I apologize for not giving a "Week in Review" last week. I was in Springfield, MO a couple of weeks ago for work and it really impacted my smoking time. I was actually supposed to go to one of my favorite shops - Just For Him - for the anniversary of their Torcido Cigar line, but, unfortunately, work just consumed me and I didn't even get the chance to do that. So, instead of putting together a half-assed version of this blog, I'm doubling up for this week - we actually have our first "My TWO Weeks (In Smoking) In Review" this go round!
Black Label Trading Company Benediction and Black Label Trading Company Salvation - A couple of weeks or months ago, my good friend Brad from CigarStix announced that he would be the exclusive distributor for a new line of cigars - Black Label Trading Company. He provided little information at first on the brand, but has since taken to social media to get the word out employing an innovative Ambassador program. A few weeks ago, Brad sent me a sample of 2 of the 6 lines - Benediction and Salvation (the others are Royalty, Redemption, Lawless, and Last Rites) - both in a 5x54 vitola(they also come in 6x60s with the Redemption 6x60 and both Last Rites sizes available as box pressed) to get my thoughts. One note I will make is that while I am not a reviewer, I often don't think its "fair" for a reviewer to judge a cigar off a 1 cigar sample. Unfortunately, I only received 1 of each cigar and, since the nature of this blog isn't necessarily to review the cigar, I will share my thoughts. First, the branding on these cigars is really cool - I'm digging the naming used and the banding (including foot band on each) really fits the theme. The cigar itself looks perfect - nice, crisp leaf that is not overly veiny. Both cigars were firm to the touch with a slight give. Each received a straight guillotine cut and the pre-light draw seemed very tight on both. I wondered if the tobacco was overpacked. I took a bit extra off the cap on each to see if I could open the draw a bit, but found the draw was very tight on both throughout the smoke (it would eventually open up in the final third a bit), but both still gave off decent smoke production albeit not copious amounts of smoke. Burn was wavy in parts, but razor sharp for the most part. I don't know what strength these are classified as, but I'd guess in the medium-full range which for some reason I found a bit surprising as I guess I expected fuller experiences to go along with the branding. I think my draw concerns impacted my overall enjoyment of this cigar, but I still am eager to track down some more (and I'm hearing great things about some of the other lines - namely the Last Rites) to make a final decision.
Drew Estate Papas Fritas - First, I didn't smoke one of these this week; however, my wife has become increasingly intrigued in the hobby and really enjoys partaking with me. While she started with cigarillos, I'm trying to expand her a bit by introducing her to Reinado Habanitos, LFD Carajos and the Papas Fritas. She smoked this while I was enjoying the Salvation and I had to note the impeccable construction. This isn't your "father's short fill"!
Alec Bradley Nica Puro Robusto - So, as I said, two weeks ago, I had to head to Springfield, MO for work and I unfortunately did not get the chance to stop by one of my favorite shops - Just For Him; however, I did get the chance to smoke a cigar. On Wednesday, I wrapped up work responsibilities at a reasonable time and headed back to my hotel and pulled this little beauty out of my herfador and headed out to the hotel's patio to enjoy. I am on record as saying I'm not a big fan of Alec Bradley - the Black Market does little for me, I'm indifferent to the Prensado, never really enjoyed the Fire & Rare for the cost, though I enjoy the Tempus in smaller vitolas - but the Nica Puro has made me a fan and is becoming a regular addition to my rotation. Perhaps its my affinity for Nicaraguan tobacco, but the pepper was prevalent throughout the smoke, but also coupled nicely with other flavors - perhaps a bit of chocolate and earth. As evident in the photo (which Alec Bradley actually posted on their Facebook wall yesterday), the burn was impeccable and this gave off a really great amount of smoke. A definite must-try - even if, like me, you haven't found yourself enthralled by Alec Bradley previously - as this provides a much different offering to their repertoire. Great stick to have in the humidor for any time of day.
Herrera Esteli Lonsdale Club - I was working from home the other day and was struggling to focus in the house with the baby crying so I headed over to my local B&M - Barrister Cigars - to take my afternoon calls and try to get some work done. I wasn't really in the mood for something heavy, so I pulled the HE Lonsdale out of the humidor and sparked it up. I've probably smoked 15 or so of these since they were officially released in late winter and I've smoked all of the vitolas and the cigar continues to grow on me more and more with each experience, and I think the Lonsdale Club is my favorite size. The nuttiness and complexity in flavors is prevalent throughout the smoke and it is an absolutely phenomenal smoking experience. Assuming this is a 2013 release - and I believe it is because official production release was in 2013 - this is my early favorite for cigar of the year!
La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Belicoso - This past week has been a little muggy in NJ, but my wife and I are on a new kick where we try to put the baby down for an early evening nap and step outside to enjoy a smoke and a drink together. On Wednesday, I enjoyed a LADC Mi Amor Belicoso with a Sam Adams SummerAle while the wife enjoyed a Sosa Underground Connecticut. There was a time when I would smoke the Mi Amor very regularly, but I'm not sure I've had one in at least a year if not longer, and while the Belicoso isn't my favorite size, this cigar still impresses me. I tend to find myself leaning towards "spicy" cigars, but I find myself intrigued by how the spice in this stick accentuates the other flavors providing an incredibly complex amalgamation of flavors. Even someone like me - without a very sophisticated palate - can pick out some chocolate and woody flavors. While I didn't find the Reserva extension of the Mi Amor line to do anything for me, the Mi Amor continues to be an old favorite.
Headley Grange Estupendos - The Crowned Heads has been a bit of an anomaly for me. When the Four Kicks first came out, I split a box of the Corona Gordas with some buddies and absolutely loved the cigar and the distinct fruitiness I picked up. I continue to find myself enjoying the CG despite the fact that I'm less enthralled by some of the other vitolas, but recent releases from the company - Headley Grange and the Four Kicks Mule Kick - have just not lived up to the hype for me. When the Headleys were first released, I smoked a few and just didn't find them as appealing to my palate as the hype around them indicated. I put one away for later enjoyment and forgot about it. I've even had conversations with our own Robby Ras about participating in a Cigar Chat RoundTable with the Headley Grange as one of the cigars to be smoked to see if my mind had shifted, but I had not revisited the cigar until this past weekend when I found it in the humidor and decided to give it another try. Unfortunately, I still don't get the hype. This isn't to say it is a bad cigar as, obviously, taste is subjective, but it just doesn't work for me - perhaps my palate isn't sophisticated enough to discern the flavors it produces because I appear to be in the minority. For now, I'll stick with my Four Kicks Corona Gordas and look forward to the JD Howard Reserves coming out next week!
So, that's all for this week! Have you enjoyed any of the cigars listed? Did your experience fall in line with mine, or were they different? I'm always interested in discussing, so please drop a line! Until next week, goodbye for now!