This was an interesting smoke with plenty of flavor transitions that kept me interested through the entire session.
By J.V. Bolkan
5.5 x 54
Nicaraguan Maduro Corojo wrapper
Filler from Dominican Republic, Brazil and Nicaragua.
Mid-price level, I picked up a couple sticks for $6.25 each on sale, regularly $7.95.
Smoke time: about 65 minutes.
The Casa Miranda Chapter Two Toro is a curiously middle-of-the-road cigar. The toro configuration—5.5 inches 54 ring size—look and feel almost like the median size in a cigar survey. The medium dark Nicaraguan corojo wrapper is likewise just a few shades darker than the “average” cigar. The smoke itself was good, not great, and certainly not bad. You could (and I will) say it is pretty much average for a good cigar.
The Casa Miranda story is a little convoluted. The Chapter One cigars were made in Miami by Miami Cigar & Co. with master blender Willie Herrera. Chapter Two is made by My Father Cigars SA and produced in Nicaragua. Herrera is no longer involved, having moved to Drew Estates. Although the band on the new cigar looks very much the same as theChapter One band (in both instances, the chapter designation is in tiny, highly scripted text under the name). Really, this doesn’t feel so much like a second chapter, or even a sequel, but more of a related book.
The cigar has a slightly rustic appearance with moderate veining and a non-oily chocolate finish to the wrapper. Unlit, there is a some leather and a hint of freshly turned earth. Overall, the feel is above-average firm and consistent. The end cap on my first sample was slightly loose and ragged and on the second, the end cap had been applied slightly askew, forcing me to cut slightly higher than I normally would.
Putting flame to the cigar accented the earthiness and brought a nicely intense nutty aspect. Over the course of the first inch or so, the intensity diminished and transitioned into a dark chocolate and mineral taste. The draw was near perfect, a bit of resistance, but open. The cigar doesn’t produce a lot of slightly blue-grey smoke, but it has a decent amount of mouth feel and moderate power. The Nicaraguan binder and long-cut fillers from the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Nicaragua held a respectable ash. At no time after the first inch was the burn ring perfectly balanced, but slight runs and lagging sections seemed to alternate almost in a self-correcting manner.
As the smoke progressed, the chocolate impression and almost all the mineral notes were replaced by molasses and licorice in the second inch. The flavor profile really grows into the second half of the cigar with dark, slightly bitter cocoa and black pepper dominating until the final inch where strong black espresso joined in with the pepper.
This was an interesting smoke with plenty of flavor transitions that kept me interested through the entire session. The moderate amount of smoke and medium-power make this a fine choice as an active cigar. It is slow-burning and doesn’t require any fussing and the firm rolling will keep “end chewers” happy. However, despite all the positives, the overall smoking experience was curiously uninspiring. I noticed nothing really negative, and it has many aspects that hinted at potential, but it never really became bright or clear in any area. The flavors and slow burn would make this a solid accompaniment while contemplating the nuances of strong spirits or dark wines. It is the pedestrian “good” type of cigar that I probably wouldn’t stock in my humidor, but would grab a few sticks if I found them on sale.
Rating: 86. A confounding cigar that has a long list of positive traits, but nothing that inspires or makes it memorable other than its consistently slightly above average impression across the board.
Here’s a rough breakdown of how J.V. Bolkan rates the cigars he smokes
90-100 – this range is for exceptional examples, for instance, to get a 95 in any category, a cigar would have to be the best I’ve had. A 100 would actually have to be the best I could imagine. These tend to be more expensive, but aren’t penalized unless the cost is out of line with other ultra-premium selections. These are the cigars in the place of honor in your humidor that you might think twice about before sharing.
80-89 – very nice cigars that aren’t seriously flawed but are either undistinguished in general or somewhat less than ideal in a few categories. An example of an 85 might be a cigar that burns somewhat irregularly, but has a solid taste, or one that may appeal to a smaller segment of the market, with the thought being a truly great cigar would be appreciated by almost every cigar smoker. These are the cigars that fill the bulk of your humidor. You may “love” a particular 85-rated cigar, but understand that your friends may have other tastes.
Below 80 – Something has gone wrong and these aren’t cigars that impress. Sometimes it is poor handling and you get a cigar that has been dried out (or rehumidified, which sometimes is worse). Other times it is just a substandard product—maybe the filler and binder weren’t properly rolled and it is almost impossible to draw any smoke at all. Maybe the tobacco was improperly or incompletely aged. Eventually, we all come across a cigar that seriously disappoints. If it is below 70, it really isn’t a “fine cigar” and probably shouldn’t have been rated.
Rating notes: I consider appearance and price as roughly equal components in the overall score. Both flavor and smoking experience (burn, draw, smoke, etc.) are essentially equal and more than twice as important as appearance and price.