Casa Magna Jalapa Claro | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 50 Toro Box Pressed
Strength: Medium
Price: $7.20 MSRP (A buck less online)

Today we take a look at the Casa Magna Jalapa Claro.

BACKGROUND:
Released: July, 2016
Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 20 (per size)
From Cigar Aficionado:
“The Casa Magna Jalapa Claro features the same Nicaraguan binder and filler as the original cigar that won Cigar of the Year in 2008, but the wrapper has been replaced with a light claro leaf from Nicaragua’s Jalapa Valley. The Jalapa Claro will come packed in 20-count boxes in three sizes: a 6 inch by 58 ring gauge Toro; 6 by 50 Box Pressed Toro; and 5 1/2 by 54 Robusto. The cigars are priced from $6.65 to $7.65, and are being rolled in Nicaragua at Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Estelí.

“With the current regulatory environment, the IPCPR is a crucial organization to ensuring the future of the cigar industry, and so we want to reward those who support it by attending the annual trade show with this exclusive edition of our most acclaimed brand,” said Terence Reilly of Quesada Cigars.”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Gran Toro (Gordo) 6 x 58 $8.10
Robusto 5.5 x 54 $6.90
Toro Box Pressed 6 x 50 $7.20

DESCRIPTION:
This is a stunning looking stick. The wrapper is so nearly flawless that it almost appears to have a homogenized wrapper. No observable seams. Few veins. A beautiful box press. And a flawless triple cap. The oily wrapper has the hues of caramel and a deer fawn. The cigar band is nicely done. Classy and simple. The gold and black colors on the band are artful and gorgeous.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell big floral notes, chocolate, malts, creamy, nutty, black pepper with a touch of red running alongside, barnyard, and cedar.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell dark bittersweet chocolate, espresso, malt, salted caramel, barnyard, nutty, soy sauce, cedar, creamy, and big dose of red pepper.

The cold draw presents flavors of peanuts and marzipan, creamy, red pepper, creaminess, chocolate, espresso, cedar, vanilla toffee, and barnyard.

FIRST THIRD:
The cigar is plugged. Yes, I grab my miracle PerfecDraw cigar poker tool and ream the shit out of it. It takes 4 or 5 plunges before the plugs are dispatched. By the way, the tool is on sale for $24.95. On Amazon, you pay $40. Same goes for the wondrous cigar glue. On sale for $7.95. On Amazon, it’s $9.95.
Good to go.

Loads of smoke permeates my old man afro. But the bottom half of the cigar becomes soft butter and squishy soft. Not a good sign. Oh no.

Immediate flavors of creaminess, salted caramel, marzipan and peanuts, rich dark espresso, bittersweet chocolate, cedar, and butternut squash.
The cigar is unbalanced in its filler content. The cigar is burning way too fast. The plug must have occurred in the top half because the bottom half is moosh.
Strength is medium.

The Casa Magna Jalapa Claro is beginning to taste like most Nic puros. The usual suspects of Nicaraguan flavors. No straying from the norm. But then this is not an expensive cigar. At $7 or less, it has the opportunity to absolve its crimes against the state and soar. Right now, it’s gliding.

The ash, at ¾”, falls to the ground…proving my assertion that the stick is not filled correctly in the bottom half. Still burning too quickly. Now I have smoked only one other of these cigars prior to review. It did not have the filler issues. Inconsistency.

I’ve had these sticks hidden for a couple of months. I’m not a big fan of Casa Magna or Plasencia. While Casa Magna started out as a unique boutique brand, it is now fully immersed into the world of catalog cigars. With lots of cheap versions available.

I’ve only reviewed three Casa Magna blends from 2012-2014. I’ve tried other blends but gave up reviewing them. Sometimes going Medieval on a cigar blend can become tiring.
Complexity is nil with a mere linear approach to the flavor profile. Transitions are minimal at best. The finish is a bit better with the afterglow of caramel, creaminess, and malt.

I’m sure that either the cigar is a dud…only 500 boxes of each size were released in mid-2016 and they are still on the market. Word of mouth can have a devastating effect.

McCartney on the classic rock channel. I’ve told this vignette before but I gotta do it again. While living in London 1974-1976, I ran into Sir Paul while I was at the only decent guitar shop in town: The Fender Soundhouse on Tottenham Court Rd. Curved Air had a deal with the shop through our manager that we could try anything we wanted; guitars, basses, amps, etc. for free and if we wanted something, management stood up and paid for it.
Anyway, as I was leaving through the double glass door, I look up and there is Paul grabbing the door knob at the same time as me. I froze. He jiggled the knob but I couldn’t move. He finally spoke up and asked if he could come in with that devilish McCartney look that made the girls swoon. I jerked my hand back and let go. He came in and walked right by me saying, “Thanks, mate.” I never made a sound. Here was one of my biggest heroes in rock music and I was stricken mute. Damn.

I’m getting continuous runs on the burn line. I’m hoping that once I get past the first squishy half, things will calm down.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 20 minutes.
There is an improvement at hand. The Casa Magna Jalapa Claro decides to leave its safe confines of one trick pony to seeing some real complexity kick in. Transitions have not caught up yet.

Here they are: Peanut butter, creaminess, malts, lime zest, chocolate, black coffee, salted caramel, vanilla, almond paste, cedar, a touch of extra virgin olive oil, cedar, a nice floral note permeates the air around me, and musky cork.

The char line is out of control. Big run I must fix. Clearly, the best rollers were not used in production. I hate touching up the char line when it’s this bad. Torching all that beautiful wrapper can’t be good for the taste profile.

The delicate ash is making a big mess.

I have no idea what got into me to score a fiver of these cigars. Oh wait…I remember now…they were on sale for a day and I only paid $4.75 per stick. A decision I’m now coming to regret. I’d rather spend $50 on a fiver that is worth it than $25 on a turd waiting for your child at the public park’s sand lot to chew on.

Only a couple reviews out there and both gave this blend a passing grade. They must have gotten the good stuff. Right now the only word that comes to mind is drek.
I mean it’s really not that bad but it is really nothing more than a not so cheap yard ‘gar.

Lou Reed is playing “Walk on the Wild Side.” While recording the Eddie Munster single, “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” I dropped in a line by girl singers saying: “And the colored ghouls go Do do do da do, etc.” But then I rethought this as our target was tweens. So I relented and made it simply, “And the ghouls go do do do da do, etc.” You can hear that in the scene with all the Monsters sitting on the crazy looking coffins while the smoke machine was going nuts. In fact, I played my own cameo in that scene as I was lying in one of the coffins and at the last second sat up and grabbed the drummer and pulled him towards me.

Strength hits medium/full.
I was correct. I hit the halfway point and have left the squishy part of this program. The burn slows down and the char line issues begin to dissipate. The sloppy misplacement of tobacco in this cigar should earn this stick a measly rating. We will see. Redemption could be right around the corner.

The cigar contains mostly dessert-like qualities with all the sweetness factors in play. The savory portion comes from the nuts, malt, and creaminess.

The two reviews I saw may have only given the cigar the same two months rest as I have yet they have better things to say than I do. It is as if I am smoking a different blend. I assume the rest of the gaggle of reviewers chose not to review this blend as they worried about burning bridges. I get it. Sponsors and they all work in the cigar industry. Thankfully, I don’t carry that burden of worry. Only a fraction of manufacturers get me. Although, I have burned bridges with countless manufacturers for daring to tell the truth; even when it’s obvious as it is here with the inability to dump 500 boxes in two years. You can still purchase this cigar from all the online cigar stores.
Here’s hoping that a little redemption finds its way into the last third.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time has slowed down as we are at 45 minutes smoked.
The nuttiness excels and finds it a nice accompaniment to the creaminess and malts; alongside some fading notes of chocolate and coffee. The spiciness is sorely missed. It’s been mostly a blank slate of pepper since the start. No pizazz. No awakening of the pepper senses.

One thing I noticed from the other reviews is that we seem to agree on the flavor profile yet the blend was given a much higher rating than I’m prepared to do.

With the heat index going to reach 107 and 80% humidity today, I am hunkering down in my air conditioned apartment and not stepping outside. I am a California boy and this Midwest humidity is killing me. It is 8:30am and it’s already 93 with 83% humidity. I’m schvitzing sitting next to an open window.

As expected, the last third perks up and delivers all the modes that should have been apparent in the first two thirds. Sigh.

Complexity kicks in. Transitions appear. One thing I don’t like is that the strength has diminished to merely medium. I like a kick in the arse from the cigars I choose.

As I write the above statement, everything changes. Strength is a mighty medium/full.

Flavors explode…finally. So is this just another Old School blend or is it just a mediocre cigar? I will let sales explain that conundrum. The smokers spoke on this one. Those 500 boxes might still be here a year from now.

The burn on the last third has been just ducky. And smoking a fully filled last third probably makes a big difference in the way I perceived the first two thirds. Lack of filler means lack of taste. I have no idea if this inconsistency permeates the blend. Probably.

I can’t recommend the Casa Magna Jalapa Claro. Just another mediocre blend from Casa Magna.
Just let the cigars stew in the warehouses as online stores and B&M’s try to figure out a way to move them from their stock. Don’t help them.
Final smoke time is one hour 15 minutes.

RATING: 70

And now for something completely different:
My downfall as the fixer….

The band had finished its second album, at the famous Island Studio in London…and since Miles Copeland was a cheap bastard, he picked an untried producer to ride herd on the biggest egos on the planet. Now, the guy had a distinguished career as an engineer, but a big goose egg as a producer. And the band ran all over him…Once, he was almost brought to tears because Darryl Way, the band leader, violinist and keys player yelled at him….because Darryl wasn’t getting his way.

