Walt’s Week in Smoke

Drew Estate

E by Esencia

Week In Smoke - E by Esencia

During the IPCPR Trade Show in Orlando, we had the pleasure of talking to Marc Aub of Brother of the Leaf LLC. Towards the end of the interview, Marc showed off a new cigar called “E” (which comes from the E in Esencia). Marc went on to explain that this was a medium bodied cigar that would be open stock and available to any store that wanted to carry it.

I’ve had very good luck with the Esencia line and was pretty eager to give this a try. The medium body description was a little bit of a hangup for me. After all, the market is saturated with fantastic mild to medium Connecitcut Shade cigars. Could this one really pull me away from the Oliva Connecticut Reserve and EP Carrillo New Wave that I’m so fond of?

On the first morning of my recent family vacation, I stepped out of my hotel room with a cup of coffee in hand. I sat down, overlooking the beach, and lit up my E by Esencia. I don’t like to judge a line based on a single trade show sample but this cigar was tremendously impressive. I smoked that cigar until I couldn’t hold onto it any longer.

Again, not to hype up this cigar based on a trade show sample, but it was perhaps the most flavor medium bodied cigar I’ve had in quite some time. The flavors were rich and creamy, hitting the palate from all directions, and never once seemed too powerful for a morning smoke. I’ve smoked a variety of good cigars from this years IPCPR Convention, but as of right now the E stands out in my mind as the most impressive.

CAO La Traviata Maduro

Week In Smoke - CAO La Traviata Maduro

A few years ago, the CAO La Traviata line was released and became an instant hit. For a stretch of time it was my go-to cigar and I found myself buying them by the fistful. When Jon Huber introduced me to the La Traviata Maduro at Cigarfest a few years ago, I fell in love and turned my back on the natural.

While I no longer buy the CAO La Traviata Maduro by the box, I always pick up two or three of them when I come across them locally. Over the last few months though, I’ve been getting annoyed by what seems to be becoming a character trait. If I had to guess, I’d say that the last twelve, of the fifteen I’ve smoked, have had the cap fall off resulting in the wrapper unraveling. This has been an issue regardless of how little cap I remove during the clipping process.

Week In Smoke - CAO La Traviata Maduro

While the cigars remain smokable after the cap falls off, air leaks around the head and smoke volume decreases. The flavor hasn’t seemed as good as it used to be but I’ll chalk that up to being annoyed with construction and the reduced smoke volume. As much as I have enjoyed the La Traviata Maduro, I am getting dangerousely close to writing them off as not worth the trouble.

CAO Concert

Week In Smoke - CAO Concert

When a company as large as General Cigar unveils a new cigar, it is tough to get excited. Even so, I found myself drawn to the CAO Concert when I laid eyes on it for the first time. It brought back fond memories of the CAO Rock n Rolled Marketing with Jon Huber and, simply put, I wanted to like the cigar before even trying it.

While spending some time in the CAO Booth, with Ed and Rick, at this years IPCPR Trade Show, Jerry and I were handed a sample of the new cigar. Shortly after walking away, I lit my sample up and gave it a try, which I believe was a smaller format than the Toro we were given later, and I enjoyed it.

The CAO Concert didn’t wow me like the La Traviata did the first time I tried it, but I enjoyed it none the less. After I returned home form my trip to Orando, I smoked a couple more Concert Toros and the line began to grow on me. I found myself reaching for one whenever I was looking for something easy going and medium bodied.

While my daughter napped from a trip to the beach, I headed back outside the hotel room to smoke a CAO Concert. I struggled with it a bit due to burn problems, but I powered through the issues and the cigar finished strong. While this cigar has never blown me away with its flavor profile, it is certainly something I can see myself smoking in the future.

Carmelo Primeros

Week In Smoke - Carmelo Primeros

While pacing the aisles of the 2012 IPCPR Trade Show, Brian and I found ourselves standing in the Honduras Caribbean Tobacco booth. After we made arrangements to come back and record an interview, we were handed the new Carmelo Primeros Cigar.

On more than one occasion I’ve heard that the Carmelo Primeros was one cigar to look out for from the trade show. I’ve enjoyed the Carmelo line in the past and was eager to give this new one a try. One quiet evening I set flame to foot and was impressed by the way the cigar started. Smoke volume was excellent, flavor was rich, and the power was a good match for the level of flavor.

At about the half way point, the Carmelo Primeros turned sour. The ash turned from a pale grey to more of a brown color and the smoke volume decreased. I tried to power through this unpleasant portion of the stick but I just couldn’t do it. After about ten minutes of unpleasantness, I pitched it into the ashtray and called it a night.

PDR 1878 Cubano Especial – Capa Madura

Week In Smoke - PDR 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Madura

I’ve been a fan of Pinar Del Rio product for a few years now. I’ve smoked a variety of it and there is one common flaw shared by the vast majority of the product catalog. That problem is that I have one hell of a time keeping most of the lines burning properly. Whenever I light one up, I feel the need to have a fresh can of butane at the ready.

With that said, there is one line that I never seen to have any trouble with. That line is the PDR 1878 Cubano Especial. Not only do I have fewer burn issues with this line, they seem to produce far more smoke. Adding to the Pros side of the checklist, this particular line is a little less expensive than some of the others.

My one complaint is that the flavor profile of this cigar seems a little light. Aside from that, I think they are a good, solid cigar at a good price.

Ortega Cigars