Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Project X: Offering #10 - Blind Review (Oliva Serie V Melanio)


'Natch by now, I will break down flavors into categories as you will see below. I then shall note any flavor which arises. Too, I will grade according to my K A P L O W I T Z Scale guidelines. This all shall be noted and notated at every 1/3.

I will then offer a final grade ruling. THEN, on ye next Radio Herf (check yer local listings), Mr. Darryl Martin shall reveal what it is that I reviewed. We'll kibbitz 'bout it.

Blind review, yes? Oh, yes. Blind review.

THE CIGAR
*classified*
7 x 48(?) Pressed
DECLASSIFIED
Oliva Serie V Melanio
7 x 52 Pressed
Ecuadorian Habano wrapper
Nicaraguan binder/filler
ACT I

FLAVORS
Sweet: Coffee and Cream. Creamy. Vanilla. Honey. Fresh fruit.
Spicy: White pepper. Nutmeg. Orange peel. Salt. Ginger.
Woody: Aromatic tobacco (light). Cedar.
Vegetal: Citrus. Hay, wet. Nuts, raw. Floral.
Earthy: Dirt/earth.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction W
Combustion W
Flavors/Body W
Strength A

NOTES
Blonde roasted coffee. Almost cold brew non-acidic.
Dirt/earth is post sun shower.
Veins are lots and hand-feel impediment, even pressed.
White ash.
Uneven complexion, but same artist pallet.
Graham cracker note (not listed)
Marzipan vibe.
Ash gets loose at inch. Roll off. Cool dense oily core.
I keep envisioning a woman in a floral sundress, in a dewy field.
Macadamia and cashews.
Finish begins on quick-fading orange blossom honey zetz.
Burn wavers, thanks Obama.
Nice moisture level mouth-feel.
Slight grit back of palate (coarse w. pepper).
Very sunny profile.
Sunday Drive.
Bit of lagging top-leaf touch-up. Preemptive.
Ginger = Ginger Snap cookie.
ACT II

FLAVORS
Sweet: Coffee and Cream. Vanilla. Honey. Buttery. Caramelized sugar. Fresh fruit.
Spicy: White pepper. Nutmeg. Orange peel. Salt. Ginger. Cinnamon.
Woody: Aromatic tobacco (light, more). Cedar (less). Oak. Tannic.
Vegetal: Citrus. Hay, wet. Nuts, raw. Floral. Alfalfa. Grass, fresh.
Earthy: Dirt/earth. Moss.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance W
Construction I
Combustion W
Flavors/Body W
Strength A

NOTES
Great smoke out-put at each end.
Oak note is very alive and dewy.
Finish is clean sweet tobacco.
Very smooth to smoke-hole.
Notes are very... tender?
I feel like I'm smoking a Kindergarten teacher.
Caramel note (not listed).
Red spices flex kindly. Flex is the wrong word. Brace.
Burn is acting near perfectly.
I'd smoke this 8 days a week, not sure I'd ever be wowed.
And I might forget^.
Almost mulling spice mix, but ingredient remain solo.
Seem loosens a tick at burn-line.
Birds chirping is an excellent audio pairing.
Sugar caramelizes a bissel. Un pocita.
Leisurely hypnotic.
ACT III

FLAVORS
Sweet: Coffee and Cream. Creamy. Honey. Buttery. Caramelized sugar. Fresh fruit.
Spicy: White pepper. Nutmeg. Orange peel. Salt. Ginger. Cinnamon.
Woody: Aromatic tobacco (light). Wine cask. Tannic.
Vegetal: Citrus. Hay, wet. Nuts, raw. Floral. Grass.
Earthy: Dirt/earth. Moss (less).
Chemical: Soap.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance W
Construction I
Combustion W
Flavors/Body W
Strength P

NOTES
Great orange blossom honey on a graham cracker.
Remember in me dancing to Lola? This sedated, but happily so.
Very pleasantly un-changing. Languid. Easy.
Soap is not unkind and almost germane.
Purge eases further ^.
White pepper crisps and grinds finer.
Fruity white wine.

SMOKE TIME
120mins

FINAL GRADE
****B+****
(Prettiest one ever.)

REMEMBER: Tune into the next Radio Herf (check local listings) for the reveal.
POSTSCRIPT: In the interest of uniformity, I will be working from a flavor chart via Stogie Fresh.
EDITOR'S NOTE
I am a creature of habit. I review a stick to the band and then stop (normally). I then snack on a lil something -- today, after this #10,  it was a lunch of Milk Toast and potato chips. HIGHLY recommend. Then, post snack/lunch, I spear the nub with a toothpick to finish editing said review over a cup of coffee.

This time, something wacky and wonderful done occurred. I sat down, lit up, sipped my joe, pulled, and #10 went BRILLIANT. Flavors sang, body filled out, even the strength upped to near O.

Pairings? Yes, oh yes, they shall be discussed on this Radio Herf reveal. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

CAO Extreme - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
Later today, I'm going undershirt and wife-beater shopping. Warmer months, I shall be ready for ya. The thermals will be drawer'd and I can already feel my back hair blowing in the warm breeze. For now, though -- I'll throw on my black wool overcoat and see a man (me) about a cigar (this one).

THE CIGAR
CAO Extreme
7 x 50 Churchill
Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper
Nicaraguan binder
Honduran & Nicaraguan fillers
PRE-LIGHT
Lettuce begin with a note:
There is, in the 3/3 just prior to band, a crack in the top-leaf on account of a bulge underneath. I will get what I can from this CAO, and if I must call an early stop to the festivities -- will offer up some song and dance schtick for yer entertainment value. 

Onward, then.

If I don't get a foot BAND, I ain't gonna get a BIG one. Of course, that sized foot-RIBBON -- would also be strange. The graphic design on each says "active deodorant," as much as "cigar." It does state "3 country cocktail" on the foot band, but is that really a huge deal? Primary band slides up over the cap, avoiding boo-boo entirely.

Dark chocolate complexion is mottled with some brick red under-tones of uneven depths. Nice sheen over-top. Seams are uneven from near invisible to noticeably loose. Veins are large, in charge, and prominent in a couple places and there's a good amount of horizontal and fairly zaftiq spiders. Cap is well-affixed enough, but a tad short, too. Foot tobacco is packed to a -full eyeballed density and is mainly brunette with a tick or two of auburn. Good luster there.

Hand-feel is very nicely balanced with good heft. Sheen transfers greasy to hands. Smooth overall, but there are some impediments via veinages. Charmin squeeze test indicates a -full and somewhat fragile density. There's a trace of tooth here and there. Schnozzing the shaft delivers spiced milk chocolate and fruitinesses. At the foot: some leathery cedar. Funny how the notes seem to blend already. 

I clip with my gifted Xikar and a cold pull offers milk chocolate, fruit, and cedar -- all on a nice cream. Fairly straight-forward. Fruit seems raisin-esque or at least dried red/purple. A leathery cold finish sets in.

LIGHT
Toasting the foot offers up a very crisp leather and spiced cedar aroma. Lights quite readily and starts even-keeled, outdoors and via wooden match. First hot pull is a load of milk chocolate with a cinnamon raisin note close behind, up-top. Some spiced cedar behind that melange. Second hottie is retro-haled to show more cinnamon and also a vanilla note in its wake. That vanilla begins forming the finish. Third hot one is again a milk chocolate led cinnamon raisin primary. Cedar is the middling with a peat addition. Underneath? I'll get back to ya on that 'un.

Draw is a very nice low-end medium+ resistance. my fav. Great smoke-hole delivery. Foot-smoke is a medium volume and the room-note is sweet dark tobacco. Ash is 60/40 salt/pepper in tight ladder-rungs. Burn has wavered an un-egregious bit. Packing has softened a few ticks ahead of the burn-line by about half an inch. Line itself is thin+. I give it an on-the-house re-touch, which I won't down-grade for. It responds quite nicely.
ACT I
Raisin ramps up and it's now a raisin cinnamon note to be needlessly precise. Milk chocolate is very nice, but too, simple. Tasty. Tasty is good. A bourbon barrel noses in line and goes to upper middling alongside cedar. I still have yet to find the carrying note here -- definitively, at least. Barnyard handles the post draw toting. Finish is a nice cinnamon vanilla thing with medium legs. 

