Cigar Review, tips and news
It’s time for the second installment of my guest cigar reviews. Thanks again to Stinkie for the cigars and the opportunity to make a mess on his blog.
For this review I smoked two Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte Pamplonas (the designated name for the robusto size in this line of cigars). I’m combing my notes for these two smokes together with my recent experience smoking the Madrid (or toro) size a few weeks ago. The majority of the pictures in this post are from the second cigar.
Size: 4 1/2 x 50 (Robusto)
Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
Smoking time: 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes
In my initial inspection, I noticed some cosmetic variations in these cigars. The first one I smoked was very smooth. You could see the veins in the wrapper, but they were absolutely flush with the leaf. As you might be able to see in the image above, the veins were actually considerably lighter in color than the rest of the wrapper, giving it an interesting decorated effect. It was a very attractive cigar. The second cigar wasn’t quite as refined looking. It had prominent veins running down its sides that were both visually apparent and noticeable to the touch. I’m not saying the cigar was ugly, it’s just hard to match the appearance of the first.
The first cigar also had the slight oily sheen you would expect from a cigar like this. Again, the second cigar just didn’t match up in the cosmetic department. It appeared dry both visually and to the touch.
Both cigars were nicely packed with tobacco and firm when pinched. One cigar had a softer spot toward the foot, but it wasn’t so soft that I was concerned about burn problems.
Both cigars clipped nicely and I detected notes dark chocolate notes in the smell and in the cold taste. There was also the faintest flavor of black licorice or anise in those pre-burn draws that I found pretty intriguing.
I was very pleased with the burn of these cigars. Both started out a little uneven, but settled into a perfectly straight burn until well into the final third. I was right to not be concerned about the softer spot in the first cigar, it never became an issue. With both cigars, shortly after they began burning erratically in the final third it became clear the cigar was finished. The interesting thing is this “I’m done now” point came much later in the second cigar than in the first. (Which, as you’ll see in the flavor section, was ideal.)
One thing I really like observe when I’m smoking is how long an ash will get before it drops into the ashtray. (Or on my shirt. Or the floor. My wife really loves that! ) Longer ashes are a pretty good indicator of well constructed cigars. Well, I was amazed by the construction of the second cigar. It ashed only once! And it did that at well over two inches. The final ash never dropped, even though I smoked it until my fingers started smoldering. (My fingers aren’t that great of a smoke, it turns out.) That more than makes up for a weird final burn line.
This is the interesting part. My flavor reads on these cigars are so different that I have to wonder if Stinkie didn’t pull a fast one on me, slipping me an Oliva cigar in Sancho Panza clothing or something. (If you did, I admire your duplicity! But I caught you!) Of course, as I learned the hard way a single cigar is not a box. It’s also possible that my drink pairing with the second cigar was responsible for the vastly different taste experience.
The first cigar was cigar I smoked with water as my beverage. This smoking experience happens to most resemble my previous experience with the Madrid Extra Fuerte. The cigar began with a dark chocolate flavor and quickly became peppery with a somewhat harsh burnt wood flavor. Around the beginning of the second third, I detected a faint sweetness that grew more pronounced before transitioning into a spicy, peppery finish. I found this cigar a little harsh both at the very beginning and again at the end.
Based on previous experience with the Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte, I decided to make the second smoking experience more interesting by pairing a good hoppy or bitter beer with it. I decided to go with a long time favorite of mine, Bridgeport ESB (Extra Special Bitter). And I gotta say, I nailed it. The combination of the ESB and this cigar was magic. This second cigar was a pleasure to smoke.
None of the harshness I experienced in the previous cigars was noticeable this time around. It began with a strong toasted nut flavor and a sharp cedar taste. The spiciness picked up as it moved into the second third and that sweetness appeared. This time instead of transitioning into a potent peppery finish, it continued to fluctuate between a tasty raisiny sweetness and cinnamon spice, until I finally, reluctantly, put it down.
I have nothing but good things to say about these cigars in terms of price. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these guys going for more than $3 a cigar, which makes it a great candidate for anybody’s everyday cigar. It’s hard to beat the Sancho Panza when it comes to value for money!
Even before this review, Sancho Panza had won me over with the Double Maduro. Like the Extra Fuerte, it’s very reasonably priced, and very full of flavor. When it comes to the Extra Fuerte, I have mixed feelings. The first Pamplona was enjoyable, but a bit too harsh for my palate at points. It could be a one-off, but it was consistent with my experience with the Madrid size, so that seems unlikely.
On the other hand, the second Pamplona was absolute smoking bliss, foot to head. Leading me to believe that this cigar is makes a fantastic part of a duo. A good hoppy or bitter beer is the Robin to the Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte’s Batman. And that makes sense. The Sancho Panza is an everyman’s cigar, and that means it should be enjoyed with friends at the pub while taking pulls of your favorite ale. And for that I raise my tankard to this cigar!
Liked It: YES
Buy It Again: YES (I already have!)
Recommend It: YES (At this price everyone should try it!)
What Other People Are Saying
- Jerry over at The Stogie Reviews both the Extra Fuerte and the Double Maduro – Yep, all in a single review. “This cigar really knocked me on my ass when I first smoked it…”
- The Pamplona reviewed on CigarFan – A lot of good background information and a positive review: “A reliable everyday kind of smoke.”
- The Fall 2004 Smoke Magazine panelists – A very recommended smoke!
- A Bunch of user reviews at CigarWorld of the Barcelona size
Smoking the Pamplona
Here’s a collection of pictures taken while smoking the second Sancho Panza Extra Fuerte Pamplona.
My Other Reviews
If you like my review style, you may be interested in reading some of my other reviews on my home blog, Brianâ€™s Random Thoughts. To see a full list of my cigar reviews, visit the cigar review index.
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Well hello there! Stinkie is currently in the middle of a move (we all know how much fun that is), and has asked me to step in an write a few reviews for him. This post is the first, and possibly most exciting, of series of reviews I’ll be putting up in the coming weeks. It’s a sneak peak at a cigar that most of us can’t yet get our hands on: the Oliva Serie V Ligero Especial!
For this review, I smoked two different sizes of the Serie V: The churchill and the figurado. I’ve combined my notes from each to create this review.
Sizes: 7 x 52 (Churchill Extra); 6 x 60 (Figurado)
Wrapper: Habano Sun Grown (Nicaragua)
Filler: Jalapa Valley Ligero (Nicaragua)
Price: $5 – $8 (Expected retail price)
Smoking Time: 2 to 2 hours 20 minutes
The first thing that hits you with these cigars is both their size and extremely attractive appearance. These are very elegant looking cigars! (And as a bonus, the cigar band color-scheme fits in nicely with the Cigar Beat color scheme.) Both cigars were very smooth, with fine, but noticeable veins that add positively to their aesthetic appeal. It goes without saying that only the most pristine leaves are selected to be wrapper of a cigar, and these remind you of that fact.
In my inspection of both cigars, I noted that they were both firm. The figurado being the most firm of the two, particularly toward the head of the cigar. In the foot of the figurado and the churchill, there was some initial give, but you quickly hit a brick wall of tobacco underneath. Very nicely packed.
While both cigars did have a nice oily sheen, they didn’t visually appear to be any more oily than most cigars. It wasn’t until I clipped them and went for the cold taste that I detected how oily these cigars are. In a word, very. The last cigar I had that was this oily on the lips was the Gurkha Black Puro.
Lighting this cigar is a pleasure. The room immediately takes on a rich, delicious toasty coffee smell. I’ve heard it said that it’s difficult to detect the room aroma of a cigar while you’re smoking it. While that’s generally true, it’s less so with this cigar. If I could pick a single favorite part of smoking this cigar, it’s lighting it and taking the first few puffs.
The interesting thing about smoking two very differently shaped cigars is that you get to see two very different burns. Such was the case in my experience. While the figurado started off oddly (apparently while the figurado seems idiot proof in terms of lighting, it is not Brian-proof) in the first 3rd but evened out by the beginning of the second third. On the other hand, the churchill burned perfectly for the first third and then get a bit crazy by the end of the second.
In both cases, there seems to be a spot in this cigar, just beyond the halfway point, where it decides to no longer tolerate my slower smoking pace. Both cigars went out on me at that point, and required much more frequent puffing to stay lit going forward, as well as the occasional corrective touch up. That was a little disappointing, as I find the flavor begins to suffer with the faster smoke. This was a bit more pronounced in the figurado, whose shape seems to be more inclined to plug up a it’s smoked. (No draw poking required though, applying gentle pressure to the head while rolling it between my thumb and finger corrected the reoccurring draw issue.)
Beginning with the cold taste, right away I could tell I was in for a full bodied, potent cigar. (OK, I did read other reviews of this cigar, so that might have biased me a bit.) In the initial taste, I detected a rich flavor that was very reminiscent of prunes and licorice.
These cigars started very differently for me in the flavor department. The churchill started right off with a dense but smooth chocolatey flavor, but in the figurado I was greeted with a great deal of pepperiness as the capped foot burned. In my notes I described this flavor as resembling the some of the heavy smells of campfires of my youth. (Bonus points for nostalgia.)
Of the two cigars, the figurado had a more pronounced spiciness present throughout the smoke (possibly brought out by the wine I had earlier in the evening) A similar spiciness was present in the churchill though more subdued until the end. Even with that spiciness, both cigars were impressively smooth, dense and complex. My notes on flavors for both are much longer than normal; as each cigar made frequent transitions between chocolate tones, earthiness and coffee or cappuccino flavors and occasionally a pocket of faint sweetness. If a cigar is meant to be a journey, the Oliva Serie V is an epic road trip full of hedonistic pleasure.
I wasn’t able to find an official price for this cigar anywhere, but rumor has it you’ll be able to pick up the Serie V for $5 to $8 a cigar. I find that price range to be very reasonable.
As you can probably tell by now, I like this cigar. It’s a definite must-smoke for all full-bodied cigar lovers. In fact, due to its smoothness, even a seasoned fan of milder cigars might want to try it out. The thing to keep in mind is that it packs a surprising kick, even when you know it’s coming, it still sneaks up on you. So it’s a cigar that’s best reserved for the evening after the day’s chores have been completed (or put off, either way). People new to cigars smoke at your own risk!
There are two things I would do differently the next time I smoke this cigar. First of all, I would probably go for a size down. For slow smokers like me, these big fellows demand a lot of time, and can be hard to fit into a busy schedule. (Though the investment of time is well worth it.) The other thing I would do is eat a thick juicy steak before having this cigar. And that’s because the whole time I was smoking it, I was seriously jonesin’ for a steak. This is not a post-pasta cigar!
Liked It: YES
Buy It Again: YES
Recommend It: YES (To experienced smokers, this’ll knock the socks off a newbie.)
What Other People Are Saying
Even though this cigar is not widely available, there are quite few reviews already out there for the Oliva Serie V. Here’s a quick sampling.
- The Official Serie V Website – It isn’t a review, but it’s a good thing to have a look at.
- Walt’s Early Release Review on The Stogie Review – This review was so early, the cigar didn’t even have a band! Great review, with plenty of pictures and a video!
- Cigar Jack’s Verdict On The Serie V – 9 out of 10. (He also smoked the figurado.)
- A Favorable Review on Stogie Fresh
Smoking The Figurado
Here’s a quick collection of the pictures I took while smoking the figurado.
Doncha just love a long ash?
My Other Reviews
If you like my review style, you may be interested in reading some of my other reviews on my home blog, Brian’s Random Thoughts. To see a full list of my cigar reviews, visit the cigar review index.
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