Thursday, June 10, 2010

Herf 35 – Thanksgiving in June

June 6th, 2010 – Edmonds, WA

First off, we must admit our failing to properly document the event with any photos. I’ll admit to being fully surprised (and horrified) the day after this herf upon realizing that we were left with no pics to show for it. This oversight, however, does not diminish from the fact that this was a fantastic herf. Read on to find out why.

Taking part were Fernand, Robert, John L., Joe, Pat (in PA), Bruce, Patrick (in AZ), Eric, John D., John H, and Tom K. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a recently recommended cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group-tasting' following dinner.

Herf host Bruce found himself with a big, plump turkey needing to be eaten, so suddenly the 'Thanksgiving' theme was set for this potluck-style dinner. Joe added sausage stuffing, John H brought corn and basil-parmesan potatoes, and Robert made a pumpkin cheesecake. What a feast! Of course, many fine spirits were brought to be shared as well.

Our selection for this herf was the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Gran Perfecto. This big 6x60 is a Nicaraguan puro and holds a current Cigar Aficionado rating of 90 (June, 2009).

From the manufacturer’s website:

Antaño in Spanish means "yesteryear" a name that is a tribute to the Joya de Nicaragua cigar of the 70's when the brand became one of the favorite smokes in the American market.
This is a full bodied cigar made with 100% Nicaraguan tobacco. The shiny Colorado wrapper and the complexity of its blend give a very distinctive personality to this cigar, created to satisfy the most exigent smoker who looks for a robust cigar, rich in taste and aroma. Antaño 1970 actually is one of the favorite full bodied cigars in the world and is a symbol of the true Nicaraguan puro. For us, Antaño represents the toil of our people, the fruit of our beloved fields, and ultimately, it is a reflection of our souls.
Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we began the tasting while gathered ‘round Bruce’s outdoor fire pit. Also joining us for the evening was Bruce’s son Tom, who was a real pleasure to have along and experience this thing we call a ‘herf’ for his first time.

At first sight, no one could believe the girth of these sticks. The cigar looks like it means business and several guys suspected it was going to be a strong one. The rustic wrapper appeared capably applied, with a nice chocolate-brown color and a pleasing aroma to it. As club member Patrick put it, “a beast to behold, but a beauty in the hand.” It should be noted that a few of the cigars did display excess adhesive on the surface of the wrapper leaf, which became more visible as the cigar warmed.

Most of our eleven cigars drew just fine and burned pretty well too. Soon however, we noticed a funny thing happening. We were hardly getting any smoke from it. The flavors seemed enjoyable enough, but it was hard to tell for quite a while, at least for the first half.

Fortunately, the second half brought improved smoke output, and likewise, the richness and identities of the flavors started to become more clear. Some roasted coffee and dark chocolate notes came through. Later, there was also some smoked meat in there too. The aroma in the air coming off this cigar was just wonderful. Certainly, the quality and skillful aging of the tobaccos is evident.

The strength never got out of hand, right down to the end. A couple of the guys were left wanting more, while overall, most of us were surprised that it wasn’t a more potent smoke than the large size suggested it might be.

After throwing out the highest and lowest, then averaging the remaining scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 Gran Perfecto is 86. 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: 20 pts (80% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)

Almost of every one of us agreed to try more cigars from the Antaño 1970 line. There was enough in the flavor department to pique everyone’s interest and thanks the improved performance in the 2nd half, which salvaged the experience, the cigar became very well liked by our group of eleven tasters.

See you at the next herf, August 1st.
Photo credit to Joya de Nicaragua, S.A.

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