Friday, October 28, 2011

Xikar HC Connecticut Robusto

In all truth, I wasn't planning on reviewing this cigar.

Ever since I started writing this blog, smoking cigars I'm going to review has become a bit of a chore. I'm not complaining, since this blog is my choice to post on and I could stop pretty much any time, but it's just one thing I've come to realize. I can't imagine how some of the pro cigar bloggers and writers out there do this so frequently. If you know you're going to review a cigar in writing for others to read, it's a bit of pressure to come up with a good description. So for this one I decided ahead of time that I would just enjoy it without putting pressure on myself to come up with a description.

So, why the hell am I sitting here writing this?! Well, very shortly after lighting the cigar I realized that this would be one of the easiest cigars to review. There's no need to try and conjure a description. This cigar describes itself to you. I didn't know that before I lit up, but I smelled the wrapper and foot, as well as taking a cold draw, as I've become accustomed to doing. The smell of the wrapper and foot were equally sweet with a bit of barnyard. The cold draw had some sweetness and some licorice. Interesting...

Upon lighting the cigar, there were very nice flavors of cedar and a little pepper. Sometimes I taste these flavors when lighting up a cigar and there's really nothing impressive about them. But with this cigar, the flavors were exciting. I guess it's all about how they present themselves. Something about this cigar just felt more balanced. Shortly after that, but still within the first inch of the cigar, there were flavors of earthiness and coffee. But these flavors didn't take over, they joined the others. Within the first half of the cigar, there was also an occasional nuttiness. The 2nd half contained all these flavors and were occasionally joined by coconut.

In a way, I'm sure this cigar could be described as complex. I wouldn't necessarily disagree, but when I was smoking it I was unconcerned about labels. The cigar made for a good companion. And it certainly didn't hurt that the draw and burn were exactly at the level I prefer. I wouldn't call them perfect, but they didn't seem far off. I didn't have much time to smoke, so I tried smoking this robusto as fast as I could hoping to be done in an hour or so. But after about 75 minutes I forced myself to put it down, even though I could have smoked it to the 90 minute mark or longer if I had time.

I would definitely recommend the Xikar HC Connecticut line to new and experienced smokers alike. It's part of a new generation of Connecticuts that's challenging pre-conceived notions. I'd even say that if you don't try at least 1 of these, you're missing out.

La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Churchill Especiales

I have to admit, I was slightly afraid of this cigar. Allow me to explain...

I'm not a big fan of full strength cigars, mostly because they pretty much always make me sick. Whether I've had something to eat or not, which most full strength smokers say you need to do before smoking a full strength stick, it never seems to help me. And let me tell you, whether you've enjoyed a cigar or not, nothing ruins it (or makes it worse if you hated the cigar) than your stomach demanding a refund on whatever you ate. There are cigars I specifically avoid now, because I've tried them and had that experience.

Now, I've always heard that LFDs are full strength. That's why I avoided buying them. However, when I attended the Seattle Cigar Expo this year, I got 2 of these Churchills in my cigar bag. Until now I've avoided them for the reasons already explained, so they've been resting in my humidor for approximately 2 months. However, I finally decided that I will not allow a cigar to intimidate me. So, after a big meal, I decided it was time to try one of these.

After pulling this cigar out of its cello I took a big whiff of the wrapper. Honestly, that is the sweetest smell I've ever gotten off of a cigar. I don't mean sweet as in "awesome", I mean sweet as in "sugar". It smelled very sweet. Almost overwhelmingly so. I had a hard time placing the aroma. I ended up narrowing it down to honey or vanilla. The foot smelled even sweeter. It was completely surprising. Then came the time to take a cold draw. I was expecting power even there. However, it was basically just plain tobacco with a little pepper. It wasn't anything huge.

Then, as I lit up the cigar I again anticipated to be overpowered. And the flavor on lighting up was...pretty tame. There was some cedar and some pepper but nothing near what I was expecting. I've gotten more strength off of a Connecticut. What was going on? Was I mislead? Was this maybe just not going to be that powerful because of the size of the vitola? It was hard to tell.

