It’s once time again for another issue of Brian’s The Week In Smoke. 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 may be 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!
Alec Bradley New York Declaration Gran Toro
I don’t actually remember when and where I picked this up, but the smart money is on my trip to New York City last year. It’s a little larger in the ring gauge department than I’d prefer, but it’s a good looking smoke. Once lit, there was a lot of syrupy sweetness up front along with ample spices on the order of allspice and cinnamon. Rich creamy flavors followed, often with raisin or fig notes, and later wood, a little almond and some coffee. Overall, I thought it was good, and would probably smoke it again, but it seemed like it was missing some depth.
Davidoff Colorado Claro Double R
I saw one of these favorites floating around in my humidor, and I noticed a nick in the foot. Ordinarily, I’d save a cigar like this for a special occasion, but I decided not to risk further injury. Also, why the heck not? I know where I can find more. As always, a great smoke, full of subtle and complex flavors. Roughly summarized, I noted cream, caramel, wood, a touch of earth, cinnamon and that mustiness characteristic of many Davidoffs I’ve had. One thing that was out of the ordinary was a brief tunnel/runner burn problem about a quarter of the way in. It was brief, half an inch perhaps, and when it was over, everything went back to normal. A surprise, yes, but it’s not going to put me off Colorado Claros.
If you saw my recent review of the Fratello Robusto, this entry is no surprise. For the most part, this larger vitola was much like the robusto, with dense notes of earth, wood, pepper and cinnamon, but it I also picked up a roasted nut flavor I didn’t recall in the Robusto. Also there was a slight metallic note right at the beginning, nestled in the the early malty sweetness which struck me as different. In all, a very good smoke, but I think I prefer the Robusto or the Corona.
Gurkha Cellar Reserve Kraken XO Gordo *
I’ve seen the Cellar Reserve occasionally over the years, and never wound up picking one up. This one was part of a sample that was generously supplied by the folks at Gurkha, so I didn’t miss the boat on sampling the cigar they blended with some 15 year old leaf. The 1998 Criollo wrapper had an impressive, rich meaty aroma to it, reminiscent of the smell of salami, but maybe a little sweeter. Once the lit the flavors were interesting, varied and unbalanced at points. Creamy and buttery vanilla notes, raisin sweetness, meat, earth, coffee, dark chocolate, caramel and pepper all made appearances in this roller coaster ride of flavor. I have mixed feelings about this cigar, it was definitely great at points, but the size isn’t right for me, both in terms of ring gauge and length. In this case less would have definitely been more.
JD Howard Reserve HR50
The JD Howard Reserve is another current favorite, and I picked this one up recently. As noted before, plenty of rich creamy flavor, wood, cinnamon, vanilla and maybe even a touch of pepper. They say that no news is good news, and I have nothing to report. It’s still a great cigar.
The Griffins Special Edition XVIII 2012 *
A friend gave me one of these well-aged special editions this week, telling me that they were smoking great right now. (It was a spur of the moment thing, and unfortunately all I had was my terrible cell phone camera, hence the crummy picture.) He was right. It’s been years since I had a The Griffins cigar, so it’s hard to make any sort of comparison, but I enjoyed it a great deal. It had a very musty Davidoff-ish start, both creamy and slightly savory. As it progressed, it grew creamier, cedar, light grass and hints of vanilla joined the mix. If happen to have any of these resting in your humidor, I’d recommend lighting one up. I know I would.
* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions (and this bottle of rye) are my own, your response to them is your own. And the world’s worst cellphone camera belongs to me too.
** 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.
Some 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. And he’s ugly when he cries.