Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Size: 6 x 46 Box Pressed
Today we take a look at the Herrera Esteli Inktome Exception.
I bought a 5 pack nearly two months ago.
Released: December, 2017 ~ 1,000 ten count boxes.
From Small Batch Cigar:
“In 2016, we introduced the Herrera Esteli Inktome to commemorate our partnership with Drew Estate and pay homage to the principles that Small Batch Cigar was founded on. We’re talking about limited production cigars made with meticulous care by expert factories. Now, nearly 18 months later, we’re proud to announce the Herrera Esteli Inktome Exception.
“During those 18 months, we sampled several different sizes of what would be our next expression of the Herrera Esteli Inktome series. Initially expecting to re-release the Herrera Esteli Inktome for 2017, we found a new vitola in the samples that stole the spotlight. We immediately realized that the Inktome series would be receiving a limited edition extention (sic). As soon as we fired up the Exception, we knew that it was something special and deserving of the Inktome name. In a world where accidents are rarely a happy occurrence, this particular cigar is the Exception to the rule.
“Andrew of SmallBatchCigar.com had this to say regarding the latest exclusive from Drew Estate: “Inktome Exception is a departure from mundane routines and is the epitome of everything we believe in: providing exceptional experiences every single day.”
While it is described as a box press, it is clearly an oval…and somewhat flat.
Construction is excellent with sleek curves and tightly closed seams. Veins are minimal. There is the slightest touch of tooth adorning the stick. The triple cap is expertly applied giving the cigar’s look a bit of artistry.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I can smell lots of sweet notes of caramel, molasses, floral incisiveness, a lovely milk chocolate, crisp nuttiness, touches of malt, with mini moments of cinnamon, red pepper, café latte, and soft chocolate chip cookies.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell a much darker version of chocolate, ha-cha-cha red rootin’ tootin’ pepper, caramel, hard core espresso, salted premium nuts, an all-encompassing creaminess, and bits of malt, floral, and mint.
The cold draw presents flavors of tart citrus, chocolate, heavy malts, mint, espresso, nuts, and loads of sweet treats.
This cigar has only received a minor quantity of reviews due to the sheer lack of production. Only 10,000 sticks made. They are still available which concerns me. But we shall see before I make any damning claims.
I have zero luck with box pressed cigars and their burn. I have even less experience with ovals other than the San Lotano line. My fingers are crossed we don’t experience faults in the burn as I would like to get through a review without cursing.
Naturally, I get a small run immediately.
The blend starts off with a blast of barnyard then transcends to more pleasing flavors of black pepper, malt, chocolate, dark roasted coffee, creaminess, cinnamon, golden raisins, and caramel.
Strength is a solid medium. Good morning cigar.
Like a light switch, smoke begins to pour from the foot like my ass is on fire. If your ass has ever caught on fire, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Last time my ass was aflame was at age 25. Clearly, I’ve outgrown it.
I tried 3 of the 5 pack over the last couple months. Not really impressed. This blend needs at least a couple months of naked humi time. I believe it has paid off. Now I wish I still had those 3 cigars. Back when manufacturers didn’t hide behind the FDA rules and gave out samples to reviewers, you could get 3-5 sticks because there is no way one can guess the readiness of a blend when you only have one or two sticks. Several manufacturers have found sneaky ways to get around those stupid rules. And let’s face it, no one cares.
New flavors an inch in: A musky leathery note, the spiciness sways between red and black pepperiness, and a touch of buttery, sweet Ritz cracker.
Off topic, it is good to be back annoying everyone. The flu really took a hard swipe at me and wouldn’t let go. It’s good to be living out my “golden years” and all that it has to provide…like getting sick with one strain of flu after another.
The Herrera Esteli Inktome Exception is not quite exceptional at this point. It ain’t bad but it ain’t thrilling me either. Solid blend with some nice accents and worth the $8 selling price. But, so far, I didn’t miss out by not reviewing it in 2017 as its chances of making my top 25 cigar list would be slim and none.
I felt the same way about the original Inktome. Good but not great. No impressive complexity and transitions of flavors are a mere afterthought. The finish is dead in its tracks.
Smoke time is 30 minutes.
The second third kicks into gear and I get what I had hoped the cigar would have provided in the first third.
Flavors expand like my Spanx. Boldness rises from the pyre. Strength increases. Complexity decides to do-si-do. Transitions are doing their damndest to get into the game. The finish is more gratifying now with smacking lips doing their job.
The draw has been spot on. No need for my PerfecDraw cigar poker.
Dried fruit drives the getaway car with notes of raisins, apricots, and dates. Nice.
Strength is most definitely medium/full now.
I’m experiencing my usual out of body burn from a box press. Uneven. It’s gotta be me. Touch up time.