Burn is even. Draw is even. Shoulder comes a tick loose. Profile is -medium early and strength is coming, but not here yet. Room-note gets a heightened raisin quality. Packing is re-firming. 

Chocolate is not coming back to raisin cinnamon; raisin cinnamon is catching up to chocolate. Cedar is spiced the same, but now cushioned with cream as well. Bourbon is very much a player. As the raisin hits chocolate, they marry and I get a Raisinets vibe. Another tandem-note appears as a nutty/coffee note in the lower middling. Chocolate leaps ahead again. My lips get a bit of buttered saltiness schmeared on 'em.

Strength is starting to register, we'll call it a -medium. Profile is now medium+. Construction is chugging along. Combustion gives me no gripe opportunity. Ash darkens a tick, but I have a near inch of the solid stuff in very tight and evenly spaced ladder-rungs. I reach for my schmatta as pure schtick -- not outta necessity. Yummy stick. Tandem flavors are nice, but don't lead to the complexities you might expect; nor do they mottle. A bit of red pepper appears on the retro-hale. Vanilla stays on the finish, but is only seen there, once the draw notes subdue. Legs are shorter than the height of flavors would indicate.

Flavor notes hold, other than raisin which spikes on occasion. Mouth-feel is a nice moisture level on a thin salted creaminess. Burn-line wavers but so far no touch-up is needed. I roll off an inch+ of ash and it's warm powder. Flavors get a tick huddled so I purge and sit it in my $0.99 Walmart tray, slow-burning tick of top-leaf, downward. Looks like we'll be coasting for a bit, gentlepersons. An uncomplicated yummy enough offering, this CAO Extreme. Not the greatest combustion/construction -- but mostly forgivable. I patiently await a nic tuchus-kicking. 

A minute's rest doesn't even out the burn, but the flavors do delineate some. Problem is, it needs nursed back to life with a few quick pulls. Purge. Continue. Flavors toast a bit; particularly cedar. Re-touch, ultimately, is required. A hickory note in the coffee flexes some. Strength is up to a medium. Black pepper is on-board, mainly on the back of my palate in a not entirely pleasant manner. Draw begins to deliver inconsistent smoke to my smoke-hole on the same resistance.  An astringent note comes in. Flavors huddle again. Burn is tunneling. A hard clump is to blame. With this much left in the CAO, I opt to cut off a half inch of shaft. I re-light and that's a heckuva way, gentlepersons, to enter --

ACT II
Bourbon was never topshelf stuff, but now it's a well drink and prominent in the profile. Top-leaf cracks off of a loosened seam about a half inch from burn-line. Astringent note is there. Witch hazel and cheap bourbon are big players. Chocolate alone holds on solo. Raisin cinnamon is there, but now upper middling. Some leather is underneath, spread over the barnyard under-note. Peat is gone. I'll repeat. Peat is gone. Pete and Repeat were in a boat...

Burn is wavering ribbons. Espresso comes into the lower middling. Wrapper cracks more. Funny, the original cracked leaf holds quite firm, and its bulge settles. Red pepper tries again. Astringent falls well back and a savory note comes in on its wake. Sharper than I'd like mouth-feel. Chocolate is expanding. There's a baker's chocolate and a nougat quality in it now. Cinnamon falls back but evolves into a red spice rack. Some dark honey sets in.

Strength is surging, as is a new nutty thing -- a hazelnut? Finish pulls in its legs. Draw tightens a tick. I'm glimpsing binder at the burn-line. Ladder-rungs grow further apart on the ash. A new goiter forms ahead, at the start of the final act. Smoke out-put dies back and the already slow burn, slows. Oy gevalt, I get to do this longer. Astringent is gone. The new notes beat back the cheap-O bourbon. Chocolate up-top is nice. Its development allows it to hold down the primary fort. Very powdery and warm ash clumps off on my keyboard. Poor Chromebook. Luckily, my schmatta is also a dust cloth.

I really have to nurse a good pull from this Extreme. The cracks have been smoked through, the newer ones, at least, and no more have occurred. Honey is a player now. The profile is sorta all over the place. I have said that bad Jazz often sounds like what happens when the Special Ed class accidentally gets lost in the band room. Yeah, that. Strength is up to a -full. Profile is a medium bit of I'm not sure what. I head inside and stumble toward the sugar. When I get back to my desk, I'm sad to report, the CAO is still burning. I guess I'll sit through --

ACT III
Chocolate falls way back and I purge like purging is going (further) out of style. No help. I'm confused as to what this stick is attempting. Charcoal comes in and spreads. Toasted woods are prominent if not primary notes. 

I'm coming up on the pre-light mentioned crack now. It re-bulges and cracks more. Flavors thin. Strength stays -full. Why must I suffer so? Thanks, Obama. 

Actually, with 2 1/2 inches left, the stick tries to right its ship. Ash goes dark, but my smoke-hole is filled with a revival of flavors. Chocolate regains primary status. A fruity creamed cedar is up-top middling. Under it an espresso note. Leather firms up barnyard backing. Unfortunately, the wrapper is fercockt. Room-note gets a gamey, musky addition. New ash pales a tick. Burn-line? Whatcha mean "line?" I suppose if you handed Michael J. Fox a fountain pen in a moving car...

Ash clumps on my schmatta. Dark honey note re-emerges. Profile is up to a wonky medium+ on a somewhat chemical backing note. Strength is full. Oh, look! The band is almost here. I'm clocking out. Please point me to said clock. Walk me over to said clock. Slowly. No talking, please. Good. Now clock me out.
SMOKE TIME
140mins.
(Do I get hazard pay?)

NOTES
Nah.

PAIRINGS
A phone call to AFL-CIO's prez Richard Trumka re: hazard pay. Cuban coffee. Latte. Manishewitz in a big mason jar glass. A handful of Hershey Kisses for when chocolate falters.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance L
Construction P
Combustion P
Flavors/Body W
Strength I

FINAL GRADE
****C-****

EPILOGUE
Did ya catch the news on our Radio Herf 03272016? Great show, highly recommend. Thanks to Fred Rewey for paying a visit. Sabbath Smoker is going video! Maybe not the next one, but def the one after. Check yer local listings. The first video? I'll be smoking a Manolo Estate and telling the story of my schmatta. Wowsers!

Speaking of Radio Herf, have you visited my co-host Anthony Welsch's Cigars City recently? Ya should.

EDITOR'S NOTE
I'm now editing this review post Nutella and peanut butter sammich, side of Funyons -- over a cup of coffee. Strength is big zetz. Good bit of a sharp chemical note. Note subsides. Not a lotta flavor. Kerosene mouth. I only somewhat regret the Funyons.

Project X: Offering #9 - Blind Review (Drew Estate Papas Frita)


'Natch by now, I will break down flavors into categories as you will see below. I then shall note any flavor which arises. Too, I will grade according to my K A P L O W I T Z Scale guidelines. This all shall be noted and notated at every 1/2 in lieu of 1/3 (as this is a cute lil shorty).

I will then offer a final grade ruling. THEN, on ye next Radio Herf (check yer local listings), Mr. Darryl Martin shall reveal what it is that I reviewed. We'll kibbitz 'bout it.

Blind review, yes? Oh, yes. Blind review.

