Friday, April 23, 2010

Never Meet the "Twain": Felipe Gregorio Icon

Here I am, performing another public service for my fellow cigar-heads, warning you from frittering away your hard-earned cash on yet another futile attempt to find the GREAT ELUSIVE CHEAP CIGAR.

Such a cigar may indeed exist, but the Felipe Gregorio Icon Twain (i.e. torpedo) is not it. I won a five-pack of these for a nominal 5 bucks about a year ago, and have let them age in my humidor ever since, every so often noticing what pretty-looking specimens they seem to be.

Do not be deceived. This cigar is not even nominally worth smoking. Just putting it in your mouth is a disappointment, leaving a distinct aftertaste of dirt - plain, nasty roadside dirt - on your lips. Such a horrible taste I have never experienced just from chomping on a stogie. Lighting it is no better - the smoke reminds me of dried seaweed, fish bones, and salt.

I will have to either throw the other 4 of these "icons" away or fob them off on unsuspecting relatives, demonstrating my care-free largesse. Then run away before they take a few puffs and come after me with hammers and blow-torches.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Don Pepin Series JJ Belicoso

I've smoked a few Series JJ Belicosos during the past 2 years and I must say, they are worth the price -- and with humidor aging, even more so. The ones I based this review on were purchased in 2008.

My experience with them has been easy lighting, a uniformly excellent draw, and wonderfully smooth, velvety, rich smoke from the very first puff. It is amazing to find a corojo-wrapped cigar of medium strength that is this smooth -- even when you are in the process of lighting it. No "settling down" is required. Simply amazing.

I've not had a cigar that smoked better or cooler for the first half. The second half tends to get a little jagged in the burn, requiring a touch up or two, and the flavor occasionally wavers with intermittent bitter notes. A slight harshness can set in unless you wait several minutes between puffs.

That being said, once you adjust your puff-greed and sit with this cigar for a slow burn, the second half tastes just as good as the first, with a gradual buildup in strength, and can be smoked to the nub. This is a meaty, yet refreshing and refined cigar that I would gladly buy and smoke again.