Recently, I was gifted some cigars by Alan Fonseca, one of the owners of Ezra Zion cigars. Alan always stops in my hometown at one of his dealers and we have made it a point to share smokes and herf each time he is in the area. Knowing my love for all things Henke, Alan grabbed me some of Hendrick Kelner Junior’s new blend Smoking Jacket the last time he met up with the Kelners to smoke. Not much information on the blend is available at this time, only that Henke’s son is producing them at his own factory under the name Kelner Boutique Factory (KBF). According to Cigar Aficionado
, this cigar is produced in the Dominican Republic (DR), has an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, and is set to release to the states this summer. There are two blends (this is the first one) and only one will be available in the states. They have a dedicated Facebook page with a couple pictures, but little information. So other than a paragraph of information, I know nothing about the KBF and entered this review with an open mind. The vitola was a corona gorda of sorts, about 5.5X44-46.
Dry Draw: Cinnamon, sugar, mild pepper notes
First Third: My first thought was that the cigar was mellow, maybe medium at most, but full flavored with tons of body on the draw. It seemed as if there was a faint, sugary, sweetness on my lips that I detected post draw and which a beverage pairing might hide. For a moment, I thought I noted musk, but it may have been my mind playing tricks on me because I knew this was a Kelner related blend. As the initial third developed, the draw was providing a sweet, yellow bell pepper note and hints of dark cocoa. The retrohale was strong, with a stiff cedar burn, and it left the sugary sweetness of bell pepper on my palate. This was not a delicate cigar by any means. The word “bold” came to mind because it was full flavor on the draw with a finish that dissipated nicely. The body definitely picked up towards the end of this third, and my notes suggested the need for a French Roast, latte, or Ethiopian bean. I really wanted a bold cup of coffee with this cigar at this point.
Second Third: The strength picked up at this point to a strong medium, but the finish was still excellent and smooth in the back of my mouth with no harshness. Cinnamon spice was present and mixed with the bell pepper to make for a nice, complex spice on the finish that panned back and forth every other draw. Cedar on the retrohale seemed to add to the mix, and the sugary sweetness made for a sweet and spicy complexity that was divine. The flavors on the tip of my tongue became very creamy as well, but I would not say this was a sweet cigar by any means. It was more that the tip of my tongue was blasted with cream and sugar, that then changed mid tongue, and finished with the spices and cedar, while leaving a mild sugar note on my lips. Make no mistake; the Smoking Jacket is a flavor bomb. The retro may need some age, as the word “bold” kept coming to my mind and the power became evident as the middle neared. Funny I had my favorite Cuban restaurant in the notes, and smoking one of these after some jerk chicken as a suggestion. A bold cigar deserves to be paired with a bold meal - not spicy and overpowering, but complex and inviting. The body picked up again nearing the final third, with the retro picking up the sugar notes, yellow bell pepper, and providing sharp cedar onto my palate.
Final Third: The draw was as full flavored as it gets. The complexity was not something to keep you continually guessing. It was more that the profile was constantly changing between several notes that kept taking the lead, but all mellowed together to a wonderful finish. What I noticed specifically with this cigar, was a defined note on the tip of my tongue, that changed mid tongue, and differed on the retro. The beauty was all three meeting for a finale post exhale in the back of my throat on every draw. The retro picked up on pepper, while the sugar dissipated with the draw and left the bolder notes following for the finish of cinnamon, cedar, and a darker herb I could not pinpoint in a lush, creamy plume of smoke. Coffee bean seemed to arrive, and it oddly reminded me of the Ethiopian beans I wanted earlier, mixing with full pepper blasts. Maybe my mind made the connection, because those beans tend to have a signature twang to them. During this third, another change took place. The pepper's strength mellowed and the dark herbs I detected became a prominent tea note. This note reminded me of a dark, hot, black tea I used to drink at the Chinese Restaurant I worked at earlier in life. The musk note returned for the final few puffs, which made me smile, as I truly am a Kelner whore, and musk is a signature note for them.
Construction: The draw was lush, burn line was razor sharp, and the wrapper was oily as can be. I had no construction issues at all.
Final Thoughts: I could write all sorts of cliché nonsense at this point regarding the lineage of the cigar. Plain and simple, this cigar kicks ass. The Smoking Jacket is a bold, in your face, full flavored, medium-full cigar that will paint notes all over your senses. I would not be surprised to find some funky tobaccos in the filler, and this cigar was obviously blended by a master. I could have easily broken this down into fourths, and the changes were more like building points of an overall profile. I liken this to a fine dining experience at a region specific restaurant, where each course builds on a central theme and adds a new layer of flavor to your palate. Each note I found in this review took turns dominating the profile, with all the rest surrounding and building up a complete flavor profile. Given the fact that this cigar has been on the road for weeks without proper humidity, I cannot wait to experience it again in a month or so. I have no clue how expensive this cigar will be, but I highly recommend it regardless of price, and look forward to anything released by KBF cigars. As far as specific recommendations, full bodied fans will appreciate it, but the old school smoker like myself should make it an after dinner cigar. I believe age will only improve the profile for a mild-med smoker (like me) and would smooth out the flavors if I wanted to smoke this earlier in the day, or have a bit less sting on the retro. Finally, I would like to thank Alan for gifting me this smoke, along with many other cigars, as he truly understands and shares my passion for cigars, while actively encouraging my writing.