Brand: Top Shelf
Vitola: Cuban Corona
Ring Gauge: 46
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo
Price: Aprox. $6.75
This cigar is a house blend made solely for Top Shelf Cigar Company, located in Skippack, Pennsylvania. The cigar was created to fill the void in Jim Cronin’s current selection for a full bodied powerhouse of a cigar with a blend of nothing but Corojo tobacco.
After pulling my Top Shelf Signature Select – Red Label from its cellophane sleeve, I began to give it a quick once over. The first thing that stands out is the newly designed band with its deep red color and white lettering. The wrapper is a rich reddish brown color which is consistent from head to foot.
The wrapper had a couple of medium sized veins that protruded to add a slight lumpiness to the smooth texture of the leaf. When pinched I found the cigar to be firm with a couple of soft spots throughout the stick. After a quick and painless cut, I found the pre light draw to be free with a mild menthol, cough drop, like flavor to it.
After a quick toast and light I had my Top Shelf Signature Select evenly lit and producing an abundant supply of flavorful smoke. I passed the very first puff through my sinuses and was caught completely off guard. I got an intense stinging sensation which quickly faded and made the power of the smoke very apparent.
Right from the get go, the body is firmly planted in the full range. I mild stinging sensation is draped onto the palate and fades over the coarse of about thirty seconds. The texture on the palate is very neutral, not dry but not creamy either.
The flavors in this portion of the cigar were very interesting. The mentholyptus like flavor that I was picking up on the cold draw was much milder when lit. This flavor sort of lingered in the background for the first few minutes then abruptly disappeared leaving an enjoyable walnut flavor in its place.
As the cigar burned it produced an average amount of resting smoke which left a heavy aroma in the room. The draw was very nice and offered just enough resistance to keep me from getting a mouthful of air. The burn line was thin and even while producing a light colored ash which was firm and compacted.
As I rounded the forty five minute mark I found myself into the second third of my Top Shelf Signature Select Red Label. At this point in the smoke the body remained in the full spectrum and did not seem to build much, if at all. The finish remained very neutral and didn’t not have a defined creamy or dry texture on the palate.
The base flavor was primarily a walnut like flavor which was deep and enjoyable. In the background I noticed a leather and sweet spice flavor that seemed to trade places from time to time, allowing one to be just a little more apparent while the other faded.
The burn line remained thin and even while producing a, now darker, grey ash which was both firm and compacted. The draw was the same as before while the resting smoke was about average and produced a heavy room aroma.
As I rounded the one hour and fifteen minute mark I found myself into the final third of my Top Shelf Signature Select Red Label. During the final third I found that the body slowly and steadily progressed further into the full spectrum while the finish remained very much neutral.
The flavors took a turn and moved from a complex walnut flavor to a deep and pronounced Corojo tobacco flavor. The Corojo flavor came on so heavily that it washed out the leather and sweet spice flavors from the second third. While the walnut flavors peeked into the background from time to time, they were not rich enough to shine through the heavy Corojo base.
The burning characteristics finished up just as well as they did to start. The burn line was thin and even while producing a pleasant draw and mouthfuls of thick flavorful smoke. The burn rate seemed about average and lasted just as long as I would have expected from a cigar of this size.
Over I was pleased with this cigar. I enjoyed the depth of flavors and the fullness of the smoke. The only downside to this smoke, just like the El Cobre, is that is has to be either my last cigar of the day or the only cigar of the day. The fullness of the smoke puts a beating on my palate and makes all other cigars following it seem mild and far less flavorful.
If you are the type of smoker that loves a powerhouse of a cigar, give the Signature Select Red Label a try. Just remember to think twice about retrohaling that first puff, it’s a doosey.
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