I was tired… Three cigars into my night, a long drive in the heat, and a long week behind me of little sleep, I settled into my booth and ordered a Shock Top while lighting a stogie. Enter the CigFed crew. After a few minutes of introductions and ramblings amongst what seemed like old pals meeting for the first time, Logan hands me a cigar. “Dude, just put that one out, you’ll get plenty tomorrow and you have to try this.” Enter the Cabal… On a fried palate and brain, I knew Logan had grabbed a winner for me two puffs in, that just so happens to be the first company Hendrik Kelner Jr is debuting under Kelner Boutique Factory (KBF). Some of you may remember I reviewed Kelner Jr’s Smoking Jacket (Click Here) prerelease and was floored, so to be floored again in this situation was nothing short of exciting. I had the pleasure of dining with the owner of Cabal Cigars, Chris, and Hendrik on my last night in Vegas, which I will go into some detail in another blog post. For now, this was my most anticipated review upon my return from the show after interviewing and dining with Chris and Hendrik. I will tell you this; these gentlemen are using unique and exotic small batch tobacco’s with the utmost quality control in the Dominican Republic under Hendrik’s watch. Hopefully my wayfaring verbiage will convey my experience effectively, as the name Cabal is meant to bring a group of like minded folks together for a common purpose.
Dry Draw: cinnamon, tea, white pepper on lips, musk
First Third: I would be willing to bet a ton of reviewers will be all over the board with tasting notes in the initial third. Complex was an understatement for the beginning of the Cabal, a barrage of flavor that will make you say curse words is a better description. I ended up giving most of these away at the show it was so good, and everyone reacted the same at this point. The finish had faint white pepper notes that appear long after the draw. Rich cocoa powder, cappuccino notes, and mild cinnamon undertones hit mid tongue. The back of my mouth was finishing with cedar and mild honey that added to the depth of flavor. The retrohale was rather bold, but added layers of complexity to the palate with notes of herbal tea and honey, while adding the white pepper notes as well. There was something very distinct about this tobacco, as flavor wise it is super full body, on par with the strongest Nicaraguan cigars; however, the finish dissipated immediately into an incredible medium finish with depth that is not common.
Second Third: The profile backed down into a solid medium at this point, ditching the rich flavors and moving into dry spices. Precision and focus come to mind in describing the flavors off the draw for this third. Honey and herbal tea were the main notes on my palate, while cedar finished in the back of my mouth, and odd spices I likened to clove or sage. The draw had so much volume; it seemed the flavors rolled off the tongue, in a manner suggesting the smoke was so thick it was almost liquid in form. The finish was extremely long halfway through the Cabal; enough to walk inside, take care of something, and come back out to the cigar with the flavors still lingering on my palate as if I just drew. The retro was still layering depth, and the pepper shows up on the lips about ten seconds post exhale. That is the sign of balance, as in food, where you do not taste the pepper; rather, you experience it. I really wanted Brazilian BBQ at this point, as the dry spices were very complex and all over the board and reminded me of the Brazilian BBQ place in my old town. If they packaged the second third of this cigar in a seasoning packet, I would buy it.
Final Third: The retrohale became very powerful towards the end, with 3-4 flavor notes added through the nose, indicative of high quality tobacco normally experienced in the $20-$30 range. I appreciate Zino Platnium Crown series for special occasion. My notes suggested I revisit them to compare retrohale complexity, notes, and depth. The draw gained a wonderful chocolate bell pepper note, and if you have not had one, they have a unique sugary quality with the green sour note of the bell pepper. I only find them seasonally at my local Farmer’s Market and always buy them up. The 10 second pepper blast picked up and built all over the tip of my tongue, roof, and lips. At this point, the sugary bell flavor was most dominate, suggesting another major change in profile and depth, and my mouth felt like I ate an exotic meal from South America. The tea and honey notes that dominated the second were gone, and the body changed back to full, having more strength then the initial third. Towards the end, a slight vanilla note picked up on the draw and added a richness I found in the first third back into the profile. The complexity never stopped, until my fingertips and lips were burnt as evidenced in my final picture.
Construction: Flawless, but I must point out the badge on the band you can scan to get blend info. It's a unique way to connect consumer with product.
Final Thoughts: The Cabal is like a hole in the wall restaurant, you know the place, the kind that serves authentic food locals and natives love to meet up for real food. When I travel, I always ask the cab drivers where the locals eat, and the Cabal gives me this type of feeling when I find a hidden gem with exotic flavors that make me freak out and tell everyone I know. From a cigar smoker’s perspective, the Cabal has enough power to smack the full-bodied enthusiast upside the head and wake them up. For the mild-medium old school smoker like myself, the power dissipates so fast, I was texting my friends with similar tastes about it while reviewing the smoke. I see no reason anyone would not want to try this really. It has depth to compel the most discerning palate and drive their note pad crazy, with a marathon finish that will haunt your tastebuds for hours after you finish. Chris and Hendrick have created a true gem, and I look forward to smoking the rest of the line and buying a box for long-term aging. Along with the Smoking Jacket, the Cabal will be in my top 10 this year easy. Simply put, if you are reading this, buy the Cabal.
*Cabal Cigars will be debuting in Houston, TX at both Smoke Ring locations, Stogies, and Santa Barbara smoke shops. You can contact Chris at http://www.smokeringcigars.com/ and he manages the Webster location.
**Follow Chris on Twitter @CabalCigars
***You can follow me on twitter @CatfishBluezz