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.