We’re coming up on my favorite time of the year for cigars- trade show season. It’s also a really busy time. A lot of back and forth emails discussing appointment times on the floor of the trade show. That and increased activity with other projects haven’t left a lot of time to set up a proper cigar review. But that’s OK. I’ve been picking up and smoking a lot of interesting one offs lately (though unfortunately not the Illusione OneOff yet), and it’s been awhile since I did a Week In Smoke. So let’s do one of those.
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. Jerry may have retired from the cigar review life, but Jerry The ‘Stache never will. And you won’t know until you click.) Enjoy!
Caldwell, AJ Fernandez, Matt Booth The T. Robusto
There are a growing number of collaboration cigars out there, which is a good thing in my opinion, and The T. is probably the most collaboration-est one I’ve smoked so far. Though I had absolutely nothing to do with the blending, concept or production of this cigar, I’m naming myself the honorary 4th collaborator, as the guy smoking it. I’d say we did a good job here. The construction was top notch, the flavors were an enjoyable combination of molasses, burnt sugar, dark chocolate and pepper, with some sweet notes of caramel and raisins. I’d be happy to collaborate on another couple of these in the future.
Cavalier White Series Elegantes
Undoubtedly the cigar that was the most fun to post to social media was the Cavalier White Series. It’s not every day you get to smoke a cigar that’s covered in actual gold. Well “covered” is overstating it, it has a square of gold leaf applied to the wrapper, just a little south of the band. Still entertaining, and considerably less expensive than the gold-covered variety. (And the gold burns just fine, in case you were wondering. It leaves you with an area of gold-tinted ash.) I haven’t smoked a Cavalier White Series since we interviewed Cavalier Geneve at IPCPR 2016, at least in part because I haven’t come across any until recently. In terms of flavor, the profile was not at all metallic as you might expect. I tasted a lot of bready and creamy flavors, with unusual herbal notes (I jotted down rye and dill with question marks, definitely different) and cedar in the latter half. Unfortunately the humidity at the time didn’t agree with it and the wrapper split in the final third. But I’m giving it a pass on that. I’d smoke this again for the entertainment value alone.
Cornelius & Anthony Venganza Judge
I had a really good experience with the Venganza on the trade show floor one year, and was quick to grab one when I saw it during my travels. Many cigars out there have a funky wrapper aroma, but this was one of the funkiest and most potent smelling ones I’ve encountered in a while. Far stronger than I remember during my trade show experience, but with all the cigars you smoke during the show, it’s hard to trust your senses in that environment. But another thing was different, the smoke itself seemed considerably milder than I remembered as well. I suspect this stick spent a good amount of time in that shop’s humidor. It was a little papery to start, but peppery as well. It did pick up after a while, offering more of the pepper I remembered and also some sweet almond. Still later, some light wood and cinnamon. I want to smoke this cigar again some time, and probably from a place with newer stock. A little surprised the cigar would fade so much with time, but there’s just no telling what it went through before I bought it.
Diesel Whiskey Row Robusto *
I am not a big fan of flavored or infused cigars, but when it comes to aging tobacco in bourbon barrels (or any other spirit barrels) I definitely approve. Provided the barrel character works with the blend instead of completely overwhelming it. There’s little chance of that happening with the Diesel Whiskey Row. In this case, it is only the San Andres binder leaf that has seen the inside of a barrel, so it’s clear that bourbon is meant to only make a contribution to the blend. And really, the part it plays is pretty minor, considering. The barrel’s oak actually plays a much bigger part of the profile. Earth, oak, pepper and spices were the major components with hints of soft vanilla and booziness showing up here and there, more so in the later stages of the cigar. I think the cigar is good on its own merits, but it was clearly made with drink pairings in mind. I lit one of these up during a whiskey event a few months back, and it did well in that environment.
Gran Habano La Conquista #5 Robusto Corojo *
I haven’t smoked many cigars from Gran Habano in quite a while, but in years past I used to smoke a lot of their #5 Corojos, and enjoyed the nicely-priced Azteca back in the day. The La Conquista #5 Corojo was sent to me in a sampler of some of their more recent product, and it was nice to get reacquainted with their lines. I had a little trouble early on with the burn in this case, but once it got going it behaved itself pretty well. I noted cream, bread, clay, caramel and some spices as it burned. A pretty solid smoke overall, no complaints.
Sindicato Maduro Toro *
The Sindicato is an attractive, dark, box-pressed smoke. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but I can’t lie, it looked very enticing to me when it arrived. So I didn’t wait too long to fire one up. The draw turned out to be a little on the tight side for my tastes, and the resulting smoke production was a little low. That said, I really enjoyed what I was tasting. It was very earthy and chocolaty to start, with sweet notes of vanilla and anise. As it warmed it developed a rich toffee sweetness, coffee, dark chocolate and pepper. I’ll definitely be smoking this again, and hope for a better draw the next time around.
* Big Brother would have you know these cigars were gifts or free samples, and that my opinions on them is suspect. My opinions (and an ashtray in serious need of emptying) 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.