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 cigar 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!
Asylum Straight Jacket Toro *
If your cigar has a straight jacket on it, it’s probably safe to assume it’s both crazy and strong. Erring on the side of caution, I left the band on it this one while I smoked it. The cigar definitely put out some bold flavors, like pepper, spiciness, herbal woodiness, espresso, and heavy prune-ish sweetness. I survived the encounter, and I kinda liked it. It’s the kind of cigar I like to light up after eating spicy food.
Cohiba Nicaragua N50 *
General was kind enough to send me some samples of the new Cohiba Nicaragua, the first Cohiba from Nicaragua. But what makes the cigar most interesting to me is that it isn’t a Nicaraguan puro, as the name might lead you to believe. (This isn’t made clear by the press release.) The wrapper, possibly the most important part of the cigar, is actually a Honduran “Colorado Oscuro sun-grown” leaf. But back on track: I lit this one up right off the truck. It started off creamy and caramel like, with a familiar sweet earth and coffee flavor picking up not too far in. Chocolate, leather and cherry also made appearances as the cigar progressed. It was a good smoke, not a great one, and definitely General-ish.
Crowned Heads The Mason Dixon Project Southern Edition 2014
The Mason Dixon Project from Crowned Heads is an interesting limited edition with a blend that varies depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon line you happen to reside. I’m well south of it, so my shop carries the Southern Edition with the lighter Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. Without having tried the Northern Broadleaf maduro edition, I suspect we got the better of the two sticks, because this one was excellent. It had all the spice you’d expect from a Pepin-made cigar, but also variety of nuanced flavors including cinnamon, graham, vanilla, pepper, roasted nuts, creamy coffee and cocoa. I think this will be a hit, and I’d recommend trying it while you can.
Drew Estate Undercrown Flying Pig
I lit this little piggy up as I was finishing the last of a cup of Bustelo Supreme, and it was nearly a seamless transition. The profile of earth, peppercorns, charry wood and espresso with a touch of sweetness was both similar and complementary. Ordinarily I prefer a parejo to a figurado, especially one as stout as this, but the vitola amuses me and they’re fun to smoke occasionally. And more importantly, this is the best tasting Undercrown I’ve had in a while. I think I’ll do this again.
EP Carrillo 5th Anniversary
I actually smoked a couple of these 5th Anniversaries the week they arrived at my local shop. My notes for both are pretty similar. I picked up creamy roasted nuts with savory and aromatic qualities, coffee, honey, bread and maybe a little leather. Like most of Ernie’s cigars, they’re good right away, but I suspect they’ll be great with some time. I plan to find out.
Espinosa Laranja Reserva Corona Gorda
You don’t have to be fluent in Portuguese to have a pretty good idea what the name of the cigar means. The band is predominantly orange in color, and it seems to suggest the fruit as well, even though one doesn’t actually appear anywhere in the design. (I suspect including food items on a cigar band would be problematic these days.) Once lit, the cigar had a pretty airy draw, and at one point, I ran into a chunk of tobacco that turned black but didn’t burn. Flavor-wise, it had an enjoyable profile of creamy coffee, cocoa, orange peel and sweet notes. Despite significant construction problems throughout, it was a good enough cigar to try it again.
La Aurora 107 Lancero
On Wednesday, the 8th of this month, La Aurora turned 111 years old. To celebrate, Guillermo and Michelle León are donating 11 cents for every picture received by the brand’s social media. It’s hard to say no to something like that, so I bought 107 Lancero at my local shop so I could participate. Like most La Aurora cigars I’ve had, if you aren’t retrohaling the smoke occasionally, you’re not getting the full story. I noted sweet grass, bread, earth and a touch of citrus acidity. But I also tasted something I don’t recall in the 107 Lancero, a little bit of tea, along the lines of Earl Grey. It’s easy to forget about this cigar with each year’s new releases, and if you have, it’s worth revisiting.
La Palina Black Label Robusto
I bought this on my recent visit to New York City with the plan to smoke it in Paley park, the only smoking park in the city. (Which also happens to be owned by Bill Paley, the owner of La Palina Cigars.) But I ran out of time, so I smoked it at home. Arguably, that was for the best, it was cold in the city, and those piercing gusts of wind may have difficult to fully enjoy the cigar. The wrapper had bold aroma of tobacco and something akin to a new brake pad, unusually potent for a La Palina cigar. The flavors were equally bold. Pepper, chocolate, leather, lingering coffee, a touch of tart cherry and raisin sweetness. Definitely the boldest La Palina I’ve come across, but a cigar that doesn’t sacrifice flavor for power.
* 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 high-octane, barrel-proof bourbon) are my own, your response to them is your own. All your base are belong to us.
** 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 or instagram. If you’d like to see these lists constructed in real time, follow Brian on twitter or instagram. If you don’t, you’ll make the Fail Whale cry. And he’s ugly when he cries.