Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Impressions: ITC Split Decision

I've had these sticks hidden in the cooler for at least 6 months, and decided today was the day. I took my cigar, soda, and chair down to the park to watch the medieval re-enactors beat each other with rattan swords. Once set up, I got down to business with the ITC Split Decision connecticut shade/maduro barberpole.

The cigar gave a pre-light aroma of sweet hay and dry cocoa, and felt a little on the spongy side. The draw felt a bit on the loose side. Once lit, I got some mild flavors of nut, coca, and hay, which would flex to medium at unpredictable intervals.

The cigar burned off on one side, due to the bunching of the fillers, and I could follow a nice void down the side of the cigar. I touched up the slower burning side every inch or so.

I thought the flavors were okay, but a bit mild for my tastes, and I hope the next one is rolled better.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lars Tetens chBEz C1

An unusual cigar from an unusual cigar maker, the chBEz C1 is a stocky morsel of unique flavors. I got a tasty sampler of Lars' confectionary and incendiary wares from Mr. Travis, which was an eye-opening experience in both flavors and style. The confections were an intro to unconventional flavor combinations that I would experience in the chBEz.

The particular cigar I smoked was a bit soft, and the draw was very free, but once lit, it burned well. The ash left behind was a silver-white, and a bit flaky.

The aroma from the unlit cigar reminded me of the Evil Chocolate Brownie, a confection of chocolate brownie, caramel, and tea leaves. Like chocolate, with an herbal component. Even before lighting the cigar, I knew it would be a unique experience.

Once lit, the flavors were unlike any cigar I'd smoked before; leathery, sweet herbal, with an odd tea-like note. I think I might have liked it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

5 Vegas Relic

One of my most excellent brethren at Social Cigar, Joe Ed., bombed my mailbox recently. The bomb was heavy with Manuel Qesada-made cigars, including the 5 Vegas Relic.

Great smoke, and a great gift from a great friend. Thanks, Joe!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fonseca Signature Series Robusto

The passel of delights I received recently contained a Fonseca cigar that I've never seen before. Now, I've only had one other run-in with Fonseca, and it was terribly boring, so I've really given the brand no attention since. But, the dark, oily wrapper of this cigar just pushed all the right buttons to stir my interest, so I took it to the office for a lunchtime smoke.

The black band below the Fonseca label reads "Signature Series by Manuel Quesada". This cigar must be either pre-release, or a forgotten run from Fonseca, as there's not much info readily available on the web. Nice dark, oily wrapper, 5.25" x 50ish

The wrapper left a nice tingle on the lips on the cold draw, like the wrapper was a sun-grown Habano, or perhaps Corojo. The draw was fairly loose, and had a nice taste of leather.

After getting it lit, the cigar offered a nice blend of peppery spice and leather for the first inch. The medium-bodied flavors were quite a change from the Fonseca 5-50, which was about as exciting as a bowl of Cheerios.

In the second inch, the spice tailed off, leaving a solid, earthy leather flavor for a while. Getting into the last third, the leather flavor was joined with a sweet hay flavor, which would occasionally bury the leather flavors.

Overall, I enjoyed this cigar's array of medium-bodied flavors. The Fonseca Signature Series is another attention-worthy blend from Manuel Quesada.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Esteban Carreras Habano Maduro Rothman

Upon returning from my travels, I dropped into my local shops to see if there was anything new. Sure enough, there were some new sticks in the humidor. 'Esteban Carreras' is a brand I'm unfamiliar with, but remember a cheap brand called 'Esteban Carrera' (no 'S' at the end) that I bought at an unnamed internet cigar auction site. Esteban Carreras Habano and Dias Ano lines are rolled at the facilities of Abdel Fernandez in Esteli, Nicaragua.

The Habano line are Nicaraguan puros, in either natural or maduro wrappers, and me being a devotee of the Dark Side, I'm smoking the maduro. I bought the 'Rothman' size, a 4 x 54, almost Nubbish looking thing. The shelf price for singles was $6, so I plunked down for a pair.

The wrapper on this cigar was a rich brown color, mildly veined, with a sheen of oil obvious to both eyes and fingers. A cold draw left me with tingly lips, reminding me of some spicy Thai dishes I've enjoyed in the past. The draw was also moderately resistant, indicating a well-packed cigar.

Then, I lit it.

Black pepper.
More pepper.
Black pepper-crusted peppercorns in pepper sauce.

For the first inch, the utterly dominant flavor is pepper. As the first inch wanes, leather and coffee flavors elbow their way into the picture, and by the second inch, the pepper has politely stepped back to allow other flavors to share the stage. All the while, this was a solidly medium to full-bodied cigar.

After the second inch, I did a nub stand on the 2 inches of solid ash, and after picking up the cigar again, the ash dropped off in one piece. Pulling into the nub, and after a couple touch-ups with the torch, the spicy pepper still remained present behind the leather and coffee flavors.

The Esteban Carreras Habano maduro is a powerful smoke, and is the perfect stick for the spice/pepper junkies out there.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Getting Bombed

In the cigar enthusiast community, there's a time-honored tradition of pyrotechnic philanthropy called "Bombing". A bombing usually consists of a mailed package containing cigars and various other implements of enjoyment, i.e. small bottles of Scotch, snack foods, regional tourist trinkets, skid-marked underwear, et cetera. The main focus is the cigars.

Bombings can be pre-announced, holiday or birthday related, though some of the best ones are sneak-attacks on unsuspecting acquaintances.

Well, yours truly got a stealth bomb in the mail today:

This primo bomb, from Social Cigar member Joe Ed., illustrates a great cross section of great cigars, and quality budget cigars. One shouldn't send a bomb of cigars that one wouldn't give to a good friend in person, or of cigars that you, as the sender, wouldn't smoke yourself.

Once one has been bombed, there are some loose protocols about public thanks, aka 'Shout Out' on a social networking or other web site, and retribution to either the sender, or to take out your smoky ire on a third, unsuspecting party.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

La Bonita Red Band robusto

There are times when anticipation and expectation are just barely held in check, creating a delightful tension to the moment. I was at that moment while clipping the cap on the La Bonita Red Band cigar. After such pleasurable experiences with La Bonita's Orange and Purple blends, I was eager to taste Paula Pia's vision in Red.

La Bonita cigars feature the oiliest wrappers I've ever felt, and the dark, sumptuous wrapper on the Red was no exception. The website didn't have the tobaccos listed for the Red, but I'd guess Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. The cigar itself felt very well-packed, with a fairly resistant draw.

A cold draw brought a forecast of dark earth and coffee, with a mild tingle of spice on the lips from the wrapper. Once lit, rich and earthy flavors of leather and coffee were immediately apparent. After a half inch, the leathery flavor turned woody as a pleasant transition, but kept it's medium-full body.

After a couple inches, a soft, smooth spice eased it's way into the flavor. The earthy leather and coffee stayed fairly constant over the last half of the cigar. This blend is as robust as the Orange or Purple, but I got the feeling there's less ligero in the Red blend.

Once again, another excellent blend from Dulce Vida. Definitely do a couple days of dry box time to minimize burn issues from the fairly stuffed fillers and thick and oily wrapper.