The rest of the cigar was pretty plain. Mostly just a normal tobacco flavor with occasional pepper and maybe some earthiness. The draw was a little disappointing. I usually had to draw 2-3 times in order to get any smoke. However, I did cut this one with my Shuriken. I eventually thought maybe the cigar was just too narrow to draw well with a Shuriken cut. Once I just got too tired of it, I grabbed hold of the pigtail cap and started to untwist it. Well, I guess I had been smoking it long enough for the tobacco to be moist because that action ended up causing pretty much the top part of the cap (everything above the shoulder) to come right off. The cap tore off but the important part of it was left intact. Unfortunately the draw improved only slightly after that. The burn wasn't great either. I had to retouch it several times and even had to relight once or twice, as well as to purge the cigar a couple of times because it tasted too bitter.

Overall, it was kind of an average smoke. Since it was free, I really can't complain. Would I buy one? Probably not. However, I do have one more from the Expo sitting in my humidor. I'll revisit the issue when I smoke that one in a few months. We'll see what happens!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Casa Fernandez Churchill (CRA Edition)

Yet another of the cigars I received as part of my welcome pack at the Seattle Cigar Expo was the Casa Fernandez Churchill. The expo entry fees were to benefit the Cigar Right of America organization. As part of our admission, all those who attended were also signed up to become CRA members (existing members had their memberships renewed) and out of the pile of cigars we got upon entry, 2 were CRA editions. I believe different people got different cigars.

This cigar was a 7 inch by 50 ring guage stick with a medium brown wrapper. The barnyard aroma on the wrapper and foot was potent, and, after cutting with my Shuriken, the cold draw was a fruity flavor.

The flavors upon lighting up with my Xikar Executive were pleasant. Some pepper and spice with a huge flavor of Cedar. The last time I tasted a cedar flavor this big was when I smoked the RP Edge Sumatra that I reviewed a few weeks ago. However, these were nearly the only flavors I got out of this cigar. There was a flavor I couldn't put my finger on during the first 3rd but that's about it.

The draw throughout the smoke was fine. Some resistance, but not too much and not too little. What probably bothered me most was how unevenly I found that this stick burned. I'm someone who likes to have an even burn when I smoke. I don't know why, it's just something I prefer to have. When it's not there, I find it bothersome. I had to touch this cigar up several times to get that.

I will say, like I did with my previous review on the Murcielago, that I've never smoked a Casa Fernandez before and didn't have more than one of this size to smoke. It's very possible that this one was kind of a freak occurence. However, if you're a fan of a strong cedary woodiness in an otherwise normal tasting cigar, give CF a try.

Murcielago Capa Negra Robusto

There's been some buzz about the Murcielago line of cigars. Made by EO Brand (led by Eddie Ortego), who also make 601 cigars, I've heard some smokers say that this line is among their very favorites. Prior to smoking this one, I've never had any. So I was curious about what this experience would bring me.

There was a faint barnyard aroma on the wrapper, and a stronger one on the foot. Well, that's no surprise. You'll get that with a lot of cigars (and you've seen me write that before). The cold draw brings a subtle milk chocolate and fruity flavor that made me excited about what this smoke would bring.

I cut this cigar with my Shuriken cutter and, after taking that cold draw, I toasted the foot with my Xikar Exodus lighter. When I put the cigar in my mouth and proceeded to complete lighting, I got big hits of pepper and earthiness on the first few draws. I'll be honest...I was a little concerned. The flavor was very strong and I don't typically enjoy cigars that are that strong. I'm just not a big fan of the ones I've had that taste that way. I've found that it's just overkill. I'm sure there are many who do like that level of flavor, so it's probably more of a preference thing.

However, after the first inch or so, most of that pretty much disappeared. For the rest of the stick, the flavor was mostly just a normal tobacco taste. So the cigar went in the total opposite direction fairly quickly. For my money, that's not great either. There were brief throwbacks to the pepper flavor (although it was much more muted) and occasional nuttiness and leathery flavor but those never seemed to last. It was just plain.

This was a cigar I got as part of my cigar bag when I attended the Seattle Cigar Expo, so I didn't buy it. I will point out, again, that this was just one. It's very possible that it was an isolated incident and most other Murcies would be flavorful and well-balanced throughout. However, after this experience I probably wouldn't buy another one. I would try one again, if one were similarly given to me, but there are still too many other cigars I've never tried, and several I know I love, to buy one that didn't make a great first impression.