Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Peligroso

Size: 5 X 44
Shape: Peligroso
Origin: Nicaragua
Body: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Corojo
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoke Clock: 45 mins
Joya de Nic Dark Peligroso

This past Monday, having just eaten a hearty lunch, I ventured out into the November chill to enjoy a fine smoke. Joining me that day was the Joyo de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo. Ever heard the phrase “seek and ye shall find?” That day, I was seeking an excellent smoke, and I must admit that I found it.

With the first light came a blast of powerful pepper, which quickly mellowed to reveal some excellent caramel and leather notes. Although the smoke remained peppery, dark chocolate and rich, earthen black coffee notes made their way into the profile with some excellent support from the caramel and leather. There was a nice nutty aftertaste left on my palate after each exhale that made me hungry for more.

These notes remained strong into the second quarter of the smoke, weaving in and out of dominance like a well conducted symphony. One moment, the chocolate note would emerge and bathe me in decadence while the next moment earthen coffee notes would slip in to ground me. Caramel would emerge and flit across the profile like a flute solo before dropping away into a supportive role for the other major players. This interplay continued well into the third quarter of the smoke, mesmerizing my senses in a whirl of delight and subtle dizziness. This is a full bodied beauty, no doubt about that.

As the symphony played on, that familiar November chill began to seep into my bones. Finally relenting to the weather, I lay this fantastic stick down. Still mesmerized by the depth, complexity, and delicious flavors that this smoke provided, I stumbled back indoors with the taste of ecstasy still on my lips.

Presentation: 7/10 – This stick is presented well. Simple and attractive, the double bands do their job well while not detracting from the cigar itself. Gold and black in color, the bands display the name of the stick (“Antano Dark Corojo”) and the strength (“Doble Fuerte”) of the cigar. My beef with the bands is this, the band closer to the head of the cigar which displays its name has muddy focus. “Antano” gets cut off at the top & bottom by the gold trim, making it difficult to read and leaves the focal point of the band in question.

Appearance: 9/10 – The wrapper on the other hand, is near flawless. It is a beautiful dark maroon color which is spread consistently across the leaf. Smooth with only 1 discernable blemish, this is a wrapper that deserves to be framed.

Construction: 32/35 – Construction is very good. This stick is very firm, but gets increasingly hard towards the head. Despite the density of the pack, the draw is open, providing an easy and pleasant smoke. I did get a few runs, but they never became more than a big wave and managed to fix themselves.

Flavor: 44/45 – This is what a great cigar should taste like.

Overall: 92/100 – This cigar is one for the ages: the leaf used is truly beautiful and unique in color; the flavor profile is deep, complex, and pure with an exquisite interplay that I’ve rarely experienced. For you full bodied fans, this is the stick to try.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Berger & Argenti Entubar Double Corona

Size: 7 X 54
Shape: Double Corona
Origin: Nicaragua
Body: Medium - Full
Wrapper: Ecuadorian ‘Desflorado’ Connecticut-seed
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
Smoke Clock: 1 hr 25 mins

Entubar Double Corona

Having recently discovered a park with a pond not far from my apartment, I decided to spend mid-day enjoying the peace that a park’s pond allows. Tagging along for a mid-day respite was the Berger & Argenti Entubar in the hulking double corona shape.

Finding a comfortable spot by the pond, I followed the explicit directions located on the band at the foot of the cigar and thoroughly toasted all there was to light, including the tube of rolled filler which casually poked its nose out from the foot of this stick. Pepper, caramel, light earth, and leather notes led off this lengthy smoke in a subdued but tasty way.

Burning through the first quarter of this smoke revealed the dominant notes of the blend: caramel and leather. When rolled through the nose, the smoke took on a light spice and pepper note that was enchanting. These elements of the profile remained at the forefront of the experience through the second quarter.

As I was feeding some geese that approached me over the expanse of the pond, a light bitter note crept in. This bitter note was not overpowering, but considering the subtle nuance that the rest of the flavors exhibited, the bitterness was unwelcome. Fortunately, it went away rather quickly, exposing some hints of cashew which replaced the caramel note in the profile.

Having finished this smoke and feeling a bit underwhelmed, I tossed the nub into the waiting depths of the pond. Watching the nub sink below the surface, I noted the irony inherent in the nub’s final resting place: its presence on the pond’s floor as subtle as its flavor.

