Tag Archives: La Sirena

Merlion Maduro, Arandoza Defcon and Norteño Edicion Limitada Cigars

The cold I managed to get after traveling to California somehow morphed into a sinus infection mid-week, so I took a few days off from cigars. In truth, smoking was the last thing I wanted to do. But before that all set in, I smoked a Merlion Maduro robusto from La Sirena Cigars. These are made at the La Aurora Factory, and are the maduro version of the Merlion made at the same factory. This was Merlion_Maduro_Robustoa sample from the 2016 IPCPR show where I got to spend a little time hanging out with Arielle and her family, who are all involved in the brand. Previous to this release, the only glimpse we had at what a Merlion Maduro might be was the single maduro version that was in the limited edition Sea Lion box. The Sea Lion is a cool little perfecto cigar, and I finally smoked the maduro version last year and was amazed by it (which was my fear, considering these were impossible to come by). Luckily, this years Sea Lion release, although limited, is the opposite, with nine maduros and one with the original Ecuador Corojo wrapper. So I was excited to smoke the Robusto, and put a box of the toros in the humidor anyway.  The maduro wrapper in a San Andrés from Mexico, and the Brazilian Sumatra binder and Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers from the original release stay the same. To be honest, I liked the Ecuador Corojo Merlion, but about as much as I like a lot of the La Aurora output, which is to say I want to like them, but most don’t suit my preferred flavor profile. However, slap a San Andrés wrapper on it and I’m in. I found the smoke to be milder than I thought it would be, but that could have been the impending nose condition. I love the sweet earthy flavor and  look forward to smoking this in the toro size with healthy sinuses and maybe  warmer weather. I have almost filled the top shelf of the cabinet with La Sirena cigars, I haven’t found one I didn’t like yet. I still have some of the old My Father made Churchills and Salamones hanging out there too, and I need to get some of the new Connecticut Shade to have on hand as well.


Arandoza_Defcon_SuperToroMy first cigar back after the sinus thing eased up was an Arandoza Defcon from the 2015 IPCPR show. This was too strong a cigar for having taken a few days off, but it’s a great smoke and I really like Robert and Pilar Arango, they are super nice folks and it was great spending some time with them at the show last summer. They are dog people too! The Arandoza line is made at La Zona, and it I had been smart and motivated, I might have taken a drive up to CI in Hamburg where Erik Espinoza was doing an event. I needed a home day though.  I love the Arandoza line, especially the Red, which is also quite strong, but I think it’s sweeter than the Defcon, with the Defcon having more savory flavors. As I said, it was a poor choice for the first cigar back after a few days hiatus. Maduro Broadleaf wrapper on this cigar.


HerreraEsteli_Norteno 2015 LEYesterday I went with another  San Andrés wrapped cigar, the Herrera Esteli Norteño 2015 Edicion Limitada, a pressed Churchill from Drew Estate. The Norteño line has the Mexican wrapper, a Honduran binder and fillers from Esteli and Jalapa. It’s got a flat, tongue depressor, kind of feel to it, comfortable and fun to smoke. Again, perhaps my taster is off, but this one struck me as “savory” more than sweet. It was a really satisfying cigar though, nice amount of smoke, rich and tasty. I’d smoke more of these if they weren’t so darned pricey.


As I’m getting ready to head in to Philly today to see the Philly Pops play Sgt. Pepper, and probably stop by Holt’s, I’m going to keep this brief.  I’ll probably look  for some of their exclusives, the Tatuaje Maduro that is a Holts exclusive looks very interesting, or the San Cristobal or La Aroma de Cuba. I tend to default to either Tatuaje or Fuente when I’m at Holt’s for some reason. Anyway, until the next time,










Filed under Review

Charter Oak, Oceano and 1881 Perique Bold Cigars

I know, I slacked off and didn’t write a mid-week post! Seems traveling to California in the winter increases the likelihood that one will get a cold, and I’ve been plagued with an annoying sinus thing this week. When that happens there’s no use trying new cigars and having any hope of giving them a fair assessment. When I do feel up to a smoke, I generally select something  familiar and plentiful, the lone Partagas 150 from the ’90s in my humidor is just going to have to continue to sit for a while longer. That being typed, I did smoke a couple of cigars that were new to me this week on my better days.  The first of these was  the Charter Oak Connecticut Broadleaf CharterOak_CTBroadleaf_Rothchildfrom Foundation Cigar Co. in the Rothchild size.  This was a sample from the IPCPR show last July, so it’s been resting comfortable ever since, along with its sibling with the Connecticut shade wrapper. These have a covered foot, which gives a blast of flavor on the light, that is, if you skip the usual toasting part and just go for it. This is a cigar I want to smoke again, honestly, I hadn’t smoked it until now because of its short stature, but it fit into my time schedule this week. It had some horsepower to it, with lots of rich flavors of strong, black coffee. I think I expected more of a mellow hot cocoa in this one, but was surprised and delighted. Now I’m very interested in trying the Connecticut Shade variant. I believe these are reasonably priced, making them a no-brainer. I still have some of Nick Melillo’s Upsetters to try, I admit I’m not as excited about those as his traditional lines.