I saw two ratings by respected reviewers. One gave the Herrera Esteli Inktome Exception a 92 and the other an 85. Hmmm…
The cigar continues on its upward mobility to prove it is a blend of note. Even though my nearly two months of humidor time should have brought, at the very least, some stunning potential to my meager palate…I now think that more time is needed. A few months at the least. The cigar was meant to age in your humidor and be respected in the morning.
A little black cherry appears. The tartness comes from different sources: tangerine citrus, lemon sorbet, and lingonberry.
I get a surprising blast of the “It” factor now. Big wallops of malt, chocolate, coffee, caramel, loads of creaminess, cinnamon, and red pepper.
Now if the Herrera Esteli Inktome Exception had kicked off this way, I’d be a very happy boy. It is absolutely all about time. This little baby has what it takes; but not quite after only two months. I’m getting hints of the blender’s intent now. I have one stick left and I will let it rest for another 2-3 months and come back to this review and report.
Construction is solid as the open flow of smoke is spot on. The burn wavers but not as bad as some box pressed sticks I’ve smoked where you spend the entire endeavor chasing that run.
I don’t know about you but the arctic weather so far this winter in Wisconsin has affected my cigars in a negative way. I find that wrappers tend to crack once the cigar is removed from my humidor and lit. I must write with some windows open or my wife will kill me in my sleep. Cold filters in and my cigar pisses me off with its open rebellion by the wrapper.
Smoke time is one hour.
Everything is beautiful now. A great tasting complex blend. The Herrera Esteli Inktome Exception is an excellent cigar. All it takes is patience. Something I have very little of.
Flavors are exquisite. The creamy aspect affects the sum of its parts. The blend segues into being a smooth boat ride. The strength is tamed by the even flow of flavors and its settling in.
I rarely read reviews of cigars I plan to review. You can only describe the blend tasting of earth, wood, and leather so many times. Besides, every palate is different so you are just reading one man’s opinion. As you are doing right now.
As I am a whiner, I just wish more reviewers would state how much humidor time they allowed their review cigar. It is of no help to the reader to guess. Did the 92 score get months of humi time? What about the 85 rating? Was it reviewed a week after receipt?
The constant burn issue is forgivable as I am convinced I’m cursed. I assume you are not.
The last third is a killer sweet spot for this blend. I could suck on this all day. That didn’t sound right.
Of course with a very limited production, reviewers feel it is necessary to get the info out about the blend ASAP before the product disappears. I get it. I’ve been guilty of the same thing in the past.
The dreaded nicotine kicks in. Oy.
This was a good choice for review after being on death’s door from the friggin flu for so long. You can still purchase them from SBC. And despite the funky start, the blend has fleshed itself out to the point that I would have loved to review this cigar with a little more rest. But then, I’m guessing, the cigars would no longer be available.
With your choice of promo code for SBC, you can bring the price down to a bit over $6 a stick. SBC sends out a lot of emails with special promo codes for that day that exceed the regular 10% off. And I pounced when I saw it in early December.
I do recommend the Herrera Esteli Inktome Exception. Just put them away and forget about them for several months.
Final smoke time is one hour 30 minutes.
And now for something completely different:
Ivana Trump. Late 90’s.
This is an odd rock story. No sex…although I did get screwed at the end.
I was in the Todd Hart Band. A power blues trio. Todd once sang lead in the legendary English blues band, Savoy Brown. Todd was a good guitarist but his forte was that he had an incredible voice.
We had the same michegas (alternate spelling: michegoss) as endured by Spinal Tap…holding on to drummers. In the 3 years I was in the band, we must have seen 7-8 drummers go through the band.
All were fired…except for two that disappeared during spontaneous combustion and one choked on vomit…someone else’s. (Thank you Spinal Tap).
Todd was a full time player and depended on gig money. For that time, we made excellent dough…especially as a three piece.
I was a senior project manager for a structural steel fabricator in Mesa, AZ. So playing out all the time put money in my wallet that always fell into the hands of my wife and teen daughter.
Todd was able to book us 3-4 nights per week. This was tough on me. Construction hours are grueling. Unfortunately, at the company I worked for, starting time was 6am. As a PM, it was my responsibility that the field crews had all the drawings for the work that day, any issues would be discussed, we confirmed they had all the steel required on site, and make sure all the big equipment (cranes, lifts, etc.) was rented and ready to use.
Never in my career did the iron workers ever count the bolts and other crucial small bits before they left for the job. I always got a call from the field mid-day begging for more bolts or a piece of steel they left at the shop. Pissed me off. I didn’t have time to be an errand boy nor did I feel it was my responsibility to count bolts and nuts. It was their job to make sure they had what they needed.
Due to the states I worked in, the iron workers were all union guys. Trying to get them to do something not under their purview was impossible. So crews of 5-20 guys would sit idle, as did the rented cranes and other equipment, while someone was sent to the job with the shit they forgot.
