Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Size: 5.5 x 54 Double Robusto
Today we take a look at The T. Connecticut by Caldwell, AJ Fernandez, Booth.
A gift from buddy Charles Lim.
This is a collaboration between Matt Booth and Caldwell Cigar’s Robert Caldwell. But once again, AJ Fernandez is the lead actor in this blend. It seems that AJ is the new go to guy to take a so-so blend and make it excel beyond the original blender’s talents. God help the cigar industry if AJ is killed in a bizarre gardening accident. We’d be left with Padron by PDR, Gurkha by Gran Habano, Quorum by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Victor Sinclair by Victor Sinclair.
I’m not much of a Connie fan. A small list of worthwhile Connie blends: Aganorsa Leaf Connecticut 2018, My Father Connecticut, Southern Draw Rose of Sharon, San Lotano Connecticut, El Centurion H-2K-CT by My Father Cigars, La Campaña de Panamá Soberana by RoMa Craft Tobac, Bespoke Cigars Daughters of the Wind Piramide, Brick House Double Connecticut, Sour Diesel, and Gorilla Cookies.
SIZES AND PRICING:
Corona 6 x 44 $10.60
Short Robusto 4 x 48 $10.80
Double Robusto 5.5 x 54 $11.80
Toro 6 x 50 $11.40
The orange cigar band makes the light wrapper appear pumpkin orange. (It’s like what a certain president would look like if he had a cigar band around his mouth). Veins are relatively tight, lots of small and very big veins, sort of a cockeyed triple cap, and the filler is not consistent as there are soft and hard spots up and down the stick. For some reason, the bottom half of the cigar gives quite a bit when squeezed. But the top half is like concrete. I wonder if there is rebar in there? If I bend my PerfecDraw poker, I’ll know.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Light aromas of butter, hay, barnyard, cream, milk chocolate, vanilla pound cake, lemongrass, cedar, and gym shoes permeate the cigar.
The draw is untenable. I get a tiny lick of air through the stick. Out comes the cigar’s savior, my PerfecDraw cigar poker tool. Huge plug underneath the main cigar band and another plug near the foot. I enter with my poker from both ends. Problem solved. (What did I just say? OK. Busted. Back in the 70’s, I was also known as Double Dong Lance.)
The blend starts out predictable with touches of creaminess, butter, a touch of black pepper, vanilla, a nuance of malt, cedar, milk chocolate, and sponge cake.
There is a slight musty taste. And the burn is going south on me.
The peppery element is taking up valuable space as it is overwhelming other flavors. The strength is mild/medium.
An inch in, and The T. Connecticut is nothing special. Now I loved the original blend. It rated at 97 and made my top 25 of 2017 at No.6. At this point, I believe the trio of blenders went in the wrong direction. In other words, instead of following up a tremendous blend with something even more spectacular, they dumbed it down to a barely medium strength Connie. Makes no sense.
And at $12.00, it should have taken off like a rocket. Instead, it is merely walking the dog. It tastes like every other Connie blend I won’t smoke.
Maybe with 6-9 months of humidor time, this cigar will develop into something special but I rely on my ability to taste the blender’s intent even when the cigar is not at its zenith. I’m underwhelmed.
There is no complexity. Transitions are only now beginning to gear up. The finish is merely a buttery component that lingers on the palate.
The problem with most Connies is that the flavors they have to draw upon are minimum at best. One finds themselves tasting the same flavor profile throughout the cigar experience. Unless…it delves deep into complex territory.
A nice lemony, vanilla sponge cake flavor is predominant now. The overwhelming pepper has faded and now merges with the cigar’s intended balance.
I read Boston Jimmie’s review on “Stogie Press.” I’m right in line with his thoughts on this cigar blend. So, I’m not hallucinating or having a flashback from the 1960’s.
During the start of the second third, a bit of complexity shows up; more of a tease at this point. Transitions are not impressive. The finish, surprisingly, is the best thing about the cigar. It’s creamy and lemony and peppery.
There is a hint of café au lait.
I’m trying to understand what’s going on here. Reputable blenders seem to have blended a cigar that either is very short of spectacular or it needs a shit load of humidor time. I might be dead by then. Or not.
Right now, if I had blind taste tested this cigar, I’d say it’s a $4 stick. Fingers crossed that by the halfway mark, shit kicks into high gear. Right now, the cigar experience is lying there like a flounder; or my first wife on our wedding night in 1971.
I really want this blend to shine. I had huge hopes based on the experience I had with the original blend. I expected better; not blah.
The original was more of a New Breed style of blending with little humidor time required. The Connie is more of an Old School style; i.e. It needs extensive aging. $12.00 is a lot of dough. I expect a boner and a waffle.
Strength remains at mild/medium.
I sense that the blend wants to rally to make me happy but it keeps tripping on its own dick.
Flavors are muted. No complexity. This is now becoming a chore.
Grand Funk is playing. I used to really love that band back in the early 70’s. I remember playing in my great arena rock cover band back then and we covered several of their tunes. Always a crowd pleaser. Especially when we played the EM Club at El Toro Marine Base in SoCal. Marines were always the best audiences.