Oceano by La Sirena_AtlanticThis next cigar falls into the “revisit” category, I cigar I really like, but have been waiting for the box to be “ready”. They are ready! The cigar is the Oceano by La Sirena in the Atlantic size.  I wrote about the Indian size in Prime Living Magazine back in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue (has it been two years?) and really took a liking to the blend, which is made at the Quesada’s factory in the Dominican Republic. It’s pretty potent for a Dominican cigar, it does have a Nicaraguan viso, but the majority, including the wrapper, is from the DR. When I first got this box a year ago they were on the wet side, the great flavor was there, but it took some coaxing to get out. These have settled nicely on the top shelf of the cabinet (furthest from the Cigar Oasis) and are now smoking really well.  The Atlantic is a huge belocoso, 7″ x 52, and I chose this size because I really like the Nica Rustica Belly in the same size, although that’s where the comparison ends. I like to have all different sizes available to me as the time I have available dictates the size cigar I smoke. This is a tasty combination of earth and spice, not at all what you’d expect, but delicious. I’m a fan of the La Sirena line, this one is near the top for me.


1881PeriqueBold_TorpeditoFinally, last night after a nice dinner out with my wife and son, I decided to give an 1881 Perique Bold Torpedito a try. I posted about Tabacalara Cigars in the Philippines in November, noted that I hadn’t been a fan of the Philippine cigars in the past, but their offerings changed my mind. So I ended up with some more to try from these guys, via their US distributor, Daughters and Ryan.  I picked out the 5″ x 54 figurado because I wanted a shorter smoke, and I still am not sure if this is the natural or maduro version. I thought it was the maduro, but the regular, non-bold, 1881 Perique Maduro has a secondary band saying “maduro”. I don;t care at this point, because it was damn tasty! It had that unique Perique spice with some more ooomph than the “normal” line. I was truly entertained for nearly an hour and a half by this well made, great tasting cigar. I hope these guys get some traction in the US market, because the cigars are good. It’s hard to get people to stray from what they know and try new things sometimes. There are some great cigars from places outside of Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Cuba (and the US, but I don’t feel like cigars that are made in the US, ie.: some Tatuajes, some La Palinas, etc. are perceived as US cigars). These cigars from the Philippines are tasty, and I love some cigars from Peru, Costa Rica and other places.


That’s all for now. Hopefully I won’t be a lazy slug again this week and skip my mid-week post.  Until the next time,




1 Comment

Filed under Review

Merlion, Undercrown, Rocky Patel, Viaje and RoMEo Cigars

Pre-IPCPR post, by the time you are reading this I’ll be either on my way to Las Vegas, there already, or home, depending on when you happen to read. I’m anticipating a busy show, and have made some appointments, but there’s literally no way one can schedule meetings and get to visit everyone one wants to visit, there’s not enough hours in the day. I’ll do my best to bring you something different than my esteemed colleagues in the cigar blogosphere, whom I’m hoping to commune with as well. I’ve got packing to do, so I’ll try to keep this brief! Here are some interesting cigars I smoked this week:


Merlion_Sea Lion_maduroOne of the cigars I’m looking forward to at the IPCPR show this year is the release of the Merlion Maduro from La Sirena Cigars. A few years ago I got my hands on one of the limited edition boxes of the Merlion Se Lion, which came in a box with nine Sea Lions and one Maduro Sea Lion. The Sea Lion is a unique shape, it’s a 5½” x 47 perfecto with a shaggy foot and a very pointy head. It was all I could do not to smoke this when I go them, as you can well imagine.  It has not gotten tot he point where they are releasing a regular line of the maduros, so I figured it was time. These are made at La Aurora, and the cigar smoked beautifully. It was rich and full of all the great flavors I look for in a cigar. I can’t wait to smoke this is other sizes, but the Sea Lion size is unique and interesting to smoke. They only produced 500 boxes of these, so I imagine the chances of getting more are nil.


