We’re in week two of the pollen siege here in Atlanta, and sense of taste is all out-of-wack. So instead of a review this week, I have a Brian’s The Week In Smoke that I was working on just before the yellow cloud descended. 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 reviews, but quick blurbs based on a single smoking experience. As such, they maybe 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!
Diamond Crown Pyramid
It’s been awhile since I had a Diamond Crown and this wasn’t the best of experiences. This pyramid had a tight draw, and as a result a pretty thin smoke. And unfortunately, a second, considerably deeper cut didn’t help matters much. But it wasn’t a complete loss, the cigar was still smokeable, and the flavors, though light, were pleasant. I noted creamy, bready and woody flavors with a touch of cinnamon.
El Primer Mundo Liga Miami Toro
There isn’t much to say about the Liga Miami that I haven’t said before. A great cigar that delivers on flavor. You can expect to taste things like caramel, graham, earth, chocolate wood and pepper. The only downside is this one had a slightly snug draw.
Gran Habano Zulu Zulu *
I remember seeing the boxes for these at IPCPR 2011, but this is the first actual Zulu Zulu I’ve ever come across, and it’s thanks to a friend who spends a lot of time on the road. And like the packaging, the flavor profile was pretty interesting. I tasted a lot of woody/oaky/peatiness in this cigar, along with bready and toasty flavors and more sweetness later on. At one point, the cigar tasted a lot like popcorn. From a construction standpoint, a crack formed in the wrapper above the band, but the band kept that mostly in check. I’d say my experience was a positive one, but I need to give this one another round just to make sure I haven’t lost my mind.
La Flor Dominicana Double Claro Robusto
Light up this apple-green colored smoke anywhere and you’re sure to get some inquisitive glances. I don’t see myself becoming a big candela smoker, but this cigar is better you’d expect, especially if you’ve written of the wrapper as a gimmick. It’s got the vegetal fruit sweetness common in candela, but with more body, and healthy dose of pepper. It’s a change of pace that works.
Macanudo Cafe Gigante *
A 6 x 60 Macanudo Cafe isn’t a surprise, if anything, it’s a surprise that it’s taken one of the country’s most popular brands this long to embrace the country’s favorite size. Aside from the size, not much else seems different about the Cafe Gigante. It has that same, light creamy papery flavor, but it seems like there may be slightly more sweet and subtle wood and coffee notes than I remember from previous experiences. But the mineraly paper finish kinda negates that. This experience didn’t win me over, if I’m buying a Macanudo, I’m buying a Cru Royal.
Macanudo Maduro Gigante *
As with the Cafe Gigante, the Maduro Gigante seems to have a slightly better flavor than I remembered. Mild notes of leather, chocolate, coffee and of course the paperiness I associate with Macanudos. I should also note the significant wrapper damage, there was a missing triangle of the leaf, and asplit along a vein. The damaged proved to be mostly cosmetic.
Monte Pascoal Double Corona *
I’ve smoked quite a few of these Brazilian puros over the past year, but I’ve never come across the this, the largest size until now. Though the stats look the same for each vitola, I’m told the blend is a little different for each size. A savory profile of earth, leather and chocolate with some interesting sweet sour cream and aromatics. A good smoke, but I prefer the smaller vitolas.
Ortega Serie D No. 7
I picked up this little 5 x 46 box-pressed beauty the first day it Eddie Ortega’s new line of cigars hit the shelves at my local B&M. A lot of rich flavor in these hot new smokes, including cocoa, earth, molasses sweetness, pepper, chocolate and coffee. It’s like a slightly fuller, richer Murcielago. It’s no wonder why these are flying off shelves.
Bonus: The Week In Suds
I’ve been getting more and more into craft beer lately (or as we used to say back in the day, “microbrews”), and so are some of our readers. So in ill-conceived attempt to justify reckless drinking, I thought I might share some of my recent ale adventures.
New Belgium Lips of Faith Series Cocoa Molé 9% ABV
What do you get when you mix rich chocolate, cinnamon and chili pepper spice and alcohol? A limited edition beer from New Belgium called Cocoa Molé. This is such a fun brew. For the first third of the pint, I was thinking, “well this is a good chocolate stout with nice body and some tasty cinnamon, but where does the mole figure in?” Then a heat started building in the back of my mouth. As for what I’d smoke with this, I’d pick a full-bodied, spicy cigar from the regular rotation, just to see what happens when it has some competition. I think you’ll be surprised at how much a drink like this will affect the flavor.
Ass Kisser Vanilla Pale Ale 5.5% ABV
The bright yellow bottle has been grabbing my attention every time I visit my local suds shop for at least a month now, but combination of vanilla and pale ale gave me pause. An interesting idea, but it’s gotta be awful, right? Eventually curiosity got the better of me and a put a four pack in my cart. It turns out it is an interesting beer, but not an awful one. The vanilla element isn’t over the top, and works surprisingly well with the pale ale’s slight bitterness. At times I thought I tasted agave in it too, but maybe I’m just in the mood for tequila. This is not a beer you want to drink ice cold.
Mikkeller Drink’in the Sun 11 2.4% ABV
No matter how you read the name, it seems appropriate. I have no doubt this beer would be easy to drink sitting in the sun by the pool, and there is a brightness to it that could be thought of a liquid sunshine. Well, if sunshine had a long, bitter hoppy finish (maybe that’s the equivalent of a sunburn), and a low ABV. That’s no typo, this is only 2.4%. It’s a cloudy beer, with a lot of frothy head, and it strikes me like a combination of slightly flat ginger ale and lemon. Not awful, but not really my thing. Though it might have helped if I actually drank it in the sun.
* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions are my own, your response to them is your own. Everyone denies knowledge of and responsibility for the things Mike says.
** 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.
Many of the pictures in Brian’s The Week In Smoke first appeared on twitter. If you’d like to see these lists constructed in real time, follow Brian on twitter. If you don’t, you’ll make the Fail Whale cry.