Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano (Jalapa)
Size: 6 x 60 “Gordo Marblehead”
Today we take a look at the Crux Bull & Bear. This is the big honker of the blends. It comes in two sizes. This 6 x 60 and the 5.5 x 55 ($8.00) so it wasn’t much of a toss-up in choosing.
Like the Classic I reviewed, it has a Marblehead (Or 109) head.
From the Crux Premium Sticks web site:
“Inspired by the classic Cuban 109, the Crux Marblehead™ is a tapered and rounded cap with eye-catching aesthetics. This sleek and elegant finish allows the cigar smoker to control the flow for a smaller or larger draw. Additionally, it gives larger ring gauge cigars a more desirable mouth feel. Who among us doesn’t appreciate that?”
I do. It is a gorgeous cap with a flawless presentation. The Marblehead designation is just another term for the 109.
Also from the Crux Premium Sticks web site:
“At Crux Cigars, we believe cigars build friendships and community uniting people from all walks of life. They allow people to relax from the stressors of life and sort out the challenges we face. Cigars allow us to celebrate the moments that matter most. Cigars reward us for our successes and help us accept our failures.
“This is why we are committed to building premium cigars of the highest quality and value. Each of our blends are developed with skill and craftsmanship that we hope you will agree, result in a great smoking experience.
“As cigar smokers, we have a passion for cigars and what they bring to our lives.
“As manufacturers, we strive to develop new cigars for the underserved markets and service our retail partners with the greatest respect.”
The cigars are made at the Plasencia Cigars, S.A. Factory.
As all the other blends, the wrapper is pure gorgeous. An oily coffee bean brown that is nearly translucent in bright light. It shimmers. Seams are visible but tight. There is a butt load of veins but in this case, enhances the look of that beautiful wrapper. The wrapper has some tiny tooth to it and totally smooth in other places.
I clip the cap and find interesting aromas of leather, chocolate, herbal notes, cedar, rich baking spices. (I sneeze in quick succession from the inhaling the spicy tobacco.) There is something fruity at the cap besides me. There is a creamy aroma to finish it off.
Time to light ‘er up.
Takes a while to toast the foot but I get there.
The first puffs make a big impact. Chocolate, red hot mama spice, wood, rich whipped cream, cardamom, and cumin.
Can the folks at Crux screw anything up? Right off the bat, this huge behemoth is flavorful and full of character and nuance. That’s more than I can say for the LFD 707 I reviewed yesterday which was a massive cigar.
The brains behind Crux are Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers. These gentlemen own a B & M in nearby Minnesota. It is called Tobacco Grove. Of course, they should be my mortal enemies as they cheer for the Vikings while I cheer for the Packers. But I will give them a pass on that.
At ½” burned, the Crux Bull & Bear is sumptuous and delicious. I’ve become a big fan of these young’uns since I first reviewed the Classic and Passport about 10 days ago. Total class cigar blending.
The first third is really enjoying the cumin and cardamom. The spice has ratcheted up. And the creaminess cools it down.
Here are the flavors at the 1” point: Chocolate, spice, creaminess, Asian spice, dried fruit, nutty, toasty, a slight sweetness, leather, and earthy tobacco.
The level of spiciness has taken me by surprise. One is very lucky to have such a big cigar start off with a bang and then continue on that same course.
The strength is medium/full.
The cigar is packed perfectly. No soft spots. But not hard as a rock. Perfect draw. This will definitely be a two hour smoke. And while I usually get bored with a cigar that takes that long to devour; if this Crux Bull & Bear maintains this flavor profile, no problems from me.
Lucky for me that the cap is hard enough to withstand my chomping without doing damage.
The nuttiness becomes clarified. I taste hazelnut, cashew, and almonds. Especially the almonds. I get marzipan on the palate. So I wipe it off. Good to go.
The most technically impressive act of the entire line is the readiness to smoke. In each case, I only allowed the blends to humidor rest for about 7-10 days. And ready to be smoked. There is a lesson here to be learned by a thousand other blenders who don’t get it. I don’t buy a cigar to store it away for a year before it is ready to smoke. Us smokers on a budget look to the cigars that bear witness to readiness in a blink of an eye.
At over 1” burned, the complexity sinks in. This is a very slow smoke so I shall use that time for another rock n roll story at the end of this review. If a cigar is given to me, I don’t mess with the raunchy stories. But if the cigar was bought on my dime..well, my decision.
The second third begins after 45 minutes. I’m hungry.
I get some vegetal notes like fresh celery and tomatoes. Must be because I’m hungry.
My next review will be the Crux Ninfamaniac Dark. I got two of those. Probably tomorrow. Will be a much shorter review as the sticks are 7 x 33.
The halfway point is upon me.
Flavors blanket my palate with every sip of water.
I get a nice sweet caramel element now.
The price point. Right where it should be. Worth every nickel. Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers could have priced it in the double digits but didn’t. Kudos.
The Crux Bull & Bear has surprised me big time; although it shouldn’t have. I expected this behemoth log to be mild in flavor due to the size. But instead, it smokes like a much smaller cigar. This is one of those rare times that size doesn’t matter. I’m glad I got the 6 x 60. I’m enjoying every minute of it. While there seems to be a run of the Robusto Extra, that means that you can snag the Gordo and be extra happy. We experienced smokers are like lab rats. We see a 6 x 60 stick and move away from it slowly. We know the smaller the cigar, the more flavor. Just not in this case.
I was given a Screw Pop Cigar Cutter for promotional reasons. At first it was stiff and hard to use. Now it works like a dream. I can use it one handed. That’s a big plus! Check it out.
The last third begins and the blend really blossoms. Intense, complex flavors. Loads of balance and a long, long finish.
Here are the flavors of the Crux Bull & Bear: Chocolate, creaminess, caramel, Asian spice, toasty, nutty, leather, vegetal notes, wood, raisins, and a rich earthiness.
And now some creamy coffee enters the arena.
I’ve now invested one hour forty five minutes. And loved every moment.
Side note: Rick T. and I are hoping for a summer tour of Asia playing music. Rick’s CD is selling like crazy over there and he has gotten 24,000 Likes in just the last few months on his FB page. The news is that we found our drummer: Scott Nordell. Scott is bar none the finest drummer I’ve played with. Known him for 29 years. In his early days, he played in the Buddy Miles band. And a boat load of other famous bands. He even surpasses Stew Copeland in style and imagination. We welcome him aboard.
Back to the Crux Bull & Bear. A fantastic stick. I probably have another 30 minutes to go and it has flown by. How many Gordos can you say that about?
I somehow feel guilty and it’s my fault when a cigar falls apart on me during a review. But then the next day, I review a cigar like the Crux Bull & Bear which has stunning construction and sat right next to the LFD 707..which was a disaster.
The strength hits full body. And along with it brings some nicotine to make me hallucinate.
I don the crash helmet in case I fall out of the chair. I get the dog to lie down next to me so I have something soft to fall on. Don’t contact PETA. Only kidding.
Flavors are like a Pink Floyd laser show. Back in L.A., we used to go the L.A. Planetarium where they had those shows. The planetarium smelled like weed for days most probably. Just like when “2001: A Space Odyssey” came out. All the stoners fought for the front row seats. LOL.
The Crux Bull & Bear is just an incredible blend. Just like the Classic and Passport. Jeff and Joel are brilliant blenders. And they are young guys so the future looks mighty bright for them.
The Crux Bull & Bear finishes perfectly. No harshness, bitterness or heat.
And now for something completely different:
I haven’t told this one in ages.
After Curved Air, I moved back to Long Beach and struggled. I was a big shot in London but a nobody in So Cal.
I went through some tough times dealing with this. I went to work at my father’s structural steel fab shop as a project manager for a bit. And then a couple years later, I said the hell with this and quit. I found a great rock band doing their own music called The Attitude. For long time readers, you’ve seen our music video of “Hound Dog.” But for those that haven’t, click on Hound Dog. The skinny kid playing bass is me. It was 1980. Just prior to MTV. The video is rudimentary and basic but fun.
Shortly after joining The Attitude, I saw an ad for The Police who were to be playing in Santa Barbara. They had their first hit of “Roxanne.”
I stared at the photo of the band and it hit me. It was my drummer in Curved Air: Stewart Copeland. He made it big time by breaking away from Curved Air.
