Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Guest Post: How Cigars Became Synonymous with Hip Hop Success Stories

Written by Chris Balme

So synonymous is rapper P Diddy with cigars that when crazed fan, Quamine Taylor, broke into his mansion to live a day in his life, he smoked one of the rapper’s cigars and then used his toothbrush. Ignoring the musician’s music studio, Taylor realised the real measure of P Diddy’s success was his love of cigars. 

Along with his contemporaries, P Diddy understands the connotations to wealth that are represented by cigars and uses them endlessly as a storytelling tool for his rags-to-riches life.

Contemporary British music is now largely made up of graduates from the prestigious Brit School for Performing Arts and Technology. This has somewhat diminished the rags-to-riches stories that has long added extra perceived depth to the music of once-struggling artists.

Music of African-American origin is however still rich with successful artists who have made the transition from the ‘ghetto’ to a life of great wealth. Some of the modern world’s most famous and best-selling music artists, such as Jay Z and P Diddy grew up in poverty and represented a street culture which is a million miles away from their current millionaire status’. This juxtaposition is furthered by the playboy lifestyles they are currently living, buoyed by their well-known love of cigars.

There is an air of exclusivity attached to cigars that now the Hip Hop artists are involved, they want to tighten. The connotations of cigars are weakened as the doors are opened to the homogenous mass. Jay Z’s range of cigars, the Cohiba Comador, is seldom found in tobacconists and cigar specialist stores and it is marketed as a boutique line. There have been an estimated 21,000 Cohiba Comador cigars in circulation since their release.

This exclusivity of cigars extends throughout the Hip Hop world. Bypassing the store shelf and behind-bar regulars, more exotic brands are desired. The secretive Moore & Bode cigars sued P Diddy for using footage detailing how their cigars were produced in one of his video thanks to a secret recording.
Cigars play a central role in the videos of Hip Hop luminaries as part and parcel of the lifestyle advocated in the artists’ videos. The mansion, the pool, the private jet and the beautiful wife are all a part of the package deal that includes the desirable cigar.

Arti Asal, owner of Tobacco Specialists, has noticed a shift in patronage: “The impression of cigar smokers as exclusively retired army generals and excited groomsmen at a wedding is a massive misnomer. The mix of people buying cigars has never been more diverse than it is right now.”

But as the break-in by Quamine Taylor demonstrated, cigars are a feature of the private lives of the Hip Hop stars and not just a marketing tool or status symbol. 


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Review - Kafie 1901 Cigars Don Fernando Maduro Toro Bello - 88/100

I actually got the Don Fernando Maduro Toro Bello from Gaby Kafie before the release to market, but failed to write a review until now due various different reasons. My apologies for the delayed comments.

Kafie Cigars is one of the new rising companies on the field with their own take on trying to create a great smoke. I truly enjoy testing and writing reviews about the new cigars out there. It is a great experience to grab a cigar from the humidor without any set expectations.

So, here we go - from zero expectations...

The Toro Bello is an appealing cigar with a chocolaty appearance. It has a deep brown, oily wrapper with just a few veins. It feels well made and looks that way too.

The unlit aroma is setting the expectations with a mix of sweet chocolate, earth and hay. And that is what you get - sweet chocolate, earth and hay with a musty feel to it in an overall round, medium bodied profile.

Despite the somewhat uneven burn, the cigar delivers an even experience all the way through. It does not develop that much, but if you like the flavor profile to begin with, then it is not to be held against the cigar. Progressing further, the cigar delivers a very musty, creamy and sweet chocolate core accompanied by some appearing coffee and pepper, becoming more prominent in the end.

Overall, a very good cigar. Not really my favorite flavor profile but i know many who would love it. A cigar worth a try. And if you like it, then go for it!

Origin : Honduras

Wrapper : Nicaragua
Binder : Honduras
Filler : Nicaragua

Points: 88/100

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Review - Padrón 1964 Diplomatico Natural - 96/100

In 1994, Padrón launched an anniversary series to celebrate the 30 years of existence of Padrón Cigars.

In 2014, I am reviewing the Padrón 1964 Diplomatico (natural) from this series to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

The celebration starts with somewhat mixed emotions - The cigar has a beautiful matte wrapper and a very beautiful double band (the other has the serial number of the cigar below the actual band). Then there is the cap. Why is there such an ugly cap on this beautiful cigar? And why have they box pressed it? There is something about box pressed cigars that does not appeal to me.

I am not, however, going to judge the book by its covers. And if you share my opinions about the cap or the box pressing, Please, do not miss the opportunity to try the Diplomatico. You will not be disappointed.

The unlit aroma of the cigar gives away a blend of wood and a mixed spice, leading down the stairs to an old bakery. Lighting the cigar, the old oak walls and furniture of the bakery combine with cinnamon, cardamom and ginger creating an intoxicating flavor profile.

When enjoying the cigar a bit further, down to the mid way point, the flavor profile keeps developing quite nicely. The cigar gets more earthy and comes up with some hints of pepper, especially on the exhale. The flavors power up without turning this medium bodied cigar too strong or harsh, continuing to be a smooth experience of true craftsmanship.

