Cigar Reviews: Blanco/CigarObsession Sampler (Complete 4/19/17)

Original Post: 4/7/17
Update #1: 4/12/17 – Added Final Third Lancero
Update #2: 4/13/17 – Added 2nd Third Perfecto
Final Update #3: 4/19/17 – Added 1st Third Solomon

co sampler

So here I am about 3/4 of way completely through my variety pack of the Blanco/CigarObsession series cigars. For those who missed my post about it some time ago, the sampler is one vitola in each of the “Thirds” blends by Blanco Cigars for Bryan Glynn of CigarObsession. As the variety pack was released right before my birthday, I just had to get my hands on one as an early birthday present.

I’ve now smoked my way through half of the entire variety pack plus the original three sizes in each blend and as I promised I’d come back to them after I’ve had them all. To review, each line consists of:

CO 1st Third (Red Band): 5″ x 52RG Robusto, 6″ x 52RG Toro (Original size), 7″ x 38RG Lancero and and 6″ x 54RG Solomon; all vitolas box pressed.

CO 2nd Third (Green Band): 5″ x 52RG Robusto (Original size), 6″ x 52RG Toro, 7″ x 48RG Churchill and 6.125″** x 52RG Perfecto; all vitolas non-box pressed.

CO Final Third (Gold Band): 5″ x 54RG Robusto, 6″ x 54RG Toro (Original size), 7″ x 38RG Lancero and 6.5″ x 54RG Torpedo; all vitolas box pressed.

So far I’ve had the 1st Third in Robusto, Toro and Lancero; 2nd Third in Robusto, Toro and Churchill and the Final Third in Robusto, Toro and Torpedo. Thus far I’ve noticed more similarities than differences in each of the vitolas I’ve tried, but so far I do have favorites based on subtle things in each blend that cater to my particular likes.

First things first though, commonalities in all three lines. All three lines feature flawless construction, near razor-sharp burns and easy draws. All produce a large mouthful of smoke on every draw. Great draws on all three, though the Final Third has a draw slightly on the looser side than the others. Major props on construction and roll quality. Bold yet smooth flavors are also hallmark of all three blends, but that’s where the similarities stop. The actual flavor profiles are worlds different.

Now for the broad descriptions of each line. Later, I’ll delve into what make my current favorite vitolas in each and why. Here are the similarities in each line:

1st Third: Medium/full bodied flavors with a predominant pepper and spice flavor and undertones of chocolate and musty earth. Down toward the nub the spice and sweetness meld together into a cinnamon/nutmeg type flavor. This line also has the most nicotine strength of the three blends, matching the body at a medium/full.

2nd Third: The mildest blend of the three, but still no slouch at medium to medium/full depending on the vitola. As it is a Cameroon blend, it has that distinct Cameroon flavor of creamy leather, a slightly sweet cedar and a little bit of a metallic zing on the finish. This line has the least nicotine strength of the three holding at a mild/medium.

Final Third: The most intense flavors of the line at a near-full body. These are dessert sticks all the way – a rich, complex blend of creamy coffee, hot cocoa and a hint of caramel on the retrohale. Fairly consistent from start to finish but that’s OK because of the complexity. Medium nicotine strength; enough to give you a bit of a buzz but not much more.

So those are some sweeping generalizations. Now some specific vitola descriptions here, and keep in mind the subtleties here are just that; subtleties.

We’ll start with the 1st Third:

Robusto and Toro: Not surprisingly, being the same ring gauge the only real difference here was burn time. At my rate of smoking (on the slower side) and ending right at the band (which I do because I prefer cooler smoke) I got about 55 minutes out of the Robusto vs. about an hour and 10 minutes out of the Toro. As mentioned, peppery/spicy out of the gate and stays that way, tapers off slightly after first light to introduce the slightly sweet earthy/chocolaty undertones. The sweetness and spice meld together in the final third, bring a wallop of strength.

Lancero: Wow, this one is worlds different. Full body and damn near full strength. Sweet spice as found toward the end of the first two are pretty much the entire front 4″ or so – hot cinnamon with a hint of vanilla. Think almost like an overly spiced eggnog. Retrohale burns like hell. The back end goes very heavy earthy and a bit nutty. Decent burn time – about 50 minutes before I had to put it down not because of it going too warm (I had around 3″ of cigar left!) but because the strength was starting to become overbearing. I was feeling nauseous when I ended it.

Solomon: The mildest vitola of this line at a medium, the lowest nicotine strength at a mild/medium and also has a looser draw than the others. Starts off medium/full with a big pepper/spice blast that quickly fades as the ring gauge opens up. Notes of unsweetened cream and straight tobacco. The 2nd third brings in a subtle, fleeting in hint of the cocoa. The last third drops almost everything except the straight tobacco. 1 hour 10 minute burn-time. Definitely an example of how even a small change in ring gauge (up to 54 from 52) can have big effects on a particular blend.

Favorite so far: I’m going with the Robusto as my favorite thus far. Obviously I like the flavors of the Toro equally well but being a longer smoke time I struggle to finish it with the nicotine strength. The Lancero was just too much for me in that department but did have nice flavors. If they offered it in a Minuto size (a short Lancero – 4″ long as opposed to 7″) I’d be all over it. The Solomon just didn’t really do it for me (I wouldn’t turn it down but it didn’t amaze me either) and is probably my least favorite of the entire CO series.

Now the 2nd Third:

Robusto and Toro: Again here, basically the same thing save for smoke time (55 minutes for the Robusto, an hour and 5 minutes for the Toro). Think your favorite Cameroon amped up (most Cameroons tend to be on the milder side it seems, despite their delicious complex taste). Creamy leather, slightly sweet cedar and a hint of metallic zing on the very smooth, easy retrohale. Consistent start to finish, wavering from medium to medium/full.

Churchill: Very long smoke time (1 hour 45 minutes) and the same core flavors as the previous two, but slightly richer at a consistent medium/full. The finish also mixes in a slight spicy component to the zing for an interesting added dimension to the flavor profile.

Perfecto: First off, you probably noticed I put a ** by the measurement on this one. This is because I knew the listed size of 6.125″ probably wasn’t right, and this became obvious when stuck next to the 6″ Toro. It actually appeared to be shorter so I wanted to double-check that and, as you’ll see here, the actual length is about a half inch shorter at  5.625″:

IMG_0100

So that aside, what about the cigar? Well, of the four sizes it definitely has the most transitions (not surprising at all). The first light was marked by a dominant glycerin-like sweetness. This quickly gave way to a big leather blast. As the ring gauge widened it was more like the Robusto and Toro but with less metallic zing. As the ring gauge narrowed toward the end the cedar notes were emphasized while everything else took a back seat. 1 hour and 10 minute smoke time so surprisingly a slightly longer burn time vs. the Toro despite being slightly shorter.

Favorite vitola in this blend: That’s an easy one for me: Churchill, hands down. The Robusto and Toro are fantastic and the Perfecto has more transitions but it seems the Churchill has that little something extra body-wise as well as the most start-to-finish complexity. Oh, and who can argue with that kind of smoke time?

And last, but certainly not least, the Final Third:

Robusto and Toro: Yet again, pretty much only a difference in burn time (an hour for the Robusto, 1 hour 20 minutes for the Toro). Slight hint of pepper at the start which quickly tapers off and introduces a broad, rich bouquet of dessert-like flavors consisting of cream, coffee, cocoa and a touch of caramel on the retrohale (which is very smooth). Not very transitional except for the ramping up of the coffee toward the end and everything getting slightly darker.

Torpedo: Same great flavor profile as above but with a slightly firmer draw (obviously due to the narrower opening). Maybe slightly more concentrated draw flavors also for the reasons mentioned, which also helped to extend the smoke time somewhat to an hour and a half without the ember getting too hot.

Lancero: Unlike the 1st Third, the Lancero wasn’t night and day different from the bigger ring gauges but it was different. Same flavor intensity as the others but featured a more prominent pepper in the first third (mostly on the retrohale), which morphed into an earthy retrohale later. This vitola emphasizes the cream above everything else, while the cocoa and caramel was very subtle and fleeting. The smoke also seemed slightly more dense on the mouth. The biggest difference in this vitola was the strength – like the 1st Third Lancero, this one is an ass-kicker. I was sweating bullets and nauseated by the end of it, which came at an hour and 10 minutes – a very respectable burn time for a Lancero.

Favorite vitola in this blend: Torpedo, only for the slightly firmer draw. Due to being a piper I naturally have very strong jaw and cheek muscles so with looser draw cigars I have to pay very close attention to the force with which I’m drawing. I’ve come to favor Torpedo tips in looser draw blends for that little bit of added resistance (which is also a safeguard against overheating). The Lancero, though it had great flavors, didn’t have quite the same complexity and had too much strength for me. Again, if only it was offered as a Minuto as well.

So there we have it. I have now had all 12 of the CO cigars. Save for the 1st Third Solomon that was just OK for my taste, the others were all excellent and I think I have a new all-time favorite cigar: the CO Final Third in Torpedo. I absolutely love that thing. Alas, I’ll be stocking up on all my favorite sizes in each of the three blends and I’ll probably set aside an entire tupperdor (a humidified tupperware container – works just as well as a wooden humidor and is much cheaper) in my wine refrigerator exclusively for CO cigars.

Of course, I couldn’t finish this post without suggested drink pairings, so I’ll mention those rather quickly as this has already gone on 1,800+ words. For best results, pair the 1st Third with an Imperial Stout beer, the 2nd Third with your morning coffee and the Final Third with a bold, cask-strength Scotch along the lines of a Glenlivet Nadurra or a MacAllan Cask Strength. Fantastic pairings.

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