Filler: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro
Size: 7 x 54 Torpedo (Box Pressed)
I would like to thank Ana Cuenca for sending me a couple of samples for review.
My favorite blender in the world, A.J. Fernandez, has worked with the Cuenca family for years out of their Florida shops. So it was fit and meaningful that Fernandez should be a part of their new cigar commemorating 5 years of cigar manufacturing. This man just doesn’t know the meaning of the word mediocre.
This boomer of a stick shows they weren’t foolin’ around when designing it. It is the Wooly Mammoth of the Eisenhower Administration. But coming in at 7”, this baby will create a junction in time, a split in the atom, and several hours of your time.
Construction is gorgeous. I wish my anatomy parts looked this good. A milk chocolate brown, near vein free body….a very smooth to the touch feel with a bit of toothiness. Very tight seams. A perfect torpedo cap. It is so perfect; I cannot tell how many caps are on it. And the band is a piece of artwork.
I put the stick to my nose and gently inhale. Cocoa. Dried fruit. And a bit of baking spices.
I carefully clip the cap and light it up. I get a big wallop of creaminess. A dump truck full of earthiness. A nice nun’s ruler to the palate from red pepper. A sweet tobacco component. And the cocoa leading the charge.
I can, without hesitation, tell that this is an A.J. Fernandez blend. Very expansive. Well balanced. BIG! Fernandez blends in a big way attacking your senses like a Bradley tank. It’s a powerful cigar in all ways it can be powerful.
I’m a big fan of the Man O War series for CI and the San Lotano series. This baby is similar to the San Lotano Oval done in the oversized version like the Cuenca….which is close in size at 6.5 x 54 and box pressed but with a normal cap.
$8.50 for this cigar as a single is a very competitive price. It sits at the top of the heap in the blending style for A.J.
The cigar burns perfectly as the char line attests to. It also burns slowly so as I write and smoke, I will have to come back and forth to the review or else the review will be Dostoyevsky.
The first inch concludes by giving me signals on what is to come… the Fernandez style of presentation. It is dominated by the powdery cocoa flavor along with some dried fruit I can’t name just quite yet and that creaminess; which will explode in the last third.
The char line continues to be the most flawless I’ve seen in a long time. The power level started out medium and enters the second third as the same.
I return to you entering the second third and I have it. I bought some unbelievable dried figs at Costco. These were like no other figs I’ve eaten. So flavorful and with a terrific nuttiness to them. That is the dried fruit component to the cigar.
The sweetness of the creaminess and cocoa turn this into a chocolate fig milk shake. Here is where it veers from Fernandez’s usual template. The cigar becomes a deep well from which a heavy sweetness takes over. The actual sensation of “sweet” leads the charge at the halfway point; making the other flavors subservient.
So, sigh…..I found another cigar that must go into my regular rotation. An A.J. Fernandez unlike his others…and I have a nice collection of just about all of his blends. They can be counted on, relied upon, and always consistent.
One thing that surprises me is the lack of spiciness to the stick. I’ve had it for about 3 weeks and maybe it just isn’t long enough for its hibernation. Or maybe it was designed that way. Instead of it being at the forefront, it is in the background pushing and nudging.
I enter the last third and the cigar gives into the complexity it was blended for….Flavors intermingle like an opera…say…”Tommy.” The profile is so sensitive to the way I puff on it that I’m afraid I could change the balance and ruin it. But the cigar doesn’t let me down. It’s more in control than I am. I reluctantly remove the giant band.
During the last couple of inches, power hits the tilt button and the cigar takes off. The spice I missed showed up in waves. Creaminess had become a way of expressing itself and completely gotten in a foot race with the red pepper. The cocoa only slightly trailed behind with the dried fruit sweetness a huge part of its profile.
The cigar goes out this way and I have a new favorite in the house.
I bow my heads to the good folks at Cuenca. If CA doesn’t put this cigar in its Top 25 then shame on them and I won’t believe another word they write.
And now for something completely different: (WARNING: X-RATED)
I haven’t gotten to any of my ex-rock god stories in a while so I have chosen this time and place to expound on an anecdote from my past.
During the heyday of my rock star time, I was mostly attached to a lovely lady who had a 2 year old daughter; and I loved that little girl to death.
But when I hit 29, she dumped me as all 29 year old girls do. I found myself abandoned and unloved. I was no longer allowed to see the little girl so as not to make it hard on her family.
But now I was single! For the real first time in 8 years. There was fooling around during those days but it was a different era in the early/mid 1970’s..Especially when touring the world.
I had my freedom. Now what?
I found a band fairly quickly from just good luck. Some handsome men with great voices, appeal and brilliant writing style. They talked me into cutting my trademark ‘fro and instantly turned me into a good looking New Wave musician.
All we did was rehearse. And soon, we were playing out in the L.A./Beverly Hills music scene at the Whisky a Go Go, Gazarri’s, The Roxy, The Troubador, etc.
We found ourselves playing in hallowed ground where the greats of the 1960’s came before us. Unfortunately, this was now 1980. A pukey period in music. I call it the Duran Duran period. Horrible.
The band leader, Rick, was a crazy motherfucker. He could play. He could sing..He could perform. And he could lead. He was my mentor.
He did two things for me: 1) Taught me more about music and recording than I ever had, and 2) Got me laid!
Rick had a good buddy that owned a recording studio in Beverly Hills. That was a long drive from my home in Long Beach…a good 45 minutes- one hour. It became our home for months. We did a lot of our writing there. Rick would come into the studio with something. Mostly a hodge podge of ideas and we would work out the rough edges in the studio.
And the drugs. Oh lawdy, lawdy. We did too much of the white death. We would record for 12 hours straight. Thank God we were good musicians. If we weren’t, a lot of that time would have been wasted. But after a session, the drive home, breakfast…I would sleep for another 12 hours, only to get up, shower, get dressed, grab my bass and head to the studio once more.
I shall remember this one night recording. We were working on a single. A song that the keys player would sing and it needed an all-powerful bass solo in the middle. It was 4am. And there were no overdubs this morning. I had to pull a bass solo out of my ass right in the middle of the song while playing live. After 20 minutes, it just got worse and worse.
Rick started to curse at me and swear at me and call me horrible names. I got angry. Really angry. I wanted to hit him.
He grabbed some coke, shoved it up my nose, brought out one of the good looking girls that would sometimes hang…and she got on her knees and swallowed me whole.
We were into the song with the old fashioned tape turning on its spool. And I was getting head the whole time.
Rick was in the booth and talked to me through head phones. He had already lain down his track and was happy. I was the stop gap.
He coached me quietly in my ears as we got to my solo and as we hit it, he started screaming at me and at the girl while the other girls egged her on. My fucking head exploded and I put down a bass solo of such epic proportions that I have never been able to replicate it since.
The song was over and I was spent. I sat in a chair and my head rolled back with my eyes closed. I manage to mumble, “How was it?”
Everyone came out of the booth and was slapping me on the back. Someone was kind enough to pull my zipper up.
“Play” was hit on the recorder. When my solo hit my ears, a huge smile engulfed the room. I sat straight up in the chair and looked around. Everyone had the biggest, goofiest smile on their faces. I NAILED IT!
That’s a great example of why little boys want to be rock n roll stars!
It seems that the fourth member of the group, Michael Anthony, is not happy about this story. He contacted me today after not hearing from him for 30 years to tell me that I left him out of this story. And it was he that did everything in the band: write, arrange, sing, etc. And that we were only his side men. I promised to include him in a future story about this band. I have one in mind. It concerns how he used to tell Henny Youngman-like jokes when we played live…in between songs. We begged him to stop but he thought he was funny even though the audience never laughed. I have a link to a youtube video of one of the songs he wrote called, “Condo Bondage.” As you will notice, his claim to be the singer was over emphasized.
Here is the link: Condo Bondage
Here is the link to the “A” side of the single. A remake of “Hound Dog.” But Michael is not playing piano on the song. It was Little Richard who was in the studio next door at the same time “Hound Dog” was being recorded. The link: Hound Dog
As you can tell from the two songs, Rick Tunstall was the singer in the band.
L-R: REEK, RICK, ME
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS