Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Herf 38 – Barbecue Heaven

October 3rd, 2010 – Woodway, WA

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

The local guys were extremely pleased to have out-of-state-member Patrick (@PHXCigarGuy) in town to attend this herf in person. Also, joining us once again was occasional guest (and brother of our host) Mark, who is always a pleasure to have along.

Our capable host John L. prepared some of best smoked, pulled pork barbecue we’d ever tasted. He acted a little worried about his result as we took our seats, but there was no doubt in our minds, and on our palates, that he nailed it! The guys contributed with 3 kinds of coleslaw, a wonderful pea salad, corn bread, wine, and several other goodies that I can’t recall due to the food coma that I was thrown into.

Our selection for this herf was the Tatuaje Havana VI Hermosos. Made for Pete Johnson at Don Pepin’s Tabacalera Cubana S.A., in Nicaragua. This corona gorda measures 5 5/8 inches by 46 ring gauge. What a great size it is; not too large, not intimidating in the least. It’s just small enough in the ring guage to get more influence from the wrapper too. The Hermosos holds a current published rating, from Cigar Aficionado, of 89 (Mar, 2007).

From the Tatuaje website:
Havana VI
A classic and traditional Cuban Style blend created by Pete Johnson. Blended in the style of the flavorful yet Medium-Bodied Cuban Cigars.
Cigars are rolled in Nicaragua using select Nicaraguan tobaccos and classic Cuban blending with a beautiful Cuban triple-cap.
Staying true to the pride of El Rey do Los Habanos.

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we headed into John’s garage, protected from the rain and warm in the spirit of our camaraderie.

Perhaps it’s not the most attractive cigar you’ve seen recently, but it still speaks of quality craftsmanship, nonetheless. There’s a little roughness to the appearance. More of a ‘natural’ look than anything. There’s a bit of tooth to the texture as well as moderate veins visible.

These sticks performed well, with even burns, and only a couple of our ten samples showing a draw that required some effort. The ash was gorgeous, though it tended to depart without warning after it got about an inch long (who’s complaining).

The start was peppery, as you’d expect from Pepin’s Nicaraguan leaf, but not overtly so. This soon faded after about a half inch into it. The quality of the blend was evidenced by an appreciated smoothness. Through the first third there were periods of sweetness backed by an aromatic leather undertone. Into the second third, the leather gave way to wood and an earthy character which club co-founder and herf host John found reminiscent of mushroom. This pretty much summed up the developing changes in flavor. As we reached the closing phase, the final experience was merely an intensification of the above themes.

After throwing out the highest and lowest, then averaging the remaining scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the Tatuaje Havana VI Hermosos is 87. 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: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 31 pts (89% of the points possible)

To summarize, about half of us really liked it and the rest thought it was quite good, but not great. There’s plenty to like in this line. Great construction, easy flavors, simply a very pleasurable experience – and for a good price too! We definitely recommend you try it, if you haven’t already – or retry it if you have.

See you at the next herf, November 7th.

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