Kinky Friedman Kinkycristo

When it comes to characters in the cigar industry, proud Texan and renaissance man Kinky Friedman ranks highly on any list of the biggest. The word is that the musician, turned political candidate, turned cigar maker got into the business because he was looking for an affordable alternative to the Cuban cigars he smoked for so much of his life. Not satisfied with the cigars currently on the market, he decided in 2007 that the answer was to make his own.

Additions have been made to Kinky Friedman portfolio of cigars over the past three years, but the original line is made up of the creatively titled “The Governor” (5¾ x 60), “Kinkycristo” (6¼ x 54 Torpedo), “The Willie” (6 x 48), “Texas Jewboy” (6 x 56 Torpedo), and “Utopian” (6 x 52). Something I noticed while smoking through a sampler of the line a month or two ago is that though the same tobaccos are listed in the composition for these cigars, there does seem to be significant difference in flavor from one vitola to the next. Of the bunch, the Kinkycristo struck me as the most interesting, and so I ordered more. Now it’s time to see if Kinky’s smokes really are a good replacement for a Cuban cigar, or if he’s just blowing smoke.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/4 x 54
Wrapper: Honduran Cuban-Seed Habano
Binder: Costa Rica
Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $7.90

The Pre-Smoke
Though the Kinkycristo comes decorated in dual bands as brightly colored as a glittering beauty queen’s tiara, it’s not likely to win any such competitions soon. You could say the cigars suffer from less than perfect complexion. The habano wrapper, which is really dark and a touch veiny, was flawed to some extent on every cigar I burned for this review. Several had significant damage at the foot, others had cracks, or a small trail of holes (no, not beetles). Yet another was missing a bite-sized section from the edge of the wrapper leaf. And all of them were decorated with pectin fingerprints. Fortunately these were mostly cosmetic in nature, though several of them undoubtedly contributed to later burn problems.

The cigars seemed uniformly firm, and gave off a dark compost aroma. The cold taste provided a rich, sweet coffee flavor.

The Burn
With as many construction issues as I noticed before lighting, I wasn’t surprised when more problems arose during the burn. But the biggest problem I had wasn’t the fault of any of those visually apparent flaws. The culprit was the band, or more accurately, the liberal use of glue on those bands. I was never able to remove the bands without removing a big chunk out of the cigars’ very thin wrapper leaf. Once weakened, it wasn’t long before I heard the dreaded sound of cracking tobacco as the cigar expanded with the heat of the burn and the wrapper slowly lost it’s grip of the binder. And with issues like those, it seems trivial to mention that the cigars also had a tendency to both go out and burn crookedly.

But because I also like to take note of what a cigar does right, the Kinkycristo did have a pretty solid ash (at least while it hung onto the foot of the cigar), and the draw was just fine, even during the worst burn problems.

The Flavor
The Kinkycristo began with a nice amount of sweetness and earthiness, and soon leather, coffee and pine notes began to make an appearance. In this initial third, the flavors changed quickly as though they were wrestling each other for dominance.

After a sudden, and short-lived spike in the sweetness around the beginning of the second third, the Kinkycristo calmed down, settling into an enjoyable sweet leather and pine combination, with notes of coffee and earth in the finish. As the smoke progressed through this middle section, a vegetal quality began to develop and a little bit of white pepper joined the mix.

The final third was ushered in by a stronger peppery coffee flavor, which once again gave ground to the leathery pine, similar to that of the preceding third, but a little less sweet.

The Price
It’s nice to see that a celebrity-produced cigar does not come with a celebrity-sized price tag. As this is a cigar that seems to be sold mostly online, and considering the significant construction issues, I’s say it’s one to buy when you see them on sale. (Nobody pays MSRP online anyway, right?) With a dollar or two shaved off the official per stick MSRP, the pricing becomes more reasonable for what you get.

The Verdict
In spite of all the fuss required to keep the cigar burning properly, I found that I did (for the most part) enjoy my experience with the Kinkycristo. It really all comes down to flavor. I enjoyed the bold flavors, at least in part because they are such a change of pace from my usual cigar rotation, and as a result, I didn’t find it hard to work through the construction issues. I’m not going to tell you it was complex, or balanced, or even that it makes a passable Cuban cigar replacement, but it kept my interest.

I have to be honest. Though I my experience was positive, it is a little difficult to commit to buying more or recommending them. I probably will eventually, but as I mentioned in the price section, it’s likely to happen when they go on special, or make an appearance on one of those daily cigar deal websites. (And I’m thinking five pack here, not box.) If you don’t mind a really misbehaved cigar that with a lot of bold, and somewhat unusual flavor, give ’em a shot. Just keep your lighter handy, and don’t touch those fluorescent bands until you absolutely have to.

Liked It: Mostly
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Try a few if you see them on special

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