PROLOGUEEach November for several years now, represent for me a stretch of bleak desperateness. Not due to the forced family of Turkey Day and the Christhunnukzaa festivals -- but because of TV scheduling. You see, gentlepersons, from November to January my nightly Golden Girls episodes are removed from air and replaced with round-the-clock holiday movie schmaltz. Dreadful.
I have decided to capitalize on my trials by embarking on a long thought of experiment. I watch a lot of TVG (horse racing network). At night, they play infomercials and shop at home type stuffs. I don't watch it, but oft have wondered what the world would look like through the eyes of a person who subsisted in large if not full part, on that type of programming. Instead of everyone else's Michael Strahan's gap teeth or C-list stars dancing on each others' toes.
I have decided to find out. Findings may or may not be published.
What will be published are my thoughts on --
THE CIGARLavida Habana (LH) Maduro
Ecuadorian Criollo Maduro wrapper
Nicaraguan, Peruvian & Brazilian binder/filler
5 x 52 unfinished foot
Courtesy of Nicholas Syris (many thanks, sir)
Building a name synonymous with quality, crafting a flavor to rise up over the borders of Central and South America, developing a lifestyle to cross the oceans one cigar box at a time – the world of LH Premium Cigars provides far more than just a solid smoke. Carefully crafted as the international answer to the illustrious Cuban, each stick carries a strong legacy of tobacco from Nicaragua, Brasil, and Peru, all wrapped within the finest Ecuadorian leaf. Born from the fly-by-night travels and increasingly distinguished palate of one man, hand delivered to far-flung lands for the most private clientele, and quickly assuming their place as the top shelf selection in the world’s most exclusive lounges, LH Premium Cigars are a departure from the ordinary, an exploration in flavor and prestige – a selection of unprecedented cigars hand crafted by the world, now brought to you." From the LH website, www.lhcigars.com
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with an infomercial...
Sturdy to the hand yet un-cumbersome and quite supple. In other words, comfy. I already noted the unfinished foot, but to delve therein a bit further, it is worn on this offering like the purposefully tussled hair of a model. Not like a slovenly unkempt, well, me in a sweatsuit -- or a Fuente Curly Head.
Very tight clean seams and still smooth spider veins run throughout sans any apparent ill-effect on either construction nor feel. Nicely oiled on a lovely sheen and a very smooth almost slick hand. Dark chocolate and espresso complected with blended ticks up to near Obscuro throughout. Very nice cap construction.
A schnozzola test on the shaft yields notes of Cherry Cordial and leather-backed mulch. Instead of moving to the foot, I nibble the cap and sniff notes of black pepper and a dryer earthiness. A cold draw offers a somewhat firm, though not problematically so, taste of Full City coffee beans, that nice Cherry Cordial note, damp earth, and a woody sharpness I'll place later.
I've been asked how you light a shaggy foot cigar. To head off the question of how to light an unfinished foot -- you light it, gentlepersons; same as the shaggy foot, same as any other stogie. I could have trimmed it prior to light since its up for review, instead I'll just not mention the burn right off the bat. I feel as though I'll enjoy that. Which is the point of a cigar, after all.
Olive wood notes come in on the roasting. Very intriguing. First hot draw in a warm non aggressive black pepper with a balancing of dark chocolate and a cherry note -- no longer Cordial Cherry, as we've already deepened and delineated past that. Rich damp soil. Somewhat of a tangy mouth-feel by way of coffee which stars on a very leggy finish. Second cold pull is retro-haled to add a sharper and toasted black pepper along with a crisp olive taste that is really interesting. A third hot pull sees the addition of a more syrupy mouthfeel which is quite pleasant and rich yet not heavy. Full but not burdensome. I'd say flavors are medium+ already and strength is -medium thus far.
Draw is firm but will get yer smoke-hole smokey, and I'll mention the burn anyways, because it's dead even with a -medium burn-line thickness. Ash is dense and oily with some charcoal low-lights on a -medium grey canvas. Foot-smoke is of average volume and rich yet clean with hints of coffee and cherry. Room-note sees an addition of cocoa.
Very, very nice start. I actually let out an audible grumble which would loosely translate to "wow." at the olive notes.
