This year the craze in the cigar world has been fire-cured tobacco. Being a casual pipe fanatic ( I dabble in blending and smoke regularly), I was stoked to try all the blends coming out that employed these types of tobaccos. My hopes fell a bit short though, but a new cigar arose out of nowhere on the internet sites that intrigued me, the AJ Fernandez Spectre. As soon as I got the email from a popular pipe online retailer that a Latakia cigar was being released, I had to try it. I set up a trade with my buddy Gray, whom you see here on CFed, and saved this guy for a review when the right time permitted. I cannot find much blend info, and it is really different on the websites, but Pipes and Cigars states the wrapper is Latakia Cyprus tobacco of Turkish origin. The wrapper is also mentioned as a maduro, but I can tell you a good amount of this cigar must be Latakia because the smell is undeniable, and the cigar reeks of Latakia.
Dry Draw: wrapper smells like Latakia camp fire. Lat on dry and red pepper
First Third: Right off the bat, the mesquite camp fire flavor is bombing the retro like some American colonial madness. All the flavor was on the retrohale, straight up napalm in Nam on my nasal passages. The draw was rather flavorless really, so I could see some folks not understanding the cigar at this point. Funny thing is, most Latakia pipe blends are like that, so it made sense to me really. I did detect some slight pepper on the finish, maybe some dark cocoa at times, but the draw did not leave much to be noted. The retrohale was a polar opposite, and rather unlike anything on the market.
Second Third: Not much change took place, with the same general profile on the retro. I will say this, the finish was clean the entire time, with no overpowering earth or spice I kind of expected. Some sugary notes began to pop up, and the balance and depth started to arrive.
Final Third: Finally, the heavy Latakia flavors started to arrive on the draw. The campfire and mesquite BBQ flavors I associate with some of my favorite pipe tobaccos were there. The retro became even stronger, with red pepper finishing, adding to the smoked meat flavors overall.
Construction: No problems
Final Thoughts: These guys nailed what no one else could, a true representation of Latakia in the cigar world. The whole fire cured craze really failed from my perspective of achieving that, so I find it comical that an online release with little fan fare did. Of all of those fire-cured cigars, the Leccia Black and the American Puro I thought were good cigars that employed fire cured tobacco, not necessarily represented pipe tobacco flavors though. The KFC fell short to myself and many others in that regard, but some still like it as a full-bodied cigar. However, from a piper’s perspective, I could not fathom chasing any of these when a tin of McClelland is $10 bucks other then the Leccia Black because it stands as a great cigar regardless of filler. The Spectre really does deliver the fire-cured experience, and I think if a cigar smoker wants to get a taste of it, the Spectre will deliver a nice change of pace cigar. I truly enjoyed smoking this, and would buy it again just for the novelty to see how it ages. In my opinion, the Spectre achieved what the KFC could not.