THE CIGAR
*classified*
Dark n Tiny
DECLASSIFIED
Drew Estate Liga Privada
Unico Serie Papas Fritas
4 1/2 x 44
Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper
Brazilian Mata Fina binder
Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers
ACT I

FLAVORS
Animal: Venison. Gamey. (Each a vibe.)
Sweet: Bittersweet. Chocolate/cocoa. Blackberry. Fresh fruit. Molasses.
Spicy: Black pepper. Licorice/anise. Mulling spice. Cloves. Ginger.
Woody: Aromatic tobacco. Cedar. Wine cask. Toasted.
Vegetal: Alfalfa. Floral.
Earthy: Manure. Peat.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance I
Construction W
Combustion I
Flavors/Body W
Strength A

NOTES
Was this thing supposed to have an innie bellybutton open cap?
Chocolate is heavy on fruit.
Mulling spice is heavy on orange peel.
Excellent construction. Great draw.
Combustion is very good. Paced somewhat quickly. Perhaps unevenly.
Eyebrow raising exotic spices.
Apple, apple core, apple wood.
Almost a liquid smoke vibe throughout (Especially on RH.)
Mouth-feel is a tick heavy on moisture.
Wine cask flies high.
Shoulder comes loose.
A thinned out coffee vibe.
Lotsa "vibes."
Produce peppers and their juice (hot sauce) come in at the end.
ACT II

FLAVORS
Meat: BBQ (Vibe). Musk.
Sweet: Bittersweet. Chocolate/cocoa (less). Blackberry. Fresh fruit. Black cherry.
Spicy: Black pepper (sharper). Licorice/anise (more). Mulling spice. Cloves. Ginger. Salt
Woody: Aromatic tobacco. Cedar. Wine cask. Toasted. Mesquite (at end).
Vegetal: Alfalfa. Floral (more). Herbs.
Earthy: Peat. Espresso (Americano).

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance I
Construction O
Combustion W
Flavors/Body O
Strength I

NOTES
Liquid pepper/smoke make a liquid feel.
Even though ^ mouth finds a less drooly moisture.
Here comes the nic.
Clean.
BBQ seems to want to amp up, doesn't. Dies back.
I get some bottom of old lady's purse perfume'd candy.
Seams loosen aheada burn.
Nic nic nic.
Musk comes in to balance liquid.
Salty lips.
Mesquite/hickory mix I won't mention up-top. Unsteady vibe.
Liquid notes. Almost all else is hinted at in varying levels of vibe.
I think nic is the draw here. Not flavor. But flavors are quite interesting.
Goes out! Re-light.
Apple apple apple (Not listed on flavor chart).
Almost tastes flavored (throughout). Cool.
Smoke stays cool. Cool.
Red spice rack.
Nic dials bac.
Verily, a clean finish.

SMOKE TIME
60mins
(approx. I'm a man, not a watch, dammit.)

FINAL GRADE
****B+****
(Ya like that, Mr. Martin, sir?)

REMEMBER: Tune into the next Radio Herf (check local listings) for the reveal.
POSTSCRIPT: In the interest of uniformity, I will be working from a flavor chart via Stogie Fresh.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Review of Recent Grade A Offerings

"We are the champions,
We are the champions.
No time for losers --
'Cause we are the champions of the world."
-Queen

Only three (3) offerings? Here have some more content, yes? Yes.
“Athos liked every one to exercise his own free-will. He never gave his advice before it was demanded and even then it must be demanded twice.
"In general, people only ask for advice," he said "that they may not follow it or if they should follow it that they may have somebody to blame for having given it".”
-Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers
Isabela True Cuban-sized Corona
Hoyo de Monterrey Hoyo
Ave Maria Reconquista +
But there were a few--
PROJECT X "A" OFFERINGS
(With mega-thanks to Sir Darryl Martin.)
Drew Estate Nica Rustica

HONORABLE MENTION
Caldwell  Murcias Especial

See what you can spot over at Cigars City.
As always, thanks to all for reading, gentlepersons.

Ave Maria Reconquista - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
As I sit to type out this cigar review, a chainsaw buzzes in the background. There's a brawny fella using it to take down a Sequoia inconveniently placed roughly four stories high in and above my side yard. I don't have the chutzpah for his gig. I almost went into the haberdashery & notions business... I am glad for my opting of this one. I think I shall stay my current course.

Let's then look at --

THE CIGAR
Ave Maria Reconquista
7 x 54 Belicoso
Brazilian Habano Oscuro wrapper
Nicaragua Habano Ligero binder
Esteli Habano/Condega Habano/Jalapa Habano fillers
PRE-LIGHT
Oy gevalt, the glitz. You see that band? Good, then all's I gotta say in addition is it's deeply embossed on heavy paper stock. Secondary band has a near cloth hand-feel. Colors, schmolors, gentlepersons.

Complexions, however: stick is a Full City Plus roasted coffee bean. Mainly even, although in bits the brick under-hue comes closer to the surface. Minimal veins. Mucho el pocito spidero veinos. Tight, even, and nearly invisible seams that only fall into view on account of that uneven under-hue. Cap is a well-appointed pointed. Foot tobacco is a shock lighter and brighter than top-leaf. Nearly monochromatic auburn. Packing can be eyeballed there to a medium+ density and very evenly so. At the foot still, the wrapper seems to be a breath shorter than the binder/filler. Thin and much oil is over-top, sprayed on salad oil, not slathered on boxing cutman Vaselines. Evenly distributed.

Hand-feel is a bit of a wonk, as expected in a Belicoso formated stick. Kinda hard to find center balance. 54RG is sheer pornography, gentlepersons. Neat-O. Charmin squeeze test shows an even and easily medium+ density. Schnozzing the shaft, I get notes of espresso and cocoa backed by some hardwood. At the foot, a leathery sweet fruit vibe is added. I stick the thing in my smoke-hole to nibble off the cap and get a bit of a flinty mineral note on my lips and tongue-tip. 

Cold pull is straight zetz, but less spice, per se, and more just flavor. No more flint. Waxy green vegetal/bell pepper, espresso, cocoa, a sharp oak, sweet and warm spice rack, leather, and prune. Draw resistance is an in-my-wheelhouse medium+. Cold finish is quite vegetal on my palate.

LIGHT
Toasting the foot is a woodsy and leathery aroma'd affair. Backed closely by peppery spices. First hot pull showcases those spices, in an interesting manner: black pepper, sure. But the driving force is green pepper. What I just mentioned is the heightened middling. Up-top is espresso and cocoa. Underneath, and also high, is a quite interesting earthy note. Second hottie is a retro-hale of warm and sweet spice rack and pepper-play. Once it falls to the palate, there is a healthy dose on oak and plum-to-prune. Leather mingles with earth and is sorta a barnyard replete with saddle. Third hottie is on a bit less draw resistance, I'll say medium. Delivered is a reinforcement of flavors and a tick more cream. 

I lit this Ave Maria outside on a wooden match, but we are finding even sans aid on a razor thin burn-line. Zero softening of construction on light. Ash is a light grey sheath. Draw is perfect. Smoke out-put is medium+, substantially so but not constant nor showy. Room-note is very earthy wood with some general spicery. Quite more vegetal than I imagined, and I am enjoying it well.
ACT I
Lettuce say the profile begins a medium and strength can be seen, although not as of yet, registered. Sheath gives way to even and tight ladder-rungs, ash complexion stays unchanged. Burn has found even and holds.

Flavor-wise, oak is a complex note -- at once seasoned and green, as in alive. Perhaps it's a loaned vibe from the green pepper. No new flavors to mention, but some new occurrences within. At times, the flavors, such as oak, are nearly too complex, and take a moment to sit with. A bit of a puzzle, really. The plum-to-prune too has a bit of raisin which gets to the oak and voila!: wine cask. There are paler fruit vibes, as well. Black pepper is interesting, as it is never a solo act, instead a duo with green peppers and perhaps a dash of red. Red and black are finely ground and green is fresh produce -- it takes a bit to cue in yer palate here.

In short: not a day one offering, this Reconquista. If AJ Fernandez can do this, please explain why he too does the near-drek Diesel. A stick for every palate, I s'pose. This is his tour de force, methinks.

Ash loosens a tad. Other combustion notes are brilliantly played out at a very pleasing pace. Construction is nigh flawless, high-lighted by a great draw. Strength is up to a -medium. Profile is an at once robust yet delicately nuanced medium. Very impressive. Very. Special thanks to Mr. Martin for this fine gift. 

Another note on notes and their delivery -- they all play off one another. Not in a mottling sense, but in a an artist's pallet sense. Basically, what I write here is destined to be the tip of the Reconquista iceberg experience. Lest I write a book. A boring and pompously frou-frou book. As shallow and pedantic as Lois Griffin's meatloaf.

ACT II
A new fruit-based sweetness hits the cream. It does so after I place the stick to burn in my $0.99 Walmart tray for a good two minutes and it remains ready with a smooth pull. Great construction/combustion: check. Espresso gets a tick of caramelized sugar and somewhat mimics Cuban coffee. Cocoa is a semi-sweet thing with a bit of new and toasted cream. Red pepper dalliance subdues. Retro-hale is a must here. Oak is on full display there. 

Profile is down to a -medium now, but it's a powerful restraint -- not weak whimpering. A smoked vibe laces throughout. Some tannic quality is there. Black pepper comes up two full tick and becomes a driving force; in a very mature manner. Not a bomb -- a flavor-fest. It adds to all notes, instead of immaturely over-powering. 

Burn is a speck of a ribbon, but correcting itself as I type. Construction is unchanged. Ash picks up a brown note and grows tighter ladder-rungs... seems denser of an affair. I pull up The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes on LibriVox to help me elementarily deduct the upcoming mid-point transition. I roll off an insulating inch+ of firm, cool ash in big anticipation.

Espresso/cuban coffee is taking flight. Vegetal is lying low, underneath a growing smokiness. Leather is in the smoke. Barnyard lets it stand on its shoulders. Chocolate sees a malt vibe attempt to flirt in. Black bread is toasting. I'm gonna run out of words. I swish some agua not out of need, but simply 'cause I don't wanna miss a thang. Moisture level on the mouth-feel is perfection. 

Complexities and nuances are all in balance. Perhaps I'll find a Unitarian minister who will marry me to this Ave Maria offering. Unitarians are quite open-minded, no? Butterscotch and toffee come in. Smoky smoke ramps up. Smoke hits mainly the vegetal now, and too pulls in a lean smoked meat. 

Briefly as possible. Coffee/cocoa up-top as primary. Vegetals and peppers are middling's top. Under middling is oak and leather. Backing is barnyard, sweetened by red fruits. Retro-hale is a clean bracing of complex woodsy stuffs. I'm certain I missed some.

Construction/combustion? Aces. Profile is a fully satiating medium. Strength is a medium gentleman. So many notes -- and each with a carefully casted and well-rehearsed role. Ash pales, angels sing, birds stop in mid-air, a double rainbow -- no two thems -- form on each side of me. OK, I'm being a tad over-the-top now; and I've said a gazillion times I prefer to avoid hyperbole at all costs. Apologies, Dear Reader.

This is one heckuva stick, yes? Yes. The transition was a subtle one, with a couple of new additions. Smooth and practiced, understated. Like myself. The toasted black bread gets something... apple butter. Holy Moses in a hand-basket. Holy Sherlock Holmes' snuff-box. 

Pacing slows as the final act looms. Pack softens a tick and remains springy. Seams budge nada. Room-note lightens and sweetens. Cream ups. Vegetal seeps oil onto my lips. Tongue gets some roasted salt. Profile is now a near full... say medium+. Strength ups to near medium+. Toasting toasting toasting -- all of it. Ash darkens a tick. Apple butter is freely schmeared. Smoke out-put gets a greenish tint. The back of my palate dries a some. Strength keeps upping -- medium+ across-the-board.

ACT III
Dainty as I ever is, I take a pinch of sugar. I should note that although it has been a complete joy, I feel as though I have been smoking this Reconquista offering for several days now. I feel a bit of company might pair well. Silent, mainly, but company nonetheless. Fruit amps up. Subdues, then leather takes a turn. Subdues. Toasted notes whisper now, comparatively.

Smoke to my smoke-hole has lessened off the same draw resistance. I re-touch the light pre-emptively so. Malts which tried on the chocolate fall off as chocolate now muscles up. Black bread with apple butter schmear is very high middling. Cuban coffee is now a straight pull of espresso. Barnyard flexes underneath. Some addition by subtraction, as the band nears on this, my 4th day with this Ave Maria. The fact its kept my attention in a myriad of ways is duly noted and notated.

Also worth noting is that Mr. Martin sez this Reconquista came to me in its coffin with 3-4 months humi time on it. Perhaps this is the wings on which it flies in the face of other AJ pepper blasts. Wine cask rides high now. Strength lowers to a doable for me medium. Profile to medium as well. What now holds my squirrelesque interest is how each remaining note seems to, in turn, curtsy on the stage.

Some still toasty vegetal in the form of a waxy green bell pepper gets under my tongue. No big whoop -- swish. Retro-hale adds a smoky toast to the profile, and also keeps the moisture level quite nice on the mouth. Ash seems to be rebuilding now in a sheath of pale grey. Smoke is pure white again. finish is long and clean and of creamy complexities of the sweeter draw notes (as it ever was). I purge to not miss a curtsy -- and I don't. Very Werther's Original is the final bow.
SMOKE TIME
130mins

NOTES
I don't know what to add. Don't take any wooden nickels? Something about my schmatta? Didn't need it. Tight ash, baby.

PAIRINGS
n/a

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance T
Construction T
Combustion I
Flavors/Body I
Strength W

FINAL GRADE
****A+****

EPILOGUE
Not now, gentlepersons. I'm tired and my palate doth require milk toast.

EDITOR'S NOTE
I put some potato chips on-top of the milk toast. Dee-lish!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hoyo de Monterrey Hoyo Robusto - Cigar (p)Review

PROLOGUE
I'm kinda a big deal, gentlepersons. Don't believe me? Ya shouldn't. But I will say this new Hoyo de Monterrey offering doesn't ship to B&Ms (and only to B&Ms) until April Fools' Day. Special thanks to CSA for the "hook-up" as the kids say.

THE CIGAR
Hoyo de Monterrey 
Hoyo
5 x 54 Robusto
Esteli Habano shade (proprietary) wrapper
Ecuadorian Sumatra binder
Pennsylvania Ligero, Nicaraguan Esteli, 
& Nicaraguan Ometepe fillers
PRE-LIGHT
A dark oily thing. Densely chocolate to full city roasted bean complected with a leathery look. No under-hue; all right up-top and over that is a thick sheen, evenly so. A couple of frog eyes on the wrapper in the opening act. Some husky veins, running a bit more horizontal along the shaft than I like to see. Seams are at time looser than others and more visible. Nada egregious. Cap is a bit short and sloppy. Tobacco peeking out at its foot is a tad uneven with a shorter tuft or two. Its density is a medium+ packing; its complexion a few shades of autumn and a tick of brunette.

Very substantial hand-feel, nice balance. For a 54RG, it don't stretch my fingers much. Packing is a medium+ density, even throughout off a Charmin squeeze. Oils transfer to paws freely. Schnozzing the shaft gets me lots of leathery tobacco with a dark cup of joe. At the foot, a spicy zetz of pepper is added.

Cold draw is a very nice medium tension. Very smooth and clean. Notes are red spice rack, pepper, leather, coffee beans. A notable dose of anise is there too, epis.

LIGHT
Woodsy, mainly charred cedar, on the foot toasting. Some coffee beans roasting. An overall spicy kick to the aroma. First hot pull is high-lighted by an interesting charred yet somewhat creamy cedar. Espresso is also a primary. Dense leather and its oils fill up much of the middling alongside a black pepper that instantly tongue-tingles. Underneath those notes, there's a sweet spice rack that saves the flavors from the dark abyss. Silly to say, but tobacco throughout. Heavily. Second hottie is retro-haled to a zetz and 3/4 of black pepper. A backing of sweet spices is there, too. Pardon me, gentlepersons, as I writhe in pain on the cement floor of my carport. Third hot pull shows more of that interesting sweet spice and a new cinnamon bent.

Packing density has softened a tick but still within medium+ range. Ash is pale to medium grey and on in a sheath. Burn is a bit wavy off a thin line. Room-note off a medium+ smoke out-put is very nice; a sweet heavy aromatic tobacco with a spicy clean note. Draw remains quite smooth.

-Full-bodied outta the gate. Strength? Not yet, I say ominously, perhaps.
ACT I
Very leathery. Very espresso. Black pepper is there -- a tick less -- but there. Caramelized sugar and licorice hit the middling and give some great dark sweetnesses to the already sweet red spice rack. Burn evens and it's thickens to a medium. Packing holds well. Very calm food smoke while resting, but really springs to life on a pull. Cedar note delineates and is a sweet buttery-toasted thing. Very nice note. Leather is fantastic. Like an old oily club chair. Black pepper is now a weaving in and out presence, and sauteed in the oil.

Combustion and construction are very good. Pace is a bit rapid, but even. There's an occasional ribbon, but self correcting. Caramelized sugar ramps up now. Finish is long and sweet over a heavy tobacco note. Profile is -full still, but forging ahead. Ash darkens a notch. A seam loosens at the char. Strength is a -medium.

ACT II
Mesquite hits sweet and toasts well. Great balance there. Up-top is rich smooth espresso and a leather that reaches up from the middling. Rest of middling is a high up sweet creamy toasted cedar and that mesquite. There's a bit of smoked meat savoriness. Caramelized sugar, slight red spices, and no more black licorice. Underneath is all tobacco, gentlepersons. Dark and quite high. Very rich, this Hoyo offering. Very yum. Tingle leaves tongue. Some compost is on the finish. Finish is not entirely clean, but tasty... mainly toasted sweet notes.

Burn is a bit more of a ribbon, but no touch-up is required. Pace has slowed a bit, so the self correcting has, as well. Smoke out-put has downed a half-tick. Room-note is sweeter. Ash is a tick more flake now. Toasting continues on all flavor notes. Strength up to a medium range. Profile to full.

Transition at the midpoint sees a good bit of flip-flop. Leather and espresso duck under cedar and the caramelized sugar. Caramelized sugar is now quite brown. Mouth-feel, which has been buttery all along, continues to be -- but now toasts further to a bit sharper of a thing. I get a black bread essence there. The anise/licorice comes in and out now as a vibe. Black pepper stays on enough to be a nice presence which aids in the cleaning up of borders -- an enforcer of flavor delineations. Also, when it hits mesquite and brown sugar, a BBQ sauce flavor teases.

We're full profiled, but light end of that spectrum. Still very flavorful. Full+ flavor, -Full body... dig? Dug. Smoked meat is harder to find, but savory bits remain clear and lip-smackingly so. Packing softens and flirts with spongy, but draw is perfectly unchanged.

ACT III
Black pepper and mesquite are a bit of a drying tandem on my tongue. Notes are all in locked step post transition. Seams continue to loosen some ahead of burn, nothing terrible. Just a very tasty stick. I'm very impressed with the balance and complexity in such weighted notes. Packing is somewhat spongy now, but all else toward construction holds. Cool mouth and very buttery sweet. Smoke is starting to pour off the foot again. Room-note is a bit spicier but still sweetly aromatic.

At the band, we're keepin' on flavor truckin'. Ash pales an impressive bit and loses its flake. Line is almost dead even. Somewhere at the end of draw and just prior to finish, there's a heavy floral note. Strength is up to -it's getting hard to type. So stop, I shall.

SMOKE TIME
80mins
NOTES
Great price point for a very satiating and deeply flavorful smoke. Maybe not quite a celebratory stick -- but a near unbeatable addition to yer regular rotation. Blue collar no-nonsense with a hint of panache. A plumber who loves opera.

PAIRINGS
Booze. Hooch. Port. Manischewitz. Sarsaparilla. Cuban coffee.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction I
Combustion I
Flavors/Body T
Strength W

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

EPILOGUE
A pleasant surprise, this Hoyo. I'd like another, but now I must wait until April first -- as if I were some sort of commoner. Thanks for reading, gentlepersons.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Radio Herf 03272016


Project X proves to be a Drew Estate fest this week.
Another fest spontaneously doth occur: a love fest.
Fred Rewey of Nomad Cigars graciously stops in and is one heckuva guest.
Another heckuva guest is Luis Gutierrez of Manolo Estate Cigars.

Remember, ya never know who might stop by, gentlepersons.
...& whomever do, better bash on Gurkha, dammit.

We talk some FDA over-reach and how it very well might be (still) "frozen.
Mike tells us how to save a shekel via reusing Boveda packs.

I'm in third place in Toasted Brackets, our Cigars City NCAA March Madness tourney... and it's funny because I don't even know much about... Water Polo, I'm guessing?

Thanks, as always for yer eyes, ears, and in this schmaltz-ridden broadcast -- yer <3
We are proud to be sponsored by this premium boutique brand,
with its roots deep in 1901 honduran soils.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sabbath Smoker 03.26.16 - Manolo Estate Heavyweight Maduro


Welcome, gentlepersons, to yer weekly Sabbath Smoker!

What'd I talk about again? I think:
  • Homelessness and smoking bans.
  • Bernie Sanders and The Bible.
  • How it's harder to be a genius these days.
  • More on my wardrobe and ...
  • MORE.
All brought to you by our new show sponsor: Manolo Estate Cigars.
Thanks to all for listening and looking! I could kvell!

Project X: Offering #8 - Blind Review (Drew Estate Herrera Esteli)


PROLOGUE
'Natch by now, I will break down flavors into categories as you will see below. I then shall note any flavor which arises. Too, I will grade according to my K A P L O W I T Z Scale guidelines. This all shall be noted and notated at every 1/2 in lieu of 1/3 (as this is a cute lil shorty).

I will then offer a final grade ruling. THEN, on ye next Radio Herf (check yer local listings), Mr. Darryl Martin shall reveal what it is that I reviewed. We'll kibbitz 'bout it.

Blind review, yes? Oh, yes. Blind review.

THE CIGAR
*classified*
"Rather Dark Robusto-sh"
5 1/4 x 52(?)
DECLASSIFIED
Drew Estate Herrera Esteli
5 1/4 by 52 "Robusto Extra"
Ecuadorian Habano wrapper
Honduran binder
Nicaraguan filler
ACT I

FLAVORS
Animal: Roasted meat.
Sweet: Black cherry. Chocolate/cocoa. Molasses. Blackberry. Creamy. Vanilla.
Spicy: Black pepper. Licorice/anise. Orange peel. Salt. White pepper
Woody: Wine cask. Toasted. Cedar.
Vegetal: Floral (vibe).
Earthy: Espresso. Heavy tobacco.
Chemical: Charcoal.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction I
Combustion W
Flavors/Body T
Strength L

NOTES
Very robust toasting notes.
Perfect draw resistance IMO (medium+)
Lotsa body.
Flavors hit right outta gate. BOOM.
Burn needed some Djeep finagling out of the gate.
Very distinct blackberry note on finish.
Very heavily toasted cream driven by cedar.
Pretty ash, wavy burn.
Chocolate soars and pulls some nice dark fruit along.
Nice smoke out-put. Verily.
Some tough clumps in ash.
Quick pacing, or maybe I'm being greedy with pulls. 
ACT II

FLAVORS
Sweet: Black cherry. Chocolate/cocoa. Molasses. Blackberry. Creamy. Buttery. Dried fruit.
Spicy: Black pepper. Licorice/anise. Orange peel. Salt. White pepper
Woody: Wine cask. Toasted. Cedar. Hickory wood.
Earthy: Espresso. Heavy tobacco. Barnyard.
Chemical: Charcoal (less).

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance I
Construction T
Combustion I
Flavors/Body Z
Strength W

NOTES
"Wow," sez I.
Flavors deepen and evolve. 
Strength ticks up.
Room note smells like a coffee house/chocolate shoppe.
Not much midway transitioning, but I ain't kvetching.
Preemptively re-touch burn.
Some thinning of profile.
Gorgeous construction.
Black pepper subdues. As does fruit. Balanced mellowing.
ACT III

FLAVORS
Sweet: Black (less) cherry. Chocolate/cocoa. Molasses. Creamy. Buttery. Coffee & Cream
Spicy: Black pepper. Salt. White pepper.
Woody: Toasted. Cedar. Hickory wood. Oak. Aromatic tobacco.
Earthy: Espresso. Heavy tobacco. Barnyard. Manure. Musty/old cellar.
Malt: Chocolate.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance W
Construction I
Combustion I
Flavors/Body I
Strength O

NOTES
Malt hits Chocolate/cocoa. Creamier, too.
Top-leaf cracks ahead of burn.
Addition via subtraction re: flavors.
Burn slows.
Crack gets smoked through [insert Whitney Houston joke].
Finish cleans up (never drrrty).
Very complex here.
Increasingly earthy and woody.
More cream.
Peppers are quite soft and fine. Sauteed.
Cherry cordial.
Mellows nicely.
Ash browns a tick.
Smoke cool to the band.

SMOKE TIME
75mins

FINAL GRADE
****A****

REMEMBER: Tune into the next Radio Herf (check local listings) for the reveal.
POSTSCRIPT: In the interest of uniformity, I will be working from a flavor chart via Stogie Fresh.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Gurkha Widow Maker - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
Purim is past, it pains me to say. I'm still trying to figure out who the heck drank all my Manishewitz yesterday -- and why I woke up this AM burping Concord Grape. Some things are to remain mysteries, I suppose.

THE CIGAR
Gurkha Widow Maker
7 x 52 Churchill
Ten year-old Ecuadorian Connecticut (natural) wrapper
Seven year-old Dominican Habano binder
Eight year-old Honduran filler
PRE-LIGHT
Tan. There is a bit of vibrancy coming up from the not too far down -- a burnt sienna type thing. Tan over-top is even complected. Some sparse and slight greenish marbling. Bit of a sheen with a mostly even distribution. Veins are minimal and only a singular one in the 1/3 is worthy of note. Seams are tight and even, lest one that has a bit of a stretch-mark to it. Cap is well-affixed. Foot tobacco peeks out at a couple varying shades of auburn with a tick or two of dirty blonde. -Medium density in its looser core. Outer rolls are a medium.

Hand-feel is balanced well for its size; 52RG Churchill, indeed. Pfft. Overall packing up and down the shaft is a Charmin Squeeze Test medium with a slightly lethargic spring-back. No veins to impede the hand-feel, as I don't typically hold a stick in its 1/3. The vein there is a sharp thin ridge.

Schnozzing the shaft, I get creamy cedar notes, and moving to the foot some blanched pale nuts. It's go time, gentlepersons -- or the first wave thereof... I nibble off the cap of the seemingly delicate top-leaf. Tastes a tick green. Cold pull is of a medium draw resistance and has a bit of green, as well. Mainly there is a very creamy smooth cedar note. Some hay underneath.

LIGHT
Cedar with a slightly sharp vegetal laced hay or green note comes off the foot toasting. First hot pull is very dense cream with a sweet cedar poking through the haze. Underneath is a sweet hay. Second hottie is a retro-hale which finds a nut vibe under a thinly white peppered rather sharp vegetal note. Third hot one is all that and perhaps a thinning and warming of cream.

Burn is a bit off into a wave on one side. A seam is loosened at the burn-line. Line itself is a medium thickness. No loosening of packing off the light. Draw is dead medium and unchanged. Big sweet clouds of white smoke with a hint of mild white pepper in their cedar. Ash is 80/20 salt/pepper and trying at a sheath. Palate is quite full, but the body has tapered off some. Mouth-feel is a soft thing of perfect moisture level. No strength, medium+ start to the profile off the heavy body, not the minimal flavors.
ACT I
Creamy to the point of having to squint through the fog to find further notes. Sweet cedar, hay, vegetal, white pepper and a blanched pale flesh'd nut vibe. In that particular order. Cedar up-top, hay is a high backing underneath, nut vibe comes and goes in the middling. Rest of middling is the cream... a cream which bulges over on into the primary and under-note.

I roll off an inch of ash -- satiny smooth cool powder. Burn is not correcting itself, neither is it going further astray. Some sugar comes into the sweetness and beats down further, the vegetal. Hay gets some of the remaining green and it's more a grass note now, or at least mainly. Very smoky, a good burner. Although after I type that, I spin the Gurkha in my mitt and spot a potential runner.

That new grassy hay goes up to the middling to create a sorta complexity therein. Suede is underneath now, as a new note with a new gig. Cream has ceased subduing and its still a quite potent and driving note. Much of it is in the primary now, without relinquishing any of the middling.

I re-touch a bit and notice the top-leaf has cracked a bit under my hand. Profile is a medium+ and strength is nope not at all. Ash is more white, but also less solid. Packing density holds well. The runner has been deftly dealt with. Although another spot seems to threaten. Draw is now a medium+.

ACT II
Some blonde coffee comes in to play a bit. White pepper seems gone. There's still a tick of green here and there, which is surprising in this-aged tobacco. Very mellow and smooth, this Widow Maker. I'm guessing it would live up to its name only if the Mrs. were to find out what ya spent on the thing. Still, it is not quite relaxing -- two runner threats and a cracked wrapper under my hand, don't breed nonchalance. Ultimately, it's enjoyably sweet cream. Simply so. Near one-dimensionally so.

Burn is evening on its lonesome now, and more definitely. Nuts are peanuts and cashews, blanched. Hay has taken back over from grass. Suede under it all is nice. At the midway, new flavors are holding, as are their predecessors. The top-leaf, humsover, is unwrapping from burn-line up. In the interest of full-disclosure, I have smoked one of these prior. I did not have this unwrapping wrapper issue... and I was not nearly as kid-gloving it as I am now. I was Radio Herfing.

At the end of the second act, primary note is a creamy cedar. Upper middling is creamy blanched nuts and under that blonde coffee, and a sweet hay light barnyard. Suede is holding 'em up nicely. Flavors are all quite soft and kind. Very enjoyable. Green is gone, a slightly more mature vegetal ebbs and flows... flowing less and less. A smallish caramel note seeks the coffee, in a very weakly brewed latte manner.

Profile stays the same medium+. Strength is a 90lb weakling getting sand kicked in its face -- but muscles ain't what this Gurkha is about. Draw is back to medium resistance. Packing is a tick more soft. Big smoke, white and thick enough to obscure my keyboard. Ash loses the flakiness it had going on a bit ago. I don't trust it enough to put away my schmatta. Another runner threatens...

ACT III
I roll off an inch and a half of mainly white ash of a nice oily powder density. Burn and wrapper are a melange of fercockt at this point. Caramel soars. In its wake, a vanilla vibe sidles up to the profile. Also, the white pepper returns in muted form on the retro-hale only. New ash begins in a flower.

Flavors are seemingly all on-board, and too, losing delineations even post-purging. Mouth-feel is quite nice. Cream has played a part in every note thus far and now it takes over. Smoke warms a tick.

At the band, a slight white bread comes on in a doughy fashion. It lays on the suede and messes further with delineation. top of creamy cedar falls. suede rises. Very one dimensional, and it was never far from there. Into the band, burn actually evens, but a bite sets in. Oy vey, gentlepersons.
SMOKE TIME
110mins
(Re-touches sped up the time, methinx.)

NOTES
The best tasting Casa de Garcia CT ever there was. Although CdG offerings tend to not disintegrate in my hand. They simply go bitter and plug up, if memory serves.

PAIRINGS
Medium roasted (tops) loaded coffee. Tea served Britishly.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance L
Construction L
Combustion O
Flavors/Body I
Strength K

FINAL GRADE
****C+****

EPILOGUE
Can someone please tell me why a number I don't recognize keeps texting me to stop calling it?

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Review Modus Operandi & A Glance At A Padron Offering

PROLOGUE
Gentlepersons, gentlepersons have more and more been asking me about my review process. Since today is Purim, my favorite Jewish holiday and the holiday of my birth, Manischewitz lays heavy on my palate. A celebratory cigar dangles from my smoke-hole -- I know an opportunity when I doth sees one.

Elaborate? 

  • This is not a proper review setting. (Manischewitz palate, although some blasphemous cigar reviewers review while pairing.) 
  • This is quite a proper cigar I am smoking, and we shall get to that, uno momento. What better than enjoying a nice offering, leisurely? Using it for blog content as well, 'natch!
What is my process, then? Let's first have a look at --

THE CIGAR
Padron Cigars
1964 Anniversary Series
8 1/4" x 50 Presidente, box-press
Nicaraguan (natural) wrapper
Nicaraguan binder/filler
PRE-LIGHT
Lettuce begin with pre-cigar, re: my own preparations. Firstly, I generally prefer my cigar pre-meal, as opposed to the more common post. As to reviews, I do 'em with my gut, and more importantly my palate -- on E. Before I head into my carport to hold court on an offering, I do some stuffs.

I spray out my nose with an Arm & Hammer Simply Saline mist. I then swish my mouth with whole milk, followed by water. I do not swallow -- regardless of what the public restroom graffiti may suggest. I then pour a few fingers of water into an Old Fashioned glass, and away we go.

