It is no secret that I am an AJ groupie. Even some of the cigar forums make fun of me. Make me out to be some sort of Loonie Tunes. It’s OK. No malice intended by their part.
The most common comment I read is this: “Maybe the cigar is good. But it’s not THAT good!”
They’re wrong and I’m right.
Now this is quite the conundrum. This stick will be sold only on the CI Conglomerate stores. In fact, I bought a 10 pack on a one day deal. I think I paid $3.50 a stick.
They arrived without cigar bands.
Now I’ve seen a couple small reviews that have photos of the cigars with bands on them. But none of the big reviewers have even reviewed them yet.
So what did I get? Pre-release sticks that were sent to CI? I tend to think so and CI had so many, they dumped them in a one day sale.
Like most AJ blends, 3 weeks of humidor time and they are good to go. Same with these babies.
I wasted 2 or 3 in that second to third week time frame. They weren’t ready. I smoked one last night and Holy Mamacita!
I have the Natural but apparently there is also a Maduro.
So here we go.
Construction is consistent. A medium brown wrapper that feels very smooth. Lots of really big veins and lots of little ones. Seams are tight. Cap is very nicely applied. The firmness changes from stick to stick; but most are jam packed with that right amount of give.
I clip the cap and find aromas of charcoal, spice, cocoa, sweet cedar, leather, and raisins.
Time to light up.
The ash is close to white with flecks of gray. As said earlier, it took exactly 3 weeks to get here. And I know that three days after I publish this review, these sticks will go up for sale and there will be plenty of photos with the cigar band on them. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. But they do look purty, Ma.
Creaminess jumps aboard at the half inch mark. As wells as some sweetness and cocoa. The earthiness is really a nice element.
I read one review and the reviewer said there wasn’t much spice. Holy cow. I am not one to judge, that often, but he didn’t let it rest for the three weeks because I found that also to be true prior to that time frame. So we must negate his review and move on with mine.
The char line is razor sharp but a crack forms near the foot. A small one …but an annoyance. Hopefully, it should burn away before it spreads.
I can’t compare this stick to other AJ sticks. It seems to stand on its own one foot. And I gather that this is designed to be an inexpensive house cigar for the giant CI Conglomerate dying to take over the world of online protuberances.
I am 1-1/2” into the first third and here are the flavors: Creaminess, spice, cocoa, sweetness, wood, and leather. There is something fruity in there….like me.
As the first third comes to an end, the strength moves from mild/medium to a medium+ body. And the flavor profile becomes deadly serious.
The stick is very meaty and manly. Not like me. The strength reminds me a bit of an Illusione as well. You know. That dark, earthy flavor and strength. Hits you right in the chest.
The char line is acting like a champ.
Damn. This cigar is good. It was the last cigar I had last night. And it convinced me to review it this morning. But on a clear palate, wow.
I truly hope that when the CI Conglomerate gets its shit together, they have a one day sale because I intend to buy whatever I can. Leave it to AJ to put out an inexpensive house cigar that is better than most cigars at twice the price.
I near the halfway point and the cigar is nicely balanced. Chewy with a long finish. And lots of flavor. The strength has moved to medium/full.
And it is very complex now. What a great transition from the start of the cigar.
The sweetness gets a partner in crime at this point: Caramel. Gooey, luscious caramel.
The halfway point is dripping in flavors. No changes but just intense and potent.
The last third begins and a couple cracks appear. Too late to glue them. It would make a mess.
With just a little bit to go, here are the flavors: Creaminess, sweetness, caramel, cocoa, spice, leather, wood, and fruit.
Because I sit next to an open window while reviewing, the cold comes in and I have a problem with the shock of that cold on the wrappers. It happens more than I like.
The cigar finishes out without a hint of harshness or heat. It is flavorful, balanced, and continues to have a very long finish. I get a bit of nicotine kick but no hallucinations.
Note: Of the three I smoked, this was the only one to have wrapper issues.
And now for something completely different:
This is for you oldsters…While working at Air Studios in London, Pete Townshend was in Studio #2 next to us.
I’ve told the story before how I got to meet him. And how he, Stew Copeland and I ended up jamming with him in a little ante room outside the studio. Probably made as an isolation booth for vocals.
Our boss, Miles Copeland III, also managed a bunch of bands that included Wishbone Ash, Caravan, Renaissance, Climax Blues Band, and a host of others including Al Stewart. Stewart had a big hit with “Year of the Cat” back in 1976. And was quite popular for a couple of years.
Stewart was doing some recording while we were in the studio. Stewart had his own personal manager as a buffer between him and Copeland.
Both approached Stew Copeland and I to go jam with Al. We weren’t doing a thing except hanging in the studio getting fed and getting high while the mixing was being done. So we thought what the hell?
We jammed, with the recording light on, for a few days. And that was it. Al played an acoustic guitar.
Move forward to when I returned to the States about six months of being at home. And then I heard it on the radio. “Year of the Cat.”
I was in the car with my dad and I blurted out, “Fuck! That’s me and Stew playing!!”
I knew it was me because I had a distinctive style. And of course, so did Stew.
I was livid. Either our tracks were used or other musicians came in and copied us to a tee.
Jump ahead to 1980. The Police were taking America by storm. They did not play an L.A. gig; but instead played in Santa Barbara at the university.
I called Copeland’s people in L.A. and asked to speak to Miles. He took my call immediately and told him I wanted to see the band and Stew. He hatched a plan where he would put me up and free backstage tickets.
I took my ex-wife, Teri, with me. We arrived early and went to the auditorium at the school. Roadies were busy at work. And there stood Miles, Stew, Sting, and Andy.
By this time, my look changed from Jew-fro to the modern look for New Wave musicians. My hair was very short.
Teri and I walked over to them and just stood there. Miles recognized me immediately. But said nothing. The boys in the band stared at us like, “What the fuck do you want?”
And then Stew’s eyes got really big and wide.
“Douchebag!!” (Something we called each other in the band.)
I laughed and he bear hugged me and lifted me off the ground. He kissed me on my cheek a dozen times.
Miles walked away smiling.
The first words out of my mouth were, “Was that us on ‘Year of the Cat?”
Stew dropped his head and nodded yes.
I cussed like a sailor.
“Did you get paid?”
We didn’t even get album credit. Miles was good at pulling fast ones. Stew told me they couldn’t get that same feel with other rhythm sections so they used us.
This was the music business.
I still get royalty checks but have to bug the shit out of them to get them. And for some reason, they only give me the royalties for albums sold in Germany. The albums still sell new all over the world. Why just Germany?
Mothers…Don’t let your sons grow up to be rock gods.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS