Brian’s The Week In Smoke, Issue 8

Labor day just passed, and to quote a popular line from the movie Office Space, “I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.” As such, instead of my usual review, I dusted off a Week in smoke that has been laying dormant added a few recent smokes and some pictures, and there you have it. Enjoy.

It’s time once again for Brian’s The Week In Smoke. In case this is your first Week in Smoke, be advised that it covers many (though not necessarily all) of the cigars I’ve smoked in the past week (or more likely, the past month, or perhaps longer), along with a couple of quick thoughts that came to me at the time. These are not full reviews, but quick blurbs based on a single smoking experience. As such, they maybe influenced by the natural variations that occur from one cigar to another. Your mileage may vary. (If I know the cigar well enough to comment, I may mention if an experience strays from what understand to be the norm.)

An appearance in The Week in Smoke does not preclude nor guarantee a future in-depth review. Whenever possible, I’ve linked to more a thoughtful and thorough review of the cigar in question. (Or maybe I’ve linked to a photo of Jerry The ‘Stache. You won’t know until you click.) Enjoy!

601 La Bomba Atomic (IPCPR Sample) *
Let’s start this with a bang, lighting the fuse on EO Brands new 601, “La Bomba”. Similarly to Walt’s experience with this stick, it has grown on me after only a few smokes. The flavor, unlike the bright yellow band isn’t over the top, but the cigar does have a little potency. You can expect mostly medium-ish flavors, such as leather, aromatic tobacco, earth, wood and intermittent spice.

A.J. Fernandez San Lotano Connecticut Churchill (IPCPR Sample) *
My experience with the San Lotano Connecticut was better this time around than my last experience. There was a raisin sweetness I don’t remember being there before, and pleasing profile of toasty and bready flavors. Whether the difference is me, the cigar, or both, it was an enjoyable experience.

CAO America Monument
I burn a CAO America every year on the Fourth of July, and this year was no exception. What was exceptional this time was how badly the cigar burnt. It was incredibly difficult to keep it burning, and the draw was far too loose, even for me. It never actually tunneled that I saw, but it smoked like a cigar that had. When I did have it burning it was pretty tasty, offering up medium-bodied cocoa, nougat, coffee and a perhaps a hint of coconut. A disappointment from a cigar that ordinarily doesn’t disappoint.

CAO Maduro Torpedo ***
Apparently this well-aged CAO Maduro passed through a number of hands before I finished its journey. It’s rich earthy chocolate profile certainly tastes better and has more subtlety than the last one I burned, but it has been a while. If you know a local shop has some of these that have been sitting on the shelf for years, give one a try. Just don’t light it up after potent food or drink.

CAO OSA Sol (IPCPR Sample) *
A rich cigar that is a noticeable flavor departure from previous CAO sticks. It has a savory, smooth, earthy cocoa and wood flavors, with subtle fruit hints. Even though this stick was a trade show sample, subject to Vegas’ rock-bottom humidity, it burned perfectly. A great smoke, one to reassure those worried about the CAO’s future.

Cuesta-Rey Centro Fino Sungrown Churchill No. 1
I know I must have smoked one of these Cuesta-Reys at some point, but I can’t remember doing it. So it was fun to light this one up. Buttery, toasty, woody and chocolate, with maybe a touch of cinnamon. A pleasant medium-ish stick.

Davidoff Puro d’Oro Eminentes *
This toro-sized line extention is now the largest vitola in the Puro d’Oro line, weighing in at 6 ½ x 52. There’s a beautiful toothy wrapper on this stick, with fine veins and a reddish color that seems brushed with darker hues. (Though not literally painted.) It offers the familiar grassy, coppery-apple syrup, and light cedar flavors. I wasn’t so sure about this larger vitola considering the much smaller sizes of the rest of the line, but it works nicely. A good option for anyone looking spend a little more time with a Puro d’Oro experience.

Don Lucas
I’d never heard of this cigar line before I saw it on the shelf at a shop I visit infrequently. The band on this stick doesn’t match any listed on the cigar makers website, and neither does the vitola’s size. What I can confirm is the great aromatic cedar, tobacco and sour dough-creaminess I tasted. I’d buy these again.

Drew Estate Undercrown (IPCPR Sample) *
The Undercrown was one of the most desired sticks at this year’s IPCPR, and it did not disappoint. It pack a lot of chewy, smokey/charred wood and slightly sweet earth flavor with a little spice. I did have issues with a loose draw, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, as it was a trade show sample.

Drew Estate Ratzilla *
I’ve been looking forward to trying the larger version of the Dirty Rat for some time, and was recently given one. Despite higher than usual ambient humidity when I lit it up, I ran into no draw or burn issues. I noticed a pleasant campfire smell while lighting it, and was not surprised by the river of smoke that poured off the foot once lit. A rich, velvety mouth texture and a touch of vanilla sweetness greeted me before the cigar settled into a familiar smokey, peppery and earth profile. In all, it was a little over an hour of dense, smoky pleasure.

El Primer Mundo Liga Miami Robusto
It’s been a while since I had a Liga Miami, and I forgot how good these were. Fantastic beginning with hints of vanilla and graham followed by an impressive array of flavor, including earth, dark chocolate, dough and cinnamon. At points it reminded me of a cinnamon roll. The cigar burned well and produced a bright slightly flaky white ash. I need to not wait so long between these cigars going forward.

Honduras Caribbean Tobacco Carmelo Blue Torpedo
It seems like ages since I had one of these box-pressed sticks with the candy bar name and band. Nothing has changed in the flavor department, it has plenty of creamy and at times powdery coffee, caramel and cedar to offer, with a light sprinkling of white pepper. At times it reminded me of both the Alec Bradley Prensado and Fuente Magnum R. The burn wasn’t the best, but it never got so bad I had to pick up a lighter.

Illusione MK Ultra (IPCPR Sample) *
A lengthy bench-pressed stick sporting the new black and white bands used on all the Illusione maduro cigars. It tastes of decadent earth, espresso and dark chocolates. The Mexican San Andreas wrapper is pretty dominant, but you still pick up some of the Illusione characteristics, which will differentiate it from the other smokes sporting this popular wrapper. As noted by Dion in a recent interview, it has a strength that sneaks up on you. Not a bad idea to eat something before you light it up. An excellent smoke.

J. Fuego Sangre De Toro Originals (IPCPR Sample) *
Jesus’ latest addition to the popular “soft pack” format really shines. It has herbal touches similar to the full size edition, as well as sweet aromatic tobacco, graham and a coppery tingle. The blend is poised to take the title of best soft pack blend away from the Origen. And possibly the mantle of best short smoke.

Lou Rodriguez Edicion Primer Maduro (IPCPR Sample) *
There was some buzz at the trade show about Lou Rodriguez cigars, and now that I’ve had a chance to smoke one, I see what it was about. It has a decadent, if a little dry on the palate, flavor profile. I tasted leather, cocoa, a bit of charry wood, chocolate sauce, and another more pronounced wood. This won’t be my last. I only wish our IPCPR interview with the owner wasn’t ruined by technical problems.

Perdomo Exhibicion Robusto
The Exhibicion had a very nutty, tea-like beginning, but as it warmed up earth, chocolate and later wood and espresso flavors emerged. A good stick, but it fell apart at the end. Worth giving a another try.

San Lotano Oval by AJ Fernandez (IPCPR Sample) *
The Oval is another one of those sticks everyone seemed to be talking about at IPCPR. And many still are, awaiting its imminent arrival at cigar shops around the country. The sample I smoked had was full of rich flavor which at time tasted like velvet on the palate. I noted an allspice or cinnamon-like syrup, coffee, spice, coffee, caramel and aromatic cedar. This beautiful bench-pressed stick had a pristine burn, and was a pleasure to smoke.

Tarazona Classic Torpedo *
I was given this stick and had no idea what to expect. What I found was a cigar with a healthy dose of added sweetness. The cigar had a sweetened cap, and that’s pretty much all I could taste. I smoked through about a third hoping it would fade a bit before giving up on it.

Winston Churchill Blenheim
Yet another cigar I revisited recently after years away from it. Once upon a time, it was high on my list of favorite smokes. The lighter profile of cedar, frosting and sour cream mixed with a touch of that Davidoff mustiness reminded me why. Unfortunately it had a bit of a firm draw, and it does carry a high price tag, so it’s not one I’m like to to smoke again soon.

* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions are my own, your response to them is your own. The hacky sack belong to Mike.

** I have too many smokes, and this denotes that the smoke in question has been sitting in one of my humidors for at least a year, and thus qualifies as “aged”. If my collection continues to grow, the chances are good I’ll be on that Discovery Channel show about people who hoard stuff and face eviction.

Many of the pictures in Brian’s The Week In Smoke first appeared on twitter. If you’d like to see these lists constructed in real time, follow Brian on twitter. If you don’t, you’ll make the Fail Whale cry.