Brand: Nicaraguan Artisan
Manufacturer: Tabacalera Protalasa
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
MSRP: $23.99 per 5 pack
Source: Free samples from Famous Smoke Shop
The Artisan – Nicaraguan Edition is a product of Famous Smoke Shop. Produced by Tabacalera Protalasa, these cigars feature three wrapper varieties which include Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade, Ecuadorian Habano, and Maduro. Binder and filler of all varieties consists of Nicaraguan grown tobacco.
Each wrapper variety is available in three vitolas which include a Robusto (50 x 5.00), Toro (50 x 6.00), and a Churchill (50 x 7.00). Cigars come packaged in boxes of twenty and carry a manufacturer suggested retail price of between $83.99 and $90.99.
Prior to lighting up my Nicaraguan Artisan Connecticut, I gave it a quick once over to find any obvious problems. The first thing that struck me as off was the placement of the band. Frankly, it seemed so high on the stick that it appeared to be a mistake in the factory. To my surprise, the band placement was consistent on all of the other cigars I have safely stowed away in my coolidor.
After pulling my attention away from the band placement, I first looked at the coloring of the wrapper leaf. It was consistent from head to foot and exhibited the hallmark tanish color of Ecuadorian grown Connecticut Shade. Veins were small and thin leaving a smooth texture when handled.
Giving the cigar a gentle pinch down the length of the stick, I found it to be evenly packed with tobacco. There were two small soft sections but the bulk of the cigar felt well packed with just a slight bit of sponginess.
Before moving on to the lighting process, I reached for my Palio Cutter and clipped the head of my Artisan Connecticut. The cold draw was fairly loose but did not raise any concerns. The pre-light flavor was delightful with sweet notes that immediately popped against the palate.
After a quick and painless lighting session, I had my Nicaraguan Artisan Connecticut evenly lit and producing an ample amount of dense smoke. As the smoke passed across the palate, I was left with a sticky-sweet taste that I found interesting. The body was a bit surprising coming out of a Connecticut wrapped cigar and easily fell within the Medium range in this early stage of the smoke.
The initial flavor produced by this cigar was a mild sweetness that mingled near the soft palate. After a moment of sweetness, the flavor shifted to an aggressive Nicaraguan tobacco taste that presented itself on the rear of the palate and tongue. Through the sinus a slight cinnamon-like spinciness was easily distinguished.
The burn line was a little wavy but remained relatively thin. The draw was a little loose for my liking but produced plenty of smoke without the feeling that I was overdrawing on the cigar. The ash which formed was light in color and very flaky. Before reaching an inch in length it easily fell from the cigar as a result of a gentle tap.
I am really enjoying the direction that the Famous Nicaraguan Artisan Connecticut is going. Generally Connecticut wrapped cigars are thought of as a mild cigar best suited as a morning smoke paired with a cup of coffee. In this case, you are getting a solid medium bodied stick with plenty of flavor, which makes it more than enough for a afternoon smoke and possibly even something to be smoked in the evening.
The body has picked up slightly but remains steady in the medium range. The finish is easy on the palate and produces a sticky-sweet aftertaste that rounds out the flavor nicely. Through the sinus, the smoke presents a stiff heat-like sensation, much like you would get from eating horseradish or Chinese mustard.
The flaky ash seems to be correcting itself a little as I smoke along. The strength of that ash remains fairly weak and does best if an ashtray is kept handy. The only minor irritant that I am seeing at this stage is that after spending two to three minutes resting in the ashtray, a touch-up is required to keep things burning properly.
After getting down towards the band on my Famous Artisan Nicaraguan Edition Connecticut, the flavors of the smoke began to get unpleasant. The loose draw allowed the cigar to heat up rather quickly. In an attempt to allow the cigar to cool in the ashtray, the extended rest time forced me to touch-up the burn more than I would have liked.
Despite the added work and bitter flavors caused by a warm cigar, I was enjoying the last third of my cigar. The flavors turned to more of a bitter flavor with a Nicaraguan tobacco base. When heated, the base flavor turned chalky and unpleasant.
The body remained firmly planted in the medium range with the flavor intensity in the full range. The burn line was relatively even while producing an ash that was becoming more solid as the stick grew short.
When it was time to set my cigar down for good, I was pretty happy with the overall experience. The bold flavor and medium body made for a Connecticut that was right up my alley. While mild Connecticut Shade cigars have their place, I have a fondness for those that can easily be smoked later in the day without loosing out due to a mild flavor profile.
After having read this review, you are probably wondering how I would see this cigar if paired head to head with the Oliva Connecticut Reserve? Both cigars are full flavored and medium bodied, but the flaky ash makes the Artisan Nicaraguan Edition loose a few points in the construction department. Those few points are all it would take to reach for the Oliva Connecticut instead of the Artisan. This is mostly due to their similar price points. However, if you are an Oliva Connecticut smoker, I think you will enjoy this cigar.
In the even that the Artisan Nicaraguan Edition Connecticut popped up on Cigar Monster or Cigar Auctioneer for somewhere in the neighborhood of $65.00 to $70.00 per box, I think you would be crazy to pass them up.