Cigar Review: Aganorsa Leaf Maduro

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Welcome to another one of The Inked Autist’s cigar reviews! Today we are taking a look at this offering from Casa Fernandez featuring a Mexican San Andreas Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and long fillers. The size reviewed today is the 5″ x 54RG box pressed Robusto Extra vitola.

The first light revealed a slightly loose draw putting off big puffs of thick, chewy, medium/full body smoke. Big pepper and earth blast right up front. Tinge of a nuttiness on the finish. A little bit of grit to the texture.

Getting into the first third we have largely the same but the pepper dials back a bit allowing a spicy, unsweetened vanilla extract to enter the draw flavors. There’s also a tiny hint of espresso on the finish going into the retrohale. Still that same grit to the texture.

The 2nd third sees no further changes, holding everything except for a tinge of strength entering the mix. Only a slight shift into the last third as the vanilla morphs more into a nutmeg. Ending at 55 minutes for a slightly better than average burn time for the size and bringing in a medium nicotine strength.

Flawless construction with a near razor sharp burn all the way down. High quality self-adhesive bands that were easy to remove and did not damage the wrapper. Ash holds on about a third at a time.

A lot of the prototypical Mexican San Andreas flavors in this stick. High on body and an overall savory, earthy experience. Enjoyable flavors, though personally I would have liked a tinge of sweetness in the mix to round out the package, but that’s just me personally. This would go well with a hefty red wine or a bourbon. Rating: 4/5.

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First Shipment from Privada Cigar Club!

So after watching the CigarObsession Live show featuring Brian Desind (founder of the Privada Cigar Club), and given how much less I’m shelling out on gas every week by not commuting 120 miles round trip for work 5x per week, I decided to take the plunge for the paltry price of about $30/month (after shipping) to the PCC.

After receiving my first shipment, I’m already convinced that if you are a cigar lover like me and you have not yet signed up, you really should sign up. It’s quick and easy, just go to their website, fill out their questionnaire to complete your tasting profile and submit your payment and shipping information. It really is that easy! From there, enjoy 3 either aged, rare/limited release or just plain exceptional cigars per month, handpicked for you based on your profile.

So here then is the first shipment I received yesterday. The packaging was smart and secure and the cigars come pre-humidified with a 69% Boveda pack for you to enjoy right out of the box. Also included within the package were tasting notes for each of the featured cigars in your box as well as pairing suggestions!

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All in all for what you’re getting it’s a bargain honestly. You’re getting some great cigars that you would likely pay more for in a B&M shop and it’s a great way to try new cigars.

So with that, yesterday I smoked the choice on the left, the Padilla Finest Hour Habano and truth be told I found his tasting notes pretty accurate. I personally didn’t get much of the licorice myself (but maybe that’s because I don’t eat enough to positively identify it) but I did get a nice smooth cocoa in there. Some additional notes: medium/full body, great easy draw and good construction. There were some burn issues and it did seem to burn quickly (an hour for the Toro size) but it was super windy yesterday so that probably accounted for both of those issues. It was a 4.5/5 rated stick all the way – Brian did a great job picking that one out.

Though I didn’t have any bourbon as per his suggestion, I did have a red wine that I paired it with and it went beautifully with that even so:

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I’m definitely excited to try the other two that were featured in this package, but I’ll space them out until the next release is due out in a month.

So yeah, I’m already impressed and would highly recommend any cigar lover join. It’s a total bargain and Brian is about as cool of a guy as you’ll ever talk to. Trust me, you DEFINITELY want in on this.

Cigar Review: Wise Man Maduro Lancero

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Today’s cigar review is an exercise in how a change in ring gauge can have quite a substantial change to the flavor profile of any given blend. The previously reviewed Wise Man Maduro Torpedo¬†¬†features a 52 ring gauge, compared to today’s 7.5″ x 40RG box pressed Lancero edition.

The first light reveals a perfect draw putting off plumes of full bodied smoke. A big pepper and earth blast start things off with a tinge of leather in the background.

Getting into the first third we see more of the same while a heavy, smoky brisket note joins in the finish and retrohale with a bit of the espresso and dark chocolate notes joining in on the draw, but more of an undertone as compared to the Torpedo. As with the Torpedo, this blend was consistent start to finish, ending at 1 hour 10 minutes for an excellent burn time for a Lancero and the strength almost matching the body at medium/full.

Excellent construction with a near razor-sharp burn and the ash holding on about a quarter of the cigar at a time. This one featured the same elegant, quality self-adhesive band which was easy to remove without damaging the wrapper.

So where does this come in? Compared to the larger ring gauge which had more of the dark semi-sweet dessert tones, this one brought the heartier, more savory flavors to the forefront and had a little bit more power to the smoke. As for which one prefers, that’s a matter of opinion. If I had to pick one I’d say I like the Torpedo in this one slightly better, but it really just depends on what I want because they are both killer cigars. Same pairing recommendations as the larger size, though and the same rating of 4.5/5.

Now, I did get a question recently about ring gauge. I was asked why I don’t usually review big ring gauges. The answer to that is I don’t generally like big ring gauge cigars. The reason being is they tend to be very mild, airy and don’t burn very consistently. I’ve had blends that I normally like in an “average” ring size that went totally bland in a 60+ size. As such, that’s why I don’t typically buy large ring gauge cigars. Mid 50s is where I generally cap out. I’ve had a few 60s that were good but they’re few and far between.

As you notice my trend, generally I review a Robusto or Toro size (approximately 50-54 ring gauge) as my “baseline” for a blend when I’m trying it for the first time, and if it’s something I like then I’ll try like a Lancero, Corona or Churchill (38-48 ring gauge) to compare the sizes to. I usually will avoid the Gordo (60+) end of the spectrum for the reason above, though if a particular blend only comes in that vitola sure I’ll give it a whirl. Most have been underwhelming to my palate though.

Another question that’s sometimes asked by new people – how is ring gauge measured? Ring gauge is the diameter of the cigar measured in 1/64ths of an inch. So a 64 ring gauge would be 1 inch in diameter and so forth.

Cigar Review: Punch Signature

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This cigar from the Honduras maker Punch features an Ecuadorian Sungrown Corojo wrapper over a dual Connecticut and Habano binder and Dominican and Nicaraguan long fillers.

First light reveals a perfect draw putting off a good amount of smoke. Medium/full body flavors of nuts, earth and spice. Hint of cocoa and a buttery texture.

Getting into the first third we get some more complexity while retaining the same core flavors. Pepper dies down somewhat allowing a distinct raisin and plum note to join in. A hint of caramel in the background. A tinge of smoky mesquite is also detected on the retrohale.

The 2nd third sees a slight shift with the pepper diminishing almost completely and the smoky and mesquite notes blending together into a meaty taste and aroma. No further changes were noted. Ending at 1 hour for an average burn time for the size and bringing in a medium nicotine strength.

Construction is where this one fell a bit flat. Fairly wavy burn that required a couple of touch ups along the way. Also some slight splitting of the wrapper in places. The band is quality and self adhesive and came off with no effort.

This one I’m kinda torn on. It’s a fairly price-point oriented stick (about $6 average from what I’ve found) and the flavors are really nice but the construction left something to be desired. Was it worth enduring for the flavors? For me yes, but maybe not if this isn’t a flavor profile you seem crazy about. Maybe I just got a one-off, but I’d have to try another just to see. Pairings for this would be a smooth red wine or a nice Jamaican rum for best results. Rating: 3.5/5.

Wine Review: Apothic Inferno

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This offering from Apothic Wines is a red blend (they don’t disclose specifics from what I’ve found) aged for 60 days in whiskey barrels. Consistent with this aging, it does have a slightly higher than average alcohol content at 15.9% ABV. Whiskey (particularly bourbon) barrel aged wines have been a bit of a hot trend lately, so I expected nothing less than for Apothic to get in on the action. But did they do it well?

Pour is a deep burgundy color as a great red wine should. The nose is immediately greeted with notes of plum and cherry with a tinge of vanilla and woody bourbon. The palate is greeeted with a blast of bourbon with tones of vanilla, oak and maple syrup. This is supported by a black cherry and blueberry core. Finish is semi-dry with mild tannins and a long lingering warmth. I would rate the body at medium – it’s an easy drinking wine without being too heavy.

