Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Brothers of the leaf.

Don’t you just love surprise packages? Yesterday I was gifted a nice package of what I suspect will be excellent smokes, by a friend at work. And it’s not even the same friend that gave me the Padron Anniversary for my birthday a couple of weeks ago either. As we all know, a guy can never have too many cigar gifting friends. Seems we are always giving cigars back and forth, although I think I may have fallen a little behind. I have found Pipe and Cigar smokers to be a very generous breed. What is it about a great cigar or bowl of pipe tobacco that makes us want to share? I have met many fine BOTL (brothers of the leaf) on line and in person and find them to be quite the give happy group. I witness this all the time at a couple of internet forums that I hang out in. At Cigar Weekly there is some type of contest going on all the time where one member or another is giving away smokes to the winner, and at Smokers Forums members are always talking about receiving pipe tobacco samples from other members for no other reason than they think you may like them. Good on you all. Keep up the sharing as it is contagious. As for my latest received gift package, check back later for some reviews as I work my way through them.

Friday, March 21, 2008

McClelland’s Royal Cajun Special

Tin Description: Two dark stoved Virginias and one wide-cut lemon Virginia expertly blended with Cajun Black. This blend is one of a kind, ethereally smoky, deeply rich and incredibly complex. Virginia’s natural sweetness cooled by Cajun Black’s fire-curing and Perique-style fermentation.

My take on RCS:
This is the first of McClellands Royal Cajun trio that I have tried, and I will just say right off that I was not disappointed. This is an excellent change of pace smoke that is quite unique.
When I opened the thin I was greeted by a woodsy aroma reminiscent of the smell of damp leaf and twig covered earth. If you spent any time in the woods like I did when I was a kid, I think when you pop the top on your own tin you will recall the aroma.
The tobacco is course cut, with a spot on moisture level right out of the tin. I find the packing qualities to be easier than some of the more difficult flakes but not as convenient as a fine ribbon, due to the “chunky” nature of part of the cut.
I found Royal Cajun to be a bit hard to fire up and it does command attention to stay lit, but is so worth the effort. One of my favorite things about this tobacco is the flavor that greets you at the match. You are immediately introduced to the sweetness of fine Virginias followed by a nice dose of spice that is a little different that any of my regular smokes. This flavor stays consistent throughout the bowl and never gets overly spicy or hot and doesn’t bite. The spice is unique, almost Perique like, but minus the pepper “edge” of Perique. I would recommend RCS to Va/Perique smokers as a change of pace. It may also appeal to those that have not been fans of, or are adversely affected by Perique, because this is definitely different.
Royal Cajun Special would probably be a good tobacco for the daytime when you are busy with other things, as there is an abundance of flavor to keep you interested, but in my opinion it lacks the depth or complexity for that late evening contemplative smoke.
I would rate it 83 on the 100 point Scottymeter.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Birthday Smoke
This year I selected a Padron Anniversary 1926 Serie for my birthday smoke, and pared it with a generous pour of Dalmore Cigar Malt single malt scotch. They worked beautifully together as the mellow smoothness of the Padron danced with the earthy, malty flavors of the Dalmore. Imagine my surprise when at work the next day I was gifted a Padron Anniversary 1964 beauty by a cigar loving friend. How fortunate I had just cleared a special place for it in my humidor. No way this one will be around for my next birthday. I seriously doubt it will ever see another Monday.
The above pictures are the before and after pics. The cigar burned perfectly with no touch-ups needed, razor sharp to the end.
Did kind of burn my lips though.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Carlos Torano Virtuoso

Awhile back I participated in a blind tasting with some online friends and found it to be both fun and informative. The way it worked was I mailed three un-banded cigars to a friend and someone else sent me 3 un-banded cigars. The price range and number of cigars were agreed on earlier, and we all sent the bands along as well in envelopes numbered to correspond with its original cigar, so we could find out the identity after the cigar was rated.
The following is the tasting notes from my blind evaluation of the Carlos Torano Virtuoso.

Robusto sized beauty.
Nice looking dark brown wrapper but I would not call it maduro, because it has too much of a red hue to be maduro. The wrapper looks more like and Ecuadorian sun grown. The surface texture looks smooth but there is a very fine grainy feel, and one prominent vein and that is about it.
Cap is smooth and round, nicely done, and it clips beautifully with a quick snap of my xikar cutter.
The construction looks and feels perfect; a little squeeze confirms a firm bunch with no soft spots. The top third of the cigar seems to be a little larger ring than the middle.
Lights easily and stays lit. Burns straight and needed no touchups.
The coal was slightly cone shaped under a very nice looking firm white ash.
The draw was just the easy side of perfect.
The aroma seemed a little biting to me but my friend said that it smelled fantastic and wanted to know what I was smoking. I told him I have no idea, but we will find out later.
I would classify this as a medium flavor and body cigar. Not as full as I normally smoke that’s for sure. I am pretty sure that I have never smoked this cigar before. It most reminds me of the Famous Nicaraguan 3000 in flavor. I know it is not the Famous Nic. 3k because of the shape and this cigar seems to be higher quality. It is more along the lines of the Oliva Bold O, a cigar which I’ve not smoked in a long time.
After finishing the cigar and jotting down the tasting notes I opened the envelope containing the band and was surprised to find that I had smoked this cigar before but in the Churchill size. It was a Carlos Torano Virtuoso. I was totally surprised as I didn’t care for the Churchill at all, and didn’t even smoke half of it before tossing it. This Robusto was far superior having much more body and flavor.
Why don’t you try a blind tasting with some of your cigar buddies it can be a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Cornell & Diehl Sunday Picnic

5:30 AM and I’m getting ready for my morning commute to work. It is time to make a selection of what to smoke on the 30 min. trip. I just received a shipment of tobaccos yesterday evening and there are many to choose from. I end up choosing the Sunday Picnic because of the great tin art and I just love Virginia/Perique mixtures. I normally wait to smoke my first bowl of a tobacco until I can devote my full attention to it, but I just can’t resist going for this beautiful VaPer Flake this morning. About 3 minuets into my drive I know I have made the right decision, because of the sweet va’s are really coming through and are being enhanced by the peppery finish of the perique. I will have to write a more complete review of Sunday Picnic after I have smoked more of the 2oz tin, but right now I am really digging it. My one mistake was under estimating how slow this flake smokes. It burns very cool and goes on forever as I find myself at work with nearly half a bowl left. I set in my car as long as I can before finally giving up and going in to work with only a couple of minuets to spare. More to come on this fine blend later.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Squadron Leader by Samuel Gawith

Squadron Leader by Samuel Gawith

The tin description is as follows:
Bright and Dark Virginias blended together with Latakia and Turkish leaf to make this a cool medium bodied smoke.

Squadron Leader is first and foremost an English blend, and a pretty good one at that. It’s not my favorite but I think this would be a nice English for newer pipe smokers to try. First off it is easy to tell that the tobaccos in the blend are all of a high quality. The Latakia is of an exceptional quality. You get a nice Latakia experience without being overpowered.
I would classify SL as a medium English blend that can be enjoyed all day long.
Personally I don’t smoke all day so I tend to reach for a more full bodied smoke when I venture into the Sin Den in the evening.
I find Samuel Gawith blends to be competitively priced high quality tobaccos, and worth giving a go if you are looking for a nice medium bodied English.

Summary: Recommended 7 of 10 Stars.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lombard by G.L. Pease
Tin Description:
Named for the famed winding, twisting street in San Francisco. Lombard starts with a base of red and bright Virginias. It is then enhanced with American “condimental” leaf, including an angel’s share of perique. The twist in this Lombard? A delicate breath of Cyprus Latakia is added for a whisper of smokiness and a slightly deeper flavor. A gentle introduction to Latakia for the Virginia smoker, or just a delightful change of pace.

This is a very unusual but very nice Virginia based blend. The tin states that Lombard is a delightful change of pace, and that is exactly the way I would classify it. I can’t think of another tobacco out there like it.
The Perique and Latakia are used as accompaniments to the exceptional quality Virginias that we expect in a Pease blend. This is pulled of nicely. I love the way I can taste the Latakia without it overpowering everything else. So many times Latakia will just take over a blend and thus becomes monochromatic. I don’t mean to imply that I don’t enjoy Latakia heavy blends, because I do. What I do want to say is it is refreshing to find a blend that uses it as a complement so nicely. The perique is also used discretely. It just seems to touch the Virginias without squaring off with them. They never compete, but instead work together beautifully. Teamwork is the name of the game with the three tobaccos making up Lombard.
I suspect Lombard will be under powered for some, and possibly a gateway to more full English blends for those who have not yet made that journey.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Gawith, Hoggarth & Co.
Ennerdale Flake

Ennerdale Tin Description.
Our best selling flake by a wide margin. Predominately virginia leaf from Brazil, Zimbabwe and Malawi (86%) but with the addition of sun cured Malawi (10%) to add sweetness, strength and to cool the smoke and Malawi Burley (4%) to "carry the flavor" in addition to its cooling and strength qualities. (Burley is very good at absorbing casings and flavors) A background flavor of Almond is enhanced with the addition of fruit flavors, vanilla, and the special 'English type' flavors which give this tobacco its distinctive, yet typical 'English' Aroma associated with the UK best selling brands such as Condor, St Bruno and mellow virginia.

When I lit a bowl of this while sitting on the deck with my daughter she said the aroma reminded her of “clean laundry”. That didn’t surprise me as the “soapy” Lakeland flavors and aroma are prevalent at the startup of a bowl.
Ennerdale is an exceptionally well behaved tobacco. Nice flakes that rubout with little to no effort. This tobacco burns so well that you don’t even need to rub it out. I tried just folding the flakes and stuffing in the bowl and it worked fine. Very easy to light and keeps burning. Burns cool and slow just as you would expect from G&H flakes.
The floral notes are much more pronounced in Ennerdale than with Bob’s Chocolate Flake (which is another G&H favorite). They can be overpowering at first. But they do settle down nicely. It is easy to taste the high quality tobaccos after the quieting of the florals.
This tobacco is a bit too floral for me to smoke often, but I do reach for it on occasion to satisfy the occasional craving that hits me once in a while.
This is one tobacco that simply must be tried. I suggest finishing the tin before making final evaluations .I have been through two tins and I still don’t really know how I feel about this tobacco. You simply will have to try it for yourself. I do want to encourage you to try it though. Mostly because on rare occasions nothing else seems to satisfy.


Avo 80th Anniversary Belicoso

Avo 80th Anniversary Belicoso
Smooth, light chocolate colored wrapper with very few veins.
Really a beautiful cigar, just as one would expect from Avo.
Nice firm bunch with a flawless cap that cuts clean.
Pre light draw has just the right resistance to it.
Lights easily and evenly. The aroma is inviting and pleasant.
Nice even burn producing a light grey ash. Burned razor sharp to the very end.
Loads of creamy smoke. Flavorful with a little peppery zing on the finish.
I bought three of these in June 06 when I was in Colorado on vacation.
I smoked the first one there and was disappointed in the overall performance given the $16 price tag. (I think it may have been a little wet)
But after 6 months in the humidor this was like smoking a completely different cigar.
Very pleased. I wish I had more now. But given the price I doubt I will buy again even if I do see more. Now if I were to come across a couple of LE05’s that would be a different story.

Black Pearl Rojo

Black Pearl Rojo Super Toro 6 X 54
I find this to be a very attractive Colorado red wrapper. It has many small veins that do not really detract from the appearance.
This cigar has been sitting in my humidor for over a year.
Well constructed sturdy cap which shaved perfectly with a double blade cutter.
The cigar smells spicy pre light. Almost a perfect cylindrical shape rolling nicely in the hand. No soft spots and somewhat heavy in the hand.
Fine pre light draw exhibiting less spice than I expected given the spicy pre light aroma.
Nice even burn that stays burning. Produces a solid grey ash that reveals a small cone burning when the ash drops. Easy draw and pleasant aroma.
The Black Pearl performed well up to this point. This is where my disappointment started. I expected much more because of my fondness of the Robusto and Toro sizes of this cigar. The Super Toro exhibited very little of the strength and flavor that I get with the smaller sizes.
Overall quality is good but I found the flavor to be bland and lackluster. I gave a couple of these to a friend and he loved the one he smoked. I can’t help but wonder if I let these rest too long. I aged a box of the robusto for about a year and they were great.
If the Rocky Patel Edge is too much for you, you might enjoy this alternative. As for me I will move on to something else. When I opt for a Black Pearl it will definitely be the Robusto.
Thanks for reading.