Wrapper: Nicaraguan Medio Tempo
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero
The Crucible is limited edition cigar from AJ Fernandez and the Diesel line of cigars. If you do not know who AJ Fernandez is, you should. Let’s just say he learned the art of tobacco and cigars from God himself, otherwise known as Alejandro Robaina aka “The Don.” Known for producing full-bodied powerhouse cigars, the Crucible is aimed at the full-bodied fan in a limited format of 12,000 cigars employing top-notch tobacco from AJ specifically for online retailers. Not much information is available on the cigar itself, as it is not on AJ’s website, but the Medio Tempo wrapper is very intriguing. If you are not familiar with that cut, it is a rare leaf, found on 10% or so of all tobacco plants that has been made famous by the Behike. Normally this leaf is small, and given the rarity, I am intrigued to see how it performs as a wrapper. For those of you that follow me, you know I am not a huge maduro fan, or big on spicy Nicaraguan cigars, so the Crucible poses a fair challenge to this Dominican Connecticut fanboy.
Prelight: the wrapper is a dark chocolate brown, nice and stiff with no soft spots, and the lick provides a nice spice kick.
1st Third: My first impression was the draw was too light, not enough smoke provided to really determine a flavor profile. I felt like I was reaching for espresso or chocolate flavors, but nothing presented itself with any clarity. The finish is very clean on my palette, even though nothing is very pronounced on the tip of my tongue. Smoke production started to pick up towards the end, and a bitter dark chocolate note enters the mix. This flavor is extremely clear, and any fan of bitter dark chocolate would be in love at this point. The retrohale was giving me a burnt caramel note, very smooth and distinct, while providing the most enjoyable part of the cigar for my tastes. I felt compelled to retrohale as much as possible, as I felt it was much more enjoyable on the finish then not. The ash dropped rather fast at this point, and I would say the construction is a bit suspect as the loose draw affected the ability of the smoke to sit on my palette and distinguish the complexity of the tobacco.
2nd Third: The retrohale during this third was so good, it made me feel sorry for those whom have not mastered the art, or do not enjoy this part of smoking. The finish on the back of my tongue was amazing at this point. The tip of my tongue was still searching for something that is not there, or defined. Ash fell quickly several times at this point, draw was still too light, and unfortunately, a hint of unwanted earth entered the back of my tongue and really made me question the price point. However, the retrohale was still amazing and reminded me of a stout for a second, so I am a bit confused as a smoker. I cannot think of many smokes that I have enjoyed the retrohale so much, but not the finish. If I could smoke it through my nose, I would have finished the cigar that way at this point honestly.
Final Third: The earth note comes and goes, and is really not that bad, but it is still there at times and discouraging. I believe the balance had been thrown off by the loose draw, and that unwanted flavors may be present form heat or burn issues. The burnt caramel note was still hanging around and I loved it. The bitter chocolate note had left the building, not much espresso really, and the definition of the cigar lies in the retrohale in my opinion. The complexity had resolved and led me to believe this blend either needs age, a better roll, or lacks balance.
Construction: Draw was too light or loose and the ash fell quickly
Final Thoughts: This was a special release from AJ Fernandez last year, and I wanted to post this review to give people an idea of what may come in this year’s show. I have not revisited this cigar since the review, but recently got my hands on a few more for $7 a stick. When these were released last summer, I think the price of $12 might have been a bit high given the competition. However, if you can find these on Cigars International or Cigar Bid, I highly recommend buying them right now before they disappear forever. Folks that know me, always laugh when I tell them I like AJ’s Unholy Cocktail given I am a mild-medium fan. I find AJ’s cigars age extremely well and my experience with their construction has always been excellent, so I assume this one was a bit of a dud. His maduro always seem to mellow over time and provide a rich experience in the full-bodied world of cigars. This is definitely a dessert cigar that would pair perfectly with a cappuccino or macchiato, and easily with a cream stout. I really feel that with a pair, I might not have noticed some of the harshness I attributed to draw.
As always, follow me on Twitter @CatfishBluezz
Follow @StogieStand featured in this review