Undercrown_ExclisivamenteI have been playing around withe the Drew Diplomat app, and I just don’t get it. I can’t figure out how to really interact with people, find people, or anything. I think there are much better “community” apps out there, and I get that this is a marketing tool. So I’ve been choosing Drew Estate cigars to smoke and log on the app a little more lately, which I suppose is the point of the app anyway. I picked out the Undercrown Exclusivamente, which is a square pressed toro exclusive to Corona Cigar Co.’s Drew Estate Lounge in Orlando. There are several cigars presented in this form factor for the lounge, including a Liga 9, a couple of the Tabak Especiales, Natural and Herrera Esteli. In addition to being sharply pressed, they have a flat cap, which lends itself well to punching with a reasonably large-bore punch.  I’ve smoked a lot of Undercrowns, and I think this was my favorite size/shape of the bunch. Sure the Corona Viva is the stand out in the line to me (better yet, the larger Dogma, a Cigar Dojo release that’s long gone. I haven’t smoked a Manifesto yet), but I think this surpasses even those. It’s a terrific smoke, a fun shape, and quite worth picking up if you find yourself in the Orlando area (or on the Corona Cigars website).


RockyPatel_Edge_SumatraMonday evening I went with a cigar that was gifted to me last week by one of our friends who joined me for Desnudo Sunday. Nik is a noted local (Wilmington, DE) singer/songwriter/performer who is a cigar nut as well. It was a very generous and unnecessary thing for him to do, but I understand and appreciate his eagerness to share something that I hadn’t smoked yet. I can probably count the number of Rocky Patel Edge cigars I’ve smoked on one finger. Why this is, I have no idea. I’ve seen them on the retailers shelves for years, I just never picked any up. He gave me his favorite, with is the Sumatra 6″x 52 Toro, and it was very good with a savory, woody, leathery flavor with a little sweetness. It was well-behaved, and a very satisfying smoking experience. I’ll have to make an effort to further explore the Edge line. Thank you, Nik, for the great cigar!

Vieje_SummerfestI’m finding I have more to say than I thought, the downside of skipping my mid-week post.  I smoked a Viaje Summerfest 2015 that I bought last year at J. Shepherd Cigars in Louisville, KY. This cigar was interesting in that the first inch or so is without wrapper, so you smoke binder and filler only for the first 15 minutes, then there is a noticeable change. Viaje is another one of those brands I don’t follow closely, but I seem to recall the first release of theirs being the 50/50, which was designed with two distinct blends merged together in the middle. I never smoked one, but it sounded intriguing.  So this limited edition cigar was very nice, and it really did showcase the amount of flavor the wrapper gives a cigar. It smoothed out noticeably when the wrapper started burning. Fascinating. Of course, these are only released in the summer, and I don’t recall seeing anything about one coming out this year. I don’t think this was too awfully expensive either (or I probably wouldn’t have bought it!, and I bought two and smoked one there I think).


RoMEo AnejoFinally, last night I grabbed a cigar that I had been siting on for a year or more. When the RoMEo Añejo cigars came out I really wanted to like them. 2010 Connecticut Broadleaf for a wrapper, a 2008 Olor from the DR for a binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers from the 2009 crop.  The first few I smoked seemed over moist, they tasted great, but the steamy quality to the smoke and associated difficulty with draw was off-putting and frustrating. So, like a dummy, on the hottest, most humid day of the year, I forgot all that and decided to give this cigar another try. I was encouraged with the initial draw, but after a few minutes on the porch in the humidity, it started getting that steamy feel to it again. That thick broadleaf wrapper is like a sponge, I suggest putting these in your humidor if you have a humidity spike, as they will suck the moisture out in a short amount of time.  I still love the flavor, but one must be very careful about conditions in which these are smoked. I’ll keep trying as I’m a sucker for broadleaf.


That’s all for now, I’m off to Vegas, so watch for reports from the show here, and follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope for up to the minute reports. Until the next time,









Filed under Review

Rosalones, Vegas de Santiago, SOF Cigars and a Contest Winner

CraigonACBoardwalkLast Sunday my wife and I took a trip over to Atlantic City to walk on the boardwalk and just get away for a bit. As soon as we got there I lit up a La Sirena Devine while we strolled on Steel Pier and along the beach. It was windy, and I had some trouble keeping it burning right, but it was a great cigar, and nobody seemed to care I was smoking it!  After a nice dinner, we went back out to walk it off, and I lit up a Tortuga El Coyote Negro No. 500. I guess I was in a belicoso kind of mood, that was two in a row!  Great cigar, but it had gotten a little chilly, Tortuga500so we went into the casino and wasted some time at some slot machines while I finished my smoke. They have signs in the smoking section saying you can only smoke if you’re playing a machine!  We found a big machine with a bench for two in front of it, which was perfect, and the game ended up paying off, so we just about broke even. Great cigar though, I can’t get enough of the Tortuga line.


Rosalones_Gran ConsulBack in the spring of 2013 I had the privilege of attending Drew Estate’s Cigar Safari with a bunch of fellow bloggers and cigar media types.  One of the cigars that was available for us to sample over the course of the trip was a cigar from Joya de Nicaragua called Rosalones. At that time it was just for the European market, but several of us smoked these and were quite impressed.  Several months later this brand made it’s debut at Cigars International.  This week I smoked a Rosalones in the Gran Consul size, the same 4¾” x 60 torpedo shape that’s available in the Antaño 1970 and Dark Corojo lines.  I’m a sucker for figurados, and I think this is a fun shape to smoke. It’s got the smoking time and coolness that I like in a large ring gauge, without the need to unhinge my jaw. This is a medium bodied smoke, with rich, dark flavors, and a perfect burn. These are really quite reasonably priced as well.  If you like Joya de Nicaragua’s offerings, you’ll like this cigar.


vegas de santiago lanceroLast week I heard about the passing of Rudy Niehaus, who was a principle in the Vegas de Santiago cigar company out of Costa Rica. My dealings with Rudy and his wife Lani, who passed away a few years ago, goes back more than a decade, when they were a sponsor of a cigar event my wife and I organized at the Freehold Raceway in New Jersey.  I’ve been smoking Vegas de Santaiago cigar on and off ever since, and the Secretos de Maestro line has always been my favorite.  A few years ago I expressed interest in the Secretos del Maestro Laguito No.  1 size in their Oscuro wrapper. I’ve been sitting on a couple of these and decided this week was a good time to smoke one.  Laguito No. 1 is traditionally 7¼” x 38 , but theirs is closer to 7¾” long, but is still finished with the traditional pigtail cap. It’s a very elegant cigar, very rich and savory in flavor, but lacking the sweetness that you’d expect with an oscuro wrapper. It’s a very good cigar, and I don’t think you can get these anywhere but directly through their website, and they are not very expensive at all! If I’m not mistaken, this same factory is responsible for the MBombay, Byron, Bandolero and Atabey lines. My condolences to the family on the passing of their patriarch.


SOF-AD_650Yesterday I selected a new cigar that I had an initial hesitation about responding to the request to send a sample.  I’m pretty much a pacifist in nature. I certainly support our military and veterans, don’t get me wrong, but they are and have been far better suited to doing what they do than I ever would have been. I recognize that, and I’m comfortable with it.  So when I got an e-mail from Tim Lawson of SOF Cigars, I considered giving him a “thanks, but no thanks” reply.  Soldier of Fortune (SOF) cigars is a veteran owned brand made in The DR, and the AD (Almost Dead) has a dark brown Brazilian Arapiraca with a proprietary binder and filler. They had me at Arapiraca, and i was interested.  I smoked the toro, 6″ x 50 with a little bun-style pigtail cap.  I really, really enjoyed this cigar.  It had a flavor like strong black coffee, a hint of nice bitterness, but a sweetness as well. It was perfect constructed and had a great burn and draw.  There’s a story that goes with this which explains the date 17-NOV-03 on the band, which relates to what I assume is the brand owner’s experience as a “contractor” in Iraq, a harrowing tale of nearly being killed in an ambush.  I have a hard copy, and will update to include a link to the story if I can find it! So far, these are only available at www.StogiePlace.com, and are priced in the $6-8 range which is quite fair for this quality and flavor! Thanks to Tim for the sample and for his service. I have no idea what factory in Santiago is making these, but something in the back of my head makes me think of PDR cigars, and I’m probably way off and an idiot for even guessing.


modiglianiI think that’s it……wait, I need to select a winner of the Toscano cigars from ItalanSmokes.com and the Screwpop cigar cutter from Screwpoptool.com!  I was a little disappointed with the turnout for this contest, but I guess this is a bit of a niche item and not everyone is adventurous. Still, we had 41 entries, allowing for a couple of side comments that didn’t count, and Random.org spit out the number 5, so by my figuring, Sean Kevin Conroy is the winner.  Please send me your address so I can ship you goodies!  Thanks to ItalianSmokes.com and ScrewPopTool.com for providing the goodies, now I have to see what I can scrounge up for the next contest!


