Category: Cigars

Cigar Review: Oliva Hellion Devil’s Due

After the success of the Wrath line from Oliva came their follow-up: The Hellion: Devil’s Due.  I smoked a Robusto, measuring 5 x 54.  The Hellion is handmade in Nicaragua with a Habano wrapper grown from a Cuban seed, and Nicaraguan long filler.  This cigar is considered a “puro” meaning the binder, wrapper, and filler all originate from the same place–Nicaragua in this case.

The construction of the Hellion is solid, with a dark appearance and smooth surface.  It is firm to the touch, and slightly spongy.  Sweet notes of leather and fresh soil are present in the nose before lighting and it presents a stiff but not unpleasant draw.  The unlit flavor is sweet, earthy, and green with hints of leather and hay.

Upon lighting I notice that the foot burns easily and emits a smoky aroma of burnt alfalfa.  My first draw was earthy and sweet with floral notes that continued through the first tercio (first third of the cigar).  From the start the Hellion has flavors of deep cedar wood, rich leather, and raw cocoa nibs, with a waxy feel in the mouth.  The slight bite of black pepper is present and subtly compliments the earthy flavors.

Moving into the second tercio the flavor of cocoa nibs evolves into a more refined chocolate taste with a red wine finish.  The cedar gives way to dark wood, toasted but not burnt.  Thick leather sapor pleasantly permeates the second tercio and continues into the third, along with earthy, woody character.

The third tercio is no less pleasant than the first two–an important characteristic of fine cigars.  The earthy character is maintained, decreasing only slightly in sweetness and never taking on a burnt taste.  Cocoa notes fade away, and hay darkens to smoky herbal flavor.  There is little tar build-up in the head, which makes the entire smoke more pleasant.  My only complaint about the Hellion is that my wrapper began to unwind, as did my smoking partner’s, during the first part of the third tercio.  The stiff draw present on pre-light quickly resolved itself at the beginning of the smoke.

The Oliva Hellion Devil’s Due may pair well with a sweet red wine with a mild flavor.

Summary:  The Oliva Hellion: Devil’s Due is a great every day cigar and can be enjoyed socially or in solitude by cigar aficionados of all experience levels and tastes.  It has a medium to full body and medium flavor, and satisfies without overbearing the palate.  This cigar may be a good choice for occasional cigar smokers and beginners, as the sweet floral notes are easily detected and appreciated.  Still, experienced smokers will appreciate the nuanced cocoa and woody earthiness present throughout.  This is, in my opinion, a cigar to keep in the humidor.

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Cigar Review: Cohiba Edicion Limitada 2015

My father received this as a gift from an employer a few months back and it’s been in my humidor ever since.  We had a Thanksgiving get-together and broke out a few cigars.  Dad, being a new cigar smoker, didn’t particularly enjoy the Cohiba and gave it to me.  In short, I was not impressed.  It was a serviceable cigar, but nothing great and it had several major drawbacks.

To begin, the unlit aroma was sweet and earthy with notes of old barn.  Not the dirty kind of barn, but the warm, comfortable, inviting kind of barn.  My first red flag was that the cigar was incredibly difficult to cut.  It seemed like the tobacco was spongy–almost rubbery, even.  The draw on this cigar was nearly impossible, but I lit up anyway.  The thing burned slow and was very difficult to smoke due to the stiff draw.

The first tercio had strong bread flavor, sprinkled with walnut notes and dried grass.  The flavor was very pleasant and unassuming.

Going into the second tercio the cigar took on a roasted flavor but kept the earthy barnyard and grass notes.  Unfortunately I didn’t make it through the second tercio before the tar build-up became too thick to get any air through.

Overall the Cohiba Edicion Limitada was disappointing.  Despite it’s good flavor, the draw and tar made the smoke impossible to enjoy.

Cigar Review: Gurkha Venom Maduro

Gurkha makes some of the finest cigars available, from the simple Beast running $6 – $10, to the almighty His Majesty Reserve at $450 a pop.  Granted, there are more expensive and more prestigious smokes available, but Gurkha just about runs the gamut as far as value goes.  I’ve smoked everything from the famous Royal Reserve, down to some experimental lower end Gurkhas, and the Venom is one of my favorites.

The Venom is a Dominican Puro, meaning that the long filler, binder, and wrapper are all grown in the Dominican Republic.  The wrapper is a dark maduro with a grainy, slightly oily texture.  Visually, the cigar is appealing with a bright sheen and consistent color throughout.  Upon unwrapping, a light, sweet aroma with notes of wood and hay is detectable.

To the touch the Venom feels firm and solid, consistently round and has a smooth surface.  Measuring in at 60 x 6, the Venom gordo fills the hand nicely.  An unlit puff draws easy and tastes sweet and earthy.  Overall the construction of this cigar was excellent.  I always toast the foot of my cigars before I light up so I can get a good whiff of the smoke.  The smoke from the Venom has a pleasant aroma, and smells of spice and wood smoke.

The cigar burns well and draws easy.  In the first tercio (third), strong spice flavor prevails with earthy notes of mulch and floral scents.  The first tercio is naturally sweet with a bitter undertone and electric bite that isn’t overbearing.  The second tercio takes on a more salty, tannic tone,  maintaining the floral and spice flavors, but gaining a peppery note mixed with leather and dried fruit.  The smoke exhales easily through the nose and becomes even more floral through the sinuses.  The last third of the cigar becomes a bit tarry, gains more leather flavor, and retains the earthy pepper notes from the second tercio.  The only drawback of the cigar was a strong, burnt, tarry taste at the tail end that came on hard and fast.  Fortunately this only happened at the very end of the cigar when I was about ready to extinguish it anyway.

I give the Gurkha Venom high marks all around as an afternoon smoke for a cool autumn day.  It’s a great beginner’s cigar, but even experts will find subtle nuances that will tickle the refined palate.  The Venom will pair nicely with a rum cocktail or a light whiskey that won’t overwhelm the understated flavors hiding in the smoke.venom