Cigar Reviews

Cigar of the Day: H. Upmann Classic

The H. Upmann brand has a long and storied history in the cigar industry, dating back to 1844 when it was founded by Hermann Upmann in Cuba. Today, the brand is owned by Altadis USA, and the H. Upmann Classic is one of the flagship cigars in their lineup.

The H. Upmann Classic is a medium-bodied cigar that features a beautiful Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, which gives the cigar a smooth and creamy taste. The filler is a blend of premium tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, which are aged for at least two years to ensure a consistent and flavorful smoking experience.

Upon lighting the H. Upmann Classic, you will immediately notice the smooth and easy draw, which allows you to take in the full flavor of the cigar without having to work too hard. The initial flavors are mellow and creamy, with notes of cedar, nuts, and a subtle sweetness. As you progress through the cigar, you may notice hints of spice and earthiness, as well as a slight nuttiness that lingers on the palate.

One of the most impressive things about the H. Upmann Classic is how well-balanced it is. The flavors are perfectly blended, creating a nuanced and complex smoking experience that is sure to please even the most discerning cigar aficionado. Despite its medium-bodied profile, the cigar never becomes too intense or overpowering, making it a great choice for both novice and experienced smokers alike.

The construction of the H. Upmann Classic is also top-notch. The ash holds firm throughout the smoking experience, and the burn is even and consistent. This is a testament to the skill and expertise of the rollers at H. Upmann, who have clearly taken great care in crafting each cigar.

Overall, the H. Upmann Classic is a classic cigar that lives up to its name. It’s a great choice for those who are looking for a smooth and creamy smoking experience that is well-balanced and nuanced. Whether you’re a seasoned cigar smoker or a novice looking to explore the world of premium cigars, the H. Upmann Classic is a cigar that is sure to please.

Cigar Reviews

Tallchief Cigars #3 Cigar of the Year 2022: Undercrown 10

The Undercrown 10 cigar by Drew Estate is a true gem of a smoke. As a seasoned cigar aficionado, I was excited to try this new offering from one of my favorite brands, and I was not disappointed. The Undercrown 10 is a limited edition cigar that was released in 2020 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Undercrown line. This cigar features a stunning Mexican San Andres wrapper, a Connecticut River Valley Stalk Cut Habano binder, and a blend of Nicaraguan and Brazilian Mata Fina fillers. The end result is a complex and flavorful smoke that is sure to impress even the most discerning cigar connoisseur.

The first thing I noticed about the Undercrown 10 is its impeccable construction. The cigar is perfectly rolled and has a nice weight to it. The wrapper is smooth and oily to the touch, with a deep brown color and a slight sheen. The band is understated and elegant, featuring the classic Undercrown logo with the number 10 underneath it. It’s clear that a lot of attention to detail went into the design and presentation of this cigar.

Upon lighting the Undercrown 10, I was immediately struck by its bold and complex flavors. The first third of the cigar features a rich mix of dark chocolate, espresso, and black pepper, with a subtle sweetness that lingers on the tongue. The smoke is thick and creamy, with a perfect draw that allows for ample smoke production without being too loose. The burn is even and consistent, producing a solid ash that holds on for a good inch or two before falling off.

As I progressed into the second third of the cigar, the flavors began to evolve and deepen. The chocolate notes became more pronounced, with a hint of nuttiness and a touch of leather. The pepper mellowed out a bit, but still provided a nice kick on the retrohale. The sweetness remained present, but shifted from a subtle hint to a more prominent note that balanced out the richness of the other flavors.

In the final third of the cigar, the flavors continued to build in intensity. The chocolate became almost fudgy, with a distinct note of caramel and a touch of spice. The leather and nuttiness remained, providing a nice earthy undertone to the smoke. The sweetness remained present but became more of a background note, providing a subtle contrast to the other flavors. The smoke remained thick and creamy, with a perfect draw that allowed for ample smoke production without being too loose. The burn remained even and consistent, producing a solid ash that held on until the end of the cigar.

Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the Undercrown 10 cigar by Drew Estate. This is a complex and flavorful smoke that is sure to satisfy even the most discerning cigar connoisseur. The construction is impeccable, the flavors are bold and complex, and the smoke production is ample and creamy. If you’re looking for a special cigar to celebrate a special occasion, or simply want to treat yourself to a top-quality smoke, I highly recommend the Undercrown 10. This limited edition cigar is sure to be a hit with cigar enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Cigar Reviews

CAO Arcana Series Mortal Coil

CAO Cigars might hold the record for the largest portfolio of unique blends with Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers. There is the MX2, the Bones, the Session, the Flathead…I could go on. Another cigar on this list, and perhaps the most unique of them all, is the Arcana Series Mortal Coil.

