Asylum 13 Ogre

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to celebrate my birthday.  In honor of this solar circuit, I requested to have my friends with dogs bring their puppers over for an ice cream social. I am pleased to report that giving doggo friendly ice cream to sweet canines was just as enjoyable as I had hoped.  I did not expect, but was extremely surprised when my friends brought me a plethora of cigars. It is indeed a fabulous first world problem to have a full humidor. The most prevalent present, one of my favorites: Asylum 13. I have written about the corona in the past, I would like to talk about their Ogre version with the really nice Barber pole tobacco effect.

Asylum Ogre

This slender version of the Asylum 13 Ogre doesn’t let anything down in terms of how it smokes. While they made it skinnier, it’s much longer than a corona, so it smokes in about the same amount of time. I feel that the light Candela and dark Habano tobacco in the barber pole wrapper actually meld into a nice middle ground between light and medium bodied cigar. I would definitely classify this as a smoother natural cigar. A bigger ring size is available of this stick, but this size was perfect for me.

Before cutting, the slender Asylum Ogre smells of leather, coffee, chocolate, and the cut-grass-green-aroma of the Candela tobacco. When it’s cut, the darker tobacco filler makes it presence known and starts to take over most of the aroma. After lighting, the first 3rd of the cigar is very leather and tobacco, with a smooth draw. Getting to the mid point of the stick, some of that chocolate and coffee starts to edge in. At this point, the draw got a little uneven, but not necessarily tough.  The cigar finishes with a really nice coffee-tobacco-leather melding of all of the previous flavors. For the smoke itself, I get lots of chocolate and coffee nuances tinged with the green aroma from the stripe of Candela, but not a lot of bite and pepper like I usually get in the full corona of the Asylum 13.

Birthday Beer and Cigar

In the past, I have paired the Asylum 13 with a dark, dry red wine with much success.  The Ogre was also very tasty with a solid Merlot, and I would suspect that it would also pair well with root beer, coffee, or a nice dark beer.  I was lucky enough to be gifted a few delicious gluten free Endeavours for my birthday, and cigars always go well with that. The cigar was also delicious after my non-traditional birthday treat: coconut milk ice cream with gf cookie dough bits, a half shot of Jameson, chocolate and caramel sauces, bacon bits, and happy little sprinkles.  I consider myself lucky to be able to thank so many people for such a fantastic birthday!

Birthday noms


Cigar smoking is usually regarded to be a high end hobby. Every so often, I do find a cigar that is of fantastic quality and smoke but doesn’t break the bank. While this stick didn’t hurt my wallet, it did really wipe me out. The heavy handed Boneshaker cigar is not a light smoke in any way, shape, or form. I picked up the stick for under $3 from Tampa Humidor, and even the purveyor there warned me that this was not a light bodied cigar, that it takes time, and a full meal would go far to help with smoking this stick. Truthfully, as I like horror movies and spooky things, I really picked up the cigar because I liked the cigar rings. They’ve got cute little skeletons all over and it was an inexpensive cigar so I figured “why not?” The dark Nicaraguan wrapper is boldly honest about what type of smoke it will be — there is no bones about it, is a dark, oily, heavy cigar. While it was one of my more inexpensive choices, I was impressed that it was a very good quality tobacco.

Boneshaker rings
Boneshaker Cigar Rings

Uncut, and unlit, the Boneshaker smells of smoked woods– mesquite and hickory especially– and dark leather, with tiny overtones of coffee. Once cut, the stick takes on a little more leathery smell, but the dark leaf, oily tobacco definitely makes itself known. It’s like Michael Myers in that it just slowly works its way to knocking you down. It is not in any hurry, it is confident that it will destroy you.   After being lit, the first third of the cigar is mostly smoky hardwoods(more hickory than anything) with a lot of leather. The midpoint of the cigar has a bit more coffee going on, but still really heavy on the dark tobacco. As I smoked, I confirmed with my companions that it didn’t stink like a really cheap, poorly put together cigar at all. The smoke itself was heavy as well, as the clouds stayed close to my hand. Yes, I said clouds, not wafting tendrils of smoke. The oily nature of this cigar makes itself known, as even the smoke seems to be heavy.

The cigar smoked evenly, and had a very smooth draw for such a heavy hitter. I never felt like I had to relight, I could go to get another beverage, come back and the cigar was still waiting for me. The last third of the cigar had an Oolong tea feel to it, instead of a coffee aroma, more a dark black tea with a hardwood smoke underneath.

Boneshaker and a brew
Boneshaker and a Beer

While this cigar was definitely better than expected, it was certainly a lot heavier than I was prepared for on a calm Sunday afternoon. For under $3 I don’t know that I could find a better dark cigar than this, but I also don’t think it’s something I could put on my frequent rotation. I paired this with a low gluten IPA, and I think anything heavier would actually even make me more sleepy. I felt it necessary to let my companions know I didn’t fall in the shower before I fell into bed and slept like the dead. The Boneshaker definitely shook me up.


Today is about a cigar/cigarillo that I carry around with me so frequently that I’m absolutely shocked I haven’t written to you all about it yet. I usually have this stick in the form of a tin of cigarillos with me, and I like to share them as I feel like it’s a very pleasant smoke. It reminds me of the pipe tobacco my dad used to smoke when I was a kid.

Moontrance by CAO is another CAO Flavours line that they have executed flawlessly. While the aroma is sweet, the tobacco itself is actually very mild. I generally prefer this cigar in a petit corona form, or as a cigarillo. I do consider this to be a dessert cigar, something to round out an evening. A corona is large a ring as I would recommend for this stick.

Moontrance Cigarillo

Moontrance earns its popularity from a very beautiful blend of bourbon vanilla, exotic fruits, and a good quality tobacco. Unlit and uncut, it has quite a few floral notes, layered with an unmistakable bourbon vanilla and tinged with honey aroma. Cut, this little number is such a fantastic bouquet– I’d take a dozen of Moontrances over roses any day! The cut stick leads the nose with that heady vanilla, but the senses also taste through smell the fruits and honey.

Moontrance Corona

On the first lighting, the vanilla definitely leads the way. But on the draw, it’s just the tobacco and fruits that I get. The wrapper isn’t sweetened, so it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the complex flavor of the cigar. The cigar definitely benefits from the additional essences added to the tobacco, the tobacco itself isn’t really anything to write home about. On the other hand, it also doesn’t smell like what I consider the stinky old man cigar- that stogie that has to be just as offensive to smoke as it is to be near. This cigar is an elegant aroma, it has a sophistication. The tobacco is meant to be part of the experience but it is certainly not the leader in any way shape or form.

While I do generally consider medium body cigars more my style, I enjoy this smoke for the lightness of it. The Moontrance is a lovely cigar to round out an evening, as it doesn’t go straight to your head. It’s more of an aromatic experience, and it goes well with wine, coffee, darker beers, and the spiked seltzer waters I’ve been enjoying lately. To me, the Moontrance is a ubiquitous cigar for any smoker who wants a nice night cap. I would not try to pair this cigar with a heavy meal, in fact, I can’t really think of a food that would really jive with it. As it is mostly vanilla, there’s a lot of flavors it can certainly enhance– I’ve had this with breakfast a few times, as I keep a clear head afterwards.


Greetings Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf, I’ve been out in the world of spell. Thank you so much to the lot of you that actually reached out to tell me that you’d never smoked a cigar in your life, but my writing about it has you interested. That is such high praise! Thank you thank you thank you!

Life last year got a little more chaotic than I would ever want it for anyone, and I lost myself along the way.  I am still struggling to remember, much like 10th doctor when he generated, asking myself what kind of person am I. Am I the kind of person to do actions of such magnitude? Am I the kind of person to wear black Chuck Taylors and a bathrobe?

Am I funny?
You will have to peel my black Chucks off my dead body. And I am sarcastic!

I have learned that the best of friendships are those where you can simply be in each other’s presence without having to say a word. That the comfort of another human doesn’t always have to have any sound involved. I have learned that people don’t always expect me to bring anything to a gathering, just as long as I go to a gathering. Being recognized that I am a gift of myself, especially from people that you appreciate and recognize as gifts as people, is actually an eye-opening and wonderful thing. For too long, I thought that there were certain things that were expected of me. I built up in my head that people expect that I will entertain or provide– and I have been pleasantly surprised that the only thing my friends really want from me.. is me. This is such a refreshing revelation for me from the past several years where I felt more that I was a means and not an ends.

Love is not material, this is an ancient bit of knowledge which am trying to keep remembering. Also applies to how folks feel about me. Nobody’s real value is from stuff. Nice to know that people value me just being around, as much as I value them simply being around me. And one of the best ways to simply spend time around amazing souls is with a great cigar.

For this Beltane, I gleefully started a fire on the evening of April 30th, had the company of people that I hold in the highest regard and had a smoke that is completely appropriate for the day. A CAO Earth Nectar was an apt cigar to have this evening. Uncut, the stick smells of light tobacco with undertones of dates, golden raisins, and currants. After cutting, the dried fruits are more pronounced. This adds a sweetness, but it is not cloying.

Earth Nectar

As I have found with most of my CAO products, they burn very evenly. The smoke is consistently flavored, this stick in particular with a very delicate hand on the flavorings. The point behind the Earth Nectar is to celebrate all the valuable things on our planet that bring joy to our life, the bounty of fruit and nuts that can be available to us all year long. While the aroma is the dried fruit before lighting, after lighting a tiny bit of a pecan smell is noted, especially as an aftertaste on exhale. This combines with a very pleasing cedar that rests gently on the tongue.

After about a third of the cigar, a delicate floral note worked its way through the nutty and dried fruit goodness.  I feel that this particular cigar speaks to the old gods, taking into account that offerings of dried fruit and nuts presented with aromatic flowers would be completely acceptable on a Beltane.

My favorite thing about the cigar is that it is not very sweet at all, it’s a slightly sweet smoke that comes out of the stick. It is not cloying, it is not perfumed, it is simply a healthy reminder of what bounty we have on this planet, and that we do have a very sweet life indeed if we have a moment to enjoy a cigar among friends. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for being the most precious resource I have, thank you.

May the Green Man and the May Lady bring you health, happiness, prosperity, and peace. Now, I’m going to go keep this bonfire lit.

Beltane Bonfire

New Reviews on May 1

Good morrow, my Friends of the Leaf.

I have gotten such great feedback from several folks. The only bad things I’ve been told is that my posts are missed.

Stay tuned, folks. May 1, I’ll be reviewing again.


Sweet Jane at Blue Torch

I liked the Blue Torch so much that I decided to stay for another cigar and smoke it.   I didn’t want anything too heavy as I was still feeling the Fuego Verde, so I opted to browse in the humidor they have at the bar for flavored and sweeter options.  I settled on a Sweet Jane, as my friends had gotten it earlier and it smelled quite nice.  This cigar had also been recommended to me at the Heights Cigar Shop, so I figured I was due to try it.

Sweet Jane

The Sweet Jane is not a flavored or infused cigar, so I’m not sure why Blue Torch had it in that humidor.  The sweetness is somehow magically eked from the tobacco leaves themselves, so it’s not a sugary smoke in any way.  The cigar ring is reminiscent of classic tattoos, and the cigar smells of chocolate and coffee aromas with the mild tobacco.   What makes this cigar work for me is that Maduro wrapper that ads that layer of darkness that I love so much.

After being lit, the coffee and chocolate nuances are stronger, and the tobacco is nice and mellow without being too light or too dark.   At the midpoint, there’s a tiny bit of a vanilla essence going on, but the stick remains mostly mocha-like with a solid tobacco flavor.  This cigar smokes comfortably smokes in about 40 minutes, and the draw is easy and smooth.  A nice foot for the size of the cigar.

Sweet Jane foot

This was the perfect Cigar-after-a-Cigar that I needed to round out my evening.  I had this with the Merlot, and I would think that this cigar would also go well with just about any beverage.  I might get more to have for an after work smoke as this was simply a nice easy going stick.

Fuego Verde at Blue Torch

A dear friend of mine had said that her pretty cool neighbor had a cigar lounge that should be checked out.  So one breezy Sunday, we all met at Blue Torch Cigars and Winery to see if it was as good as her neighbor had said.  The answer is yes, a resounding yes!  The lounge area is broken up with a variety of televisions to watch as well as a gorgeous outside patio area.  The staff were informative, helpful, and friendly.  The humidor is a fair size for the establishment, and had a few sticks I hadn’t seen elsewhere, though a few heavy hitters were absent.   I neglected to go into the wine cellar room on this trip, but the chairs were cozy and comfortable and the volume in the lounge was such that I didn’t have to raise my voice for my friends to hear me. Very relaxing and mellow. Not only do I recommend this lounge, I look forward to visiting again soon.

Cozy and comfortable decor at Blue Torch

On the advice of the associate, I picked up a Fuego Verde by La Palina.  I had circled the humidor twice and the green wrapper for this cigar kept catching my eye, the ring is very simple but bright, and the associate said that it was a good cigar for a candela wrapped stick.   When I first unwrapped it, the candela wrapper was leading the aromas with a strong hay scent.  There was a hint of leather and a bit of cinnamon in that mix, so my curiosity was piqued.

Fuego Verde

After unwrapping that lengthy ring and lighting it, the cigar’s aroma remained strongly hay, but some of the more green grassy smells were noticed at the beginning of the smoke.   The smoke itself was heavy, lingering around an exhale to keep the cut-grass aroma very prevalent.

Fuego Without the Ring

The draw on the stick was tight, but it didn’t seem to lend to a difficult smoke.  As I got to the midpoint of the cigar, notes of cinnamon, leather, and coffee came out to mingle with the hay and cut grass, and the stick seemed to have gotten a little bit darker.  It started as a light medium bodied cigar but developed into a very solid medium body.  And stayed as much through the end of the stick.  I personally felt that the burn was very even for the tightness of the draw and made a healthy foot.

Fuego Verde Foot

The cigar finished with more of a spicy cinnamon leather feel than the hay, which was a pleasant surprise.  I had this cigar with Merlot and felt that this was a good pairing.  I could also see this cigar going well with a range of beers(lager to stouts), any soft drink of your choosing, and probably any liquor of your choosing as well.  It’s a solid smoke and a good accompaniment to any beverage.

Solfyre by CAO

With the infused cigars by CAO, there’s a few that I consider “go to” in that line.  And in the fall, the Solfyre is a delightful smoke.   I tend to enjoy this in the petite Corona size over the cigarillo size, as the wrapper for this particular cigar is nicely infused with whiskey and the cinnamon is a pleasant warming nuance and not a huge slap in the face like some of the alcoholic equivalents to this stick.  The petite Corona makes for a nice after dinner smoke that doesn’t take terribly long and also isn’t something that seems over too quickly.  Also, the petite Corona has something the cigarillo version does not: the fancy sleeve.

Solfyre Sleeved

After taking the sleeve off, it’s the Cameroon wrapper shows nice color and good veins of a quality leaf.   The cigar ring is still a nice golden sun on a red band, very simple but also very easy to recognize. The stick smells of cinnamon and whiskey before it is lit, with a slight sweetness.  This cigar is not as saccharine as a Fireball whiskey, this is a complimenting sweetness to the cinnamon’s heat.

Solfyre Unsleeved

After it’s lit, the flavors of the whiskey infused tobacco take lead, with the cinnamon coming through more in the smoke.  The draw on the petite Corona is very nice, smooth without being too easy.  Developing a foot on this is a pleasure.  At the midpoint, the cigar still had predominantly the whiskey infused tobacco tastes, but the cinnamon is now also in the mix on the tongue and not just in the air.  The wrapper is sweet while smoking, and it’s just a lovely relaxing cigar for the upcoming fall weather.

Solfyre Foot

The cigar finishes with that same whiskey infused tobacco tastiness, but I get a bit of nuttiness at the finish of the stick.  The smoke from this one also lingers, so it’s like a cigar version of a cinnamon broom– not quite as assaulting on the senses from 3 feet away, but a reminder of holiday smells and flavors.   For this particular evening, I had this with a spiked sparkling water, but I’ve successfully this stick in the past with coffee, Irish coffee, hot tea, Merlot, Cabernet, bourbon, whiskey, and vodka.  I don’t think it would go too well with root beer or any heavily flavored beers, but I think it would be fine with a coffee stout. or a lighter ale. It might go well with some of the seasonal pumpkin ales and beers, as those tend to have cinnamon in them.

