Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

ADVentura Cigars The Explorer in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


ADVentura Cigars
by Henderson Ventura
The Explorer

WRAPPER: Mexican Habano
BINDER: Ecuadorian Sumatra
FILLER: Dominican, Ecuadorian

FORMAT: Short Robusto
ORIGIN: Tabacalera William Ventura, DR
STRENGTH: Medium-Full

WEBSITE: www.adventuracigars.com

>>>

NOTES: 
Deep cocoa with finely ground black pepper & spiced cedar attachments. Pleasantly pungent & overall muchly, kindly. A distinct toasted pumpernickel retro-hale. Undertones are interesting insofar as their delivery is via that spiced cedar -- remaining braced | delineated quite well. Smoked paprika, cumin, red pepper flake, cinnamon. Also an espresso-laced earthiness on a thick toasted cream bracing.

Underbelly is a savory leather, which is on the aroma as well, added to that room-note is a tick of spiced black tea. That last mention finds its way to the long-legged bittersweet savory finish; lip-smacking & warmly tingly-so. A short & impactful smoke, tho refined, as well. 3/3 ushers some sweet red wine into its middlings.

Excellent draw. No re-direct is needed on burn, but the line does half-hiccup on a pair of occasions.  B I G smoke out-put, actively & passively. Ash builds well, is rolled off in thirds. Zero hard/soft spots & assemblage of cap/seams are primo. This is just a beautifully balanced and densely profiled cigar -- exquisite.

FINAL GRADE: A
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Bird Pick Tea & Herb Earl Grey in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Bird Pick Tea & Herb
Earl Grey

ORIGIN: Assam, India
TYPE: Black Tea, flavored

FORMAT: Loose leaf
METHOD: French Press

WEBSITE: birdpicktea.com

>>>

NOTES:
Eyeballs w/ crisp clarity atop matte-finish depths. A brightly raw umber hue, near goldenrod around the rim. Brewed leaves are substantially-sized, not particularly unformed, w/ brick reddish tints. Noses to the tune of a quite high bergamot citrus, natch. Some underneath sweet spices and then lingering earthiness.

Sips as it noses. Very fresh bergamot, riding high but not lacking in black tea undertones. Spices are a floral/honey saffron, smoky black licorice. Some pepperiness. The Assam holds its own, particularly in offering a silky & robust leathery-earthen body. Slurps to malty additions. Blackberry. A late salted caramel.

Then almost minty brisk finish. Complex (sweet/spices) & nuanced (leathery earth), but the whoa is in its delineations (pepper-braced) & all-'round balance. A well-trained bull in a lovely china shop.

FINAL GRADE: A-
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

GTO Cigars Corona de GTO 10 Anos Maduro in Review

"Have you Kaplowitz'd to-day?"


GTO Cigars
Corona de GTO 10 Anos Maduro

WRAPPER: Maduro
BINDER: Dominican
FILLER: Dominican

FORMAT: Toro (654)
ORIGIN: Tabacalera GTO Dominicana
STRENGTH: Medium

WEBSITE: www.gtodominicancigars.com

>>>

NOTES:
Ground coffee beans & dark chocolate shavings. That, braced by a sharply-focused toasted cedar. Getting to the undertones: barley & buckwheat, and brown sugar. A tick of sarsparilla. Pepper-spice works its way through the upper-middlings into top-notes, then back. A simple black pepper, then cumin, paprika.

Finishes quite richly-so & on moderate legs. A bit of dried red/purple fruit there, thinly. Black cherry steps out at the half. Aroma is a peppery fruit thing off a voluminous smoke out-put both passively & aggressively. A stiff thick leather carries the nose and forms the profile's underbelly.

The draw is a bit open, but even. The burn operates on a straight line, at a pace a tick more quick than moderate. Seems to be packed a bit light but sans hard/soft spots. Ash displays a bit dryly but shy of flaking; builds, don't dump.

Not complex. Nuanced, tho. A nice transition at the half that doesn't add much, but delineates well. Look at the pepper-spice & wood. The already mentioned black cherry. Also & too, a becomes a bit charcoal-laced. Dark, yes, but also lively. A bit gritty, as well, but never abrasive. All told, nice -- not meek. For the meek shall inherit the earth -- but only if cigars like this allow it.

FINAL GRADE: B+
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Monday, October 28, 2019

Notes on Notes "The Taste of Water"

"Have you Kaplowitz'd to-day?"


Sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. For years, they were our primary tastes. There are gustatory receptors in place, tripped accordingly to its paired aforementioned note. Wikipedia will tell you that "a taste receptor is a type of receptor which facilitates the sensation of taste." A handy definition, that. No, not really.  

Then came umami via Japan. Think savory. Think MSG. Don't think Madison Square Garden. Thus compiling today's list of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami/savory. "Fat" is, I understand, making some strides toward inclusion. Simply because real tastes come in all sizes. In this "Notes on Notes," we'll be focusing on an even newer & only potential addition: water.

But much like an NFL wide receiver, water has no taste; you might say if you were quite clever. Except that we/they aren't necessarily talking taste. I've heard it labeled as "water taste," most notably by Dr. Linda M. Bartoshuk, the Bushnell Professor of Food Science and Human Nutrition and the UFCST Director for Psychophysical Research. I don't really grok that caveat, myself.

It would seem it's about exposure to said taste. More precisely, the time "The taste of Water" stays on the tongue. The cumulative concentration of flavors. Also, while each primary taste has its own receptor, tastes can all piggy-back, as well. In other words: bittersweet sensations see bitter somewhat triggering sweet & vice-versa. It's my belief, as I'm not intimately aware of the good doctor's, that "water taste" can be a piggy-backer of an act. A secondary-primary note...

An accompaniment of all five primary tastes. Lesser-so in quick contact -- more so in lengthier experiences. A quick sip, nibble, draw -- perhaps nothing is noted. But have you ever tasted something that isn't quite mouthwatering (more on that by way of umami in a tick) but one which thins in flavor and exhibits a body I note as "spitty" on its afterwards? In terms of balance: astringency dries, acidity masks. That's tea & coffee, respectively. Cigars? I'm thinking cream absorbs, spices mask. If not 'nuff, a voila!

Perhaps if I were to note water more in my notations (I'd first have to experience it in a more positive light than watered-down) I'd relate my  findings  thusly.    Perhaps  not.   Too  poetic. Try this thought experiment in dowsing for water: think between notes, the unplayed note, and the after note. The pre-note saliva-fest is umami. The mouth-watering steak un-dug-into on your plate. Water is the after -- the drive to find quench. It can be seen as diluting. But diluted with what? Water. I mean it's in the damn title of this writing. However, there are many types of drinking water. 

  • Distilled water is boiled into vapor then condensed back into a liquid. It contains no minerals. 
  • Springwater is natural water collected from underground sources, untouched by civilization, per se. Until Coca-cola bottles it.
  • Filtered water is 'sourced' from municipal tap water, then run through carbon filters to remove the chlorine. A micron filter is sometimes employed as well.
  • Purified water is filtered water which is then run-thru reverse osmosis, distillation, or deionization.
All of the above is admittedly virtually sans meaning in this article's context. But hey, thanks for reading. &, as a podcast fave of mine states (paraphrase?), "Thanks for wanting to be smarter today than you were yesterday" (Philosophize This!)  OK, OK, I can see something in the mineral mention of distilled and perhaps purified waters... I'd say those are straight out on the list of what to look for in flavor. Body, maybe. I should digress.

That's fine. This is fine. Oh, this is fine. But why water? Because without it we die and doesn't it make sense we have a taste for it -- a yearning beyond dehydration? Poetically, we crave ourselves, as we are some 60% water. Our bones, even, are roughly 30%. Isn't that lovely? A falling back into/unto ourselves. Too  poetic. & just doesn't "hold water" in the world of tasting tastes. We may love water but not its appearance in watered-down affairs.

& if "spitty" don't water down an affair -- I don't know wtf does. Fellatio humor, anyone? I know, I apologize. Low-hanging berries, those.

###

For an index of these "Notes on Notes" entries, go HERE.

If you don't appreciate this "Notes on Notes" series, please blame its sponsor, the Dapper Cigar Co. You can contact them at dappercigars.com

Friday, October 25, 2019

Kaplowitz Media. Cigars of the Month (October 2019)

"Have you Kaplowitz'd to-day?"


