Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cigar Review – Toraño 50 Year Robusto

Another in our ongoing series of reviews of cigars given to us by the good folks at J&J Cigars. Featured this time is the Toraño Exodus 1959 50 Years Robusto.

Vitola: Robusto
Origin: Nicaragua
Length: 5”
Ring Gauge: 50
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Honduras
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca S.G.
Strength: Medium
Price: $7.50

Produced at the STG factory in Estelí, it features the new copper colored band and a dark, rich, and somewhat rough-looking Brazilian wrapper. The current Cigar Insider rating for it is 88 (Oct, 2009).

From the Toraño website:

“Who would have thought the Castro brothers would outlive the Soviet Union and eight U.S. presidencies, and be able to hijack a culture and people for five decades?” The speaker is Charlie Toraño, president of the fourth-generation Toraño family’s premium tobacco and cigar business. “We created our Exodus line of premium cigars to remind smokers of the hardship inflicted by Cuba’s Marxist communist regime, especially its exile of the world-renowned tobacco and cigar families, including ours. As expatriated Cubans, we have triumphed both as a people and as creators of a new cigar industry in the different countries where we all settled. That triumph is worth celebrating and we do so in our new cigar for 2009 ... Exodus 50 Years.”

Three of us took part in this review; club co-founders Robert & Fernand and club member Tom. As is our usual method, we followed Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression).

First appearance, with the new copper band, is very pleasing. The dark color and toothy texture of the Brazilian wrapper is enticing. Roll quality appeared pretty good, but unfortunately, one of our sample drew too fast while another was too tight (though it did improve for a brief period through middle portion of the stick). The success of burn seemed to coincide perfectly with the degree of draw. The fast cigar burned great and the tight cigar didn’t burn well. The quantity of smoke produced fell along those same lines as well. The ash was of a light-grey color and very stable; actually needing to be ‘broken off’ at times.

The Toraño 50 Year was milder than we expected, at the start. The flavor improved over time; started creamy and cool. We categorize it as mild-to-medium for the first half. There were nice coffee-woody notes along the way. Later it became stronger up to the end, where Robert found that a black cherry sweetness really kicked in. Tom & Fernand, on the other hand, found their samples finishing instead with a cedar-like sweetness.

Our averaged rating for the Toraño Exodus 1959 50 Years Robusto is 85.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 29 pts (83% of the points possible)

All in all, a very good cigar. One of our tasters felt that got better as it smoked. None of us found it hot or harsh and it had nice flavor transitions. We all agreed it’s worth going back for more.

Thanks again to John at J&J Cigars for giving us the opportunity to enjoy and review this fine cigar.

© 2010 The Cohiba Club – All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Herf 32 - The Vertigo Effect

February 7th, 2010 – Seattle, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, John L., Joe, Patrick (remotely), John O., and John D. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a recently recommended cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group-tasting' following dinner.

This herf marked our first (hopefully of many) to be held at The Vertigo Club. Clubmember, and official club tobacconist, John (also a Vertigo member) was kind enough to host is there for this splendid evening.

The dining portion of this herf differed from our usual approach. Instead of one of us hosting a home-cooked meal or dining out together at a local restaurant, we each brought hors d'œuvres to The Vertigo Club, potluck style.

Our selection for this herf was the Illusione Epernay La Ferme. This robusto was our Cigar of the Week back on December 21st. Recently named the #19 Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado, the La Ferme holds a current published rating of 92 (Dec, 2009).

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting while also enjoying some Elysian winter ale and Aberlour Scotch whiskey.

Upon initial examination of these Epernay’s looked beautiful; few defects noted. The wrapper texture was smooth and uniform, with skillfully applied caps and only the slightest bumps or rough veins detected. Typical Illusione quality shone through in this attractive example of how cigars premium should be crafted.

Most of these cigars drew and burned pretty well. A couple drew a little tight and a couple burned a little crooked. Most of us had to perform a re-light or two along the middle portion and into the final third, but it wasn’t enough to be a nuisance.

The flavors were mild and enjoyable right off the bat. Floral notes and pleasant, woody flavors dominated with subtle complexities abundant to keep things interesting through the first third. The middle third saw things simplify a bit, which one of our tasters described as monotone. Fortunately, the final third brought back some richness and complexity that once again brought our attention back to this very captivating blend. A few of us did record brief periods of a slightly bitter, citrus sort of character that was not dominant, and fortunately gave way to eventual savory and rich.

The volume of smoke produced sufficient, for the most part. We would liked to have seen the ash a bit more stable, but in all honesty, that’s being a bit picky.

After throwing out the highest and lowest, then averaging the remaining scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Illusione Epernay La Ferme is 90. An outstanding cigar.

Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 14 pts (93% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 32 pts (91% of the points possible)

What an easy recommendation to make. This cigar was never overpowering, making it an alluring choice for fans of mild-to-medium strength sticks. Anyone yet to experience an Epernay should add this to their ‘must-try’ list.

Thanks to John of J&J Cigars for giving us such a good deal on these sticks and for hosting us in an unparalleled environment as The Vertigo Club. It was truly a pleasure!

See you at the next herf, March 7th.

© 2010 The Cohiba Club – All rights reserved.