Date Reviewed: March 9th, 2011
Cigar Date: October 2010
Around October of 2010, a tobacco retailer in Hong Kong released his final batch of custom rolled piramide Cuban cigars. He actually went through a number of batches and recorded feedback, mostly from his regular customers during tastings held in Hong Kong, China and Southeast Asia. This last release, then, represents quite an effort in blend tweaking and the retailer will privately note that the cigars were commissioned to be rolled by one of the famous masters in Cuba. So proud of this final batch, a ”money-back-satisfaction-guarantee” was offered…… if you tasted the cigars and didn’t like them, you could send the rest back and get a refund of the full purchase price you paid… even including what you smoked!
I ended up purchasing a number of boxes… some to use as gifts… others on splits… and a few just for my own smoking pleasure and collection. The cigars came with their own custom bands in individually numbered laqyered boxes. No details were spared: the boxes came in a felt bag and there is even a custom vitolina paper sheet inside!
For this tasting, I broke into a previously unopened box and took the furthest stick to the right on the top layer. Just the regal appearance of these cigars, and their presentation, made me want to be gentle… but the sticks themselves are super thick and hardy. Truly salivating for the smoke, I dug into one of the alcohol fridges to find the perfect pairing (I had already decided on a beer since, even right around dusk, it was still hanging at about 72 degrees outside): I chose a Leffe Blonde (a sweeter Belgian beer) and pulled out a chilled chalice for the perfect pour!
Settling in on the back patio, I examined the cigar a bit more closely. The wrapper was darker, oily and chocolaty in appearance… with pre-light aromas of leather and some grassiness. Cutting and drawing was a little bit of a surprise, actually… but not necessarily in a good way. Firstly, it was a little loose and drew like it was under-filled… and I tasted almost nothing coming through! The only thing that really popped into my mind was maybe a little grassy/hay taste and the raw tobacco flavors on the lips.
As soon as I lit up, I was relieved to be getting some decent flavors right away… but some of that grassiness was immediately apparent and not the most pleasant compliment to the sweet cedary notes wafting in. When retrohaling, I could detect a tiny hint of spice… but very little was lingering in my mouth and even the nasal flavors calmed into noticable cedar overtones.
Around an inch or so in, some floral notes started to pick up and blend with the cedar… but the sweetness was gone and the grassiness was STILL adding a little harshness to the almost non-existent nicotine content. Throughout the entire rest of the smoke, very little changed… the sweetness never returned and whole thing just tasted like grass and cedar with leather aromas…… all the way to the nub. The Leffe Blond pairing was adequate at cleansing the palate and refreshing the senses… but nothing new was happening each time I’d return to the cigar…… In truth, the cigar just became the palate cleansing exercise to enjoy the delicious beer!
Final Notes: Unfortunately, this cigar tasted much better when is was super fresh… and the harsher grassiness just overpowers the sweet cedar notes, floral undertones and leathery aromas. My memory did this cigar much more justice than last night’s actual experience and two words kept popping into my mind: disappointing and boring.
Aging Notes: In hopes that these are just going through a sick period right now, I plan to tuck the rest of this box (and the handful of others I still have left from another box) into a deep dark corner of an aging humidor… hopefully to be forgotten for at least another year. As is typical with some of the custome blends out there… they need to be smoked wither (1) right away or (2) after a coupe years age. That grassiness really needs to dissipate some more…… but I do think the sweet, cedar, floral and leathery notes have some real potential to become quite tasty. Just don’t ever expect these to have much strength… mild and smooth are likely to be the buzz words in a couple years (which isn’t surprising given the market these were commissioned for).