Friday, March 12, 2010

Herf 33 – The Other World

March 7th, 2010 – Shoreline, WA

In attendance were Fernand, Robert, John L., Joe, Bruce, Tom, and John H. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a recently recommended cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group-tasting' following dinner.

The seven of us in Richmond Beach dined on hickory & mesquite-smoked pork shoulder, three kinds of cole slaw, two types of cornbread muffins (with honey-butter), jalapeƱo poppers, and a rich chocolate cake for dessert. Wow! Well done to all who contributed.

Our cigar selection for this herf was the Ambos Mundos Sumatra No.2 Robusto. We previously enjoyed the white label (the No.1) at Herf 29. This red label was our Cigar of the Week back on January 18th. The current published rating for the Ambos Mundos red label robusto is 91 (Mar, 2009).

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting while also enjoying some winter ale, Canadian whiskey, and a couple very special treats; Sam Adams Utopias, a generous gift courtesy of club member Tom. John H. was kind enough to bring along his hard-to-find pear brandy for us to taste as well. It's Godet Poire au Cognac from La Rochelle, France. Amazing!

Also, taking part in this review were club members Patrick (in AZ) and John D. Though not able to attend the herf, they did take the time to conduct their tastings individually and submit their scores within a couple days of our gathering.

While the cigar's first impression is somewhat nondescript, a closer look reveals a pretty well-crafted roll. There were a few prominent veins as well as some surface roughness, but nothing major. It's a generally good-looking, sturdy cigar.

Most of these cigars drew wonderfully, though one was too loose and a couple were just a tad tight. The cigars performed quite well with pretty even burns and adequate smoke production. Even the ash was remarkably stable and uniform, which was great to see considering the reported use of B & C grade Tatuaje leaves in these sticks.

There was a spicy beginning that had everyone sit up and take notice, perhaps lasting for the first half inch. Soon we were given plenty of wood & leather to ponder. Our nine tasters described flavors in the middle portion like toasty in a 'bready' or toasted-grain sort of way; pleasant. There was even an acidic sweetness, something like a plum – just a hint anyway. Also, maybe a bit of anise was detected as well. The ending portion transitioned to a stronger, but savory character.

After throwing out the highest and lowest, then averaging the remaining scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Ambos Mundos No.2 robusto is 89. An excellent cigar.

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: 22 pts (88% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 32 pts (91% of the points possible)

Right off the bat it was apparent that our group of tasters preferred this Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapped Ambos Mundos over the Nicaraguan Habano wrapped sibling we sampled back in November.

Most of our tasters left the herf determined to buy more of these red label robustos. In fact, at the time of this writing, at least one of them already has reported doing so.

Thanks to John of J&J Cigars for giving us such a good deal on these sticks.

See you at the next herf, May 2nd.

© 2010 The Cohiba Club – All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Gift Review – Tatuaje Black

Another in our ongoing series of occasional reviews of cigars given to us as gifts. Featured this time is the Tatuaje Black Label Private Reserve, given to me by John at J&J Cigars back in November of ‘09.

Vitola: Corona Gorda
Origin: Nicaragua
Length: 5 5/8”
Ring Gauge: 46
Filler: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Wrapper: Nicaraguan (binder leaf)
Strength: Full
Price: $13

Produced by Don Pepin Garcia for Pete Johnson, it features a Nicaraguan wrapper (said to be binder leaf) with a rough texture and a rustic appeal that’s strangely enticing. The uncut foot was a first for me and it also gives the impression that you’re about to experience something quite different and at the same time very special.

I scored this cigar following Cigar Aficionado's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression).

The pointed head is so intriguing that it’s hard to cut it off, though the sense of anticipation forces one to make quick work of it. The rough wrapper and sturdy parejo shape combine to give a sense of solid construction and strength even before you’ve smelled or tasted it. One detraction, visually, was that the wrapper was a bit dry looking, perhaps a byproduct of it being from binder stock.

Unfortunately, my sample drew rather tight, but I was optimistic nonetheless. This thing starts out strong, as most every reviewer has described before me. Through the middle portion I enjoyed a sweet wood, like a black walnut. This later gave way to a tannic period during which I struggled with burn problems. The final third rallied with a savory richness that I found very appealing.

The quantity of smoke produced varied at times but was lacking more so than I would have liked. I also found the ash a little unstable, as it fell early in the first third; though that did improve later.

My rating for the Tatuaje Black Label Private Reserve Corona Gorda is 89.
Here's the points breakdown:
I. Appearance & Construction: 13 pts (87% of the points possible)
II. Flavor: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
III. Smoking Characteristics: 17 pts (68% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 28 pts (80% of the points possible)

As you can see by my scoring in the category of Smoking Characteristics, the experience was hindered significantly by the poor draw and burn. This is in stark contrast to the very pleasurable time spent recently with the Black Tubos that I acquired this past December.

Thanks again, John, for this very generous gift!

© 2010 The Cohiba Club - All rights reserved.