Saturday, August 31, 2013

Nespresso Brings Back KAZAAR and DHARKAN as part of the Permanent Grand Crus!

Originally launched as a Limited Edition in 2010, Kazaar, the most intense Nespresso blend yet, is back and is here to stay! Responding to Club Members' requests, Nespresso is introducing Kazaar for the third time, this time permanently, making it the only Limited Edition Grand Cru to be released more than once.


Kazaar is authentic and powerful with a raw intensity of 12 – the strongest in the Nespresso Grand Cru collection. Its powerful bitterness and notes of pepper, nutmeg and cloves are balanced by a full and creamy texture. The intense coffee is a daring blend of two Robustas and a separately roasted Arabica from South America. Its unusual origins and blending method, together with its strength create a one-of-a-kind taste experience.

Dharkan is exceptionally intense, yet distinctively silky.  This Grand Cru is a complex blend with hints of bitter cocoa powder and toasted cereals, comprised of washed Arabicas from Latin America and Asia.  Dharkan was created using a technique of long roasting at low temperatures unveiling the powerful, seductive and velvety character of the blend.  Its silky and smooth texture creates a subtle balance of bitterness that lingers on the taste buds.  Dharkan also breaks the existing Nespresso scale with an intensity of 11.

With the new addition of Kazaar and Dharkan, the Nespresso Grand Cru permanent collection has expanded to include six new coffee offerings over the past year – Kazaar, Dharkan, Linizio Lungo, Vanilio, Ciocattino and Caramelito. The permanent range of Nespresso Grands Crus now includes 21 coffees.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

EL RAY DEL MUNDO Infantes Exclusivo Cuba 2013 Tasting & Review

Length: 12.4cm
Ring Gauge: 50
Factory Name: Infantes
Vitola: Robustos
Type: Robusto
Presentation: Box of 10 Serial Numbered (only 5,000 boxes made)
Release Date: 3rd Quarter 2013
Price: $170.00 - $250.00 / box

Image courtesy of Mr. Muqdad Alqattan

As the news hit that the El Ray Del Mundo Infantes Regional Cuba 2013 was released, a friend of mine was lucky enough to score a box from Cuba just a day after its release. Let and be hold, I too was lucky as he offered me one to try and maybe write up a review about. Anxious and in the same time worried, I know this smoke will be too young to savor its real characteristics and give it a fair tasting. But on the other hand, it might show potential and what to expect. So without further do, lets take a look at the Infantes

The Construction - a light Colorado claro wrapper with few small visible veins, a rough texture and rigid in appearance. It is firm from the foot and cap but is a little soft in the middle. This cigar is fresh out of the box and did not have much time to rest in my possession except in a cedar lined tubos for a almost a month.

The Draw - offers a good draw but not too open or loose where you can also pick up a subtle taste of fresh tobacco. It has a distinctive floral scent, little reminiscent of freshly opened teabag with a slight cedery accent.

The First Burn - offers a blast of white peppercorns that gives a tingling sensation in the back of your throat and nose with a taste of dry cedar wood. It burns nicely but with a bitter aftertaste from the smoke and after a few draws the highlighted character showcases as a spiced dry wood.

The Middle Burn - ash holds up pretty well but had to drop it because I had the feeling it might fall off. Spiced wood seems to be the dominant flavor I keep picking up but it settled down a bit to make way for some citrusy taste, Grapefruit maybe? the smoke keeps giving me that bitter aftertaste. The bitterness isn't as bad as it may sound but its clearly is pushing against the woody flavor. Another interesting note I'm picking up is that floral scent which is slightly sweet but again turns it into that bitter citrusy aftertaste.

The Final Burn - comes with a deeper woody note and a little sweetness with the smoke. Naturally, the spicy kicks are reintroduced but not as strong as the first part yet bitterness keeps on sticking around with the smoke. Overall, the Infantes keeps burning perfectly and only once did it die out in the middle where I had to relight it again. Main characteristics stuck throughout the smoke leaving it a single journey with not much flavors.

It goes without saying that the EL RAY DEL MUNDO Infantes are fairly young cigars and would definitely use a quiet bit of aging. I think a 3-5 years resting and conditioning period would make this a very enjoyable smoke. Will try to revisit this cigar in a year or so to see how the flavors develop.

The Pairing - Since I only sipped on some water throughout this tasting, I can fairly say the best Nespresso Grand Cru pairing with the Infantes has to be Capriccio, with intensity level 5, it offers a cereal notes with light acidity to help balance out the woody and bitter flavors of the cigar.

Thanks again for my friend Mr. Muqdad Alqattan for his generosity and support


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

RAMON ALLONES Eshmoun Exclusivo Libano (Regional Edition Lebanon 2013) Tasting & Review

Length: 16.4 cm
Ring Gauge: 54
Factory Name: Sublimes
Vitola: Sublimes
Type: Double Robusto
Presentation: Box of 25 Serial Numbered (Only 6000 boxes made)
Release Date: First Quarter of 2013
Price: $450.00/box

Habanos S.A intro
In 2008, the Ramon Allones "Pheonicio 30" cigar was released celebrating Phoenicia Trading's 30th anniversary. This was a special treat given by Habanos to Phoenicia and its founder Mr. Mohamad Zaidan - "El Phoenicio" as Comandante Fidel Castro referred to him.

The 2012 regional edition dedicated for Lebanon was named Eshmoun - the Phoenician god of fertility and healing and the Guardian of the city Saida 3000 years ago.

The Eshmoun cigar was produced using the same tobacco of the Phoenicio 30 - now fermented for four years and under the same brand - Ramon Allones.

This Cabinet is part of a regional edition of 6000 numbered boxes containing 25 Eshmouns hand rolled by skilled Cuban cigar rollers under the supervision of Habanos SA.

The Construction - An elegant dark and smooth semi-shiny wrapper with some small faint visible veins, indicative of a well fermented and aged tobacco. Beautifully constructed sublime from cap to foot with firmness all the way.

The Draw - With a wide gauge puncher, it offers un-obscured draw with just the perfect resistant for a sublime size. You can tell that the Eshmoun are well packed cigars. You also slightly pick up some taste of unsweetened dark cocoa from the tip and has a light coffee bean scent.

The First Burn - offered a real punch with a distinctive clove hints and spicy peppery taste which continues to build up and gets bolder with a rich oak wood and heavy roasted espresso notes. Rough to start but quickly sets its character with full taste. Smoke is pleasant and gives a little kick in the back of the throat.

The Middle Burn - kicks in with a lot of deep woody notes while the spiciness dissipates to highlight the satisfying taste of roasted coffee/espresso.  Now the highlighted character seems to be a dark flavored wood which I seem to associate it mostly with oak, yet it may be cedary but has a real full body to it. Some sweetness do tend to surface with the smoke but generally has that slight bitterness you get from coffee. The smoke is smooth and cigar keeps burning perfectly yet the ash started to become flaky.

The Final Burn - brought back that little spiciness of cloves and hints of nutmeg with a rich bitter dark chocolate taste. The woody notes held its role throughout the journey til the very end. Its interesting for this size that til this part I did not re-lit the cigar since the start. My only issue was an uneven burn that came along just after the middle part which corrected itself later. Also nearing this part I have discovered some hollowness in the cigar that I didn't notice earlier which I think was the reason of the uneven burn. Had to relight the Eshmoun quiet a few times during the third part! Although with the issues of burning out at the end, it still didn't stop the joy of smoking this Eshmoun.

If you have smoked the RAMON ALLONES Pheonicio 30, you would pick up similar notes in the Eshmoun but with more robust characters and flavors. Its truly showcases the maturity in the tobacco used that makes this new edition to Lebanon regional a winner in my book and definitely and occasional smoke.

The Pairing - as usual with a full body smoke, I recommend Nespresso's Rosabaya de Colombia, with an intensity level 6, to balance the palette out with a fuity and winey notes to complement the woody and spicy taste of the beautiful Eshmoun.