Kaplowitz Media.
CIGARS of the MONTH: OCTOBER 2019
[Names are links to full reviews]

>>>


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Please note this is the first crop of Grade A smokes which will be eligible for the 2019-20 Kaplowitz Media Cigar of the Year. 2018-19's list: https://bit.ly/2PiBKug thx


Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co. Misty Mountain Oolong in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co. 
Misty Mountain Oolong

ORIGIN: Shanlinxi, Taiwan
TYPE: Oolong (Qingxin varietal)

FORMAT: Gunpowder
METHOD: French Press

WEBSITE: beautifultaiwantea.com

>>>

NOTES:
Buttery floral sweetnesses. Sits in the cup both shiny & hazy at once, in a pale honey hue manner. Brewed leaves unroll bigly-so, & are rather mundanely green. The aroma is a flowery herbaceousness. A dusty white pepper vibe.

Sips that herbaceousness w/ grassy forward & minty back. A more focused white pepper braces well twixt that & white-to-yellow floral (chamomile, dandelion) notes. Some cardamom is seen on the slurping. A pleasantly mineral-laced finish is saltily added, as is a bit of pinewood astringency.

Buttery smooth in the tea-hole; the pepper is kindly called toward its cushioning. Complex yet calmingly-so. Quite nuanced for flavors that dance as they do. The floral & herbal play is some quite bright fun. A delicate tea with a robust structure. Subtle yet distinct. I shall brew me another pot.

FINAL GRADE: A
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Brick House Mighty Mighty Maduro by JC Newman Cigars in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


JC Newman Cigars
Brick House Mighty Mighty Maduro

WRAPPER: Brazilian Arapiraca
BINDER: Nicaraguan
FILLER: Nicaraguan

FORMAT: Gordo
ORIGIN: PENSA, Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Medium-Full

WEBSITE: www.jcnewman.com

>>>

NOTES:
Spiced earth & dark chocolate. Earth: compost & barnyard w/ a leathery attachment, savory. Spices: pushed ahead by a black pepper are cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne. A 65% cacao dark chocolate, bittersweet.

Undertones to that are a red wine upper-middling. Anise, separate from the pepper-spice, forming an almost root beer note. Charred oak braces far-down allowing plenty of depth. Finishes long with black cherry and charcoaly bits added to primaries - spices take the lead there.

Meaty, substantial. Feels like a bowl of stew in the gut. Traces of dark toasted grains & coffee beans cycle thru the profile. Dense. Not complex, per se, but complexities are there. Particularly nuanced. Sedate, meditative... not somber tho. Aroma is a heightened leather, spiced. Rich.

Burns on an even-line & moderate pace, but does require a mid-point re-touch. Draws a tick hesitantly, liking to be double-triple puffed. That abates in the 3/3 & leading up to there. Remains clean. Ash stacks dark & firm with a crystal here & there. Seams & cap hold true, and no hard/soft spots are experienced.

FINAL GRADE: B+
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Octavia Tea Ancient Yunnan in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Octavia Tea 
Ancient Yunnan

ORIGIN: Yunnan, China
TYPE: Black tea

FORMAT: Loose
METHOD: Infuser

WEBSITE: www.octaviatea.com

>>>

NOTES:
Light syrups & warm citrus. Sits just a half-tick hazily in the cup, all honey-colored & orangey underneath. Depths 'nuff for scrying. Noses oddly akin to its eyeballing -- a far-away sweet/sour lilt. Some muted toasted herbaceousness. 

Sips to smooth focused notes of ripe mandarins and paler fruit juices. A buckwheat honey whisper (whimper?). Not much more. Slurps begin with a nice oaken astringency backed by a hint of peppercorn. When that arrives, leaves, a dull cereal grain earthiness is left in its wake.

While the smoothness of body is a selling point, particularly while its cleansed with an almost lovely dryness, the finish here is quite lacking. It drops off the table like a Sandy Koufax curve-ball, leaving behind only a mineral almost seawater salty note. All told a too mild offering. Meek, hesitant, & lost.

FINAL GRADE: B-
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Micallef Cigars Leyanda No.2 in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Micallef Cigars
Gomez Sanchez 1RA Generacion
Leyanda No.2

WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Habano
BINDER: Nicaraguan
FILLER: Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Honduran

FORMAT: 5.5x52 Taper Figurado
ORIGIN: Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Med.-Full

WEBSITE: www.micallefcigars.com

>>>

NOTES:
Cedar, citrus peel, muchly white pepper. Undertones of fruity cream and turmeric. White pepper moves toward red via progression & dustily-so. Brightly tho calmly delivered notes. Underbelly is a leathery barnyard earthiness with an easy-breezy presentation.

Feels a bit sharp for the tobacco's 5yr. aging. It's not unkind, however, and adds an almost effervescent nature to the body and sweet-spice finish. A bit of Cadbury Chocolate fruit & Nut bar stays there; builds till evident on the draw toward mid-point.

Lively, not hyper complexities, particularly between spices & cedar, citrus & pepper. Some fustiness. Nuances are not overly deep but are plentiful. Edges become rounded and transitions occur via added notes; mainly cream w/ varying accompaniments.

Smoke builds a spicy leathery aroma off of a moderate & somewhat fluctuating out-put. Burns on an even line w/ occasional slight jagged bits. Draw begins a bit restricted due to the format but does open nicely to satiate/saturate the palate. I recommend a Dickman Cut. No hard/soft spots and cool temps gate-to-wire. Ash builds solidly; a slight coning is done away with after the 1/3, see: draw.

I can tell you this: Micallef is doing some interesting things w/ some interesting tobaccos.

FINAL GRADE: A-
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Monday, October 21, 2019

Notes on Notes "Broad Across the Tongue"

"Have you Kaplowitz'd to-day?"


What is meant by my noting an offering as laying "broad across the tongue?" Simply, as I'll soon make far more complicated via a doomed-to-fail search for clarity, it means to say a flavor/body sensation that is delivered dull. Flat. Linear. Often sans focus entirely, always lacing that. & notes should have focus. & any mention of body should include flavor.

That said, in and of itself, this "broad across the tongue" phenomenon is not a bad thing. However, it can be bad, outside of those times when simple blankie cozy comfort sedation isn't the primary goal. This, essentially, makes for offerings of the comfort food genre. mashed potatoes, grits, peanut butter, bubur ayam. Sick people's food. British cuisine sans their odd imperialistic curry fascination.

For the most part, though, a connoisseur demands to be dazzled. Or at the quite least, impressed & is that not what they so deserve? For not everyone nor just anyone can reach the haughty heights of connoisseur-ness. There are requirements, tests, certifications, documentation, & any number of etc. rigorous items. For the they who doth demand more, this goop du jour of flatness will simply not do. An at times grievous challenge must be issued to & leveled against one's discerning palate. Only the staunch opposite of lackluster will do. [un]Interestingly, conversation amongst these connoisseurs is not ever beholden to this rule.

What then is the opposite experience? Sharp peaks? No. Complexity. Delineation. Nuance. Those three words are the interwoven topic of a future Notes on Notes, so we'll not delve much further here. Just for the record -- nuance can, in fact, be found in a thing laying "broad across the tongue." Just not complexities, & definitely not delineations. Nuance is the simplest of the trio, gained by a mere piling on of notes... even a singular one... until palate-entrenched deeply 'nuff to be seen from varying angles.

How then does an offering avoid being smokeable hospital food pureed mush? Bracing. Bracing is found in hard/dry notes such as woods, nuts, coffee beans. Think of bracing as hoisting a floor that keeps the other notes in a profile from continually dripping downward from primaries to secondaries, to the underbelly. Bitter, typically, but not overly & kept in balance. Balance comes courtesy of accompanying notes... spicy/savory, sour/sweet, for example(s).

These bracings can also be seen less overtly-so running vertically through profiles (I often refer to this as "backing." Although to be fair I use the terms interchangeably at times), and this is where delineations are made & secured. Typically, in the horizontal bracings, look for more toasted-roasted additions; as these notes need rather strong backbones. Transversely, the vertical varietal tends to be raw. Not "green," raw. There are, in all notes: green > raw > toasted > roasted > charred. Fine descriptors, these. Personally, if I don't describe in-depth, think raw+ or -toasted as default. Or, I simply forgot. Whoopsie?

Finally, the best way to find out why an offering is neither flat nor dull is to first find it not to be. Then look to the aforementioned helpful & uncluttered hints as to why. Then, find ways to relate your findings. To begin & ie: the chocolate | coffee flavors were prevented from mocha melange boredom via a lightly toasted cedar bracing (a fuller profile). Or, a white pepper backing separated earthen herbaceousness & bright citrus lilts (a more mellow offering). Then, if I may be so bold, think of taking a walk to clear your head. Perhaps practice talking to girls, if that's your particular orientation.

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For an index of these "Notes on Notes" entries, go HERE.

If you don't appreciate this "Notes on Notes" series, please blame its sponsor, the Dapper Cigar Co. You can contact them at dappercigars.com

Friday, October 18, 2019

Firepot Nomadic Teas Masters & Pioneers Mingjian GABA Oolong in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Firepot Nomadic Teas
Masters & Pioneers 
Mingjian GABA Oolong

ORIGIN: Mingjian, Taiwan
TYPE: Oolong

FORMAT: Gunpowder tea
METHOD: Infuser

WEBSITE: www.firepot.com

>>>

NOTES: 
Pristine, really. Noses to a slice of cinnamon raisin bread, brightly. Sits yellow-amber & sparkling crisp clear in the cup. Notes are delivered briskly, lay focused smoothly velvety on the tongue. Then blanket warm comfy on-down. A tick of wooden astringency hits the cheeks.

Tropical fruits spiced sparingly with pale cinnamon & hint of white pepper. Some cocoa bit flits in on the slurping. A hint of citrus on the back-end. The finish is fruity cocoa braced by pepper, ending cleanly. 

Complex & calming. Lively & mature. Nuanced, well-rounded and supremely balanced. Excellently orchestrated. Yummy af. At once attainable, welcoming, and if looked for -- challenging. Brilliant, this. As is the tea, as is the tea.

FINAL GRADE: A
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Left Hand Cigar Co. Left-Hander in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Familia Rodriguez Tobacos
Ohana Cigars
Left Hand Cigar Co.
Left-Hander

WRAPPER: Connecticut Broadleaf
BINDER: Nicaraguan
FILLER: Nicaraguan

FORMAT: Toro (652) box-press, closed foot
ORIGIN: Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Medium-Full

WEBSITE: ohanacigars.com

>>>

NOTES:
Plush and rather posh. A densely-sweet tobacco core. Black pepper to the back of the tongue is the first off-shoot. Then the palate gets anise, rich Corinthian leather, cumin & smoked paprika, and semi-sweet chocolate w/ heightened vanilla thru the nose. 

All this is braced by a smooth as silk lively cedar. All this, roasted to a restrained brawn perfection. The lengthy finish sees the addition of toasted citrus pith. Barnyard everywhere. Well-rounded & nicely if not simply balanced. Not complex but deeply nuanced independent notes. 

Burns on an even line. Draws evenly but a bit toward the damp side. Still: full satiation/saturation. Ash grows in a silver sheath and to an inch, E-Z. Press rounds about 1/4" off char, but stays well-formed on-down. Spongy to the pinch, sans hard/soft spots.

FINAL GRADE: A-
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

La Sonrisa Cigars El Profesor in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


La Sonrisa Cigars
El Profesor

WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Connecticut
BINDER: Indonesian
FILLER: Nicaraguan

FORMAT: Toro. Habano Maduro pig-tail cap
ORIGIN: La Sonrisa Cigars S.A. Granada, Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Medium

WEBSITE: lasonrisacigars.com

>>>

NOTES:
Smoothly understated. Cocoa butter, damp cedar, and a mineral lilt. White pepper rides high in the undertones. Then salted butter, a bit of chamomile and lightly roasted coffee, cream & sugar. Dirt underbelly... simplistic there but nicely rendered.

Moderate complexities. Mellow nuances.  Well-rounded profile with no rough edges. Excellent balance -- carefully almost cautiously-so. Aroma shows more flowers than does draw and a fusty suede. Bright notes, but never glaring. Uplifting, really. Calmly.

Cruise-control performance. effortless draw without being to "open." Even burn-line. Ash builds neatly in a stack of dimes at even-keeled pacing. Proof here that a meditative state does not require dark somber delivery. A straw hat, pulled over your eyes, as you rest or perhaps wander in a meadow.

FINAL GRADE: A-
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Firepot Nomadic Teas Shou Puerh Tuo-Cha in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Firepot Nomadic Teas
Shou Puerh Tuo-Cha

ORIGIN: Yunnan, China
TYPE: Green tea (maocha) Puerh

FORMAT: Birds Nest
METHOD: French Press

WEBSITE: www.firepot.com

>>>

NOTES:
At once peaty & fresh. A bigly mineral-saline. Broad on the tongue, blanketing a bit dully. Liquor dark as your ex's heart. Matte finish, there. Some burgundy depths. Steeped leaves are a monochromatic dark brown and smell of that peaty sip.

Aroma in the cup is purple fruit backed lightly peppered cedar. More sipping continued from the onset here: A bit watery & lacking in depth. Nothing much to add. Distant licorice. A dark grain. Slurps bring up that anise & wheat on out/up. Also, though, some more water. A bit flatly-so.

Not overly complex because nuance is where puerh complexity is found. Rather abrupt damp sidewalk finish. Smooth to almost a fault. But also can be seen as quiet meditation. Warms down to the gut, comforts there, sedately. Solemnly.

FINAL GRADE: B
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Monday, October 14, 2019

Maya Selva Cigars Villa Zamorano Reserva in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Maya Selva Cigars
Villa Zamorano Reserva

WRAPPER: Honduran (Jamastran)
BINDER: Honduran
FILLER: Honduran

FORMAT: Robusto
ORIGIN: San Judas Tadeo, DanlĂ­, Honduras
STRENGTH: Medium

WEBSITE: www.mayaselvacigars.com

>>>
NOTES:
Mulled wine & potpourri. Dense dark (at the onset) earthiness. A bit of finely-ground pepper, smoked paprika. Undertones are actually the lead-ins to these notes but quite high therein... Mulled wine & potpourri, to be clear...

& they do steer the profile from draw onto finish. There, a separate toasted citrus can be seen on moderate legs. While dense, there are some rough edges here, particularly as the notes brighten some via progression. Crisp but awkwardly-so given the context. Sinewy.

Beefy in a jerky manner comes midpoint. Teriyaki, though that's fleeting. Aroma is a sharp leathery thing with more pepper-spice than the puff. Smoke out-put is a tick less than moderate, perhaps somewhat due to a tighter than comfy resistance to pulls. It does ease throughout but hampers some of the experience till. 

Contributing to that is a tighter roll at the cap than the rest of the barrel. Also, a soft-spot sits at the start of 3/3. Burn is even on-down, requiring a re-touch to stay lit at the 2/3. Seams hold well, as does cap assemblage even in the light of me puffing hard.

Not complex, but what bothers me more is a lack of nuance. This offering sits in the value side of the Maya Selva portfolio and fits it in a quite serviceable manner. Dependably over brilliantly. But too, that's where the tight draw & mandated re-touch create a big ding in grading.

FINAL GRADE: B
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Big Sky Cigar Co. Yellowstone in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


WRAPPER: Ecuadorian Sun-grown Connecticut
BINDER: Nicaraguan
FILLER: Nicaraguan

FORMAT: 550 billed as Rothschild
ORIGIN: Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Mild-Medium

WEBSITE: www.bigskycigar.com

>>>

NOTES:
Lemonheads candy. Slight white peppercorn catch in the throat. Brightly sunny. Lemon-lime soda. Undertones are far-under & the space between can be taken as the Montana sky, sure. Vanilla. Table sugar. White flowers on the retro-hale. Sandy dirt forms the underbelly in a slightly-shy of smooth manner. 

A creaminess mounts but as does a tanginess. Imbalanced in a manner familiar to IPA enthusiasts. Rather astringent. Brisk af. Seems to want to smooth out, does not. However, the aroma shows none of this acidic sour tilt and smells mildly of suede & vanilla/floral bits. Mildly & fleetingly.

Burns on an even line a pleasant pace. Ash grows well & pale. Zilch insofar as hard/soft spots & an excellent draw. Superb construction & combustion such as this are way more objective than flavors. That said, this is a tart offering that may be best left for a summer's lemonade companion than the first of October, say.

FINAL GRADE: B
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Octavia Tea Jin Jun Mei in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Octavia Tea
Jin Jun Mei

ORIGIN: Wuyishan City, Fujian Province, China
TYPE: Black Tea

FORMAT: Loose leaf
METHOD: Infuser

WEBSITE: www.octaviatea.com

>>>

NOTES: 
Ripe red-purple fruits and chocolate, richly. Whoa. Aroma offers an anise glimpse. Raw sugar & bready undertones. Somewhat. a supple leatheriness. Viscous body triggers lip-smackings. Savory, then.

Dark and reddish liquor w/ a lively clarity. Wet leaves are copper-colored pretty and smell like a rainy day patisserie. Bit of a dry tho still lush finish. Distinctly, on the slurp, grapes. Then more chocolate. Deep but not dark and actually bright. Happy. 

Well rounded, nicely complex, and greatly nuanced. Soft but with a half-tick wooden astringent tingle to stave off boredom (slash) barnacle-building w/in the ol' tea-hole (finish). A tick malty. A half-tick precocious. Perhaps vice-versa those measurements.

FINAL GRADE: A-
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Micallef Cigars Herencia Maduro in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Micallef Cigars
Herencia Maduro

WRAPPER: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
BINDER: Ecuadorian Sumatra
FILLER: Nicaraguan, Honduran

FORMAT: Torpedo 5.5x52 box-pressed
ORIGIN: Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Medium-Full

WEBSITE: www.micallefcigars.com

>>>

NOTES:
"Five Spice Powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns." - amazingribs.com OK & that's carried from out-front by a peppy pith, orange. Quite bright profile, but not sour or flighty. Balanced & nuanced. Finishes sweetly on lengthy leathery legs.

Undertones are a bracing fresh cedar. Tangy melon-mix. Then an underbelly of sunny earth with slight vanilla bean backing. Body is briskly smooth. Complexities happen at the top and drip down in light 'baccy oils. An invigorating blend.

Burns on an even gate-to-wire line at a pace toward quick of moderate. Ash doesn't build very well. Draws smooth, offering a half-tick more resistance than open. Much of this adds to a lively affair. Excellent smoke out-put builds a... a happy room-note of sour-spiced sweetness.

FINAL GRADE: B+
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Tuesday, October 08, 2019

La Sonrisa Cigars Wally Liga Especial in Review (Redux)

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


La Sonrisa Cigars
Wally Liga Especial

WRAPPER: Nicaraguan Habana Criolla
BINDER: Nicaraguan
FILLER: Nicaraguan
BLENDER: Silvio David Martinez

FORMAT: Toro (654)
ORIGIN: Nicaragua
STRENGTH: Medium

>>>

WEBSITE: lasonrisacigars.com

NOTES:
Smooth & steady. Earth & leather forward with a wooden backing, far back. Then undertones of dark chocolate and pecan... earthily. Hints of easy black pepper swirl thru middlings. Underbelly is barnyard. 

Could use a stiffer backbone whether by zest of citrus or bitterness of java. Lacking that, it flirts ONLY FLIRTS w/ blandness. What it is, is a smoothly rich profile altho lacking too in the sweetness of a dessert or aperitif smoke. But this does make its well-rounded corners & purposeful stride a nice midday escape.

Burns on an even line at an excellent pace. Ash is a builder, soitenly. Draws smooth, in keeping with the operative word of the experience. Finishes with a fleeting sweetness of amped up chocolate. Smoke out-put is moderate, building into a plush room-note of top-notes sans wood.

READ: 

FINAL GRADE: B+
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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Monday, October 07, 2019

Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co. Formosa Assam in Review

“Have you Kaplowitz’d to-day?”


Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co.
Formosa Assam
Summer 2018

ORIGIN: Sun-Moon Lake, Taiwan
TYPE: Black tea. Assam

FORMAT: Loose leaf
METHOD: Grandpa Style

WEBSITE: beautifultaiwantea.com

>>>

NOTES:
Richly rounded & malty all the live-long. Sharply clear liquor w/ a lively reddishness underneath an amber surface. Leaves of a bigly stature & coppery highlights. Noses densely-so of buckwheat honey atop ripe red/purple fruits.

Malt attaches to honey on the sip. Also to a new cocoa vibe on the lip-smackingly savory finish. Savoriness is a fungal thing. Fruit stays on the slurp and pulls much earthiness w/ it. Earth is a barnyard experience. Leather builds slowly there. Warms the body nicely, calmly.

Soft & rather thick in the tea-hole. Just a half-tick drying on the middle of the tongue (more astringency happens on subsequent steeping). Cozy! That's the word I've been looking for. Complexity by way of malty attachments. Nicely nuanced. A legit cuppa, & then some. Sturdy. Dependable. Unadorned.

FINAL GRADE: B+
A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79 D 60-69 F 0-59

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