Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Mexican San Andrés ~ Bourbon barrel aged
Filler: Nicaraguan (Condega, Jalapa and Ometepe)
Size: 5.5 x 52 Robusto
Today we take a look at the Diesel Whiskey Row.
Thanks to General Cigar for the samples.
I received samples a month ago before release.
Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
Released: June 4, 2018
From Cigar Aficionado:
“A new Diesel cigar brand is set to launch in cigar shops this summer, and it sports some tobaccos that were aged in Bourbon barrels.
“Called Diesel Whiskey Row, the blend uses an Ecuadoran Habano wrapper and a filler blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos from Ometepe, Condega and Jalapa. The Mexican San Andrés binder leaf, though, has been aged in barrels that were once used to age Kentucky-based Rabbit Hole Bourbon.
“According to General Cigar, two years ago Rabbit Hole sent some spent Bourbon barrels to Nicaraguan cigarmaker A.J. Fernandez’s Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez factory. There, Fernandez placed the San Andrés binder leaves inside the Bourbon barrels, where they were carefully monitored as they aged before being rolled.
“Diesel Whiskey Row will launch in June in four sizes, each housed in 25-count boxes: Robusto, measuring 5 1/2 inches by 52 ring gauge; Toro, 6 by 54; Churchill, 7 by 49; and Gigante, 6 by 60. The line is expected to retail from $7.49 to $8.99.”
From Cigar Dojo:
“Rabbit Hole was founded in 2012, based in Kentucky and focusing on straight bourbons and ryes finished in unique barrel styles. Whiskey Row marks the second release from Diesel after being formally introduced as a national brand under General Cigar at IPCPR 2017 (debuting with Diesel Grind). Diesel has long been considered one of the original brands to put renowned blender A.J. Fernández on the map, with the cigars originally being made as a shop-exclusive brand for Cigars International.”
The whole look of the cigar reminds me of the old Gurkhas. Covered in giant billboard sized cigar bands. Only the Diesel variety ain’t gaudy and ridiculous looking. There is enough verbiage on both bands that you can take the cigar into the bathroom when you take a dump and have enough reading material to get you through the ordeal.
While visible seams are minimal, there is a shit load of veins permeating the cigar’s shaft. (Like me). The milk chocolate/cappuccino hued wrapper is smooth and silky.
I can feel hard spots. The tobacco is not evenly distributed.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell cream, malt, black pepper, red hot cinnamon, milk chocolate, espresso, cedar, thick caramel, and floral notes.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell black pepper, cream, malt, chocolate, espresso, cedar, sponge cake, and floral notes.
The cold draw presents flavors of blistering black pepper…making me sneeze and removing my nasal hairs through immolation, malts, creaminess, chocolate, espresso, cinnamon, sourdough toast, cedar, and barnyard.
The draw is tough. Thank goodness for my cigar collection’s guardian angel; the PerfecDraw cigar poker tool. A few good reams and I’ve got two tickets to paradise.
Smoke gushes from the foot. It fills the room until I look like Pigpen from Peanuts.
Black pepper immediately causes my palate to a fair and compassionate surrender. Wow. I like spicy cigars but the Diesel line lets AJ run amok while the villagers chase him with pitch forks.
Strength jumps to a potent medium.
I have smoked one of the samples sent to me and (Spoiler Alert!) really liked this blend. Much different than other Diesel blends…more sophisticated aimed at the experienced smoker.
Flavors start mining their gems by displaying notes of cinnamon, dark cocoa, rich espresso, big creamy notes, a bevy of malts, floral notes, toasted buttered bagels, and summer fruit.
Complexity kicks in the door and enters the danger zone. (What the fuck does that mean?)
It seems that General Cigars sent out samples to every reviewer on the planet and no one wasted time reviewing it. Thankfully, AJ blends tend to follow the New Breed style of blending by making the cigar accessible while early in your possession. Ready to go in a very short time. Of course, AJ blends get better with some humi time. But I hope this is not sacrilegious…but all AJ blends have expiration dates. Unless you’ve stored them in their box and in their cellos, a year of naked humidor time will turn them to dirt.
Transitions are picking up and traversing the International Date Line at Mach 1. The finish is really tasty.
