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.