Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tatuaje Cojonu 2003

6 1/2 x 52

This big ass toro was the first cigar released in Tatuaje's "Cojonu" line, which is a series of cigars started in 2003, with a new addition to the line every 3 years ('06 and '09 are here, '12 will be next). The concept seems to be power (Cojonu... cojones... ballsy...) So I am expecting a bit of a punch from this big ***. I'm not a huge fan of larger format cigars, but when I smoke them, I prefer that they not be much fatter than this, and instead make up for size in length, so for a huge smoke, this is right up my alley. The appearance is very nice. It has a molten milk chocolate wrapper, with a fair amount of mottling (which in my experience, while not even and aesthetically great, tends to mean amazing wrapper flavor) like a bunch of oil has soaked into the wrapper. The seams are tight, and the cap is perfectly applied. The pack feels a little light near the foot, but otherwise is even with just a slight give to it. The foot gives an aroma of earthy dark chocolate with a very slight black cherry aroma, that is pretty cool. Honestly, this cigar LOOKS ballsy, so I am going to be surprised if it doesn't deliver. The cold draw has just a slight tug of resistance, and gives an explosive dose of hot pepper flavor, like Serrano or Jalapeno peppers, and even leaves a tingle across the palette. There is also a good earthy tobacco flavor that lingers after the pepper is gone.

Lit at 3:30

Right away there is a burst of hot black pepper, and a dry leathery character on the draw. The finish is long and peppery... black pepper. The burn line isn't perfect, but I had a heck of a time getting this cigar lit (beautiful day, too windy for a soft flame, too bright to see my torch haha) It seems to want to burn better on one side than the other, so we'll see if it corrects itself.

Something sweet has started to develop in the first third, like a bitter dark chocolate which is nice, and brings some complexity to the earlier pepper and leather combo. The ash is flaky, and showing a lot of tooth, which is interesting, since there wasn't an outright toothy quality to the wrapper before lighting (though it did have the appearance of leaf that had soaked up a lot of oil) The wrapper is still burning unevenly on one side, so it's looking like I may need to give it a hit from the touchup-torch. The ash is flaky, but hasn't fallen by the one inch mark. We shall see how long it holds... And in one of those awesome Nature moments, a ladybug just landed on the stick while it was sitting in the ashtray. Going to try to snap a quick photo before it runs off... Despite the size, this cigar seems to need a draw fairly often to keep from wanting to go out, at least once a minute, if not more often, which is a little fast for my normal smoking pace. Ash just fell... all over my lap. Looks like there might be a small tunnel shaping up in one spot, which isn't great. Hit it with a touch up after the ash fell, and everything seems to be going well now. The breeze out here might be affecting the burn as well.

Getting into the second third, things have settled nicely, and the burn has sorted itself out (for now). The flavor profile is big and bold, mixing leather and coffee on the draw, followed by sweet chocolate, and a black pepper finish, with what I can only describe as a light fruit flavor, like cherry, through the nose. The pepper finish is black pepper, and lasts a good long while, but isn't overpowering in terms of palette zing. Burn has definitely fixed itself, and it was definitely my fault that I was having problems. This cigar just needs more attention than most. Drawing more often definitely keeps things in check. My bad.

In the final third, just getting there, the sweetness is back in a big way, cedary in character, with continuing leather and bigger pepper. The body has also come up a bit. For the first half or so I couldn't feel any strength from this "ballsy" cigar, but here in the last third, the Ligero is starting to have a bit of an effect. Pepper is really ramping up as well, from black pepper to hot red pepper, burning like a wildfire across my tongue. Ouch.

Finished and let this bad boy go out around 5:15, for a total time of an hour and 45 minutes. Probably would have lasted a good while longer if not for the somewhat brisk pace this cigar required me to smoke at. It happens, and seems likely that it was just an example of inconsistency within a given blend. Not really anything to worry about. Overall, this didn't quite live up to the strength I was expecting to get, but it did deliver in the flavor and overall size of experience (in terms of having thick, round flavors, and great smoke production).

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Fuente Fuente Opus X Petite Lancero

6 1/4x39

It is a well known fact that I love Arturo Fuente cigars, and of the Fuente cigars I have smoked, the Opus X is certainly the crowning achievement. With the right amount of sleep, and in a good size, they are unmatched, for my palette, in complexity and pure flavor, in my experience. Adorned in the famous Dominican Rosado wrapper grown at Chateau de la Fuente, the Opus X was the cigar that set off alarms across the cigar community upon its release, and since then has continued to be one of, if not THE, single most sought after cigars. And boy do they carry a price tag. With an MSRP in the $12-$16, these should be perfectly priced cigars, but most vendors mark the prices up almost two fold (going well into the high 20's into the 30's for singles). This particular example of the petite lancero, which is a figurado and a fattish panatela at the same time, is cloaked in a gorgeous caramel brown wrapper with just a slight reddish hue to it. The seams look great, not too tight, but tight enough. The cap is expertly applied, one thing that I am very picky about in figurados. There is a fair amount of tooth to the wrapper, and a light oil sheen. The pack is great, even from head to foot, with no soft spots, and just that perfect amount of give when squeezed gently. The aroma from the foot is spicy, tickling my nose hairs, and gives a strong aroma of raisins, and pastry, Slightly sweet as well. The cold draw is slightly restricted, but not really in a bad way. The flavor profile pre-light is a little spicy on the palette, white pepper, with cinnamon, raisins, and a little earthy character. Let's light...

Lit at 11:20pm.

The Opus X Petite Lancero lights easily, toasting up within a few short seconds. The flavor profile initially is heavy on hot spicy pepper, and an earthy leather character. Maybe a little sweet cedar in there, but it is quickly overwhelmed by pepper. Very strong start.

In the first third, the burn line is a little... wavy. Just ups and downs, consistently around the ring. Not a big deal though, as none of them get out of hand, and withing a few draws, they have fixed themselves, only to dip a little bit somewhere else. As far as age on this cigar, it is from the winter 2009 release, so it has close to a year, if not a year of age on it, which by all accounts is about when these cigars start to settle into a good smoking rhythm. The draw is still kind of tight, and is kind of getting on my nerves, as I prefer a little more open of a draw. If it becomes an actual problem I have plenty of room to give it another clip. The flavor profile at the 3/4 inch mark is very pleasant. Full bodied on the palette, with a high medium strength at this point. Flavors run from fruit and leather on the draw, to cedar and pepper on the finish. Not a pepper flavor, more a spicy sensation with a wood flavored accompaniment. The ambient smoke, incidentally, has an awesome, sweet almond kind of smell to it, which is very nice, and pleasant to be surrounded by. We are going to get hit by a massive rain storm here in a few hours, based on the radar, so I'm hoping this cigar lasts just long enough, and it doesn't start raining. The ash is also super toothy, and a bright white color. Very good looking, and shows signs of good nutrient delivery in the soil. Ash falls for the first time just over an inch in, which is not a surprise given the small ring gauge of this cigar. Perfectly respectable ash length for a 39 ring.

Burn line is getting a little crooked, causing the ash to lean funny, as I reach the end of the first third. Not a real problem though. A quick touch up from the lighter seems to sort the line out. The flavor profile is starting to take a darker turn at this point as well, giving more leathery, earthy notes, with a continuation of cinnamon spice and wood on the finish. Not sweet cedar any more though, more oaky. This profile is one that I have gotten in the past with the Petite Lancero, and a few other smaller ring gauge Opus X cigars. The larger ring Opuses tend to have a lighter, fruitier character, while the little guys are dark, leathery powerhouses. Very nice profile though. Strength is not yet really anything noticeable. It is present, but not above medium-full at most. And like clockwork, marking another inch and a quarter-inch and a half... my lap, and even my laptop get nailed with a big clump of ash. Damnit! Looking at the cherry, things seem to be burning well, and evenly though, despite the waves, and one touch up. No tunneling, or canoeing. Things have REALLLY slowed down in terms of burn speed here just past the halfway marker. This is where the Opus really gives you some bang for your buck if you ask me. Something in the blending allows a smaller ring like this one to still burn at the slower rate of a larger cigar. Boy I am having ZERO luck with ash on this cigar though. I have officially been hit by it twice in a row now. I'm 1 and 3 for getting the ash in the tray. This time, just as I move to roll it in the tray... BAM... right on my lap. Gonna have to do laundry tonight...

Just getting to the start of the final third, and the spice is really coming on strong again. Hot pepper feel, with a leathery, black pepper taste on the draw. Earthy and dark continues to be the overall feel. Very nice, powerful blend. Also get a cinnamon, and now raisin flavor through the nose, which is a cool development reminiscent of a lot of high end Fuente cigars. Such complexity! Just removed the band... and a good piece of wrapper too, unfortunately. This is one complaint I have about Fuente as a whole... their band application team seems to get a little over-zealous with the glue sometimes. Not a big deal though, as the binder is doing its job just fine. Still getting lots of spicy heat. And here comes the strength. At the one hour and 40 minute mark, I am really getting kicked in the head by the nicotine. I don't really mind though, as there is about an inch and 3/4 remaining, so I got off easy for a good 4 and a half inches. For the entire cigar, smoke production has been fantastic. Lots of thick, creamy, white smoke. Very nice. And as with my few previous Opus X experiences, the strength sort of disproportionately ramps up in the last inch and a half, to, for me, an unpleasant level. I don't smoke many cigars with this kind of strength, and for me, the huge dose of nicotine at the end isn't my favorite way to end things. That said, everything up to that point is an absolute joy.

Ended at 1:08am, for a total smoke time of one hour and 48 minutes, which is outstanding given the size of this cigar. Even if the flavor profile was just good, not great as it is, there would be some great value in these cigars, given the price, because of the exorbitant smoke times you can get from them. That amount of time would be fine from a Churchill sized cigar, much less a panatela of any kind. Overall, the complexity, with multiple transitions, and bold flavors, plus pretty great performance from start to finish make the Fuente Fuente Opus X a favorite of mine, and even better when you can get them close to MSRP. As it stands, for the high prices, these are among the best "special occasion" or "once in a while" cigars on the market. Highly recommended.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fuente God of Fire by Carlito (2006)

5 3/4x50 Double Robusto

Smoke Into Oblivion... The Birthday edition! I am 23 years old today, and am smoking a cigar I have hidden in the bottom of my aging humidor for almost a year now. I am not positive how the aging on the God of Fire cigars work, but I am going to assume that this cigar was rolled in 2006, making it at least 4 years old. The wrapper shows evidence of this, with a slight pluming having crystallized, which is a real treat. The construction on this cigar is absolutely flawless, like most of the high end Fuente made products. The Carlito blend, one of two God of Fire blends, the other by his father, Don Carlos Fuente, uses a Cameroon wrapper, around a high quality filler of Dominican tobacco. I cannot find information regarding the binder at the moment, but if and when I do, I will update this entry. The wrapper has a golden brown hue to it, and, as I said, is actually showing a little plume. The seams are tight, and the triple cap is perfectly applied. There appears to be a bit of excess glue near the joints of the bands, which I find on a lot of Fuente cigars, so I'm going to leave those alone for fear of damaging this awesome wrapper leaf. Veins are almost non-existent. Color is basically Colorado/Colorado Maduro. The aroma at cold is rich, floral, and spicy (like cinnamon and nutmeg). The cold draw is just above medium, towards firm, and gives a blast of sweet fruit, like apple and raisins, with a touch of cinnamon spice. This is a cigar that even at cold, reminds me of French Apple Pie, or good Strudel.

Lit at 2:20pm.

It turns out to be a bit windy today to use my soft flame, so I have to resort to the torch, which quickly lights this cigar. Right from the start the flavor profile moves from cedar, slightly sweet, on the draw, to a leathery body, and a peppery finish. The leather reminds me of the leather character that the Opus X is famous for. Smoke production is awesome, despite a slightly tight draw. The burn line also looks good at this point.

In the first third, I am not about 3/4 of an inch in, and the ash looks gorgeous. It is a solid white, not even any rings, and looks tough, like it will hold well. Flavors have settled nicely. On the draw there is a sweet cedar, followed by a little bit of leather, and quickly moves into a sweetly spicy finish, like cinnamon sugar on toast. Nice complexity for so early in the cigar. The burn is performing great as well, just slight waves. One thing worth noting is how easy this smoke is so far. It requires little to no attention. There is a slight breeze out today, but I am sitting this cigar down for MINUTES at a time without drawing sometimes, and when I come back to it, it behaves as if I just set it down. Definitely a sign of great construction. Ash is still holding well at an inch and a half, so that's good.

The smoke is very creamy, and rich on the palette, which only lends to the dessert like element. Woody to dessert like, is a great transition for me. Starting to get a little nutty flavor too, like almond, which continues to be in line with the constantly evolving profile. The only surprise is that I have not gotten any fruit flavors, which I tend to get from good Dominican/Cameroon cigars. Regardless, this is shaping up to be a wonderful smoke. Just before hitting the first band, a dark espresso note hits right before the finish, and it hits hard. Slightly bitter, but rich and earthy. Very interesting change, not quite in line with the sweet nutty flavors that have dominated up until now.

Just removed the main band, and have found something that is a potential bummer. There is a hole in the wrapper, likely from a glue happy band applier, with a crack about 1/4 of an inch coming off each side of it. Drawing normally though, it does not seem to be leaking, so the binder is doing its job. And ladies and gentlemen... We have tar. Great oozing, BP oil spill going on at the foot right now. Wiped it away, and took a small cut from the foot, and everything seems clean and clear again, and the flavor profile has actually cleaned up immediately. Now I am getting nuts, cinnamon, pepper, leather, and even a hint of that Cameroon fruitiness I was hoping to get. Really interesting how bitter and dark a little tar can make a cigar. Surprised I had this problem with this particular stick, but it seems to have been easy to clear up, so I'm not too worried about it. The draw has also opened up quite a bit, which leads me to believe I may not have cut off enough on the first go around. Oh well. Too late to worry about that now.

Ended at 4:16, for just shy of two hours of smoking, which is awesome, and appropriately long for such an expensive cigar. As I see it, the price is the ONLY drawback to these sticks, and even that is debatable. As a special cigar, to have a couple of for celebratory purposes, I think these really fit the bill perfectly. Just a great, complex, slow burning, perfectly performing cigar. Highly recommended, especially for fans of other high end Fuente product.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CAO La Traviata

5x50 "Divino"

A CAO cigar. Not something you'll likely see that many of here on Smoke Into Oblivion. I love a few of CAO's smokes, but for the most part, the majority of their cigars are not favorites of mine, and I spend my smoking time elsewhere. That said, the La Traviata is one cigar that has gotten a lot of positive press, that I have been looking forward to trying for a while now. lcpleel at the forums hooked me up with a Divino in a PIF package a short time back, and I figured that tonight would be as good of a time as any to kill it with fire. The La Traviata is a newer line from CAO, released in 2009 at IPCPR, with a really low price point ($5-$6 range) and an interesting "anatomy" (Ecuadoran grown Habano see wrapper, a Cameroon binder, and a mix of Nicaraguan and Dominican filler). What a combination. Can't wait to see what that wide variety of tobacco tastes like together. In much the same fashion as Pete Johnson's resurrection of El Triunfador and El Fausto, La Traviata began life as a Cuban brand, a century ago. The La Traviata features a slightly reddish Colorado shade wrapper, heavy and slick with oil (no tooth to speak of though, just shiny and oily). The veins are visible basically all over the wrapper leaf, but there is only one that I can really feel, and it is only tangible for a small length of the cigar. The seams and cap both look great, and the packing seems even from head to foot. The aroma off the foot reminds of vaguely of smelling a Chai latte from across the room. Very faint, but a distinct aroma. The cold draw gives a decent resistance, but seems to be drawing well enough, and has a flavor of earthy spice, and black pepper.

Lit at 1:25am.

The immediate flavors present are a cedar, a slightly funky barnyard hay flavor, and a distinct black pepper. It has a good bite to it. Nice tingle, and a distinct flavor of black pepper, not just a sensation. Very nice start.

Despite a firm draw, smoke production is not a problem at all. Quite the contrary actually. It is impressive. Burn line is not straight, but not anything more than a little wavy. Flavor a little way into the first third has developed a sweet cocoa on the draw that mingles nicely with a leathery earth, and the great black pepper finish, which is fairly lengthy.

In the second third the entire profile shifts, becoming heavy on oily, fresh leather, with a loss of the sweet cocoa, leaving things dry and earthy. The pepper has mellowed, not so much in flavor as in bite. Not a sharp hot sensation with it anymore, just a smooth tingle.

Getting into the final third there is a resurgence of the cedar flavor I got initially, sweet, but not the same as the cocoa sweetness present in the latter half of the first third. This is a rich wood flavor, with that tangy sweetness that cedar offers. Very nice. Mouth feel has been, and continues to be oily and heavy. Smoke production, despite a consistently tight draw remains fantastic. Burn is also maintenance free, requiring no touch ups so far. Any dips and waves have been completely self correcting within a handful of draws. This smoke also requires very little fuss, allowing up to several minutes of ambient time without a draw, and no threat of going out.

Ended at 2:55am for a total time of one hour and thirty minutes exactly, which personally, is pretty much right on target for what I want out of a good robusto sized cigar. Not a single complaint from my end. This is a great, inexpensive cigar with some interesting transitions and an interesting flavor profile. Not something I always comment on, but the band for the La Traviata is pretty nice. The design evokes images of early 1900s World's Fair type artwork. Vintage. Not vintage cigar vintage, but a distinct Art Nouveau style. Overall, this is a great smoke.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Davidoff Grand-Cru

5x44 No.3

This classic corona sized cigar is part of the Grand-Cru line, a series created to pay homage to the original cigars Zino Davidoff sold when he started in the Cigar business. They feature an Ecuador grown Connecticut wrapper, with a mix of Dominican fillers and binder. This particular cigar looks fantastic. It is immaculately constructed, as is typical of Davidoff (and as they should be at their price point). The wrapper is a golden caramel color, with almost no veins visible, and certainly none that can be felt. The seams are not overly tight, but do not look loose or anything. The cap is perfectly applied, as is the band (no excess glue visible) The cigar seems to be well packed, with just the right amount of give, and is balanced from head to foot. The aroma from the foot is of a nice barnyardy tobacco, with a hint of hay, and a light nut smell. The cold draw is just the tiniest bit snug, with a rich, dry, woody character... Cedar, but not exactly sweet, but definitely warm in character. There is also a tiny peppery tickle on the cold draw that is interesting.

Lit at 11:55pm.

On the first few draws there is a fantastic, smooth tobacco flavor, with a creamy mouthfeel, and a nutty tang to it, followed by a good cedar, again, dry, not sweet, and then a light, peppery finish.

In the first third, the burn line is RAZOR sharp, and the draw is perfect, despite being a little tight pre-light. The flavor profile has rounded out nicely. The draw remains initially a dry mild tobacco, with a nutty, slightly bitter flavor, like roasted nuts. Cedar, tasting a bit like what cedar spills smell like when burned, is also present, lingering sort of. The finish is long, tobacco, and a good white pepper tingle. Very pleasant. Ash holds well for about an inch, which at this ring gauge is not anything out of the ordinary, and is about as it should be. Smoke production is great as well. One thing worth mentioning is that this cigar needs a bit of attention. One draw every 45 seconds or so seems to be about the right pace, otherwise it wants to start going out.

Oops. Sorry for that. Hideous isn't it? Deep in thought and tasting, or hard at work watching TV? I can't remember.

In the second third, things stay much the same, except for the addition of a sort of cinnamon like spice that plays around the cedar, in the middle of the draw. Nice development. Still most certainly a mild cigar, in terms of strength, and overall feel, but the complexity is increasing steadily in a way that is very appealing. This cigar is interesting in that it lacks a lot of the fruity characteristics I get from a lot of primarily Dominican cigars, many of which are stronger smokes than this one. What it lacks in those fruity, sweet characteristics, it makes up for in woody, earthy elements, and a strong, mellow, natural tobacco flavor.

Just getting into the final third, the flavor profile has not changed any further, but it has gotten bolder. The cedar is getting stronger, the cinnamon is slightly sweet, and the peppery finish lasts much longer, and has a good deal more bite to it. Very nice progression. Really hitting the sweet spot with about one and 3/4 inches remaining.

Ended at 1:17am for a total smoke time of one hour and twenty two minutes. What a fantastic example of what a mild cigar can be when done well. Great complexity in flavor profile, deliciously bold, earthy and slightly spicy, without being overly powerful or heavy. At no point does this cigar have any sort of strength to it, but it is full flavored from start to finish.

Monday, November 8, 2010


7x47 "Imperiales"

The Cabaiguan line is Pete Johnson's "mild" Tatuaje extension. It features a Connecticut shade wrapper grown in Ecuador, around a Nicaraguan filler and binder. I am fairly certain it was the first additional line Johnson created with Pepin Garcia after the Tatuaje cigars that started it all. This particular Cabaiguan, the Imperiales, is a gorgeous Churchill sized cigar, with a smooth, light caramel brown colored wrapper, no veins, and an impressive oiliness to it. Most Connecticut wrappers tend to have a slick silky feel, but not oily. This particular example is even a little toothy! The aroma from the foot is of mild tobacco, slight cedar, and a little nuttiness, like pecans. The cold draw is wonderful, a slightly sweet cedar, mellow smooth tobacco, and a tangy floral note that is delicate, but interesting. The pack is even. Unfortunately there is a slight tear in the wrapper from the foot upwards, about once inch. Hopefully this will burn through without issue.

Lit at 4:55pm.

Right away there is significantly more presence than I expected. This is most certainly a solid medium right out of the gate. There is a heavy oaky wood flavor, a smooth medium tobacco, a toasty nut flavor, and a significant white pepper finish. Not at all what I expected, but certainly a nice surprise!

Getting a little way into the first third, the split portion of the wrapper is not causing any problems, a sign of a good binder no doubt. The flavor has settled into a nice charred oak, a slight leather, and a creamy sweetness. The finish is smooth and mild, with none of the pepper that was initially present. The ash is a beautiful, evenly ringed white and gray color. It holds firmly for a bit over an inch before falling in a big ol' clump into the ash tray.

In the second third a slight way, the performance of this cigar continues much the same. Smooth, and mellow, woody especially. The pepper continues to hide, while the is a continued leathery character. The floral element present on the cold draw has reared it's sweet head here through the nose especially. The progression of flavor currently is something like this... Oak on the draw, creamy tobacco, floral through the nose, and a sweet cedar and leather finish that lasts a very long time. Smoke production is wonderful, and the draw is easy. The burn line has been slightly crooked for a while now, leaning to one side slightly. Not a problem however.

In the final third things are starting to get heavier, richer, creamier on the palette. The second third was fairly mild, in strength at least. The pepper has now made a reappearance in a smooth way on the finish. The draw is still woody. the floral note has disappeared. The cedar flavor is stronger, and sweeter now, lingering from about the mid point through the finish. This is certainly a very characterful "mild" cigar, and does not have any of the bite or grassy flavors so common in mild sticks. The burn line has straightened out perfectly, and is now razor sharp. The only negative thing I have encountered with this cigar is that is is starting to get hot a little early. The cigar itself is cool up to the burn line, but the smoke it getting warm with 2 inches left, rather than at the nub. Continued smoking to about the one inch, maybe one and one quarter inch mark.

Ended at 7pm, for a total smoke time of two hours and five minutes. This was a surprisingly robust, and full flavored cigar, despite being billed as a milder entry in the Tatuaje catalog. Strength wise, it never really gets above medium, but the flavors present are certainly more in the medium-full realm, which was a nice surprise. There are several transitions that are nice, especially in this large size. Great cigar to sit back and spend an afternoon enjoying.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Joya de Nicaragua Celebracion

6x50 Toro

The Celebracion is a line extension from JdN, following the success of the Antano lines. It features a similar blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos in the binder and filler, and uses a great looking Criollo wrapper. It has a classic simplicity to its appearance that appeals to my personal taste. It is also flawlessly constructed though still very obviously hand made. It is slightly lumpy, but has invisible seams, literally undetectable. So much so that I am going to need a magnifying glass to properly cut the cap! The body of the cigar itself has a very good aroma to it, pungent and full of barnyard elements. I am impressed by the strength of this aroma coming from the length of the cigar, and not the foot! The foot has a smell reminiscent of spicy pastries, filled with fruit, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The cold draw has only a slight resistance, and it rich with sweet raisin and vanilla bean flavor, with a slight hint of cedar.

Lit at 6:00pm.

Initial flavors include a sweet tobacco, a light cedar, maybe a mild fruit note, and a smooth peppery finish. Took to flame wonderfully, etc. Good start.

In the first third, the Celebracion performs wonderfully. The flavor is mostly of creamy, sweet tobacco, with a slight spice like nutmeg and raisins. There is a cedar element that follows. The flavor lingers on the front of the tongue. The smoke production is good, not overwhelming, but certainly not weak. The ash is holding firm over an inch at this point. The burn line has needed to attention, and while not razor sharp, it certainly corrects itself as it burns.

After rolling the ash for the first time a little over an inch in, a bold cinnamon flavor comes on the draw wonderfully, and compliments the raisin and nutmeg flavors that were (mildly) present already. This is certainly a cigar that I would call pastry like. It reminds me of french apple pie, or a good Strudel.

In the second third the flavors sort of move around on the palette. The sweet and spicy taste receptors on the palette continue to be the most heavily stimulated. The burn is also really slow, which is nice. It has been over 45 minutes now, and I am MAYBE an inch into the second third. Mouth feel has gotten increasingly smooth and creamy. It was always good and full feeling, but there is a decadent creamy element that is just very nice.

The strength has come up significantly, where it was not even noticeable up to this point. I'm starting to feel it a little bit in my stomach, so something sweet to drink might be necessary to quell the queasiness.

By the band point, things have turned a little bit spicier in terms of pepper heat on the palette. The finish consists now of a continuing creamy cinnamon sweetness and a peppery tingle on the tip of the tongue, moving in waves to the rear of the throat.

With about an inch and a half left, the flavor is getting a little bitter, and the physical body of the stick is getting kind of soft. I thought that the head end of the cigar felt a little squishy before I started smoking it, and now that it is getting so soft, I think that sort of confirms my suspicion that it wasn't perfectly packed at this end. No big deal. This thing has burned for so long so far that to just be having a construction issue now is sort of insignificant. Not keeping me from smoking though...

In the last inch and a half the wrapper has sort of split opened from the burn line down a little way. Binder is still doing its job though, so no leaking. Continues fine to the last nub.

Ended at 8:00pm. because it was an even time. I could have probably smoked for another 5 minutes, but it was starting to get harsh and hot, so it seemed right to let it go ahead and die. Over all the flavor profile on this cigar was very unique, which I have found to be the case with a good number of JdN cigars I've had recently. Very pleased with how this one turned out. The price is also very low on these, so get them while and when you have a chance. Great smoke to have on hand to enjoy. I will be interested to see how these pair with different beverages in the future, I can imagine a lot of rums and bourbons would go well with the pastry like profile this cigar has for the majority of the length of burn. Good smoke!

Monday, October 25, 2010

AVO Classic

AVO No.9
4 3/4 x 48

This Dominican made, Connecticut wrapped classic is the original, core line from world renowned musician, and cigar "Composer" Avo Uvezian. The AVO classic line, as well as the other AVO lines are produced at the Tabadom factory in the DR, through Davidoff of Geneva, which certainly gives an immediate sense of elegance and class to the AVO brand. This small robusto/corona extra features a silky smooth, almost vein free Connecticut wrapper, with tight seams, and a good looking, if slightly lop-sided double cap. It has a fairly firm pack, becoming slightly softer near the foot. The color is a medium caramel brown, even and neat looking. The raw aroma is of mild tobacco, with both hints of barnyard hay, and a slight soapy aroma. Not often that I get the soap smell, but it is always interesting. The cold draw is a little grassy, mild tobacco, and a hint of that musty aged smell.

Lit at 11:15pm

Initial impression is a soft, smooth tobacco flavor, with a light earthy feel to it. Not much else, but it is a very mellow, relaxed profile that I quite enjoy already.

About 3/4 of an inch in now, and there is a light white pepper finish, preceded by a mild, dry cedar and tobacco on the draw. Burn line is flawless, draw is perfect, and the ash is a beautiful, chunky, bright white. Even through the nose this is a very mellow, pleasant smoke. I could probably exhale an entire draw through my nose, and suffer no ill effects as a result. The mouthfeel is creamy, but no cream flavor is present. Towards the end of the first third there is a toasty nut flavor, like cashews, that makes an appearance briefly on each draw.

In the second third things get a little more robust. Cedar gets a little stronger, rounder on the palette. The tobacco flavor becomes less grassy, and more rich. The pepper on the finish is also a little more apparent. Good tingling feel over the tongue. Interesting development, as this is where most sticks seem at their mildest.

Hitting the final third, the musty tobacco that I could smell before the light is now present on the finish, along with the white pepper. Mellow tobacco, robust cedar and now musty aged tobacco are all present. The draw and burn continue perfectly. The ash falls at one inch intervals, as it has from the beginning. The ash is still an attractive, bright white color.

Ended at 12:40. As you can see I really smoked this one as far as humanly possible. Just a really great, balanced, mild, mellow profile. Straight forward flavors, no strength to speak of, but nothing bad. Balanced really is the word I would use to describe this cigar. Perfectly balanced. Good smoke.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Arturo Fuente Flor Fina 8-5-8 Candela


This is a first for me. A candela wrapped cigar. I have never smoked one myself, and have honestly not read much about them either. I know that at one point in time the Candela wrapper was enormously popular in America, but today only a very select few manufacturers even offer a cigar with a Candela wrapper. Recently there has been a little buzz about this unique leaf, so I decided to give one a shot. The AF FF 8-5-8 Candela is a fairly inexpensive cigar, weighing in at just over $5.00 US at my local, and on many websites. It features a fantastic olive green wrapper, with a slick velvet feel to it, reminiscent of many Connecticut shade wrappers in terms of feel, but ultimately very different. There are almost no veins on the entire length of this cigar. The filler seems perfectly bunched, and is even from one end to the other. The body of the cigar has a somewhat fruit like smell, while the foot gives off a grassy, mild tobacco aroma. The cold draw is just slightly loose, evidence of that great Fuente construction we all know and love. There is a heavy grass flavor, with a mild peppery finish present on the pre-light draw. It reminds me of very young tobacco, but without any "sick" qualities, and an added pepper complexity. Very interesting.

Lit at 10:55pm.

Right away there is a grassy tobacco flavor that also has a hint of wood in it. There is a flavor that sort of flies through the palette quickly that I can't quite pin down yet as well... Something herbal. There is also a surprisingly potent black pepper finish that is pretty nice.

About 3/4 of an inch into this cigar, and it is really showing its unique profile. The flavor is still grassy, mild tobacco, with a peppery finish, but I have determined that the unknown element present from the beginning was, and still is, an herbal tea like flavor. Very interesting. Hope this profile keeps up. The pepper has mellowed slightly, and everything is just smooth sailing at this point. The ambient smoke coming from the foot is sweet and grassy, slightly biting (not harsh, just a sharp aroma), while, to borrow a term usually applied to alcoholic beverages, the actual palette smoke and flavor is very dry. No sweetness to be found here. Ash falls for the first time at about one inch.

Really getting into the swing of things, and everything is smooth, and mild, but flavorful. This is definitely a mild cigar, and an interesting one at that. The wrapper seems to add such a unique element... The grassy flavor is very interesting. Normally a grassy flavor isn't something I enjoy, and it is also usually accompanied by a good deal of bitterness. Instead this is a dry, earthy grass flavor, that is unlike any other I have had before, and shows no signs of poor treatment of tobacco.

Just two draws before the ash falls for a second time, there is the addition of an earthy, wood flavor, not sweet like cedar, more moist, and almost oak like. This slight fortification of flavor is certainly a welcome addition. Unfortunately, a split has developed in the wrapper, in the shape of a Y, from the burn line down about 1/4 of an inch. Hopefully it will just burn through without issue.

At the halfway point I have given it a little touch up with my torch to help it burn neatly past the crack in the wrapper. Flavor remains the same, grassy on the draw, followed by an herbal/tea flavor briefly, with a drawn out oak wood flavor, and a smooth black pepper finish. All of these elements combine very nicely to make a great mild smoke so far.

In the final third I am starting to get a little sweetness becoming apparent. Not like a maduro, but just a faint, floral sweetness. It is nice with the grass and tea flavors. The oak flavor is still here as well, and rounds things out nicely, giving a little more depth to the feel of this smoke.

Ended at 12:45am. Pretty long smoke. I'm going to just say this in summary... Don't be afraid of the green wrapper. At least in the case of the Fuente candela, it makes for a fantastic alternative for a mild smoke. Dry, earthy, and floral. Great smoke.