Presentation: 9/10 – Classy. The band is huge, but unobtrusive on a cigar of this size. “Berger & Argenti” covers the band as a backdrop to the imitation wax seal which holds the band together. Reminiscent of a letter whose text is meant only for my eyes, it’s the fake wax seal that sealed the deal on this band for me.

Appearance: 9/10 – This is one pretty cigar. Even though the seams in the wrapper were clearly visible, all else was near perfect. The wrapper itself has some of the most consistent coloring I’ve ever seen, it was as smooth as a baby’s bottom, and showed no flaws what-so-ever.

Construction: 33/35 – The construction of this cigar was stellar. This stick was solid all the way through with a very slight hard spot beneath the band. Despite this, the draw was quite open and the burn remarkably even for a cigar of this size.

Flavor: 32/45 – This was probably the toughest aspect of this stick to grade, given the extreme subtlety of the flavor profile. Were the flavors detectable? Absolutely. Were the flavors clearly presented and pure? Without a doubt (minus the slight intrusion of a bitter note[-3 points]). Was the flavor profile full and present in the smoke? Hardly. A lot of the time, I felt as if I were smoking air and struggled to taste this blend. For this reason, I dock 10 points. Describing this profile as subtle barely begins to do justice to it.

Overall: 84/100 – The Berger and Argenti Entubar is a beautiful and well constructed oddity amongst its cigar brethren, given the rolled filler sticking out from the foot. Overall, this stick is very well done in terms of tobacco selection and construction. As far as flavor goes, this stick falls far short of what I’d expect from a high end smoke. The body was there, I just missed out on the full flavor that I expected. If you like a solid medium bodied smoke and have the time to sit, reflect, and search out the flavors in what you’re smoking, then this stick is for you.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tatuaje Petite Cazadore Reserva

Size: 4 x40
Shape: Petite Cazadore
Origin: Miami, USA
Body: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Habano Equador
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Smoke Clock: 25 mins

Tatuaje Cigars

Winter is now knocking at our door and the weather has taken a turn for the cold, but that can’t stop the hearty from enjoying a fine smoke. Braving the morning chill with me this morning was the Petite Cazadore by Tatuaje. I felt the name of this blend apt for the situation as I stepped outside into the cold November air, hunting for a good smoke.

Once I’d settled myself onto a perch high above the ground (about a foot and a half), I lit up this delicious looking smoke. It became immediately apparent that I’d nabbed my prey. Notes of sugar, pepper, and leather raced over my palate in a rush of delight akin to spotting a 12 point buck.

Caramel and leather notes followed as this stick burned beautifully into the first quarter. Hints of spice through the nose and pepper on the palate created a playful dance for my senses.

As my bum began to go numb with cold (as it is apt to do on early morning hunts such as this), light earth notes began mingling with the caramel already present in the blend. Sometimes a powerful presence in the nose, sometimes subtly wafting over my palate, pepper notes darted in and out of the profile like a buck darting amongst the trees.

The profile remained consistent throughout the third quarter with few new surprises. However, just as the finish began, a subtle chocolate note cautiously crept in and remained in the far off distance like prey that knows it’s being hunted.

Putting an end to my brief morning hunting trip, I lay this stick to rest, having bagged the greatest prize of all: one fantastic smoke.

Presentation: 7/10 – Simple and to the point with no pomp or pretention. The blend is signaled by the color of the band, which I think is a creative way to signal a cigar smoker to what they’re buying, if they’re informed about the line.

Appearance: 7/10 – The wrapper is a consistent dark brown color, oily, and smooth. A description of “mouthwatering” comes to mind. The stick received points off for three nasty looking veins which did not connect or run together, but were on the same side of the cigar.

Construction: 33/35 – This stick has some of the best construction in a cigar that I’ve smoked. The pack was firm, the draw open, and the burn overwhelmingly even. At times, the burn became slightly wavy, but it quickly righted itself. This is common in smaller cigars, but this one was done well, none-the-less.

Flavor: 42/45 – I really enjoyed the interplay of flavors in this blend. Caramel, leather, and light earth dominated the experience while pepper and spice danced, juked, and sprung in and out throughout the duration. The chocolate finish didn’t hurt at all either.

Overall: 89/100 – This was a really fine smoke that I enjoyed a great deal. The body was a little north of medium, the flavors were consistent and provided some nice interplay amongst them, and the construction was excellent. I also liked that this stick can be enjoyed in under half an hour, making it a great smoke to enjoy on your lunch break. Pick up a few of these to try out and discover the hunter in you.