Friday, May 23, 2008

Blind Cigar Swapping

The Cohiba Club Blind Swap

Rarely do we get to do a truly blind cigar tasting. Simply taking the bands off of cigars that you’ve purchased yourself doesn’t quite cut it because in the end, chances are you’ll know what you bought. To really do it properly, you must depend on someone else providing the cigars for you to judge. Alas, we’ve come up with a way to do this which should prove to be fun and educational.

Between our regularly-scheduled monthly herfs, a few of our club members will be engaging in our new blind swaps. The following is an explanation and guidelines for how these blind swaps may be accomplished.

· This is a swap in which we'd simply trade equal numbers of cigars to each other.
· Since our regular herfs are usually four weeks apart, how about picking three rather different cigars to trade.
· Three because you'd have 3 weekends in which to smoke them before presenting your findings at the next herf (my kind of homework).
· They'd be unbanded at the time of swapping in order to conceal their identity, but numbered (of course) so that the 'giver' of the sticks knows which is which.
· I suggest picking cigars from different price ranges to make it interesting, so one would be 'a little spendy', 2nd a middle-of-the-road one, and last a bargain stick (country of origin could be different too).
· The recipient of the three blind sticks will not know which is costly or cheap and is encouraged to make that guess as part of his evaluation.
· Prices might range: $10-$12 for the high-end cigar, $7-$9 for the medium one, and $4-$6 for the value stick (one with great potential that you feel might surprise somebody).
· Also, the vitola shouldn't be overtly recognizable, like a Fuente Short Story, or an LFD Mysterio.
· So for those of us with cigars, it may simply be a matter of plucking a couple from your humidor and maybe supplementing with one more interesting choice from a shop to round out the trio.
· For those with no cigars at home, a quick stop by CigarLand in Shoreline will get you in the game.
· By trading, you're getting back roughly the same as what you gave away, so in reality, you're spending the money on yourself anyway.
· Remember, it's not a contest, only a 'blind' taste-test. There's no winning or loosing, just rating objectively (which we'd never get to do otherwise).
· To make it more interesting, we could also try guessing other stuff about them like where they're from or who they're made by.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Herf #12 - Spring At Last

May 4th, 2008 - Sammamish, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Eric, Pat, and Joe. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a good cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group tasting' following dinner.

The five of us dined at nearby DC's Grill in Sammamish. The steaks were very good and next we were off to Eric's back patio where we relaxed around his outdoor heater for the tasting session.

Our selection for this Herf was the Oliva Serie V Torpedo. A beautiful figurado measuring 6 inches long with a ring guage of 56. This Serie V was Cigar of the Week back on December 17th of 2007 which received a 94 from Cigar Aficionado's expert tasting panel.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting. This proved to be a very well-liked cigar among our group of ‘tasters’.

After averaging our scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Oliva Serie V Torpedo is 90. An outstanding cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)

With an appearance of high quality construction, we couldn’t find much wrong with these torpedoes (though one did split from the foot not long after lighting). During the pre-light inspection, we detected a very sweet and rich ‘barnyard’ aroma along the wrapper.

As for the draw, a couple required a 2nd clip to get the airflow going then all agreed that these were beautifully smoking cigars. It should be noted that the smoke seemed a little thin, but this did not inhibit the experience.

The flavor was powerful up front! Very rich, but not really spicy like some others we've had recently. It was strong, but smooth in that there was little or no harshness or bitterness. We kept expecting the ligero in this full-strength cigar to sneak up on us, but it never happened.

All in all, a very enjoyable cigar which we highly recommend. The price is right too; we got them for around $7 (just under $8 with taxes). Why didn't we score it as high as CA, you ask? One reason may be that the flavor, as pleasant as it was, didn't have that complexity that you sometimes get. It seemed one-dimensional. There weren't any discernible like-flavors that we could pick out (except one of us thought he detected a cinnamon-like aftertaste in the finish). But then again, we're not exactly aficionados either. Bottom line - we did like it and a 90 is not too shabby.

In addition, a couple very nice liquors were consumed during this herf that deserve mention: A wonderful Pyrat rum with a mild, fruity, perhaps citrus flavor and a Dalmore's Cigar Malt. The latter possessed a hefty body with flavors quite complimentary to the Oliva.

Good times!

See you at the next herf, June 1st.

(click on images to enlarge)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Gift Review - Romeo y Julieta No. 1 Tubo

An occasional feature here on The Cohiba Club blog is a review of a cigar received as a gift. This current subject is a Romeo y Julieta No. 1 Tubo 'Cremas' Petit Corona, given to me by club member Tom, back in January of this year.

With it's tube design recently overhauled by Habanos, S.A. (no doubt a marketing attempt to make it a more appealing package) I was very hopeful and intrigued about what this little gem (5 1/2 x 40) might be like.

Following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) I sat down to rate this cigar while enjoying a glass of Scotch.

With a bumpy exterior, it appeared pretty rustic, though still seemingly well put together. The roll quality felt fine and the pre-light draw confirmed that it wouldn't give me any trouble there. Ultimately, it burned great, so I couldn't find much wrong with the construction except for the rough outward appearance.

Sadly, however, this little cigar produced smoke that was quite thin. The ash fell on me twice, not that I held it that long, and it's color was somewhat dark grey.

Flavors consisted of a floral character with a nice sweetness for the first half, mild and enjoyable. The second half was a different story. I began to notice that coming on rather quickly was an acrid, metallic, bitter flavor that I just couldn't get past and ended up putting it down after only having about two-thirds of it.

Unfortunately, what started out as a nice cigar simply 'turned' way to quickly. Perhaps the next one will provide a better experience. After adding up the scoring, my rating for the Romeo y Julieta No. 1 Tubo is 81.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 12 pts (80% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 19 pts (76% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 23 pts (92% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 30 pts (77% of the points possible)