The development of the flavor continues to the last draw, bringing forward also some floral notes to accompany the earthiness, spice and mild pepper on top of the tuned down wood. All the way through, the finish is quite short and dry.

To summarize, the Padrón 1964 Diplomatico is an amazing cigar which earns its place among my all time favorites. Who cares about the ugly cap or the box pressing when you get to experience something like the cigar has to offer!

Origin : Nicaragua

Wrapper : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Filler : Nicaragua

Points: 96/100

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Review - Casa Magna Oscuro Toro - 90/100

Casa Magna Oscuro Toro is one of those cigars, which are great, but do not offer anything to exceed expectations. This is, however, depending on your personal expectations. Mine were relatively high, as the Colorado Gran Toro earned 89 points earlier here and the Colorado Robusto has been ranked high on CA in the past.

The unlit Oscuro Toro promises to deliver at least cocoa and coffee with some hints of wood or grass. When lit, the performance of the cigar was flawless all the way through, as expected from a quality cigar.

What about the flavor then?

From the start, it becomes obvious, that this cigar is based on the core of cocoa and coffee, accompanied with sweet plum and spice. Further down, the cocoa and spice come forward with greater intensity, followed by some woody notes.

Closing in on the band, the cocoa and sweet plum step aside and wood, pepper and spice conquer the palate, holding their banner high for the rest of the cigar. Here is where the cigar can also become bitter, if smoked with haste and not in a cautious manner. The finish is long and pleasantly creamy with some pepper.

Overall, this medium bodied cigar is excellent value for your money. It is an easygoing cigar with good balance and honest approach. Not pretending to be something it is not, but standing true to its character.

Origin: Nicaragua

Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Honduras/Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Points: 90/100

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Upcoming reviews 2014

Hello all,

I thought i'd list some of the upcoming reviews for 2014. These are in a random order, but if you want to influence what to see next, please use the contact form on my site to send suggestions!

  • Cain 654T
  • Padilla Double Toro
  • FdlA Toro
  • Ashton VSG Wizard
  • Tatuaje Cojonu 2012 with Sumatra Wrapper
  • Cohiba Piramides Extra
  • Partagas E2
  • Alec Bradley Black Market Gordo
  • Alec Bradley Family Blend Torpedo
  • CAO La Traviata Amatista from the Jar
  • My Father Le Bijou Gran Robusto
  • Padron 1964 Diplomatico
  • EP Carillo Inch
  • Flor de Oliva Robusto
  • Don Pepin JJ Salomones
  • H. Upmann Half Corona
  • Casa Magna Oscuro Toro

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Review - Cohiba Behike BHK 56 - 99/100

Cohiba Behike 56 -  What is the hype?

First of all, the 56 has been rolled immaculately. Just the right firmness, just the right draw, just right. Wrapper with a silky hue combined with a lovely pigtail at the end of the triple cap make the cigar look irresistible. Only thing i do not consider perfect in the looks is the band. I personally like more traditional and less flashy bands. But hey, that's just me.

Lighting up the cigar gives a prologue to what the next moments of your life are going to be: creamy and smooth with some delicate whispers of spice. But the prologue is always there just to lure you in...

In the first act, right up to half way of the cigar, the flavors intensify and build up a powerful core of profound characteristics of tobacco surrounded with cream and spice. Past the half way, first hints of the second act appear.

In the second act, right down to the last third of the cigar, the plot thickens. Cream and spice give way (not leaving the stage) to a more earthy character with some secondary roles played by coffee and chocolate, building anticipation of the finale.

And what a Grande Finale that is! All flavors mixed and balanced with strength, creating a perfect last third of this full bodied cigar. When the lights go out and the curtain falls, people stand in ovation and the actors give humble bows one after another, lingering on the stage for a long time.

Epilogue: Not full 100 points. Why? Well, to be honest, i could have rated this with a perfect 100 points score, but I decided not to. The cigar itself is worth it, but two things took away one point - I do not like the flashy band (for some weird reason) and the price for this cigar... well, there is a price you have to pay for perfection. Just wish it was a bit lower.

Origin: Cuba

Wrapper: Cuba
Binder: Cuba
Filler: Cuba

Points: 99/100

Monday, 10 March 2014


March 9th, 2014 (Jupiter, FL)

Warped Cigars, LLC is pleased to announce the release of EL OSO “The Bear”: Blended and rolled in Little Havana, Miami. EL OSO will be produced at the esteemed El Titan de Bronze factory in the heart of Little Havana, under the watchful eyes of Sandy Cobas, the factory’s owner.

Rolled by level 9 Cuban rollers at El Titan de Bronze utilizing traditional Cuban rolling techniques, such as Entubado style, where each leaf is individually rolled and then bunched, and of course the signature Cuban triple cap. Sizes available will be a 48 x 6 belicoso in 10ct boxes and a 44 x 4 in 20ct boxes.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Binder: Ecuadorian
Body: Medium

“EL OSO’s profile is something I wanted to be different, I spent months developing and refining the blend until it was exactly what I wanted. Dark fruit, sweet spice, cream, and all in a true medium body.” Said Kyle Gellis.

Release has been set for May 2014.

For more information, please visit http://www.warpedpuro.com/

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

Have a nice rest of the week!