A few weeks back we received an email from AKA Cigars asking if we would be interested in reviewing their product. We were happy to give the cigars a try and a short time later, samples arrived at my doorstep.
While I waited for cigars to arrive, I headed over to the AKA Cigars Website to do a little reading. Up until that point I really didn’t know much about the brand. What I learned from the AKA Cigars website was that the brand is loyal to the armed forces and has an entire line dedicated to honoring them.
The Respect, which I opted to review first, is made up of six sizes and honors each branch of the armed forces. For instance, the Guard is a 44 x 6.00 honoring the National Guard and Coast Guard. Anchors Away is a 52 x 4.50 honoring the Navy, Hooah is a 50 x 5.00 honoring the Army, Aim High is a 50 x 7.25 honoring the Air Force, Reserves is a 54 x 6.50 honoring the Reserves, and the Devil Dog is a 60 x 6.00 honoring the Marines. To make things even better, a portion of sales from the Respect line goes to support the Wounded Warrior Project.
The makeup of the Respect is an Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper, aged four years, Honduran Corojo Binder, from the Eiroa family and aged four years, fillers made up of four and five year aged Dominican Corojo Ligero and Honduran Corojo Ligero from the Eiroa and Kelner families.
At this point, I was pretty excited to give the AKA Cigars Respect a try. Between the powerful makeup and the supportive nature of the cigars, I was sold on them before I even lit my first one. When it came down to inspecting the cigars prior to smoking, I was impressed.
The wrapper color seemed not only consistent between my five samples, but from head to foot as well. Veins were fairly small and did not protrude. The cap was neatly applied and the cigar felt evenly packed with tobacco.
Once clipped, the pre-light draw was fantastic in terms of resistance. The flavor on the cold draw was kind of washed out and I couldn’t pick out any discernible flavors. The lighting process was painless and before long I had a thin and even burn line which remained that way throughout the smoke.
The construction of this cigar was beautiful. The Respect produced plenty of dense smoke that was effortlessly pulled through the cigar. The ash was firm and held strong for over an inch. The resting smoke was a bit heavy but the room aroma was pleasant.
Lighting up that very first sample, I was excited. All of the Ligero components had me expecting an absolute flavor bomb. When the first plume of smoke passed over my tongue, all I could think was “Wow”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the good kind. The smoke felt like an all-out assault on my palate. All of that Ligero goodness that I was expecting was simply harsh and aggressive.
After about an inch and a half, the aggressiveness settled down, allowing the flavors to shine. I could taste pepper, spice, and a wood flavor that reminded me of the way oak smells when it is cut. The flavor combination was interesting and made all the more enjoyable by a creamy finish.
The texture and flavors lingered on the palate for a short while before fading. As the pleasant flavors faded, a terrible aftertaste drifted in. By this point my tongue felt furry, my palate weary, and my throat scratchy from the overly-aggressive smoke in the first portion of the cigar.
When the harsh and sour aftertaste entered the picture, it simply broke my spirit and I knew continuing on with this cigar was going to be an uphill battle. It was a love-hate relationship, of sorts. The construction was excellent and the initial wave of flavor was enjoyable, but the after-taste was dragging it all down.
I smoked four cigars for this review (we leave the fifth just in case the cigar on video explodes or doesn’t match our experience with previous samples), and I hate to say it, but there was only one that I would say that I ‘finished’, in that I smoked it down beyond the band.
There is a chance that I received a bad batch, or that I just got it wrong with the AKA Cigars Respect, but this line simply wasn’t for me. I’m sure that there is a market for aggressive cigars with stellar construction. If that sort of cigar is up your alley, you are definitely going to want to give this one a try.