CI Legends Olive Label (AJ Fernandez) – Cigar Review

This week’s group review is of the Cigars International Olive Label by AJ Fernandez.  The wrapper of this cigar looks nice, but is a little thin and cracks easily (be careful while cutting).  It has a nice slightly sweet tobacco smell.  After cutting, the draw varied between our 3 sticks from loose to too tight.   Once lit up, we got a blast of pepper and spice right off the bat.  The pepper quickly mellows and reveals a sweet creamy and nutty flavor with coffee, then a peppery and spicy finish.  This cigar produces a TON of tar, the tar makes the draw difficult at times.  In addition to draw issues, the thin wrapper cracked and fell off in spots.  Overall, we enjoyed the flavor and complexity, even though the bitter tar masked it a bit.  The construction issues make this a hard cigar to recommend.  Luckily it is cheap, so trying it won’t break the bank.  Not the best, not the worst.

StraightUpCigars: Rating:
Flavor and Taste: 17/20
Construction: 7/10
Wrapper: 3/5
Price Point: 9/10
Would I buy a Box: 4/5
Total: 40/50

Terry1: Rating:
Flavor and Taste: 16/20
Construction: 5/10
Wrapper: 3/5
Price Point: 9/10
Would I buy a Box: 3/5
Total: 35/50

IamDarren: Rating:
Flavor and Taste: 16/20
Construction: 6/10
Wrapper: 3/5
Price Point: 8/10
Would I buy a Box: 2/5
Total: 34/50


Aug 20 2013, 7:36 PM
IamDarren: decent construction, other than a lopsided cap. Packed well. Slightly sweet smell from the wrapper. Good easy draw with a bit of earth and nuts on the cold draw.
Aug 20 2013, 7:38 PM
StraightUpCigars: I’m all set up. The CI Legends Olive Label has a spicy tobacco smell to the wrapper. The wrapper looks nice, but it is thin and cracked a bit while cutting (even with a very nice cutter). The draw is about perfect.
Aug 20 2013, 7:39 PM
IamDarren: who makes this one?
Aug 20 2013, 7:41 PM
StraightUpCigars: AJ F
Aug 20 2013, 7:41 PM
IamDarren: oh sweet, shouldn’t be too bad
Aug 20 2013, 7:42 PM
Terry1: My sample looks well constructed. Agree with the slightly sweet smell to the wrapper. Cold draw is a bit tight for me. I’m hoping to opens up a little when it heats up.
Aug 20 2013, 7:42 PM
IamDarren: ok, lets fire it up
Aug 20 2013, 7:42 PM
Terry1: Do you know what the wrapper and blend are?
Aug 20 2013, 7:43 PM
IamDarren: fairly mellow and creamy on the first couple puffs
Aug 20 2013, 7:43 PM
StraightUpCigars: Crafted with a dark, top-grade Sun Grown Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and brimming with a robust blend of vintage Nicaraguan long-fillers
Aug 20 2013, 7:44 PM
IamDarren: whoa, there was a pepper blast. watch out
Aug 20 2013, 7:44 PM
StraightUpCigars: Mine is far from mellow. Intensely bitter mix of pepper and spice that is knocking my socks off.
Aug 20 2013, 7:46 PM
IamDarren: mine has a slight acidity to it. Kinda makes me think the tobacco is a little young or something.
Aug 20 2013, 7:47 PM
Terry1: Great I usually like Sumatra wrappers. I thought I had a different cigar than you two. Mine started mellow and sweet. Then after about the fifth puff, bam, there’s the pepper.
Aug 20 2013, 7:47 PM
IamDarren: lol, same exact thing happened to me. came out of nowhere
Aug 20 2013, 7:48 PM
StraightUpCigars: Mine is very slowly mellowing, headed in the right direction.
Aug 20 2013, 7:50 PM
Terry1: Good. The pepper on mine is really strong and acidic. But there’s a really nice sweetness in the aroma so I’m hoping the pepper mellows and the sweetness becomes more dominant.
Aug 20 2013, 7:50 PM
IamDarren: the core of mine is still very good. Smooth, creamy, nuts and spice. The retrohale brings the pepper and acidity on the finish.
Aug 20 2013, 7:52 PM
StraightUpCigars: Mine is getting better and better every puff, really bringing some complexity now.
Aug 20 2013, 7:52 PM
IamDarren: the flavors are starting to come together to form a dry roasted coffee flavor now.
Aug 20 2013, 7:54 PM
Terry1: I agree the cigar is getting better. I’m detecting many of the flavors already mentioned. If the pepper continues to mellow this will be a tasty cigar.
Aug 20 2013, 7:55 PM
IamDarren: great burn and ash btw
Aug 20 2013, 7:56 PM
IamDarren: smoke volume has decreased a little, having to double puff
Aug 20 2013, 7:57 PM
StraightUpCigars: This is really good at the moment. Chewy and buttery smoke texture, sweet creamy and nutty flavor with some spice.
Aug 20 2013, 7:58 PM
IamDarren: I remember a year or two ago they were really pushing this line but it seems to have faded out a little.
Aug 20 2013, 7:59 PM
IamDarren: lol, just tapped off the ash and it looks like a hollow point bullet, theres a little hole right dead center.
Aug 20 2013, 8:00 PM
StraightUpCigars: Mine’s more of a soft point tip
Aug 20 2013, 8:00 PM
Terry1: I’ve had to double puff too. In fact on the first puff I keep thinking the cigar went out. No smoke at all.
Aug 20 2013, 8:01 PM
StraightUpCigars: I finally saw that top gun show you guys talk about while I was traveling a few weeks ago. Pretty sweet show. They were spinning people on a wheel and making them shoot upside down.
Aug 20 2013, 8:01 PM
Terry1: Mine is burning straight. I had to tap the ash to see the cherry and no voids for me.
Aug 20 2013, 8:03 PM
Terry1: Top Shot is insane. I don’t know how those guys hit any of the targets.
Aug 20 2013, 8:03 PM
IamDarren: the coffee flavor faded out. Now its back to sweet and creamy nuts and spice.
Aug 20 2013, 8:03 PM
IamDarren: did you guys see the preview! This week they are going to be riding some sort of army vehicle while shooting.
Aug 20 2013, 8:03 PM
Terry1: This cigar must be a little wet. I’ve already dabbed a tar ball off the head. Not a good sign when I’m only in the first third.
Aug 20 2013, 8:05 PM
IamDarren: I am always afraid of House blends no matter who makes them because the “House” tells the blender what they want and set a price. Usually they end up cutting corners.
Aug 20 2013, 8:05 PM
StraightUpCigars: True, but if they pull it off the results can bee an amazing cheapie.
Aug 20 2013, 8:06 PM
IamDarren: you have a point. If anyone could do it I suppose it would be AJ. So far its not bad… if it could be had for a couple bucks a stick.
Aug 20 2013, 8:06 PM
Terry1: Now that the pepper has subsided, there are some really nice flavors coming through. Agree with the sweetness, creaminess and roasted nuts.
Aug 20 2013, 8:08 PM
Terry1: Wow box price is $69.95 for 20. Not too bad.
Aug 20 2013, 8:08 PM
IamDarren: did you see the deal CI had on friday? they had boxes of the Camacho Corojos for only 56 bucks a box. I was soooooo tempted. That is their flagship blend that goes for over 100 bucks a box.
Aug 20 2013, 8:09 PM
StraightUpCigars: Yeah, this one is super affordable. I missed that deal… jeez.
Aug 20 2013, 8:09 PM
Terry1: I’m starting the middle third and all of a sudden I’m feeling dizzy. AJ is known for strong cigars and I’m guessing this one is no different.
Aug 20 2013, 8:10 PM
StraightUpCigars: I was JUST about to type that. Serious head rush.
Aug 20 2013, 8:10 PM
IamDarren: yeah they called it the CI black friday deal. There were several other blends offered but the Camacho was the best one. I think they even had a box of the Corojo Maduros in some special size that got a 94 rating for only 64 bucks a box.
Aug 20 2013, 8:14 PM
StraightUpCigars: I already have a small pile of review sticks to send out. We need to clone ourselves to get through all of these reviews.
Aug 20 2013, 8:14 PM
StraightUpCigars: I didn’t do it on purpose, this is stuff that was sent to us, not stuff I bought.
Aug 20 2013, 8:15 PM
Terry1: I’m already at the band. Lots of glue and it removed a piece of the wrapper. Ugh.
Aug 20 2013, 8:15 PM
IamDarren: or 2 per week…
Aug 20 2013, 8:15 PM
StraightUpCigars: After the wedding I’m game.
Aug 20 2013, 8:16 PM
Terry1: I’m still having to double and triple puff this cigar to get it smoking. Either of you having problems?
Aug 20 2013, 8:17 PM
Terry1: And I’ve got a void.
Aug 20 2013, 8:18 PM
StraightUpCigars: I actually am not having that problem, atleast 1 of 3 isn’t.
Aug 20 2013, 8:20 PM
IamDarren: im in the middle of the second third and my smoke output has really improved.
Aug 20 2013, 8:21 PM
Terry1: Damn now the wrapper cracked at the head. What the hell? I was doing okay just a few minutes ago. Now my cigar wants to self distruct.
Aug 20 2013, 8:22 PM
StraightUpCigars: It’s that thin wrapper. Mine is holding up ok, but it’s not a great wrapper leaf from a construction stand point.
Aug 20 2013, 8:22 PM
Terry1: It’s still smoking okay. Binder must still be holding. But I am getting tired of puffing so much.
Aug 20 2013, 8:23 PM
IamDarren: they must be using some of the low end wrapper because i was always under the impression that sun grown wrappers were thick and leathery
Aug 20 2013, 8:26 PM
IamDarren: acidity is back again, starting to get a hint of tar
Aug 20 2013, 8:26 PM
StraightUpCigars: Same here. Flavor is still overall good though.
Aug 20 2013, 8:26 PM
StraightUpCigars: More coffee flavor, still some sweetness, very mild spice.
Aug 20 2013, 8:28 PM
Terry1: I just used a drill bit and was able to remove part of the filler. Now it’s smoking much better. I’ve had a couple of tar balls that I’ve dabbed off. Strength is full for me now. I’m going to have trouble finishing this one.
Aug 20 2013, 8:28 PM
IamDarren: definitely getting a little nic kick now
Aug 20 2013, 8:29 PM
StraightUpCigars: Easily a full strength cigar is Darren feels it. I just did a burn correction to mine.
Aug 20 2013, 8:30 PM
StraightUpCigars: Mine has one of the nastiest gooey heads ever. Still like the flavor, but with less tar it would be perfect.
Aug 20 2013, 8:31 PM
Terry1: Son of a bitch. The wrapper just split and unravelled. I having to hold it on now. Still getting some good flavors but I don’t know for how long I’m going to be able to keep what’s left of the wrapper on.
Aug 20 2013, 8:32 PM
IamDarren: if it gets to be unsmokeable i wouldn’t try to finish it. Just have to take points off for construction
Aug 20 2013, 8:32 PM
Terry1: This is really aggrivating. I like the cigar but the construction is giving me pause on recommending it.
Aug 20 2013, 8:33 PM
StraightUpCigars: That’s why we review em
Aug 20 2013, 8:34 PM
StraightUpCigars: We should get a Nobel prize for all of the grief we’ve saved our readers
Aug 20 2013, 8:34 PM
IamDarren: lol, good point
Aug 20 2013, 8:34 PM
Terry1: I’m just glad the two of you are not having the same issues. Gives me hope I just got a bum stick.
Aug 20 2013, 8:35 PM
IamDarren: I still can’t stand a stick with tar buildup.
Aug 20 2013, 8:35 PM
StraightUpCigars: Mine is far from perfect: weak wrapper, glue left from band, too much tar, burn correction….. but it’s still damn good for $3.
Aug 20 2013, 8:36 PM
StraightUpCigars: We should smoke that organic cigar next week to balance out all the tar and glue we took in from this cigar!
Aug 20 2013, 8:36 PM
IamDarren: I would hate to be the blender and know that you had to cut corners to make a cheaper stick. Im sort of a perfectionist.
Aug 20 2013, 8:37 PM
StraightUpCigars: True, but money heals all wounds.
Aug 20 2013, 8:38 PM
StraightUpCigars: Not really, but it sounds nice on paper
Aug 20 2013, 8:39 PM
IamDarren: i guess it depends how ofen you smoke cigars. When you only have time for 3 or 4 a week you have to make it count. I have a few cheapies that i smoke when im working or mowing the lawn. But there are a lot of good 3 dollar sticks out there.
Aug 20 2013, 8:39 PM
StraightUpCigars: Like the Don Barreto review I’m typing up now.
Aug 20 2013, 8:41 PM
IamDarren: yep, that one is a good example
Aug 20 2013, 8:41 PM
Terry1: Wrapper is now off. Still smoking and tasting okay. Some of the sweetness is gone. But I have too put it down because of the strength. I’m dizzy and sweating now. There’s about half of an inch left.
Aug 20 2013, 8:41 PM
IamDarren: decided to put mine down. Tar was getting worse and I only had an inch left.
Aug 20 2013, 8:42 PM
Terry1: It’s all up to you Matt to nub it.
Aug 20 2013, 8:43 PM
IamDarren: good luck
Aug 20 2013, 8:43 PM
StraightUpCigars: Pshh… I can hardly remove it from my lips due to the tar JK, it’s not THAT bad.
Aug 20 2013, 8:44 PM
StraightUpCigars: Should be interesting ratings, give me a sec.
Aug 20 2013, 8:48 PM
StraightUpCigars: Overall, this thing was all over the map on flavor – from super spicy to mellow. Good complexity. Construction/wrapper issues and tar build ups are the negatives. High strength. Not a terrible buy for the price, but there are some better cheapies out there.
Aug 20 2013, 8:48 PM
Terry1: For me price and flavor saved this cigar from being composted.
Aug 20 2013, 8:49 PM
StraightUpCigars: Surprisingly low from Darren, worst scored AJF ever. I expected Terry’s score from the major construction issues.
Aug 20 2013, 8:49 PM
Terry1: Agree on your points Matt. Construction and strength hurt my scores.
Aug 20 2013, 8:49 PM
IamDarren: i guess i expected more from AJ.
Aug 20 2013, 8:50 PM
StraightUpCigars: I hear ya guys. I think we did a good review on an odd cigar.
Aug 20 2013, 8:50 PM
IamDarren: flavor was decent but not very complex. Burn was good but i had to double puff for half of the cigar. Tar buildup…. could have been better.
Aug 20 2013, 8:50 PM
StraightUpCigars: I forgot about your double puffing, score makes sense now.


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