Wrapper: Vintage Criollo ‘98
Size: 5.5 x 52 Toro
This stick was purchased upon release in 2021. With all those aged tobaccos, it should be ready to hit the pavement.
You can read all about this cigar at Ezra Zion Cigars.
Here are a few quotes from the cigar’s description:
“It’s LOADED (pun intended) with some of the richest and boldest ligero tobaccos we’ve ever lit up!
“BUT A WORD OF WARNING—This cigar is intense and complex and not recommended for the novice smoker.
“All tobaccos are aged between 5-12 years!
“Without a doubt, one of the single greatest Ezra Zion cigars ever released!”
SMELL THE GLOVE:
Pungent dark chocolate, espresso, vanilla creaminess, raisins, cinnamon, cedar, and barnyard.
The cold draw presents flavors of barnyard, cedar, black pepper, cinnamon, and a touch of creaminess.
The draw is wide open. My PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool makes an appointment with its therapist.
THE WHOLE MEGILLAH:
The flavor points start with black pepper, dark cocoa, a generic sweetness, black coffee, and a bit of black licorice.
The cigar feels a bit light. But at this time, may not mean anything…we shall see.
Extremely aged tobacco doesn’t seem to jump out at me. With all the humidor time, this cigar should have started with a big bang. It did not. Complexity is missing in action. A nice finish of chocolate and creaminess. No transitions at this early juncture.
The thing about aged tobacco is that the method of keeping it intact and well cared for is a real challenge. If the tobacco just hung around waiting for a bus pass, it doesn’t matter how aged it is.
The burn is fast. The cigar is not filled properly. I’ve burned ¾” in less than 5 minutes. And I’m getting a run in the burn.
For $14, and the explosive description by EZ, I expected a better start.
The burn gets wonky. If I don’t fix it, the cigar will be ruined. I don’t like putting torch to wrapper as it gives the cigar a real burned taste.
Flavors are hanging in. Most prominent are black pepper, chocolate, creaminess, espresso, sugar, and cedar.
Strength is a mild medium. When I read that this cigar was a “Jump back!.” blend, I thought I’d be in trouble. But so far, the strength is down but the nicotine is climbing.
The burn is not improving.
It’s not a bad cigar. It just isn’t stunning as advertised.
Zero transitions. The finish remains the same. And complexity? No where to be seen.
I’ve now burned 2” in 12 minutes. If this cigar lasts 35 minutes, I will be surprised.
I really thought this would be a good cigar. I was wrong.
A stick with this much aging should be ready to go with maybe a couple weeks of humidor time…especially as the cigar is shipped without a cello.
Jumping for joy is not in the cards.
The Ezra Zion description of each third is filled with flavor points. I feel like I’m smoking a different cigar. Man, I wish I had their palate.
Where is the strength? Still at medium.
At the halfway point in 17 minutes. Seems about right.
The cigar is burning so quickly, that all those wonderful flavors described by Ezra Zion don’t stand a chance to come out and say hello.
I googled this cigar and found some small online stores that still have this sold out cigar.
Only 705 cigars were produced and yet some are still available.
I don’t think I’m out of line when I state that the effusive praise given to an Ezra Zion cigar blend by the owners of the company become tiring. Every cigar is the best they have ever made and smoked. And now I’m smoking a mediocre stick.
Once again, zero complexity.
Flavors are muddled. Chocolate and creaminess remain the pilot and co-pilot.
The flavors that EZ describes must be so subtle that I need to trade in my palate for a new one. Because I’m not feeling the love.
Strength remains at medium. While the nicotine kicks in hard. Dewey Cox hard.
The blend improves in the second half. But then the bar has been set low.
I much prefer raving about a cigar that I think you should try…not writing about a stick that needs a character transplant.
Linear. One trick pony.
And the speed of the burn is very annoying. Not quite as fast as a cigarette, but close.
Black pepper and cinnamon are noticeable.
The sweetness is cloying. The balance of sweet v. savory is out of whack.
I don’t taste a beautifully aged cigar. I taste an old cigar.
Sips of water do not help.
This is a real bummer.
