RTDA Diary - Tuesday, August 7, 2007

"Too many cigars and not enough time" is the theme for today. I really hit the mother lode as far as getting samples of many of the new premium cigars that Famous Smoke Shop will be carrying in the months ahead. My original plan for today was to get to the show early, do a few meet 'n greets, pick up some samples and get back to the hotel in time to fire a few up and write my impressions. Well, the "best laid plans," as they say, and that didn't happen. So I asked myself, is it better to spend a little more time at the show on day two to cover more ground in order to have more to report when I return, or duck out and not get to see as many people tomorrow, which is the shortest day of the show. Well, I opted for the former, and promise I'll make it up to you when I get back and have more quality time to really savor these new cigars. Besides, I have enough material for weeks, maybe even months. That said, there's still plenty to report on starting with yesterday afternoon.

My first stop was to the Troya cigars (Lignum2) booth to see my good friend Aleli Calso. Their new star is the Troya Clasico made by Don Jose Pepin Garcia, which Aleli reports is doing quite well. I've already reviewed this cigar which debuted eariler this year, so if you missed it and like the Pepin blends, this is one of his best.

Right next door was the 787 Lounge, a/k/a the "Avo Lounge," where Avo Uvezian, now 78 years young, was performing with a small jazz ensemble. The Avo 787 (from Davidoff) is Mr. Uvezian's latest "anniversary" release, blended by none other than his long time partner, Hendrik Kelner. The cigars combine select Dominican tobaccos with a unique blend of Piloto Ligero and Seco leaves from San Vicente, Olor, and a specially fermented Piloto leaf, all bound in a San Vicente binder, and finished with an Ecuadorian sun-grown Connecticut seed wrapper. The cigars are made in limited edition in three frontmarks: a 6"x54 Toro, 5 7/8"x50 Perfecto, and a 5¼"x52 Robusto. I smoked the Perfecto and it was exquisite. The smoke was creamy and woody starting out a little peppery with a moderately long finish. But as it smoked down it rounded out well with an appealingly sweet and spicy character. As an interesting aside, Avo later told me he was particularly fond of the Toro.

I also stopped by the Cusano Cigars booth, where Joe Ciasano introduced me to their new Cuvée selection (pronounced, "kew-vay"). This up-market selection is made in three versions. The Cuvée Blanc, features a Peruvian and Dominican filler recipe garnished in a gorgeous, golden Connecticut wrapper. The Cuvée Rouge is a Dominican puro with a sun grown wrapper leaf. It looks like more Dominican puros are finally starting to catch up to Honduras and Nicaragua. (There's another very special Dominican puro I'll get to in my next report.) The third Cuvée is a Nicaraguan cigar, but at this time the company is not ready to reveal the blend. Fair enough, so stay tuned for that one. All of the cigars are presented in the same four frontmarks: a 7"x57 Salomon, a 7"x50 Churchill, a 6¼"x54 Toro , and a 5"x50 Robusto. The buzz is that the Rouge has already earned a 9.4 rating in SMOKE magazine.

At the Rocky Patel Cigars booth, he's introduced two "10th Anniversary cigars: The Rocky Patel "Decade 10th Anniversary" and the "Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary." The company line on the Rocky Patel Decade is a "rich, powerful and complex" cigar with two "secret leaves," one of which is the wrapper. The Indian Tabac 10th Anniversary is a full-bodied blend that's "peppery and sweet on the palate" and recommended for after dinner.

Rocky has also gotten behind the Nicarao cigars, which will be reintroduced with a new and improved blend in an upcoming Famous Smoke Shop catalog. Two other cigars from Rocky that will be exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop are Conuco and Cruz Real. Look for more on those three cigars in the weeks ahead.

Finally, after a two year wait, Toraño has introduced their eagerly-awaited Reserva Decadéncia, a mild Nicaraguan cigar blended with the flavor of Wilson Creek Winery's award-winning Decadéncia chocolate Port. I've had the Port, and if the cigar is anything like what's in the bottle, you're in for a real treat. They've also introduced the popular Casa Toraño in a naturally sweet-tasting Maduro selection.

Altadis U.S.A. has introduced another extension to their famed Romeo y Julieta series, the Romeo y Julieta Habana Reserve – a medium to full-bodied cigar produced in Honduras. The blend consists of Honduran & Nicaraguan filler, Nicaraguan binder, and a Nicaraguan wrapper. As a big fan of Honduran-Nicaraguan blends, I'm looking forward to getting my nicotine stained fingers on these beauties.

I'll have more to come in the days ahead on new cigars from Davidoff, Drew Estate, Cuesta Rey, General Cigar, Puros Indios, Perdomo, Tony Borhani, Gran Habano, and others, but I did want to mention a couple of cigars I had the opportunity to sample last night and earlier today.

CAO cigars handed out the new CAO America at their party last night. I was really itching to try this cigar and I must say I was very impressed. The smoke was creamy, nutty, somewhat complex, and sweet on the finish. The cigar also looks great. The pinstripe wrapping which is comprised of a Connecticut Shade and a Connecticut Broadleaf is spot-on perfect. The cigar lit and burned beautifully, had no trace of harshness, and offered a wonderful balance of flavors that improved even more as it smoked. IMO, another must-try from a company that's just been amazingly consistent from day one.

In the General Cigar booth today, I tried the new Helix Mocha . (There's so much new stuff from General, it will take another couple of days to wade through it, and I do plan to report on their new Stradivarius cigar in greater detail, too.) The Helix Mocha was quite mild with an appetizing cocoa-coffee flavor. The cap was a little too sweet for me at first, but after a few minutes it's hardly noticeable. If you like flavor-infused cigars that aren't overpowering, this one's for you. The infusion process is done twice, so the tobaccos really soak up the flavor. The result is a cigar that doesn't taste like it's been dipped in some flavoring goo, but more like it's naturally part of the leaf.

Finally today, I tried the Alec Bradley MAXX "Nano." I don't usually smoke smaller cigars, but at 4"x46, this one was just right, especially with the cup of espresso I had with it. The smoke starts out spicy, then rounds out nicely to a very smooth, woody flavor with sweet-earthy notes. Pass some of the smoke through your nose and you'll appreciate the complexities of this new addition even more. FYI- Alec Bradley prez, Alan Rubin, told me he felt the MAXX line needed something else, and the smaller Nano, when compared to it's big – and I mean BIG brothers - fills the gap perfectly. If you don't have a lot of time for a big cigar and want plenty of flavor, this is it.

More to come...



jl said…
Writing about the new cigars is all well and good, now tell us about the parties :)

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