Over at the Half Ashed forums we have a little “cigar pass” going on. Each person involved sends two unbanded cigars to another person in the “Blind Review Pass.” For the next few weeks I’ll be posting (with permission) those blind reviews. If you have never smoked a cigar blind, or unbanded, I would highly recommend it. Get some friends together and trade cigars with the bands removed, or have your wife take some bands off a few sticks in the bottom of your humidor. You’ll be surprised at how much a band can affect your perception of a cigar.
Today’s review come from my friend Stewmuse, who is also an amazing sushi roller. Half Ashed host Kip Fisher sent the cigar.
“Some back story. I’ve been smoking cigars for about a decade, but, until starting some prep for this event, have never put much effort into trying to really lock down flavors, as they rarely seemed to jump out out at me. I really have only had a few experiences where I said “wow, that’s a very (insert name here) flavor” from cigars. Mild vs. strong, sweet vs. hard, yes, but not specifics. I have noticed that tobacco/cigars from certain countries are generally ones I like, but that’s as pointed as I usually get. That all said…
This cigar from Kip was a 6 x 48 box pressed (not sharply, tho) cigar, with a medium dark, dry, feeling and looking wrapper. This is one of my favorite sizes. There is light veining and “stitching” on the wrapper. When I looked at it and smelled the cigar pre-lighting, I thought I knew it right away. La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor, as I’ve smoked a few of these recently and currently have a couple of sizes in my humidor. It did not, however, feel like one, as it was not very weighty and was generally soft and had a couple of decidedly soft spots. The draw was quite easy, but not bothersome.
The first third had a distinct, but light, pepperiness that sharpens in the retrohale, focusing the strength of this far back on my palette. It burned quickly and unevenly, only taking 15 minutes to get through the first two inches. There was a lot of smoke, even constant when not being drawn.
I consciously slowed my pace in the second third and this helped the burn speed and evenness, and lessened the sharpness of flavor. As I got further in, the pepperiness remained, but it was less sharp and started to settle more in my nose. I was retrohaling about 75-80% of the time throughout. I also started to get a transition in flavor, getting a couple hits of soft hay, and some faint sweetness came into play. A mild tang remained on my palette. The constant off-putting of smoke also died way down.
The final third changed even more, giving me a very pleasant, distinctive taste that, unfortunately, remained elusive to me being able pinpoint that flavor. This taste remained until I had to put it down because I could no longer hold it without burning my fingers. I also noticed that this cigar was really clearing up my sinuses!
So… what is it? If I have to guess, I will stay with primarily Nicaraguan tobacco, quite possibly from Pepin Garcia, and it may be an Aroma de Cuba, but not the Mi Amor. The smokiness and some light peppery flavor did make me consider it as an Undercrown, but I don’t think those come box pressed. I’ve also resisted the urge to confirm my suspicion and smoke one of my Mi Amors until after I’ve written this review. All right, Mr. Fisher, what is this?”
And here is Kip’s response:
“You chose the most difficult of the three to smoke first. As I mentioned in the PM, one of these sticks may be somewhat easier if you’re familiar with it….one is tougher….and one would be fairly impossible to most. Stick “B” was the most difficult, and I really just threw that in with the others for fun. It is made in Little Havana (Miami) by a small-batch maker called PIO. They have nationwide – but extremely limited – distribution. The cigar is their PIO Resurrection. Details are scarce, and I only come across them once in a blue moon. They run about $8 in FL, and feature a CT Broadleaf wrapper over EC Habano binder and a mystery filler blend that is reported to contain some mixture of Dominican, Mexican, and/or Nicaraguan. I don’t know anyone within the operation to get a straight answer, and tobacconists have been generally at a loss.”