EZ and Lost & Found follow the same M.O. They find farmers with stash they forgot about long ago. The package is fancied up ala Joe Camel. And a $2 cigar is sold for $10-$14.
I’ve reviewed 23 EZ blends from 2014-2017. They were all excellent cigars.
I have no idea what happened to taking pride in their blends. Now they are merely a cigar mill doling out small quantity sticks that for the most part, are an embarrassment.
Complexity arrives with 2” to go. Strength remains at medium. But the cigar finally tastes like a well-rounded experience. Instead of flavors whizzing past, they lay there like my first wife on our wedding night.
The addition of some complex notes does not bring a revival of spirit to this blend.
The complexity wanes. Harshness appears due to the underfilling of tobacco. It’s hot.
I see no reason to continue. With 1-1/2”, I let go. It took 35 minutes to get here.
For $14, I expect that those who purchased this cigar are not happy.
And now for something completely different:
February 1975, the day after my 25th birthday, and the huge LSD fest we had the night before still lingered in the band’s blood stream.
We had our first gig of the European tour in London. Most tours were 7-8 weeks long. We’d take a month break and hit it again.
You wander the city or drive all day from gig to gig. But you live for those 2 hours on stage that night.
The band Renaissance had also taken the same acid as my bandmates. Another Miles Copeland band whose lead singer was, Annie Haslam. While her band was a bunch of regular guys who smoked the ganja like us, Annie did not.
Apparently, the potent dose of Berkeley California acid that Stewart passed around on my birthday was too much for the Renaissance guys. They were too fucked up the next day to do anything and ended up canceling their first gig of the tour that night in London.
Of course, Curved Air members were tough fuckers. What’s a little LSD to idiots like us? We went on stage that night, high of course, and did 3 encores.
Now I didn’t hand out the acid. Stewart did. But it was my birthday party and Annie Haslam decided it was my fault that they had to cancel their gig. Miles was furious with Stewart and the boys in Renaissance.
Just before going on that night, Stewart decided to smoke a huge bowl of hash. Well, there were consequences to pay for that. It brought all that LSD rushing back.
We had the same boring set list every night. No spontaneity whatsoever. Just one night it would have been nice if Darryl called out a different song. But no. It was deemed by the All Mighty that we did the same songs in the same order every fucking night.
Throughout the 2-hour set, Stew kept doing long extended drum solos.
Not only when they were designated, but where they didn’t belong.
Stewart Copeland would go on to be a beloved drummer by the masses once he was in The Police. But while in Curved Air, he was an out-of-control madman. I thought it was fun. It didn’t bother me at all like it did the prima donnas of the band who craved the spotlight.
The violinist and guitarist did a lot of woodshedding by trading riffs during the instrumental breaks. Darryl would play 4 bars. Mick would play 4 bars, etc.
Stew would do a Keith Moon through the whole thing and the boys couldn’t find “1”. The first beat of the bar. They were completely lost because of Stew’s incessant soloing through their trade-offs.
They were just completely lost. I saw Darryl, the violinist, give Stew the stink eye a’ plenty.
But Stew was as high as a kite. Me too, actually. Stewart didn’t care. After all, his brother was our manager. And he was hooked up with the lead singer. So, his place in the band was secured.
I had to ‘save the day’ on some songs. Instead of playing what I would normally play, I was forced to hit quarter notes with the emphasis of hitting the 1 at each new bar. This allowed the boys to find their way back to the start of each bar.
After the gig, in the dressing room, Darryl fired Stew.
This was nothing new.
Stew got fired every week. Yes, the drummer from The Police got fired weekly.
But since Stew and Sonja were an item, Sonja would threaten to quit. This happened over and over. It became very tiring…the same vaudeville show every gig.
It basically gave Stew carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. That’s a pretty cool position to be in. I envied him. Me? I was scared to death I’d be fired on a whim by Darryl.
Darryl loved me at the start. He hated me at the end. He told me I was tone deaf. Fucking tone deaf? He said I only knew the neck by mechanical means. WTF? Yet, after Curved Air, I snagged a 4 string fretless bass by Schecter…and recorded endlessly with it. I also owned an electric Dobro upright that I used for recording. No frets folks. You can’t play fretless if you are tone deaf. Listen to the single song, “Young Mother” on my homepage. Tell me if I’m tone deaf.
