Cigar Review- Casa Fernandez Miami Reserva

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Medio Tiempo Ligero

Binder: Nicaraguan (Condega)

Filler: Nicaraguan (Esteli, Jalapa)

Size: 5.25 x 52  “Robusto”

Body: Full

Price: $7.50

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I am a big fan of the Casa Fernandez group. I reviewed all of their cigars back in 2011 and 2012 when they came out. But on another blog. I have reviewed most of the blends on this blog, but not the Miami Reserva…so what better time to brighten my day and smoke one of my favorite cigars.

It’s all about the tobacco. These people are gaga crazy over the details The wrapper is a rare Medio Tiempo ligero that is considered the strongest ligero available. This being a Nicaraguan puro, the balance of the leaves come from the gold mines of Condega, Esteli, and Jalapa. The cigars are then rolled in Miami.

This is what the Casa Fernandez web site has to say about this blend:

“The Casa Fernandez Miami (Reserva) Nicaraguan puro utilizes a variety of Authentic Cuban seeds and “AA” Tobacco leaf from Aganorsa. The cigar’s blend is comprised of Medio Tiempo, Ligero and Viso from specific Aganorsa Tobacco farms in Jalapa Valley, Condega Valley and Esteli in Nicaragua.”

The double cigar bands are very classy. And I chose the smaller of the cigars for one reason only. Intensity. Giant sticks take forever to age and I ain’t getting any younger. Plus these blends are so good that you can smoke them just a few days after receipt and enjoy the hell out of them. I waited 3-4 weeks to review this cigar.

Construction is excellent, as expected. Firm with the right amount of soft. Milk chocolate colored wrapper. Only a few veins. A slight oily sheen. And lots of tooth. It appears to have a triple cap but it is so well made, it is hard to tell.

I sniff around and detect massive amounts of cocoa and coffee. There are some baking spices in there. And spice..which almost made me sneeze.

I V cut the cap and light up.             

The initial puffs are black pepper and a delicious cocoa and creamy concoction. The draw is perfect, spewing smoke. The char line appears to be dead nuts perfect. Right behind that profile is a delectable sweet caramel. This is like a trip to the carnival. It’s a flavor bomb from the get go. I have to admit that the caramel is my favorite component. You expect cocoa and coffee with Nicaraguan puros, but the sweet caramel is a real treat.

The black pepper is just at the perfect level for me. Way short of the Garcia blast and well above being in the background. Just perfect.

I love this cigar. The heavy component of caramel makes me artificially think I’m eating a taffy apple. I used to love those as a kid, but what I really loved was the apples on a stick with that red, hard spicy cinnamon candy on it. I was always going to the dentist.

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At the 1” mark, the creaminess ramps up and I actually laughed out loud. This is so friggin’ great. I want to adopt the Fernandez family. Oh wait…no..they should adopt me.

The first third ends with a flourish. The flavors are becoming very complex with no flavor outshining the others; although, the creaminess and caramel are dueling.

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I look forward to the rest of the cigar. Big things await me.

I hit the halfway point and the strength has gone from classic medium to full bodied. I am light headed. That special Ligero is doing its job nicely.

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Flavors just explode now. The spice kicks up and becomes red pepper making my eyes water and my nose run. The cocoa, coffee, caramel, and creaminess are doing the 40 in 4.3 seconds.

This is a cigar you don’t want to end. I would buy the bigger sizes but I know the experience would be different. Small is good.

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I remove the secondary band carefully. It comes off easily. The char line is no longer perfect but more than acceptable. The cap is a gem as not a single piece of detritus has come loose in my mouth or on my lips. I hate it when a cap shreds.

And as soon as I finish typing the above paragraph, the char line resumes its perfection.

The cigar finishes out extremely well balanced and with a very long finish.

If flavor is your thing, this is your cigar.

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And now for something completely different:

More on Hall of Fame drummer, Hal Blaine.

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Any of you old enough to remember the folk music phase we went through in the 1950’s and 1960’s? I was there and played 5 string banjo. My teacher was famed Nitty Gritty Dirt Band banjo player John McEuen. At my last private class, he told me he was letting me go to join that band. They were really big in the 60’s with a couple hits. I went to high school with their blues harp player. He got kicked out of school in his senior year for sporting long hair.

nittyJOHN IS ON FAR LEFT

OK. Meandering has a point. Do you remember the New Christy Minstrels? They were huge with lots of hits. The movie “A Mighty Wind” by Christopher Guest made fun of them in the flick. They were the huge, squeaky clean 9 piece band. A neuftet.

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NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS

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Will Teague was one of the original members of the NCM. And back in the early 80’s, he formed his own band called, guess what? The Will Teague Band. His son and daughter were in it and one of the kid’s friends who played killer guitar. Will wrote a ton of beautiful, hooky songs. And was recording an album in my studio.

He insisted on doing it back asswards. The rhythm section did not lay down any tracks. Instead, they recorded the two guitars and vocals first. Listening back to what they played, their time was all over the place…a real mess.  Will thought he was the smartest one in the room so he proceeded to later engineer and produce the sound of the album giving it a blah 1960’s sound. Totally inappropriate…the man was living in the past and refused any advice from me or my engineer.

They hired me to play bass. And asked me to get them a good drummer. Will almost shit a brick when he saw Hal Blaine walk in the door. I hired a good friend so I didn’t have to pay the cartage fee to get Hal’s drums down to Long Beach. Steve Hodges went on to play with everyone, including the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tom Waits and a host of other great bands.

Top photo is Steve setting up his kit while Hal sits on the drum stool. The bottom photo is me and Hal in the lounge of my studio:

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I played the songs back to Hal each session. We had 15 tunes. He would sit at his kit and jot down notes on drum charts. As a seasoned session player, he only needed to play it once. And after the first three songs, he came into the booth and was blunt as hell. He told Will that their sense of rhythm was horrible and he would have to perform magic to bring the song together so it sounded cohesive. Will’s face fell. I told Will not to do this..over and over; or at least use a click track so they would play in time. But noooooooo…..

Hal went back into the studio, put his cans on, and twirled his finger telling me to roll tape. Yes, back then we used 3” recording tape. No computers. All analog.

It took him less than an hour to play, and complete, three songs. Hal had pulled the entire mess together to make it sound in time. A friggin genius.

The Teague Family clapped like crazy when they listened to the play back. I just smiled. And Hal gave me a sly wink. This went on for a week. Hal got paid $200. He did this as a favor to me. He turned down huge paying session work that week to do my project. Hal was quite the pal!

The Teagues paid me $500 to play bass. This was history. I got paid more than Hal Blaine. Of course, I was ecstatic. I threw out a number and they bit. Remember, this was 30 years ago. But with 15 songs to record, I was only getting $33.00 per song. Not exactly musician union scale. But there was an upside. I loved to play.

Owning your own studio has lots of perks. Like adding my bass lines when I was alone. Not long ago, I read that in the latter days of recording the Beatles’s albums, that’s exactly what McCartney did.

I would come into the studio, around 9pm, and sit in the booth with my bass and the recording gear. I dimmed the lights. I plugged my bass direct meaning no amp was used. I got a really nice warm tone with my Schecter fretless that way.

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It took me a week to finish. I would record into the wee hours of the night. Sometimes til 5am. I was focused big time. The songs were very complex with a ton of chord changes and it was up to me to come up with my own lines. I did some of my finest playing on that album. I pretended to be Joe Osborne….Hal’s partner in crime who was part of the infamous L.A. Wrecking Crew. The two played on the Simon & Garfunkel album, “Bridge Over Troubled Water. So, I was melodic managed to always be in the groove and right in the pocket.

I kept Hal’s charts as a collectible. They probably have no value to anyone else but it takes me back to a time when I was Hal’s partner. And proof that Hal was my friend.

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Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS