Brian’s The Week In Smoke, Issue 100

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about what I should smoke for the hundredth edition of Brian’s The Week In Smoke. The problem is the more you think about it, the harder it gets. It’s like that with anything though, you overthink it, and a simple task becomes an ominous burden. Knowing the task was heading that direction, I decided to stop thinking and start winging. I winged it and hoped that divine inspiration would shine up from the opening lid of a humidor. A few times it did, but for the most part I just picked whichever cigar looked like the most fun at the time. The important thing is I enjoyed everything I lit up for this list. But enough of the navel-gazing…

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!

1502 XO
One of the cigars I lit up this week was the limited edition 1502 XO. It’s an annual release with undisclosed tobaccos that reportedly have been aged for a very long time. (Think decades, not years.) It’s not an inexpensive smoke, the one I bought clocked in at nearly $20 with the punitive local tobacco taxes. But I have enjoyed the other 1502’s I’ve tried, so I rolled the dice. I think I made a good call, the XO was packed with mouth-coating flavor. Prominent spices, cedar and pepper to start, nuts, vanilla, molasses, cinnamon and bittersweet chocolate following that up. It’s more than I usually pay for a cigar, but if I come across more before they sell out, I’m going to buy at least a few.

AVO Legacy “Why Cant We Dance?” * **
Years ago I received this well-aged cigar as gift from Eddie Simon, around the time he left his position as Marketing Director for AVO (circa 2011). I’ve looked at it in the humidor numerous times over the years, but it never seemed like the right time. When I was considering what to light up for my 100th Week In Smoke, this is one of the first cigar that came to mind. Now was the definitely the time, my instincts told me. Considering the age (it was released in 2004) I expected a mild and subtle smoke. I was in for a surprise. It was far from mild! And the flavors weren’t something I had to strain and focus to find. The ample volume of smoke carried with it creamy notes of toffee and caramel (especially early on), grass, smokey roasted nuts, pepper, cedar and even notes of cherry as it neared the end. There was also a little of that AVO funkiness, but I didn’t notice it until the final third. This was an impressive performance for a 12 year old cigar. I would have never guessed it was so old.

Drew Estate Undercrown Dogma * **
Another cigar I was hanging on to for the mood to strike was this box-pressed limited edition Undercrown. I wasn’t necessarily saving it for a special occasion, more of a “I wonder what this will be like with a little age?” I have an answer to my question- rich and chocolatey. I tasted milk chocolate, espresso, earth, caramel and a little cedar. This is one stick I’d like to see make a come back.

La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003 **
A couple of weeks ago I lit up one of my last Puro Vintage 2003’s. In keeping with the last time I smoked one, they’ve mellowed considerably with time. But this selection wasn’t actually made with the 100th Week In Smoke in mind. I actually lit it up because I thought it would go nicely with a locally produced IPA, The Rites by Orpheus. I was right, the pairing was an enjoyable one. The cigar was pretty light, as expected, but did produce some nice grassy, white pepper notes and leather. There was also a flavor along the lines of dried apricot. While the cigar isn’t what it once was, it was still an enjoyable experience.

My Father Le Bijou 1922 Special Edition Corona Gorda **
This cigar was a pleasant surprise. I thought for sure this souped-up shop exclusive Le Bijou from 2011 was long gone from my humidors. I moved a few cigars around, and suddenly there it was. Obviously this was a sign, this Le Bijou was meant for my 100th Week In Smoke. So I lit it up. It got off to a spicy and syrupy start, but the spice didn’t last long and it seemed subdued compared to earlier experiences. (5 years will do that to a cigar.) Rich flavors abounded though, cinnamon, caramel, cocoa, coffee and dark chocolate. All along the way a good amount of sweetness that varied in character from a basic syrup to things like mango and cherry. It was a very good, rather intense cigar back in the day, and though it has changed a lot with time, it was still a very good smoke.

Room 101 Uncle Lee
Another fun cigar I came across this week was this well-decorated Uncle Lee. It’s also an illustration of the influence a tobacconist can have over the consumer. I was looking through the humidor, taking my time, considering my options. The person running the shop probably mistook it for newbie confusion and came in to help with some recommendations. One of the most recommended smokes was this Uncle Lee. I wasn’t thinking about it, but also hadn’t had one yet and the strength of recommendation made the sale. Great story, but is the cigar any good? Much like similarly-decorated Johnny Tobacconaut, I’d say it’s a win. One of the big things I noticed was the cedar, there was plenty of it. Camacho Liberty 2009 levels of cedar by the end of the cigar. Along with that, I noted pepper, leather, and sweetness reminiscent of butterscotch and cherry. There was also an intriguing peaty-smokey element that appeared for a bit in the latter half. I’m going to buy more if I come across them.

Tatuaje The Jackal **
This one was a last minute selection. As I was working on this very special edition of The Week In Smoke, I realized I wasn’t actually smoking, but I really wanted to be. One of the first things I spotted was The Jackal. It was an impulse buy, so it makes sense for it to also be an impulse inclusion in this list of cigars. On the whole a good smoke, though probably not my favorite of the Tatuaje limited edition shop-exclusives. The profile was one of earth, chocolate, creamy nuts and caramel, with spicy and heavier flavors like dark chocolate and pepper kicking in toward the end. My one complaint is that the cigar tended to go out very quickly, which made feel a little rushed smoking it.

Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades The Shank **
Back around 2012 I was a fan of the Viaje Honey & Hand Grenades. My local shop had a good supply of them, and they weren’t moving too quickly. So I had the time to smoke through the better part of a box (maybe even two) a cigar at a time. But I haven’t come across any since, well, that is until I spotted a box of them at an out of town cigar shop a few weeks ago. Of course I had to try one. It turned out to be a pleasant smoke, though a crack near the cap robbed it of some smoke volume, and possibly some flavor. I noted earth, leather, molasses a touch of vanilla and spices. It didn’t see quite as good as I remembered, but the construction issue may have contributed to that. The next time I’m in the area, I’ll pick up another.

* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions (and 100 Weeks In Smoke) 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.