Warped Private Blend Belicoso

This week I’ve decided to give the IPCPR goodie bag a rest, and go with another cigar from the Warped Cigars portfolio, the Private Blend. Since the favorable experience I had with the Anubis Maduro Corona Gorda earlier this year, I’ve been looking forward to trying one of their other lines. (You can also check out a guest review of the Abydos here.)

This time around I have a little more information about the cigar I’m reviewing. Here’s an quick blurb Kyle Gellis, owner of Warped Cigars, sent me with regard to the Private Blend:

[The Private Blend is] airtight foil wrapped for 90 days and hand made in Little Havana, Miami. I blended Private Blend for something to smoke at the factory usually after lunch with a bit more nicotine kick to get my attention. Filler is a mixture of Jalapa and Condega and the binder is from Condega as well. The Ecuadorian wrapper was used because of the pronounced chocolate and coffee flavors that you get along with the spice and nuttiness from the filler and binder.

Another interesting detail of the Private Blend is that the cigar’s rolling date is printed on the band. (Depending on how the band is glued together, you may have difficulty seeing it until you remove it.) Like me, you may be wondering how it’s realistically possible to pull off such a feat. Well, unlike the big guys who are rolling large quantities of cigars every day, Warped cigars are made in small batches about every three months. (And apparently, all on the same day.) So what would be logistical nightmare for a major manufacturer is actually pretty straight forward for a small boutique brand. Sometimes being the small guy has it’s advantages. As you can see on the band above, the cigars smoked for this review were from the 8/27/08 batch.

At the time of this writing, all Warped cigars are sold in five packs exclusively through the Warped Cigars website.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 1/2 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan Condega
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa and Condega
Smoking Time: 2 1/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP $6.60

The Pre-Smoke
The most striking thing about the Private Blend isn’t the straight forward black band with the alien-green writing. You quickly forget about that when you notice the toothy, oily reddish maduro wrapper leaf. It just looks great and calls out to be set ablaze.

The cigars were a little on the lumpy side, but the veins were fine and I didn’t see any holes or tears anywhere. Except, that is, for a couple of small holes carefully hidden under the band of one stick. The cigars were pretty firm to the touch, even though a couple had small cavities in the tobacco at their foot. The scent of the wrapper was a sickly-sweet compost. And for some reason, I kept forgetting to get a read on the cold draw. I blame that wrapper leaf.

The Burn
Unfortunately, it seems the wrapper leaf on the Private Blend didn’t burn quite as nicely as it looked. Every cigar I smoked for this review had issues with really uneven or jagged burns. Given the opportunity to self correct, about half the the time the cigar would, other times it became necessary to give it a helping hand with my torch. Nearly every cigar required a relight, with the worst offender requiring about four.

I also had a draw problem with one cigar. Which isn’t to say that it was tight, instead it delivered a lower volume of smoke for a while during the second third. A little time, and a deeper second clip fixed that issue.

On the bright side, the cigars did produce longer than average, solid white ashes and burned pretty slowly. To be fair, it’s possible that the spike in humidity (around 20%) with all the flooding in the Atlanta area this week had a hand in some of the burn issues.

The Flavor
Right off the bat the Private Blend produces full-bodied chocolate, earthy, coffee and nutty flavors. And the profile doesn’t sit still, offering up different and creamy combinations of those flavors. As the first third progressed, pepper began to appear, mostly in the finish.

Early on in the second third, a subtle sweetness began to appear. It seemed to most resemble a dried apricot or mild orange in flavor. It wasn’t around very long, fading and getting back to constant whirl of chocolate, earth, black coffee and pepper. The pepper element was most pronounced in this third.

There wasn’t a significant change as the cigar burned into the final third, other than the chocolate was more bittersweet and the pepper seemed to play a little less of an active role.

The Price
This time I’m straying away from the five dollar mark that has been an ongoing theme in my reviews for a couple of weeks. But not by much. I think this cigar is fairly priced, and well within the comfort range for most smokers.

The Verdict
The burn issues were an annoyance, to be sure, but I really enjoyed the body and flavors of this cigar. It was a lot like drinking a dark, french pressed coffee with all the oils and texture that you just don’t get in a standard cup of joe. Then imagine adding a little dark chocolate to the mix, and you’ve got the idea. As a guy who drinks this kind of coffee every day, this cigar is right up my alley. Though some will find it a little too full to smoke with that morning cup, and of course, smokers of milder cigars may find it to be too much in general.

I could see myself smoking more of these in the future, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a little variety in their fuller bodied cigar smoking. One of the nice things about this cigar is that since it’s sold in five packs, it’s exploration-friendly. You don’t have to commit to a box to try a few.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes, particularly to those looking for another full bodied cigar.

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn. (Now 33% burnier!)