Henry Clay Stalk Cut | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Dark Connecticut Broadleaf Vintage 2012
Binder: Dominican Piloto Vintage 2010
Filler: Dominican Olor Vintage 2012, Dominican Piloto Vintage 2012, Nicaraguan Criollo Vintage 2013
Size: 5 x 50 “Robusto – Box Pressed”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $8.25 MSRP

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Henry-Clay-Stalk-Cut-open_box_left

Today we take a look at the Henry Clay Stalk Cut.
Please forgive me but I forgot who sent me this cigar. Contact me and I will remedy this lack of memory.

BACKGROUND:
Factory: Tabacalera de Garcia
Regular Production.
Altadis USA has this special blending team called Grupo de Maestros. It was they who blended this cigar.
From the Altadis USA web site:
“Stalk Cut (stawk-kuht); Verb (Used with Object – A tobacco harvesting method in which the entire stalk is cut and removed from the soil, then hung to dry in the tobacco barns. Used for the Henry Clay Stalk Cut Cigar, this method allows the tobacco to retain its natural oils, sap and nutrients to yield richer, more oily and flavorful leaves.”
Pete Johnson was involved in the first Henry Clay Tattoo but not this time around.

DESCRIPTION:
This is a gorgeous cigar. A near immaculate box press. The wrapper is very oily and the color of pecan and gingerbread. There is a slight tooth that may only show up in photo close ups.
The seams are perfect and add a geometric beauty. Almost no veins except for a large one running down the length of the cigar on the back side.
The triple cap is flawless. The Henry Clay Stalk Cut tops it off with a very nice looking closed foot. Nice to look at but whenever I light a closed foot, its fireworks time as tobacco bits fly everywhere like fireflies.
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SIZES AND PRICING:
Gran Corona (w/Pig Tail): 6 x 46 $8.00 MSRP
Robusto: 5 x 50 $8.25 MSRP
Toro: 6 x 54 $8.50 MSRP

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell cane sugar, caramel, creamy butter, shortbread, and spice.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell gingerbread cookies, very strong red pepper that obliterates any other aromas, and fresh cedar.
The cold draw presents flavors of gingerbread cookies, hot red pepper, caramel, butter cream, and cedar.

FIRST THIRD:
I clip the closed foot off in order to avoid disaster when I light up.
I smoked the original Henry Clay Tattoo and wasn’t that impressed. But then I feel Pete Johnson runs hot and cold. Especially since he relies on Pepin Garcia most of the time.
Already, only 2 minutes in, I like this cigar.

I don’t like box pressed cigars. They are a pain to keep from running and canoeing. I did an experiment and read the top reviewers on any box pressed cigar they reviewed and almost every single one complained about burn issues with box pressed sticks. There is something inherent to the design and rolling that keeps the box press from burning at top notch levels.
Strength is medium body.

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BTW- We found a place to live last Friday, the 26th. Only 10-15 minutes from our daughter’s place. This makes Charlotte happy as we were looking all over God’s creation.
Nice, but small, apartment. This will be like being 20 years old all over again.

The Henry Clay Stalk Cut flavors: Spice, creaminess, Asian spices, brown gravy, cedar, and coffee. Odd but true.

I read the page on the Altadis USA site about the Henry Clay Stalk Cut. While it is very descriptive about the leaf stats, it says nothing about the flavors. That is very odd. Most manufacturers are proud of their blends and like to describe the wonderful flavors you will taste. Not on this web site. All it says is: “Bold, robust and exceptional flavor notes.”
Not much to go on as far as expectations.

This is a slow smoke. Packed to the gills with tobacco. The char line is a bit wavy but nothing to be concerned about. The flavors begin to fade on me.

I’ve had the cigar close to a month at the most as the cigars only came out in January.
Might this blend be Old School?

A fruity sweetness appears out of nowhere. The spiciness which really attracted me at the start, has all but disappeared. Clearly, this is an Old School blend. (And if you don’t know what that is. Or the term New Breed. Read “My Palate.”)
It appears I must endure the first third of the cigar to get to the meat of the flavor profile somewhere around the halfway point.

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As I near the end of the first third, the Henry Clay Stalk Cut is doing nothing for me. I just may have stumbled upon a cigar that needs 6 months of humidor time..or..it ain’t very good. There are very few reviews of this cigar. In fact, I only found 4.

Then a little curtain opens and reveals some interesting notes.

Flavors to this point: Black pepper, rich earthiness, nuts, creaminess, cedar, sweetness, and shortbread cookies.
A touch of complexity reveals itself. The balance gets better with each puff. But the finish isn’t very long.
The spiciness really surprised me. It went from red to black pepper. And then it disappeared only to rise from the ashes like the fiery Phoenix as, once again, very spicy and leading the pack.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 25 minutes.
Unlike most box pressed cigars, the char line has behaved itself nicely. No touch ups required.
As the complexity gets stronger, more elusive flavors come to the fold. Some are fruity in their sweetness; others are subtle and difficult to define.

You can see the toothiness in the top part of the cigar in the photo below:
7third

Sophistication begins to come forth now. Flavor bomb? No. But a rich earthiness that permeates the flavor profile. I think it has a very Cubanesque quality about it.
I find it very difficult to describe good Cubans. As I’m not used to smoking them, the Cuban soil imparts a special flavor that I find hard to put into words.

Strength is medium/full.

I’m truly digging the Henry Clay Stalk Cut now.
I can taste some malt now: Aromatic Malt, Cara Vienna Malt, and Flaked Rye Malt. (See Malt Chart).

Black cherries finalize the question of the fruity sweetness.
The Henry Clay Stalk Cut is not a cigar of many flavors. Not a kitchen sink blend.
Instead, it appeals to the experienced smoker who can discern hard to describe flavors.
It is a flavor profile made up of nuance and subtleties. Not a flavor bomb.

The halfway point is here. Smoke time is 40 minutes.
The char line needs its first major tune up.

8half

Now the Henry Clay Stalk Cut is cooking. This is what the stick will taste like in a few months. So my prediction was spot on that the flavors would exhibit some oomph at the start of the second half.
There is a very meaty element. Charred steak. This blend is much better than the Pete Johnson blend.
The creaminess moves to the front of the line bumping black pepper to second place. The caramel flavor is now very strong. So are the black cherries and the very rich earthiness.

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LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour.
Strength hits full body. And it brings nicotine to the blend.

The price is really $7.45 by the box. And $8.00 by the 5 pack. Cbid has a box of Robustos going for $58.00 and ends tonight. This brings the price down to a probable $3-$4 per stick. I would most definitely get in on that. And they have a box of Toros that ends on Wednesday currently going for $37.00.

I believe that so little has been written about this that now is the time to get in on it because very soon, all of the big reviewers will be writing about it and getting it cheap will disappear.

10third

The first third was blah. But from the halfway point forward, this has been a very nice cigar experience.
The cigar finishes very complex with a nice balance. And completes the picture with a long, chewy finish.
It doesn’t get hot or bitter. And the nicotine is bearable. It is smooth and full of subtleties.
I definitely recommend this cigar with the caveat that you allow it to rest a couple months before tying one.
Final smoke time is one hour 15 minutes.

RATING: 90

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And now for something completely different:

I had lost everything due to the Eddie Munster project, and an embezzling partner at the recording studio, and got out of town by managing a very good four piece band called “The Kind.” If I had a dollar for every band in the US that called itself that, I’d be a rich man.

The band (who were based in Tahoe) came down to So Cal where I met them. In fact, the leader was an old high school buddy. They had a great sound and did songs from Peter Gabriel to the Charlie Daniels Band. That’s because the leader played guitar and electric violin. A bass player of course. A good drummer. And a keys player that could get any sound he wanted out of that thing. And they sang like birds in harmony. So rare for a four piece band to all be good singers.

So a big prank, by the boys in the band, was planned. We had settled into our digs in Tahoe. A big house owned by the band leader’s wife’s parents. Big woodsy cabin with 4 bedrooms, big kitchen, spa, and surrounded by giant trees. The perfect place to smoke a doob while watching the sun go down.

I did a lot of hiking around the trails of Tahoe to keep busy. I was miserable. I had worked 15 hour days 7 days a week for years on my musical projects and now I didn’t know what to do with myself. I found the perfect perch that overlooked the giant lake. It took me a good hour to hike there and I never had to share the silence with anyone else. I’d bring a note book for things that came to my head and a doob or two.

The band played out all the time, not just weekends. Very popular band.
This is where Charlotte comes in….

She ran the bar at one of the better clubs. This woman, I was told, had a master’s in psychology from Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt and she never used it.

Her father was a well-known psychiatrist in Fulda, Germany. He even had his own clinic for children.
Charlotte got married right out of college to a German cop. But a year later, he was killed in the line of duty.
She had too much empathy, it seems, and only did the psychology thing because she was pushed into it by her father’s bidding.

After her husband died, she chucked her education and became a flight attendant for Lufthansa. By the time she was 27 she got her green card and made the US her home.

I was already dating a bevy of beauties in Tahoe. No shortage of good looking young women attracted by musicians.
Everyone in the band wanted to be matchmakers for me.

There we were…sitting in a booth downstairs where the band was to play that night. It looked like a cave and held about 300 people.
We were exhausted from humping the gear. So we took a beer break. We sat in one of those huge half round booths that sit 8 or 9 people.

In walks Charlotte. She pushes the guys over to make room and sits down with us. Everyone yelled out her name. She liked The Kind was glad to see them.
I was introduced. And boy, I was impressed.

I never held back that I was a Jew. But before the subject would come up, my band mates volunteered that for me. Charlotte said nothing and just casually took a puff from her cigarette looking very much like a 1930’s movie star.

Charlotte was not only a German but a Catholic as well. They thought this was very funny and wanted to see how I would react to this.
I discovered that Charlotte holds court where ever she is. This was not a shy, sweet, demure woman.
She cursed like a teamster. Every other phrase was: “What the fuck!” Except with her German accent, it came out like: “Wad da’ fock!”

I was told, later, that I sat there quietly with my jaw hanging open. Never heard a woman swear like that.

To this day, we argue about who asked who out but, really, she asked me out a few weeks later.
I had just met this nice Jewish princess who lived in the very upscale Carmel-by-the-Sea. She was rich, good looking… and rich. I had gone out with her and loved that she was rich. And a spoiled brat. But I was inebriated with Charlotte.

Back to the club…
After an hour, Charlotte split.

And the table broke out into laughter.

I had to break our first date because the band was going into the recording studio. And I was producing.

We got together a few days later and since she knew Tahoe, she took me out to a fancy Swiss restaurant serving great German food. Also, very expensive. She had to pay for everything as I was broke. The Eddie Munster project decimated me.
The Kind played out for around $500 a night. I got $100. And they played maybe 3-4 times per week. So I was living on $300-$400 per week.

At dinner, Charlotte ordered a bottle of wine. I didn’t tell her I didn’t drink but I did so to impress her. I got so schnockered I could barely stand or see straight.

Afterwards, she took me to Harrah’s Casino on the north shore. In Nevada.
The all black band, The Bus Boys, was playing. I knew them. We had recorded in the same recording studio in West Hollywood for months.
So here was my chance to impress her.

During their break, I grabbed her and went on stage to re-introduce myself.
They had no idea who I was. I had to run by them a list of names until they said, “Oh yeah, we remember.” I think they were just being polite.

I was so embarrassed. I actually had jammed with them and done some recording on their tunes and they couldn’t remember me. Of course, they could have been high at the club and that might be the reason they didn’t remember me. Yeah, that’s the reason. Sigh.

We stayed in Tahoe from May until September. I got bored living like a pauper and The Kind had begun to no longer interest me.
I convinced Charlotte to come back to Long Beach with me.

I was so bored with the band. They wouldn’t listen to me. I was their manager with light years more experience…So frustrating. So, I jettisoned them.

We packed up everything into my Nissan Maxima station wagon and headed south.
I swallowed my pride and asked my father for a job at his structural steel fab shop. I had experience so I was made a project manager. I was a structural engineer but never used those tools for design. Instead, I project managed big steel projects. More exciting than sitting in a room working on equations.

Charlotte and I were poor. We got a bachelor/studio apartment. You know..no bedroom.
And while we lived there, we got married on February 8, 1985.

We were so poor that we had our wedding in the clerk’s office in Indio, CA. My dad lived in Palm Springs but we had to go to the county seat in Indio to get married by a justice of the peace. The office had a large window that stretched the entire length of the office. They were fresh out of courtrooms to do this in.

On the other side, was a line of people paying their tickets….all watching. For our honeymoon, we stayed in a condo my dad owned in Palm Springs. And we were thrown a party. Pretty pathetic.
We had hoped to renew our vows and do it the right way but could never afford to do so.

So I don’t know who the last laugh was on; but that was 31 years ago this month.
Time really flies.
11 months after being betrothed, Charlotte gave birth to Katie. Our one and only child.
It’s been a long road. There have been ups and downs but it is a real marriage. Companions for life.

Charlotte in 1984:
CHARLOTTE1979A

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1 reply

  1. I was wonderiing how you met your wife the other day, and I stumbled upon this review and story.. Very cool as always!