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







Filed under Contest, Review

Rocky Patel Super Ligero, Oceano, Nomad, and Romeo y Julieta Cigars at Mojo

Another week in the books. Last weekend turned bad with the new dog, who had to go back to the SPCA on Tuesday. It got the point where she was in attack mode whenever she saw another animal, and that can’t be allowed.  So I took tomorrow off so we could have a weekend “do-over” and my wife and I are headed to the shore for some walking on the boardwalk.  I have to pick out a few sure thing cigars to take along, as I’ve had a couple disappointments this week. What wasn’t disappointing was yesterday’s lunch with my wife at the Flying Pig Saloon in Malvern, PA. Naturally, I have a bit of a Flying Pig attraction, and this place is decorated with a ton of different flying pigs. My wife had a Havana sandwich, which was pork and peppers and pickles on a ciabatta roll. I had the Cheesy Pig, bacon, ham cheddar and blue cheese in a triple decker grilled cheese/club sandwich format. Both were delicious, and they had ginger beer by the bottle! (for the beer drinkers, they also have what seems like hundreds of craft beers on tap and bottled). I should have followed that up with my last Liga Privada No. 9 Flying Pig, but by the time I got around to having a cigar, I had forgotten.

Flying PIg SaloonCheesy PigHavana


RockyPatel_SuperLigero_ToroAfter the mayhem of the weekend, I found relief with a new-to-me cigar from Rocky Patel, the Super Ligero. I’d been hearing a lot about this cigar, and the band is certainly a bit different for RP, almost, dare I say, new Camacho-esque.  Whatever band is on it doesn’t matter, this is a really tasty smoke, and right in my wheelhouse. It’s not overly powerful, as the name could imply, Super Ligero is the actual name of the leaf, not a description of its nicotine content. The cigar burned and drew perfectly, had a wonderful rich coffee, spice and cocoa flavor.  I smoked the toro size, it seems to be a very common size for Rocky’s cigars, but I really am on the look out for the lancero.  Whatever you might think of Rocky Patel cigars, this one is a winner and one I’ll go back to regularly. It wasn’t priced too bad either.


Oceano_IndianOnce again, in response to a reader question, I revisited the Oceano Indian this week. Lonnie smoked one that was included in his contest winnings a few weeks ago and found it to be spicy and stout.  This cigar is made for La Sirena by the Quesadas in The DR, and it is definitely a strong cigar.  It’s certainly got some spice, and some chocolate notes, but still has a but of creaminess. I have had this example in the cabinet for a few months and it smoked perfectly. I really need to get some more of these, it’s a darned great cigar, but I haven’t really had any clunkers from La Sirena yet.  I featured this in one of my Prime Living Magazine articles last year.


Nomad_S-307_ToroI grabbed a Nomad  S-307 toro for a walk this week. I seemed to have accumulated a handful of Nomad cigars for some reason, and have them on the top tray of one of the desktop humidors, so they are staring me in the face every time I open the lid. So, being that I’m basically lazy, I grabbed the S-307 and went on my way. This cigar is made at the AJ Fernandez factory in Esteli, and has an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, Ecuador Habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers. This was Fred Rewey’s first full production Nicaraguan cigar and he really nailed it. If you like cigars from AJ Fernandez, you are sure to enjoy this one. It’s sweet and spicy and a real treat.


Romeo AnejoThursday we went down to Cigar Mojo in King of Prussia, PA for a Romeo y Julieta event hosted by Altadis‘ rep Tom Stroud. This is the second time in a week we’ve gone to one of Tom’s events. Considering I’ve not had a strong focus on Altadis products over the years, this is something unusual!  As usual, I purchased a handful of cigars, Romeo’s and Vega Finas, mostly, and decided to give the RoMEo Añejo another try, this time in the toro vitola. We sat in the outside seating area as we had brought Macha along. I still need to revisit this cigar, as it really didn’t burn as well as I’d like. It was a bit over-humidified. It was a muggy day, and the cigars were out in the lobby, not in the walk-in humidor, so that may have had something to do with it. Cigars usually burn perfectly right from the Mojo humidor, and the Vega Fina Nicaragua I tried to smoke last night just smoldered, didn’t produce any smoke unless I really puffed on it, and pissed me off to the point where I chucked it before the half way point and lit up an Alec Bradley Nica Puro. I VERY rarely give up on a cigar like that, but life’s too short to waste an hour fighting with a cigar…I digress.  The RoMEo Añejo wasn’t as bad an experience as the VF, and both show a lot of promise in that what flavors I did get tell me I’d really enjoy the properly performing versions. I’m really excited about the Romeo/Aging Room collaboration that should be in stores soon too.


That’s it for now, gotta get ready to hit the road. Don’t forget to go back to yesterday’s contest post and enter (maybe read the review too!). Those Toscano Modiglianos are darned tasty cheroots! Until the next time,






Filed under Events, Review