Cigar Reviews

Columbia Restaurant Toro (by Gonzalez y Martinez)

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For those of you that read my post-vacation post, this cigar might look familiar. I mentioned it in my write called “Why I was MIA – Part 2” where I chatted a little bit about my adventures with cigars while I was on vacation. You can also read up on Part 1 here.

In my write up, I talked about this House Blend cigar I stumbled upon while at the Columbia restaurant in Florida. I’d seen the cigar before but this was the first time I decided to buy a few just out of curiosity. I mentioned my positive thoughts on it and one of our readers “irratebass” was curious to know more, so I offered to do a review with the one I had left. So here it is buddy!

Now for a little background. The Columbia Restaurant is the oldest restaurant in Florida with roots in the cigar town of Ybor City dating all the way back to 1905! We discovered the restaurant a few years ago and have made sure to visit every time we head down south since then. They have a certain home-cooked feel and the Sangria is awesome. Make sure to try the 1905 Salad and the Paella’s, they are worth the wait! lol

So the restaurant was founded by a Cuban Immigrant by the name of Casimiro Hernandez Sr. and it is still family owned and expanded to 8 locations. As you might imagine, with the Cuban roots soon came the additional business of a cigar factory right in Ybor city. The company is called Gonzalez y Martinez. There isn’t much out there on this company but I know the cigars used to carry this name on them, only this year did I notice they changed the labels to the Columbia Restaurant logo. You can still find some Gonzalez y Martinez sticks around some shops and especially right in Ybor city.

So that’s how it all started, a pretty good story if you ask me and they make some awesome food. So does the family’s special touch extend into the cigar factory as well? I guess it’s time to find out as I get ready to light up this Columbia Restaurant House Blend cigar by Gonzalez y Martinez.


Cigar: Columbia Restaurant House Blend
Drink: Waterloo Breweries Dark Ale
Vitola: Toro (6 x 50)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Dominican and Honduran
Filler: Dominican and Honduran
Price: $5.00
Burn Time: A little over 1.5 hours

Construction:
• This is a rustic looking cigar with lots of bumps and small veins running through it’s whole length
• The wrapper is a dark brown color with lots of dark chocolate colored blotches
• Double cap is just as rustic as the rest of the cigar
• A slight firmness with a bit of spring can be felt from cap to foot
• The foot looks a little bit messy but still quite well packed
• After a clean cut the cigar has a perfect draw that I’m hoping sticks through the whole experience
• The bands on my samples seemed to have a bit of extra glue on them but the wrappers are so tough and thick that even though it tore a bit off it never ruined the cigar

Burn:
• The uneven foot took a bit of work to get lit but it toasted up nicely after a little tweaking
• We’re off to a pretty good start in the burn category, it’s staying lit easily and burning somewhat evenly given it’s rustic construction
• I’m very surprised that despite the bumpy and veiny appearance of this cigar, it seem to be burning pretty awesomely
• As I burn through the halfway mark I still have nothing but good things to say. The burn line isn’t perfectly straight but it’s pretty darn close and it’s staying pretty even
• Burn stayed strong right to the end without the need for any touchups at all

Smoke & Ash:
• The smoke is a bit light at the start here, needs a couple draws to really fill out
• The ash is almost a stark white color with some really dark grey accents
• It’s coming along a little bit flaky and messy but still held on to about an inch before I tapped it off
• There is just a touch of resting smoke when I lay the cigar in the ashtray, and it gives off a light cedar aroma
• At around the halfway mark the smoke volume started getting fuller which is a very welcome change
• The ash got a little stronger through the rest of the cigar but I always tapped it off around the 1 inch mark

Tasting Notes:
• The wrapper has an aroma of a nice sweet cedar
• The foot has more sweet cedar aroma and a bit of a barnyard and spice touch
• The pre-light draw brings lots more of that nice sweet cedar and only a small touch of spice
• Initial flavors are pretty straightforward cedar and a bit of coffee undertones, but that’s about it
• As the cigar hits the end of the first third, the cedar has stuck around and the coffee notes are building up slowly
• There is a touch of dryness but nothing off-putting at this point
• The retrohale is bringing almost no bite and a touch of cedar on the finish
• For the most part the cigar has been holding down a nice mild body and seems to be slowly creeping towards the medium range
• An almond or nutty flavor is starting to creep in the the coffee flavors have intensified to a nice espresso flavor
• Every once in a while I’m picking up some licorice or clove notes
• In the last third the espresso really started to ramp up and finished off nicely with almost no harshness or bitterness

Final Thoughts:
For a budget friendly house blend cigar I was very surprised by this blend from Columbia Restaurant, made in their Gonzalez y Martinez cigar factory. It’s definitely nothing pretty to look it but it burns beautifully and has some interesting flavors. The standard palette of flavors here will probably appeal to most any cigar smoker, they are there but not in your face and not faint either. So whether you are a seasoned cigar smoke or just starting out I think you can appreciate this blend. The down side is of course that you can’t really find these anywhere but in the few restaurants in Florida. But if you do happen to be in the area, it makes for a pretty darn good find so make sure to pick some up!

Pairings:
So I just paired this brew with the Perdomo Fresco I reviewed not long ago here. But due to some technical glitches, I lost the photo so I decided to pair it again this week so you can all get a peek at the newly designed can. The Dark Ale by Waterloo Breweries is all you could possibly want in a well made Dark Ale. It doesn’t try to be fancy, it is all roasted malt with a touch of coffee and a smooth finish. This cigar would have also paired perfectly with a nice strong coffee or espresso, or maybe Sangria just for kicks? lol

Daniel T. (a.k.a. Dalamscius) is an IT Professional from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He enjoys cigars, scuba diving, hockey, fishing, nature and anything that challenges his mind. If he’s not sitting on his big comfy couch or at work you can usually find him in a boat on top of the water or 100ft under the water enjoying a dive. He is engaged to a wonderful Fiance and looking forward to his wedding. Feel free to contact Daniel anytime via email (dalamscius[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/Dalamscius

5 Comments

  1. jjo

    September 7, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Nice write up, Daniel. I’m sure it was a nice little memento from your trip. In doing some research, I found that you can order from them (if you live in the U.S.):
    http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/shop/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=5&cat=CIGARS
    The prices are a bit higher, though, so I guess I’ll just wait until I’m in the area to try them – if I ever get there.

    • Dalamscius

      September 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      Very true jjo, I saw that on the website and totally forgot to mention it. Definitely a neat memento from the trip that I got to enjoy 🙂

  2. czerbe

    September 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    To be honest I must admit I never try house blends and I really should pull my nose down out of the clouds and give them a try!!! I’m always scared they will be horrible I never give them a shot… maybe next time!!! Great write up… ugly band

    • Dalamscius

      September 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      I don’t blame you there czerbe, I am usually the same way. But every once i awhile I saw what the heck, and grab some house blends. There’s been a few times I was pleasantly surprised but you can still find some real dog rockets. All part of enjoying the hunt!

  3. Peter

    September 7, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    Great review and an excellent pairing!

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