I often use the term "temperature resistance" when talking about the characteristics of a cigar. It occurred to me that no one has any idea of what that means, since I just made it up. The cigar world may already have a term for this, but since I'm used to calling it this, I'm going to stick with it.
Temperature resistance refers to how much a cigar's taste changes as you puff on it without rest, or more accurately, how much the taste changes as the cherry gets hotter.
When you pick up and puff on a stick that has sat for a minute or so, it has a certain set of flavors and tastes associated with it. Those flavors often change as you decrease the amount of time between puffs. Commonly, the flavors shift to peppers, harder leathers, and smoke. This is why many people recommend letting a cigar sit for a full minute or more between puffs.
Every cigar that I've had has both an innate and imparted temperature resistance. Innate TR is how the cigar will smoke & taste regardless of what you do it. Imparted TR is how the TR is affected by how moist a cigar is, how long it has "rested", the absolute age of a cigar, etc.
I've found over time cheap cigars are extremely temperature resistant. You can puff a Don Lugo like you're trying to rescue a drowning victim and the taste wont change at all, but many of your $6-plus cigars will fight you back. I've found Warlocks and Diesels to be particularly temperature sensitive, that is, having a low temperature resistance.
What does this mean? To most people, probably nothing. It's just something I notice while smoking so I record it. Just one more interesting variable between cigars!
Now THIS is the best cigar I've had so far in my cigar smoking life. Maybe I should take a step back and say, at this point I've been smoking cigars for about 2 years and have only in the past several months have started seriously attempted to pay attention to what I'm smoking and document them. That being said....WOW.
I purchased this from the local B&M, the La Habra Tobacconist, on November 16, 2013; so it's been resting in my humidor for almost 3 months. He has two brothers still sleeping sounding in their shared cedar bed.
I love the look of the cigar. The soft box press, the red ribbon at the end and the decorative band really make me feeling like I'm about to have a very sophisticated experience. It just feels classy. The cellophane is just starting to show a bit of yellow.
I only really got one decent photo of this cigar and I'm rather bummed about this. I'm hoping sometime I can get around to doing some really good studio shots of the beauty.
The end of the cigar is a bit flatter and broader than I'm used to, so I have a tricky time getting it clipped. I noticed under the ribbon at the end there is some minor damage to the wrapper. Take a look at the pic. Does that wrapper seem normal? I'll have to compare it to his brothers when I pull them out in a few months. The pre-light taste is all chocolate and expresso.
At 1:38pm the toast commences. Since I'm doing this in the daylight I decide to go with my touch up torch instead of my bigger flame thrower in order to control the burn. Success! I didn't incinerate the end. Smoke just pours off this bad boy. Wish I had caught it with my camera.
Throughout the cigar I had canoeing issues. After doing some reading I think this may have been my lighting technique by focusing more on the center and not getting the edges hot enough. It required a lot of touch-ups throughout the smoke.
This is definitely a two-stage cigar. That is, after a minute of rest, I puff and get one taste, then a puff shortly following gives me another, usually more peppery. The cigar is moderately temperature sensitive. I paired this with ice water and a Corona light. The draw is relatively easy; about a 2/5 on the strength scale.
Flavors I get in order are:
Dark woodsy tobocco
Black pepper and salt
Retro is moderately strong and spicy
Pepper fades after about half an inch
Really getting a full, three dimensional taste experience
Dashes of salt and pepper
Bailey's and coffee
Very rich and chewy
Black pepper morphs into white pepper after a point
Lots of Baileys/cream
Oh my, what an amazing experience. I stopped writing at some point and just drifted off into my cigar day dreams, but I think you get the point. At about $10 per stick, this is a PHENOMENAL smoke. Not sure how they are "fresh" as this one has rested for awhile. I will be picking up more soon. I actually toyed with the idea of getting a box of them and may still do so, but I wonder if the tastes would fade too much over time? I guess I'll have to experiment and find out!
4.7 out of 5. Points deducted for the canoeing and the minor issues with the wrapper. This cigar is boxworthy.
As a kid, did you ever roll up a handful of potpourri in leftover cardboard from a roll of toilet paper and try to smoke it? Me neither, but I bet it tasted just like this Dominican Don Chuchu cigar.
The heavy floral and amaretto tastes seemed like they were sprayed into this "tobacco" as heavy as they laid in the air. No, it just didnt taste right. The draw was really poor as well, like trying to pull boba through a normal sized straw.
This stick has no excuses either. It's been resting for months in a well maintained humidor.
This Chuchu pulls into the station with a 1.3 our of 5. I couldnt finish it which drops it to the 1-2 range, but it didnt make me sick, which is why I gave it the bonus 0.3 pts. Move on folks, nothing to see here.
The Alec Bradley Maxx is a cigar I am already familiar with as it was one I gravitated to even before I knew what I was doing in regards to cigars. Its big bold design and construction commands attention and declares "yes, this is a CIGAR." This one I believe was the toro gordo.
This is a description paraphrased from Cigars International: wrapper is a "dark Nicaraguan maduro leaf" while the tobacco is a blend of Columbian, Honduran, Mexican and Nicaraguan varieties along with binder from Costa Rica.
Before lighting, I get a VERY chocolately taste; much more so than I've experienced so far in my limited cigar smoking life. Just a hint of fresh leather comes through as well.
I smoked this around 2pm on New Year's Eve, meaning it was light outside. I always have trouble telling where the flame of my torch lighter ends during the day, so I've botched the toast a few times in the past and scorched the hell out my stick. I was careful on this one and did a pretty decent job, although I did have a problem getting the tip completely lit. A touch-up with my stand-by low-level torch took care of it.
The initial tastes are deep and smooth cedars and dark woods along with chocolates and coffee. Very nice! The draw is a medium/easy.
Once I manage to get this guy fully lit I start getting the black pepper and toast. The burn settles in nicely so it appears my torch-job was successful!
As I get into this, the tastes are all leathers and woods with a medium pepper background. I find this smoke is fairly temperature resistant, but it really does well for a full minute rest in between puffs. With patience I am rewarded with amarettos and chocolate cake; both with a dash of pepper.
The pepper fades after about an inch into the stick and the taste becomes milder - now catching some dark rum.
I started smoking this with ice water, but for some reason I decided to get a small glass of brandy my wife had given me as a gift. Somehow I reasoned it would go nicely with this delightful rummy stick. Boy was I WRONG. The brandy completely destroyed my palate and after the first sip, I could barely tell I was smoking anything. Back to ice water it was...
The burn on this guy was fantastic. Big, strong ash with beautiful striations.
Additional flavors through the middle included the occasional cinnamon burst, medium strength woods, cedar, light leather, and some curious angel food cake on the retrohale. I have to say the retro on the Maxx was very mild compared to most cigars. First puffs upon picking up are woodsy with a follow-up more peppery. Is that a Hostess Ho-Ho in there? Yes, I think it was!
In comparing this to the La Sirena, I found this much "dryer". The La Sirena made me feel like I was in a dark, old world forest, while the Maxx had me visualizing a tall stand of great redwood trees. T
The Maxx finishes out with all woods and leathers with occasional forays into semi-sweet baked goods. Really a delicious and enjoyable smoke. It had been in the humidor for exactly 2 weeks after having been purchased at the La Habra Tobacconist. I dry boxed it overnight as I keep my sticks just a tad wet.
Overall I give this a 4.3/5. I cant really find anything wrong with it. It was smooth, it was tasty, it didn't make me nauseous, what's not to love? I will definitely be picking more of these up for long term storage!!
Happy New Year!
I decided to treat myself this New Year's by getting a "really good" cigar.
The owner of my local B&M (the La Habra Tobacconist, I think the guy's name is Tony) loves these and raves about them every time I've been in. Ok, I've only been in three times as I've just moved into the area, but 3/3 is a lot, right?
Here is a description from Famous Smoke: Nicaraguan wrapper surrounding a "hearty, full-bodied blend of five-year-aged Nicaraguan Ligero tobaccos."
These cigars have been praised for "...their bold, spicy flavor and thick, heady smoke. (Geared for the more experienced smoker.)"
Not to mention the fact these are on almost everyone's top 10 list of cigars.
So how did this blockbuster of a cigar go over with a relative newbie whose palate can barely discern cheddar cheese from pepperoni?
At pre-light, I quite honestly didnt pick up much of any flavor at all. Let me back up for a minute though and lay some background. I smoked this at about 7pm with a glass of Cab after I had already smoked an Alec Bradley Maxx at about 2pm that day and had continued drinking since. So, my tongue may have been a bit coated. None-the-less, the easy draw after clipping really didnt provide me with much to go on. "Odd" I thought to myself and began to toast....
At the risk of my narrative becoming as chronologically convoluted as "Primer", let me back up again and tell you this cigar has been in my humidor for 2 weeks after being purchased at the B&M and dryboxed for about 24 hours.
Upon first puff, this was very light, unique and just a dash peppery. I quickly discovered this cigar is extremely temperature sensitive and really needs to rest a full minute between puffs. My third inhale was like a mouthful of freshly ground black pepper; a real punch. Figuring out I needed to take it slow, I began to pick up other flavors through the first third of the cigar: almonds, some peanuts on the retrohale, then peppery walnuts. Puffing too quickly gives me charred hanger steak and raw pepper.
Wondering if my Cabernet was affecting my palate, I switched over to water (for the most part; cmon, it was New Years!)
The draw of this cigar was quite easy, no problems at all. I wonder if the easy draw allowed too much O2 in and contributed to temperature sensitivity? Throughout I noticed that smoking it too fast produced a really bitter taste.
The cigar began to settle into a peppery charred wood flavor, sometimes getting oak-y. Upon a full, minute-plus rest I picked up raw hamburger with the pepper/wood flavor coming in second or immediately after the first puff. This cigar really left a smokey aftertaste. I frequently went to my water as I felt I needed to wash off my tongue.
I struggled to define that "first taste" after the rest. Sometimes it was the raw hamburger described above, other times it was kind of sweet, like a caramel icing or maybe butter-rum. I did realize later I was picking up a light rum flavor.
The ash on this was STRONG, the burn darn near perfect and boy did this baby produce the smoke! I noticed that this cigar really enhanced the taste of my wine. I have no doubt it would do the same for a good brandy or scotch.
As I got into the 2nd half, I realized the band was stuck to the cigar wrapper. Somehow, some adhesive had gotten onto the cigar itself. Needing to get the band off in the later stages, I manged to "roll" it loose, but the adhesive took some wrapper with it. For the price of this cigar, I expect better production values. Definitely a full point deduction. Thankfully it didnt adversely affect the smoking.
At this point I need to confess something; rarely do I really enjoy the last third of a cigar. Most of the time the things get too tarry for me, or I get tired of smoking them. I have to admit, I smoked this guy to the (not-so) bitter end. The flavors never got bitter (with proper rest) or tarry. Definitely a change from what I normally experience. In it's second half, the 1926 settled into a buttery/nutty flavor backed by smoke. It's final third was marked by a woody/nutty taste combined with a smokey not entirely dissimilar from licking a fireman's helmet. This was clearly one of the "smokiest" cigars I've ever had.
In conclusion, this was a truly unique smoke:
- Lots of alternative flavors
- Easy, non-tarry to the end
- Tremendous burn with the strongest ash I've ever seen
-STRONG. Probably a 4.3/5 on a strength scale.
Worth the price tag? Hmm, I'm not sure I'm ready to say. I have another I bought at the same time which I'll let sleep comfortably in the humidor for another 3 months or so and try it again. Right now, I give this a 3.5 out of 5, with points deducted for the wrapper torn by the glue, temperature sensitivity and the underlying firehouse smoke which I wasnt sure I liked, all factored in with the price. At a $10 price point, this would be a 4-point-something. At >$22, it's a 3.5.
Cigar Reviews, Recalibrated
I decided to archive my own reviews online as I find 90% of all cigar reviews to be as useful as a bottle of Jack at a Mormon wedding.