Brian’s The Week In Smoke, Issue 91

You’ve probably noticed that Stogie Review has been a little quiet since all the IPCPR 2015 interviews went live. Believe it or not, we’re not taking a break, nor are we throwing in the towel. Shortly after returning from the trade show we learned that our current video host, Blip, will be shutting down on August 20th. No problem, they have a function to publish videos to YouTube automatically, we’re set. Wrong. That functionality failed us, and the tech support on a sinking vessel was predictably unresponsive. So Walt, Jerry, Ben, Mike and I have been feverishly downloading videos and re-uploading them to YouTube manually. We’re nearly done at this point. (If you want to check out our new YouTube channel, you can find it here.) If all goes to plan, Stogie Review will continue to look the same, and if anything, the video playback will improve.

As busy as I’ve been downloading, uploading and updating, rest assured I’ve had something burning almost the entire time. I have some video reviews and an episode or two of Herfin’ Heads planned, but they’ll have to wait a bit. In the interim… It’s once time again for another issue of 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 the past month, or however long it has been since the last issue), along with a couple of quick thoughts that came to me at the time. These are not full cigar reviews, but quick blurbs based on a single smoking experience. As such, they may be 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!

Drew Estate Undercrown Shade (IPCPR Sample) *
With them sponsoring our IPCPR 2015 coverage, you knew you were going to see at least one Drew Estate mention in the first Week In Smoke following the trade show. I smoked a number of the new Undercrown Shades during and after the show, and I’m a little worried that I might have burned through all of them, because they were great. The profile was a pleasing array of creamy sour dough bread which turned toasty, earth, wood, a little pepper and nice notes of raisin and vanilla here and there. Willy Herrera did a great job with this blend, I plan to smoke one again soon.

Fratello Bianco I (IPCPR Sample) *
Every year at the trade show I’m asked what I’ve had that was good, and what my favorite cigar at the show was. The truth is I really don’t get that many cigars in, I’m too busy recording interviews. And nobody wants to be interviewed by a guy smoking someone else’s cigar. I lit up what would wind up being one of my favorites a few days later in the comefort of my home office- the new Fratello Bianco I corona. The sample I smoked had a lot going on, including the “wow factor”. It started off creamy, with an impressively aromatic cedar, spices, pepper and a vanilla-molasses sweetness. Midway the pepper backs off, leaving a creamy, sweetly spiced profile before returning in the end. (At one point my notes indicate it was a little like a peppery horchata.) I’m really looking forward to trying a production release.

J. Fuego Gran Reserva Corojo No. 1 Grande (IPCPR Sample) * **
OK, this wasn’t your conventional trade show sample, but it was given to me at IPCPR. Jesus Fuego was given a box of original release Gran Reserva Corojo No. 1’s and he held onto a few specifically for me because he knew how much I enjoyed the line. The cigars were a milder now with age (and I always found the larger vitolas to be less intense anyway) and sweeter. More syrup and caramel, but it still retained the earth, paprika spice, cedar and pepper I remember. It was a great trip down memory lane. Man I wish I could find one of those old coronas, or even some robustos.

Moneda de Cuba Supero (IPCPR Sample) *
One of the corridors off the trade show mile I passed through regularly had the booth for a boutique brand new to me, the Moneda de Cuba. After I spoke to the owner a for a few minutes about the brand, he offered me his new release for 2015, the Supero. The Brazilian-wrapped torpedo was creamy and earthy to start with a touch of sweetness and spice. As it progressed it picked up a somewhat muddy coffee flavor and light toastiness. The body ramped up a bit about midway through. I thought it was alright overall.

My Father Centurion H-2K-CT
Though I smoked through a lot of trade show samples in the weeks following IPCPR, I have still been out there buying cigars. For example, this My Father Centurion H-2K-CT. I spotted it when I was out running around, and my instincts told me to buy it. I’m not a big fan of the regular Centurion, so I’m not sure what about it grabbed my attention. Maybe it’s because it was new, or because I still have a fondness for box-pressed cigars. Whatever the case may be, it turned out to be a good call. I really enjoyed the creamy, savory, honey-roasted nut and wood flavors it had to offer. There was a little spice as well, but not as much as you might expect from the folks at My Father. There wasn’t a lot of evolution as it burned, but I don’t mind, I’d smoke it again. It’s definitely worth trying.

Perdomo Craft Series Stout Toro (IPCPR Sample) *
Anyone who knows me well knows I love my beer. I’m even to the point of brewing my own. So it wasn’t going to be long before I tried pairing a new Perdomo Craft Series with the appropriate style of beer. Of the available blends, the Stout spoke to me most and I picked a New Holland Dragon’s Milk to pair with it. The rich, malty, bourbony, chocolate milk qualities of the beer played nicely with the profile of chocolate, light pepper and cedar. While the pairing was nice, I think in this case a little more pepper or spice in the cigar would have really nailed it. That being said, I enjoyed it, and think it would work really well with a lower gravity stout (i.e. one around half of Dragon’s Milk’s admittedly high 11% ABV). I hope they come out with blends for Barleywines and Belgian Quads/Strong Darks, because big beers need love too.

Warped Lirio Rojo *
I probably haven’t had a Warped Cigar since around the time I reviewed the Warped Private Blend back in 2009. I liked them back then and hoped they would still appeal to me six years later. A friend’s local shop had just gotten these limited editions in and he spoke well of it, so I asked him to pick one up for me. He was right. It was very spicy up front, with a rich cherry-like syrupy sweetness and a pronounced peppercorn. A little over an inch in, it backed off in spice intensity revealing leather, bread, graham and a chalky earthiness. Cedar and coffee came into play a little later. My only complaint would be nearing the end, there was a touch of tar in the flavor, but I never saw any emerge from head. Otherwise, I would have burned my fingers on it. Even with the slight unpleasantness at the end, I’d smoke it again.

* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions (and this bottle of high gravity homebrew) are my own, your response to them is your own. All your base are belong to us.

** 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.

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