Back to the subject at hand…I loved our Sunday afternoon gigs. They paid the best and I got to have a normal evening. When you’re young, you like to hang out at the club after you’ve finished playing; but as an old man, all I wanted to do was tear the guitar chord from my bass while the last note was still ringing, put my bass in its case, start tearing down equipment…and get paid for the night.
And Go Home.
Work nights were tough. Back then, you could smoke in clubs. So I came home reeking of cigarette smoke and had to take a shower. It was 3am before I could calm myself to sleep only to be up 2 or 3 hours later to get ready for work. Strong coffee was my friend.
This story revolves around a particular gig that was downtown at the Phoenix Convention Center. It was Woman’s Festival. And Ivana Trump was scheduled to speak. She had been divorced from Mr. Trump since 1992. And no new husbands 5-6 years later. I guess her settlement set her up for life.
We were in a giant room with hundreds of women. Only a small handful of men. Pure manna. The ladies loved our music. We were a great band. Just like when I was young, a bevy of women surrounded the band stand. Of course, back then I was thin and had a full head of luxurious hair. I used conditioner.
Between our first and second sets, Ivana was set to speak on the band stand. It was a long break.
My stage clothes were black slacks, bluesman-type white shirt, and a black Blues Brother’s type jacket. The coat was superfluous because Phoenix is HOT!!
Despite the heat, I wore the jacket because I used it to hide my Glock 30. A .45 caliber sub-compact pistol that held 13 rounds.
I started carrying a gun because at the time, Arizona was still the wild west. It was perfectly legal to carry openly.
Sometime in 1998, we became the Arizona Hell’s Angels official band. Almost every week, we played at some club they took over for the night. These were scoundrels of the highest order. Trafficking in drugs and guns. They all carried guns openly. And to be perfectly honest, these were not the smartest group of people. They were true outlaws. They scared the shit out of me especially by the end of the evening when they were extremely drunk while being ripped on meth.
So it made sense to me to carry protection. You just never know.
The 90’s was a different time. No metal detectors. And I trusted no one in the clubs. We had a lot of valuable equipment and there were always a lot of drunks…with guns.
The three of us were standing near the rear of the band stand when Ivana entered through the back entrance and walked up to us. She had a chauffeur whom she made carry her purse for her. This was an older guy dying the death of a thousand razor cuts. So embarrassing…so humiliating. You could see in his eyes he was mortified.
And get this…no body guard. I was really surprised by this. A woman of her wealth and exposure would surely pop for someone to keep an eye on things. But not this day.
Ivana was worth a gazillion dollars. She made out like a bandit in the divorce. And here she was standing 3 feet away waiting to go on. And here I was, packing heat.
Ivana was getting impatient with being made to wait. The women must have been terribly intimidated by her so no one approached her. She was dressed like a million bucks. You should have seen the jewelry.
I approached her and began to chat. I was shocked that I could barely understand her. Her Slavic accent was impossible. I did a lot of nodding and smiling while the other two guys laughed in the background. I had no idea how to gracefully get the fuck out of there or shut her up.
She went on stage, finally. And she jabberwocked for a good hour. The P.A. speakers were faced outwards and we could not hear her as we stood behind the speaker cabs. But we could see lots of women yawning.
And then it happened. Some guy dressed as maintenance started giving her a hard time on stage. We couldn’t hear a thing but it sure as hell startled Ivana. She finally screamed and Todd and I ran to her aid.
This guy looked menacing and rambled like a crazy man. He kept asking for her purse but the chauffeur still had it. Not a single person in that room did a goddam thing to help. They just stared.
Todd did a round house to the guy’s face with his fist. He fell into a heap but was still lucid. I pulled my Glock and put my knee on his chest with the barrel of the gun on his forehead. Todd and I screamed for someone to call the cops. It took a full 15 minutes before security and the cops showed up. And I was scared to death I might have to shoot this asshole. Thankfully, a few men in attendance pitched in to hold this guy to the ground so I could put my gun back in its holster.
The cops came. Women rushed to the cops to tell them that Todd and I saved the day.
I showed the cops my concealed carry license. And everything was cool.
As we said good bye to Ivana, she shook our hands. In her hand was a crisp $20 bill. A thank you.
Whenever I think about people with money, I think of that day. And how that cheap broad thanked us with a $20 bill. I guess she thought her life was worth $40. I wonder where she learned that?
Afterwards, we joked that we should have let the wacko guy do his thing with her. We risked our lives. Now we didn’t come to her aid thinking we would get money for this. We reacted instantly to someone in trouble…like anyone would.
I would have rather she didn’t give us a dime. $20.00
I thanked her and told her I could now make a down payment on that new Porsche I wanted, I laughed…and walked away.
Fucking rich people.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS