Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Size: 6 x 52
Humidor Time: 3 Weeks
Number Smoked Prior to Review: One
Today we take a look at the Arandoza 5th Anniversary.
Thanks to a reader for sending me three sticks.
After thunderstorms all day yesterday, I have awakened to fog with zero visibility for the first time since moving to Milwaukee in 2008. In all my years living in England, specifically London, I never once saw the dreaded fog made so famous in the movies. Although, there was that one time that my best friend and I were wandering the Scottish moors, late at night, and we were attacked by a werewolf in foggy conditions. But it was just that one time.
Limited production of 500 boxes of 10 cigars each.
The only online store I found them at is Antillian Cigars.
Debuted at the 2016 IPCPR trade show.
Factory: Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Factory
I’ve reviewed the entire catalog of Arandoza cigars and find myself damn impressed with the journeyman talents of Robert Arango.
In normal light, the wrapper is a deep chocolate brown. In bright sunlight, the wrapper is reddish/cinnamon. With a small amount of toothiness.
Seams are tight. The veins are nearly artistic in design. The cap is expertly applied and takes a magnifying glass to discern there are 3 of them.
The oiliness shimmers in the light. Like me.
AROMA AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I smell aromas of sweet floral notes; heavy on the cocoa and espresso beans. There is a spicy black pepper aroma that makes me do 3 quick sneezes in a row.
There is a very musky aroma. I smell something fruity and with a hint of vanilla. And lastly, a coconut oil scent.
From the clipped cap and foot, I can smell the continuation of heavy cocoa and coffee. Lots of floral, sweetness, spicy black pepper, and exotic fruits. And a wonderful spicy cinnamon toothpick aroma.
The cold draw presents flavors of black coffee, black pepper, heavy on the cedar, charred meat, cumin, and salt.
The tobacco used in this blend has been rarin’ to go. No long humidor time required.
Flavors drip with the taste of fine aging.
The general attack of this blend is a quantum leap for Arango. He wasn’t making the usual listless anniversary cigar so common from other manufacturers. No. This has all the markings of a masterful blend.
Another instance of where a manufacturer doesn’t see the need to be greedy. Anyone else would be charging $15, or more, for a cigar like this.
From the get go, the strength of this blend is imposing. I expect to lose consciousness at least twice before I finish the review.
I don’t know why health issues affected my ability to withstand strong blends, but it did for a while. It’s only been in the last couple of months that I’ve been able to truly enjoy the strong blends without severe consequences.
I remember smoking my very first stick, after a month of not smoking, and it was a safe cigar: a mild bodied Connecticut.
Next thing I knew, I was lying in a dark alley, in Chicago, getting beaten up by vampires.
We now have a giant 6 foot high Star of David on our wall over our bed to ward off those devils. For some reason, it doesn’t have the same efficacy as a giant cross. So now, I occasionally find myself in Queens being beaten up by Chassidic Jews. And I wake up with peyot for sideburns…along with a beard.
I blend in perfectly here in Milwaukee even though I am the only Jew living in this town. Milwaukee City Council is not aware I sneaked in.
Not a single decent deli to be found. What I wouldn’t give for a delicious NYC bialy.
Let’s get into the guts of this cigar…..
The first puffs provide an onslaught of black pepper that makes me cough. Then an avalanche of red pepper fills the void. I feel like I’ve been pepper sprayed. I love it.
My eyes are watering and my nose is running. Now this is how you start a cigar.
Flavors slowly begin to arrive in an expansive order: Creaminess, espresso, malt, cocoa, cinnamon, exotic spices, fruitiness, buttered graham cracker crust, and a lovely nougat.
The Arandoza 5th Anniversary wastes absolutely no time making a frontal assault on all my senses with big, bold flavors.
The char line is impeccable.
To truly enjoy this blend, I only take a few puffs every couple of minutes. It allows the palate to rest a bit and helps with keeping the burn line in check.
There is a nice salty pretzel element showing itself now.
Strength is a solid medium/full.
I read a couple reviews of this cigar and it seems a given that everyone found a kitchen sink of flavors in this blend. I shall continue that process.
The Arandoza 5th Anniversary is a surprising blend as it finds every flavor in the telephone book so early on. It is like tasting all the different ice creams in a Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors. (Is it still only 31 flavors?)
I’m having some burn issues that aren’t serious but must be attended to. I had the same issue with the first one I smoked. But evened out in the second half.
A smoky mesquite component joins the ever expanding flavor profile. Very quickly, the blend is becoming complex with loads of transitions. Nothing boring about the Arandoza 5th Anniversary.
Malts now play a big part. Chocolate looms large…as does the ever present creaminess. Exotic baking spices have a major impact.
Black licorice shows up for the first time. Orange citrus follows. The blend has become a spinning disco ball of flavors.
As a musician, I found the disco era the death of music. I tried playing bass in a couple of those horrible bands but never lasted more than a week before I quit. Just ghastly. Although, I did like the hot pants that girls wore at the time. They guys wearing hot pants? Not so much.
Lawdy. After 1-1/2” of rain in 24 hours, the gardeners are out in force mowing the wet grass with their ear piercing lawn mowers.
New flavor: Gingersnap cookies.
Smoke time is 45 minutes. This is a very slow smoking stick. Filled to the brim with tobacco.
Truly digging the Arandoza 5th Anniversary.
The cool thing about this blend is how smooth it tastes. Transitions flow like fast moving lava.
For my palate, this is a near perfect blend.
The char line seems to be holding the line in the second third.
The in-laws have invited us over for dad’s birthday party. Big family. But they take their drinking seriously. And I don’t drink..never have. I have a beer and immediately want to take a nap. Some are funny drunks. Others are obnoxious. Charlotte is going but I’m staying home. If you don’t drink, this is not a fun situation. So I will walk around our second floor apartment, naked, in front of the big living room window. I expect someone will call the police stating they have seen a Yeti with a cigar in his mouth. The police won’t come. Historically, police are afraid of Big Foot.
A major transition has occurred. Flavors are bursting at the seams. Every element has grown exponentially. Strength has hit full body.
My laptop screen is becoming blurry.
I am getting a strong fruitiness. Cannot identify it yet. It seems to be made up of several components. I’ll get it.
There is a cotton candy sweetness that permeates the blend.
The Arandoza 5th Anniversary just keeps on truckin’. Better and better.
Holy crap. I haven’t smoked a cigar this good since a Las Calaveras 2016. Very similar in approach of the blend but I will make a bold statement now and say I prefer the Arandoza 5th Anniversary.
Ever eaten the Purim treat Hamantaschen? It is a triangular cookie with prune filling. The graham cracker flavor morphs to a buttery crust with that delicious prune tastiness.
The chocolate dissipates. So does the black coffee. The wonderful spiciness is on the wane. More in the background than its explosive start. And the red pepper has stepped aside for the black pepper.
The Arandoza 5th Anniversary is not a blend for newbies. It is muy strong and the nicotine is assailing my brain functions.
Thank goodness I can type so when I go blind, I can keep on typing.
The halfway point is showing off big time. There is a major charred meat flavor. Smoky.
The blend is so complex that flavors are ingrained into each other are now the sum of its parts.
Unbelievable. Just this moment, right below one of my open windows, a truck arrived and workers are using heavy duty concrete and metal saws to cut concrete and also remove the guardrails on the steps. Dust and smoke is coming through the window and the stink is godawful. The noise alone makes me want to go down there and sedate them for the next couple of hours til I finish my review. Once again, Murphy’s Law grabs me by the balls.
I fire a couple warning shots into their legs to get them to stop. It doesn’t work. Hearty fellas.
And to my right, the gardeners are using those big lawn mowers that sound like a jet landing. I just love apartment living.
How appropriate. The cable TV music classic rock channel is playing “Helter Skelter.”
I hear the pounding of heavy hammers outside and look to see. They have now brought a big hauler in and I have no idea why. C’mon!
I crank the music.
The spiciness returns like General MacArthur. A division of pepper that makes my toupee spin like a top.
OK. Here are the flavors I can discern: Spice, malts, charred meat, smokiness, creaminess, sweetness, fruitiness, nuts, Hamantaschen, the coffee returns, the cocoa returns, orange citrus, black licorice, exotic spices, and cedar.
Smoke time is 95 minutes.
Creaminess, chocolate, coffee, and malts run the show.
As the last third begins, I find myself levitating in my chair from the nicotine. I see a long white tunnel populated by my dead relatives. All motioning me towards the light. I resist.
The cable TV music channel is playing some great music this morning. In 1967, the album by Cream, “Disraeli Gears” came out. I was playing in a band and our guitarist got a hold of the vinyl the week it came out. He brought it with him to rehearsal and said we have to learn “Sunshine of Your Love.” Days later, we played a big college dance on campus. Nice big hall with a monumental stage. The moment we began playing it, the kids went nuts. Women stormed the stage grabbing at us. It was this exact moment I decided to make my career in music. We played that song 4 times that night and each time it had the same effect on the crowd. Never before had this scrawny kid had older college girls straining to grab and hold on to my legs.
As I said, Antilliancigars.com is selling these sticks. $8.80 per stick instead of the MSRP of $9.50. Tell them the Katman sent you.
The char line is spot on.
The disruptive construction crew has moved on to another part of the apartment complex. Thank you Cosmic Muffin. And I picked off the gardeners by placing a silencer on my Glock.
I wonder how many iterations of blending Arango went through prior to finalizing this cigar blend?
The Arandoza 5th Anniversary is a special experience. Especially, as the first cigar of the day when your palate is fresh.
I’ve received a few cigars from readers but after smoking the first Arandoza 5th Anniversary, I knew this would be my comeback review.
With nothing in my stomach, the nicotine is kicking my arse. Time no longer has meaning. I have no idea where I am or who’s my daddy?
Even as strong as this blend is, it remains smooth as silk. No harshness or bitterness. I like that.
Flavors are crazy good. Almost overwhelmingly so. So much to take in.
The Arandoza 5th Anniversary is a must have for your humidor.
Final smoke time is 2.25 hours.
And now for something completely different…a combo of two stories I first published 3 years ago:
I was playing bass in the Todd Hart Band. A power blues trio. It was the mid/late 1990’s. Todd’s single claim to fame was that he sang with the legendary English blues band, Savoy Brown. Todd had a great voice but was a bully and an arrogant S.O.B.
Todd’s only income was the music so we played out a lot…3-5 times per week. Forcing me to go to work the next morning bleary eyed.
We had moved to Arizona in 1991 when California experienced a recession and construction went into the toilet. And we stayed there until 2000 when I got a great job in the bay area of northern California.
I was working 3 jobs: my main gig as a construction project manager, my music gigs, and a contractor as a structural draftsman working out of my house. I was in my 40’s so I was healthy and fit, and while this was tiring, it kept my wallet filled and my stamina seemed unstoppable.
I played with Todd for a little over 2 years. We went through drummers like Spinal Tap. I believe one or two disappeared from spontaneous combustion. And one died choking on vomit…Not his.
Todd had a neighbor that was high up in the chain of the “board of directors” with the Hells Angels. He came often to see us play.
Soon thereafter, we hired to play Hell’s Angels gigs. They loved us. But I didn’t love them. These were some nasty fellas. They scared the hell out of me. No pun intended.
Within a couple of months, we became the official Hells Angels band of Arizona. Just great. Something I always dreamed of.
They had moved into Arizona in the mid 90’s. Other outlaw biker clubs were given the opportunity to join or disappear.
This was truly an outlaw gang of thugs. Selling drugs and guns and making sure no one got in their way.
Now as you probably know, Arizona is the Wild West when it comes to guns. You can carry openly and you can carry concealed. A kid can carry a gun as long as a parent is with them.
For the gigs, I always wore a Blues Brothers-type black coat. In the small of my back, I carried an IWB holster with a .45 caliber Glock 30. A subcompact. 13 +1 Rounds.
Whatever club we played, the Angels would take over the club for the night and the parking lot saw hundreds of bikes.
A coterie of Angels took turns guarding them…with guns in plain sight. It became apparent that none of these guys knew anything about guns. They just liked carrying them, looking badass. A lot of them wore the “Miami Vice” Don Johnson-type shoulder holster.
One night, during a break, I walked outside and began talking to a few of them; each with the shoulder-holster-carry. I asked them to show me how they would draw the gun. And every one of them did it wrong.
If you pull the gun from the holster horizontally, you sweep the area in a partial arc as you bring the gun around towards your target. Not good. Studies have shown that in an adrenaline situation, you pull the trigger 2.5 times before it is aimed at the target. So sweeping the gun means you shoot innocent bystanders in that quarter circle sweep.
So I showed them how to do it properly by pulling the gun out, immediately dropping the nose; first to the ground, then in a twisting motion, bring it up to the aiming position without sweeping it.
They all slapped me on the back and thanked me.
And then it hit me.
These guys are famous for drug and gun running. There had to be at least one undercover ATF agent in the bunch. And he had just watched me show the Angels how to shoot their adversaries properly.
Christmas came around and we played their annual event in which they supposedly collected toys for disadvantaged kids. They rented an upscale restaurant in Scottsdale.
There was a huge box for the members to place their new toys. I took a look into the box and there was nothing in there that cost more than $2. So much for taking the drive seriously.
I made the mistake of bringing along my wife, Charlotte, and our 12 year old daughter, Katie. I don’t know what I was thinking.
We came early to set up and do a sound check. I remember as huge hordes of bikes arrived shaking the ground with a rumble equal to 6 Godzillas wiping out thousands of Japanese civilians.
The kid started crying from the noise, holding on to my leg with dear life, and begged for us to leave. Great.
We had to sit through the entire meal and then the giving away of gifts through the use of numbered tickets bought by the folks arriving.
The MC had the foulest mouth I had ever heard. There were a ton of kids at the event but this mattered not.
His language would have made Richard Pryor blush.
I don’t remember what we were paid, but it wasn’t enough.
This went on for well over an hour. We had now been in this place for hours and hours and all we wanted to do was play and get the hell out of there.
We sat at a table with 8 other Angels. I swear not a single one had an I.Q. over 40. And having teeth in their mouths was strictly optional.
We played a set and then took a break and oh my lord, they started doling out more gifts which sidelined us another hour.
It may have been the longest day in my musical career. Of course, the best part was all the biker chicks taking their tops off while we played in front of all the kids.
That was enough for Charlotte and she took the car and left for home; with the kid in tow.
We had a lot of Angels gigs booked but I just couldn’t do this anymore.
A week later, I quit the band.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS