Friday, February 18, 2011

Arturo Fuente King T

Size: 7 X 49
Shape: Double Corona
Origin: Dominican Republic
Body: Medium
Wrapper: USA Grown Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Smoke Clock: 1 hr 15 mins

Sitting inside my local tobacconist’s shop on a calm Monday, I decided to light up a smoke that I suspected would be a little on the mild side, the Arturo Fuente King T.

This stick is presented in a beautifully designed tube with white and black contrasting top and bottom parts. Opening the tube reveals a solid stick encompassed by a lovely tan Connecticut wrapper. The oily sheen that I discovered on the wrapper had me eager to get this stick lit.

Once I had the foot toasted, I gave this stick a thorough light and was inundated with a transcendent sweetness supported by a light cashew note, subtle leather, and just the right amount of spice.

As this stick burned into the first quarter, I really began to fall in love. I began to taste what I can only describe as a cream soda flavor, a flavor that I’ve heard referred to as purely Cuban and one that I had never experienced before. This cream soda flavor was complemented by notes of oak and cedar with leather & sweet cream lingering on the palate after each puff.

Burning into the second quarter, the complexity to the profile remained, but the less dominant flavors slipped further into the background, allowing the sweet cream soda note to really take the fore front. Evanescent wisps of smoke floated up from my cigar as I reveled in the lingering finish that each puff brought to my palate. In this moment, I was in heaven.

With the third quarter came the return of the oak and cedar notes which had retreated during the second quarter of this smoke. Their return provided some welcome complexity, although the purity of the cream soda flavors was missed. At this point, I really began to notice how medium bodied this smoke actually was. With this realization came a hearty spice note which was most noticeable through the nose, providing a tingle in my senses which again elevated the sweet soda quality that this cigar provided.

As I lay this stick aside, the lingering sweetness, cashew, and leather left me craving another almost immediately. Given easy access to another of these sticks, I would not hesitate to light it up post haste to get another taste of that fabled Cuban flavor.

Presentation: 9/10 – In addition to the tube, this stick comes double banded with one band at the shoulder and the other at the foot. The shoulder band is very attractive and bumps this stick up to my second highest presentation grade. Even though the band at the foot is also attractive, it feels a bit unnecessary to me and so, no perfect for this stick.

Appearance: 7 /10 – The wrapper is consistently colored, oily, and thinly veined. Drawbacks are the wrinkled appearance of the wrapper and the visible seams.

Construction: 32/35 – Very nice draw to this consistently firm stick, especially given that I used a punch cut on this guy. However, the burn was a bit uneven at times.

Flavor: 44/45 – Purity, complexity, consistency, and just downright yummy, this stick hits the mark in the flavor department.

Overall: 92/100 – Awesome flavor with a long and delectable finish accompanied by excellent construction and a knock out presentation makes this stick one for the record books. The next time you get a chance, burn one of these. You will not be sorry you did.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Kristoff Criollo

Size: 6 ½ X 56

Shape: Matador

Origin: Dominican

Body: Medium to Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican and Nicaraguan

Smoke Clock: 1hr, 5mins

Avoiding the winter chill, I poured myself a cup of coffee (courtesy of my local shop), nestled into a comfy chair, and lit up what was to be an eventful smoke: the Kristoff Criollo.

Prelight aromas were rich with earth & leather leading the way. There was also an unmistakable sweetness present that got my mouth watering. A little pre-light draw showed off the wide open construction of this stick with complex flavors complemented by an underlying sweetness. Man was I ready to light this baby!

Putting a flame to the foot, I tasted sweet earth and leather right off the bat. After a few puffs, pepper with underlying hints of nuts crept in, followed later in the first quarter by light cocoa and coffee notes. It was at this point that the adventure really began because, unfortunately, the wrapper began to fall apart on me.

Working my way through this mild tragedy, the flavor profile smoothed and balanced into the second quarter, eliciting dominant earth and leather notes with subtle nut and cocoa supporting. The sweetness that I tasted at first continued to hang around, coming and going in subtle waves.

As much as I was enjoying the flavor, I was NOT enjoying the disintegrating wrapper. By the time I’d reached the third quarter, the wrapper was in such a state of disarray that I finished the job and smoked the rest of the stick sans-wrapper. Not surprisingly, the flavor changed, making this an informative, although annoying, occurrence.

With the wrapper gone, the pepper in the profile ramped up substantially and the sweetness all but vanished. (I suppose that tells us where all the sweet flavors were coming from.) Earth and coffee notes also ramped up, turning this into a great black coffee accompanying smoke.

Reaching the end, I lay this stick to rest. I must say that flavor wise, this is probably my favorite of the Kristoffs that I’ve smoked. The draw was excellent and I didn’t experience any serious burn issues. My only problem with this stick was that the wrapper came off completely; starting with a few cracks that eventually caused the demise of the entire leaf. If this occurrence did not repeat itself on other Kristoff Criollos, this would be a smoke that I would reach for again. Even now, I would reach for one with the hope that it would keep its wrapper on.


Presentation: 6/10 – I really dislike their bands. However, this band is a little better than their others. More contrast guys, more contrast! I’d like to read these bands clearly, please.

Appearance: 8/10 – Before it vaporized, the wrapper was virtually seamless, oily, consistent in color, and thinly veined. It did have that wrinkled appearance that I’ve come to associate with Kristoff, but that’s ok. This stick also featured a rough cut foot and a pig tail cap.

Construction: 34/35 – Bang, wiiiiiiiiiiiiizz, phew, kapow! Fire off the big guns for this category because they really did a stellar job assembling this smoke. I just wish the wrapper hadn’t exploded.

Flavor: 43/45 – Excellent flavor clarity, purity, and blending. I just wish the wrapper hadn’t fallen off.

Overall: 91/100 – If the wrapper hadn’t violently ripped itself from the cigar, this would’ve been an incredible overall experience. Even considering this unfortunate fact, I really enjoyed this cigar. The construction was spot on and the flavors were delicious. I’d recommend picking one up to try. I sincerely hope that yours only causes metaphorical explosions - on your taste buds.