Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

2/26/16

My Father Le Bijou 1922 - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
"A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn't easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it's so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home... And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word... Tradition." - Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof
Tradition. On my birthday for a good couple of 'em now, I've smoked the Cigar Aficionado's #1 stick of that year. I was excited by the Bijou taking this year's honor, because I'm -- as many of ya know -- a huge My Father fan. It's gonna be a good year, mayhap.

I must say this, gentlepersons, before we begin: I purchased this stick over a week prior to smoking. When I brung it home, I took it out of its condom prior to placing it in its new home. I always inspect and sniff as part of this process. Piss. Ammonia, more proper and apologies for my previous French. I had had issues with burns in previous My Father endeavors (La Antiguedad) which I later found could well have been attributed to a rush to market. Ammonia to me, means rush to market. However, in the week since, that scent has left. Although to be honest, I'd recommend another month.

But tradition. 
& Now --

THE CIGAR
My Father Cigars
Le Bijou 1922 
6 1/8 x 52 torpedo box-press
Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro (Pelo De Oro) wrapper
Nicaraguan binder & filler
PRE-LIGHT
Decadent. And I don't simply mean the typical gaudy beauty of a My Father band -- not its secondary. Nor, even, the foot ribbon which I cannot believe -- was stolen from a Crowned Heads Tennessee Waltz. Tsk-tsk and nevertheless, the thing itself is decadent. Fudge brownie brown even complected with an under-hue of more Death by Chocolate. Glistening sheen placed evenly over-top. Minimal veins with no hand or burn impediment. Tight tight even seams. Beautifully crafted cap. Foot tobacco is a sinful every color of chocolate. I feel at risk of getting a pimple or two in my T-Zone. Packing is medium+ at least at the foot. Decadent.

Hand-feel is very balanced. Smooth but not sleek. Oily but not damp. Charmin squeeze test rated a goodly medium with great springiness. It might feel a tad light, but then again, that might be its fantastic balance. Schnoz notes are densely rich cocoa and mildly spiced earthy tobacco along the shaft, with a slight pepper zetz added at the foot.

Very dense resistance at the snipping. The cold draw, however, is a silky medium+. Earth, chocolate, black pepper. Spice components end in a sweetly laced cold finish. Wow. I barely wanna light the thing. Can I just cold pull till my next 39th birthday?

LIGHT
7pm
Ya know what? Suddenly I wanna light, and I wanna light now. A couple wooden matches into toasting the dense foot, and I opt for the ol' Djeep. Very black pepper foot-toasting. Barely metaphorical. Black pepper proper, or as proper as a metaphor might get. Hints of deep complex earth sweetnesses.

First hot pull is like biting into a dark yet sinfully sweet brownie. When that subsides, its under-note of pepper rears up in its absence to drop a slight tingle to my palate then tongue. Very oily. Flirting with Chewy like a drunk Han Solo. A muscular earth backing carries these quite high notes easily. There are sweet spices in that earth. They find their way straight to the finish. Medium legs, there -- and a hint of returning chocolate. Second hot one is a retro-hale of very finely ground and smoothly delivered black pepper. It dries the palate a bit and makes the chocolate a bit more fleeting than I'd like, but too cleanses well and showcases the more complex earth and its dark sweet-spices. Third hottie is all aboard and silky smoov. -Full body and medium+ flavors as listed. Strength-o-meter ain't budged.

There's not a lot of resting smoke out-put. But when you get it humming, the clouds are dense white sweet room-notes of chocolate and Mexican candy. Burn is mainly even on a thin+ line, and ash is 90/10 salt/pepper of narrow dense ladder-rungs. Mouth-feel is chewy and sweet, but too kept in tingly check.
ACT I
How many times can I say the words decadent, smooth, dense? We'll find out shortly, gentlepersons. Dare I gripe with the Cigar Aficionado's numero uno? It's the somewhat greedy gripe that I'd like a more immediate filling of my smoke-hole, thank you. Consider it a birthday wish.

Chocolate has died back some, and pepper has went closer to the sweetly spiced earth. Burn is a tick wonky and I retouch some top-leaf that seems to not wish burnt. No deduction here -- I can still find the fault in my light. All is corrected.

Quite a dose of woods now. Very creamy. Black pepper lays very low, glancing along the earthen floor. Chocolate is less direct, but drives the sweetness. Not full on a chewy mouth, but very dense and holds long, the flavors for a leggy finish as already described. Burn strays a tick and I roll off 3/4" of ash to inspect. Ash  is less dense than I would have guessed, and a bit of rough talc. Still noticeably light foot-smoke.

Primaries are creamy woods and smooth rich tobacco. Secondary notes are chocolate and pepper. Earth backs with its sweet spices. The notes are flying so low and smooth, though, there isn't a far cry between top and bottom. Spices occasionally spring all the way to the primary and when they do, are less sweet and more warm. Still smooth.

ACT II
A savory leather note comes in at the opening of the second act. It floods the middlings. Smoke out-put soars and even the resting smoke ups three ticks. Sophisticated, yes -- but thus far not overly complex. There are nuances in the earth and creamy woods, but not enough as of yet to build complexity. Ash flakes a tad, but holds well and is cosmetically unchanged otherwise.

Spices go to the savory note which is now meatier. Leather seems to bind them there in the middling and it's almost its own experience there. Up-top there is creamy wood. Underneath earth gets a tobacco addition to its sweet spices. It's almost like three different offerings, really -- save that the driving sweetness throughout remains the chocolate note.

OK. There are complexities, but from differing sources... a sort of cross pollination, if ya will. Spicy tingle tingle ups a tick and raises with it, black pepper. This ties the profile together with a second cord and whole other dimension. Draw retains its brilliantly lush smoothness. Profile is a medium+ and strength is light.

Burn-line wavers but corrects albeit slowly. Ash is unchanged and solid. Packaging holds beyond well. I do have to Djeep a bit of unburnt top-leaf. Smoke stays creamy and white. Very pleasing to the eye and unassuming to the nose. Spicy clean finish. Mouth-feel is oily and body is creamy to a medium+ level. All is very chillaxed. A slow smoker with an even-keeled and well-trained profile. A great contemplative stick for my 39th trip around the sun.

You know what? This My Father Le Bijou: it's Darth Vader. Not Anakin Skywalker. Every thrust and movement is accurate and meaningful. Not erratic and vengeful. I'd still like a greater filling of my smoke-hole. I'd say it's more of a combustion than construction issue. As the draw is very fine. The occasional pulling away of top-leaf from burn; that is construction. Package soften but shape holds, as we approach the final act.

Woods soften a bit. Spices subdue. Leather somewhat stiffens and dries the palate a tick. Tobacco/earth backing is sinking lower and the notes appear higher even in their somewhat weakened state. It's almost like the leather is a net, holding them off the ground. Black pepper is so fine a talc, it almost acts as a liquid on the mouth-feel, balancing out the dryness. Chocolate has been hidden for some small amount of time. Far less sinful now, but I'll be able to fit into my swimsuit, if I lay off the sweets. What drives the sweetness? Not sure, but it drives it slower. Perhaps the creamy woodiness.

ACT III
Some of that talc consistency black pepper gets in the throat a bit, but nothing egregious. Strength ups to a -medium. Profile holds but thins. Pace quickens. Still very smooth in delivery and in what is delivered. savory notes subside. Tobacco soars low on long spicy wings. It bothers me that the spices are never fully distinguishable beyond sweet and spicy. Occasional chili powders and waxy red belle peppers perhaps, but always only in vibe-form.

Leather seems to thin, and of all the subduing flavors I miss that almost the most. I'd kill for another morsel of brownie. Some thin almost liquid spice gets under my tongue, not my personal preference, but not unkind.

As the band approaches the remaining notes are delivered in a linear sort of way. Brilliant, but simple. Completely enjoyable and unassuming in its smarts. Ends coolly in a medium balance of flavors, body, and strength.
NOTES
A step up into brilliant sophistication; or down into sophisticated tedium. That depends upon the height of your perspective. Neither is a bummer. Each might be as equally confused as satiated -- but it does hit almost every wheelhouse and offer something for all.

Coulda used another month (as noted) in the bottom of my pirate chest humi for fifteen minutes more of decadence, and five minutes less of thin spices. Ya never know. But ya kinda can.

PAIRINGS
A big ol' brownie. Anything chocolate or fudge. A mocha latte. Dig? Manischewitz wine, Grape Concord. A party hat.

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

LESS SCHTICK MORE STICK
Letter grades are graded on a scale of K A P L O W I T Z.
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance I
Construction T
Combustion W
Flavors/Body W
Strength P

EPILOGUE
9:20pm
Allow me to at once flex the muscle of my Three Stooges smarts, and to recommend a fellow cigar blogger. Mr. Paul Schuett aka IRVCIGARBROKER. Please check him out; very well worth reading his insider perspective on our cigar industry. Nevertheless...

He oopsied on a bit of Stooges history, which I addressed via Facebook comment thusly:
"Fourth Stooge? Ya mean Ted Healy? It was his act that Moe, Larry, and Shemp started under, then left. There were actually 21 (I believe) actors under the Stooges mantle. Under Moe, there were 4 -- not counting Emil Sitka. Great history there*.
Oh, cigar sounds nice, too."
We then agreed I know my Stooges.
So this is what 39 feels like. Not terrible, soitenly!

*There is so much more to that...