Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

11/23/15

Valentia San Andres - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
4:29pm
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THE CIGAR
Valentia San Andres
Negro San Andres Madura (Mexico) wrapper
Peru VISO binder
ABAM Ligero Dominican Republic & Nicaraguan VISO fillers
6 x 56 Grand Toro
Courtesy of Valentia Cigars
Do please check them out, gentlepersons.
PRE-LIGHT
Rugged but refined comes to mind. As does further regrets as to foregoing a career in hip-hop, I mean did ya get that rhyme? Hot dang. I give band removal a crack and lemme tells ya: this is a company that securely affixes its bands. I suppose I'll be smoking tonight's VALENTIA offering for all the world to see. Maybe I should run out and buy a NIKE shirt to wear while I do. Ah, as to the band, it's the same as the other two Valentia offerings, this time on a white backdrop. Good solid branding there. 

Complexion is a nice darkness with depths that go even darker. There are two/three bulky veins that don't strike me as threats to construction, and also strike me as germane to the plot of the cigar. There's a nice toothiness and sheen to the barrel. There are low-lights of midnight colorings . Overall, a very dark chocolate or roasted coffee bean hue. Tobacco at the foot is a lively multi-hued brown from tan to rich brown.

Hand-feel is rugged but nice, with a light bit of oils that don't entirely gloss over a nice roughness via tooth. A 56 RG is typically past my girth comfort, but I'll survive. The ruggedness of the leaf is in its proper context at a larger size. Charmin test is a medium+ firmness with a tick down at a midway soft spot.

Schnoz notes at the shaft are barnyard and compost with cocoa traces. At the foot, I get a compost as strong as straight manure (not a bad thing) and a marshmallow bit of niceness. 

I clip the cap with a freebie cigar cutter that ain't worth its price (does that count as a review?) and I get cold pull notes of cinnamon laced S'mores. The draw is -firm. Can I please make with the smoke, already?

LIGHT
Toasting the foot lets loose an aroma of tossing graham cracker crumbs into burning leaves. Pull is just this side of sucking chrome off a fender. Fist hot pull is of smoldering seasoned wood. Very toasty and quite comfy. Some hints of cocoa and coffee beans at the finish. Second hot pull is retro-haled to a black pepper balanced with molasses addition to the remaining toastiness of seasoned wood caught slow fire. Ash is -medium to medium+ grey and quite as dens as the draw would indicate. Foot-smoke is sweetly cocoa on a barnyard backing and of medium+ output. Burn is even enough and burn-line showcases a very thick wrapper on a razor thin burn.

Marshmallow appears on the finish which this early has quite a decent form. Barnyard, compost, and cocoa are there, too. The draw is deep earthiness and hardwoods, all toasty and nice, an undertone note of graham. A hint of very dark chocolate is there, as well. Somewhere in-between draw and finish is a vegetal inkling that has in my mind become a Valentia calling card. The retro-hale offers a strong and darkly sauteed white pepper addition.

Profile for now is middle of the middle, medium. Mouth-feel is a softly sweet marshmallow fluff with a creamy but unassuming weight.
ACT I
That vegetal note comes up to be a player and rises to near green chile. I'm sitting around a campfire, roasting smores, after a Taco Bell run? OK! As long as some douche doesn't pull out an acoustic guitar. The pull is yet to loosen and I'm wishing it would, I feel as though I'm being a bit robbed of flavor. Room-note is a hickory coffee thing on a leather backing. Nice, but too much for a non-smoker to bear. Good.

The chocolate comes on good now, and the coffee notes go into hiding. The wood sharpens up a bit. Draw is that and still a graham thing, but that has subdued. The marshmallow ramps up. Finish is vegetal and desert flavors of marshmallow and chocolate with legs lengthening to -full. Tobacco is a rich compost and deep manure -- wear boots. Very nice mouth-feel with perfect moisture.

Ash is unchanged except in that it's an easy inch long. Construction has softened a couple of notches about an inch and a half away from burn. Burn stays mainly even and burn-line is razor+ to -thin. Profile remains medium. This offering is a slow-burner, gentlepersons. Allow some time. Perhaps some time after, as well -- for a trip to the dentist to replace any fillings that may have been sucked out.

ACT II
Cinnamon hides in dustiness at the draw, but attaches to the finish. All else sees the second act start exactly where the first ends. I suppose there is a literal truth there. 

Flavors are delineating nicely and developing their own complexities. Green chile vegetal flavors expand with floral notes. Graham backing roasts and allows a leathery under-note to peek in, even as it rises. White pepper allows through dusty sweet spices. Marshmallow toasts nicely and something like cotton candy attaches to it. Woods are seasoned oak and hickory. Chocolate is dove bar sweet and dark. Very complex and no bombing allows a nice dissection.

Ash gives warning and drops at a dense yet powdery two inches or so. Nice and cool, just like the smoke. Draw is still firmer than I'd like and I like some resistance. Still, all these flavors are coming through, so I'll file my complaints in the wastebasket. Finish is vegetal based with chocolate and marshmallow on it. Mouth-feel is creamy and again, the perfect moisture. I believe the newest addition to the Valentia line-up, is also its star. This is a very, very good sign for a developing company.

At the mid-point, the draw loosens a notch or two and a nice burst of sweet and warm spices flood my smoke-hole. The end of the transition ushers in a thin bit that has only a bit more weight than fizzy wisp. It makes me think of root beer and has an under-note of dark red to purple dried fruits. Very nice!

All else previously prattled on about, holds. I'm hungry. Will someone please tell the pepperoni pizza leftovers in my fridge to stop calling out "Ka-a-a-ap," at least until after this fine Valentia San Andres offering?

We ride on right into--

ACT III
Ash clumps off unexpectedly at an inch worth of denser more oily goodness. Speaking of goodness, thank goodness for my well-placed lap schmatta/hankie -- or my lap woulda been a mess. 

Flavors hit a crescendo and a bite almost occurs and then we taper off as a deep tobacco sets in. A very rich compost with hints of now syrupy dark fruits. The mouth-feel sharpens on account of the remaining bit of warm spices. These warm spices develop to include a hardwood and finally a cayenne sets in as I grab for my toothpick and carefully fold my schmatta into the back pocket of my Levi's; I am satiated.
NOTES
To my palate and humble opinion, this is simply the must-smoke of the Valentia line-up. There is a mellowing or even muting of nuances in the final act, but it is an enjoyable on account of a superior quality tobacco.

PAIRINGS
Pick yer poison, gentlepersons. A pip or few of chocolate or a hot cocoa to high-light desert aspects; or a cup of black coffee/cup of dry white wine to showcase other meanderings. Both aspects are in the stick. Split the middle by spilling cream and sugar in yer joe. Following it up with cold pizza worked nicely. Follow that with Alka-Seltzer.

FINAL GRADE
****A-****

EPILOGUE
6:20pm
I knew I'd be a sucker for this offering, as I'm a fan of what San Andres brings to a blend. Too, I have grown secure in Valentia's way of allowing the tobacco to do its thing. I did my thing; thank you for doing your thing, gentlepersons -- by reading my thing. I am thankful.

I'm certain I'll write at ya prior to Turkey Day, but have a thankful one, won't ya?

Another open-mouthed kiss thank you to the fine folks at Valentia for their kind samplings. You can view my full review of their well-constructed line by clicking on, you guessed it, Valentia -- over at my "Cigar & Fine Tobacco Index" to yer left.

And (again) do please pay them a vist HERE. Again, I must stress their fantastic customer service prowess.

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