I really enjoy blind cigar reviews. By removing any (or most) preconceptions, they're always good for a surprise or two, and sometimes some personal re-thinking. So, in the name of fun, I roped Cretin Dan into sparking up an unknown for your Pick It or Flick It pleasure. I'll unveil the cigar's identity at the end. ~ El Freako
Initial impression - Medium brown, very well wrapped, very little toothinness, but there are a few minor splotches of a lighter brown almost grey color near the foot. Robusto size, with a beautiful triple cap. There are two more prominent veins that are very noticeable in the feel of the stick. Nice and firm all around when gently squeezed. Not much aroma off of the wrapper, or the foot for that matter, just sweetly fermented tobacco. Maybe a faint leather off the wrapper.
Cap clipped beautifully with my Xikar MTX scissors. The cold draw has a nice fresh-mown hay flavor...a slight tanginess on the lips.
After a nice toast, I lit it up and was immediately hit with a pepperiness on the back of my tongue and in my throat. Nice! There isn't a lot of flavor, but the spice is strong enough that the leatheriness I am getting is kind of overwhelmed, but not in a bad way.
About an inch in, the flavor has changed a bit. I got some cedar, and a sweet hay flavor. The spice is very much like cracked black pepper on the retrohale. The tanginess is really nice...almost like there is a load of ligero in this stick, which surprised me, because when I looked at the foot, the telltale black leaves of ligero didn't seem to be there.
The ash is a light grey, almost white, and fell off on its own about an inch in. The burn line is pretty wavy, but this could be attributed to me having my own personal herf outside in my Florida room. The draw thus far has been what I consider perfect. Nice and Deliberate. Big mouthfuls of dense grey-blue smoke.
Entering the second third of the stick, the flavor has built to what I call full. Nice leather, pepper, and a roasted nutty flavor that stays long after the exhale. I really like this kind of finish on a cigar. I can still taste it after I set the stick on the ashtray. The nutty flavor reminds me of salted cashews. Salty and then sweet when it fades.
Just past halfway, the leather backed off a bit, and I'm getting a very slight caramel flavor, which is balanced very nicely with the salty cashew flavor. The finish has become creamy on my palate...absolutely coating my mouth.
Going into the last third of the stick, I'm starting to feel lightheaded. This is a stronger cigar, at least to me. The tangy spice has re-emerged, covering the sweetness.
I smoked this one as far as I could, until I couldn't hold it any longer. Just near the end, I got a little more sweetness before I had to put it down.
I really enjoyed this stick, and anyone who knows me knows my preference is for a smoke that has multiple flavor changes and keeps me interested. I would smoke this cigar again, and this one had plenty to work its way into my humidor. I give this stick 8.5/10. Definitely a Pick It!
Sooooo, any guesses from the gallery? No? Okay.
The cigar that Cretin Dan smoked and reviewed for us above was the Four Kicks Robusto from Crowned Heads. It sports an Ecuador Habano wrapper with both binder and filler from Nicaragua. In addition to the 5 X 50 Robusto, Four Kicks is also available in Corona Gorda (5 5/8 X 46), Sublime (6 X 54), Piramide (6 1/8 X 52), and Seleccion No. 5 (6 1/2 X 44) sizes. The SRP ranges from $6.95 to $8.65 for singles. Check them out. ~ El Freako
I don't get out much. It's not because I don't like to get out much, or because society generally asks me not to...although that is sometimes the case...usually following a Taco Bell binge, but I digress. It's because work and family keep my weeks pretty full. I can't get out to the B&Ms nearly as much as I would like. The Cretins do, and they often find a new cigar or a little gem here and there, usually at the suggestion of the proprietors / tobacconists, and tell me about it afterward. Flipping one of these into a Pick It / Flick It for you seemed like a good idea, and Cretin Kevin was happy to oblige. ~ El Freako
Hence embedded in theÖoh wait, wrong person, itís not El Freako this time. Itís Cretin Kevin with my first Pick It or Flick It. Since there is no official man chair in my humble abode, I have ventured out to the back deck with a relatively new stick, the Curivari El Gran Rey.
During my last visit to Allegheny Smokeworks, Mike (the owner) introduced me to this line. He had just got it in that week and was anxious to tell me about it. He described it to me as being very Cuban-esque, which wasnít really a selling point in my mind. However, Mike knows what I like, so I decided to give it a shot. I chose the Emperadores, a standard sized 5x50 robusto. It is a Nicaraguan Puro with Cuban Seed Criollo and Corojo tobacco. Judging from the darker color on the wrapper, I am assuming that it is where the Criollo is. There is a fairly understated white, red and gold band lending more of that Cuban feeling Mike talked about.
As with most evenings where I am, it is fairly quiet out on the deck and Iíve got a ballgame playing on my iPhone. Tonightís choice is the Rangers/Indians game. The teams are kind of irrelevant to me, but I just love baseball on the radio.
I decided to go with my normal v-cut and the cigar has a nice pre-light draw. There is an initial spice hit once lit, but it does disappear kind of quickly. The cigar mellows out into a nice rich tobacco flavor. Easing back in the Adirondack chair, I prepare to enjoy my evening when the sky begins to light up with the tell tale signs of an approaching storm. Hopefully itíll hold off until I finish the cigar. The burn is almost razor sharp, with no touch-ups through the first half of the cigar. Iím picking up a little bit of cedar on the finish. Even with the wind that is picking up, there is a lot of smoke coming off of this stick. This cigar is listed as full-bodied, I would say itís more medium, but thatís just my opinion.
As I get down to the last third of this cigar, the spice has come back in a good way and the cigar is picking up a little bit in intensity, but nothing that should scare you off. One thing that I do love about this cigar right now is how it is staying firm all the way to the end, nothing disappoints me more than a cigar that feels squishy as you smoke it down to the nub.
Luckily, the cigar is almost finished, as the storm is closing in, and it looks like itís going to be one hell of a storm. I didnít pick up the flavors that their website described, but I still found it to be an enjoyable smoke. With a price point of around $6.50, I definitely say...
For one reason or another, I had never attended the annual CigarFest put on by the folks at Cigars International...one of the big cigar retailers we are blessed to still have here in Pennsylvania. With thanks to my good friends at the Southside Cigar Club in Virginia, they offered me an extra ticket which I gladly paid them for.
Over the years, people have spoken to me about CigarFest and they either loved it or hated it. They loved it because of the number of cigars they received and the great herfing they engaged in, and they hated it because of the long lines, cattle herding and clogged areas of several thousand eager (and often drunk) cigar enthusiasts anxious to get their hands on "free" cigars. There are also those that dislike the method of acquiring tickets. Tickets are available on-line only and go on sale much like concert tickets...at this time on this day period. All tickets sell out within minutes! But you cannot just roll the dice, get online and hope to get some. You must first "pre-register" with a credit card for the opportunity to roll the dice, get online and hope to get some. There are several levels of tickets each offering different perks and privileges, and there is an individual ticket purchase limit as well.
The event this year was held at Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, PA (read Poconos) and extended over 4 - 5 days with smaller events at their nearby retail stores, brand parties here and there with the main event taking up most of the day Saturday. Focusing on the main event, the priciest tickets gained entrance in the morning, the next level at 12:30 and the final level around 2:30 with the event going until 7:00 p.m. (Lucky for everyone the weather was nice. I can't imagine what it would have been like had it been raining or storming.) Upon entrance, ticket holders are given a nice travel bag embroidered with a cigar brand sponsor with a small humidor filled with a variety of cigars and an ashtray both adorned with the event logo. Very nice. If you have a special shirt on (additional purchase), you get some added goodies. Most importantly, attendees are also given a coupon book. THAT is the arc of the covenant...the piece de resistance. You lose it, you're f*#@ed.
So, you make your way through the line, get your goods, enter the large convention-looking room, and it begins. I met some great folks, Doug and Paula from Indianapolis, listeners to the show, and they described what happens next as "trick or treating for cigars" or "organized looting." Perfect description. That coupon book contains a single coupon for each table or brand of cigars represented at CigarFest and entitles you to a single "free" cigar. And the race is on! Hundreds of people, largely fat guys like me, scurrying about trying to get their "free" cigars quickly. Veterans have a plan of attack. Newbies largely follow the herd. Many brands bring in half naked ladies to grab attention. That's fine. Most of them probably couldn't spell 'cigar,' but I get it and I am more than happy to ogle the T&A for a while...some more than others. Some brands will have their namesake on hand, others will have reps and or upper management types on hand as well, but if you are expecting some one-on-one time with a famous cigar maker, don't count on it. The nature of this event does not lend itself to Q&A. It's a handshake, maybe an autograph if you want one, and move along. There are 3000 goons, like you, trying to get through this place in a hurry and some of them have already been through the free booze tables several times.
So, you make your way through the heavy smoke to all the tables, use up all your coupons collecting about 40 or more cigars, down some hooch, and decide it's time to eat. An adjoining huge tent features food at both ends, a couple bars and a band with plenty of tables...and some fresh air. You park your ass, feed your smoke buzzed brain and relax for a while. You can go back to the exhibition floor, but without any coupons, there isn't much more to do. The host, Cigars International, has a couple locations set up to purchase cigars, but logistics dictate they consolidate things and offer a decent selection of brand samplers only as well as some t-shirts, etc. Raffle tickets are also for sale and a lot of great stuff is given away throughout the day...including a new Jeep.
Basically, that's it.
Oh, yeah! I forgot one very important thing. In fact, it is probably the most important thing about CigarFest...at least it was for me. The PEOPLE!
This is really a two, three, four or five day herf depending on your time, budget and tolerances. I met and herfed with a lot of great people, caught up with old friends, put faces with names, laughed much and smoked a lot of cigars...and I was only in on the two day plan arriving Friday afternoon and leaving Sunday morning. The line was easier to handle thanks to the group from New York and Connecticut behind us busting each other's balls. The big "trick or treat" event was almost a sidebar. It was fun, interesting, and certainly scored you some stock for the humidor, but I'm willing to bet that most folks, as they were roaming about the floor from table to table and bikini babe to bikini babe, were all thinking about who, where and when they were meeting afterward to continue the herf. Sure, most herfs don't cost you a thing...a couple friends, a front porch or garage, some bullshit...and you're golden, but sometimes the opportunity is there to ramp that herf experience up several notches and it will cost you.
Spend money to smoke cigars with relative strangers? It's a herf thing...you wouldn't understand.
CigarFest - if you go ONLY for the "organized looting" of "free" cigars, you probably don't get it.
CigarFest by Cigars International for the pure herf factor - PICK IT!
It has been some time since I've taken a jump into "Pick It or Flick It" land here at BlowinSmokePodcast.com, and even though I generally don't place cigar reviews here, I hate to pass up the opportunity to have a little fun with a review.
Being a highly influential member of the cigar media [cough-cough], my people (read: I) received an email and subsequent package from Rocky Patel's people (read: Rocky Patel's people) containing a very nice hand written note from Rocky's brother, Nish, and a pre-release sampling of the new Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary for my "review." The RP 15th are set to hit stores on July 30, 2010.
Wanting to keep it fair, and not wanting to break my own rules of creating the appearance of a "quid pro quo" when it comes to cigar reviews both here and on the show, I decided to offer up the pre-release Rocky Patel 15th as a MYSTERY cigar for a couple of the Cretins to review...thus denying myself the little bit of celebrity arrogance I might experience by smoking a pre-release Rocky Patel. You can thank me later.
Our two unknowing, but more than willing, Cretins were Kyle (maduro slut, goat buff), and Moose (skin hound, chlorine addict)
First, a little background on the new Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary taken from their website and other sources. Utilizing Rocky's new facilities in Nicaragua, the 15th features fillers from Esteli wrapped by an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. Four sizes are being released: Robusto 5 X 50 - Toro 6.5 X 52 - Torpedo 6.125 X 52 - and Corona Gorda 6 X 46. I received the torpedo.
REMEMBER! The reviewers have no idea what cigar they are smoking, and they smoked them separately.
KYLE: It was a nut brown shade, slight vein wrapper. It was very smooth to the touch, with a slight bumpiness.
MOOSE: The cigar looks like a tasty stick. Looks like a Rocky Olde World.
PRE-LIGHT : Aroma, etc
KYLE: A slight sweetness on the pre light puff.
MOOSE: Pre-light aroma is delicious with a bit of a vintage, well-aged smell. Good pyramid construction. Probably 6x50 size.
TYPE OF CUT
KYLE: I used my usual perfect cut.
MOOSE: Straight cut with perfect cutter.
KYLE: Great draw.
MOOSE: Ridiculously easy draw; personally, I prefer more resistance.
CONSTRUCTION / BURN / ASH
KYLE: The construction was immaculate. A slight tight wrap, but not too tight. A stiff ash, and no other problems while smoking it.
MOOSE: Very easy to light. Ash is okay but I suspect I'll be dealing with an uneven burn for a while. Twenty minutes in and burn is trying to right itself. Have touched up only once so far. Thirty minutes in - had to touch up some wild spoonage. Forty-five minutes and burning better but showing signs of more spooning.
KYLE: Before I took a puff, I didn't have a sip of anything. A heavy spice overcame my pallate. I'm not sure if it was the cigar or the cedar I lit it with. I started to drink Blanton's Bourbon with it. The Bourbon, at first, brought out a heavy spice, then turned into a smooth mellowness. Next up was a Great Lakes Burning River about 1/4 of the way down. The beer had the same sweet/leather tones as the cigar. Last up was the Andretti Selections Merlot wine with about 4 or so inches left. The dryness of the wine brought out more earthiness and a smooth white pepper flavor.
MOOSE: Initial taste is dry and lacking. The smoke is harsh to my nose. Not what I was expecting it to taste like. Pairing with lemon iced tea and also a glass of water. So far the tea is overpowering the cigar. Taste still lacking compared to pre-light aromas. Still unimpressive flavor and aroma. Disappointed so far. Cripe, the water is more refreshing at the moment. Just about to the 60 minute mark. About 2.5" left and souring quickly.
KYLE: I would give it a high medium to a low full.
KYLE: It had a great draw, lots of smoke, great aroma, and a nice stiff ash. Heavy spice at first then smoothed out to a mellow, earthy/leathery tone, and sweet to the lips. I would give this a solid 9 out of 10. I'd say it's 75% Nicaraguan and 25% Dominican.
MOOSE: Overall an unimpressive cigar. The more I thought about what I was smoking the more I felt it should be compared to a 50 cent smoke I was given earlier this spring at a bonfire. Burn issues throughout and lack of flavor made it pain to finish it. As it is, I put it down after an hour with a little over 2" left. The big surprise was the difference between pre-light aromas and what it tasted like after sparking it up.
PICK IT or FLICK IT?
KYLE: Pick it!
MOOSE: I don't like to bash a cigar, but I will definitely have to Flick this one.
Wow! It's amazing what happens when you're flying blind. I have a feeling Moose will be very surprised when he learns the identity of this mystery cigar, but he and Kyle were honest, and that's all we ask for.
Personally, I don't like seeing a premium handmade cigar get kicked around. It can come off as an indictment, when nothing could be further from the truth. Cigar likes and dislikes are extremely subjective and you always have to keep that in mind. A review is an opinion and the opinion today on the Pre-Release Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary Torpedo is a draw between PICK IT & FLICK IT.
We all know that timing is everything, and this held true for me this week when I stumbled upon this Pick It or Flick It.
Apparently there is a cable television network called Fit-TV. I guess it's a soy nuts and bean curd exercise and healthy living kind of thing. Whatever. What's important is what I discovered on this channel while surfing into the triple digits on my cable box.
My first thought was I accidentally strayed into the DMZ of pay per view land and, for a moment, I began concocting an explanation for why this showed up on the cable bill under adult entertainment, but au contraire mon frere. This was not pay per view. This was "Shimmy."
"Shimmy" is actually a twenty six episode series that demonstrates, in great detail, the art of Belly Dance. "Shimmy" features a cast of absolutely stunning women, all professional belly dancers with resumes that read like a...well, to be honest, I really don't give a shimmy about their resumes. That's like asking for references before a lap dance. It's just not that important. What is important is that for 30 minutes you are treated to non-stop belly dancing by scantly clad beautiful women. The mood is relaxed. The sound is calming. No Billy Mays squat counts here. And the contrasts between background scenery and the dancers keeps your focus right where it should be...in the gutter. Plus, you don't need a pocket full of singles.
"Shimmy" is also safe to watch at home, depending on your wife or significant other. You can feign interest in the art of the belly dance, or the amazing musculoskeletal abilities of the artiste, all while feeding your inherent swine.
The "Shimmy" website claims there are health benefits to belly dancing as a form of exercise. I'm not really sure what that means, but I do recommend enjoying "Shimmy" with an ice cold beer and a bag of cheezy puffs. And keep an eye out for dancer Gillian. She's an El Freako favorite!
If you have ever ordered a classic Cuban mojito, you've probably enjoyed watching it being made as much as the drink itself. It takes a good bit of effort with muddling lime, sugar and fresh mint for each individual drink along with all the other ingredients. Traditionally mojitos feature rum but the drink has seen tweaks over time and it is common to see vodka used as well. The result is a highball style cocktail that is cold, sweet and refreshing on a hot day as well as potent enough to knock you around a little if you aren't careful.
The Bacardi Classic Mojito is part of their 'ready to drink' line for those of us who want the mojito experience without the mojito work. As with most ready to drink types, you sacrifice alcohol content for the convenience factor as this checks in at 30 proof.
I fired up an Oliva V Double Toro for this pairing expecting a mega sweet drink that would need some spicy balance. Simply poured over ice, the Bacardi Classic Mojito is sweet (it's supposed to be), but it isn't sickening sweet, and the V did a pretty good job of allowing the lime and mint to come through without burying them too much. What it is missing is the rum flavor. It's subtle. The Oliva V...not so much. I'm guessing almost any cigar rating a medium or stronger profile will treat this drink the same way and leave you wanting a little more oomph.
For an easy, low octane refreshing cocktail (serve it very cold) that won't kill the budget at around $14, the Bacardi Classic Mojito is fine. For that traditional Cuban cocktail with a fine cigar, which is what I'm looking for, it's lacking. Pack some more rum or consult your local mixologist for the real thing.
From time to time, your Freako may have the opportunity to try something new (or new to him), take a particular product out for a spin, or offer personal compare and contrast observations. When I do, you'll find it here under Pick It or Flick It.
Hey, everybody! More cigar reviews!
Wrongo, my brothers and sisters. The Cretins and I review cigars on the Blowin' Smoke Podcast for you all the time giving you a variety of honest, personal opinions in a fun package. We've got cigar reviews covered. Quite frankly, most online cigar reviews are about as exciting as watching paint dry. Really now, does a picture of a half-smoked cigar or the unlit foot of a cigar sway you toward or away from sampling a stick? I digress.
What you can expect more of in Pick It or Flick It is the other stuff. A review of a new cigar cutter gizmo. Humidor accessories. Website reviews. Network newsbabes. Which bourbon pairs best with chocolate chip cookies? The other stuff. While you might get a cigar review in Pick It or Flick It, there will be a good reason for it.
Stay tuned for more Pick It / Flick It, and feel free to suggest something for me to review. I can't be expected to think all the time.