Enclave by A.J. Fernandez | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Binder: African Cameroon
Filler: AJ Fernandez Select Nicaraguan, AJ Fernandez Nicaraguan Piloto Cubano
Size: 6 x 52 “Toro”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $6.32 MSRP (Note: Prices are going nuts on Cbid with people bidding $9.00 or more for the Toro or just about every other size. So beware)

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Today we take a look at the new Enclave by A.J. Fernandez.

BACKGROUND:
Debuted at the 2015 IPCPR trade show.
Factory: Tabacalera Fernandez
From the A.J. Fernandez web site:
“The spirit of the Enclave cigar lays within the special brotherhood created by those who enjoy a great cigar. Rich Habano Rosado Wrapper from Ecuador compliments the decadent Cameroon Binder.
The AJF Piloto Cubano and AJF Select Nicaraguan Fillers greets the cigar aficionado with notes of pepper, spice, cedar, and cinnamon.”

DESCRIPTION:
A stout looking stick packed solid and the color of milk chocolate with an oily, silky wrapper. Invisible seams, minimal veins, impeccable triple cap, and a beautiful main cigar band.
The band is literally a mural of the old west with American Indians riding like the wind. Also, but puzzling, are a series of silver coins with symbols on them too small to see. Maybe a reader can help me out with this.

SIZES AND PRICING:
Robusto: 5 x 52 $6.44 MSRP
Toro: 6 x 52 $6.32 MSRP
Figuardo: 6.5 x 52 $6.51 MSRP
Churchill: 7 x 52 $6.38 MSRP

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AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I get aromas of chocolate, coffee, cedar, spice, and roasted nuts.
From the clipped cap and foot (It has a closed foot and I clip it as I clipped the cap), I can smell strong cocoa, strong espresso, and strong pepper.
The cold draw presents a mix of chocolate nuttiness (Read: Candy bar), a touch of creaminess, and cedar.

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FIRST THIRD:
The draw is a bit tight. I give it the Katman Rub and Tug massage therapy and it loosens up but not enough. So I grab my cigar awl and discover that at the cigar band level, there is a plug that I do away with. Now we are hunky dory.

But it is a very heavy cigar and two things I predict: First, a long slow roll. And second, a real bitch trying to hold it between my lips while typing.

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I smoked one of these and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. This being my second one a week later, I have high hopes.
The start of the cigar expresses spiciness, chocolate, roasted nuts, cedar, a bit of creaminess, cinnamon, nutmeg, earthiness, and leather.

Good start. But it took about 3 minutes before it really kicked in. I was worried for a moment but then I tend to forget what I am worried about. LOL. Really. I ran an errand yesterday to pick up my daughter’s car and when I got home, I couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door. How humiliating. But I got it after just a minute or two. It’s sort of like taking acid without all the fun.

The creaminess takes on a cream cheese element that is just delicious. Almost like New York cheesecake.
The char line is doing fine. So am I.
Strength is a solid medium body.

This is a value priced cigar coming from the brain of AJ. And as such, shows the signs and symptoms of a bit of old school blending. I’ve had the samples sent to me by the folks at AJ Fernandez for a while now. Normally, an AJ stick would be pumping out big and bold flavors. Now? Meh… It’s OK. But methinks I must wait til the end of the first third before life is pumped into the blend. “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!”

I’m having some minor touch up issues. But dry boxing is tricky as it has been very hot and humid here; even with the A/C running 24/7. I’ve run hot since I was a skinny kid. Charlotte runs cold, the skinny bitch, and wears two layers of clothing and a bathrobe while lounging at home. Me? I wear skimpy shorts and a T shirt. The T shirt doesn’t cover my belly and I have a really hairy belly button. How is that for a photo that you will never get out of your brain pan?

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Absolutely no change in the flavor profile almost 1-1/2” in.
It might possibly be that the Enclave by A.J. Fernandez needs a few months to blossom. BTW- The Fernandez folk call the cigar Enclave by AJ Fernandez not AJ Fernandez Enclave. Petty, but accurate.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 35 minutes.
Well, here I am and the blend finally makes its move. A full third of blah-ness. Now we are on the fast track to a really good blend.

So here they are ladies and germs: Chocolate, spice, creaminess, roasted nuts, malt, cinnamon, raisin, nutmeg, cedar, caramel, sweetness, earthiness, peat, and espresso.

So far, this is not a complex blend. The balance is so so. And the finish is short.
I swear that the stick I smoked a week ago was better than this one…AND it was part of a long day of cigar smoking. Go figure, Bubbelah.

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Strength seems to want to make that Grand Canyon jump from medium body to medium/full any moment.
Flavors are much bolder now. Complexity has settled in for the long haul. The balance is much better and now has a long, chewy finish.

Graham cracker enters stage right completing the cheesecake component.

Now what about the malt? We have Special B Malt, Peated Malt, and Flaked Oats Malt. (See Malt Chart). I still can’t believe I’ve smoked cigars this long without understanding how important the malt element is. Whenever I discussed the elusive “It” factor, I was talking about malts.

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Back to the Enclave by AJ Fernandez.
Just before the end of the first third, the sun came out really highlighting the oily wrapper. I love the sun. Here in Milwaukee, we are only 7 weeks away from deadly cold and no sun. Last winter was pretty mild. Fingers crossed for the same this year.
The Enclave by AJ Fernandez is screaming laughter now. Great big flavors.

HALFWAY POINT:
Smoke time is an hour.
The Enclave by AJ Fernandez is cruising now. Medium/Full bodied. With the desire to hit full body. Big, bountiful flavor list.

We have finally hit the Sweet Spot. Man, a killer blend. I suppose with more humidor time that I allowed, this would have happened in the first third.
Nicotine rises from the dead.

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I want to take this moment to thank Miguel Castro for his donation to the Katman’s Medical Fund. I need more readers to be kind and generous.

Minor touch ups no longer are needed. Perfect construction. No wrapper issues.

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A sip of water and a long puff on the Enclave by AJ Fernandez and we are at Disneyland on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
Growing up only 20 minutes from the park made visiting there a frequent event. It was inexpensive. And back in the day, you bought ticket books you used for the rides. They were notated by letters: A,B,C,D, and E. A being the cheapest ride. And E for the big exciting rides or attractions. If you ran out, there were ticket booths strewn across the park so you could buy more tickets for an arm and a leg. But still, it was all financially feasible.
You save your A ticket for the Abe Lincoln exhibit. Great way to take a nap.

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Here they are: Spice, Malts, creaminess, cinnamon, raisin, roasted nuts, cedar, coffee, caramel, sweetness, earthiness, and peat.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is 90 minutes.
Sweet Spot 2.0
The Enclave by AJ Fernandez is really full bodied now. With loads of nicotine. Whoa.
This last two minutes is going to be a doozy.

Leave it to AJ not to be greedy. But apparently, this cigar is so popular that people bidding on Cbid have lost their minds and common sense. They are over paying so much that they could have bought them anywhere at retail prices and paid less.

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The Enclave by AJ Fernandez is a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride all unto itself.

This was a fun cigar to review. When I’m done, I am going to make myself some frozen waffles and get rid of the wooziness from the nicotine. I never eat before a review so as not to affect my palate. And of course, I pay the price for that.
I like that the spiciness has remained strong throughout the cigar experience. I’m a spice junkie.

Kendall Culbertson, owner of The Outlaw Cigar Co., told me he had a lot of trouble convincing his mentors that he wanted spice in his cigars. They told him that spice is a product of unfinished fermentation and has no business being in a good cigar. He convinced them that the general public loved spicy cigars. Eventually, they relented.

If you want to experience a fantastic, spicy cigar, you have to try the Black Powder by The Outlaw Cigar Co. I still have a few left from the samples that Kendall sent me and they are killers.

I use a free software program online to place my watermark on my photos. I hate Sundays. It seems that everyone and his brother are using the service and just overloads their server so I had to use a different watermark service today.

The Enclave by AJ Fernandez continues to get stronger and stronger with each puff. The spiciness is really strong as well. My lips are burning. A little too much of a good thing.
Yet, remarkably, the flavors are all intact.

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Cinnamon moves up the line right behind the spiciness doubling the effect.
The nicotine has calmed down a bit. I can focus now. The laptop screen is no longer a sea of swarming simbas.
Transitions were really in force with the Enclave by AJ Fernandez at the start of the second third. Constant change. And deep complexity.

I haven’t read any other reviews. In fact, I could only find a couple of them. Cigar Coop gave the cigar a 92. And I’m probably in agreement. Yet, he and I had a completely different experience with our assessments.

It is always a good idea to check around with as many reviews as possible before purchasing a cigar. Every palate is different. Try to find a reviewer who has a similar palate to yours.

I got some baby back ribs on sale at Walmart yesterday. Haven’t had ribs in a long time. I don’t have a BBQ set up so I do it my way. I slow bake the ribs with a dry rub on 210° for about 8-10 hours.
I remove the ribs and let them cool a bit. I cut them in half and use my ridged cast iron pan to then fry them a bit with sauce. It gives the ribs some char streaks and embeds the sauce. Good to go. The meat just falls off the bone.

