Filler: Honduran (Jamastran), Undisclosed
Size: 6 x 54 Toro Extra
Many thanks to an alcoholic reader for accidentally sending me these cigars.
They have had 3 months of naked humidor time.
Released June 2021
Factory: Fábrica de Tabacos NicaSueño S.A.
From Halfwheel.com (9-17-2021):
“Two years ago, RoMa Craft Tobac formally debuted its Baka line in seven different sizes, including the Baka Hunter Gatherer.
“Given halfwheel’s approach of generally reviewing new cigars, you might wonder why I’m now reviewing a cigar that formally debuted two years ago. It’s a pretty easy explanation of a somewhat unusual approach. While RoMa Craft Tobac announced six vitolas, showed them off, announced pricing, etc.—it only shipped two of the seven vitolas. As announced at the time, the plan was to release two of the sizes in 2019 and then more of the vitolas in 2020. As with many plans related to 2020, some of that got derailed.
“There was a new Baka release in 2020—the 5 5/8 x 60 Gran Perfecto—but the other five vitolas didn’t begin shipping until the summer of 2021.
“Baka is named after the Baka people who live in the western part of central Africa, specifically in countries that include Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Gabon. As such, it should be of no surprise that the wrapper used for the release is from Cameroon. The rest of the blend is not entirely disclosed, though Skip Martin, co-founder of RoMa Craft Tobac, previously told halfwheel that ligero from the Jamastran Valley in Honduras is part of the filler.”
In dim light, the cigar ain’t going to win any beauty contests. It’s lumpy and bumpy and full of veins that stand out like a sailor’s arm during a tattoo session. In better light, lo and behold, the cigar has a very oily mottled wrapper. I don’t know why…but sure I love a cigar that is a thing of beauty…but I also have some kind of mental illness that makes me fall in love with every mottled wrapper I see. There are different shades of brown dotted with drops of 10-40 motor oil.
Seams are tight but totally visible. The triple cap is applied with some passion to do good work.
The cigar is very heavy in the hand. It is also very hard. No soft spots. I may need to pummel it with my PerfecDraw to get air moving.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
I smell oiled leather, like a well-worn glove. There are nice aromas of cinnamon, faint floral notes, malt, espresso, lemon custard, barnyard, cedar, and a mild black pepper.
The cold draw comes to a screeching halt. The stick is somewhat plugged…not badly, but I have a nearly $13 cigar here. Why must I smoke it with plugs when my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool will provide a clear path that takes away the odds of me puffing away with my cheeks caving in each time. Being able to control the draw exactly as you like it turns you into a snob. In a good way.
As in 99% of the cases, the plug was at the cigar band location. One thrust with the tool and now I have a cheek saving cigar.
The cold draw presents flavors of root beer, malt, cinnamon, lemon custard, floral notes, black pepper, and generic sweetness.
Good start…lots of flavors pop up in just the first couple puffs: charred meat, peppermint candy, licking my gloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and a noticeable complexity in the making.
There is a very generic sweetness at hand. Along with the peppermint and creaminess, it is like a Festivus dessert.
Yesterday, I reviewed the CAO Flathead V21. Another 6 x 60 sized cigar with the same amount of naked humi time: 3 months. The V21 left me outside an outhouse on the last day of Woodstock. This baby has all the makings and ferocity of a cigar blend that is not taking prisoners alive.
I like a nice balance between sweet v. savory. At this early juncture, it is mostly sweet. Tobacco sweet, not infused sweet. And I just started so I have no idea where this is going. Like me, most of the time, when I take a walk.
Strength is a very comfy medium. This will change.
The cigar is packed solid which means I am going to be sitting here all morning.
Once in a while, I get the grape jelly influence. I got it here. Just a tiny weeny little bit.
The burn gets a bit wonky.
The cigar is listed as a regular production cigar. But clearly, Roma Craft didn’t count on the stampede to snag this cigar. Most online cigar sites are backordered. But I did find a couple lesser-known cigar stores online that still have them. Plus, I’m sure that RC is making more as I write this. I will list the online stores at the end of this review.
Cinnamon graham crackers smothered with unsalted butter. This is what happens when I always review a cigar before I eat anything for the day. Flavors get accentuated because I am hungry. That’s why you’ve never seen flavors of fried liver and onions.
I must torch the foot again. Never a good sign. I had the same issues with a previously smoked BAKA.
Complexity takes its time. It’s there but no blue ribbon…yet. Transitions are minimal. The finish tastes like gefilte fish.
Oh good…”America” is playing on Pandora. Never a good sign for a reviewed cigar.
And out of nowhere, the cigar character kicks in with 1-1/2” burned. Must be due to me genuflecting in front of the cat litter box while I was forced to listen to America.
Still at medium but methinks that medium/full is just a dry heave away.
This is a very pleasant cigar and with another 3 months of naked humi time, this cigar will be a killer.
I’m not a big fan of Roma Craft. After a while, the blends seem to taste alike. The better stuff coming from Tobac seems to hit my G spot with more precision.
The complexity went up, but this is not a flavor bomb. The stick is not chaotic with flavors whizzing by. But the over all character is good for anyone with a palate or just a steel jaw. You don’t need to pick out flavors…because they are all mild and mix well with each other.
The first third took 35 minutes. So, I was wrong about the duration. I won’t still be sitting here when Charlotte demands to be waited on hand and foot when she awakens from her snoring unconsciousness.
The profile still favors the sweet side of the tobacco guts.
Back in high school, me and some buddies were standing outside John’s house. One guy kept trying to stand on a fire hydrant. We told him he was probably going to break his neck, but he was a determined 17-year-old.
While we were talking shit, our buddy slipped from his upright stance on the fire hydrant and dropped. His nuts were the first thing to hit that big nut on top of the fireman’s friend. He screamed like a woman giving birth and fell to the ground grabbing his gonads. Vomit then began with it reaching up to 3 feet away…we measured it while laughing. He never had kids.
Well rounded is an overused term. But that is exactly what the BAKA is. Very uniform in its presentation. Perfect morning cigar.
I get a heavy dose of creaminess followed by sweet raw cashews, cinnamon candied apple, and sugar cane. The sweetness factors are driving the bus.
I get communiqués from readers telling me that they follow my review or another reviewer’s description while they smoke the cigar trying to find the flavors described. You won’t need to do this. Kick back and enjoy. I’m pretty sure you can simultaneously do this while watching Porn Hub.
I’m dog smacking my lips now due to the increase of the complexity. This reinforces my prediction that with a few more months humidor time, the cigar will start out much stronger than my experience.
The cigar has hit its sweet spot at the halfway point. Brown liquids are seeping from all of my natural openings. I’m getting injections for this, but they seem not to work very well.
Friggin’ delicious now. Big fat notes of earlier described flavors permeate my brain’s receptors the same way when Charlotte tases me when I’m not looking.
I betcha’ a dollar that with the longer rest, this baby will begin this way and just climb til your palate explodes and your head caves in. I know this because I took pre-med classes in my first semester of college. I gave it up when we had to dissect a fetal pig.
When we were handed big saws and told to cut the top of the pig’s skull off, I fainted. When I eat bacon, I look the other way.
Flavors begin to converse with me. I shouldn’t have stayed up all night doing acid.
The sweet v. savory functions are now perfectly balanced. We have touchdown.
Ever see those digital hygrometers that link to your phone so you can always check on the humidity in your humidor? A couple years ago, one manufacturer sent me one. Why would I constantly need to check the humidor? Don’t I have enough anxiety in my life without adding a wavering humidity level to it?
This blend is such a treat. The price is right for this level of quality.
In the late 60’s, I saw Uriah Heep live at the Long Beach Arena. During one song, the keyboard player did a solo. He cranked it up so loud that at one point, the screech forced every single person to do the duck and roll motion while covering their ears. I haven’t been able to eat jellied eel since.
In fact, when I was living in London, there were vendors on the street everywhere selling jellied eel from a container filled with ice. I looked once and never did again.
I check my Propofol drip and realize this cigar has taken 75 minutes to get here.
Strength has hit medium/full with a sledgehammer. Nicotine kicks in and my vision slowly disappears. Thank goodness that I know how to type without looking at the keyboard.
Complexity is running down my leg. Transitions are in full Depends mode. The finish is delectable. Nuances and subtleties are running amok.
You need to excuse me for a bit while I do a couple Fleet Enemas.
No need to repeat flavors as none have split the crime scene. They are conjoined now giving the cigar a loud golf clap.
The BAKA is cruising. The strength is not going to exceed medium/full. But the nicotine has me spinning.
This was a very enjoyable experience. The 3 months of humi time was enough for me to detect the blender’s intent, but I suggest you allow them to hibernate for a good 5 months to reap the whirlwind.
And now for something completely different:
My old friend and mentor, Hall of Fame drummer Hal Blaine, passed away on March 11, 2019 at the age of 90. Natural causes. We should all be so lucky to live that long.
On February 19, a huge 90th party was thrown for Hal at a club in Hollywood. The guests were all the finest drummers and musicians in the world. Hal was reported to be cogent and articulate. And he even played showing off the chops that made him famous.
I’ve been working on something in which I describe the more personal moments I had with Hal that I’ve never written about. In the meantime, here is a previously published story about him…
I watched a documentary on HBO last night called “The Wrecking Crew.” I had seen it before but it was months ago.
Anyway, two friends were highlighted in this doc. First, The L.A. Wrecking Crew was a group of studio musicians used over and over and over by just about every producer on the planet during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.
They account for hundreds of No.1 hits in the 1960’s.
Hal played on over 35,000 recordings. And played on over 6,000 singles; of which all hit the top 40.
Hal Blaine was prominently discussed and took part as one of the talking heads discussing the subject at hand.
And my bass teacher, Carol Kaye, was another. My second cousin, Fred Selden, is an iconic L.A. session reed player. Mostly a jazzer but made a million bucks showing up for 3 sessions per day in his heyday. I watched him in the studio with 12–16-piece bands that had charts thrown in front of them and they nailed it on the first take without any practice. They were that good.
Fred pooh poohed my rock n roll style of playing. Yeah, back in 1969, I took lessons from bassist Carol Kaye because Fred introduced her to me as a way to get me to take music more seriously.
One thing hit home in the documentary…Hal and Nancy Sinatra discussed her 1971 Ed Sullivan special that was an hour of Nancy’s Las Vegas show in which Hal got top billing on the marquee of the casino.
When I had my TV show in L.A. in 1983, I got Hal and Darlene Love together. The Blossoms were on the Nancy show as well. And Darlene was part of that all girl group.
Hal brought this up to me a couple weeks before shooting my show. He told me he had the whole thing on reel-to-reel video. This was around 1969 and no such thing as Beta Max’s back then.
So, he went out and bought a $2400 ($15,000 in 2019 dollars) Sony reel to reel video player/recorder. He had it stored away and gave me use of it so I could have a Hollywood facility transfer it to ¾” video tape.
Now this machine weighs at least 30lbs. Man, it was heavy.
Hal made me lug it from his yacht in Marina Del Rey to my car. And then to the tape facility and when I brought it back to Hal, he asked if I could hold on to it for a while as it was a real pain in the ass for him to put it back into storage.
Over the years, I kept bringing it up that I still had this thing and he just kept telling me to hold on to it.
So now, over 30 years later, I still have the Sony Video Recorder. It sits in the dining room.
I got my ¾” VHS tape made and we did the show…using clips from the Sinatra special to show off Hal and Darlene. Hal even had a solo that he was very proud of. Sinatra had a full orchestra behind her.
Carol was the first big time female bassist in Session World in L.A. She came up with some of the most famous bass riffs in rock n roll. The list is too long. She was the bassist on all of the Beach Boys’ hits (“Pet Sounds”. Played on albums from Simon & Garfunkel, Joe Cocker, The Righteous Brothers, Count Basie, and she came up with the riff for the “Mission Impossible” theme. Check her out on Wikipedia.
You can check out Hal Blaine on Wikipedia as well. Or “The Wrecking Crew.”
No. They never mentioned me by name.
But I have kept in touch with Carol over the years.
Back in the day, when other musicians discovered I was a student of Carol, they literally bowed down to me.
She only uses a pick while playing. And it drove me nuts because her music books that you worked from had the symbols: ⟰ or ⟱. Each symbol represented how you hit the string. You had to hit the E note with an upward motion of the pick and then the next notes might be downward motions.
And I’d get reprimanded if I didn’t hit the string with the right downward or upward motion. I could play the riff perfectly but if my pick was not used properly, we’d start again.
I took lessons from her for about a year. And then it was time to move on. Back then, I took lessons from her in her Hollywood home while we sat in her dining room. I paid $14 per lesson. $100 in 2019 dollars.
I highly recommend watching this documentary if you can. Especially, if you are a musician.
Early 1980’s. My recording studio in Long Beach. Hal and me on the far right:
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS