Brian’s The Week In Smoke, Issue 105

So I was working on the last Week in Smoke and it occurred to me, I smoked a lot of cigars on vacation. Like two weeks worth of interesting cigars. Which does check out, since I was gone for two weeks. And after a brief, sitcom-esque flashback to me smoking cigars in a much warmer part of the world, I decided to save the second week for another Week In Smoke. Also, it was getting late and the bourbon was wearing off. Or maybe it was illicit rum. I can’t be expected to remember which now, I’m far too busy thinking about the cigars. Some of them very rare, some of them very old, most of them delightfully verboten. Let’s consider them together, shall we?

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!

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure De Luxe
I almost missed the cozy little La Casa Del Habano tucked away inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel. The internet searches I didn’t give me a lot of confidence that it was still there, or if the place I was looking was even correct. Similar search results had me walking in circles looking for another shop that was long since closed. Once there, I had the place to myself, and the hostess kindly talked me through each selection in the shops large cabinet humidor. The Hoyo shop exclusive seemed like the wise choice. It’s one of the better calls I made while on vacation. Impressive savory cedar, butterscotch, frosting-like sweetness were some of the highlights of a truly delicious smoke. I regret not buying another.

La Gloria Cubana Exclusivo Asia Pacifico Revolution
This is another cigar I picked up at the La Casa Del Habano in Kuala Lumpur, and it turns out it’s one of the largest cigars Cuba makes, in terms of girth. Their idea of a really fat cigar is a 55 ring gauge, which is a refreshing perspective. I noticed it was a pretty stout smoke, but didn’t focus on that because it really delivered in the flavor department. Toasty raisin bread, syrup, graham cracker and rich caramel, with pepper making an appearance around the final third. This was another impressive regional edition.

Por Larrañaga Exclusivo Asia Pacifico Robustos de Larranaga (2007) **
I didn’t really get into the interesting stuff until the second week on vacation. The first of those is a Por Larrañaga I have since learned was about nine years old. The guy who sold this to me did not realize what he had, he said it was “three plus” years old. I was just excited to try one of the Asia Pacifico blends. I had a pretty good idea it was something special as most as soon as smoke started rolling off the foot. It delivered all the great, rich flavor you expect from a well-blended, well-aged cigar. Vanilla, cream, graham cracker, caramel, toffee, nougat and a little funky mushroom. In the notes I took as I smoked it, I wrote that the draw was a little on the firm side, but it tasted so good I didn’t care. I didn’t make it back to the shop that sold it to me, but if I had, I would have bought another, even at the high prices they were asking.

Punch Exclusivo Asia Pacifico Sabrosos (2011) **
What really struck me about this regional Punch is how much it reminded me of the Punches available here in the U.S. That’s surprising, most of the cigars I had this week don’t have a good domestic equivalent. Even more surprising once I realized how old the cigar was. It was leathery, with notes of cherry and raisin sweet notes, tea, earth and a lingering acidity. At one brief point cigar tasted a little like peat. A pretty solid smoke, but I would not have guessed it was five years old.

Ramon Allones Exclusivo Asia Pacifico Celestiales Finos (2009) **
I lit this little beauty up as I was watching the sun set over Tanah Lot, a seaside temple on the west coast of Bali. In retrospect, that was both a good idea and a bad one. Good because I enjoyed it immensely, but bad because I was very distracted by the view and the environment around me. As such, I didn’t take many notes as I smoked it. It burned well, and I did jot down at one point that it was like smoking a chocolate candy bar with a creamy caramel center. This was another one I would have bought again, given the opportunity.

Vegas Robaina Famosos
When I bought this Robaina the lady working in the lounge at the Havana Club asked me if I wanted in on a long ash contest. I thought about it for a minute and declined. It sounded too much like work for a man on vacation. But I can see why she asked, that cigar produced an impressive and solid ash. I would have been in the running without much effort. As for the important part, the flavor, it was good. It offered an enjoyable bready/toasty notes, along with earth, funky mushroom, vanilla and caramel. A Robaina would be one of the best cigars of an ordinary week, but this week it had stiff competition. I finished it thinking it was just OK and feeling completely spoiled.

Zino Embassy Selection (2009) **
I brought this well-aged gem I found in a Davidoff store with me on a short side trip to Bali. It’s a good thing I did, I didn’t come across a proper cigar shop the entire time I was there. But there was no shortage of places to enjoy one. My favorite was the breezy rooftop bar I was at when up lit up this blast from the past. It did not disappoint: a creamy lemon-vanilla combination, Davidoff funk, toffee and cedar. Still a great smoke.

* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions (and a significant credit card balance) 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.