**** Attention FPC readers. This is without a doubt the most delightful and bittersweet review we have ever done. The cigar, and the story behind it are beyond fascinating. Now that we know the history behind this cigar we have debated on whether to alter our review based on hindsight. (or even to post it at all) We have chosen NOT to change our review based on what we now know about this cigar. Here is the review as it was written while we were reviewing it. Josh knew the SOURCE of the cigar before our review but didn’t know its history. I didn’t know anything about it. READ IT… the story, like the cigar… is AMAZING***
This is a gala day for front porch cigars. (and to paraphrase the Groucho Marx, a gal a day is enough for most people)
We are christening the new front porch cigar smoking lounge. The lounge consists of a private room in a location not to be named. It contains couches, comfy chairs, a poker table, lots of signage from various cigar companies, and of course, a sweet 1970′s phonograph to play velvet toned lounge music. Boots Randolph, Herb Alpert and others are frequent guests, as are Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sophie Tucker.
Our first review in the new lounge will be a blind review. To be ever so honest, we prefer blind reviews. It lends that “shooting from the hip” feeling to what we do.
This is a cigar of (currently) unknown origin. Our source will inform us following the conclusion of our review. Suffice it to say that we have never reviewed a cigar from this source. It’s intriguing at best.
Josh and I have claimed our chairs in the new lounge. Josh’s is a blue wraparound while mine is an oversized chair of Archie Bunker style and vintage. That is somehow very appropriate.
The first thing we notice about our mystery sticks is a LOVELY bloom. It’s a good sign that these cigars have been well aged and cared for with the upmost dedication. That’s a good start.
A quick prelight roll around the tongue indicates sweetness and a taste of honey. (boogie oogie oogie) Not as if it was a flavored cigar, but just a hint. Again… as far as my palate goes, this is also a good sign.
Josh’s prelight roll is slightly different. “It’s a sweetness but not quite honey. I am also getting a tiny tinge of spice on the tongue”.
Suffice it to say that these cigars are offering a lot, given that they are not yet lit.
We both clip ours, however it’s a very delicate clip. Just the lens off of an eye, if you will. For those of you not familiar with eye surgery, it’s a really thin clip.
After a slow and deliberate light, we both notice a touch of sweetness, and it becomes clear to me that this is going to be (at least in its opening stage) right in my wheelhouse. The flavors are rich and a tad sweet. Full flavor, medium to medium/mild strength… and DELICIOUS.
Josh, being a fan of stronger cigars, appears pleased as well. “I am a touch surprised, but not disappointed”.
“If I walked into a humidor, I probably wouldn’t choose this based on the wrapper. It’s lighter than I prefer. I am a maduro person for the most part. I prefer that rich sweetness”.
He continues with a bit of education, “…however that doesn’t necessarily mean they are stronger. Dark wrapper doesn’t always mean that a cigar is stronger than one with a natural wrapper”. Point taken.
We are both about 3 draws in, and we are both AMAZED at how much flavor is in this little tan twig. “Seriously… (he adds) I wouldn’t have gone for this because of look of the wrapper, but this is really good and flavorful”.
Part of this strength It might also have to do with the size. Smaller cigar doesn’t mean less flavor, in fact, many times the opposite is true. With many smaller cigars, the percentage of the cigar accounted for by the wrapper is greater than that of larger gauges. After my first three draws I come to my first conclusion. This cigar is special. The flavor profile of honey and wheat is amazingly bold for a cigar of medium (at best) strength.
Josh’s note is “…it’s a pleasant and unassuming sweetness. I wouldn’t call it honey but I see where you (meaning, me) might.. that just isn’t my word. Close, but not quite”.
I maintain my early impressions. It’s a bakery. Grain, bread, honey. Dare I say it could have been rolled on the same table as a yeast roll… with honey.
Josh backs off of that a bit. “Yeast isn’t generally a word I associate with a cigar. Brewer’s yeast perhaps”.
After about 15 minutes I have nothing but praise for whatever I am currently smoking. It’s amazing. I am still getting the flavor that’s in the air when you walk into a bakery. It’s delicious. In terms of strength, it’s still medium minus… but it has delightful flavor. LOTS of it .
Josh is staring at his cigar. He has about 1 3/4 inches of ash on the end. It’s rock solid and dead even. We both agree that it’s a very well rolled cigar. Perfectly constructed. Rolling it in between the fingers reveals absolute consistency.
He has also come around to my “honey” profile note.
“Honey, butter and bread.” he says. “It’s as if you mixed up honey and butter, then dragged a delicious biscuit through it. It has an extremely refreshing flavor. I would brush my teeth with this”.