Back to the Enclave by AJ Fernandez.
It finishes nicely. No harshness, no heat, no bitterness.
I concur with Cigar Coop. The Enclave by AJ Fernandez deserves a 92.
I highly recommend this cigar. Absolutely worth buying a box or two.
Final smoke time is two hours 5 minutes.

PRICE POINT:
You can easily make this a regular rotation cigar. At these prices, there are no barriers. Except for availability.
If AJ were greedy, coming out of the 2015 IPCPR trade show, he could have charged double for this blend. But he didn’t. Kudos AJ.
Don’t fuck around with Cbid. The other bidders will scalp you. No pun intended. Soon, you should see the Enclave by AJ Fernandez on the online stores that allow a 10% discount.

SUMMATION:
I had the Enclave by AJ Fernandez for a few weeks before today’s review. It needs a little more time for the Toro. The robusto may age a little quicker. I recommend two months humidor time.
For my palate, it was wonderful. Very tasty. Lots of transitions. Complex.
But the Enclave by AJ Fernandez ain’t for newbies. Too strong. The experienced palate will love it.
The price is right. If I had the dough, I would buy two boxes.
It’s a regular production cigar so everyone online has them. I imagine the same goes for B & M’s.

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Well, dear readers…this was my last cigar. So…..

looneytunes

And now for something completely different:
1983
The Hardship of Filming an Eddie Munster Music Video- “Whatever Happened to Eddie?”

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PINE KONE LOGO (The name of my production company)

We had both songs of the 45 single recorded and the master passed on to the record company for pressing and distribution. We did the promo photos ourselves with the assistance of a real pro.
Now we needed a “rock video”

Mind you, this was 1983. God help us… the crap that was out there…and we were going to add to it. The following was the top 10 songs of the 1980’s.
1.Love Shack – B-52s
2. What I Like About You – Romantics
3. Dancing With Myself – Billy Idol
4. Rock The Casbah (Mustapha Dance) – the Clash
5. Antmusic – Adam and the Ants
6. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
7. Train In Vain (Stand By Me) – the Clash
8. Just Like Heaven – The Cure
9. Situation – Yaz (Yazoo)
10. Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel

Butch was parking cars for his dad at a casino in Gardena, CA. He was certainly down on his luck…and prime for molding. I had a studio… and a mutual friend. It became a project.

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The film crew was led by famous cinematographer, Marvin Rush. He filmed most of the Star Trek series and movies….as well as TV shows: “Bob Newhart” and “TAXI.” He went on to film some of the Star Trek movies. And he was mine for free because he was intrigued about the project. At this time, Butch wasn’t doing promotional overkill with signing conventions, and the such, like he does today. He had just disappeared.

We were a day away from filming at mortuary and I hadn’t written the shooting script yet. There was no story. So, at some point in the evening, I did a line of coke and sat on the recording studio couch with a legal pad and pen. In 25 minutes, the script was done. I tweaked it a bit, but it pretty much was canonized.

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I catered the shoot at the mortuary. The mortuary was the biggest chain in Southern California and the kid that worked there gave us permission to shoot later in the evening. Except, as it turned out, he didn’t have the authorization to allow us to do so.

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Marvin, his crew, and film truck, showed up on time. I had arranged to have about 50 extras sitting in the chapel, with a coffin with Butch in it, for our first shot. We had already scoped out the place and I jotted down notes for the angles, etc.

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MARVIN RUSH TODAY

As Howard sat up a nice Kosher buffet, the extras rolled in. It was a full-on Jewish deli. Everyone was excited. So was I. Until I noticed that children were coming in. I blew my lid. I screamed at the crowd, “Who brought children into this mortuary?”

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Hands raised. I took them aside and asked them if they were fucking crazy? I told them to leave…and they did, unhappily. We had the first shot set up, the extras in the pews, the smell of brisket and corned beef wafting in the air and the “Monsters” in full make up.

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Just before I yelled, “Action,” a bunch of goons stormed the mortuary, with baseball bats, threatening to beat the hell out of me and everyone else if we didn’t get our asses out immediately. I grabbed the kid who gave us approval and he admitted that he didn’t ask his betters if it would be OK? So, instead, he bragged about it at the mortuary to his co-workers and they formed a scheme to bush whack us.

One of the goons asked who was in charge? I stepped forward and as I did, I felt something hard trying to crush the back of my skull. A fight broke out. The goons were outnumbered. so they called the cops. We managed to get everyone out, the film crew packed up and burned rubber and we were all gone before the cops showed. Harvey was the only one still there, trying to pack up his delicious food, and miscellaneous shit. The cops tried to arrest him but he talked his way out of it, made them brisket sandwiches, and he split.

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We were in big trouble. I ended up at the E.R, and got some stitches. All the while.., trying to figure an alternate plan. I assured Marvin we would get this right and please don’t bail on me. He was a great guy and said he would follow me to San Quentin, if necessary, to get this done.

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THIS IS OUR CINEMATOGRAPHER GETTING ANGLES FOR THE SHOOT.

The next day, I took a ride to the Princess Louise, docked at San Pedro Harbor. It was an old, 3 deck private yacht, that had been transformed into a tourist attraction. Two restaurants and a chapel on top. I met with the chaplain and negotiated a fee of $200. It was a lock. We shook hands and moved to the next step. The filming on the boat would take place about 4 days later. I used that time to do another dangerous shot.

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HOLLYWOOD HIGH SCHOOL

There is a line in the song that Eddie sings that says, “I got up and split from school.” So we headed to Hollywood High on Sunset Blvd. Butch managed to borrow John Travolta’s Trans Am that George Barris was doing some customization on. The only way we could have the car was if George provided the driver. No problem.

We had no permit for filming. No permit. Let me say that again: NO PERMIT!!

I did this shot without extras. But still, my crew was large….maybe 25 people. 4 of us had walkie-talkies and were positioned strategically around the shoot. It was 7PM. Night school was in session.

The shot was to have Butch run down the steps of this ancient school wearing a graduation gown and cap and jump into the Trans Am. He then peeled rubber, did a couple of fish tails, and headed down Hollywood Blvd. Cut.

The steps were at the front of the main entrance. It was lighted nicely. A huge class was going on just above on the second floor. 75 people had moved to the windows to see what was happening. The streets started to flood with onlookers.
I was the director. I was in charge. Huge klieg lights lit the area to be shot.
“ACTION!!”

We did several takes. And then one of the guys, on a walkie talkie, called me and said cops were driving up to check things out. I put a temp hold on production while I watched 3 squad cars slowly drive to where I stood in the middle of Hollywood Blvd.

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They got out of their cruisers and stood beside their cars. Not a word. Obviously, they assumed we had a permit because no one would have the balls to shut down this heavily trafficked area.

I said “Action” for the last time…the shot went without a hitch, and then I yelled “Cut and… Print!!”
Everything went perfectly. We quickly packed up. Applause came from everywhere. It was deafening. Even the cops were clapping.

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We got into our vehicles and headed over to the Brown Derby where I treated everyone for dinner.
We would be ready for the Princess Louise…..I just needed to make a visit to Cassandra the Casket Queen.

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I got the L.A. Yellow Pages out and searched. There she was. Casandra the Casket Queen. Butch and I took a ride to her beat-up Hollywood home. No furniture except for a bedroom. The place was laden with real caskets but painted in psychedelic colors. Wild. Crazy. Nuts! Cool! Perfect!

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We negotiated a rate for renting 5 of them for one night. Butch called George Barris, the car customizer to the Stars, and asked to borrow 2 hearses. We managed to shove all of the caskets inside.

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We parked it at my house in Long Beach. The shoot at the Princess Louise in San Pedro was set for that night. Everything was lined up. People were paid off…either in cash or coke. Marvin Rush, the cinematographer, was set to meet us there at 6PM. Our makeup artist would be there on time, or so she promised.

Even my financial backer would be there. He was an ex-San Quentin con that was a big dealer of cocaine. He and I became good friends because I wasn’t a mooch. Everyone around him constantly hung on the hope of hand-outs. I never asked. And for the most part, I turned his offers of a toot down. One little snort and I was good for hours…whereas, his hangers on needed a toot every 20 minutes. And I just didn’t like the shakes it gave you if you did too much. I was the only one in his life like that. And more importantly, we liked each other. Rick was a big bear of a man who you wanted on your side. Never betrayed his trust. Another story there.
• * * *
We stood outside the boat waiting for everyone to assemble. Rick had driven his Rolls Royce. So that was our focal point for assembly.

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THE EXTRAS

Once everyone was there, around 100 people including extras, I went up to the chapel to finalize and make sure we were set….I met with the chaplain and he was sweating bullets. He was dressed in his captain’s clothes. Looked very cool.
Standing next to him was a dapper man that I had never seen. He OWNED the boat and told me we could not use it because the chaplain had no authority.

Fuck! Shit! Piss! Cunt! Cock! Screw! Motherfucker! Motherfucker!
NOT AGAIN!!

He told me to calm down and told me that for $4000 we could use his chapel for filming.

