Its been a while since I last posted a Week in Review here - about a month and a half actually! Through a combination of holidays, NJ winter weather and the Cigar Federation Top Cigars of 2013, I just chose to forego posting this blog, but I think its time to bring it back! I've smoked a lot of cigars over the past several weeks so I won't highlight them all, but I'll pull a few interesting ones out to bring to your attention. You can find reviews of the Liga Priva No9 or Feral Flying Pig or the Bolivar Gold Medal elsewhere. Today, I'll try to spotlight some cigars you might not be aware of.
Epicurean Gonzo Vintage 2007 Lancero - Got this in a sampler from Gary Griffith, and I've really been eager to smoke it as I love Lanceros and I'm not too familiar with Epicurean Cigars. Its a beautiful lancero with a mild brown wrapper. I clipped the cap and took some pre-light draws which tasted just like blueberry. One of the most flavorful pre-light draws I've ever gotten. When I told Victor Lucatorto of House of Emilio this he gave me a peculiar smile! As I lit it up, I got some of that sweetness very subtly, but I was blown away by the fullness of the cigar and the spice I got - especially on the back-end. I really wasn't expecting such a full cigar, but I wondered at the time if this cigar would be light-years better with a bit more rest. Then I realized that its called Vintage 2007 because its already been sitting for 5 years which puzzled me. As I continued, I got some chocolate and earth. I enjoyed this cigar, but the harshness (that I attributed to needing age when I was smoking this blind) puzzles me. I'd love to give this cigar another try especially in a larger RG vitola to see how it smokes because I worry that the Lancero just provides a bit too much harshness that overshadows some great flavor.
Tristan Reserve Limitada Habano Gran Perfecto - I contemplated the inclusion of this cigar in my Week in Review, but I've spoken kindly of Tristan in the past, so as a matter of full disclosure, I'm including this even though I only sampled 1 cigar provided by the company. I went to the shop and was really looking forward to this cigar because I had heard it was the best of the bunch. I clipped the cap as I have done with the previous Tristan cigars I've smoked and lit it up, but I was really struggling to get a draw. I clipped off a bit more of the cap - same problem. I did this one more time and still could not get a draw. I don't mean a tight draw - I was getting NO draw. I then started feeling around and noticed that the cigar felt rock hard about an inch from the foot. I decided that there was no saving this sample and I took a box cutter and started dissecting. While there were some hefty stems in the filler, I think it was just a problem of being over-packed. I have not experienced any construction issues previously with the brand and I've heard great things about the Habano (Mark aka Docwill on CigarFederation praises this cigar), so I'll be tracking down another of these and will follow-up.
Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Connecticut - So, I'm sitting in Barrister Cigars in Union, NJ and I give a call to my friend Antonio Lam from Reinado Cigars to tell him to come smoke a cigar with me. He shows up, asks me what I think about Connecticut wrapped cigars and hands me this prototype blend. I tried to enjoy the cigar, not review it. I told Antonio I didn't expect much - I thought much of the allure of the GER was in the wrapper and I worried that losing the wrapper would hurt the flavor. I was wrong. Pre-light draw was heavy on the hay for me. Cinnamon was a flavor I pulled from the first third. It was definitely an interesting take on the Connecticut wrapper. I don't know if I enjoyed it as much as I do the original GER series, but it was still enjoyable. Seeing as this was an off-the-cuff prototype that Antonio gave me, I don't think you should take anything away from this blurb other than Antonio Lam is experimenting with the Connecticut wrapper and if his previous offerings are any indication, its something to keeps your eyes and ears open for.
EGO Perfect by Felix Assouline - Michel Malek of Felix Assouline Cigars is an active member of Cigar Federation and we've corresponded many times in the past including setting up the recent giveaway on the site. Through some discussion, he asked if I'd share some of my thoughts on the blends offered by the company and proceeded to send me some samples. The first is the EGO. The branding and bands on the EGO are pretty cool. The cigar has a smooth, chocolate Habano Criollo 98 wrapper with the slightest reddish hue and several flat veins. An Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers comprise the smoke. Pre-light draw is super tight with some woodsy and chocolate flavors, but I'm hoping this doesn't impede the smoking experience. Upon lighting, the draw is so tight that I can barely produce any smoke or discern any flavor. I'm concerned, but hoping that it opens up as I continue. Once I get past the tapered foot, the draw opens significantly and I'm met with an explosion of spice. The spice remains on the finish with wood and cocoa being the main players. I also get a unique sweetness - almost a caramel - but it is fleeting. Surprisingly, as we move into the second third, the flavors switch with the spice a bit dominant and the wood and cocoa as background players on the finish. This remains into the final third. For me, this is a solid medium-full to full cigar that provides some intriguing flavors. That unique sweetness I mentioned was intriguing and kept me hoping for me, but, as I said, it was few and far between.
Havana Sunrise Reserve Ray by Felix Assouline - The second cigar from Felix Assouline I experienced was the Havana Sunrise Reserve in the Ray size. The band on the Havana Sunrise Reserve reminds me a lot of the Oliva Master Blends band. The Habano Criollo 98 wrapper is a bit darker than my picture shows, but it's a milk chocolate brown with some visible veins. The cigar has the same makeup as the EGO with Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler. Pre-light draw has cedar/earth flavors with a distinct sweetness and very open. Initial draws are full of pepper spice. As I enter the second third, spice mellows a bit and the draw tightens. Flavors are a bit muted in the middle, but I'm getting solid tobacco flavors. The spice returns in the final third with a bit of sweetness. This cigar was a bit more mild than the EGO - a solid medium pushing to medium-full at times, but, surprisingly, I think I enjoyed it a bit more than the EGO due to the sweetness that provided a nice counterbalance to the spice.
Another great list of cigars and some that I think you should go out of your way to try! Have you had any of these yet? Were your experiences similar or different? I always love to hear, so let me know. Thanks for reading! Goodbye for now!