During a year-long hiatus from our shelves, this blend was one of the most frequently requested, and has definitely developed a cult following among leaf lovers locally and across the country. The Mortal Coil has returned, and just in time for our largest, most aggressive CAO promotion yet. More on that in a minute.

First, about the cigar. The Mortal Coil makes use of an ancient fermentation technique where the rare Dominican fillers are bundled together and then rolled into palm tree leaf pods, and left there to age and ferment. This process teases out otherwise hidden flavors, resulting in a strong, naturally sweet tobacco.

Then CAO adds the earthy, salty sweetness of a marble-brown USA Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. It has tooth and character, both visibly and to the touch. The pre-light aroma is especially sweet, with a definitely chocolate note, as well as something like nougat.  A Three Musketeers bar, but better because I get to smoke it instead of pulling a muscle in my tongue trying to scrape this from the roof of my mouth.

I found it very difficult to put my finger on the central flavor note that makes this cigar so unique. It was familiar, and I was racking my brain trying to place it. So I asked my man Carl, and being the bottomless pit of smoking experience that he is, he immediately recalled the note I was struggling with…raisins. Dark, sweet, sour raisins. Nailed it.

Try one for yourself, it is incredibly unique, and not always available, so make sure you try one while we have them on the shelves. Can’t make it to the shop? No problem, just click this link to buy online! 

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Cigar Reviews

Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne

I have always had a proclivity for contrarian thinking, but some cigars are just so good that, try as I might to find a reason for a dissenting opinion, I find myself flowing right along with the torrent of positive reviews. Sometimes the masses all agree for a reason…because they’re right.

The Perdomo 10th Anniversary Champagne Epicure (6×54) is one of the most popular premium cigars in our shop, and I mean inside the top 5, outsold only by Romeo Y Julieta Reserva Real Toro and Magnum, Montecristo White Series Toro, and the CAO Flathead 660. The brands on that list are all Behemoths in the cigar industry, with massive sales and marketing budgets and big-time name recognition. Perdomo is a family owned company that earned it’s place in the industry in only one way…making incredible premium cigars at reasonable prices. The 10th Anniversary Champagne is a perfect example. You can snag this smoke in Robusto (5×54), Epicure (6×54), or Super Toro (6×60) for about $10 or less per stick.

So let’s take a look inside:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan
Filler: Cuban-seed Nicaraguan

Seems common enough, until you get one in your hand and remove the tell-tale tinted yellow cellophane. This beautiful butterscotch Shade wrapper feels like velvet. Like the thinnest strip of perfectly supple leather you’ve ever felt. The pre-lit cigar has all of the traditional aromas of Nicaraguan and Connecticut Shade tobaccos, but there is an extra hint of sweetness that enters the nose as well. A dry pull yields earthy notes, and some wood, with a hint sweet cream near the front of the palette.

Cream, honey, and oaky, woody undertones are the prominent flavors of the first third-to-half of this smoke once lit. But it is the very specific combination of these flavors in their specific variants and amplitudes that give this cigar its undeniably Perdomo essence. Perdomo fans will know what I mean when I say that every Perdomo cigar has a shared essence, which I was able to taste immediately and which remained throughout the experience.

The cigar does begin to heat up some after crossing the halfway point, but if extra care is taken not to pull too hard or too frequently, the smoke remained cool enough for pure flavors to be drawn out.

This is a mild cigar, but as complex as any Connecticut Shade I am familiar with. I have to put it up very close to the Oliva Connecticut Reserve in terms of quality and flavor. Connecticut Shade is something I typically will only reach for in the morning, but this cigar has been, and will remain in my breakfast cigar rotation.

If you’ve never had the pleasure, see for yourself why so many serious cigar enthusiasts are buying this cigar by the fist full. You can find it in our web store, and as a thank you for reading, use the code CHAMP for 10% off your Perdomo Champagne purchase online!

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Cigar Reviews Uncategorized

La Gloria Cubana Serie R Maduro

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been introducing a number of new smokes and new sizes from LGC into our “World Famous” humidor. The response from you all has been incredible as always. The cigar I want to talk about today is one that has recently only been available in a huge Presidente-type size called the No. 7 (7.0×56), which is an amazing smoke but can prohibit one from reaching for it if one doesn’t have 2 full hours available. I am very excited to report that we now have another great size of this cigar on the shelf, the No. 5 (5.5×54).

So let’s look at the blend.

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

This is a combination that we see quite often, but La Gloria Cubana in general, and this cigar in particular, have a taste and a personality all their own.

The wrapper has a beautiful marble of dark browns, and has that feel of soft cedar. Its got just a touch of sheen, but appears mostly matte and dry, though you can feel that the natural oils are present. The cigar is firm and feels evenly uneven, sort of lumpy and not perfectly cylindrical, but in a charming way. It has the aesthetic of a well-made, hand-made, artisan product.

Pre-light aromas are of a dark orange chocolate and black cherry. I straight-cut the cap, and take a couple dry pulls. The flavors are light and airy, and there is still some chocolate, dry cherry, and also plenty of leather. Time to light.

The first third has a medium body and a full, complex flavor with notes of sweet leather, earth, and dark chocolate. A long, firm ash developed, allowing the cigar to stay cool, and burn evenly. Entering the middle third, things took an interesting turn, with a very sudden flavor transition, as a strong cedar note took over, and the leather and earth took the back seat for the rest of the ride, and a very pleasant ride it was.

You can buy this cigar, and many, many others, on this website. Check out the Brands section to find your favorite brand and see the spread of options within. Or just stop into the shop, introduce yourself, and ask for the LGC Serie R Maduro. If you are down with full-flavored cigars, this is a must-try.

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Cigar Reviews Uncategorized

Undercrown 10 Robusto

To illustrate just how good I believe this cigar is, I’m going to tell a quick story…

So I’m in Las Vegas with Carl at the Tobacco Plus Expo, an enormous gathering of basically every cigar manufacturer in the industry. Three days of sampling the latest and greatest smokes that each company has to offer. We tried them all. From major blockbuster releases like the H Upmann AJ Fernandez Heritage to little known boutiques like the ADVentura Queens Pearls. It was awesome.

At the end of this three-day cigar bender, we sat down for one final smoke before heading for the airport. Drew Estate had the largest, most extravagant booth in the entire convention center, complete with a cigar lounge, the perfect spot to rest our legs before the journey home. Out came the new Undercrown 10 in Robusto, and wouldn’t you know it, it turned out to be the best cigar I’d smoked all week. With the entire industry there showing off their stuff, old favorites and new unheard-of’s, and the best cigar in the building was this cigar.

So let’s break down the blend.

Like its predecessor the Undercrown Maduro, here we have a blend of Nicaraguan fillers and a thick, dark, Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper. The difference with the UC10 comes in the form of a Connecticut River Valley Broadleaf binder, and those classic Broadleaf flavor traits are clearly noticeable once lit. But more on that in a minute.

Upon removing the cellophane, I brought the cigar to my nose as was overcome with the clearest chocolate note I’ve even smelled on a pre-lit cigar. Somewhere between Milk and Dark, but unmistakeable. Make sure don’t skip this step with yours. Then it was straight-cut, and the dry pull yielded more chocolate notes, but different as they blended with earth and leather.

Once lit, it was much the same, with a note that feels like thick molasses holding the flavors together. Even at 5×50, this stick feels solid and heavy, and burns very slowly even while producing puff after giant puff of smoke with the density of star-forming nebulae. The Robusto is the right choice for this blend. The Toro has more girth, which means a lower wrapper/binder-to-filler ratio and therefore doesn’t show off those flavors quite as prominently. But typically, longer sizes will smoke cooler, and that tradeoff can be worth it. I’ve found that choosing a Robusto over a Toro or Churchill can often mean a hotter smoke, and the heat can overcook the flavors and detract from the experience, but not in this case. The resistance in the draw and slow burn lead to a relatively cool smoke for its size. For UC10, the Robusto is where it’s at.

At Tallchief, we carry this smoke in both Toro and Robusto, so definitely try them both and let me know if you agree with me on the size. But I’m pretty confident that you will agree with me that this is one of the best cigars to come out in the last few years.

Buy this cigar online here, and use the code UC10 for 10% off at checkout.

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News Uncategorized


The New Cigar Capital Of The World

Recently I have been thinking about this interesting juxtaposition: As citizens of the most prosperous nation to ever exist, the way we choose to spend our money effects the lives of real people all over the world. Even a niche subculture like ours, the premium cigar community in America, can have an enormous impact on the lives of people and families in much less prosperous places. American cigar smokers have recognized the quality and craftsmanship of premium Nicaraguan cigars, and as a result, an enormous boom in demand has created tens of thousands of jobs, allowing hardworking men and women to earn an honest living and support their families.

Amazing. But…

This boom in demand came on fast. So fast that even some of the biggest names in the industry, those who have benefited the most, have begun to question whether the current trajectory is sustainable. Is the obsession with Nicaraguan cigars spreading too quickly? Will quality begin to suffer as demand continues to skyrocket?

Thanks to the American market, and its trend toward richer, fuller bodied cigars, Nicaragua has, for the last five years running, exported more premium cigars to the United States than any nation, overtaking the D.R. who held the title for years prior. Over the last decade, the number of cigar factories in Esteli, the hub city of the cigar industry in Nicaragua, has doubled from 40 in 2010 to 80 in 2020, directly sustaining an estimated 45,000 jobs. Padron, Oliva, My Father, San Cristobal, Drew Estate, Rocky Patel and Perdomo are just a few of the companies with huge factories in Nicaragua, employing thousands of people. It is these farmers, rollers and factory workers that you are supporting when you buy premium Nicaraguan cigars. This is something I believe I can feel good about as I puff away on my Padron 3000 Maduro.

However, if you’re thinking that rate of growth seems alarmingly fast, perhaps even unsustainable, you would not be alone. AJ Fernandez himself, whose operation has an enormous footprint in Nicaragua, has been worrying about where this trend is taking us. While he clearly has benefited in the short term from the massive boom in demand for Nicaraguan tobacco, he also warns of a time when quality might begin to decline as manufacturers spread their resources as thin as they possibly can in a desperate effort to keep up with greater and greater demand.

Rocky Patel has expressed similar concerns, specifically with regard to the number of skilled rollers. When speaking about the challenges of operating his Nicaraguan factory, TAVICUSA, Rocky has said that the most difficult piece of the puzzle in 2022, with demand for Nicaraguan cigars at record levels, is finding and keeping skilled rollers. New companies are building new factories, and good rollers are being wooed from one company to the next. Consistency is something that cigar aficionados value in their favorite brands, but it may become more and more difficult to achieve consistency across time as the Nicaraguan cigar industry continues to stretch and grow.

I am of the opinion that it is our job, the American cigar smokers, to continue to support and smoke our favorite brands at our local shops, and to have faith that the manufacturers can all work together to keep quality tobacco growing in the fields, and consistent, delicious cigars rolling off of the factory floors without allowing greed or shortsightedness to bring the whole party to an end.

The United States now accounts for 95% of the tobacco exported from Nicaragua, according to the economic data archive Central America Data. This means that cigar smokers in America support the livelihood of tens of thousands of men and women in Nicaragua. Despite what your doctor might have said, there is at least this reason to feel good about, and take pride in, smoking premium cigars.

Editorial Uncategorized

The Mistresses of Mi Querida

The Mi Querida (right) and Mi Querida Triqui Traca from Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust

Mi Querida literally translates to “my mistress” in Spanish. These cigars had been on Carl’s and my radar for years, and on our wishlist as a new addition to the shelves since January or even before. The Mi Querida enjoys a reputation among aficionados as a cigar for insiders. Everyone has had a Liga Privada. Make no mistake, they are top shelf cigars, but they are commonplace now. If you’ve spent time with a Mi Querida, you are a member of another tier of cigar enthusiast.

These are the darling blends of master blender Steve Saka, the former chief executive officer of Drew Estate Cigars, creator of the original Liga Privada blends, and now the creative mind behind the cigars of Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust.

Overcome with excitement at the arrival of these amazing new cigars to our humble shop, we couldn’t wait to see how they would be received by our guys and gals. I asked one of our VIP’s, Kevin George Berger, long time aficionado and well-respected member of the Tallchief Cigar Circle, to smoke one of each of the two Mi Querida lines and give us his thoughts. What came back were a few quotes I couldn’t wait to share.

Guest Reviewer: Kevin George Berger

Before I get to Kevin’s experience, here is the quick blend breakdown, according to Dunbarton T&T.

Mi Querida (blue label):
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Flavor Profile: Full Bodied

Mi Querida Trique Traca (red label)
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Flavor Profile: Extra Full Bodied

After sampling the original blue label blend, Kevin wrote to me saying that the experience of this cigar brought to mind “the spring of a man’s life; The honey sweet innocence and discovery of new love; the journey of new experiences.”

Wow! Well said Kev.

I couldn’t wait to hear what thoughts would come out after smoking the much stronger and fuller bodied Triqui Traca (red label).

“The red label is the autumn of a man’s life! Appreciating the rich spice and mystery life has to offer, and yet the sheer joy in the anticipation of a known bliss yet to come! The Triqui Traca is an older mistress. More discerning, more wise, more mysterious less playful, she takes her time and knows what she wants. Less sweet for sure but has a complex and satisfying array of delicate spice. She is confident in her femininity and realizes it’s powers. Miss Red Label is a mistress for sure, but also, a remarkable woman worth spending time with!”

I challenge anyone reading this to translate the full experience of a cigar in a more beautiful and more relatable way that Kevin did here. Special thanks to our friend Kevin George Berger.

If you have yet to try Mi Querida, please come see us at the shop, as they are special cigars. And if you want to participate as my next blend review interviewee, I would love to talk to you! Hit me up, and as always…

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Editorial Uncategorized

Why I Will Never Question The Price of a Cigar (Pre-Tax)

Courtesy: Adobe Stock

Depending on the State or Province you buy your premium cigars in, the price of your favorite stick has likely been inflated by State and Federal taxes. New York State is one of the worst offenders in this regard, and its 75% tax on premium cigars is not even half of what our friends in Ontario, Canada have to pay to the provincial government in order to enjoy a fine cigar. This is a travesty, but if we put taxation aside, I think it’s incredible that premium cigars are not more expensive than they are. When you consider everything that goes into producing each handcrafted smoke, it’s frankly amazing that they don’t all cost $40 or $50 a stick.

Premium cigars are meant for more than just smoking. They are made to be admired like the pieces of immersive artwork that they are. The next time you light up, take time to appreciate the texture of the wrapper, the weight of the cigar in your hand. Have a taste of the cigar prior to cutting, and see if you can identify flavors the wrapper leaf might contain. Take your time. Respect the craft of premium cigar making and the craftsmen that create them. Immerse yourself and pay some attention to the details. Because when you do, I believe you’ll see the true value in the experience of a premium cigar, and realize that you paid only a fraction of what that experience is actually worth to you.

It has been said that 200 pairs of hands are needed to create and deliver to your hand the cigar you are now holding. What do you think it pays to be a farm hand in the tobacco fields of Nicaragua? I know that Padron, Perdomo, Oliva, My Father, J.C. Newman, etc. do their very best to provide a good life for their employees, but it is still Nicaragua, and farming is still very hard work.

Consider that the tobacco in your cigar might have been harvested years ago, perhaps even a decade. Consider the amount of care and the number of people it took to look after that crop for all of that time. Consider your favorite cigar, the one you’ve smoked dozens of times and it always has that same taste. How is that possible? It’s a plant, grown in the earth, and there are people so skilled that they can create a blend for a cigar, and then continue to reproduce it for years and years. Do you know how to do that? Because I sure don’t. But some do, and they deserve the admiration and respect of the one receiving the fruit of their knowledge, hard work, and craftsmanship.

The more time I spend around cigars, the more I’ve learned about what it takes to produce and distribute them. When I consider all of this, I think it is absolutely incredible that you or I can have the experience of a premium cigar for $8, or $10, or $14. The next time you hear someone at your shop complaining about the price of a cigar, perhaps you will consider politely helping them see why that view is ignorant and ridiculous.

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The Padron Series

Episode 2 – The Little Hammer Story

In the first installment of this blog series, we talked about the unique position that Padron Cigars holds in the cigar industry and in the hearts and mouths of many cigar smokers world wide. The story of how Padron Cigars was born has been told many times, and for me, it added an even deeper appreciation for the brand, the cigars, and the hobby itself.

Jose Orlando Padron was born in Cuba, and fled to Miami in 1962 during the Revolution. During that time, Cuban refugees were given resettlement money in the form of a government check. Orlando said that every time he cashed that check, he felt like a burden on this wonderful country that gave him a chance at a new life. He was determined to make his own living and support his family with his own labors. 

One day, a friend at the Cuban Refugee Office, wanting to help Orlando realize this dream of self reliance, asked Orlando if he had any carpentry skills. Orlando said yes, so the friend gave him a little hammer. Orlando began taking any job he could find, and saving his money. With nothing but his hands and the little hammer, Orlando managed to save $600 and used that money to start Padron Cigars in 1964. 

Jose Orlando Padron never forgot the lesson of the little hammer, and you’ll find the image of a hammer on almost every box and cigar band that comes out of his factory to this day.

Episode #3 of the Padron Series Coming Soon!

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