Charter Oak Review

Charter Oak Review


First a little introduction: My name is Peter and I’ve been smoking cigars 19 years. I am a native of NY and as such I am sarcastic and acerbic. If you don’t agree with me then say so and stand by your convictions when challenged. If not, then shut up and go away. I tend to be pretty picky about what cigars I like and have yet to find a reviewer whose pallet is similar to my own. As such I don’t really read a reviews tasting notes. I go by the overall score. Keep that in mind when reading my thoughts on cigars. I might hate it but I’m not you. Try it for yourself.

Now here is a little of my approach to judging cigars. The nature of a handmade product is that there will be deviation from the standard. With a single cigar you don’t know if you’re smoking the deviation or the standard. So in order to have an informed opinion at least three samples need to be smoked. That said first impression are important. The cost of cigars is ever increasing and the consumer has a wide array of choices. If that first smoke isn’t any good I’m probably not going to give it another try.

For that reason, I try to take care to properly store my cigars before smoking and forming an opinion. This doesn’t just mean keeping them properly humidified and at the right temperature. It also means letting cigars I have had shipped to me sit in my humidor for a week prior to smoking. As well if I pick up something at my local shop that is a few days off of the truck I’m going to let it rest for a week. Now I do cheat from time to time on those releases I’ve been dying to try. In these cases, I smoke the first one as soon as I can get it onto my grubby little hands but don’t formulate a solid opinion. I wait until after resting and then smoking the others I’ve bought to do that.

In part one of my FIRST IMPRESSIONS I’ll be giving you my thoughts on three new releases from Nick Melillo’s Foundation Cigar Company. The Charter Oak Connecticut Broadleaf, the Charter Oak U.S. Connecticut Shade and the Tabernacle. Foundation Cigars Charter Oak Broadleaf

First up is the Charter Oak Connecticut Broadleaf in the 4 ½ x 50 Rothschild vitola.

Blend information

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder: Undisclosed

Filler: Undisclosed

Factory: Undisclosed

Now for my first impressions The cigar starts gritty and earthy. At less than an inch in notes of cedar and unrefined sugar developed. It’s smoking quickly but staying cool The retrohale is very peppery and jalapeno like Ending of the 1/3 and the strength & body are dialing back back from Medium+ to Medium – The retrohale has deeply mellowed to gentle earth and oakiness At the halfway point and there are notes of oak, earth, and a slightly bitterness The burn rate slowed significantly at the halfway point Entering the 2/3 with lots of gentle bitterness The whole of the 2/3 is oak and bitterness. It needs a sweet component to balance it out The retrohale has a generic woodiness and the spice has all but gone away The 3/3 is much of the same but less distinct. very boring This is a solid value prices smoke that is worth a revisit for a full review

Next I smoked the Charter Oak Connecticut Shade in the 4 ½ x 50 Rothschild vitola.

Foundation Cigars Charter Oak CT ShadeBlend information

Wrapper: U.S. Connecticut Shade Grown

Binder: Undisclosed

Filler: Undisclosed

Factory: Undisclosed

It starts with notes of hay, coffee and cream, lots of cream The retrohale has the same hay with some sweetness, cream and pepper spice Bottom of the first inch, very nice cinnamon finish on the pallet Bottom of the 1/3 generic wood, retrohale is nice and sweet Surprisingly this US CT is smoking slower than the Broadleaf.

At the halfway point and it’s all about the retrohale, crème brulée baby Entering 3/3 and the flavors have mellowed out to light sweet cream with a touch of bitterness on finish The retrohale is short and sweet and oak notes

This is a very impressive little smoke. I am very surprised at how creamy it was considering it US CT wrapper and not the sweeter Ecuadorian variety This as a cigar to smoke again


Finally, I smoked the Tabernacle in the 7 x 40 Lancero vitola. Foundation Cigars Tabernacle

Blend Information

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf

Binder: Mexican San Andres

Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan

Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez, Nicaragua

Start out rich and with notes of raisin, chili spice and that broadleaf tobacco sweetness. Early on I got a weird but not unpleasant French fries note. The retrohale is tons of cocoa Bottom of 1/3 with lots of sweetness and earth. The retrohale tastes of cinnamon graham cracker The hallway point and it pretty much the same as the start and it is so good Entering final third and still the same. But damn it is good Last inch and there are earthy touches of sweetness. This Tabernacle Lancero really surprised me. I am not Lancero goy. But I really enjoyed this one.

Gurkha Master Select Perfecto – Unique Shape and Awesome Draw

Gurkha Master Select Perfecto – Unique Shape and Awesome Draw

As you may know, Gurkha releases a ton of cigars each year in limited batches with absurdly high MSRPs that somehow always get discounted from online cigar stores. Unfortunately many of Gurkha’s brands are in and out of stock just as quickly as they are produced, thus it is hard to find a great smoke and be able to get it consistently. One exception for Gurkha is the Master Select Perfecto. It is a great cigar that is a reliable smoke and even more reliably available when you want it.

Like the name implies, the Master Select Perfecto lights perfectly. As designed, lighting the perfecto is no challenge. I bought a five pack of this cigar and never had an issue with an inconsistent burn. Every opportunity was so refreshing. When toasting the perfecto, a couple of short puffs was enough to bring the cigar to a full light. No burning taste and nothing overpowering. What a joy.

The Master Select brand is a great opportunity to experience a cigar that is designed to change strength and taste throughout the smoking experience, again due to the perfecto shape. Upon starting the first third of the cigar, the taste is rather mild. Once you get half way through the cigar takes on a medium to strong taste. Finally, on the final third, the cigar goes back to a mild taste.

Throughout the smoking experience I tasted some spice, common to Gurkha medium bodied blends. There were also hints of vinegar and cider. Nothing too complex, this is a great casual smoke and finished in under 45 minutes. The smoke was a heavy gray and quite pleasing to look at.

Finally, I really relished the feel of the cigar in my hand. The oily wrapper was well constructed and never threatened to come off. In fact, the humidity I was keeping the cigar at gave it a great feeling on my hands and could have easily been smoked doing some intense physical activity like the typical golf or fishing cigar smokers enjoy.

For the most part, Gurkha Master Select is a middle of the road smoke for the price. You likely won’t find it as a clearance option like so many limited run Gurkha’s that are available online. Instead, the price is fair and rarely discounted. It is also a shorter smoke for most people and that could play into the value for what you are getting.

CAO CX2 Cigar Review

CAO CX2 Cigar Review

Disclaimer: I was provided 2 CAO CX2 Robustos from Famous Smoke. The cigars were provided in exchange for this review.

I have such fond memories of CAO. I have always enjoyed their cigars and I have had the opportunity to meet the entire family. I have also met Jon Huber and one the reps, Brian “Bigfoot” McGee, whom I got to know from the many cigar forums that were active a few years ago. One of the things I really enjoy is attending the Big Smoke, and when CAO was there they would give you a cigar, light it up for you and hand you a piece of paper. If you brought the paper and the cigar butt back later, they would give you another cigar. What a great deal! They got more people to smoke their cigar first. I always made sure I visited their booth first.

One of the things that set CAO apart was the packaging. They had some nice looking and creative ways to present the cigars. Do you remember the Sopranos trunk shaped box that you could reuse? What about the CAO Vision that came in a plastic humidor that would light up with a nice blue color.

So how does the CX2 stand up? Lets start with the facts first.

Cigar Details
Size: 5 x 52 (Robusto)
Country: Nicaragua
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: African
Filler: Nicaraguan and Colombian
Beverage: Water

The CX2 or Cameroon times two, is one product in the line of the X2 series. There is also the LX2 and MX2.

Lets talk about the appearance first. The cigar is a medium brown color and has a nice looking wrapper. I did not see any visual issues, patches or stems. Overall the construction on first inspection was fantastic. Now the band, this is a bit unique. It has a black background with CAO CX2 in a gold color. This same gold color lines the band as well. On either side there are cut outs, really just holes that scream, “Please hold here”, and you really do.

One thing I always hate is a band that has too much glue. I have smoked a few cigars, even higher priced ones where the band simply did not want to come off easily. I know it’s a minor gripe, but you don’t want to take the chance of ripping the wrapper leaf of. I waited until the burn line was about a quarter of an inch away and I was easily able to remove the band fully in tact. The same could be said about the wrapper. I did not try and remove it beforehand, as I tend to leave my bands on until the burn line gets close to them.

I fired up this bad boy using a butane lighter and begun my journey. A little ways in, I started to get a bit of spice on the retro hale. It wasn’t over powering, but it was enough to say, good morning. I also started picking up a bit of a creamy, slight buttery, aftertaste. Theses flavors remained fairly consistent through out the smoke. I did pick up a few earth tones, but nothing major stood out.

The burn line was fantastic and the cigar never went out. The ash was a nice white color and appeared to be fairly solid. I did ash frequently to avoid get ash on me just in case. Near the end, I noticed the spice picked up a bit more as well as the creamy aftertaste.

Now about that price, at around $5 to $7 dollars for the robusto, that’s not a bad price. Of course the price will vary depending on where you buy it and how many you buy, but I think around $6 for a good robusto is a fair price. A robusto should last around 45 minutes and this cigar fell right in that time frame. Again your mileage will vary depending on how often you draw on the cigar. Following a rough guideline of a puff or two every minute or so, this cigar should last you for what could be a good lunch smoke.

Overall I liked the cigar. I liked the spice, the cream and the earth tones. The price point is great, and yes I have purchased them in the past. I would recommend this cigar to anyone looking for a good medium body cigar that enjoys spice and creamy flavors.

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Infused Cigars – More Novelty than Tasty?

Maker’s Mark Bourbon Infused Cigars – More Novelty than Tasty?

The Maker’s Mark Bourbon Infused Cigars are a classy and high cost cigar to try. The Kentucky Bourbon that the cigar is named after is one of my favorite spirits. It captures the American taste of whiskey. It’s rough, tough, and smoky. Oddly, the Maker’s Mark Cigar is nowhere near that, though it is not bad.

First of all, this Dominican cigar is pretty high end looking. The tubes it comes in is sealed with red wax similar to the spirit’s bottle. Outside of that though the presentation of the wrapper is not all that exciting. It often appears rather dry and flaky. Although it takes away from the gift giving image of this high end smoke, I highly recommend that if you buy these to take them out of the tubes and store them in your humidor for at least a few weeks. They really need to moisten up.

Image aside, the cigar is an easy light and an easy smoke to begin with. The initial taste is quite sweet, which is definitely disappointing considering the taste of its namesake bourbon. I have never had a great whiskey that anyone would describe as smooth or sweet. This cigar could have been more appropriately described as a rum infused smoke. If you enjoy sweet smokes then there is nothing wrong with this, except for your expectations.

I was expecting more complexity. The cigar is average in delivery as well. I didn’t pick up any dramatic smells or tastes. Again, it was pleasantly sweet, especially the Sumatran wrapper, but otherwise a safe smoke.

About half way through the cigar made a turn from sweet to nutty. Not overtly powerful it was no longer satisfying my lips, but casually teasing my palate. At this point, the draw became much more difficult. Perhaps a relight would have been in order. Without one, I was struggling to keep it going in a garage. That feeling was felt by the others smoking with me.

I imagine that Maker’s Mark expects their cigar customers to pair the cigar with their Kentucky Bourbon, but I would definitely suggest something sweeter like a port wine, a brandy, or even a rum. Rum might be just too sweet though, especially with the nutty flavor that comes later.

Some have observed problems with the wrapper of this smoke peeling away, in addition to other issues with the quality of the filler. I wonder if the price of this smoke is due to it being infused with the bourbon more than the quality of the cigar. Again, I don’t know how the cigar was designed or the quality control in manufacturing, but many reviewers have noted this problem. I have only smoked three of these and can say that I didn’t have problems with the construction of the smoke.

Cigar Review: Winston Churchill #10

Cigar Review: Winston Churchill #10

Here I am, back at you with another cigar review.  A good friend of mine, Nick, gave me a couple of these cigars to try, and told me I had to review one on the site when I was done.  He knows I am primarily a medium to full cigar smoker, so when he handed me this one, he told me it was mild, but that I would still be surprised.  I guess it’s time to find out if I was surprised, or if this cigar did not live up to the hype garnered by Nick and quite a few other people.

winstone churchill cigar

Pre-Light:  The first thing I noticed about this cigar, is that it was perfect.  The roll was perfect, with no cracks, splits, or tears, and it felt just right, with a minimal amount of “squish” as I held it in my hands.  As I ran the cigar across my nose, I got a faint barnyard smell, with a little bit of carmel-like sweetness.  At this point, I am really looking forward to smoking this cigar.  I clipped the cigar with my ever-trusty Palio and lit it up with my standard Ronson Jetlite.

1/3:  As I lit up and took the first few puffs of this cigar, I got a good blast of the carmel sweetness I was smelling earlier.  At the back of my throat, the barnyard and hay flavors made a quick appearance, then faded away.  As I retrohaled the smoke through my nasal passages, I couldn’t help but notice how smooth it was.  It was very nice, and not real spicy, but had a great smell to it.  The ash it holding pretty tight, and the burn is very nice, and not too wavy.  So far, this cigar is living up to the hype, and I am really enjoying it, even if it is milder than what I usually smoke.


2/3:  As I continued onto the 2nd portion of this cigar, things changed up quite a bit.  The carmel-like sweetness just about went away completely, and the barnyard and hay flavors made their appearance in a big way.  I also started to get some black pepper spice on the finish, which in turn caused a bit of a burn on retrohale.  All of a sudden, it was like I was smoking a completely different cigar.  A good cigar, mind you, but a completely different cigar.  The smoke is still billowing nicely, and it is a very enjoyable smoke.

3/3:  Not much changed from the last third to this third.  The flavors stayed about the same, but the black pepper spice that made itself known got a little bit stronger as I got down toward the end of the cigar.  The smoke billowed nicely to the end of the stick, and I smoked it until I couldn’t hold onto it any longer.  The changes in flavors made for a nice interesting stick.  The burn still stayed fairly even and straight, and there were no construction problems to this point.


Overall Impression:  Overall, I found this to be one interesting cigar.  I had never experienced a cigar that made such a drastic flavor profile change from one portion to the next.  They were all excellent flavors and very enjoyable.  The price range on these sticks is really what keeps me from buying more, but I do see why they are as spendy as they are.  Great stick, not so great price.