Zino Platinum Crown Series Emperor Edition 2009

Up for review this week is a cigar I’ve been interested in getting acquainted with for a while now, but didn’t think I’d ever be able to give a proper review. That changed recently when I came into possession of a few Zino Platinum Emperors by way of gift and trade. But I didn’t think I had quite enough sticks to be sure I have the Emperor a fair review. It seemed only fair that I throw down a few of my own Hamiltons to supplement the review pool.

There isn’t too much information available about the Emperor online, other than it’s available, and the standard marketing blurb, mentioning that the blend contains a proprietary Dominican and Cuban seed hybrid tobacco. But I did come across a few more details on the Zino Platinum facebook page:

The Zino Platinum Crown Series Emperor Edition 2009 is an omnipotent robosto [sic] (5 x 58), exceptional in flavor and overall balance. Masterfully blended Piloto Ligero fillers from 2 different cultivation areas in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are bound by a Corojo/Olor hybrid Dominican binder. The dark, oily wrapper, Cuban seed from Ecuador, has undergone a special fermentation process making the cigar wonderfully rich. It is full bodied and opulant, delivering mouthfuls of rich complex flavor and an intense and inviting aroma.

I guess there’s nothing left to do at this point, but don my crushed velvet cigar-reviewing robe, and burn some royalty.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 58 “Robusto Extra” or “Omnipotent Robusto”
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Cuban-Seed
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Mixed: Purchased, traded for and gifted.
Price: MSRP $23.00

The Pre-Smoke
The Emperor Edition is one fat, dark, oily cigar, and I mean all of that in a positive sense. The wrapper leaf on this stick is a glistening mixture of black and dark brown shades, with a few larger veins and a small amount of lumpiness. I found no visual imperfections and despite its robusto length, it’s quite a handful of tobacco.

All but one cigar was uniformly firm, with just touch of give. The exception had a noticeably softer area a few inches in from the foot. From the wrapper I didn’t detect much more than your standard compost aroma. And the cold taste similarly difficult to read beyond a little spice and some creaminess.

The Burn
There were some disappointments in the burn department. In almost every case, his majesty the Emperor needed the help of his trusty attendant, Sir Torch. The burn line was often jagged, to the point of needing correction or simply lopsided. And each cigar required at least one complete re-ignition.

However, one aspect that was never a problem was the draw. It was always just right, providing me with a good volume of smoke. And though the ash tended to be a bit on the flaky side on the surface, it was pretty durable. Also in the plus column was the duration of the experience. Don’t expect to smoke the Emperor in the same amount of time as your average robusto, the significant girth pushes the burn time into the toro range.

The Flavor
The first few puffs of the Zino Platinum Emperor provided me with a delicious combination of slightly creamy cocoa, wood and lightly sweet coffee. As the first third progressed, the wood became more and more prominent, often tasting charred or blackened, like the salt and pepper seasoning used on meat dishes. There were still hints of cocoa and coffee here and there, but that potent wood ran the show.

The second third saw a continuation of that blackened wood flavor after a brief respite of creamy, slightly musty cocoa. A buttery quality to the smoke started to appear midway through this third, and became more pronounced by the end. At points, if felt as though I had wiped a pat of butter across my lips. Additionally, there was a little bit of earthiness to the cigar in this third, but it was really hard to detect anything else while the palate remained under the iron fist of that despotic wood flavor.

As the smoking experience entered it’s final inches, the wood flavor that had been so prominent backed off a bit, again allowing some creamy, slightly musty espresso and cocoa flavors a little stage time.

It also bears mention that the Emperor Edition has a finish that really stays with you, long after that plume of smoke has been dissipated, and continued to develop the longer I waited between puffs. To smoke this cigar quickly would be to miss half the story.

The Price
I haven’t been looking forward to this part of the review. Though I did purchase one of the Emperors smoked for this review, it’s really not a cigar that’s in my price range. Especially once local taxes are figured into the price at the register. On the other hand, I’m sure special hybrid tobacco figures into the price tag, and I was surprised to discover that Emperor Edition is actually the most budget-friendly cigar that I found in the Crown Series line.

The Verdict
The Zino Platinum Emperor is a cigar that cries out for the companionship of a thick, nicely seasoned steak. So much so, that after smoking it, I had the vague feeling of having had one, and was ready to order from the desert menu. In much the same way that Guinness is said to be a meal in a pint glass, the Emperor is steak entree in cigar bands. Though I don’t recommend smoking one of these as a meal replacement. This cigar packs as much of a nicotine punch as it does flavor. I can’t claim to have smoked the entire Zino Platinum line, but this is easily the fullest and strongest one I’ve ever had.

The Zino Platinum Emperor is one of those few cigars that I really enjoy but just know I’m not likely to buy in the future. Of course that’s mostly for financial reasons. The significant burn issues didn’t help to make the price tag’s case either, but weren’t out of line when price is removed from the equation. But there’s also no denying the temptation to splurge will still be there any time I see the Emperor Edition in a cigar shop’s humidor. And if I happen to be in the mood for steak, look out, there’s just no telling what might happen.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Only when I feel like splurging.
Recommend It: Going all out? Grab one.

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.