For the price (about $12/bottle it appears) I doubt you’re going to see a more wallet friendly whiskey barrel aged wine. I do feel the whiskey in this case might have been too assertive in that it seemed to be the star of the show instead of just adding character, but it was still a very enjoyable wine. I paired this with a Torano Exodus 1959 50 Year cigar for this review and it was a solid pairing. Rating: 3.5/5.

 

Cigar Review: Southern Draw Jacob’s Ladder

I figured I’d close out my year in cigars by trying something new. I also wanted something powerful to close out with a bang. Well this one definitely delivered both.

Jacob’s Ladder is the fullest body offering in the Southern Draw lineup. It is stuffed full of Nicaraguan long fillers under an Ecuadorian Maduro binder and a Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. The size reviewed here is a 6″ x 52RG Toro vitola.

First light reveals a smooth draw putting off big clouds of thick, chewy, full bodied smoke. Flavors of a deep earth and dark chocolate core tantalize the palate straight away. This is supported by a huge pepper blast and cedar note on the retrohale.

Getting into the first third the smoke retains its intensity but the pepper dials back slightly allowing a distinct caramel tone to join the draw and a zingy lemon zest to join in on the finish. Despite the power it is incredibly smooth textured and flavored.

The 2nd third is much the same as the first, which is ok by me as I’m absolutely loving the flavor package. Strength starts setting in quickly though. The only notable shift is the earth moving more toward a leather. Ending at 1 hour 45 minutes for a truly impressive burn time for the size and the strength almost matches the body at near full – my head was spinning by the end of it!

Flawless construction with an absolutely razor sharp burn, which is quite surprising given the binder and wrapper. Ash holds on about a third at a time. High quality self-adhesive bands that come off effortlessly and do not damage the wrapper.

What a way to close out the year. Bursting with flavor and a lot of complexity, this cigar wowed me in every way. At about $10/stick the price is right for what you get too – I would almost call it a budget stick given what you get for that money. Pair with a heavy, oaky bourbon or an peaty scotch for best results. Rating: 5/5.

Product Review: NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glass

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Lovers of fine spirits will tell you that not all glassware is created equally. The proper glass can go a long way to enhancing the enjoyment of any spirit, be it whisk(e)y, rum, vodka, tequila or what have you. Likewise, the wrong glass can really break the experience. Who’d have thought that something so simple as a glass could make as much difference as it does?

There are many glasses to choose from now, from drinking straight out of the shot glass to snifters and everything in between. As of recent years, this glass has taken the world by storm it seems, and for good reason.

Part of my holiday gift from my parents this year was a set of NEAT Ultimate Spirits Glasses. NEAT (Naturally Engineered Aroma Technology) claims to have used science and engineering to develop a better glass – one that wafts the searing alcohol burn away from the nose as to allow for more of the true aromas to come through, and of course aroma in turn gives way to flavor as well. Pure ethanol burn can numb the sinuses, thus you don’t get the full array of aromas if you get too much of it.

Serving spirits in the NEAT glass is very simple – just pour to the widest point of the glass for your standard 1.5 ounce pour. This makes precise measurements easy. From there, do as you would any other spirits glass to get the aroma – swirl and inhale deeply through the nose.

Being the skeptic I am when I first saw it I thought it couldn’t make that much difference. Alas, I was quickly proven wrong when I took the first whiff of a familiar Scotch. I knew how it smelled and tasted out of a normal glass so that was a good one to use as my baseline. Taking a deep inhale I noticed very little alcohol burn at all (even with the near 120 proof), while being able to take in more of the true aroma. Hey, you mean this actually works? I’m in shock!

The shape of the glass means you’re not going to get too big of a sip at a time. It almost seems metered in that way too. Get just the right amount to swirl around on the tongue and taste all the flavors before taking the swallow. Maybe the hype is justified after all?

Best of all, these glasses are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. You just can’t beat that.

Whatever the case, it does seem that this glass delivers on its claims. After drinking my fine cask strength single malts out of this glass I can’t imagine going back. This will become my new go-to glass for fine spirits and I highly recommend trying them for yourself. Once you try, you’ll never go back.