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Cgars

Cuaba Cigars Taste Test



Cuaba Divinos
Reviewed by  Kevin Reed

First a little background on the Cuaba brand for those needing a little hard fact. Up until the beginning of this century, the figurado shape (or perfecto if we're being picky), pointed at both ends and bulbous in the middle, was the most popular in the world. With figurado's returning to fashion in the mid-90's, Cuaba was introduced in London in 1996, the brand being the first new Cuban cigar brand to be introduced into commercial production since 1968.

Cuaba is the Taino Indian word for the special Cuban bush used to light the "Cohiba" or "Tobacco" on the Island used during religious ceremonies. Cuaba cigars are made at the Romeo y Julieta Factory (now Briones Montoto) under the supervision of Master Roller Izquierdo Gonzalez. This figurado shape is very difficult to make as it has to be made without the use of a cigar mould so don't be surprised if, upon opening a box, you find that no two cigars are identical.

Rolled on the thighs of Cuban virgins ? Doubtful. But rolled on the thighs of a master of his art? Very possibly. We shall see.

OK...the history lesson's over, now to the cigar

You know how some cigars just feel right when you hold them ? Picking one of these up is a small pleasure in itself. For a short cigar, they're very tactile, very ergonomic. A quick examination shows a relatively vein-free, rustic looking colorado-maduro wrapper. Of the Cuaba range this vitola is the odd one out, having a flat cap instead of a pointed one. A small snip with the cutter and the pre-light draw doesn't reveal a great deal.

Slightly woody taste, nothing too exciting. The cigar takes an easy light then BOOM!! One of the fun bits about smoking a perfecto .the first few draws are ALL wrapper. Very nice - very sweet !

When the burn reaches the main body of the cigar, the initial light sweet smoke gives way to a rewarding cloud and the cigar settles into a steady rhythm. Spicy, deep flavours erupt on the taste buds but with a hint of the sweetness still evident. The draw is effortless - nice and easy and the burn is completely even. Fantastic construction.

One of the fundamentals of the universe is that humans will always try to make 1 + 1 = 3. Confused ? Let me explain. We find it impossible to content ourselves with  anything au naturale and have a need to find something complementary for everything to make the experience greater than the sum of it's parts. Cigars are no exception. We add salt to our foods, cream to our coffees and alcoholic drinks to cigars. When we do reach the required combination though....oh boy !!

So. after the first few puffs of the wrapper have abated and I have the first real taste of the cigar still in my mouth - I head to the liquor cabinet in pursuit of the "3" factor. Looking for something to match the sweet, earthy taste my hand lingers on the Havana Club 7 year old rum but a last minute impulse makes me go for the Ron Zacapa. I pour myself a generous measure over ice and settle into my leather chair. Let the ride begin.

The smoke's aroma and the flavours are intensifying with each steady draw as the girth of the cigar widens, the flavour a little reminiscent of a Romeo y Julieta Cedros No 3 but unique enough to be able to separate the two. The burn of the cigar is completely even and the ash is a crunchy dark grey.

This cigar is proving to be a little revelation. With each draw the flavour evolves and surprises. I had imagined this cigar would be an ok smoke but nothing special. Sometimes it's a definite pleasure to be completely wrong. (If anyone ever tells the wife I said that... I'll flat deny it)

Small sips of the Ron Z replace some of the sweetness lost as the cigar reaches the middle. This is the widest point of the cigar and so the wrapper is providing less in terms of overall taste. The flavour is now definitely like smooth hazelnut praline with a little of the spicy signature that can be found in Cuban cigars. I'm now cresting the apex point of the cigar and from here the cigar tapers gently towards it's ultimate end. The smoke has a creamy, silky texture and is staying cool, quite surprising for a shorter cigar.

With each draw now, the width of the cigar is decreasing and the wrapper again begins to exert more influence over the taste the sweetness is returning. Yet, just as you think you have this cigar pegged, it alters subtly and the next draw has something new and different to marvel at. The Ron Z was a good choice, it's flavour merging with the cigar's different nuances instead of overpowering it or being lost in it. The smoke now has a gentle warmth to it yet I'm determined to extract every last ounce of pleasure from this cigar.

Unfortunately, I can't hold it anymore, I'm starting to burn my lips and fingers but the last couple of puffs had a delicious, almost vanilla sweetness to them and as I reluctantly let this slip from my fingers into the ash-tray.

So, there you have it. Although lacking the power necessary to be an after-dinner cigar, one of these after a good lunch would certainly hit the spot. This is a must-try figurado, sure to become a modern day classic but hey, THIS was how all cigars USED to be. Maybe those Taino Indians knew a thing or two ?

Excellent review! Description of the setting and overall smoking experience was "just" enough, not drawn out. It actually made my desire to try these cigars even stronger.
Judge: Bill Durkin
Score 9/10

An excellent review, which would fit wonderfully in any cigar publication.  The writer gives  a history lesson, delves into the human thought process and describes his smoking experience in a manner which maintained my interest completely. 
Judge: Elliot Blum
Score 10/10 

Well, I guess it wasn't to bad, a bit long - I could have done with knowing what Ron Zacapa rum tasted like, but I'll leave that for another time. The review was pretty much a bio on a chap's cigar moment rather than a review of the cigar. I would have liked to know what age the cigar was (if known) and what other cigars the reviewer liked to get an idea of what the mark was against in this reviewers eyes. On the whole not too out there.
Judge: Richard Whitwell
Score: 5/10

OVERALL SCORE: 24/30



Cuaba Divinos - 1997
Reviewed by Kevin Dods (August 2003)

One can feel quite stupid trying to put these things in to words but I feel I ought to put something together for the less reviewed cigars that I have enjoyed.

To frame the moments in which I enjoy my cigars, I ought to explain that, as I have young children, I smoke outside. Usually I have just my own company and perhaps glass of something slightly sweet, preferably an LBV Port. In relaxing, ancient English countryside and with a setting sun, I turn off the week's business and stress with the squeak of a cork, the snip of a cigar and the click of a lighter.

When the week has been particularly harsh, the possible half hour of quiet relaxation is so precious I find myself taking great care over the selection of an individual cigar from my humidor. In days past that was nearly always an El Rey Del Mundo TPC, reliable but not always distinguished. Taking advice I tried Cuaba Divinos a small, neat torpedo with a slightly darker wrapper than my usual preference.

For my first encounter with this smoke and after a week resting them in a Humijar, I settled in to a comfortable garden chair and a glass of Taylor's. After removing the band, which simply slips off, I found it lit easily and the draw was relaxed. No sign of the struggle I have had with a number of more uptight Hoyo's. The burn continued on, steadily, to produce a plentiful but cool, slightly spicy burst, early in the smoke.

Within 5mins it had settled to become a consistent and generous smoke, which allowed casual and spaced draws without fading and never gave cause to relight for the next 20 minutes. Each laconic draw was matched with a draught of Port to balance the sort of bitter chocolate flavours at the back of the smoke with the rounded sweet warmth of the alcohol.

Perhaps because of the torpedo shape, the final 5-10 minutes seemed to pull together all the flavours and add the warmth of the burn without the bitter taste that other vitolas can produce as their unburnt tars collect at the mouth. There was just enough tingle produced on the lips to tell you the cigar was coming to an end and then just enough heat to tell you to let go of this moment and allow this new friend to slowly and respectfully come to an end.

Overall this cigar has been an understated pleasure. No time to become complacent in smoking it, it gives you it's all in perhaps 30 minutes. IMHO a perfect half hour.

Nice review although I would have like to have known more about the flavour and strength balance but I think this may have been drowned by the Port! The framed moment was a delight to read but the review lacked a bit of "cigar review"
Score 6/10
Reviewed by Smokeymo

Very pleasant review. Well written and made me want to try one of  Cuaba Divinos.
Score 6/10
Reviewed by Stephen Mazzuca

A pretty good review of a cigar that is not always appreciated by Havana smokers. I would tend to agree with all the aspects Mr. Dods pointed out, though he must have smoked this Divino really slow. I can't  keep one going for more than 15-20 minutes.
Score: 7/10
Reviewed by Matt Rousey

OVERALL SCORE: 19/30



Cuaba Salamones
Reviewed by William Fitzgerald (July 2003)

Cgars

I'm relatively new to the world of cigars in that I have only been smoking them for about 3 years. Previously, I had been a pipe smoker, and felt I needed a change.

A co-worker turned me on to the world of cigars in May of 2000, and I've never looked back. He and his wife both smoke cigars, and it wasn't long before they gave me my first Cuban as a gift for some work I'd done for them earlier that same year.

Since then I have been smoking Cuban cigars on a regular basis, as money will allow. Six months ago another friend gave me one of a bunch of Cuaba Salomones he had purchased from CgarsLtd. He seemed very excited about his purchase, and insisted that I try one and tell him what I thought. Please find below my impressions on this figurado:

Size: This cigar measures an impressive 7 1/4 x 49, and is shaped in the figurado style. 

Appearance: The wrapper is smooth and silky with the slightest impression of small veins. The color was a nice medium brown much like nicely tanned leather. 

Feel: The cigar was firm to the touch, but not hard. The appearance impression was right on in that the cigar felt as smooth as it looked. 

The Cut: The cut straight, and firm. 

Prelight Draw: Very nice with a wonderful sweet earthy/leafy taste before the light.  

The Light: The foot blackened well prior to the first draw, and the earthy taste previously noted now became a burning earthy aroma that was extremely enticing. 

The First Draw: The initial draw was once again very earthy, with a wonderful hearty tobacco flavor. The size of the cigar lent itself to a large volume of smoke that was very thick. 

The First ¼: I noticed as the cigar burned an oily film seemed to appear, and then was adsorbed in to the wrapper. (I'd like to hear comments on this if anyone else has had the same experience with other cigars.) The earthy taste was very full with the emergence of a chocolate character (semi-sweet), and the beginnings of a nutty after taste. 

The Middle: The middle of the cigar is marked by the emergence of the nuttiness previously addressed, and the development of a very creamy spicy taste similar to vanilla. 
 
The Finish: The finish was very creamy, and sweet with the wonderful earthiness still present. 

Conclusion: This cigar was very rich, hearty, and long. It had large amounts of everything from taste to finish. Its flavor was bold, and very complex. I found myself staring at this vitole as it burned thinking how much better it would get with a years worth of age. A truly magnificent smoke!  

This review touched on all the points a good review should. If there was any lack, it was in depth. A wonderful review, but a little more would have been better.
Rated 8 of 10
Rated by Frodo

This is another prosaic, but complete and straight-forward review. It covers all the required points.
Score: 7/10
Reviewed by Van55

Good review, maybe less rigid in its description.. Instead of bolding all of the different dimensions, work them into the prose. 
Rating 9/10
Reviewed by James R aka John Shaft

OVERALL SCORE: 24/30



Cuaba Millennium 2000 Distinguido - 6 3/8" x 52 ring gauge
Reviewed by Greg Mizell (June 2003)

This cigar came to me on a bombing raid by one of the most generous people I've ever come in contact with. He's a member of Cigar Pass (www.cigarpass.com), a group of overly generous people to say the least. That he manages to stand out for his kindness among that crowd is a testament to his giving spirit. Thank you....you know who you are.

Have you ever gotten that feeling just before lighting up a prized cigar that you just know you're in for something special? You know, that tingly anticipation? Sure, sometimes it ends up being a bust. Ahhhh, but when it doesn't.....

A brief wine sidebar.

Any good cigar deserves proper liquid accompaniment. For this one I chose a late harvest Zinfandel from Dashe Cellars, vintage 1997. For the Europeans reading this who may not be familiar with the Zinfandel grape, this varietal used to be the Rodney Dangerfield of wines. No respect. Nowadays, however, a wide variety of different types of wine are made from this grape. There are powerful wines almost like a claret in their backbone. There are fruity wines reminiscent of the Rhones of France.
There are earthy versions that remind one of Burgundy. But a dessert Zin was a new one on me. Something told me it was going to be perfect. It turned out to be all of these things and more. Sweetness balanced by acidity and powerful cherry flavors. A port without the fortification.

But I digress. This, after all, is a cigar review, not Wine Enthusiast

The Distinguido is a throwback. It is made in the old figurado style with a rounded head leading to a tapered body that grows in diameter right up to the perfecto foot. It was quite firm throughout; there were no soft spots to be found. The wrapper was a gorgeous deep brown with a few veins. I'll never know who rolled this cigar but I wish I could shake his hand. It was, in a word, flawless especially given the difficulty in rolling this particular shape.

I settled into the couch and got down to business. The cap cut cleanly. The cross-section thus revealed how tightly this stick was rolled. Draw problems? Not a chance. A pre-light pull offered the perfect amount of resistance and an earthy flavor. It lit quickly - love those perfecto tips - and the first flavors were a powerful melange of leather and nuts (pecans to be exact). As soon as it burned to the wide part of the cigar the taste settled down a bit. The flavors softened but didn't change in character. A woody undercurrent joined the other flavors soon thereafter.

At this point I'm starting to realize that this really is something special. I'm beginning to wonder if a cigar can get any better. The question was soon answered.

The beauty of the cigar wasn't in the flavors it expressed but rather in the way it expressed them. They seemed to play off of one another in an everchanging medley. Like a tapestry made of different threads, the flavors evolved from nuts to cocoa to cedar to spice. In and out the flavors danced and weaved their spell. No one taste ever dominating the others. It never became harsh even to the spicy finish; it remained smooth and creamy throughout.

This fine cigar burned almost ideally too. The final two thirds burned as straight as any cigar I've ever seen. If I had to find a flaw in it it would be that the smoke volume at first was a bit disappointing. But, again, that was only a problem at the beginning.

A final observation: I noticed as it was burning between puffs in the ashtray that its aroma was like incense. Not that it smelled like incense, mind you, but it had an intoxicating power to it. I could have been in an opium den in Shanghai.

I can sum up my impression of this cigar thusly: it was a work of art. I don't say that lightly. Whoever made this smoke knew exactly what they were doing. When I finished it, my first thought was that I wish I could smoke a cigar like that every day. Upon reflection, however, I'm glad that I can't. To smoke a cigar like this regularly would only dull its brilliance.

C.GARS Ltd, thanks for the opportunity to submit my review. As you can probably tell, it was quite a lot of fun! 


Best wishes. Greg Mizell



Cuaba Divinos - 4" x 43 Ring Gauge
Reviewed by Kevin Reed  (May 2003)
Provenance: C.GARS Ltd (Cuaba Sampler)

I'm not normally a fan of smaller cigars but THESE are an interesting looking smoke. I got them from CGARS Ltd yesterday and although I know I should let them lie a while in the humidor, I'm going to leave that for when I buy a box. After all, it's a new month and there's a new review to be written ;-) and these are crying out to be smoked - if you hold one up to your ear you can hear it - honest !!

I'll take it that they've been very well looked after in MO's humidor.

So......first a little background on the Cuaba brand for those needing a little hard fact. Up until the beginning of this century, the figurado shape (or perfecto if we're being picky), pointed at both ends and bulbous in the middle, was the most popular in the world. With figurado's returning to fashion in the mid-90's, Cuaba was introduced in London in 1996, the brand being the first new Cuban cigar brand to be introduced into commercial production since 1968.

"Cuaba" is the Taino Indian word for the special Cuban bush used to light the "Cohiba" or "Tobacco" on the Island used during religious ceremonies. Cuaba cigars are made at the Romeo y Julieta Factory (now Briones Montoto) under the supervision of Master Roller Izquierdo Gonzalez. This figurado shape is very difficult to make as it has to be made without the use of a cigar mould so don't be surprised if, upon opening a box, you find that no two cigars are identical.

Rolled on the thighs of Cuban virgins ? Doubtful. But rolled on the thighs of a master of his art ? Very possibly. We shall see.

OK.....the history lesson's over, now to the cigar.

You know how some cigars just feel "right" when you hold them ? Picking one of these up is a small pleasure in itself. For a short cigar, they're very tactile, very ergonomic. A quick examination shows a relatively vein-free, rustic looking colorado-maduro wrapper. Not so much "Totalemente a mano" as "Definitivamente a mano".

Of the Cuaba range this vitola is the odd one out, having a flat cap instead of a pointed one. A small snip with the cutter and the pre-light draw doesn't reveal a great deal. Slightly woody taste, nothing too exciting. The cigar takes an easy light......then......BOOM!! I forget about this every time I light a perfecto....the first few draws are ALL wrapper. Fireworks all have instructions on them that say something like "Light touch paper and stand well back". Perfecto's, in my opinion, should carry a similar warning. Verrrry nice - verrrry sweet !

When the burn reaches the main body of the cigar, the initial, light, sweet smoke gives way to a rewarding cloud of smoke and the cigar settles into a steady rhythm. Spicy, deep flavours erupt on the taste buds but with a hint of the sweetness still evident. The draw is effortless - nice and easy and the burn is completely even. Fantastic construction.

One of the fundamentals of the universe is that humans will always try to make 1 + 1 = 3. Confused ? Let me explain. We find it impossible to content ourselves with anything "au naturale" and have a need to find something complementary for everything - to make the experience greater than the sum of it's parts. Cigars are no exception. We have to add salt to our foods, cream to our coffees and alcoholic drinks to cigars. When we do reach the required combination though......oh boy!!!

So....after the first few puffs of the wrapper have abated and I have the first "real" taste of the cigar still in my mouth - I head to the liquor cabinet in pursuit of the "3" factor. Looking for something to match the sweet, earthy taste my hand lingers on the Havana Club 7 year old rum but a last minute impulse makes me go for the Southern Comfort. I pour myself a generous measure over ice and settle into my leather chair. Let the ride begin.

The smoke's aroma and the flavours are intensifying with each steady draw on the "uphill" section as the girth of the cigar widens, the flavour a little reminiscent of one of my favourites, Romeo y Julieta Cedros No 3 but unique enough to be able to separate the two. The burn of the cigar is completely even and the ash is a crunchy dark grey. 

This cigar is proving to be a little revelation. With each draw the flavour evolves and surprises. Not a cigar that could ever be described as flat or monotone then. Somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice is whispering "Never judge a book by it's cover". I had imagined this cigar would be an ok smoke but nothing special. Sometimes it's a definite pleasure to be proven completely wrong. (If anyone ever tells the wife I said that - I'll flat deny it)

Small sips of the Southern Comfort replace some of the sweetness lost as the cigar reaches the middle. This is the widest point of the cigar and so the wrapper is providing less in terms of overall taste. The flavour is now definitely like smooth hazelnut praline with a little of the spicy signature that can be found in all Cuban cigars. I'm now cresting the apex point of the cigar and from here the cigar tapers gently towards it's ultimate end. The smoke has a creamy, silky texture and is staying cool, quite surprising for a shorter cigar.

With each draw now, the width of the cigar is decreasing, the ride slowing and as the wrapper again begins to exert more influence over the taste the sweetness is returning. Yet, just as you think you have this cigar pegged, it alters subtly and the next draw has something new and different to marvel at. The Southern Comfort was a good choice, it's flavour merging with the cigar's different nuances instead of overpowering it or being lost in it. The smoke now has a gentle warmth to it and I'm determined to extract every last ounce of pleasure from this fine cigar.

