writing this on my phone from my dad’s CTICU room where he’s not expected to make it through the night. I don’t mean to depress my readers, and I really appreciate the notes of support.  This isn’t an easy time. I would like to ask that if any of you Craigs out there (or potential honorary Craigs) would like to send me a review or article for Sundays post it would really help me out. Drop me an email.

One evening this past week I took a walk with an Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature which was a recent gift from a vendor at my day job. This is a cigar that I loved in the 90s and I really haven’t had one in close to 15 years. It’s hard to believe that this cigar started off tasting just like I remember, a hint of sweetness unique to the Cameroon wrapper. At about the half way point there was a tar build up which I discovered in the most unfortunate way, it came in contact with my lips and tongue. I clipped it off but by that time my tongue was ruined. It’s a shame, this was a spectacular cigar up to that point. It brought back memories of smoking the Signature in New York City at a cigar event and wandering around Fremont Street in Vegas with my cousin back in 97. Cigar good, tar bad.

That’s all I can muster right now. I hope someone sends me a guest post, I look forward to having a guest Craig. Also, I still need to hear from the winner and I haven’t had a chance to send harassing emails yet.

That’s it for now, until the next time,




Filed under Review

RomaCrafts, Perdomo and a Contest Winner

It’s been a roller coaster week, and things aren’t any better today than Wednesday. My 80-year-old father drove himself to the hospital last Saturday with tightness in his chest and just not feeling right, and on Wednesday, just when my mom thought she was going to bring him home,  they found a thoracic aortic aneurysm and flew him to another hospital in the area that happened to have one of the few surgeons on the planet who could fix things. When they got him on the operating table the next morning his lung, kidney and liver functions were off and they had to get those things squared away before fixing things. So far, those areas are moving in a positive direction, and we are waiting for the surgeon to return from overseas mid-week. It’s hard on my mother, who won’t drive to the hospital, nor do I want her to, and not knowing what’s going to happen. I know this is more than belongs in a cigar blog, but it’s therapeutic for me to share, and I appreciate your positive thoughts and for indulging me.


CroMagnon_KnuckleDraggerIn an attempt to process all that’s going on, and maybe escape a little, I’ve smoked a few cigars this week. most have been just random cigars that I didn’t feel like taking the time to document, but a couple of them are worth mentioning.  a few weeks ago while visiting Cigar Mojo, I picked up some RoMaCraft cigars. I want Skip to know I bought his cigars and am not your run of the mill weasel. I smoked a CroMagnon Knuckle Dragger early in the week which was exceptional. I love the 4″ x 52 size for a satisfying smoke that doesn’t take all day.  The Broadleaf wrapper over the Cameroon binder is a personal favorite flavor combo for me, I think the interplay of the different sweetness between the two leaves is really interesting.  These are worth a try for sure, and are not unweaselably priced. I’ll grab some more the next time.


Perdomo_20thAnnivMaduro_CoronaGrandeAfter a particularly trying week, I grabbed a favorite, the Perdomo 20th Anniversary Maduro in the Corona Grande size. This size was Nick III’s creation, is it a mini Churchill? A maxi corona? Maybe it’s an overweight lonsdale or an anorexic toro, I don’t know, but it’s just about a perfect size at 6½ x 48. Now I’m half expecting someone to come out with a line of cigars with a weight disorder theme, remember you heard it here first. Anyway, the Perdomo 20th Anniversary maduro has a Nicaraguan wrapper that’s aged in bourbon barrels an additional 14 months and is rich, smooth and very tasty. This is my favorite Perdomo cigar, bar none, and I needed a favorite to balance out the highs and lows of the week.


Aquitaine_CraniumLast night I took a walk with another cigar from the RoMaCraft stable, the Aquitaine Cranium.  This is the same blend as the CroMagnon from the binder on in, the difference being the Ecuador Habano Ligero wrapper. If you ever wonder about the claims about how much the wrapper contributes to the flavor and strength of a cigar, smoke a CroMagnon, then smoke the Aquitaine. The Aquitaine was SO much stronger than the CroMagnon, and I can’t attribute that to the size difference (the Cranium is a 6″ x 54 toro). It had an unbelievable amount of spice through the nose, and almost literally kicked my butt around the block.  It tasted great, burned great, but was pretty darned strong. Skip and Mike and their crew down in Esteli are really making some great cigars. my only real gripe is that the bands, while very attractive and classy in their simplicity, are a pain in the tuckus.  I would think the same effect could be achieved more cost effectively by making them a single band instead of one over top of the white base. As one who saves bands for no good reason, and probably due to the CDO, I like it when a band comes off easily and in once piece. These do not. I’ve now purchased far more than I’ve weaseled, which either means my weasel game is weak, or I have some integrity…not sure which it is…




LaSirena ContestI promised to announce a winner of the La Sirena Cigars sampler today and am a man of my word. I can’t say I’ll be as punctual with sending the winnings out with everything going on, but I will do my best.  I  was very pleased with the number of entries, 100 comments in a non-December contest is pretty darned good. Normally I would pick a random number, but this time I think I’m going to give the prize to the 81st comment, because my dad will be 81 in a couple of weeks and I really want him to reach that birthday. Whether that’s fair or not, I really don’t care, I’m going with it anyway! It’s not a plan I had more than 5 minutes ago.  So lucky number 81 is ray jones. If you don’t send me you’re address I’ll eventually get around to harassing you by e-mail, but it will just be easier if you drop me a note.  Again, I appreciate everyone’s positive thoughts and prayers to your respective deities. It’s no small comfort to know so many people care enough to spare a thought in their busy lives. 


I had also made a bit of a contest (see the Facebook page) out of getting my Twitter followers to 2000, and that threshold has been met. I lack the energy to pick a winner, I want to disqualify the corporate Twitter users and keep it to individuals, so that will have to sit on the back burner for a bit. If someday you get a DM on twitter asking for your address, you’ll be the winner.  I’ll get to it eventually.


That’s it for now, until the next time,





Filed under Contest, Review

La Sirena Cigars Contest!

I’ve had some unexpected family issues arrive which require my attention so instead of my regular Wednesday post you’ll have to settle for a contest. I’m sure you all will cut me some slack. The giveaway this time is sponsored by my friends and site sponsors at La Sirena Cigars. The prize is a sampler of cigars from the La Sirena portfolio: there’s a couple of the new Oceano, a Stixx, a Jaxx, a Jaxx LT, a Merlion, a new La Sirena Trident, and I’ll probably include an old La Sirena Trident (made at My Father) so you can compare the old with the new (the new being made at La Zona, and very good as well). There’s a cutter and a box of matches too. These are all exceptional cigars, there’s something in this lineup to satisfy every palate.


LaSirena Contest



Everyone is eligible to win, just leave a comment here to enter, one per person please, must be over 18 to win, usual rules apply. I hope to pick a winner on Sunday, March 22, 20015.  Thanks to everyone at La Sirena for making this contest possible, and if you could send positive vibes our direction, I sure would appreciate it.  I’ll share more later for those who are curious.


Until the next time,





Filed under Contest

A 1502 Corona or Two or Three, an Ezra Zion, and a New Humidor

1502_BlackGold_CoronaI’m on a House of Emilio kick this week. Enrique at Global Premium Cigars recently released his three core lines in corona sizes, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of each arrive in my mailbox a week or so ago.  Thursday I grabbed one of the 1502 Cigars Black Gold Coronas, who would expect otherwise?  I’ve been a fan of the 1502 line in general and the Black Gold in specific.  All the coronas are 5½ x 42, and are box pressed, and my ScrewPop 2.0 punch was the perfect diameter to fit the cap. The burn and draw were perfect, the flavors  were dark and rich with some spice. The San Andrés wrapper on this is dark with a nice sheen of oil.  As I think back to last May when I smoked the 1502 Lanceros last, I liked the Emerald the best, where I enjoy the Black Gold more in the larger ring gauge. I’m interested to see if that is the case with the Coronas.