The burn simmers nicely along and comes to life willingly at each pull. Too, this LH continues to fit fantastically in the hand and now too in the smoke-hole. Luxurious mouth-feel that now sees an additional dimension of toasted saltiness and a very complex finish that makes me tick the flavor profile to full, on notes of dark rich chocolate, well roasted beans and now strongly brewed coffee, and cherry influences. That olive is on the draw and while not out front, it steers the fuller notes of chocolate, espresso, mulch, and cherry -- in that particular order. It's impressive, really, how fast all these have developed, but too in a mature manner and not in a 'flavor bomb' sense.
An inch of ash flakes off and is oily yet a bit toward the powdery side and complected as mentioned. No prob, Bob -- as I have in my lap my schmatta/handkerchief. Burn-line is medium thickness with an occasional and self-correcting stray. The draw firms a half notch and I might nibble a lil more off, but I'm still getting good smoke. Packing is holding perfectly to its medium+ beginnings.
Cool smoker, slow burner. Full body and flavors, medium strength as we enter --
Olive wood ramps up to the olive and the mulch dries a bit on account of that. A retro-hale injects kindly strong black peppers. A roasted savoriness sets in and triggers Umami sensations.
Primarily there is chocolate and rich soil. This is backed up by a healthy dose of roasted black pepper. Olive wood and cherry (now attached again to the chocolate but not in a Cordial Cherry manner, deeper) ebb and flow -- each in their turn and play larger roles on a very long finish. A dark almost damply ripe tobacco goes there, too. Again. "wow." Mouth-feel moistens but not to drooling.
Ash seems paler and more dense. Packing holds still perfectly -- brilliant construction. Draw eases to a medium and I never fiddled. Smoke off the foot increases in volume but matures in aroma as a note of leather weaves in.
A rye malt comes in now, as well, as we approach the midway mark. I have stated I am not a huge Maduro fan, but this offering has me dazzled. roasted, toasted salt is pleasant on my lips and tip of my tongue in a very Cuban way. As we approach the close of the second act, chocolate and cherry are at the same as before strengths, but their sweetness has faded as a very deep and savory ripe tobacco takes hold on the draw.
Full strength and body (on account of an ever-deepening profile and new rye malt addition), strength maybe up to a medium but very comfortable. I roll off an inch+ of oily dense ash and it thuds when I toss it in my rose food bucket, and keeps its shape completely.
The oh so interesting olive note continues to drive from the backseat. At the wheel is a beautiful ripe and deep tobacco with now inherent chocolate and cherry notes, each as dark as the leaf. As we hold an even burn on a now thin line, the smoke is still very cool and the salt is up a tick. Very nice off-set to the moisture of the ripeness. The compost-rich topsoil begins to further assert itself as black pepper lingers just enough on the retro-hale to cleanse the palate.
Finish is all that and a bag of chips with a set of legs on this that'd make 1970s era Mrs. Jenner blush.
Olive wood crisps now and I get a bit of a sense of that savoriness over charcoal. Not meaty, but rich bone marrow. Very nice, very satiating. The aforementioned soil and its earthiness leads now and the cherry is quite distant. All other flavors subdue and congregate, but remain delineated. There is a slight addition of a prune, perhaps the cherry has darkened.
At the middle 3/3 there is a slight corner pulling up on the wrapper (which could be the fault of a rough corner on my ashtray), but nothing egregious, along with a crack at the cap. Neither influence the smoke.
Olive bleeds out olive oil into the already drenched rich earth tobacco. Chocolate re-emerges. Salt ebbs. Aforementioned flavors hold their borders even as they further allow the deeply complex earthiness the lead.
Flavor and room notes remain the same and pardon me, gentlepersons, as I ride out the last few still cool pulls, in silence.
Now I am even a lesser fan of other Maduro offerings.
Cuban Coffee would be nice, as would a Vintage Port -- but this LH don't need a thing. I'd almost recommend nada.
****FINAL GRADE A+****
EPILOGUEHave you noticed I didn't include my usual start time? Well, I have no idea of my end time, either. I'm not a clock, gentlepersons. I am a man. One can guesstimate the time via the size as stated above. 90 minutes or so.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with an infomercial...