Brian’s The Week In Smoke, Issue 98

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!

Crux Sports *
As I was writing up this edition of the Week In Smoke, I lit up a Crux Sports that arrived in the mail the night before. (I love it when people ship cigars with Boveda packs.) Sports is a new release measuring 4 5/8 by 35 that come in boxes of six individually-wrapped five packs. I suspect that once they arrive in your local tobacconist’s humidor, you’ll be able to buy them a five pack, or even a single (MSRP $3.75) at a time. The arrival of these cigars couldn’t be better timed, I just finished a soft pack of J. Fuego Gran Reserva Originals, as well as my last Escurio Petit Robusto. The stick I pulled out of the pack was toothy, oily little sucker. Once lit it produced a pleasant profile of earth, leather, syrupy vanilla, wood, clove and pepper. I really liked it, and would be happy to add it to my short smoke rotation.

Davidoff Escurio Petit Robusto
There’s really not a lot to say about the Escurio Petit Robusto. I’m on record as really enjoying the blend, as well as short, schedule-friendly premium cigars. Aside from the profile which was bright, fruity and citrusy over earth and pepper, the thing worth noting is there were no burn issues. I’ve had a bit of bad luck this week (probably related to the the very low ambient temperature and humidity) and this cigar is where things seemed to turn around.

Drew Estate Liga Privada T52 Robusto
I’m still a fan of the T52, even though I don’t smoke it nearly as often as I used to. I won’t lie, price increases have been a factor, but also is significant is the availability. It’s a popular cigar, it doesn’t hang around anywhere for very long. What was notable with this experience was not the flavor, that was predictably good- rich earthy and smoky flavors. It was the intermittent tunneling. I can’t remember ever having that problem with a T52 before. I smoked through it, and still enjoyed the cigar. And as I reached the end, I kinda wished it was a toro.

Drew Estate Undercrown Shade Robusto
The day after I smoked the T52, I was browsing the humidor at my local shop, giving serious thought to picking up a Toro in that line. But then I changed my mind when I noticed the Undercrown Shades sitting nearby. My luck hasn’t been the best this week- like the aforementioned T52, there were burn issues and they were more severe in this case. The wrapper did not seem to take kindly to the colder drier air of the world outside the humidor and cracked a great deal. To make matters worse, the mysterious Fireproof Leaf Syndrome (a name I just made up for it) reared it’s ugly head. That’s when a leaf (or leaves) in the blend do not combust like tobacco normally does, sometimes not burning at all. And when it does, instead turning to ash, it turns hard and black. It’s a pretty rare occurrence, and it’s not something that’s limited to one cigar line or manufacturer in my experience. (It happened to me once with a Davidoff Colorado Claro. Not kidding.) I don’t know what causes it, but my theories include glitches during fermentation or unusual mineral composition/abundance in the leaf itself. I’d test it, but I’ve misplaced my lab coat, as well as any hard science knowledge I picked up in college. Anyway, obviously not the normal Undercrown Shade smoking experience (it was #7 on my Top 10 list for 2015), which was a shame. Hey, it happens.

Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust Sobremesa El Americano
Steve Saka blazed a trail through Atlanta this week and while I didn’t have a chance to meet up with him, I light up one of the cigars he left in his wake. Saka took great pains to ensure his cigars were ready to be smoked before he let anyone smoke them, so I really wasn’t surprised to find that the one I lit up burned perfectly. As before, it’s a cigar with balance and nuance, making describing it difficult. But I’ve never let difficulty or ability stand in my way before. I noted ample earthy and floral cedar, earth, dark chocolate, candy sweetness and even bubble gum at one point. No, I was not chewing gum. Nor was I drinking my infamous bubblegum pumpkin hombrewed beer. (I don’t want to talk about it.) The point is it’s still worthy of the #5 spot on my Top 10 list for 2015.

Henry Clay Stalk Cut by Grupo de Maestros Robusto
Another new arrival at my local tobacconist this week was the Henry Clay Stalk Cut. I’ve been looking forward to this one, as I’ve been a fan of another well known cigar featuring stalk cut tobacco. For those that don’t know, stalk cut tobacco is harvested differently than most of the tobacco that makes it into a cigar. Instead of harvesting the leaves a few at a time, the entire plant is harvested and once and hung, stalk and all to dry. As expected, this new Henry Clay produced a lot of robust, earthy flavor, sometimes tasting a little like clay. There were also a sweet notes of prune and raisins as well as notes of chocolate and pepper. The burn wasn’t the best and it was a little slow to get started. But after a few touch ups and corrections, it burnt well. I think it’s a pretty good cigar now, but I’m very interested in revisiting it after it spends a little time in the humidor.

* 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 ridiculous to-do list) 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.