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$4000. If I fucked this up, Marvin would bail on me and the whole project would go up in smoke. I ran down to Rick and told him. Rick, at first, offered to tune this guy up. I told him no. I asked Rick for $2000 in cash. I would go home and get my $2000. Rick did not like this one bit but got into his Rolls and headed for Torrance to get his dough. I headed to Long Beach.

An hour later, Rick and I handed the guy his $4000. Then…..he said, “I’ve changed my mind. I want $6000. And in a blur of fists, the owner of the Princess Louise lay on the floor moaning, bleeding, and probably wondering what happened to him?
Rick had no truck for cheats. A person’s word is everything and this guy was a hustler. He tried to hustle us so Rick spanked him. We all helped the owner up to a chair and Rick whispered in his ear. I could not hear what he said… And Rick never told me what he whispered to the owner. I think it was better that way.

We started loading the equipment up a ramp and 3 decks to the top of the boat and into the chapel.
The last thing we took upstairs was the outrageous caskets..

This had to be the funniest thing I had ever seen…worthy of a Mel Brooks movie…..The second deck had a swanky restaurant on it and the only stairs to the chapel was inside the eatery. We held 5 caskets like pall bearers through a crowded restaurant…”Oh..excuse me….sorry…may I get through there please?”, etc. You could hear utensils drop to the plates. You could hear 50 people inhaling but not exhaling. No one blinked. I wish I had filmed, or at least taken photos, of that. It was priceless.

I handed Marvin the latest shooting script. One of his guys looked at it and said, “No way. 31 scenes???” Marvin immediately chastised him for questioning the director, me.

Our song was exactly 2 minutes long. We had already filmed the high school which accounted for 2 edits that lasted 2 seconds each. In all, the script had 33 scenes. That was an average of 4 seconds per edit.
And I had to do it that night. I would not have Marvin again because of his schedule.

We started filming around 8PM and finished at 6AM. I got every scene I wanted and got them in no more than two takes. I improvised on the fly as situations presented themselves. The out-takes are hysterical.

The last scene has Butch sitting by a lagoon with the moon reflecting on the water. We had only minutes before the sun rose. We ran down to the shore by the boat mooring. Butch sat next to a small body of sea water…pebbles and rocks. There was no moon that night but the Cosmic Muffin smiled on me that night. There was a light standard on the boat dock and the light from it was reflected in the water looking exactly like the moon.
“Action!” Cut!” “Print!”

We were done. Marvin took me aside…the man that went on to become the cinematographer of the many Star Trek series and some of the movies…..and told me that he thought that it would be impossible to get all the shots I had written down, but we did it and he patted me on the back and hugged me. I broke down. The stress of this shoot had finally hit home.
My adrenaline was running high. The night started with a hundred people. At 6AM, there was maybe 15 left. I offered breakfast but we were so tired that we just wanted to sleep.

Oh no. I had to take the caskets back. So we loaded them into the 2 hearses and I drove it to Cassandra’s with a few guys. We unloaded them, I dropped people off, and headed home. The hearse stayed parked in my driveway all day while I slept with a smile.

The next part will be the torturous editing of the video, the fight with Rocshire Records, and the illegal bribing of radio stations and distributors. Then the fall of Rocshire Records to the F.B.I.

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E22
BUTCH SLAPPING ME WITH A LEMON MERINGUE PIE FOR A PROMOTIONAL VIDEO TO BE SHOWN AT THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE ON HALLOWEEN.

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7 replies

  1. Coins: Left & right ends (5$ Indian gold piece), right center ($5 Indian gold piece top and $20 Indian gold piece bottom), lower left (Indian head nickel). At least the ones I know.

  2. Funny that you mentioned peat in this review. I don’t think I’ve come across that before in any of your reviews I’ve read. Nor has that come to mind in any cigar I’ve smoked. But as a flavor in a cigar profile, it makes perfect sense. See? Katman? This is why we follow you. You are Alec Guiness and we are Mark Hamill.

  3. Katman as I read your reviews I laugh every time and your stories after are just classic…here’s my next idea for you…Katman the movie lol..but I need a cigar smoking part in the movie brother..glad my other idea is helping you even if it’s a little bit..good luck at the Dr this week…prayers that we can keep an amazing botl like you around

  4. Picked up 2 churchills after this review and sat on them. Fantastic smoke and never made CA’s list. Sweet component all the way through. Thanks buddy.

    • I came very close to including the Enclave on my Top 25 list.
      But I had to deal with 365 cigars. Made this old man crazy…er.
      But based on Cigar Aficionado’s top 25 list, I did better than they did.