I was the mediator of the group and we all know what happens to that guy. And it did.
Two camps sprung up…Mick, the guitarist, and Darryl. Then there was Sonja, the singer, and Stewart Copeland, the drummer. I was in between trying to make the peace. Both camps were constantly at odds with each other. I was looking out for myself. I finally hit the big time and I didn’t want to see it get flushed down the toilet over band squabbles.

Stew was a very good drummer but had no constraints. He was like Keith Moon and just soloed away during every song. I have cassettes of unreleased music with evidence of Copeland’s lack of control. But of course, we were all so young.

On stage, this was torture, because while Darryl and Mick were upfront trading lead riffs, Stewart was on some other planet soloing in all sorts of weird time signatures causing the boys up front to lose where “1” was.

That forced me to hit quarter notes hard and heavy so they would know where the hell they were. Quarter notes mean 1-2-3-4 in a single bar. The backbone of rock n roll.

It made me crazy to be an accomplished bassist playing quarter notes while Stew behaved like he was the star of the band. And this band was a very progressive band with lots of intricate chordal changes. Not a 1-4-5 blues band. Darryl was a trained classical musician and our music reflected his training and passion.

During the close of recording of the Midnight Wire album, Jose Feliciano showed up for a couple nights and added his own style to our English progressive recordings. The only time his style meshed with ours was my tune: “I Broke My Leg in Yucca Valley, but My Heart Lies in Palm Springs.” Really, no bullshit. That was the name of the tune and of course, it was heavily bass oriented. I got to show off. The band hated it.

It was so intricate that they couldn’t figure it out. It was all American jazz fusion…the exact reason they hired me. So they went to the booth and sulked. My tune became a bass and drum solo with Feliciano playing guitar and legendary Brazilian percussionist, Paulhino De Costa playing every percussion instrument he had in his kit bag. And Stew was right on point. I tried teaching Sonja the two sentence lyrics but she didn’t have the range or the ability to hit the strange time signature or manage the scat-like approach to the tune…so we had our only instrumental on the album.

Top: Jose Feliciano enjoying a doob, Me with fro, Jose recording in studio, and the lead roadies enjoying my hospitality in my hotel room.

RCA had a big “Listening Party” in order to debut the release of the album.
It was a scene right out of “Spinal Tap.” The record was played on a continual loop throughout the party and each time Yucca Valley played, I could hear mutterings of, “What the fuck is that?”

My heart sank. Feliciano liked it so much that he bought licensing rights…but I waited and it never showed up on any of his albums.

RCA’s reaction to our album was a disaster. And not just because of “Yucca Valley.”
Behind closed doors, Miles Copeland and his henchmen figured out a new plan. They brought in two American hot shot producer brothers that had just finished producing Clapton’s latest album: “461 Ocean Boulevard.” The Albert brothers.

In Amsterdam, they came to watch us perform and we got word that we better go meet them at their hotel one afternoon. I went by myself because no one was interested. I felt it was very important but the band had no interest.
So I sat in their hotel room and listened to these two fuck heads tear the album apart…just ripped it.

And to my face, they told me my bass playing sucked. They said the vocals sucked. They said the arrangements sucked. They said the violin playing sucked. They said the guitar playing was out of place. Holy Bat Shit!

I raced back to our hotel and with my eyes as big as saucers, I told the band we are in big trouble. They just laughed at me while drinking beer and smoking dope.

The plan was to re-record the album but something needed to be fixed. The two camps were called for a meeting. I was not invited. They blamed each other for the album failure.

And guess what? Yep. I got the phone call. I was gone. The album problems were laid right at the foot of the bassist. LOL.
Bastardos!

They hired a session bassist to fill in the tracks. But when I listened to the finished album, I heard my bass playing on 75% of the tracks. So I wasn’t the problem. And I’ve never been paid royalties as, to this day, they refuse to admit they used my tracks.

The new album had no soul and was listless and sterile. No excitement, no verve. It was considered by the critics as the end of the band. And this band had a long life time. I believe they put out 14 albums. I was on 4. It truly was the beginning of the death knell for this lineup.

There I was, stranded in England without a gig. It was so humiliating when the musical mags and rags started reporting that I had left the band because of differences inside the band. But I called these rags and told them the truth and they printed it. The band came down hard on me for doing this. I didn’t care. They fired me without any severance and I was dead broke 6000 miles from home with my girlfriend and her little girl.

The roadies took pity on me and delivered half of the equipment stored in the management’s warehouse so I could sell it and have money. Management made no stink over this. These were their best roadies and the roadies got in the face of Miles Copeland and shamed him for doing what he did to me. So I sold everything and finally had some money in the bank.
I spent another 6 months playing with several well-known English bands but it just didn’t click with me and I decided to go home with my tail between my legs.
To be continued….

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Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

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2 replies

  1. Dang, and I was gonna light one up for my “first of the day”. Will now relegate to yard gar status. And I liked their Colorado quite a bit. Oh well, can’t win em all.

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