Thursday, May 30, 2013

Xikar Stratosphere Single Flame Torch Lighter

The Xikar Stratosphere is one of my favorite lighters when I am on the go. It is labeled as a high altitude lighter on their website, but I am sure it performs well at any elevation. The stratosphere has a large butane viewing window,so there is no guessing when you need a refill. The lid that closes over the top of the lighter is sturdy and seats well to the body of the lighter. This is a huge plus for me since I work in the great out of doors, and on occasion I have to dig in the dirt. The lid closes tight enough that even the smallest particle of debris that enters my pocket doesn't find it's way into my lighter. The lanyard attachment point makes it super easy to keep up with in my work truck. I often attach a wallet chain or retractable key keeper to it when I smoke with my buddies, too many have tried to pocket my stratosphere. The large adjustment knob makes adjusting the flame a breeze, without tools or hassle. The flame on this lighter isn't as super sharp as some of the other Xikar lighters I own. I actually find this a plus. It covers more area of the foot of the cigar without being as intense at the tip of the flame. It can be easily dialed down to a very small flame for minor touch ups, which will help if you tend to scorch the wrapper. This particular lighter was sent to me by Fred Rewey of Nomad Cigar Co. as part of a prize pack for the nomad poster contest. Thanks Fred! This is one of my favorite lighters. The Stratosphere is available in four colors and is a great addition to any cigar lighter collection, or as a lighter to take camping. It is listed at just under 30 bucks on Xikar's website and carries the Xikar For Life warranty.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

C&C Connecticut Robusto (5x50)

Last but certainly not least in the C&C Cigars sampler is the Connecticut. If you have read through some of my reviews then you know I once was anti-Connecticut. The Connecticut wrapped sticks today are not the flavorless air balls that I once believed all of them to be. The C&C Connecticut is certainly not one of those flavorless sticks that you just don't want to smoke again. The C&C Connecticut sports an Ecuadorean Connecticut wrapper, Dominican Olor binder, and a filler blend of Dominican Criollo and Corojo Ligero. The wrapper is a beautiful light mocha color with only a few small veins. The body is fairly firm with a touch of sponginess. The body offered notes of barnyard and hay, while the foot offered notes of hay and molasses like sweetness.I used my trusty Xikar cutter to straight cut the triple cap and found the draw to be on the loose side of perfection. The pre-light draw was easy and had notes of sweet field grass.

The initial third opens with notes of hay and toasted nuts. There is a nice touch of spice to the retrohale and a lingering sweetness compliments the long nutty finish. Somewhere around half of an inch into the burn notes of cedar begin to emerge.

The toasted nut notes have fully developed going into the second third and is joined by an earthy spice. The body seems to ramp up just a touch but is joined by a slight increase to the mild sweetness. Around the mid-point of the burn, faint coffee notes begin to make there way into the mix as the sweetness begins to fade.

The final third doesn't see much change from the second, not a bad thing in my opinion. The earthiness seems to be the dominant flavor but isn't so much to overshadow the nut and coffee notes that are still present. The notes of cedar are still noticeable in the background.

The robusto had a flavor profile that pretty well matched the toro. The robusto seemed to have just a bit more sweetness than the toro size but both were creamy and full of flavor. The spice was just enough to keep things interesting and balance the sweetness. The body remained medium-full throughout the burn and was exceptionally creamy and smooth. Ash held to just over an inch before falling each time and was a light gray color. I would recommend this stick to anyone wanting a break from a more full bodied smoking routine or even a cigar newbie. I can't say enough good things about C&C cigars so go grab a few so you can say your own good things about them. The 3 stick sampler is available from StogieBoys and contains one of each blend. Thank you to Sheryl and the StogieBoys crew for providing this sampler for review. I just hope the sinus infections are over and I can keep pumpin out fresh reviews.

C&C Maduro Robusto (5x50)

Up second from the 3 pack C&C cigars sampler is the C&C maduro. I have previously reviewed the C&C LRMD cigar and was curious if it was the same blend or different. Either way, I am eager to see how the robusto maduro compares to the LRMD toro. The maduro sports a Arapiraca wrapper that houses a Dominican Criollo binder and a filler blend of Dominican Ligero and Cubano Seco. The milk chocolate wrapper has minimal veining, neat seams, and is just a touch oily. The body is firm with just a touch of give and no soft spots or flaws that I can find. The body offered notes of barnyard and cocoa and the foot offered cocoa and molasses. I decided to use my new black ops triple torch with built-in punch on this stick. Upon punching the cap I found a perfect draw and mild earthy notes along with hay and molasses. 

I detected notes of cocoa and rich tobacco with a bit of black pepper upon starting the initial third. There is a fair amount of peppery spice to the retrohale and a mildly sweet toasted nuttiness to the long finish. About 3/4 of an inch into the burn, the peppery spice calms a bit as the sweetness kicks up a notch and the smoke becomes more smooth and creamy.

As I progress into the second third some cherry notes begin to pop in. The cocoa has developed nicely and are joined by notes of leather and faint notes of coffee. The finish has found an increase in the sweetness to help balance the spicy that leaves a pleasant tingle on the palate and in the throat.

The final third brought some woody notes to the mix as the cocoa fades to the background. The coffee and leather notes continued through the remainder of the burn but never gained more depth.

Another great smoke from C&C and always smooth and flavorful. These are fairly complex and very flavorful. The burn required only one minor touch up throughout the burn and ash held to over an inch each time. C&C has nailed it with their line of affordable cigars for sure. In my experience, they always have great construction and burn with consistently good flavor and complexity. I recommend giving C&C cigars a try if you haven't already. StogieBoys has a sampler of the Connecticut, Maduro, and Corojo just waiting for you to try. A special thanks goes out to Sheryl and the crew at Stogieboys for providing the sampler for the review.

C&C Corojo Robusto (5x50)

This was the first of a 3 cigar sampler sent to me for review by Sheryl and the great crew at StogieBoys. If you are like me, you love the spiciness that a good corojo wrapper brings to the table. I have enjoyed a few of the C&C cigars and found they are consistently tasty and completely underrated. The corojo wrapper has minimal veins and ha a reddish hue and an oily sheen. It is firm with some give and no soft spots or imperfections that I could find. The body offered notes of cocoa and hay, while the foot offered notes of cocoa and a mild sweetness. I used my handy Xikar cutter to straight cut the cap and found a perfect draw with notes of cocoa and molasses. 

The first third opened up with a ton of flavor, with notes of caramel taking the lead with a fair amount of spice on the retrohale. The finish is long and has a caramel tone and leaves a mild spicy tingle on the palate. As I progress through the first third the spice calms a touch as the caramel like notes are joined by light hints of coffee and mild sweetness.

The coffee notes have fully developed going into the second third. The sweetness has balanced out the corojo spiciness nicely. Notes of dark chocolate begin to pop in on occasion as well as some toasted nut flavors as I near the half-way point. 

As I enter the final third, the toasted nut notes become more of a black walnut flavor. There are some notes of cedar coming and going. The dark chocolate is still present but most of the caramel notes have faded into the background.

I am a fan of the spicy corojo sticks and this was a tongue pleaser. The spice remained pretty consistent throughout the burn but was always in good balance with the sweetness. I would say this one is on the medium-full end of medium. It had a nice complexity and the flaky gray ash held to just over an inch each time. If you are looking for a spicy yet smooth and flavor cigar in the medium body range, I highly recommend giving this one a try. In fact the sampler gives you a chance to try this and the Connecticut and Maduro offering without committing to a box or 5 pack. I can promise that a single stick is just going to wet your appetite for more C&C cigars. The sampler is only $9.95 and contains one of each blend in the robusto size. Thank you to Sheryl and the crew at StogieBoys for providing the sample for this review.

The C&C Robusto Sampler from StogieBoys

I realize it has been far too long since my last update. I have had a run of bad luck with sinus infections,  family members passing, and trying to get ready for the arrival of our daughter in August. With that being said, what better way to make up for it the with a review of an entire sampler? I was sent the C&C robusto sampler by Sheryl and the wonderful folks at I have reviewed the C&C LRMD maduro and the Connecticut previously in the toro size, and I am very eager to see how the sizes affect the flavors. I will give a brief run down of each cigar here and provide a link to the more in-depth review of each stick.

The C&C Connecticut has an Ecuadorean Connecticut shade wrapper with Dominican Olor binder and a blend of criollo 98 and corojo ligero filler. A fantastic mild-medium to mild bodied cigar with tons of flavor and a perfect draw. You can expect notes of toasted nuts, earth, light notes of coffee, and a nice mild sweetness complimented by the perfect amount of peppery spice.

The C&C Corojo has a 2006 corojo wrapper, a corojo binder, and filler consisting of Dominican criollo and corojo ligero. This was probably my favorite of the offerings. The corojo offered notes of caramel, coffee, and some mild woody cedar notes. With a touch more kick and just a bit more spice, the corojo really hit the spot.

The C&C maduro sports a Arapiraca wrapper, Dominican Olor binder, and filler blend of Dominican Ligero and Cubano Seco. The maduro is the strongest of the three offerings but is still just as complex and flavorful as the other 2 blends. Rich cocoa notes abound with notes of coffee, leather, and even a few notes of cherry to provide you a fairly strong but very smooth smoking experience.