Sunday, June 12, 2011

Herf 46 – Cajun Delight

June 5th, 2011 – Edmonds, WA

Herf-46_086_80In attendance were Fernand, Robert, Joe, Patrick (in AZ via Skype), Bruce, Peter, and Chris. As usual, we gathered to enjoy a recently recommended cigar and give our opinion on it by holding a 'group-tasting' following dinner.

For those who remember Burk’s CafĂ© in Ballard, we had a little taste of it last Sunday night. Herf co-hosts Peter and Bruce served up a fabulous jambalaya from the very recipe given to Peter by Terry "Burk" Burkhardt, owner of the cajun/creole restaurant that closed in the Fall of 2004. The chicken, shrimp, and andouille were shrouded in succulent rice and spicy Cajun sauce that were to die for! Well done gentlemen. Joe contributed with a crisp green salad that simply vanished, and finally, Robert’s buttery pound cake polished off what little room was left.

Our selection for this herf was the LFD Air Bender Villano. Yes, our second lancero in a row, it’s made in the Dominican Republic by Tabacalera La Flor S.A. This slender 7.5x38 La Flor features a gorgeous Ecuadorian wrapper and a perfectly twisted little pigtail cap. The current Cigar Aficionado rating for it is 90 (Dec, 2010).

From the Manufacturer’s website:

“As the name suggests, the Air Benders are intense, sophisticated, and powerful.“

Following CA's 4-part rating system (Appearance & Construction, Flavor, Smoking Characteristics, and Overall Impression) we convened out on Bruce’s back deck enjoying the pleasant evening and the camaraderie that came along with it.

Herf-46_088_1000For most of us, this was our first Air Bender. It was plain to see that Litto Gomez has very skilled rollers producing these gems. All seven of our samples were flawless, with one exception. The cap on Bruce’s Villano displayed a striking color difference, much lighter than the rest of the wrapper, and also a small crack further down in the mid-section which fortunately didn’t interfere with performance.

Herf-46_090_600The lowest scoring category was Smoking Characteristics. The draw was pretty good. About half of them were a bit firm, but that may be preferable when considering smaller ring gauge cigars. They burned well, though a few of us did re-light a few times through the 2nd third. The smoke output was just right and the ash was very pretty, though somewhat prone to falling a little earlier than we’re used to (we’re guessing that in this case it was due to the smaller diameter).

Flavor? Wow, what a start. These Air Benders really had our attention for the first ¾ inch. When they say ‘intense’, they mean it. It was almost a bit much for our guys who prefer medium strength cigars, but once things settled down, it was all good. There were familiar dark, rich flavors through the bulk of the experience, such as espresso, bitter chocolate, and the like. The surprise for us, however, would be in the final third. Instead of ramping up in strength, perhaps equivalent to the beginning, it stayed smooth – a welcome surprise indeed.

After throwing out the highest and lowest, then averaging the remaining scores, The Cohiba Club's official rating for the La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Villano is 89. An ‘excellent’ 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: 21 pts (84% of the points possible)
IV. Overall Impression: 32 pts (91% of the points possible)

While the start may have been strong, it wasn’t a turn-off. The Villano is bold without being overpowering. Give one a try, you won’t be disappointed. Craftsmanship, such as we saw in this sleek lancero, is rarely exceeded.

See you at the next herf, August 7th.

© 2011 The Cohiba Club – All rights reserved