Wrapper: Ecuadorian Havana
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubana, Nicaraguan (Jalapa)
Size: 6.5 x 54
Price: $10.00 MSRP ($8.50 at Small Batch Cigar)
Once more I would like to thank the wonderful reader that sent me these cigars but asked me that he remain anonymous so his friends, if they read this puny blog, don’t say, “HEY! You gave some cigars to a guy you’ve never met and all you ever give me are Padron Serie 1926’s?”
This cigar is a partnership between E.P. Carrillo and Michael Giannini of Foundry Tobacco and General Cigar. The cigar was released to the public in May of this year with only 1500 10 count boxes.
I could go on and on about these two fine gentlemen and how they have had a long bromance based on cigars but you can read that anywhere so here we go…
From Cigar Aficionado:
“The smoke they decided on comes in one size, 6 1/2 inches long with a 54 ring gauge. The wrapper leaf is one from General’s vast inventory, an eighth-priming Ecuador Havana leaf grown by Oliva Tobacco Co., which is a leaf Perez-Carrillo doesn’t use.
‘I love that dark color,” Perez-Carrillo said of the wrapper leaf, culled from high atop the plant. “And for me, personally, it’s hard to get. It’s limited.’
“The binder is Connecticut broadleaf, from Perez-Carrillo’s inventory, while the filler is a mix of Dominican Piloto Cubano from General and Nicaraguan from Perez-Carrillo. The Dominican Piloto was grown from seeds from the 1990s, a form of the plant that’s more of an heirloom, and not crossed with other tobaccos as with many later varieties of the seed. The Nicaraguan filler is from Jalapa, in the north of the country, which is better known for wrapper than for filler.
“We tapped into some really old tobaccos,” said Giannini. Half the tobaccos are from General, half from EPC Cigar Co.”
To be honest, the stick is quite ugly. It goes light years beyond rustic. Bumpy and lumpy. Massive veins that stick out from the cigar as much as 1/16 of an inch. Ugggglllyyy!
But the seams are invisible. The stick has a nice Colorado red tinge to the chocolate brown. Running my fingers across the wrapper, it feels smooth if not for the jugular veins. The triple cap is sort of sloppy.
I checked out a couple reviews and I have to be honest that they were less than thrilled with this cigar. But they don’t say how long they allowed them to humidor rest. Mine rested from the beginning of May until today, the 22nd of June.
The cigar band is quite stunning. Probably Giannini’s influence due to his originality and creativity compared to Carrillo’s.
I clip the cap and find subtle aromas of milk chocolate, sweetness, citrus, and leather.
Time to light up.
I noticed in one of the A List reviewer’s comments something that cracked me up. He starts off with a couple sentences about the smoke and then moves ahead to 90 minutes later with no description in between. Clearly, he does not think much of this cigar. Cracked me the hell up. But like all A List reviewers they find magical ways to skirt the dirt. These guys’ lips are Krazy Glued to the butts of the manufacturer’s butts so every word has to be picked carefully. God forbid they say what they mean. (I know, I’m just a bitter old man.)
The sweetness keeps escalating as I hit the half inch mark and I get a nice surprise of some spiciness in the back of my throat. Then in a blink of an eye, the pepper changes to red from black. My tongue is so numb that it is perfect for cunnilingus. (Oral sex with a woman for my gay readers.)
A tart fruitiness enters stage left.
The flavor profile begins to get interesting.
BTW-While I did not buy this cigar, my pals at Small Batch Cigar have the best price going on a box of 10. I checked. Plus free shipping. Everyone is selling the box for $100 and SBC? $85.00
I push these guys because they are good guys and have the best customer service in the world and bend over backwards to make you happy. I want to see them flourish. But other than that, I have no affiliation with them nor do they send me free anything.
Creaminess appears and the red pepper makes my nostrils flare with a hunka, hunka, burnin’ love. My apologies to Dead Elvis. Ooh…Ooh…It just reminded me of a good story for the end of the review.
I think interest in Carrillo cigars has waned over the years. He hasn’t put out much lately except for that abortion called The Inch. What a dog turd. Now Michael Giannini is a friggin genius. It was his idea to put out that large group of unique cigars under the umbrella of Foundry Tobacco Co. called “Compounds. Elements, and Musings.” I have reviewed the Plutonium White, Vanadium, Argon, and the Gold (Au). Basically good cigars in the $5-$6 range and hard to get. Most online cigars only carry 4 or 5 of the 11 blends.
The cigar is taking its time. Earthiness begins to develop its own character now. It is rich and complex. And a whole country unto itself. Nice.
Here are the flavors halfway through the first third: Spice, earthiness, cocoa, creaminess, tart fruit (Like me), cedar, citrus, wood and leather.
I am beginning to find a fondness for this blend. It definitely has the Carrillo influence on his best day. And Giannini is a mad man so it is hard to pin him down for stylistic blending.
The strength is classic medium bodied.
I like this cigar. It has become flavorful but still short of flavor bomb status. It has had a month of humidor time and my guess it may be Old School blending. Carrillo certainly has that style of producing cigars.
I wouldn’t pay $10 for this stick, but $8.50 at SBC plus free shipping and 10% off if you insert the word: leafenthusiast in the coupon code window upon check out brings the cigar down to $7.65. Definitely worth this deal.
The A List reviewers rarely tell you how long the cigar has rested. That omission tells me not long at all. I believe this is a very important detail and should not be left out of the review. It must be the universal question all smokers ask each other.
The flavors are great. Not spectacular, but very good and satisfying. Flavors of red pepper, creaminess, cocoa, cedar, and tart fruit make this a comfy food cigar.
The strength, halfway through the second third, sees it rising to medium/full bodied. With a little tit’s worth of nicotine. I still have more than half the cigar to go. Oy.
Coffee becomes a nice surprise. Essentially, a mocha java component.
Even though the price point exceeds my parameters of $6-$9 for my list of great Boutique Brands, I will place it there anyway because of Small Batch Cigar.
The tart fruit and citrus elements seem to be defined as pink grapefruit. I love grapefruit but it reigns havoc with my diabetes.
I am at the halfway point. Still not a flavor bomb but very pleasing to the palate. The other reviewers rate their cigars and one gave it an 88. Not great. So I don’t know if the cigar is just fair or the cigar was not given enough humidor time and is simply an Old School blend.
As I am just about to start the last third, and we have flavor bomb touchdown. The nicotine is ripping me a new one.
I really hate nicotine. I have to type everything twice or three times. The laptop screen gets blurry and I lose mobility in my typing fingers.
The flavors have not changed but they are very tasty and complex. The balance is perfect. Now, we’re talking.
The last third is upon me and I love this cigar. I have no idea why the other A List reviewers were so critical of this cigar. You know..the rush to be the first on the block to write the review…and thereby not giving the stick a fair chance. I was given three as gifts from a reader and I smoked one after just a week. It tasted nothing like this.
The sun finally comes out and you can see for the first time how oily the stick is.
The Small Batch Cigar price of $7.65 is right on point for this stick and worth every dime.
I grab a bowl of cereal so as to tame the nicotine. This is not a cigar to be smoked on an empty stomach. The strength touches the hem of full bodied now.
The flavors: Creaminess, earthiness, cocoa, coffee, citrus, cedar, leather, and spice.
Wow. If you have an adversity to nicotine this cigar may not be for you. I would smoke this stick after a long day of stuffing myself with food. Not first thing in the morning before breakfast.
I down an Atkins Shake and now the nicotine disappears.
I can now focus on the wonderful flavors.
This is a big honker of a cigar and being fully packed has made it burn slowly. With 1-1/2” to go, I’ve spent almost 2 hours with it. Of course, remember that I am writing at the same time I am smoking it.
The flavor bomb status is off the charts now. And has been for the last 2”.
I highly recommend this cigar. Ignore what the A List reviewers wrote.
