Review of Mike's Cigars
By: Gary Manelski
In additional to national cigar brands, many cigar retailers also market and sell their own brands of cigars, including house brands as well as other exclusive blends. Some brand names owned by a retailer may even be sold by other tobacconists. Such is the case with Licenciados cigars, which are the best selling brand sold by Mike's Cigars. Mike's is a very popular online, catalog and telephone cigar distributor and retailer having one physical cigar store which is located just a few miles north of South Beach in Miami. The company was established by Mike Mercel back in 1950, and is now run by a “Third Mike” who is also known as Oded Ben-Arie. In addition to Licenciados cigars, this series of quick reviews will also cover a few of Mike's other brands, including Bauza, 898 Collection, and Mike's 1950 cigars.
Licenciados Figurado Cigar (Natural)
Licenciados cigars are mild-to-medium sticks that Mike's likes to compare to Macanudos. The cigars are made with Connecticut wrappers and Dominican filler tobaccos. Licenciados cigars are available in several sizes including a Figurado (6 x 56), which is the cigar that I smoked for this review. I have smoked other sizes in the past, but enjoyed this particular Figurado a lot more than the others. The cigar was mellow and smooth, and did not have even a hint of a slightly sour flavor that I noticed in some of the other sizes during prior years. The cigar had a great draw, even burn and held a long ash. It took me 45 minutes to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining. I rate it 3.75 points on a 5-point scale, which is very impressive and almost as good as it can get for a mild-to-medium cigar that would make a great choice for beginners. Price is right around $5 per stick when purchased in a 5-pack or box of 20 cigars.
Licenciados Maduro Cigar
Licenciados cigars are also available with a Maduro wrapper. The Maduro that I sampled was the Licenciados Supremo Maduro 400 (6 x 50), which is a little fuller and richer than the natural, but still within the mild-to-medium range. I tasted a few sour notes during the first 15 minutes of this cigar, which eventually faded though not completely. There was also a slight sweetness to the taste of the Maduro wrapper, along with a somewhat earthy flavor. The cigar had a good draw, relatively even burn, and held a medium ash. No relights nor touch-ups were needed during the 40 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining. I rate it with 2.75 points. Price is less than $4 per cigar when purchased in a 5-pack or box of 25 cigars.
There are also three other lines of Licenciados cigars not included in these reviews: Segundos, Anniversario, and Cameroon. I have smoked the Cameroon Invencible in the past, and found it comparable to the Fuente Short Story. I rated it 3˝ to 4 stars on About.com.
Bauza cigars are made by Arturo Fuente in the Dominican Republic with Ecuadorian Sumatra wrappers and Dominican filler tobaccos. They are available in several sizes, including the Medalla D'Oro #1, which measures 6 7/8 x 44. The price for a 5-pack is about $23, which works out to an average of $4.60 per stick. The cigar began with a naturally sweet medium-to-full tobacco flavor, but the sweetness faded after a couple of minutes. After a few more minutes, I detected a few sour notes which quickly faded, then a subtle sweetness returned. The cigar had a good draw, held a medium-to-long ash, and had an even burn. No relights nor touch-ups were needed during the 65 minutes that it took to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining. I rate it with a respectable 3.25 points on a 5-point scale. Bauza cigars are available online at Mike's Cigars.
898 Collection Cigar
898 Collection cigars are made for Mike's Cigars by General Cigar in the Dominican Republic, with Connecticut wrappers and Dominican filler tobaccos. I have smoked this brand in the past, and rated the Robusto size (5˝ x 49) with 3˝ stars on About.com. For this quick review, I sampled the Lonsdale size (6˝ x 42) which is priced at less than $4 per stick when purchased in a 5-pack or box of 25 cigars. 898 Collection is a mild-to-medium cigar having a mild and enjoyable sweet spicy flavor. However, in the Lonsdale that I sampled, the sweetness faded after a few minutes, and that 3.5-point flavor at the start dropped down to 3 points after about 15 minutes. By the end of the 45 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining, the flavor had dropped to 2.5 points. During that time, the cigar had an even burn which did not require any relights nor touch-ups, held a medium-to-long ash, and had a decent but somewhat firm draw that did not deliver a huge amount of smoke. Compared to the 898 Robusto, the 898 Lonsdale was somewhat of a disappointment, and deserves a lower rating of 2.75 points. I definitely recommend the 898 Robusto over the Lonsdale size in this particular brand. These cigar are available online at Mike's Cigars.
Mike's 1950 Cigar
Mike's 1950 cigars are made in the Dominican Republic with Honduran wrappers and binders, and a blend of filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. These cigars were introduced in 2005 to salute Mike Mersel, who opened Mike's Cigars in Miami Beach back in July of 1950. The cigar sampled for this short review was the Toro, which measures 5˝ inches in length with a ring gauge of 54. Average price is around $5 per stick when purchased in 5-packs or boxes of 20 cigars. Mike's 1950 Toro is a medium bodied cigar having a generous draw that delivers a nice volume of smoke. The cigar is very enjoyable and mellow with a hint of spice. The cigar held a medium-to-long ash and had a relatively even burn. A couple of minor touch-up lights were applied during the 45 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining. No relights were required. I enjoyed this cigar more than anticipated. The flavor approached a 4-point rating at the beginning, and still remained over 3.5 points at the end, resulting in a very good overall rating of 3.75 points. Available online at Mike's Cigars.