My Week (In Smoking) In Review - 3/4/14

Was actually a pretty productive couple of weeks for me as the weather broke in NJ for a few days and I got to get some smoking in.  With Spring around the corner, I'm hoping this blog becomes more active.  For now, with Cigar March Madness in full swing, let's get to the good stuff.

Total Flame Bright Line Bobber - Some of you have seen Callie Pullen from Total Flame Cigars on Cigar Federation and seen the glowing reviews of the brand from Dustin.  Callie sent me a sample and I've been dying to try it.  Total Flame offers 4 blends - FTW (Forever Two Wheels), Dark Line, Nicaragua, and this cigar, the Bright Line.  The Bright Line is a Nicaraguan cigar with a Connecticut wrapper, Nicaraguan and Mexican binder with Nicaraguan and Dominican filler.  The Bobber is not my ideal vitola - it is a 5x60 Super Robusto, and the largest vitola in the collection - but the cigar looks to be constructed beautifully at initial glance and the band is pretty sharp looking and keeps with the motorcycle/engine theme.  Pre-light draw is open and gives the flavor of slightly sweet tobacco. Once I light, initial flavors are of hay and tobacco with the slightest sweetness. I haven't smoked a 60 RG cigar in such a long time that I forgot what it was like - I don't really enjoy it as it feels awkward. As I continue, flavors develop a bit more and I get some subtle spice that I did not expect. The middle of the smoke also provides a unique charcoal note - not one I've picked up, but something I'm getting here that I find intriguing.  Burn has been very good, but is getting a bit wonky right before I take off the bands. Flavors calm down as I enter the end of the cigar.  This isn't a bad version of a Connecticut - a cigar I don't usually favor - but, again, doesn't really fit into my wheelhouse.  I'd smoke this again, but definitely not in the 5x60 vitola - it is just too much for me.

The Collective from Cigar Federation - Been eager to try this since they arrived and I figured tonight, as the official launch, was a perfect time.  The wrapper - a San Andres Cafe Claro - is a deep, dark brown with a rustic look and feel. The pre-light draw includes a sweet cedar and a hint of flowery spice. I try to slide off the foot band to light it up, but its not budging - I actually have to rip the band off.  I always hate that!  Immediately off the light, I am hit with some significant spice.  My tongue tingles a bit, but the retrohale nearly kills me!  As I really get into the opening, the spice tones down slightly, but still is the primary flavor.  I also get a unique sweet herbal flavor that I can't pinpoint.  Cigar Coop called it tea and that's probably exactly what I'm tasting. As I work my way into the middle, the flavors remain pretty constant with the herbal tea flavor (thanks, Coop).  I just noted in the chat room that I keep waiting for this cigar to hit 5th gear and really wow me, but it hasn't yet.  The draw has been pretty good at this point and the burn has been acceptable (but I also have only let this acclimate a few days).  As I continue, that tea flavor still dominates, but I'm beginning to feel the pepper again in the back of my throat. I'm down to the band now, and it won't budge - at all.  As someone who likes to save the bands, I hate having to rip them off, and I always worry about tearing the wrapper (which did not happen here). As I enter the end, I feel like the flavors have gotten a bit muted - I still taste them, but not nearly as strong as initially.  With that, I let this experience die and I moved on.  Overall, I actually enjoyed this more than I thought I would. The Collective offered up some really unique flavors that intrigue me and I look forward to smoking it again, but I never thought it really hot into gear and hit on all cylinders. Something I didn't note initially was that this is very likely my favorite production ever from Ezra Zion and something I look forward to smoking again.

H. Upmann Magnum 48 Edicion Limitada 2009 - Spring is in the air in New Jersey - at least temporarily - and I took the opportunity to pull something special out of the humidor.  In the interest of enjoying this fantastic cigar, I'm only taking limited notes here.  I actually picked this specific cigar out of the humidor because the wrapper had a slight tear so I figured now was a good time to light it up.  Pre-light draw is heavy on the cedar. I get that typical Cuban floral flavor off the initial draws once I light and this is immediately an enjoyable cigar.  Burn is a bit wonky, but a few touch-ups worked.  As I continue, got some earth that became the dominant flavor over time.  Really a fantastic cigar and I wish I had more.

Punch Punch-Punch - I went into the shop this afternoon expecting to smoke a Viaje or an old LFD, but one of the guys in the shop told me to smoke this.  I had given him an AKA Cigars sampler last week (to promote our store and give him insight into a cigar you can't find around here), and he's been handing me some CCs and hard-to-finds every couple of days since.  This cigar was beautiful looking with a very light brown wrapper.  My buddy Rob told me this was probably a 2009 or 2010, but didn't have an exact date. I clipped off the cap and took my pre-light draws which were very "cubanesque" - a nice floral flavor.  I took my torch to the foot and charred it a bit - I was a bit upset, but the flavor wasn't impacted at all.  Burn wasn't poker-straight, but never required any touch-ups. Initial flavors of earth with a floral "musk" hit me on the light. Interestingly, I also got a bit of sweetness that was intriguing.  Nothing earth-shattering, and by no means my favorite Cuban, but very enjoyable and something that I would absolutely love on a warm morning with some coffee.

La Flor Dominicana Face-Off by Eiroa - Found this cigar sitting in the bottom of a humidor and decided 10+ years was enough age and it was time to smoke this before any flavor it had left was gone. This is a LFD cigar made by Christian Eiroa as part of the Face-Off challenge in early 2000s. Litto & Christian sent each other tobacco from their respective factories and had each other blend a cigar for the other's portfolio. The bands on this are the old-school LFD bands. The wrapper is a near-perfect tan with minor veins and a slight tear or two. I clipped the cap and the pre-light draw was hard to pinpoint - a slight sweetness with a tingling on the tongue. As I light up, I'm surprised by the power of this - I expected it to be smooth and near flavorless after so much time, but I'm getting a lot of harshness. A half inch or so in, and the pepper dials back and I get a very basic hay and earth flavor with the slightest bit of pepper on the tongue. As I near the middle, I begin to get a herbal or floral flavor. I haven't smoked this before, but I imagine all this time has hurt this cigar - the flavors are there, but a bit muted and bland. The floral flavors pick up in the middle and dominate. It's a nice flavor but not overly complex. Flavor remains constant into the end with a slight bitterness joining the fray. All in all an enjoyable smoke, but nothing to go crazy tracking down - that is if any more exist!

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!

Views: 68

Comment by Catfishbluezz on March 4, 2014 at 8:48am

Oh man, a Face Off is old school.

Comment by HardlyClerkin® on March 4, 2014 at 11:54am

As everyone reviews the Collective the less I want to order, just doesnt sound like something I would like. Was thinking about order a 5 pack for the bands, but if they don't come off easily.

Comment by Matt Ross on March 4, 2014 at 12:56pm

Dustin - Very old school.  If you have one/some left, I'd smoke them now - I don't imagine they're getting better.  If you don't, I wouldn't go out of your way tracking down more.

Clerk - I still think they're worth getting to try.  They are very unique - on that alone, I think they're worth a try.  I also think they're my favorite cigar produced by EZ up to this point - take that for what you will. Most importantly to your point, however, when I complained about the bands (first, it was a minor complaint), it was because I couldn't easily slide them off, but these aren't like Ligas that you actually have to rip the band to get it off - you can still save them, as I did.

Comment by Catfishbluezz on March 4, 2014 at 1:10pm

I've had a few of the Face Off's man, they were excellent given the age at this point.

I agree about the Collective.  The medio temp makes for a very unique experience.  I personally think they will shine once the oils marry, as any medio tempo blend I have smoked always do.

Comment by Matt Ross on March 4, 2014 at 1:15pm

I will definitely echo that - I can see them improving with time.


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