Besides being packed like a stuffed pig before lighting up, the stick has turned out to be nicely constructed with no issues whatsoever. The ash is long and sexy and I haven’t needed to touch it up since the start of the review.
Here we are at the halfway point and…pooper scooper.
The halfway point inserts a little more pizazz but still comes up short for a $12.00 cigar.
Transitions are nil. The finish remains lead fluffer.
Well, I’m bummed. I expected my socks to fly off. Instead, not only have I felt let down but I’m thinking of my above list of great Connie blends. Those were all killer blends.
The mild/medium strength ain’t cutting it. Like most Connies, I feel they are made for newbies or smokers who just don’t like something that challenges their palate.
Things finally perk up. Is this what I should have tasted from blast off? Is this the flavor profile that the blenders intended? The spiciness ratchets up dramatically wiping out any nuance of flavors previously described. Yet the strength doesn’t change.
But there’s no real balance. Complexity has taken a Roman Holiday. And I’m sitting naked in Trevi Fountain catching lira coins thrown by tourists.
Is that complexity I taste?
Sorry boys, I don’t get it. I believe you ventured into the wrong direction with your follow up to a spectacular blend. To be honest, it tastes more like a Caldwell blend than either of the other two fellas.
I am unable to be as generous as Boston Jimmie. He gave the stick an 88. That’s way too close to a 90 for my comfort. But then Jimmie is a nicer guy than me.
The blend improves. Strength moves closer to medium. Still too much black pepper. But the creaminess and citrus with some malt, cedar, milk chocolate, coffee, and butter appear to be more cohesive. It’s like the little train that could. Except that it is very similar to Columbus’ 4th ship that fell off the edge.
It doesn’t make me joyful to diss a blend that some fine people have concocted. It’s not very nice of me. But then I’m just an interested observer of fine tobacco. As I’ve never worked in the cigar industry, it allows me to be deadly honest and then viciously ridiculed. I really don’t care. At my age, I’m just trying to have a regular bowel movement.
The cigar becomes bitter at this point. The spiciness is off the grid. All those improvements crushed to beach sand.
My only recommendation is that when you purchase this cigar, put it in your humidor and forget about it for a long time. Hopefully, that proves me wrong about this cigar.
And now for something completely different:
The first gig Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame drummer, Hal Blaine, procured for me was a national Chevy ad for TV.
I had been re-teaching myself how to read notes for months. Hal gave me some tips to make it easier. I knew how to read from my time as a student of iconic bassist Carol Kaye…and of course being forced to play accordion against my will when I was a kid.
I was nervous as hell. And I damn near shit my pants when I walked into Studio A at Sunset Gower Studios in Hollywood.
In front of me, sat an entire orchestra. Oh no.
My cousin, Fred Selden, the great L.A. session reed player told me many stories about doing session work. He arranged for me to take lessons from the famous Carol Kaye to help me get my foot in the door when I was just 18.
Fred told me that when he did his session work, no matter the size of the band, that the tunes were usually a “take” on the first try. These guys were that good. They could sight read and it just came naturally to them.
That’s what I was thinking when I walked in that door. One take? Without ever seeing the music sheets?
I clung to Hal like a puppy. He took a step to the right and so did I.
He had a cartage company set up his drums. So, all he had to do was fine tune the kit and he was ready to go.
An amp rig was waiting for me. I spent precious minutes trying to get the sound I like.
While I did that, the band leader came over to me and told me what he wanted. Which was not how I had set up my sound.
He futzed around with the settings while I played until he got what he wanted. To make things even scarier was that I was playing my beloved Schecter fretless. No room for mistakes on a fretless.
He stopped and began to tell different players how he wanted their instruments to sound. He got to me too.
Turns out that he wanted how I originally set up the amp settings. More of a big round, growling upright sound.
I should add that not only did they put a mic in front of my amp but I also went direct through a cable from the amp directly to the mixing board.
I got two pods on the board. That way they could mix both different sounds to their liking.
On the menu for that day was two songs. Both the same but one for a minute long commercial and one for a 30 second commercial.
Hal looked over at me and his face dropped. “Phil. You are sweating like a pig. Are you all right?”
All I could do was nod yes.
The session lasted about 2-1/2 hours. Several instruments had to punch in any mistakes they made or different notes than what was written.
I played one clam and they had me re-do that single note.
At the end of the session, Hal and several other musicians decided to grab a bite at Cantor’s Deli. I was invited.
The Police was very big at the time and when Hal told them about my background, they spent the entire time asking me questions. Here were monster session players and they wanted to know about me. I was very flattered.
Hal dropped me off back at the studio to get my car. When he drove off, I went over to the adjacent wall and puked my guts up. The nerves finally manifested themselves. Kosher food splattered the wall and asphalt.
I did a few more gigs with Hal but the later ones conflicted with my own recording studio schedule. I was the producer and we booked a lot of work. My partner was taking the whole load while I was gone. And he was a great engineer but a lousy producer.
Hal and I continued our friendship and mentoring. He soon came to work for me when I needed a session drummer for my studio and some projects that requested a good drummer.
My few years being a good friend with Hal are one of the great highlights of my musical career.
Hal and me at my Long Beach recording studio:
Hal getting his kit set up by legendary drummer Stephen Hodges (high school buddy):
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS