Monday, October 27, 2008

Trinidad Toro (Dominican)

According to the online distributors, this cigar features an "Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper around a zesty broadleaf binder and a vivid blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican and Peruvian long fillers" and is supposed to be a hearty yet smooth cigar.

The toro size won a "92" rating in a 2007 issue of Cigar Aficionado, then disappeared completely from the magazine's year-end "25 best" rankings list, while several other cigars with lower ratings managed to get listed. For some reason the lucky aesthetes at the magazine dropped it from the trophy list after smoking it again. This intrigued me so I bought a few. Not cheap: I managed to snatch a five-pack at auction for 19 bucks.

The Trinidad Toro is somewhat milder than the blurbs would imply, but it is subtly enjoyable, moving from mellow tea-like flavor to bolder wood and spiciness as the cigar burns down. It is not a powerhouse, but an excellent mid-potency cigar for the morning or early afternoon. It burns well and has balance and character. I was able leave it untended for several minutes at a time while performing leaf-raking and garage-cleaning between puffs.

That being said, these classy cigars deserve to be enjoyed in a state of complete repose. When you give them proper attention, they reward you with fine flavor and gently escalating fullness.

Funny - they cost $144 a box at Cigars International, but only $109 at Famous.

Most similar to:
Hoyo Excaliber Epicure Maduro
Rocky Patel Sun Grown
Rocky Patel Cuban Blend
Omar Ortez Originals

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tolerable shorty: RP Vintage 90 petit corona

It is hard to find a decent-smoking petite corona. My hopes were high after having won a 5-pack of Rocky Patel Vintage 90 petite coronas (2nds, of course) at cigarbid a couple weeks ago. Rocky doesn't tend to screw things up.

This cigar started out a bit harsh and flat, but gradually progressed to a full-bodied midsection after about 20 minutes. It never delivered the "aha" complexity that the RP name tends to promise, but was a bracing and fairly pleasurable ride. In a beat-up old Chevy, that is, not a BMW.

I got almost an hour out of it, which is unusual for a 4.5 inch cigar. It was packed pretty full and I was able to take some long breaks between puffs to putter around with odd-jobs. Never had to re-light, however, and the long breaks kept the burn temperature down and enabled me to enjoy the subtle spices that underlie the '90 blend.

The typical problem with narrow cigars of almost any brand is their tendency to burn hot and lack finesse in flavor. This one performs better than most, but it's not the pot at the end of the rainbow. As far as 2nds go, it straddles that fine line between being a bargain on price but maybe not worth the hour of time you put into it. For someone who smokes as intermittently as I do, a great bargain is not always a great smoke.

Oh, well. Waddya expect from a cheap 2nd?

40-Minute Pepin: Cuban Classic 1979

The Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Classic 1979 (robusto) is an oddly fast-burning but fine tasting specimen. Upon lighting, I noticed that nearly a half-inch had already burned away. My fear was that this was going to be a hot, bitter cigar.

That fear was unwarranted. Much like mid-priced Padrons, this cigar draws loose and fast but remains acceptably cool. The flavor is peppery and spicy, but not pointedly so. On the whole, a medium bodied, flavor-rich experience.

I was done with this feather-weight stick in 40 minutes. The final inch was too hot to smoke, but every puff to that point had been satisfying. A brief, shining moment, not unlike the Kennedy presidency. Rather on the expensive side, I must say, but the construction and flavor justify it. Think of this cigar as a self-indulgent treat, and you won't be disappointed in how you've spent your hard-earned cash.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Strange Case of Bahia

In a recent flight of whimsy I laid out 12 bucks for a one-day special on a 5-pack assortment of Bahias ("Borhani's Bevy of Bahias") from Famous. What the hell, I thought. You never know. Free shipping. Aw, shucks, why not.

The cigars came in looking good and smelling repugnantly barn-yardish enough for me to expect that they'd perform inversely well. And indeed they are well-constructed, easy to light, and burn without reproach.

The flavor is another thing. While pleasantly full-bodied and generous in smoke production, these cigars have an odd undertone of flint, horseradish, or musty basement. Take your pick, I can't quite put my finger on it. This undertone is more a hint than anything, and might be construed as "leafish" or "molasses tinged" by another palate. Unfortunately for me the taste lies closer to mushroomy and briny.

Again, this subtle flavor characteristic is not enough to destroy the generally pleasant experience of smoking these cigars. Maybe Famous has in fact been keeping them in a musty basement, and I'm just tasting the aftereffects. On the bright side, an unusual flavor like this is something that might just grow on you and become your all-time favorite a year from now.

This review applies to Bahia White Label robusto, Bahia Maduro robusto, and Bahia Trinidad only. All three cigars are nearly identical in flavor.

Somewhat similar to:
Cuba Aliados Corojo toro (horrible cigar)
Indian Tabac Cameroon Legend Grand Robusto (good cigar)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Foul Hideous Creature: Aristoff Box-Pressed Maduro (Piramide)

This note is basically a reminder to myself to stay away from these admittedly nice-looking and otherwise well-constructed sludge poles.

They simply taste hideous. Dead-cat, old-socks hideous. Foul, rotten, run-from-your-brother's-breath hideous.

What else can I say? Some cigars just rub me the wrong way. I put this one out after 15 minutes, lit up my last remaining CAO Italia Novella, and had a great little 40-minute party.