Charlie’s Month in Smoke, vol. 9 (IPCPR edition)
If you’re like me, you’re having trouble keeping track of all the new cigars launched at last month’s IPCPR annual trade show. It was my first time attending “the show,” and between the information overload from all the manufacturers and palate fatigue brought on by smoking 7-10 cigars each day, it was a bit overwhelming. Now that the dust has settled and I’ve had a chance to smoke some of the new offerings with a fresh palate, I thought you all might be interested to hear my initial thoughts for a few of the cigars that’ll be arriving on your local retailer’s shelves over the next few months.
My standard Month in Smoke disclaimer: Here’s a recap of some of the cigars I’ve smoked since my last Month in Smoke, in addition to any I evaluated for a full review or featured first impressions. Some of these cigars may have already been reviewed by myself or another member of the Stogie Review crew, while others just might make it into a full-length review sometime in the future. Enjoy!
RoMa Craft Tobac Aquitaine – First up is the soon-to-be-released Aquitaine by RoMa Craft Tobac. The second line under the CroMagnon brand, Aquitaine features an Ecuador Habano Ligero wrapper as opposed to the Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper on the original CroMagnon. I noted spicy, rich, and dark flavors of black coffee, dark chocolate, and red pepper. The burn, draw, and smoke were all great, and the cigar produced a tight, white ash. An intense secondary spice developed towards the end — possibly nutmeg? The vitola that I sampled, a lancero called Atlatl, is currently an event-only size, though it will soon be available for purchase on a limited basis via PodMan Cigars. The Aquitaine line itself will officially be launched later this week at the 2012 Delaware Cigar Festival, which I’ll be covering for StogieReview.com.
Macanudo Vintage 2006 – Showcasing a golden Connecticut Shade wrapper from the 2006 crop, this Macanudo is the first of two new cigars from General Cigar that sport a metal band (though I received prerelease samples carrying a temporary paper band). The wrapper gave off aromas of straw and baseball glove leather, while I picked up dry earth and straw from the foot. The first third delivered flavors of leather, wood, and cream along with a peppery spice. In the second third, things settled down into a mild blend of wood and leather, which was replaced by a dark molasses near the end. Not bad overall, with a decent burn, white ash, and creamy smoke.
Foundry by General Cigar – A new line developed by Michael Giannini from Team La Gloria, Foundry combines five proprietary tobaccos from four different countries, while the marketing and box art was inspired by the steampunk genre. It features a traditional paper band as well as a metal band shaped like a machine gear (removed in the image above). The wrapper had a very distinct band-aid scent, like a sweet rubber, and the foot reminded me of cookie dough and hay. The initial puffs were sweet and creamy, which was soon replaced by an interesting salty pretzel flavor. Around the half-way point I picked up a tangerine zing with a hint of rubber. The Foundry produced a decent amount of smoke and had a good draw, though the ash was somewhat flaky and the cigar burned a bit faster than I expected. The final third started off well with wood, salt, and dark bread notes, but soon turned sour with an unpleasant burning rubber finish. I’ll have to smoke a few more of these before passing final judgement.
262 Revere – Fitting in nicely with 262‘s marketing campaign that invites you to “smoke the revolution,” the Revere takes its inspiration from the famous silversmith-turned-patriot and reminds us to be vigilant in defense of our rights, including the right to enjoy premium cigars. The wrapper on this cigar looked like old, vintage leather and smelled like it as well. I noted earth and coffee from the foot, with dark fruit coming from the cold draw. Once the Revere was lit, dominant flavors included cumin, sweet leather, and charred wood. The burn was good and the ash was decent, though I found it didn’t pair too well with diet cola.
Liga Privada Papas Fritas – Here’s an idea: take the tobacco scraps produced during the rolling of Liga Privadas, sort these trimmings by hand back into their original blend components, and produce the world’s first super-premium short filler cigar. How does that old saying go… waste not, want not? As soon as I lit my first Papas Fritas, I instantly knew that I was smoking a Liga Privada. There was tons of characteristically dense smoke, a relatively long medium-gray ash, and a great draw. The full-bodied flavors left nothing to be desired, with delicious peppercorn steak, Old Bay, and an underlying dark chocolate sweetness. I literally wrote in my notes, “f*cking awesome.” And it was.
Headley Grange by Crowned Heads – When I first heard that the inspiration behind the sophomore release from the Crowned Heads was to make a cigar that tasted like drums, my initial reaction was, “you mean like a wooden drum stick or the drumhead?” Later, I learned that the cigar was actually supposed to taste like a drum sounds, and upon sampling one, it all made sense to me. Though I’m generally not a huge fan of Sumatra, the Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper on the Headley Grange wowed me from the first whiff: sweet cedar, compost, leather, and cocoa powder. The foot seemed to give off a combination of spicy earth and Cocoa Puffs cereal. The first third got off to a great start, with a sweet, toasty bread and an intense spice (not overly “hot,” just a lot of depth to it). There was also a really nice twang that continued throughout most of the cigar. In the second third, I got mesquite wood with a spicy finish, as the burn, draw, smoke, and ash were all excellent. The final third was simply fantastic, with woodsy leather, some sweetness, and a touch of creamy smoothness. With all of these nice flavor transitions in a terrific medium-bodied package, I’ll definitely be smoking more of Headley Grange.
Cuenca y Blanco – The first Cuenca y Blanco that I smoked was at the Joya de Nicaragua launch party at the end of the first day of IPCPR. The thing that struck me the most about this stick was, despite the fact that I was suffering from severe palate fatigue following a long day of cigar smoking, I could still taste the Cuenca y Blanco. Both Jose Blanco and Dr. Martínez Cuenca have emphasized how producing a very flavorful smoke was an important goal for this blend, and I think it’s fair to say they’ve accomplished that goal. Continuing this post’s theme of detecting aromas and flavors reminiscent of commercially-produced foodstuffs, I must say that the foot and cold draw of the Cuenca y Blanco were remarkably similar to Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookies. In the beginning of the cigar, I noted Nilla wafer, toasty wood, and leather. Construction was flawless, as the stick produced tons of smoke a left a darker-looking, but still nice, ash. In the second half, even more flavors developed, including molasses brownie, sweet bread, and baking spice. In a word: yum!