Friday, December 31, 2010

Kristoff Maduro Criollo

Size: 5 ½ X 54
Shape: Robusto
Origin: Dominican Republic
Body: Medium - Full
Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro
Binder: Olor Dominican and Cuban Seed
Filler: Olor Dominican, Cuban Seed, Nicaraguan
Smoke Clock: 1hr 10mins

With the holidays behind us and winter in full swing, I’ve been forced indoors in order to perform my reviewing duties. But never fear, this cigar man is a resourceful one.

Being unable to smoke in my apartment, I retired to my local purveyor of fine smokes in order to complete my reviewing task. The stick that tagged along for my first indoor winter smoke: the Kristoff Maduro. This is one beauty of a smoke in both appearance and flavor.

First light reveals delectable notes of rich toasted caramel and leather with a pepper-filled finish that satisfies. Continuing into the first quarter, cocoa, coffee, caramel, and pepper take and hold dominance as the profile evolves in depth and complexity. This is one rotund smoke.

Sweet & creamy notes of compost barrel into the profile at the start of the second quarter, supported by leather, pepper, cocoa, and coffee. These flavors danced about each other in an intricate ballet as the second quarter processed.

The profile of this stick remained delicious and complex as the third quarter began. This was by far my favorite part of the smoke as the flavors reached a crescendo all together, none standing out more than another, but everyone playing their part to create a truly transcendent moment in this man’s cigar smoking life.

The Kristoff Maduro has made its way into my heart as a truly beautiful medium – full bodied smoke and may very well take the lead as a favorite in this category. It is a truly excellent cigar, no foolin’.

Hopefully, some of you were fortunate enough to find a few of these tucked into your stockings this Christmas. For those of you not so fortunate, make your way to Rocky’s and nab these while you still can!

Presentation: 7/10 – Although the caramel colored band is attractive and simple, it is a little hard to read due to very little contrast between the text and the background.

Appearance: 8/10 – This is a beauty. The oily and teeth covered wrapper showcases beautiful dark brown earth tones. The wrapper also seemed a tad wrinkled, hence the drop in points.

Construction: 32/35 – Well constructed, this stick was equally firm from head to toe with a comfortable draw.

Flavor: 43/45 – With a masterful blend showcasing cocoa, coffee, caramel, pepper, sweet and creamy compost, and leather notes, this smoke is one that is ready to smoke right out of the box. No aging necessary for this Dominican beauty. However, I bet this stick would transform into something spectacular if set aside to age for a year or two.

Overall: 90/100 – The Kristoff Maduro has a lot to offer: a bold, complex, and delicious flavor profile; excellent construction, providing a comfortable draw; and an attractive, however wrinkly, wrapper. This is one stick you can’t go wrong with, and I can promise you I will be picking up more.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Berger & Argenti Mooch Loll

Size: 6 X 52
Shape: Loll (Torpedo)
Origin: Nicaragua
Body: Medium
Wrapper: Equadorian Connecticut
Binder: Jalapa, Nicaraguan
Filler: Esteli, Nicaraguan
Smoke Clock: 1 hr

Mooch Loll

Ah, Thanksgiving. This holiday is precious to me, not only for the enormous amounts of delicious food that I gorge myself on every year, but for being given the time to reflect on the things that I am thankful for. The list is large and cannot be fully reiterated here. However, there is one thing that I’m sure you all know I’m thankful for: excellent tobacco.

After a tremendous Thanksgiving meal, I snuck outside for a post meal smoke. Despite my disappointment with the Berger & Argenti line thus far, I decided to try out the Mooch to see if I could yet be swayed. Let me tell you, the Mooch finally showed me what Berger & Argenti cigars can taste like when they hit the mark.

At first light, I tasted an excellent combination of oak, cedar, and cashew flavors. These flavors ebbed and flowed throughout the smoke, but held a significant lead in the first quarter, allowing some pepper notes and something I couldn’t identify at first to emerge slowly towards the second quarter.

I love a cigar that can surprise me and the Mooch did just that. Tasting something new is something that doesn’t happen extremely often in cigars, at least for me. As such, it was a delight to try to identify what this mysterious flavor was. Once the second quarter reached its end, I was finally able to at least describe it. In addition to the delectable oak, cedar, cashew, and light pepper notes, I tasted something that I can only describe as a light and neutral coffee creamer: ever so slightly bitter, but creamy none-the-less.

With the start of the third quarter, the creamer note took dominance, then gently evolved from slightly bitter coffee creamer to a sweet cream with a subtle hint of caramel to it. The notes that I’d experienced here-to-fore began to retreat, giving the sweet cream focus through the end of this tasty smoke.

As I lay this stick down, I had to admit that, despite my misgivings, the Mooch proved to be an excellent smoke. What better way to experience a holiday dedicated to giving thanks than with a cigar that reminds you to be thankful for surprises?

Presentation: 8/10 – Again, standard Berger & Argenti presentation, but with a faux piece of newspaper stating, “Embargo Cuban Imports,” and, “Kennedy Embargo Cuts Cuban Trade.” I think that this is a rugged touch to an otherwise formal presentation and is much appreciated.

Appearance: 6/10 – This is the first time I have not loved the way a Berger & Argenti looked. The wrapper was multi-hued and wrinkled and the head of the torpedo was oddly leaning to one side. This stick is a bit of an ugly duckling to say the least. I can say that the wrapper was fully intact and showed no signs of damage.

Construction: 28/35 – Oddly enough, the construction was a tad messy as well. There were hard and soft spots throughout the stick, making it feel extremely lacking in the uniformity department. Despite this, the draw was typically fantastic for Berger & Argenti.

Flavor: 43/45 – This smoke was very nice. A solid medium body with a nice sense of evolution in the profile, carrying oak, cashew, cedar, pepper, and cream notes with hints of earth now and again. This was a very creamy and tasty smoke.

Overall: 85/100 – Despite the mid-80s score, I liked this smoke. I find it truly odd, however, that the Berger & Argenti’s that I didn’t like looked awesome and had excellent construction, but the flavor was completely lacking. In this case, the construction and appearance were sub-par, but the flavor was great. I’m not sure what to take away from all this, but if this correlation has any consistency, I’ll be looking for the ugly Berger & Argenti sticks, of that you can be sure.