I called the management office in L.A. and told them who I am and could I get tickets? The man himself called me back: Miles Copeland. Stew’s brother and the manager of The Police. Miles started with Wishbone Ash and branched off into a gazillion English bands you’ve heard of and listened to. Too many to list.
Miles was excited to talk to me and said he had an idea. He would give me back stage passes and we would surprise Stew.
So I took my girlfriend, Teri, with me. Nice drive from Long Beach to Santa Barbara. I believe the band played at the university. Oingo Boingo opened for them.
We got there about 4 pm. Teri and I saw a small group of people huddled in the corner of the concert hall/gym. It was The Police and Miles. Miles saw me and motioned me over.
I sauntered over. “Hey douchebag!”
I had that beautiful fro in Curved Air. But times had changed and so had the music and the look. I had short hair.
At first, Stew was shocked at being called a name. So I said, “Hey douchebag. Forgotten old friends already now that you’re a rock star again?”
Copeland and I called each other douchebag the entire time we were in Curved Air.
His eyes lit up and yelled: “KOHN!!!! You douchebag.”
He literally lifted me off my feet with a bear hug.
He introduced me to Sting and Andy Summers. They were actually impressed to meet me because Curved Air was such a big group in Europe.
We shot the shit for a while and then he had to do sound check.
Miles handed us our back stage passes.
Then Teri and I got a bite to eat.
When we got back, Oingo Boingo was just starting.
We had special back stage passes.
There must have been 100 Hollywood types that drove up from L.A. to see the concert because The Police weren’t playing that town this tour.
I had the white death with me. After all, it was 1981. The height of coke use in America.
Well, the boys had run out of theirs. They bought a bunch in S.F. and went through it fast.
I met their head roadies and handed them vials of the white powder. That did the trick. I had total access to every place the band did.
So while the Hollywood self-important people were kept at bay and not allowed in the dressing room, Teri and I just smiled at the 8’ tall body guard at the door and walked in.
It was skeezy locker room. Not even a chair. Just benches in front of lockers for the players.
So we sat and talked. Stew, Sting, Andy, Teri and me. Stew brought out a joint. And then I brought out the coke. Their eyes lit up like it was Christmas.
Now Sting was new on the scene. Really new. I couldn’t believe that his friends really called him that name in private.
So as I passed the coke around, I whistled at Sting and said, “(Whistle) You want some?” Sting grabbed the coke dispenser and helped himself to a big dose.
Stew was miffed. He looked at me and said, “His name is Sting!”
I stood corrected and I apologized.
We sat there for about 45 minutes while Sting and Andy quizzed me about Stew in the Curved Air days.
When that got boring, we went out to the wings of the stage and watched Oingo Boingo.
Great band and Danny Elfman went on to become a great composer for the movies. Director Tim Burton uses Elfman almost exclusively for his movies.
Elfman went on to score other movies as well and has shelves full of Oscars and Grammys.
I met him when The Police went on and found out we had a lot in common. We were both Landsmen. Jews. He was also from L.A. He told me how he almost died from malaria while he toured Ghana to pick up musical influence. And then we just stood there and watched The Police together.
After the show, we all went back to the locker room. Miles was there along with Jerry Moss of A & M records. Partners with Herb Alpert.
Miles went on about how funny I was during the radio interviews we did with Curved Air and made me tell a story.
I had brought all of The Attitude stuff with me. Including our single. After I felt comfy with them, I handed them the copy of “Hound Dog.”
Miles’ assistant sat there as well. Miles turned to the guy, handed him my single, and said with a wink, “You know what to do with this.”
I was stunned. The bastard told his assistant, right in front of me, to throw it away. I was pissed.
I excused myself, gathered up Teri who was entertaining the musicians and grabbed her by the elbow and said, “Let’s get out of here.”
I gave Stew, Andy and Sting a hug and split.
And now, every 6 months, I beg the Miles Copeland office in London for my record royalties. If I don’t beg for it, I would never get it.
Now Stew and I haven’t spoken for 15 years. He outgrew me as he joined the polo set. And surrounded himself with the greatest musicians in the world.
But it was a helluva story.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS