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!
Avo Syncro South American Ritmo Robusto
To begin what has unintentionally turned into a very colorful Week In Smoke, let’s start with the new Avo Syncro South American Ritmo. I’m a big fan of the original Syncro Nicaragua, and enjoyed the Fogata as well, so you knew it wasn’t going to take long for this one to show up in a Week In Smoke. The one I lit up had a very interesting profile, there was the common earth, cocoa and wood, but also interesting notes of orange peel, butterscotch and sweet fruit along the lines of apricot. It was an enjoyable and unusual experience, one I think I’ll have to repeat just to make sure I wasn’t completely out of my mind at the time.
Drew Estate Undercrown Shade Toro *
Every now and then you have to take a break from chasing the new cigars and smoke some old favorites. I don’t remember where this Undercrown Shade came from or how old it is, but it smoked like a champ. To mix it up a little, I v-cut it with a new Colibri cutter that goes pretty deep, so there was no shortage of creamy smoke. I suspect this cigar has been in my humidor quite a while, as it offered more toffee and butterscotch notes than expected. But it may have also been the coffee I was drinking at the time. Coffee is always a good beverage choice with the Undercrown Shade, it’s a pairing I hope to do again soon.
H. Upmann by AJ Fernandez Robusto
AJ Fernandez has been producing good cigars for years now, and I really like the idea of him collaborating to create new blends for older, well-established brands. I put the new H. Upmann high on my must-try-ASAP list when I heard it was coming out. I was not disappointed. Nice spices throughout, including a good amount of cinnamon, woody notes that sweeten and become more distinctly cedar at the end, nuts, pepper and a sweetness that tasted very much like frosting midway. A tasty cigar with a reasonable price tag that burns flawlessly, what’s not to like? I’ll be smoking more of these.
La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull
So a friend in the local craft beer community tragically passed away this past week. He was in the planning stages to open a brewery and well loved for his jovial personality and infectious smile. Not to mention the beers he and his partner brought to the festivals. As much as you’d very much like to be able to do something to fix things in situations like these, after expressing condolences that feel insufficient there’s nothing you can do. So I did the only thing I could think of to do: light up a good cigar and open a good beer to honor the man. The cigar I picked was La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull and the beer was the locally-brewed Three Taverns Departed Spirit. The Andalusian Bull, as I have previously noted is a rich, balanced and beautiful smoke and Departed Spirit is an imperial stout aged in bourbon barrels. The beer seemed like an appropriate way to honor a guy known for brewing big, impossibly decadent beers aged in whiskey barrels. Both parts of the pairing are great, and it was not a surprise that they worked together wonderfully. The boozy, malty stout seemed to bring out the spices and woody character in the cigar and accentuate caramel, raisin and coffee notes. Most importantly, I felt a little better by the end. RIP Dan Rosen, you are missed.
Marrero Tesoro Mio Barberpole *
Barberpole cigars are fun. I probably say that every time I review one for Stogie Review. They’re interesting to look at, and if you smoke in a social environment, they always generate conversation. But they’re also difficult to produce, and they often don’t burn as well as they look. This is my first experience with Marrero cigars, so I set aside my mixed bag of previous barberpole experiences as I lit this one up. I’m happy to report that it did really well. No issues as it burned from Connecticut to Habano wrapper and back again. In terms of flavor, it was a very woody smoke, especially through the retrohale. It also had creamy coffee, light pepper and hints of vanilla to offer. The Tesoro Mio Barberpole was a solid smoke that will eventually be featured in a more in-depth review.
Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua GPN 4
One cigar that’s caught my eye a few times in recent weeks is the festively-banded Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua. Gone is the traditional red, black and gold band, replaced with a stylized facsimile in bright green, blue and red. This week I took the bait, and walked out with the skinniest vitola in the line, the GPN 4, which measures 4 7/8 x 48. I was nearly talked out of the purchase by someone who was not impressed with the one they tried a few months prior. But I was determined to find out for myself. The gamble paid off, it turned out to be a good cigar. The profile was a nice combination of leather, pepper, various forms of chocolate (bittersweet to milk) and sweet notes of cherry and raisin. But the thing I most appreciated was how it burned- flawlessly. I’ve had a bad run of luck recently in the burn department (most of those cigars not featured in this Week In Smoke), and this was a breath of fresh, aromatic air. I’d definitely smoke it again.
* 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 hazy office) 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.
4 thoughts on “Brian’s The Week In Smoke, Issue 111”
Looking forward to trying the Avo Syncro South American Ritmo it sounds delicious!
Great Week In Smoke as always. Very sorry to hear about your friend. Your tribute sounds fitting.
I have a question that’s been on my mind for a while and your AVO Ritmo made me think of it again. I am a pretty diverse smoker. I definitely have my preferences and favorites, but I enjoy quality cigars from Connecticut shade to Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro and everything in between. However, I have recently smoked three cigars that I just could not smoke. They disagreed with my palate intensely. They are excellent cigars, but there is a flavor in them I cannot smoke. The cigars were:
– AVO Syncro Nicaragua
– AVO Classic Covers #2
– La Aurora Emerald Preferido
These have a commonality, in that they have Dominican filler. However, I have smoked and thoroughly enjoyed these other Dominican-based cigars: Fuente Opus Xs and Añejos, La Galera Anniversary, Señiorial Maduro, AVO 2010 LE, Davidoff White Label/Millenium/Colorado Claro, and numerous others.
I have heard people describe the Davidoff funk as being a mushroom flavor, and THAT is what I feel like I get from the three cigars I could not smoke. However, I did not get that flavor in the same way from any of the other cigars I listed, including the Davidoff White Label, which I adored (but I’ve only smoked one). I have read that the funky mushroom flavor comes from Dominican Olor tobacco, which I believe is in the other cigars I listed above as having smiled.
I also have heard some people say that they are turned off by Dominican tobacco because of a mineral flavor. I feel like that leaves three possibilities for me: A) I’ve never experienced that mineral flavor, B) I have experienced it but enjoyed it and never identified it as mineral, or, maybe C) that mushroom flavor I cannot smoke is the mineral flavor people talk about.
To be clear, I am most definitely not saying that these three are not good cigars. They are excellent cigars with incredibly quality tobacco, but they just very obviously don’t fit my palate.
So, my question is, Why?
Thank you Sam.
Everyone’s palate is different, and it isn’t just a cliche that people throw around. A few years ago I took part in an “off flavors” presentation, where we tasted various unpleasant compounds frequently found in beer. (I don’t believe there’s an equivalent for the cigar world.) The results were very interesting. I was considerably more sensitive to certain compounds (acetaldehyde, the one responsible for green apple most notably), but was completely unable to taste one of the others. Or at least not in the same way others were. (Others were unable to taste some of the compounds I could also.)
The funkiness I get in cigars can vary considerably. One cigar I smoked (not a Davidoff) had an unpleasant used sweat sock aroma and flavor. In addition to mushroom, there’s also cheesy, footy, sweaty and even the infamous “barnyard” that can show up in cigars. I’ve always found the Davidoff funk to a milder mushroomy funk, bordering on the socks. I don’t mind it (it’s not the big selling point for me either), but if you’re really sensitive to that, I can see how the cigars would be really unpleasant for you.
One thing I’d recommend is trying those cigars again one more time to confirm. There is always the chance that the unpleasantness you experienced came from a small amount of mold growth in the cigar. (Not likely if you didn’t see it, but possible.) I’d recommend getting them from a different source this time just to rule that possibility out. I’ve found that the cigars coming from some shop humidors tend to be funkier than others.
A lot of things to think about there. I appreciate the response.
And…Mold! What a thought. I don’t think so, but I’ll give the rest a once over to make sure.