It’s good to be back. If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably seen a lot of pictures of exotic locales interspersed with pictures of cigars that rarely show up in one of my Weeks in Smoke. I was on vacation in Southeast Asia (Malaysia and Bali) and I made a point to browse the local brick and mortars for interesting cigars as often as possible. I was successful in finding some great cigars, and I thoroughly enjoyed the greater freedoms to enjoy said cigars. I came across numerous bars with small humidors, but actual shops were harder to find. The ones I did see were small and commanded a steep price for their wares. Prices that make me appreciate my return to the U.S. market. But hey, it was vacation, and most of the cigars I had you can’t get here in the U.S., even with the recent changes made to cigars you can legally bring back to the States. (Good timing, but can someone get TSA/Immigration a memo about that?) But enough chatter, we’ll get to the vacation picture slide show later…
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!
Bolivar Belicoso Fino
Around the corner from where I was staying was a place called Whiskey Bar. I’d like to say that was part of the careful planning on my part, but it wasn’t. I was lucky my hotel had the good sense to be built nearby. The list of whiskeys on the menu was impressive for any bar in the world, and they had a small humidor. I ordered a Lagavulin 16 to go with my Bolivar Belicoso Fino. And to be honest, I enjoyed the whisky more than the cigar. The cigar seemed mostly earthy and silty to me, though there were some pleasant caramel, chocolate and leather notes. I’m not making any accusations, but I had to wonder about the source of the cigar. (On the subject of scotch and cigars, check out this write up by Dale Roush, a friend of ours and former co-host of the infamous Dog Watch Cigar Radio show.)
On my first of several visits to a place called The Havana Club, I lit up a Cuaba Divinos. I like Cuabas in general, partly because the ones I’ve had in the past have always been good, but also I’ve heard that your chances of getting a fake one are considerably lower as they are less well known, and the perfecto vitola makes them harder to counterfeit. (The entire line, as far as I’ve seen, is all perfectos.) I’ve been to a lot of shops selling glass-top boxes of Cohibas, you won’t find Cuabas in any of them. As with previous experiences, this was a good little smoke. I noted savory, spicy and sweet port-like notes early on, with clay, earthiness, some mineral qualities and additional cherry-like sweet notes to follow.
Davidoff Exclusive Kuala Lumpur
15 years (or so) ago I was in Kuala Lumpur for a period of time. One of the places I remember from back in those days was the Davidoff shop in the Star Hill mall. Years later the shop is still there, but it has moved to a smaller location a stone’s throw from the place in my memory. As you would expect from Davidoff, the appearance of the shop was consistent with their other properties around the world. In a word, sharp. I didn’t know there was an Kuala Lumpur Exclusive until I arrived, but I had to try it. I bought one and a few other interesting cigars and headed to the cigar-friendly lounge down the hall to try it out. The cigar was creamy, but it also had a bright lemon acidity from the start, making me think of something along the lines of a lemon meringue. As it burned, the trademark Davidoff funk appeared, as did a growing, savory cedar. The cedar component dominated by the end, but not before a notes of butterscotch appeared. It was one of the few non-Cuban cigars I had on my trip, but it outperformed many of them.
Montecristo Petit Edmundo
The first cigar I lit up after a grueling 25 hours of travel was a Montecristo Petit Edmundo. I had the good sense to pick up a few cigars at duty free along the way. I smoked it on the small, oddly sparse deck attached to my hotel room, blanketed in the hot, heavy Malaysian air, feeling like a million bucks and a zombie at the same time. The cigar was very good- rich earth, light wood and raisiny sweetness were the notes I took at the time. They say your frame of mind and the environment have a big influence on your smoking experience. Absolutely true. I’ve had Petit Edmundos before, and this one was definitely enhanced by my freedom from an airplane.
Partagas Serie D No. 4
The PSD4 is a perennial forbidden favorite with many the cigar smokers I know, but for one reason or another, it’s not one I’ve had a lot of experience with. Though to be fair, you could say that about just about everything from that island. I tend to focus on cigars that won’t get you a pen pal in the Department of Treasury. But I have had one or two before. I remember them being solidly OK. This one was much more than just OK. I got a lot of vanilla an caramel out of this cigar, in addition to some familiar earth, clay, wood and some peppery roasted nuts. I noticed as I smoked it that the middle portion of the cigar was very soft, and actually felt under-filled, but it didn’t translate to a draw, burn or flavor issue. I think I need to revisit the PSD4 again in the future.
Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchills
I went in search of cigar bar I heard word of inside a hotel in the glitzy “golden triangle” of Kuala Lumpur. It turns out I was the first customer of the day in the eccentric lounge, and they opened the place up for me. That probably explains the humidor- the walk-in choices were more limited than any other place visited. There were four choices, and since I had not yet had a Romeo y Julieta yet on the trip, so I went that route. I picked the best seat in the house and got down to business. The cigar offered up a pleasant, creamy profile with lighter notes of wood, chalk, vanilla and syrup. And it burned like a champ, probably the best burn and ash of any cigar I had on my trip. It wasn’t the most exciting smoke of the trip, but it was good choice for that particular afternoon.
* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions (and a mild sunburn) 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.