Category Archives: Cigar Reviews

Three Little Words: A Review.

1965 cigar

So I receive my copy of Cigar Aficionado (October 2017) and I place it on the pile of magazines I have yet to read and the hundreds of pages of torn out articles that are scattered to the left of my small writing space on my desk.

Several days go by and I just keep building the stacks of copy I will use someday in a story.  But today was different.  For some unknown reason, I decided to pull the issue out and strip off the protective plastic cover.  I take a quick look at the front of this cigar magazine.  “Inside the NFL: Who will win the Super Bowl?  Danny Sheridan picks the winners.  How to beat the Bookmakers.  Jay Glazer and Dean Blandino – The Fox insiders speak.  Super NFL Stadiums.  Featuring: Dick Butkus, Jason Taylor, Robert Kraft.”  Hmm.  I glanced back at the masthead – Cigar Aficionado: The Good Life Magazine for Men.

Cigars.  Cigars.  CIGARS!!!  WHERE ARE THE ARTICLES ON THE CIGARS?

Insouciantly I flip open the publication and my fingers happen to stop on page 124.  In the back – where the cigar reviews have been relegated.  Subhead:  Churchills.  I scan the first five to my left.  HEY!  Will you looky dat!  Third from the top.  Nat Cicco’s Anniversario 1965 Liga No. 4 Churchill.  Holy shit!  A 91!  A bloody good 91.  And I rep that line!  Would you look at that?  And I did.  You might say I stared at it.

The copy reads: Squarely, symmetrically pressed with an oily wrapper (Ecuador) and chopped pigtail cap (I can see that).  Up front acidity (?) disappears (Did it ever appear???)  for a leathery, meaty smoke sweetened by notes (What do-re-me?) of molasses and toffee.  U.S, $6.50.”  Well, I’ll be damned.  And wouldn’t you know it, I have that exact same size.  So what do you think I did?  Thaaaaaat’s right.  I went to my humidor and pulled it out.  Let’s see how close these guys are to the real thing.  (Read my Blog titles, “I think; therefore I am.” just to gain perspective as to why I’m doing this.)

1965 5

Ok.  The CA review has a photo of the cigar, so why bother to tell me it’s square-pressed?  Too, it’s quite evident that the pigtail has been clipped.  Agreed description so far.  But unnecessary to write down.  The wrapper is gorgeous, a chocolate-brown hue that invites your lips to start quivering upon entry.  Nothing said there.  Why?  

Now, here’s where the review goes awry.  Where does this taster come up with acidic?  Even though the “acidity” disappears, why bother to mention it because it isn’t there.

The reviewer tastes a “leathery, meaty smoke sweetened by notes of molasses and toffee.”  Ok.  I’m smoking this cigar.  I have put fire to the folded-in foot (not mentioned in the original review and should have been) and I’m drawing in some of the most luscious (meaty?) smoke produced by the combination of fire, tobacco and Mother Nature.

I get a refreshing dose of viscous chocolate syrup, a hint of cinnamon powder, and a squiggle of sassafras extract.  A bubbly blur of spice appears and hovers in the smoke for the remainder of the experience.  There’s even a bit of seasoned tobacco pipe residue taste upon the final exhale of smoke – the type of essence that one can get from the first crunch of the sizzling burnt edges of crème brûlée.  My palate does detect a dash of toffee.  Toffee, as you know, is “a hard but chewy, caramel colored noncrystalline candy made by cooking sugar, water (or cream or milk) and usually butter or other fat. Other ingredients such as nuts or chocolate are sometimes added (Google), but not in this case.  And what kind of toffee, Dark English Butter, English Butter Toffee, White English Butter Toffee and who knows how many more.  Each has their own unique flavor enhancements.

1965 bandAh, and don’t forget the bouquet (but this reviewer did).  One of the prime elements in the flavor of any cigar.  The bouquet, the whipped cream that tops a sundae with its drizzle of dazzle.  

Now I know the editors can’t go into so much detail and I dare say I feel like a jackass just writing this somewhat lengthy personal description.  So you know what I would have said had I had the chance to give this cigar a review?

Damn!  Great Smoke!

Ah, the serenity of sublime simplicity.  

Too, it should have gotten a 95 or better.

Ta!

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PepperHead packs a Wallop!

ph cover

Gorgeously constructed.  Look at that cap.  Perfect draw.  The tingle on the tongue indicates to me that something is up – and it ain’t mediocre.  I’m smoking the new Isabela PepperHead and I just got into it.  Wow!  Oh.  Creamy smoke.  Yaw za!!!  Delicate sweetness on the leaf that dissipates rapidly.  Not an intrusion at all.  Oh, boy!  What a power rocket this is.  Pepper down to the core.  Yet, velvety, not cracked with ragged edges.  An aroma that settles the bicameral mind.  It’s incredibly humid today so the smoke lingers in the air.  A sensuous, soft, lovely mix into God’s universe with human ingenuity.

ph beginning

Flavors.  Let’s smack dem lips.  Right now it’s too early, maybe even unnecessary to limn.  This is a sense-sational cigar.  Pepper is the dominant contributor.  The key that is unlocking the natural mix of, of, of.  Let’s see how many kinds of pepper do I know?

The transitions are quick to pop!  This is difficult. Tellicherry black pepper from India, of course, is the most common.  Veer over to Mysore green, which is more on the mild side due to its being unripened and quickly dehydrated.  Inch over to Malaysian white peppercorns. These give off a more intense zing due to the fermentation process.  The latter three I know.  I’m picking up pepper.  Powdered – not the rough mill grind.  Period.  I defy anyone’s palate to discriminates and identify one from the other two.

Speechless.  Wow!  This is a powerful blend.  Gesh.  I’m dizzy.  Maybe from all the travel, maybe from the cigar.  I ate.  So no blame on an empty stomach.  Perry Como was right when he sang Joe Shapiro and Lou Stallman’s 1956 hit “Round and Round.”

Then your love will hold you round, round, round

In your heart’s a song with a brand new sound

And your head goes spinning round, round, round

’cause you’ve found what you’ve been dreamin’ of

ph redWeeeeeeee!  Gotta take a sip of Mountain Dew® and root beer to douse this mutha.  What other varieties of dry pepper are there?  No vegetable peppers here.  No jalapeño, habanero, or ghost varieties.   It’s not that type of spiciness.  There are Brazilian pink peppercorns known for giving off a slightly sweet tang.  But they are really more of a berry than a pepper.  Ah, the black Malabar which is added for its bold flavor and aroma.  But I don’t know.  I don’t know them.  And there are more such as Cambodian black and red peppercorns and the black Lampong Indonesian variety but this isn’t a treatise on peppercorns.  IS IT!

ph butt

All I can say is the transitions are coming fast and furious like a Gatling gun – “Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat-rat-a-tat-a-tat-tat-rat-a-tat-tat-tat.  BAM!”  Crank that sucker.  “Che-che-che-che-che-che.  POW!”  “Holy Peppercorns, Batman!” “You’re so right spice boy.”  

I singed my fingers, lips, gums – and almost lit my beard trying to keep this cigar alive.  Please don’t go out!!!  I beg you!  “NOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooo.”

“It’ll be awright Ozzy!”

PepperHead.  Miss this!?  I wouldn’t.  You’d be a damn fool if you didn’t try one.

(Available ONLY in the Midwest via Irv CigarBroker)

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Is this the bitter end?

bitter cover

This cigar I’m smoking is bitter.  Not a good bitter such as Fernet-Branca, Regan’s Orange or Dale DeGrott’s Pimento.  I’m talking dull, dry-your-mouth-out, back-of-the-palate yuk bitter.  No accentuation, just, well – bitter.

It’s an expensive cigar and a disappointment.  But I’m a cigar man, and I’ll try anything many times before I make my final assessment.  Hell, my palate can change and so can the cigar.  Tobacco is what it is – a plant, a leaf.  God didn’t die-create the leaves.  Take into consideration the soil, weather conditions when the stalk was growing and the fermentation process and the variables multiply to the point of garnering a headache.

bitter irv color

The cigar has punch, lots of yummy tastes that mingle with each other to produce some very complex flavors. Cherry wood comes to mind, as does the extract of tree bark – an essential ingredient in bitters.  So it’s not a bad thing, I just can’t get past the bitter bitterness.

My tongue is also feeling as though it’s desensitized, but I think that comes from the spices that become quite dominant toward the middle.  The numbness is reminiscent of the final stages of shock from a ghost pepper.  Unfortunately, no flavor in that – only sensation.

If I could just tie all these various nuances together, but I think I have a better chance of weaving a rug out of the particles that make up the strands of mass in the string theory than I do coming up with an accurate descriptive explanation for this cigar.

bitter endIt could be I’m being a snit because it’s a torpedo, one of my least favorite shapes.  But really, I’m not that picayune to abdicate the cigar to the trash tray on account of its shape.  I have a robusto of the same blend. I will have to try it to see if what I’m getting with this one repeats itself.  If it does – then it does and then I’ll have to ponder about whether or not the blender created this cigar to taste like it does for a different palate – or it’s just a rough attempt at something different that tanked.

Ah, it’s late.  I smoked it to within an inch.  That’s a pretty good try don’t you think?  I do.

 The End.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSUIQgEVDM4

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“El Borracho” or The Drunk.

eb cigar

Conundrum.

Dapper Cigar Co.  Cubo Maduro.  Cubo Claro.   El Borracho.  Stop.

Wrapper.  San Andrés.  Binder.  Nicaraguan.  Filler.  Nicaraguan.

Production Manager.  Raul Disla.  Esteli.

eb ash.jpg

Ash.  Impressive.  Colors. Shades of gray, white and black.  Length.  Long.  Construction. Tits.  Draw.  Superb.  Smoke.  Creamy and voluminous.  Burn.  On point.  Bouquet.  Lusty. Body.  Full.  Head feel.  Woozy.

Taste.  Thick.  Savory.  Umami.  Deep, dark chocolate (no sugar).  Woodsy.  Lilt of spice.

Sizes.  Robusto (5 x 50), Edmundo (5 ½ x 52), Toro (6 x 54).

Price.  $$$.

Owner.  Ian Reith.

eb abstract

Weather.  Humid.  Temperature.  86°.

Lunch.  Portillo’s burger.  Coke.

Decision to rep.  Conundrum.   

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Cigar Art. What is the brand name?

Sm cover 2

Singer & Monk is a new cigar.  The IPCPR advertised it so.

Singer & Monk is a made up name.  The owner told me so.

Singer & Monk is an exquisite blend.  My palate told me so.

Singer & Monk is a unique cigar.  The blend told me so.

Singer & Monk is a complex cigar.  My experience told me so.

Singer & Monk has excellent construction.  The ash showed me so.

Singer & Monk has a near perfect burn.  The ring showed me so.

Singer  & Monk is full of flavor surprises.  The taste proved it so.

Singer & Monk is a medium-bodied smoke.  My head felt it so.

Sm middle

Singer & Monk is a cigar with panache.  The finish was so. . . .

Singer & Monk sparkled with zing.  Its spiciness confirmed it so.

Singer & Monk has a place on the shelf.  The above determined so.

Singer & Monk is associated with Cigar Art.  The card said so.

Singer & Monk comes in Connecticut and Habano.  The site said so.

Singer & Monk has a good price.  The under $10 retail says so.

Singer & Monk is da bomb.  And it ain’t just so so.  

Singer & Monk is a sexy cigar.  Irv CigarBroker said so. 

Sm sexy end

Cattle Baron Cigars and The New Yorker?

cattle baron cover.jpg

July 24, 2017.  The New Yorker.  July 12, 2017.  Cattle Baron.  That’s the day I went to visit the Cattle Baron booth at the IPCPR’s convention.  The cigars are made for Bryan Mussard, a real cattle baron.

I don’t remember all the details.  The history.  The raison d’être.  I was concentrating on the cigar.  Manufactured by De Los Reyes in the Dominican Republic, it’s a mild to medium-bodied cigar.  Tasty.  And backed by passion. I’m smoking it now at the Patio Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7).  The robusto size, or as Mussard prefers to call it – The Stockyard.  There are others, The Cowboy, the Bull, the Trail Boss, and the “Little Doggie.” I’ve had the others.  The Stockyard is the one that lassoed me.  The flavors are a bit nondescript, but caramel, toasted coffee, and, oh yes, a little barnyard –  do come to the fore.  (I had to throw that in.)  Construction is good.  The burn admirable.

cattle baron marley

Ah, so many cigars.  So many dreams.  So many ideas floating all around me.  Does this guy need a cigar? Nope. He’s making a good living breeding livestock.  Question is, can he made a side-living “breeding” cigars?

“What’s your plan to market your cigars,” I asked staring him straight in the eyes.  “Shows like this, advertising, submitting reviews.”  Inside I cringed.  That ain’t gonna make it, Cowboy.  No disrespect intended.  It is what it is.

But just like the current issue of The New Yorker, some are good, some not so good.  This week’s issue has a caricature of Trump on the cover.  Bland.  Overdone. Like the wrapper on this one.  I’m guessing Ecuadorian Connecticut.

The editorial content?  There are a few page stopping stories, like in “The Critics” section titled, “Stir it up: The battle over Bob Marley,” by Hua Hsu.  Solid.  Interesting.  Well researched.  Like a filler should be.  Written by Mr. Hsu, it has its own lilt.  As a blend would, according to the tastes of Mussard.  

cattle baron korenBut what keeps the interest?  The binders.  The cartoons. Like the one by Koren, a legend in the business.  Even if the reader just skims through the magazine, at least the illustrators of humor keep it all together.  They define the magazine – they always have, think Peter Arno.  The binder defines the blend – think?

Mussard didn’t make the cigar, just like the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick, didn’t make the magazine. Both just approved the “ingredients.”  They compiled the ideas and put them together for the final product. Hoping to please.  

Next week, Remnick will ok another issue.  In time Mussard will approve another blend. So the cycle goes on.  Each hoping that what is produced will gain the attention of the consumer.  So enjoy them.  Read it.  Smoke it.  Savor them.  Now git along!

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Third time is a charm?

irv third try.jpg

This will be the third time I’m trying a cigar from the show.  The first one was not good. My reaction could have been based on a number of elements – what I ate, how many cigars I had previously, just a negative attitude at the time, shitty cigar.  I don’t know.  But I hold to my first impression.

Then I tried another one.  Same size.  Different day.  Later in the afternoon.  I still found it to be rather harsh, a metallic lilt, with a spicy aftertaste that I found to be a deterrent to the blender’s intention (if there was one).

third try ash

Now, I’m on the third one.  It has been four days since I returned from the show in Vegas.  I was walking Flo.  The construction was admirable, the burn – like a wavey laser.  My palate was clean.  Fresh.  The cicadas were chirping in their usual, annoying manner.  I was home smoking the cigar at the Patio Cigar Lounge (Open 24/7). The chaos of the convention was a memory.  The pressure of producing sales was gone.  

I leisurely drew in the smoke and let it settle around me. The bouquet complemented the blend.  I still found the cigar to be a bit rough.  But as I continued to relax, I could begin to taste the flavors that I may have missed, or possibly ignored.  The temperature outside was 83 degrees, not 108°.  

Licorice, moist cedar, and aged wood were the predominant essences.  I still contend that without the luscious, aromatic bouquet, the cigar would have faltered.

third try cigarThis is a medium to full-bodied smoke.  A mature blend. It reminded me of getting used to Latakia (think smokey leather and anise)  And, over time, I grew to love that tobacco.  Like baseball, the batter is allowed three strikes, but this time at the palate the cigar was a shallow base hit to woefully parse an overused cliché.

I smoked it all the way down to the half inch.  The question I always ask myself is, “Would I smoke another?”

Anyone for golf?  Fore!

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