I am going to go out on a limb right now and say that if this cigar remains even marginally consistent, it will receive a “buy a box” rating. If they are affordable enough, I am going to cut them into slices and put them on my cereal. They are that good. This is almost everything I like in a cigar. The flavors are magnificent.
“This is a “sleeper” cigar” according to Josh. It’s better and richer than it looks on the surface. It’s not unlike my car. Pull up next to me and rev your engine. The next thing you know, you will find that there is a Lincoln Signature Series Town Car with a 7 liter engine upgrade blazing past you, while hitting 60 in 5.4. Not only is he talking about the surprise he is finding in this cigar,he is gloating about his car. He’s happy right now.
We are both in awe at what we have. It’s SO smooth with a rich sweetness. Neither of us are sure we have had anything close to this profile before. We are anxious to know what it is… but we will wait and continue to enjoy.
Part of the “waiting” (or in the case, “smoking”) process is a hidden fear that something will change. When will the flavors change? When will it start to fall apart? When will it turn into something we don’t like? So far, it hasn’t.
With about 2 1/2 inches left Josh begins to postulate. “If the last two inches of this cigar are nothing but a cork wrapped in tobacco, It was still worth it”.
I concur. If it turns into pencil sharpener shavings wrapped in elm leaves in the next two minutes, I would still have to recommend it based on the first half. I am almost stunned. This is absolutely a wonderful cigar at this point.
On a whim I decided to try a quick purge. Oddly enough, Josh did the same thing unnoticed by me. We glance up to see each other complete our purge and we both agree on the results. NOTHING.
Absolutely NOTHING happened. There was no tar flare, there was no change in flavor and the cigar as a whole changed not one iota.
As we start working on the final couple of inches, we try and find some “room for improvement” notes. My main complaint is that it’s not three feet long. Clearly increasing the ring gauge would alter the percentages in the blend.. but if this were a 36 inch cigar with the same percentages I wouldn’t complain.
It’s been a LONG time since we have looked forward to an unveiling as much as this one. All we know is that there is supposedly an interesting story behind this cigar. That doesn’t make it taste better, but we are even more intrigued.
Josh called his at 44 minutes. I called mine at 56. Josh is vegging in the corner.
“I am in a serious state of relax”. Says the comic. “That is one of the best 44 minutes I have had in long time”.
All I can say is “amazing”. I try to think of another word… and fail. It’s AMAZING.
I never (and I mean never) throw a cigar into my top 5 after one stick. To be a top 5 cigar requires some repeated effort and consistent enjoyment. In spite of that fact, after one concentrated 56 minute bundle of happy, I have thrown this cigar into my top 5 . If I have another and it is equally as good, it might well be the best cigar I have ever had. I might have one down the road that isn’t as good and that might make me adjust my rating, but based on a single stick this is one of the most wonderful cigars I have ever encountered.
Josh liked it a lot. It’s not at the top of his list because he prefers stronger cigars, however a top 10 isn’t out of the question. (keep in mind we do ALL TIME top 10… we don’t do “10 best” every year) He enjoyed his greatly… I couldn’t have chosen a better cigar to break the seal on the new lounge.
My rating: BUY A BOX…
Josh hedges very slightly. I might buy a box, but I will definitely have many more if I don’t. This, of course is cheating, so I am going to bump his to the high side and label it as “buy a box” as well.
The time has come for the reveal. And with the reveal comes not only a great story, but the height of excitement and a touch of sad disappointment.
Our source reveals the terrible truth. Prior to the Cuban embargo of 1962, President Kennedy sent his Press Secretary Pierre Salinger to Cuba to purchase enough Cuban cigars for him to smoke during the duration of the embargo. He procured a large number of H Upmann cigars for the Commander In Chief. Alas we have been smoking the remnants of this clandestine operation as provided by a member of the U.S. intelligence community. (that is REALLY all we can say about that)
Yes, we both rated this cigar as “buy a box”. Alas, you can’t. Neither can we.
Mr. Kennedy was an H Upmann fan, and now we know why. These two well aged, disgustingly rare and extremely special cigars were absolute gold.
Because Josh and I are both skeptics at best, we spent a good hour researching this cigar after we were told what it was. The provenance checked out, the vintage band checked out and the packaging checked out. I don’t know whether to feel like I just climbed Everest or whether I accidentally ran over a puppy with a car.
This might have been the best cigar I will ever have… and there is no chance of ever getting another.
We built up this cigar throughout the review because it was many layers of wonderful combined with wonderful for binder and some wonderful for a wrapper… but you can’t have one… and from now on, neither can we. An amazing, bittersweet experience that we will never forget.