Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ventura Project 805 Andullo - Cigar Review

It is thermal underwears and cardigan weather and I cannot, gentlepersons, be happier. From a wardrobe perspective, at least.

"You are part of the disruption, the first wave of underground trendsetters prepared to experience Project805's secret ingredient, ANDULLO [capitalization NOT mine]. What is Andullo? Andullo is a unique tobacco never before used in cigars. Naturally flavored, aromatic, and so utterly different it is a disruption to the Industry. Expertly blended and hand-rolled at La Aurora under the supervision of Ventura Cigar Company." (From venturacigar.com)

I don't feel as though my love of cardigans gives me the necessary oomph to be an underground trendsetter. And as far as disruption? I occasionally listen to recordings of Beniamino Gigli a bit on the loud side. Especially and of course, his rendition of Nessun Dorma. I won't even get into the loose efinition o "secret" that write-up employs...

What is ANDULLO, though? It is not a leaf, but a process of fermentation. I'll allow an excerpt of a Cigar Aficionado article to handle the heavy lifting for me:

Ventura Cigar Co. turned to a different tobacco oddity for its new Project 805 blend and made a cigar with Andullo, a tobacco typically used in pipe tobacco blends or as chewing tobacco. Andullo is created by taking cured tobacco leaves, wrapping them tightly in palm tree pods with rope, and hanging them to ferment for a period of two years. The process turns the tobacco into dark, hard logs resembling big sausages.

Dominicans have smoked Andullo as a pipe tobacco for more than 500 years. They carve a bit off the hard, fermented log, taking small chunks and adding them to their pipe. (The log is so hard, some smokers leave a block of it in the sun to further harden, and then carve it into the shape of a pipe, meaning they can smoke Andullo out of Andullo itself.) Kevin Newman, brand manager for Project 805, says the Andullo gives the cigar "a thick, earthy sweetness. The leaf is really leathery,” he says. “It adds most of the cigar’s body.”"
(G. Clay Whittaker)

Copy & pasting now firmly aside, let's do 

The Cigar:
Project 805 Andullo
Ventura Cigar Company
Corojo Shade wrapper
Dominican Olor binder
Dominican blend/Andullo fillers
6 x 50 Toro
Seams are average, and veins numerous. Nothing beyond cosmetic, but very noticeable. There is a slight, very slight tooth. A coffee with milk, caramel complected stick with a single cap only, but a well affixed one. Packing is soft of medium but even and not spongy. Density via a peek at the foot looks less than dense. 

I sniff said foot: Very sweet, very mild. A tinge of white pepper behind that. Wrapper is grassy hay farm stuffs. and there is something else that puts me in mind of nougat. A lightly roasted coffee. Pale nuttiness, macadamia-like.

Cold pull is of bakers spice, mainly. A mild and sweet tobacco. Good smooth draw.

The band is drek. A vomiting up of 'cool' on someone's home printer. The secondary label simply,  in a somewhat out of design context touts "Andullo." The worst kept secret since Liberace's sexual preferences.

Very leathery toasting smoke. And a very leathery first hot draw. Very, very peaty finish. Some tangy sourness. Second hot pull is retro-haled and a nice roasted white pepper is displayed. It kindly does away with the near acidic finish of the first. The third hot pull is... is ... caramel ever harsh? Maybe. 

The burn is even but well away from razor-so. Foot smoke is minimally medium and sweet. Ash is dark grey, flaky, and seemingly powdery.
Act I:
Honestly not yet to be a pleasant affair. It is not the white pepper which inspires a cringe, but a certain near medicinal sourness. A couple of more pulls show it to be a lemon citrus tang which is hard to see past. It does seem to be dissipating, though. What begins to come on as that lemon fades is more peaty flavors which cling hard to my palate in a surprisingly long finish for a mild/medium profile. That finish is nice enough -- a touch of honey, some muted bakers spice. Hint of leather.

Peat and repeat were sitting on a fence. Peat fell off. Who was left?
Peat and repeat were sitting on a fence. Peat fell off. Who was left?

I can taste the fence. A wet cedar now left in the sun. There is a very yeasty bread, as well. Were settling in now. It's nice. Smoke output ramps up off the foot and into my smoke-hole. The finish is the same, but has found a better moisture level, as it was a tad dry before. 

The smoke around me is quite pipe-like, indeed. I will not yet go into the quality of said pipe tobacco. I roll the precariously piled ash off at an inch of pure powder. Leather kicks up again on the draw and settles somewhat odd in the finish in quite a diesel manner. I'm put in mind of a faraway lemonade on the end of the long finish. 

Mild spectrum of medium, with a surprisingly unkind foot smoke which I find bothersome. Again, there is diesel there atop that leather.

At the end of the first act, a brassy cardamom comes in. Construction holds nicely and the burn has evened out further. A single tripped seam deviates it from near-razor status. The draw has perhaps loosened a bit.

Act II:
Something is burning my eyes. Perhaps this is the disruption I was warned of? The diesel weaves in and out and even when out, I cringe at its seemingly inevitable return. I don't mind when the sour notes are of lemon, though. Those allow the other flavors much more visibility. The cardamom is very nice. Can't say the same for the leather -- perhaps only because its heightening seems a harbinger for that diesel. Peaty notes have been grown accustomed to. I very much feel as though I am smoking a stogie, which at half the price point, would be quite enjoyable.

A oily peanut comes on. as does a better coffee bean, still lightly roasted diner fare. Nothing wrong with that. A very good brunch offering note. Some touch of vanilla sweetens the affair and lends to a more buttery mouthfeel alongside the peanuts growing nice and oily. 

The diesel has not reared in a bit and I am liking the nuances -- although they do not yet create a true complexity.

At the half, leather strengthens but in a nicer fashion. No diesel in a good bit. Increasing hay and pipe meanderings. A kinder footnote of plain and airy cakiness. An angel food cake. The ash has become more secure. Although the burn has went somewhat, but not horribly, astray. 

Caramel knocks up a notch, but we still are not sweet, as too a sour note kicks up. Some tinny salt emerges. The retro-hale is very kind now but adds nothing to the notes, per se. The finish is coated in very light honey and cardamom. There is a nice leather there, as well. The sour is a tang that I want to call white wine -- but as with the pipe notes -- I will not yet label its quality. I'm sure the vintner used the best cough syrup he could find at the time. Let's say it is not so dry as to denote such sourness.

And then the cigar goes out minus any warning.

I cannot recall that happening with any other offering, mid-smoke and again, without a hint at an impending need for re-light. Just out. Like a light-switch. Interesting. I knock off the little bit of accumulated ash and there is a separation of binder/filler. And a previously unnoticed widening of the burn-line.

Relight: the stick seems to immediately wish to canoe and is burning well hotter than before. Worse yet, my ass fell asleep in my chair and I attempt to walk it off in a dragging dead-limbed limp while tending to a suddenly very odd burn.

It cools quicker than my leg comes back to life; but remains quite hot with a thick burn-line. Flavors are unaffected, but the foot smoke is less kind. 

The second act comes to a nonplussed close, unchanged from the halfway mark insofar as flavors and profile. 60/40 sweet, 100% medium-, and 110% feh -- all told. Resting off of the relight seems to have staved off the canoeing, we shall see. 

Too, the packing has loosened considerably, but holds. The draw has tightened a bit. Grassy notes and a vague cedar rise up. White pepper is now solely on the retro-hale.

Act III:
Starts with a rolling off of very powdery and medium to charcoal ash. This exposes the delineated burn of the binder and filler. A look that looks prettier on my roses than a stogie. Pipe vibe has left the building. Wrapper comes loose at a seam, reminding me I have a cardigan button to secure before I loose it.

Honey comes in stronger with floral notes and something like a mintiness on the finish. Cardamom fades. Foot smoke and room note have settled to a nice but simple thing.

The curtain goes down in unspectacular and un-nuanced, mottled fashion. The characters live on minus closure or epiphany in a state of sourness saved only by apathy. It is unfunny Seinfeld -- which some may take as redundant.
Every time I hear something akin to 'never before attempted' I am put in mind of a comic strip I cannot recall the name of. Dilbert, maybe? Anyhow, a new boss is hired and is touted as not knowing the impossible. Therefore anything is possible. Exciting times ahead, indeed! Another character offers a handshake welcome, to which the new head honcho offers up his impossibly wrong hand in return...

I am not bashing. Other than going straight out after a mostly failed transition -- this is a serviceable enough stogie. One which is the recipient of an unfair hyping.

If you want a Dominican stogie, get thee a Curly Head.

Sweet lemonade? Which I personally pair out of necessity with a handful of Rolaids. Yard work or other busying. Mild enough for a clear-headed card game. An Arnold Palmer? Moonshine with a twist?

Final Grade: D-

Have you yet visited my pal's cigar blog? Say shalom, or shalom again, to Mr. Kohn.