The water in the Old Fashion glass: if my palate dries as I smoke, and only if -- I swish. If that doesn't cure -- then and only then, do I live up to the aforementioned public restroom graffiti. Why? I don't want the milk down my throat as a coating beforehand, nor do I want to soothe with water during.

As to the cigar, my reviews go a long way toward explaining themselves. I focus first on appearance (Veins, seams, cap, any possible blemishes or high-points). Then hand-feel (packing, balance, texture, etc). Then my schnoz , both at the shaft and foot. Then, a cold-pull is noted and notated insofar as its notes. I always mention the methodology of cap removal. 

Not much left to do at that point other than--

LIGHT
I make mention of the aroma let loose by toasting the foot. Too, I mention my means of arson. Here, I allow myself three hot draws prior to the official start of the opening act, or first-third. First is the initial hot pull. Second, a retro-hale. Thirdly, a third pull. I of course mention flavors and the order/delivery thereof.

I then note the construction, combustion, burn, ash, smoke out-put and room-note, offer a nascent profile and strength, and anything else which might present itself. Finally, we are proverbially seated as the metaphorical curtain lifts on the figurative set stage.

Re-touches are not down-graded in this time-slot. I typically light with wooden matches, outdoors -- thus I am forgiving.
ACT I
ACT II
ACT III
Relating all I experience, I write in first person, present tense. This is why it's so exciting to read my write-ups, gentlepersons!!! Share them with yer pals!!!

!!!

SMOKE TIME
Of course, this is where I plug in the amount of time it takes to fly from EUG to JFK. Airtime, not including layovers, but including tailwinds.

130mins on this Padron Anniversary.

NOTES
Overall thoughts and schtick find their way here; along with a general summation. For instance: this Padron kept me busy re-touching its burn. All the while gifting me with smooth albeit rather common notes. Not pedestrian -- perhaps a cyclist, humsoever. Single-speed. My schmatta caught many an ash. Nice nic zetz.

PAIRINGS
Pairings are funny. I have already mentioned my dismay at reviewers whom pair whilst reviewing. Furthermore and apart from clinical review: I believe a true premium offering should not require coupling. A great cigar is an even greater soliloquy.

That stated, pairings are nice. My living room is furnished in the Early American Poverty design. Another design is Eclectic, wherein you purchase what speaks to your eye and somehow it all miraculously fits, if not matches -- think this, gentlepersons, whenst thinking pairing. Too, there is such a phenomenon as "on-the-nose." Don't pair a coffee primary cigar offering with coffee. Perhaps look deeper than the stick's primary and see a chocolate middling note that can use a hand. Perhaps then go hot cocoa. In a Superman mug, ya nut ya! You get the gist. Wines are great for pulling out subtle fruits. Manischewitz cannot be beat.

Also, think to music or other entertainment and food and and friends and all other ambience for pairing potentialities. But always use a well placed comma in lieu of "and" over and over and...

OK. Enough on a topic which volumes can and have been wrote on, and by better gentlepersons than I.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance: How the stick looks, 'natch. Pre-light to nubbing - and all points betwixt; visually.
Construction: The level of craftsmanship. The mechanics of that: Draw, ash, packing, etc.
Combustion: The burn, its line, and it's smoke-output at each end -- off the foot and into smoke-hole.
Flavors/Body: All about the palate. What I taste draw to finish and how it mouth-feels and finishes. Also, complexity/nuances.
Strength: Nicotine, gentlepersons. How loopy one might get.

Can you see how some of these over-lap? Good. Also: I begin on "O" and grade up or down as needed throughout, or at designated times as indicated.
The Padron?

ACT I
Appearance W
Construction O
Combustion O
Flavors/Body I
Strength L

ACT II
Appearance I
Construction O
Combustion O
Flavors/Body I
Strength O

ACT III
Appearance L
Construction O
Combustion O
Flavors/Body O
Strength W

FINAL GRADE
****B****
We'll actually be talking a lot about this (Final Grade writ large, not the Padron's B) on Radio Herf 03272016. Check yer local listings

For now's sake, I begin each offering on an "A" grading and adjust accordingly as the play plays out. A+ is achieved via no down-ticks and if I release, at anytime whilst smoking, and audible "Wow." Anything below B, I cannot recommend. That stated, any A grade is akin to me saying ya gotta try this. Try these.

EPILOGUE
Another nod toward fellow reviewers. Don't review a stick, any stick, fresh from the mailbox. Allow it its rest. To those shipping review sticks: be prepared for these schmucks. Pack in decent bags with decent hydration.

I believe you, Dear Reader, now have the gist of my M.O.. If you'll excuse me -- it is Purim, and I'm a tick Manishewitz'd -- but the laundering of one's underwear waits for no gentleperson.

Purim Sameach!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Purim Sameach!!!


Project X: Offering #7 - Blind Review (Drew Estate Liga Privada T52)


'Natch by now, I will break down flavors into categories as you will see below. I then shall note any flavor which arises. Too, I will grade according to my K A P L O W I T Z Scale guidelines. This all shall be noted and notated at every 1/3.

I will then offer a final grade ruling. THEN, on ye next Radio Herf (check yer local listings), Mr. Darryl Martin shall reveal what it is that I reviewed. We'll kibbitz 'bout it.

Blind review, yes? Oh, yes. Blind review.

THE CIGAR
*classified*
"6 x 54(?) Yellow/Brown"
DECLASSIFIED
Drew Estate
Liga Privada T52
6 x 52 Toro
Connecticut Stalk Cut & Cured Sun Grown Habano wrapper
Brazilian Mata Fina binder
Honduran & Nicaraguan fillers
ACT I

FLAVORS
Animal: Smoked meat. Manure.
Sweet: Molasses. Toffee. Caramelized sugar. Black cherry.
Spicy: Black Pepper. Chili pepper. Cinnamon. Mulling Spice.
Woody: Charred/burnt. Oak Wood. Paper. Mesquite wood.
Vegetal: Floral. Herbs. Nuts, roasted.
Earthy: Espresso.
Malt: Chocolate. Rye.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance W
Construction I
Combustion I
Flavors/Body I
Strength P

NOTES
Clean & complex finish.
Lotsa smoke
Darkly sweet.
Espresso note is crema-heavy.
Rib-eye steak w/ Cordial Cherry side.
Smooth, even draw.
Well-trained notes.
Wide and full landscape.
Quickish pacing.
ACT II

FLAVORS
Animal: Smoked meat.
Sweet: Molasses. Caramelized sugar. Sugar. Black cherry. Vanilla. Fresh fruit.
Spicy: Black Pepper. Chili pepper. Cinnamon. Mulling Spice. Nutmeg.
Woody: Charred/burnt. Oak Wood. Mesquite wood. Cedar wood.
Vegetal: Floral. Herbs. Nuts, raw.
Earthy: Espresso. Peat. Heavy tobacco.
Chemical: Astringent.
Malt: Chocolate (more).

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance O
Construction W
Combustion I
Flavors/Body I
Strength L

NOTES
Spices all saute together in clarified butter.
Slight astringent twang smell/taste. Purging clears.
Nougat vibe.
Slightly arid mouth-feel.
Burn wonks. (No re-touch.) (Self-corrects w/ care.)
Smoky smoky foot and smoke-hole.
Darker nuts added.
(Cherry) cola vibe.
Slight re-touch.
Very nice room-note.
Burn-line requires some att'n, if not action.
Dark yet unweighted notes.
ACT III

FLAVORS
Animal: Roasted meat.
Sweet: Molasses. Black cherry. Fresh Fruit. Coffee and Cream. Chocolate/cocoa
Spicy: Black pepper. Cinnamon (subdued), Nutmeg. Orange peel.
Woody: Charred/burnt. Cedar Wood. Toasted.
Vegetal: Floral. Citrus. Nuts, roasted.
Earthy: Peat. Heavy tobacco. Espresso (left, came back)
Malt: Chocolate.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
Appearance O
Construction W
Combustion I
Flavors/Body I
Strength L

NOTES
Draw tightens a tick.
Darker nuts roasted.
Bread returns, sans rye malt.
Barley/cereal note.
Smoke-hole filling thins.
Finish cleans up even more.
Smoke gets bluish hue-ish.
More carbonation in cherry cola, Lola.
Chocolate pours soars and explores.
Can you make an egg cream with cherry cola, Lola?

SMOKE TIME
125mins.

FINAL GRADE
****n/a****
Tune into Radio Herf for further discussion!
(What can rightly differentiate a B+ from A-)

REMEMBER: Tune into the next Radio Herf (check local listings) for the reveal.
POSTSCRIPT: In the interest of uniformity, I will be working from a flavor chart via Stogie Fresh.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Camacho Corojo Maduro - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
Tomorrow's Purim (at nightfall)! That's my holiday! I'm a Purim baby, baby! I got something special warming up in the bullpen to smoke with a tall mason jar of Manischewitz. But for the now -- for the now -- well, the now ain't too shabby itself, methinks. Let's see about:

THE CIGAR
Camacho Cigars
Corojo Maduro
5 x 50 Robusto
"Original" Corojo Maduro
"Original" Corojo binder/filler

"We take this vintage Cuban leaf and age it. And age it. Until its color turns black and its flavor turns earthy and rich, spiced with pepper, wood and sweet satisfaction. Not a simple smoke. But who’s looking for that?" www.CamachoCigars.com
PRE-LIGHT
Even Hershey Kisses complexion with some roasted coffee bean hue stuffs marbling over-top. Nice sheen over that, and densely but sparingly so. Under it all is a rather neat ochre, which serves to create a not very dark Maduro offering. Minimal veins. Near invisible and even seams. Well appointed cap. Tobacco at the other end shows an auburn coloring with only occasional blonde high-light. Packing there can be eye-balled to a medium density. Rather ordinary, really. Oh and by the by, there's a huge hiccup in the top-leaf in start of 2/3. Some misplaced leaf thing, but binder stays hidden and we shall see how it gets burnt through. Not sure if this occurred en route to me, or factory fresh.

Hand-feel is a perennial selling point of a true Robusto, and at 5 x 50, this Camacho fits that bill. Nice weight and great balance make up for stretching my pointer a bit wide from my bad finger. Packing is a light side o' medium+ density off the Charmin Squeeze Test. Evenly so. Schnoz notes along the shaft are earth mainly, with hints of spice rack and cocoa. From the foot, I get the same, in a somewhat cleaner near zetz.

I Xikar Xi2 the hell outta the cap and the cold draw is a nice in-my-wheelhouse medium+ resistance. Very earthy notes, quite surprisingly fresh. Some red spice rack, and dark chocolate. Nice tingle on the lips and tongue. Cinnamon distinguishes itself on another cold one. Red pepper, too. OK --

LIGHT
Real eager to burn, I can easily light the thing on the wooden match foot toasting if I wished. Fairly simple sweet and spicy earthy aroma there. Decent smoke out-put already from the foot and I'm not truly lit yet. First hot one is mainly spice rack, red pepper and cinnamon led. Up near it and almost allowing it to stand on its shoulders is a nice dark chocolate. Earth is a high-up backing which bleeds into middling and in that middle is a hickory wood note. The hickory lays nice on the tongue, seasoned. Second hottie is retro-haled to a nose hair singe red pepper that really cleans out the sinuses -- of the guy two doors down. A deeper chocolate attaches to the palate as the singe ebbs. Hickory is stronger. Earth is a great sweet and spicy balance with a bit of a savory thing when it forms into a -long finish. Chocolate and cinnamon go there, too. Third hot one is a further sweetening of the dark chocolate. Spice rack has kaput lest the red pepper and cinnamon. 

Mouth-feel is a slight sweet cream tingle. Ash is light to medium grey in a wide near airy ladder-rung formation. Burn-line is a ribbon getting to even quick, off an outdoors match lighting. Draw is same as when cold. Packing softens a couple ticks for a 1/2" off the char. Pace is a bit fast. Smoke to atmosphere and smoke-hole is of a largess out-putting.
ACT I
Cinnamon and red pepper are even-stevens up-top. The primary has its own backing of an always heightening now rich dark chocolate. The rest is a melange of mainly earth and seasoned/slightly charred hickory. But wait, there's more (whew) a roasted meat is coming up from the early savory vibe. The meat is salted and now a cedar is on-board. Settling... settling...

Primary says the same. A creamy cedar and seasoned hickory occupy the middling. An under-note of earth backs well now; it gets equal sweets, spices, and savoriness sprinkled upon it from above. Quite nice.

Ash still holds loosely and mainly medium greyly. A sheath is just missed. Burn is wonked ribbons with a maybe blister forming, but no touch-up just yet. Line is thin+. Pace slows. Smoke pours with a slight bluish tinge. Coffee with cream and sugar comes into the woody middling. I'm a happy camper, yes I am, gentlepersons.

We ain't talking complexities and perhaps not even loads of nuance -- but we are talking enjoyment.We are also talking about a bit of a runner. I roll off a solid inch of ash with more density that the eye can see due to an oily core, and re-touch the burn. It seems that blemish I mentioned at the onset has sprung a bit of a leak. Not so much a runner, per se -- as a segment which wasn't combusting well. We are apparently aces now, and said blemish ain't far away from being ash.

At the close of the opening act, we're looking classic medium with perhaps a ballsier stout posture. Strength is a -medium, maybe almost. A final pull is retro-haled to a first near complexity of chocolate wood with a tick of toast and sprinkle of red. An herbal note is on the far end of the finish -- almost refreshingly mintly so.

ACT II
Graham crackers come in quite high-up in the woody middling. with the cream form the coffee and the chocolate over-top; I get, almost, S'mores. The meaty savory note is enhanced as a great balance. Cinnamon and red pepper hop off the shoulders of dark chocolate. Earth rises. Short ceiling now. Toast note gets a heavier sweet bread. Almost cake. Rich and dense. Imma say challah. I can almost taste egg. How neat. I scorch a quick blister with my Djeep. Neat transition. Sweet, yes? Yes. Also still quite meaty. A banquet in the woods. I hate dining alfresco. Coffee and sweet cream soar. Let's say challah goes to a yeasty coffee cake. Spices subdue more and chocolate is the topper. 

Some fleshy nuts vibe in at the close of the middle act. Medium+ profile. Medium strength, and kindly so. Burn has evened mainly after getting past that hiccup in the top-leaf. Packing is an even medium down the remaining shaft, Draw stays medium+ but a lower one. Smoky smoky smoky Camacho. Very Maduro, but genuinely if not overly interestingly so. Mouth-feel is a tick buttery and it's on my lips, as well. Tingle is very slight and from that refreshing herbal quality. I'm full-on enjoying. A smoker for sure, this Corojo offering. Body gets heavier on accounta the creamery butter.

ACT III
We begin here with a bit of leaf lifting from the shaft. Pace slows significantly and that's aces with me. Notes moisten a tick, but a quick purging helps.

More sweet than savory now. Very mellow notes and cool smoke, Legs pull in a bit, but that's OK, it feels clean. Strength is medium+ now, but it be a pillowy cloud I is floating upon. Chocolate goes darker and creamier, as loaded coffee gets repoured and is now primary alongside it. Spices are upper middling over the lone wood -- a creamy cedar. Great balance there. Earth falls down a bit and nicely so, underneath. This Camacho has become a contemplative smoke. Some toasted caramel sidles up mild mannered. 

As the band approaches, not bad at all, gentlepersons. (Re-touch.)

SMOKE TIME
90 mins
NOTES
Very good to great everyday smoke. Undemanding and pleasant notes. Somewhat demanding construction. Those construction frets are much lessened in this Robusto format.

Final grade is tricky here, having fully enjoyed this Camacho offering; all the while understanding its far-from-stellar combustion/construction and rather simplistic or at least ordinary notes. The + is for the minty herbness.

K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatest
Appearance  L
Construction O
Combustion O
Flavors/Body T
Strength I

FINAL GRADE
****B+****

EPILOGUE
I can taste the hamantaschen now -- I understand some are waiting for me at Temple. Good stuffs, gentlepersons. Also, I haven't mentioned my always-at-the-ready schmatta in a few ticks. Have now.