Thursday, April 24, 2008

Giving Hemingway a Bad Name

I would have expected more from a Cameroon, and more from a name as fabled as Fuente Hemingway. The Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature, a long, narrow perfecto-shaped cigar, costs lots of money and looks awfully good in your humidor. It's got a nice brown hue and holds all the sweet and spicy promise of its Cameroon wrapper.

But light it up and you will find another boring, expensive cigar. There is no kick, nuance, fullness, or development. Just a rather wimpy, wistful, much-too subtle stick jutting out of your disappointed mouth. The burn is good and the cigar looks fashionable. It draws well and produces a decent, although not hearty, cloud of smoke. Is that enough to justify 13 dollars? No. Because the one thing missing was flavor.

Without flavor, you're just posing. Sports fans, that's not why I smoke a cigar. I'll step out of the ring now and leave the Arturo Hemingway series to fans who have an unshakeable belief in the brand, flavor be damned. The Fuente brand will survive my approbation. That's the power of a name.

Olor Fuerte Corona

This corona was almost indistinguishable from the Olor Nicaragua corona I smoked a few months ago. Same crisp, somewhat hearty hickory tinged flavor, but very one-dimensional and tight on the draw. Also a bit hot. A good cheap cigar, but not priced quite low enough.

I'm guessing the larger ring sizes might be better. But I won't be bidding or ordering a box to find out. Bye-bye, Olor.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

New tastings

Hoyo 2nds robusto maduro:
A cigar-chugging buddy of mine asked me if I'd had any good cigars lately. I told him the last one I had was a 3-dollar cheapie: I've got a dog to feed and two kids to put through college, so unlike some better-apportioned dudes I can't spring 12 bucks every time I wander into a cigar emporium.

So, low on funds yet again, I stooped to the bargain bin and picked out a Hoyo 2nd. It was small deep-brown robusto - about 4.5 inches long. The shop owner assured me that though it was cheap, it was tasty. The best value in the store, in fact. I trust this guy because he's 6-feet-4, bald and looks like he could wrestle an 800 pound gorilla to the ground. I was pumped. I lit the Hoyo and lo and behold was presented with a strong, flinty dark-woodsy taste. Full of body and flavor, and yes great for the price. It turned bitter in the last third, but what do you expect for 3 bucks?

Cigars International is selling them for 25 bucks a box, I think. Now there's a bargain, if you're a fiend who can't smoke the highfalutin stuff every time.

Rocky Patel Sun Grown petite corona:
This one started out hot and nondescript. Had me worried for the first inch. Then it settled into the flaky-pastry, fresh-from-the-oven chewy richness you would expect from a Rocky. Got better and better as the cigar burned down. The last inch was even good. The only complaint I would have is that it's just too small. But I knew that when I bought it. Now if someone could create a petite corona that tasted great from the first puff...

Oliva Series G special G:
Passed this one to my wife on the first decent spring day out on our deck. Still I manged to sneak a few puffs. It was the last one in my humidor, and I won't buy them again. Tends too much toward the hot and bitter, with only 10 minutes of a sweet spot in the middle. Small perfectos are hard to get right. Even the Fuente Hemingway short stories are far overrated. The best bet for a short bulbo is still the Rocky Patel 92 mini perfecto. And even that is a far cry from stogie paradise.

Lovo Perfecto:
Not sure what's inside this, but it had a brown wrapper. Probably corojo, about 4.5 inches long, bulbous mini-perfecto shape a la Hemingway short story. This cigar had the strangest burn I've ever witnessed: After lighting the small tapered bulb, a little island of fire appeared about a centimeter up the wrapper. Like a rusted-out hole in a muffler. I was afraid the whole thing would fall apart like some aborted Apollo Space mission.

After a minute of frantic puffing, I got the fire island to be subsumed by the rest of the burn coming up behind it. The cigar then settled down and tasted serviceable, flinty, strong but not full. It had barely a hint of sweetness that never quite materialized. It was a somewhat flat experience overall. Rolled by Edga Lovo Ramaz. Her dark-wrapped cigars are better, in my opinion.

Again, I think the mini-perfecto shape is an inredible challenge to roll right, and I haven't smoked one that ever tasted fulfilling. Lovo's was on a par with the others, including Fuente. Except for the freakish burn, which was actually somewhat thrilling, because I actually thought the cigar might explode in my face.