Now I’m not a fan of Diesel. I think they are low rent blends. But they’re cheap and that’s the big draw. This Diesel Whiskey Row is a vagina of a different color. It’s way more sophisticated than other Diesel blends. And the price shows it. While not expensive compared to how the boutique brands are raping you, it is still a reflection of its refinement.
The burn is spot on.
Each puff endears the Diesel Whiskey Row to my puny heart and brain. This is turning out to be a very fine blend. I’m shocked. (CLEAR!!)
A nice balance kicks in. The character of the blend improves on a linear trajectory towards a nice complex stick.
I believe I’ve reviewed a few Diesel blends and gave them all a douche bag rating.
I’m not even finished with the first third and I’m ready to buy a box. But I believe I will wait to find it on special. A box is going for $150-$180 for 25 sticks.
It seems that AJ decided to give his Diesel line a kick in the tush. The aggregate theory being that if he puts out a sophisticated Diesel, maybe he can lure the more sophisticated smoker back to his original Diesel blends. Nice try but no cigar.
New flavors explode like the first time I dry humped a girl in 1966. There are elements of crème caramel, black licorice, nutmeg, hot cinnamon toothpicks, pralines, vanilla bean, and orange marmalade.
The beautiful, undamaged ash falls apart on me just before the money shot.
My first Diesel Whiskey Row was so overwhelming with its black pepper influence, I could barely smoke the entire cigar. Now, a couple weeks later, the black pepper is no longer overwhelming and finds a nice dark spot in the back of my throat. But that spicy cinnamon is making my nose run and my eyes water.
Smoke time is 35 minutes.
The sweet spot kicks in early. Big bonus round. This is where Drew Carey sticks a mic in your face while he sits on your lap diddling.
AJ scored! This little bugger is way better than the MSRP declares. Go online and you can find the Robusto for as little as $6.00-$7.00. That’s nuts for this quality.
More flavors: Spices from Greece, India, and the Ukraine. (?)
Seriously ladies and germs, I now taste lime zest, a whole can of mixed salted nuts, bitter chocolate, marzipan, coconut, big floral notes, and honey.
This stick is so damn complex that if I had blind taste tested it, I would have thought it to be another $12 blend from some boutique manufacturer. This baby commits.
Strength is not nearly as strong as my first one nor as overwhelmingly pepper weaponized as other Diesel blends. It is so smooth that my tushy aches while my asshole whistles Dixie.
Lemongrass appears suddenly giving the blend a nice Thai influence. I just now got it. The peppery elements are made up of several types of spices. I’m delighted and constipated at the same time.
I get some minor burn issues but are corrected in just seconds.
Nilla wafers. Love that intense vanilla flavor.
This is definitely the most complex Diesel on the market. And comes close to seeing itself as the San Lotano Oval.
The halfway point is reached in what seems to be a quick 45 minutes. Time no longer has any substantive meaning. We are doing the Time Warp.
And we move on to Sweet Spot 2.0. This is the base for an ever changing complex blend. No letup in charging the enemy and taking a bullet for the squad.
Van Morrison is on the classic rock channel singing “Gloria.” It came out in 1965 while I was in my first band. We would play Hippie Freak Outs where there were lights and strobe lights (Made me nauseated) and played this song to thunderous applause and group singalongs. We did our own special freak out by me using the first mass produced fuzz box for the bass. I made all sorts of feedback that enthralled the stoned crowd and I was a star for 3 minutes.
In reading other reviews, I noticed that several thought of this cigar as one dimensional. Well let’s just say that they jumped the gun to be the first on their block to review this cigar. The Diesel Whiskey Row is anything but one dimensional. The reviewers that gave it low ratings were wrong…plain and simple. They weren’t patient. Listening Steverino? This is a superb blend coming into the world of catalog cigars and big production numbers. A few months from now, you’ll see prices come down. But right now, everyone is selling out of their stock. So no discounts for the immediate future.
While I certainly enjoy AJ going crazy and blending cigars for the biggest manufacturers, this is all AJ and can stand up to any of his other collaborations. Except you can get this baby on the cheap.
The sweetness factor jumps like an old frog on his old frog wife. Lovely components of honey, marzipan, caramel, custard, whipped cream, black licorice, and malted milk balls.
The Diesel Whiskey Row keeps you guessing. I love that.
Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.
It is at this point I should discuss the “Whiskey” thing. I taste no aged wood barrels. I taste nothing approximating whiskey or any other distilled liquor. This leaves me in a quandary. But then regular catalog cigars online are full of cigar blends claiming to have that magical extra aging in booze barrels only to discover that they just may have well aged them in a broom closet.
Still, it doesn’t detract from the oozy goodness of this blend.
Chocolate covered raisins. Ummm.
The strength is now past medium/full and quickly approaching the effects of a full moon on Lon Chaney Jr.
The black pepper is now raging. And doesn’t look anything like Robert DeNiro.
So far, no nicotine. I’m sure that will change as we head towards the end.
My morning coffee is a perfect accompaniment to this blend. Makes the flavors burst like Pop Rocks that someone stuck in your ear.
Sometimes a rush to judgment by big reviewers to get their review published before anyone else is fakakta judgment. I’m the last guy to review this new blend and have allowed my sticks to simmer longer than their samples; thereby providing a more exact appreciation of what AJ has passionately blended.
Flavors zoom around like the teacup ride at Disneyland…except I don’t expect to throw up halfway through the ride.
Jethro Tull is now playing. Ian Anderson. Prick. Try touring with them for a week and you will understand what I’m saying.
This effort is outstanding. AJ, my boy, never fails to surprise and endear.
If you can find an online store that hasn’t got their stock on backorder, buy ‘em. This is definitely a box worth blend. But a fiver to start will bring you to the dark side and make you want more.
Final smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.
And now for something completely different:
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.
We always got to the huge rec room in the afternoon to set up. Always on a Friday.
A lot of Marines would show up to help unload and just hang out. A nicer group of fellas couldn’t be found.
We became friends with so many of them that I can’t count them all. They always bought us beers…and shared their illegal drugs with us.
That’s because we were the best band to play there. And got booked more often than any other band. Why? Because we were masters of the classic rock tribute band. We could do Led Zep like no one else. We played the hippest tunes from around the rock world of the 60’s and early 70’s. What’s not to like?
One Marine, whose name was Jose, would have all kinds of drugs with him. Our lead singer, Mark, took any drug given to him; even acid, and would still perform impeccably. I could never figure out how he did that. The rest of the band would stand outside the hall and smoke doobs with the Marines.
Jose was a little guy. And he always made us laugh. Such a funny good hearted guy.
One day while unloading, a bunch of Marines rushed us and asked if we heard what happened to Jose?
Our faces paled waiting to hear the worst.
“He took a bunch of downers. He went to the top of the 3 story barrack and fell off.”
Oh God. We knew he must have been killed.
And then one Marine said, “But don’t worry. He will still be here tonight.”
“He just got a lot of bruises.”
WTF x 2?
He was so loose from the downers that he just bounced a couple times and got up and walked away. He never told his superiors.
That night, we saw Jose staggering in. He had a gimpy leg but that seemed to be it.
He came over laughing and asked how we were?
“Never mind us. How are you?”
“I’m fine. Just sore.”
And then he planted a handful of pills in Mark’s open palm. Then Jose turned around, got a beer, and sat down at a table upfront.
Another time, a really drunk muscle bound Marine got angry at me. I must have been sarcastic as I replied to something he said to me. Drunken Marines during the Viet Nam war had every reason to be angry.
He lurched at me and could have squashed me. I had my bass around my shoulders. Without thinking, I slammed the head of the bass squarely into his face. He went down like a sack of potatoes. Out cold.
The other Marines couldn’t stop laughing. When the drunken Marine awoke, he apologized and the couple hundred Marines roared and applauded.
Once, we played at Camp Pendleton. A recruit operation. Boot camp. It was one of the worst nights of our lives.
Hundreds of drunken Marines, who had a two year enrollment hitch, were taught to pull a trigger and then sent off to Viet Nam.
In between sets, they forced themselves into our dressing room. All of them crying. “I don’t want to die.”
We tried locking the door the rest of the evening but they got in anyway.
We vowed to never play there again. It was so disheartening thinking of these poor souls who were destined to fight a nasty war. And we wondered how many we met would end up dead or wounded.
It was a totally different environment than El Toro. So depressing.
We went back to playing El Toro til the demise of the band. Some great times with brave Marines.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS