First, an apology: I’m sorry for being such a deadbeat last week. Between a huge proposal at work and a very demanding 9-months-pregnant wife, I’ve had my hands full recently and wasn’t able to get this review finished in time for my weekly slot last Tuesday. Once I make the long-awaited transition from expectant father to up-to-my-eyeballs-in-dirty-diapers father, I suspect that my already limited bandwidth will be reduced even further. Alas, I will drink water and drive on, as they say.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Intemperance EC XVIII, the Ecuadorian Connecticut-wrapped version of the new Intemperance line of cigars produced by Skip Martin and Michael Rosales of RoMa Craft Tobac. Today, I complete the circle with my review of the Brazil Arapiraca-wrapped Intemperance BA XXI.
The name “Intemperance” harkens back to the Temperance Movement of the 19th century that brought us 13 joyless years of prohibition in the United States. The branding is intended to rally opposition against the modern temperance movement, which today targets smoking tobacco in place of alcoholic beverages. The Intemperance is offered in two different wrappers. The first, called the EC XVIII, is an Ecuadorian Connecticut in light of the Temperance Movement’s origins in rural Connecticut and the 18th Amendment establishing prohibition. The second is the BA XXI, a Brazil Arapiraca celebrating the ratification of the 21st Amendment repealing the failed “noble experiment.”
Although I found the lighter EC XVIII to be a well-constructed, fairly enjoyable smoke, it didn’t quite hit the mark for me flavor-wise and was quite a bit milder than I generally prefer. Though a native son of The Constitution State, I don’t typically gravitate towards the milder Connecticut wrappers. On the other hand, I’ve had some luck lately with cigars featuring the Brazil Arapiraca wrapper, so I was very much looking forward to seeing what the twisted mind of Chief Hava could do with it in the Intemperance BA XXI. (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t disappointed.)
Intemperance BA XXI by the numbers:
Size: 4×46 petito
Wrapper: Brazil Arapiraca
Binder & Filler: described as “primarily Nicaraguan” with the remainder being “not Nicaraguan”
Factory: Fabrica de Tobacco NicaSueno in Esteli, Nicaragua
No. smoked for review: 5
Duration: 50 minutes
Source: purchased by the reviewer
Looking over the Intemperance BA XXI before lighting up, you’ll notice that it features about 1/4″ of exposed foot, just like the EC XVIII. The wrapper is rustic and toothy, with tiny veins and a bit of mottling. The cigar seems to be very well constructed with a nice, solid roll. Call me crazy, but I swear I pick up a distinct “band aid” scent from the wrapper, with some manure to boot. This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed a band aid aroma coming off a cigar wrapper — I’ve also found it in the past with the Emilio Draig K and the Partagas 1845 corona extra. And I certainly don’t mean this in a bad way; I find the smell to be pleasant & comforting, and apparently I’m not alone…
Hmm, where was I? Sniffing the foot of the cigar, I noticed a peppery note of earth. The cold draw offered a good amount of resistance, along with a complex medley of dark chocolate, dark fruit, and more earth.
Upon putting flame to foot, the smoke proved to be just as complex as the cold draw. Lots of different flavors jockeying for position, including red pepper, barbecue chicken (yes, really), toasted cereal, caramelized sugar, and coffee. Despite its diminutive size, this little petito put out an impressive volume of smoke. The ash, burn, and draw also left me with no complaints.
In the second third, the BA XXI transitioned flavor-wise and lost a bit of intensity, but the complexity remained. I noted mesquite, lots of wood, some doughiness, and sweet cream. The pepperiness remained in the background, reminding me almost of sprinkling a few flakes of red pepper into a bowl of Cheerios (no, I’m not writing this review whilst drunk). The burn, ash, and draw continued to be perfect, with the dark gray ash consistently hanging on for a full half of the cigar’s overall length. Additionally, I noticed little to no resting smoke, which is always a welcomed bonus.
Wrapping things up in the final third, I found the intensity building back up again. Up until now, the BA XXI fell squarely into the medium range strength-wise, but perhaps creeps up into the medium-full zone towards the end. In the flavor department, I picked up a sweet & spicy pepper, with some dry woodsiness and a touch more of the caramelized sugar. Again, the construction proved to be stellar, and among all five individual cigars, the only time I found myself reaching for the lighter was in a very strong breeze when I had put the cigar down for several minutes.
All in all, a really great smoking experience. I love this format: quite a lot of flavor packed into a delightfully small package. Even though I’m a pretty big guy (6’5″, 230 lbs.), I gravitate towards shorter cigars in smaller ring gauges (my wife is short & petite, too… uhh, that is, when she’s not about to give birth). This petito is perfect for when you’ve got less than an hour to smoke. And let’s be honest: once this baby arrives, I’ll have even less time to light up so I can definitely see myself smoking a lot more of these. The BA XXI is a nice medium in strength (perhaps bordering medium-full), which should have pretty broad appeal. The blend is also versatile enough to follow a hearty meal at the end of a long day, or enjoyed together with your morning coffee. I think I still prefer the Knuckle Dragger, but I can see a lot of people preferring this over the puts-hair-on-your-chest power of the CroMagnon. Either way, I think Hava Cigar Shop just might have another hit on their hands…
UPDATED: 23 May 2012, 10:36 AM
The good folks over at RoMa Craft Tobac contacted me via Twitter to set up another awesome giveaway for our loyal Stogie Review readers. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, May 30th, 2012. One lucky winner will receive a RoMa Craft Tobac Logo T-Shirt, pictured below. Good luck to everyone, and a special thanks to Skip and Michael!