The other week I was hanging out at W.Curtis Draper Bethesda with my pal @HumidorNotes and I made a blanket statement along the lines of ‘all 60+ ring gauge cigars suck’. Those may not have been my exact words but thats an accurate description of my sentiment towards bigger ring gauge cigars. This started an interesting discussion between us. Why do I bash big ring gauge cigars not even trying many of them but every lancero that appears, I at least, give it a shot? I always say, like many of you, that lanceros take a lot of talent to blend and roll. When I find a great one I sing their praise but when I find a not so good one, I say its okay because they are so hard to make. Why don’t I use that same thinking when it comes to bigger ring gauge cigars? It probably takes as much talent to blend and roll both sizes. @HumidorNotes made some good points so you will start to see some bigger ring gauge cigars showing up in episodes of Week in Smoke.
Viaje Stuffed Turkey 2011 (5×60) – A cigar that if you recall, we had a little to do with it’s inspiration. I was hoping the 2012 iteration of the Stuffed Turkey would make it before Thanksgiving but as many of you know, Andre has said to look for it towards Christmas time. Airy and woodsy with no other dominiate flavors. A bit on the dry side as well. Not Andre’s best work nor his worst. The Stuffed Turkey 2011 falls into that ever crowded gray area of okay but not-memorable cigars.
Tatuaje Havana Cazadores – The creme dela creme from Tatuaje. I always jokingly say “its just a brown label” when I see someone smoking a Havana Cazadores size. Its really much more than just that. Lots of great nuances that can easily be missed if you aren’t paying attention. Great balance in flavor and strength with flawless construction. Over time the cost and even availability of the Havana Cazadores size has prevented it from being a staple in my humidor. Its a real treat to find one and even bigger treat when I find one that has some age on it. Beautiful.
Headley Grange by The Crowned Heads – One of the most talked about cigars at and since IPCPR is Headley Grange. The samples I had from the show didn’t ‘wow’ me when I smoked them there or after I got back. Even the first few I had once they started arriving on the shelves didn’t win me over. It always started off very well but by the halfway point, the flavors seemed to disappear. So after those early ‘gray area’ (see Stuffed Turkey blurb for definition) experiences I was a bit gun shy to pull the trigger on more. After a new shipment arrived, I was encouraged to ‘try it again’ and now I’m conflicted. Which is the real deal? The Headley Grange I had early on or the handful I’ve had since that have been slowly winning me over? I’ll probably catch some grief for this but while many of my fellow bloggers are quick to include the Headley Grange in their Top 10 discussions, for me, the jury is still out.
Four Kicks by The Crowned Heads – One cigar that the jury is not out on is the Four Kicks. Pick any size and you have a winner. My tastes tend to gravitate to the CG or Seleccion No. 5 but like I said, every size is a winner. Flawless construction with a great balance of woodsy and spicy notes that eventually come together to form a beautiful, almost mollasses like sweetness and texture that brings everything together. One of my Top 10 cigars from 2011…could it repeat on my list again?
La Riqueza – Nothing new here. I’ve said it many times, the La Riqueza line by Pete Johnson is the most underrated line in his arsenal of cigars. Beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper with a balanced flavor profile and body. The richness really pops in the small #5 format. If you haven’t tried a La Riqueza you are definitely missing out.
EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro – I honestly can’t get enough of the Cardinal Maduro. Just a bombshell of flavor. You can literally smell the espresso and dark chocolate notes bounce off the wrapper. An amazing cigar that hits on all your senses making for a memorable and beautiful cigar experience.
601 La Bomba Atomic (6×60) – ***BOOM*** Wow! I had heard from people about the La Bomba by Erik Espinosa. Recently Erik was kind enough to send me a bunch of cigars to sample and the 601 La Bomba Atomic was one of them. Surely the legendary power I’ve heard about doesn’t hold up and is tamed in the 6×60 format? This was an experience for me. Sneaky strong. Smooth, bold and flavorful. Not for the weak. Small puffs is the key. I took a few bigger puffs and it sent me spiraling into a coughing fit and I just wasn’t right for awhile. Small puffs not only tempers the strength but also brings out some really subtle woodsy and cinnamon notes. I’d pass on any retro haling though.
Torcido – When we met up with Terence Reilly of SAG Imports at IPCPR he mentioned and showed us Torcido cigars. He was even kind enough to give us samples. I had actually forgot about them until recently when I found the samples Terence gave us and gave the robusto size a shot. Very well made with some nice earthy tones with a slight dry cocoa powder on the finish. Impressive, well rounded first experience for me.
Undercrown Corona Viva by Drew Estate – If you were to go back and look at all the episodes I’ve done this year of Week in Smoke as well as my numerous Humidor Notes, the Undercrown would be one of the Top Three cigars that I’ve smoked the most of in 2012. I love this cigar. Everything about it. I love the bbq-esque aroma that billows out. I love the rich, dark, earthy, gritty, syrupy taste and texture that builds layer after layer on your palate. The Undercrown has yet to disappoint me and I’ve found the combination of a EP Carrillo Cardinal Maduro followed up by an Undercrown makes for a beautiful and glorious pairing for an evening.