As only 1500 boxes were distributed, it won’t be long on the market. And since they come in boxes of 10, it is easily affordable at Small Batch Cigar.
I have one left. I plan to let it rest another month to see if the flavor bomb status arrives earlier than this one.
Even with the little glitches of char line, I have no criticisms of this blend. It was well thought out and tweaked until it is a near perfect cigar.
And now for something completely different:
Fred is a reed player. Meaning, he plays sax and flute. He became a millionaire doing session work. When he was a young man, he would do 3 sessions a day. Each session back in the 1970’s and 1980’s would bring him in over $600 per session. And if he did a session for a TV show, he not only got the $600 but residuals every time the show played. So he would get the $600 upfront. And then around $400 for every rerun they played during the summer months.
He also played and toured with some of the greats of the music business but this story is about his touring with Elvis.
Fred did two tours with Elvis in the mid 70’s. They traveled in three planes. Colonel Parker in one plane. Elvis and his massive entourage in one plane. And the band in the third plane.
Fred told me that he never got to meet Elvis on the first tour. The only time he saw him was on stage. Fred was head of the horn section. He is a great arranger. And has done the score for several blockbuster movies.
On the second tour, an earth shattering event occurred.
In the middle of some song, Fred used his flute to play “Dixie.” He got tired of playing it straight every night. So, one night, he jazzed it up. Everyone loved it. Except for Col. Parker.
That night, he was invited to Elvis’ suite in the hotel where all the debauchery occurred.
He shook Elvis’ hand and got a few words of praise. The Colonel took Fred aside and told him that if he ever jazzed up “Dixie” again, he was off the tour.
All the band members got as much attention from the groupies as Elvis did. Fred told me he received women’s panties, their room keys, and naked photos of the chicks he would speak to after the gig.
He was single at the time…so…
When I was 18, Fred suggested that if I wanted to do session work, I should take lessons. So he hooked me up with the legendary session bassist, Carol Kaye. This woman had more top 10 recordings than any other bassist in the business.
I thought my caveman thoughts about how could a woman be a bass player?
I was invited to her home in the Hollywood Hills and we sat in her lush dining room with chairs facing each other.
She asked me to play something right off. Nervous, but I pulled it off.
Then she said, “Listen to this…”
I wanted to crawl underneath the table. My jaw dropped. This was a monster bassist.
Carol changed from session guitarist in the early 1950’s to bassist. Too much competition on the guitar and almost no competition for the bass.
She had this strange method of playing using a pick only. Not only did I have to learn to read notes, but the position of the pick when striking the bass string was all important. The position of the pick was notated over each note using symbols such as . One meant to strike the note in a downward motion and the other in an upward motion.
I could play the riffs perfectly but if I hit the string with the pick in the wrong direction, I had to play it again. This drove me crazy.
I took lessons for 6 months and then stopped because of frustration. And I didn’t always have the $25. Plus the drive from home in Long Beach to Hollywood Hills was an hour in each direction.
Years after my lessons, I had a cache of fame because I took lessons from Carol. Every time I met another bassist, they would mention her name as if she was the pope. And then I told them I took lessons from her and from that point on I got interviewed about my experience. Bassists even bragged when they said they took lessons from one of her students. I never did this as other events in my life took another turn…like going to Europe and becoming a rock god.
Fred called me one day and told me he was having a séance at his home and Carol would be there. In fact there were about 20 of the most famous musicians there as well.
I know, the idle rich with too much money and getting into the paranormal for fun.
When I got back from London, I visited Fred with an album to give to him. I started to tell him a couple road stories when he stopped me in my tracks. “Phil, there are a million road stories and I have experienced them all.”
That let the air out of me.
Fred married a session player who made her living playing the cello. On one visit, she was practicing in a string quartet because they had a gig for PBS. I sat there amazed at their musicianship.
To this day, Fred still plays a lot of sessions but his main thrust in life became writing movie scores.
Those were fun and exciting days.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS