PROLOGUEAs 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 --
Ave Maria Reconquista
7 x 54 Belicoso
Brazilian Habano Oscuro wrapperNicaragua Habano Ligero binder
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NOTESI don't know what to add. Don't take any wooden nickels? Something about my schmatta? Didn't need it. Tight ash, baby.
K A P L O W I T Z SCALE
K being the least, Z the greatestAppearance T
Not now, gentlepersons. I'm tired and my palate doth require milk toast.
EDITOR'S NOTEI put some potato chips on-top of the milk toast. Dee-lish!