H. Upmann The Banker

During a supply run for the potential tropical depressions that might develop into named hurricanes, it is tradition to stock up on libations.  So I found myself in the humidor at Total Wine and looking for something fun to smoke.   While I picked up a few sticks that are tried and true, I recalled how interesting the H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez had been for it’s creaminess, so I decided to try something by the same label, the Banker by H. Upmann.

The Banker by H. Upmann

This has a combination of things that I found interesting– the ring is huge but not that gaudy, as it’s being used to hold up a nice piece of parchment.   It’s tastefully rendered in green and gold that are colors usually associated with financiers.  It’s also a square roll, which is not my favorite box pressed but it is something that is unique to run into.

Banker Squareness

After unwrapping the parchment from this cigar, the understated creaminess that I got from the AJ Fernandez was a compliment to the lead flavors.  Unlit, the bigger aromas were leather, coffee, and spice.

After lighting, this really opened up the flavors of leather, and spice–  I got a nutmeg out of this on the first part of the cigar, and that nuanced creaminess helped balance everything out.  This didn’t make this a sweet cigar, this was more like a sense on the back of the tongue that indicated that was the final flavor of the inhale.  The smoke lingers languidly, and smells of leather and coffee with tobacco.

Banker Foot

The draw is smooth without being too easy, and it made a decent foot that didn’t feel like it was going to fall off the cigar without warning.  At the midpoint, the cigar was still quite predominantly leather in flavor, but the coffee had faded and the nuttiness and nutmeg developed quite pleasantly.   Towards the end of this cigar, it had a dryness that reminded me of a red wine, and I decided to throw in a square of chocolate into my experience.

Choccy and Banker

Like so many other things, I like chocolate to be dark.  I also rather enjoy my sweets to be a bit on the salty side, so I love the sea salt addition.  This paired well with the cigar and the sparkling water I was drinking at this stage.  The ending notes of this cigar are more coffee than leather, with a tinge of nutmeg and that almost elusive creaminess that really helps this stick bloom.   As far as I’m concerned, this is another winner for a good medium body evening smoke with friends.  It would go well with coffee, liquor of any choosing, and any soft drink that I can think of.

Casa Fernandez Miami Reserve

Again diving into that 90+ rated cigar collection from Thompson Cigars, and when I was selecting this smoke, I was growing weary of the lighter cigars and picked out the darkest one in the bunch. I wanted a proper cigar for my Sunday smoke.  The stick that earned that honor was the Casa Fernandez Miami Reserve and earned it with class and distinction.

When I picked out this cigar, I should have really thought about how many lighter cigars I’d been smoking as of late.  But this one smells amazing– There’s a few cigar shops in Ybor that have the most delightful older men lounging in them in the afternoon, that were willing to help a young me pick out cigars for my bother-in-law and eventually for myself. They would serve me an espresso or a Cuban coffee and talk to me about where each part of the cigar came form and why it was an art.  This cigar smells just like those cigar shops– notes of coffee, notes of leather from the chairs and couches, and a very dark and oily tobacco smell.

Casa Fernandez Miami Reserve

Once lit, the flavors just got stronger.  This cigar looks like a mid weight, but it’s a heavy hitter.  The dark tobacco and the roasted coffee aromas just kept getting deeper and darker.  The draw was smooth but not easy, while I was able to make a good foot on this stick, it did need some pretty frequent relighting.

Miami Reserve Foot

I’ll be blunt– this cigar knocked me off my ass. It’s very dark, very rich, very good, but very strong–  I had to smoke it slower than I had been smoking other things and it went straight to my head.  Their site advises having this cigar after a full meal and I am in no place to disagree with that statement.   And had eaten that evening– a delicious burger, bacon and sweet potato tots, plenty a full meal!  I might have been a shade dehydrated though, so I did stick with the sparkling water as my beverage.  I would try this cigar again when I can really spend a few hours to smoke it, and possibly with a red wine, and definitely after a full meal.