Unfortunately, I can't hold it anymore, I'm starting to burn my lips and fingers but the last couple of puffs had a delicious, almost vanilla sweetness to them and as I reluctantly let this slip from my fingers into the ash-tray I have to admit to being a little sad. Then the grin returns. The Cuaba sampler I ordered has another of these and six bigger brothers to go with it. That's a nice thought.

So, there you have it. A roller coaster ride from a cigar in 45 minutes and all of 4 inches. (you can insert your own double-entendres here). Although lacking the power necessary to be an after-dinner cigar, one of these after a good lunch would certainly hit the spot. There are three distinct stages to the cigar - a tempting starter, a large main course and a seductively sweet dessert but the gentle evolution from stage to stage is a delight. This is a must-try figurado, sure to become a modern day classic but hey, THIS was how all cigars USED to be. Maybe those Taino Indians knew a thing or two ?



Cuaba Exclusivos
Reviewed by John Saucer (June 2000)

I received 3 beautiful Cuaba Exclusivos from C.GARS Ltd ahead of the holidays. I enjoyed these on two separate occasions. One was smoked on a cool, clear night with a good book (and a nice glass of Balvenie) and the others later in a mini holiday herf with a fellow Cigar Family member (thanks Deadeye). This is a brand that I am quite familiar with as I am a fan of perfectos and have had the opportunity to smoke several sizes in this line over roughly the past 2 years.

What first struck me was the fine reddish/brown wrappers that included a nice somewhat silky sheen. This surprised me a bit as these had just made a long voyage to reach me and some of the Exclusivos I had smoked in early 1998 had wrappers that were far more rustic. All three were reasonably uniform in construction (or as much as one would expect in a perfecto shaped cigar). There were a few minor bumps and veins but no real soft spots and again their appearance was considerably better than had been the case with Exclusivos I had smoked some 6-9 months earlier. The pre-light aroma was not strong or intoxicating but it was quite appealing nonetheless in that earthy Havana way. I also noticed just a hint of sweetness but did not sense much in the way of spice on my lips pre-light.

An easy clip with my Zino and we're off to the races with the cigar providing a very easy draw. Right from the start, rich thick smoke curled off the end of this lovely perfecto. It continued to generate excellent volumes of smoke throughout. The first Cuaba smoked produced a light/medium gray ash that was slightly flaky but it clung nonetheless. The burn on both occasions was a touch uneven (only minor adjustments were needed) but this may have more to do with the unsettled state of the cigars after shipping than any question of workmanship.

The Exclusivos did pack more punch that there smaller cousin the Tradicionales but they may also have been a bit more one dimensional in terms of flavor. While I would categorize this cigar as more in the medium or maybe medium-full range, it did have the strong, satisfying Cuban flavor that I crave, especially after a big meal. In my opinion this is still a PM cigar. But it will not knock your socks off as can the occasional Partagas Serie D #4 or Ramon Allones Specially Selected. My palate has not tended to register the rainbow of flavors often ascribed to certain cigars by some reviewers. I can say however that the tastes that came to mind with this cigar early on were of earth, wood and maybe even some nuttiness. Some spice did kick in about 1/3 of the way into the cigar. But I would still describe the flavor of this cigar as straight forward tobacco rather than complex. The finish was a little short in my opinion.

Overall the flavor of the Exclusivos is indeed appealing/satisfying, and they provide close to an hour of enjoyment. They do not however develop the range of flavors nor the degree of spice I may find in my favorite Partagas. And it was difficult not to compare the Cuaba Exclusivos with the similarly sized Partagas Presidentes as I puffed away. Both are quality and rewarding smokes that I will continue to purchase. But if forced to choose (and thankfully I am not) the Cuaba just does not yet stack up to the depth, body and construction of the Partagas.

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