EzraZion_Eminence_BelicosoGranToroTo mix things up a little, Friday I wrapped up the week with another cigar from the House of Emilio family, the Ezra Zion Eminence in the Belicoso Gran Toro size. That’s a unique name for this, it would be like calling a Fuente Don Carlos No.4 a Torpedo Petite Corona, I guess.  It’s 5″ x 58, so calling it a Belicoso would have sufficed.  This is another cigar with a San Andrés maduro wrapper that started off really spicy and smooths out over the course of the smoke.  It’s reasonably strong too, so better to smoke this on a full belly. The cigar performed admirable, burning and drawing well after snipping a bit of the tapered head off with the scissors. I really like using the scissors for pointy headed cigars.  This had been in my humidors for a year or two, long enough for me to have forgotten when I got it, and long enough for it to settle a little more than my prior experience (here)! Another great cigar from Chris and Kyle at Ezra Zion.


Just so you know, this is NOT the new humidor I bought, but one that came to my attention and I though it would make sense to bring up.  The folks at Brown Safe like cigars and take cigar storage seriously.  I’ll be heading over to their place when the nukes go off or Armageddon hits because they will be the only ones with cigars that are still in perfect condition!


The special-edition Cigar Safe features a custom sealed Spanish cedar interior for storing and aging cigars, in addition to state of the art security features Brown Safe is known for.  The Cigar Safe is a celebration of everything the modern man cherishes….and often wants to keep to himself.  Ballistic steel, fire cladding, anti-drive, and triple redundant relockers come standard, and complement the carbon fiber accents and integrated Thermo/Hygrometer from esteemed maritime instrument maker Wempe Chronometerwerke Maritim.   Depending on features, price for the new special edition Man Safe ranges from $7,800 – $22,500











Just a little something for the man who has everything!  I have more modest needs, so I went with the Lemans from 1st Class Cigar Humidors. I purchased this from Keith there because he’s been a long time supporter of the site, but make no mistake, I did purchase Humidorit! It arrived yesterday and I’m in the process of seasoning it before filling it up (I suppose if I “fill” it I’m going to have some ‘splaining to to, since my wife asked if I was sure if it would be big enough. I love that woman! It was her Christmas present to me) I was quite relieved to find that Victor Vitale has the same humidor and gave it a good endorsement. More pics as I fill it, but I put the Cigar Oasis unit in, and filled up the old school humidifiers up with distilled water (these will, no doubt, be replaced at some point) and it’s looking pretty good sitting at about 75% over night.  I want it to be at about 65% before I load it up. It arrived in good shape, it was very well packed, and I ‘ve got a huge pile of cardboard and styrofoam to dispose of! The order process was smooth and I was notified when it shipped, no complaints at all with the service from 1st Class Cigar Humidors. I’m looking forward to not having to rummage through coolers!


1502_Emerald_CoronaWhile I was waiting I indulged in a 1502 Emerald corona, another 5 x 42 box pressed beauty from Enrique Sanchez.  It rained all day, so I sat on my covered front porch waiting for the delivery. Very much like the Lancero series, I think the Emerald might be my favorite of the three. While it’s on the milder side in comparison with the others, it’s loaded with flavor, and very well balanced. I enjoyed the cigar very much, although I had to keep waiting for the delivery.  they had given me a 1502_Ruby_Corona9:30-5 delivery window, and when 6:00 rolled around I decided to fire up the 1502 Ruby corona and walk up and down the street. Wouldn’t you know the driver finally called to say he was running late (well duh), and would be there in 20  minutes. I still really liked the Ruby Corona, it falls solidly in between the Emerald and the Black Gold in strength, and has a hearty flavor with  hint of sweetness.  As the truck pulled in, I had to abandon the cigar before the band, which I hated doing, so I’ll revisit this one in the near future.  The coronas are terrific, on a par with the terrificness of the lanceros. I’m a big fan of the whole line anyway, but these smaller ring gauge cigars add a whole new dimension. Well done, Enrique, and thank you to Gary Griffith at the House of Emilio for sharing these goodies!


I was going to have a contest today, but things got a little busy. Look for something on Wednesday, it’ll be good.  Until the next time,





Filed under Review