Berger & Argenti Exile Wired Corona

It seems like I’ve been waiting for years to try the Exile Wired. When I started doing my homework for this review, I could see why. I have. Maybe not years, plural, but the Wired had a lot of buzz around it back 2008, receiving high ratings when it was first introduced by the now defunct Cuban Imports cigar company.

Rumors about what happened to the Cuban Imports cigar company made for juicy discussion in the cigar shop lounge last year, but I don’t know for sure what happened. I heard a conflicting reports on the matter, none of them verified in any official sense, so I won’t speculate. The important point is that before I was able to find any of these sticks to smoke, the company and the cigars were gone.

Obviously, the story doesn’t end there. (Otherwise, this is gonna be a really short cigar review.) One of the surprises (at least to me) of IPCPR 2009 was that the Argenti brothers (or “Hermanos Argenti” as noted on the cigar’s second band) were back in action, producing cigars with Henry “Kiki” Berger under the new name Berger & Argenti. Not only that but the Exile Wired survived and was one of the initial offerings of this new venture. I was finally gonna be able to try the thing!

So here we are. The Wired is in the shops, and is available in four sizes, corona, rothschild, torpedo and double corona. I liked the look of the corona vitola and bought a few at an event last year with a review in mind. I think I’ve waited long enough, let’s give ’em a little trial by fire.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 1/2 x 44
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Havana-Seed Criollo
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 3/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $4.95

The Pre-Smoke
The Wired is a little rough looking, with a band that looks like government documentation stamped by sloppy Cuban customs workers, and a veiny rustic wrapper leaf. Despite the cellophane, two of the cigars I smoked for this review had significant wrapper damage. Not at the foot, as is commonly the case. There were missing bits of leaf near the bands, one a little above, one just below. There were also several large pectin splotches on one cigar.

The sticks were consistently packed and nearly rock hard. The scent of the wrapper was pungent compost, and the cold taste offered up a slightly sweet coffee flavor.

The Burn
The ash produced by the Exile Wired was really attractive. White, solid and surprisingly durable given the smaller ring gauge. The draw was likewise without flaw. More often than not the burn line was pretty straight as well, and often self-corrected when it strayed, but every cigar needed some help, and at least one relight.

As I was removing the bands from one of the cigars, I heard the sound I always dread. That horrible sound of wrapper leaf ripping. Sure enough, as I slid the band off the cigar, a large section of wrapper leaf was missing. Fortunately the smoke wasn’t ruined, and I was able to burn through the damage without serious issue. But I hate it when that happens.

The Flavor
My introduction to the Exile Wired’s flavor profile was a sweet and creamy one, like a cup of coffee with an ample amount of cream and sugar. For a brief time, the sweetness had almost an orange character to it. But as the first third progressed, the cigar quickly developed a distinct, slightly salty nut flavor.

In the second third, I started to notice a white pepper in addition to the very prominent, and long lasting salted nut flavor. There was still a nice amount of sweetness at this point, and by that I mean just enough to add some balance to the savoriness of the dominant nutty flavor. There were also occasional coffee notes.

Right around the beginning of the final third, just when I was starting to lose a little interest in the flavor profile, the cigar kicked it up a notch. The nutty flavors became noticeably fuller, and the cigar started to provide me with rich earthy, chocolate notes.

The Price
Just when I thought I had found and reviewed all the premium cigars with MSRP’s under the five dollar mark, here comes the Exile Wired. Hey, I don’t mind. There’s plenty of room for cigars in the budget tent.

The Verdict
Burn and band issues aside, the Exile Wired was definitely worth the wait. I really enjoyed the flavor profile, and the impressive duration of the finish. Assuming the current blend is similar to the Cuban Imports blend, I can see why it was so well received when it was originally released. When it behaves, it’s a cigar that’s easy to burn down to the nub. And for five bucks, I’d buy these all day long.

I also think corona is a great size, and I love that the Argentis took a break from the 52 ring gauges that make up the rest of the Wired line to throw us smaller ring gauge lovers a bone. I’d recommend giving this cigar a shot, it’s definitely priced to encourage exploration.

And for another take, be sure to check out Tom and Matt’s video review of the Exile Wired from a few months back.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes, it’s good and it’s five bucks!

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