“Whereas Frank had youthfulness about it, ‘Back to Black’ struck me as shatteringly adult. I was gobsmacked at how slick Amy sounded, and taken aback by the maturity of her lyrics. All this was my little girl! I’ve heard commentators say since that Amy’s writing on the title sing ‘Back to Black’ is as good as a Shakespearian sonnet. That puts the biggest smile on my face. If only she knew.”*
A few months ago I was given a trio of cigars from the Canary Islands by the name of Kolumbus made in La Palma. I’ve already critiqued the blue label (see archives) so I thought I’d let some time go by and review a different wrapper. This time I picked the K-Negro Robusto the one with the black band. Its dark, licorice hue was inviting and I couldn’t help but smoke it while reading about the life of Amy Winehouse, whose second album was “Back to Black.”
Its presentation also included the K-Azul (blue band), and the K-Rojo (red band). But I was intrigued by K-Negro’s richness of color and had to give it a shot. Normally the cigars come in a cedar box of eight. The sample pack was sent to me from Spain by Marc Ripoll. (I need to mention his associates, Sergio de Suñer and Pedro de Ponte.)
“Where Amy got her love of the sixties girl-group sound that dominated ‘Back to Black’ I am not sure…after all, ‘Back to Black’ was all about breaking up with a boy who was no good for her…”*
When all three men got together they wanted to make a cigar that would capture the attention of anyone who had the good fortune to smoke any of the three. I am in this elite group because the cigars are not available in the US as yet. and the company is in the process of finding a distributor.
“The cigar’s composition of 100% natural tobacco (is) aged in Spanish cedar cellars. The tobacco filler is La Palma. The production is concentrated in the municipalities of Breña Alta, Breña Baja, Santa Cruz de La Palma, Mazo, El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane, which all enjoy a privileged weather throughout the year.” (website)
I could repeat what the website states about its findings of flavors and spices, but I always prefer to find that out for myself. So as I’m reading Janis Winehouse’s ‘Loving Amy’: A Mother’s Story,’ I am noticing that this is no ordinary cigar. Its predraw was luscious with an undefinable spice that had a nutty trace, but I prefer to light my cigar to gather flavor and essence information.
The cigar has a perfect burn, with sprinkles of spice, maybe nutmeg, but I’d intrude on the website’s description. The essence of coffee grounds was present. There was the refreshing aroma of a fragrant forest. The cigar captured the flavors of decomposing leaves, torn bark, the sun, and morning dampness. And when you mix the breezes of the island and refreshing droplets of rain that gently descend to the ground with all these combined elements, nature forms the essence of the K-Negro cigar.
“Whereas reaction to ‘Frank’ (Amy’s first CD) had been mixed, the reviews for ‘Back to Black’ were unanimously positive, some writers even tipping the album as an instant classic.”*
The flavors ebbed and flowed through the smoke and I could never really pinpoint or absolutely distinguish one flavor from the others. I have to bring in what the website states and give it full marks for including rosemary in its description. That, my friends, is a blend created to perfection. Clouds of smoke filled the room with aromas that drew me closer to the essence of the flavors. The entire cigar was an experience and I can’t imagine that being an accident. A taste such as that has to be planned in order for it to be reproduced over and over for the smoker who demands consistency.
Of course, the burn was excellent, the draw throughout superb, and the strength was indeed moderate, though at the very end I could detect that the cigar wanted to escape into the realm of the full-bodied kind, but the blenders knew that would have confused the smoker so they did what they had to do to keep the strength in its range – and did quite well.
The ash is dense and once revealed; the ember’s conical shape was proof positive of the quality of the tobacco and rollers that are being used to produce this cigar. The website actually gives an approximate time for how long the smoke would last, but I ignore such details because the time it takes to smoke a cigar depends on too many factors. So you might was well just enjoy it for as long as you can and hope mother nature takes a left turn and allows it to go on forever.
“On Valentine’s night in 2007 we all gathered as a family to support her at the BRIT Awards. She had been nominated in the category of Best British Female (vocalist) alongside artists such as Lily Allen, and Corinne Baily Rae…I took a deep breath as the nominations were called. And then the moment came when Jo Wiley opened the envelope. I smiled at Amy whose eyes were wide open with anticipation…’Way more rock ‘n’ roll than Liam Gallagher, it’s the one, the only…Amy Winehouse!’…We were up on our feet cheering and clapping and the arena seemed to ignite around us. ‘I love you Mummy!’ Amy shouted in my ear over the noise as she made her way around the table to hug me. I had a grin from ear to ear that I don’t think left me for days.’”*
Kind of like I felt when the K-Negro went out and I could sit back and experience the joy of having another memorable, intriguing Kolumbus smoking experience.
(*All paragraphs in italics are reproduced and duly credited to the book by Janis Winehouse Loving Amy: A Mother’s Story.)