End of the Week Cigars: Ora Vivo, Merlion and Herrera Esteli

January is in the books, the groundhog saw his shadow and there’s some sort of game on tonight. It looks like we will have six more weeks of winter, which is funny because on my calendar it looks more like seven weeks until the vernal equinox anyway.  I’m a cynic, what can I say.  Six more weeks of winter, a month and a half until spring?  I’m just glad spring is coming, this winter nonsense is for the birds! Anyway, with all that going on, I still managed to smoke a few great cigars!


OraVivo_5x54Thursday I selected an Ora Vivo Armand Assante 5×54. I’ve smoked a few of these over the past few months and find them to be an excellent Nicaraguan cigar. There’s a really nice sweet flavor that’s more apparent in the double corona than this robusto, but still there. This is unlike most Nicaraguan puros in that it’s a solid medium, and very refined, smooth and complex. Victor Vitale, Gary Macchione and Armand Assante really did a nice job on this ultra-premium cigar.  It’s a beautiful cigar,  the wrapper is flawless and it’s perfectly made. Even the band is stunning. I probably would have had a box of these sitting in my humidor if the cigar dinner we went to last November had taken credit cards instead of just cash. They should have, at least, stated up front that it was cash only and people could have come prepared!  


Merlion_GranToroFriday evening I selected a Merlion Gran Toro, a 6″ x 58 cigar from La Sirena‘s Ariel Ditkowich.  Actually, this particular example was handed to me at the IPCPR show by Nestor Miranda, who, until recently, was a partner in the La Sirena brand. Ariel is now in full control of distribution and production of her brand.  I admit that I favor the La Sirena over the Merlion, which really doesn’t surprise me in that I generally favor cigars made by the My Father factory over those from the La Aurora factory (where the Merlion is made). It’s not a commentary on the quality, just my personal preference. The Merlion is a tasty cigar though, even in this large format.  It’s a well made, medium bodied smoke.  I like these better in the robusto size, and this is another line that I think works better for me in a warn environment.  Maybe it’s the aquatic theme that makes me think that, or that it’s a more subtle and delicate blend.  Either way, it’s a cigar to try.


Herrera Esteli_LonsdaleSaturday afternoon I reached into one of the humidors and pulled out a Herrera Esteli Lonsdale Deluxe. This cigar was a gift from my brother-in-law a few months back (actually, he bought it for me at a Drew Estate event at Cigar Mojo). I gave this a V cut and the draw was perfect.  This is a cigar that is totally different from anything I’ve smoked from Drew Estate.  It’s got a pristine Ecuador Habano wrapper over a Honduran binder and Nicaraguan fillers.  It’s a clean tasting cigar with great flavor.  It’s really a cigar that I could smoke any time of the day, and I think I may have started off a day or two with these the last time I was in Nicaragua at Cigar Safari.  In yesterday’s case, I took a late afternoon walk before dinner, and this was the perfect smoke. Yet another cigar I want to have on hand at all times.  I’ve known Willie Herrera for a few years now and he’s really a super nice guy, and he knows his stuff when it comes to rolling and blending cigars.  He gave me some valuable pointers when they had us applying wrappers in the factory, which is no where near as easy as people like Willie make it look!


As I look back at these three cigars, I notice that they are all similar in that they are medium bodied, smooth, complex cigars, not really my usually “wheelhouse” cigars.  That’s one of the great things about premium cigars, there’s so many differnet flavors and strengths that it’s hard to get bored.  I might have to dig out something powerful today, but since it’s supposed to be warmer today, I may smoke something on the milder side. Variety is the spice of life!  Until the next time,







Filed under Review

7 Responses to End of the Week Cigars: Ora Vivo, Merlion and Herrera Esteli

  1. Agent 86

    Just got Herrera Esteli’s at my local B&M looking forward to trying one. The ordering freeze ended at one of my locals and some good stuff popped up. One of the other ones said he would be ordering after next weeks trade show. The third got some new stuff but nothing thrilling.

  2. Commish

    Another fine selection of some great looking cigars.

  3. Craig

    Another round of great cigars, then again I don’t think I have ever seen you post “bad” cigars. As you have stated each cigar comes down to personal preference which makes the cigar world so unique. Five guys can all sit down together and each one brings something different to the table in regards to flavor and tastes preference but at the end of the day they are all enjoyed together. Have a great weekend. I’m still waiting for “winter” to hit Southern California.

  4. jjo

    Nice. I’m thinking about pulling out the Herrera Estili that was gifted to me to smoke during the Super Bowl. Go Seahawks! 🙂

  5. I’m glad to see you’re still into using your v cutter. My son got me a Xikar v cutter for Christmas, but this f****** winter has me huddled under the covers most of the time. Still haven’t had a chance to use it. COME ON SPRING!

  6. AC Player

    Hey Guys ~ New to the BLOG but not to cigars. Been lighting them up since I quits cigs over a dozen years ago. I do have a nice collection of some fine smokes in my humidor, but I also enjoy my daytime cigar Garcia y Vega Panatela Deluxe. Unfortunately, I was just informed by my supplier (Famous Smoke Shop) that they have been discontinued. Unbelievable! I thought they were the most popular cigar in the line. Can’t believe they’re not making them anymore. But every site I’ve tried says the same thing; OUT OF STOCK. Does anyone know anything about this and/or where I can get them? Thanks for you help.

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