I just didn’t have the intense skills of a classically trained violinist and Darryl just had no patience. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. A series of events occurred over my time in the band that made Darryl envious of me. My sense of humor got Stewart and I noticed during city stop radio interviews before the big show. The praise I got from my bass playing on the Live album.
Darryl Invited me to move in with him in Datchet, along with my girlfriend and her daughter.
My girlfriend was 5 foot tall even and weighed 90lbs. Darryl had two huge dogs, Setters. And he expected my girlfriend to take care of them while we were not at home. One dog weighed more than she did, and she had no control of them when walking them. So, they peed on the floor and Darryl went nuts. Just a bunch of petty shit that an ego like his couldn’t handle. Plus, no common sense.
In the beginning, he actually asked me to teach him how to be funny in a media interview. It was hopeless. The man had no sense of humor. I tried. But it was like teaching a monkey to be Groucho Marx. His dislike for me continued to build. I’m sure he is much more of a gentleman now. And not a prick…and then, probably not.
The bottom line was that he was an uppity fuck who had no interest in taking the time teaching me his songs. And to be honest, his pre-written bass lines were the shits. I had done well on the previous Live album with the Gibson. But I was young. We were all young. I just wasn’t an arrogant fuck like certain members of that band.
Plus, the real problem was management, probably on the urging of the band, they bought me Martin Turner’s (Wishbone Ash)1968 Fender P bass to replace my 1970 Gibson EBO bass. My Gibson was short scale. The Fender P is like playing a 2×4.
I got the EBO because I idolized Jack Bruce. He was the first rocker in the 60’s that taught me to improvise. I did tweak my Gibson. It had the original Humbucker pickups. But I added a set of Fender P pickups and could toggle between the two; or use them together as much or as little as I wanted. I thought it had a great sound.
I have small hands and I had only a couple of weeks to learn how to play the 2×4. But it was clear that I was merely a sideman, and I was told to know my place because there were at least 3 other bassists in England willing to work with Darryl…maybe just 2. Regardless, I was pretty darn lucky to have gotten the gig when I was 24 years old.
Me and Skip jamming while I try to master the Fender P:
The band is painfully aware of my writing about my time in Curved Air. I am accused of being bitter. But actually, I’m not bitter. I am angry that I got stiffed on all of my mechanical royalties for 45 years.
That pisses me off. Plus, I saved Sonja’s life countless times on the reunion tour. She was a recovering junkie on 3 methadone injections per day per her doctor. She chose to kill herself so many times, I can’t count them. Some were pseudo and some were not. Therefore, I had to treat all of them as real. When I got fired, no severance. And Sonja did not stand up for me. You’d think there would be a shred of decency in the woman after what I did for her. Plus, none of the band members knew what was happening. It was a secret, and I was told what my new position in the band was the night before we left on tour. I don’t know…but I believe she owed me something for saving her ass so many times. The woman had no conscience.
Over the years, I’ve spoken to other ex-members of the band, and they all got screwed out of their royalties as well. So, it’s not just a dislike for me, it is pure greed by those with plenty of dough. Typical music business bullshit.
And when you get down to it, the only ones in my stories that come off looking bad are Sonja and Darryl. Even with Stewart soloing all the time, I could look right at him and know where 1 was. Not my fault that Darryl and Mick could not.
It was the concert after the LSD evening that this happened…at the end of a song, Stew raised his arms to signify that the song was about to end and then bring his arms down with a flourish on top of the kit. But the acid threw him off his balance and he fell backwards off the stage.
Most stages were 6-8 feet or so off the ground. But even farther on the back side.
The roadies always stored the drum cases behind the stage and drum riser.
The drum riser was about four feet tall making it about a 10-foot drop to the stage floor. Fortunately for Stew, the drum cases broke his fall as he tumbled through them, all the way to the floor.
Sonja went running backstage to see if he was alive. We stopped playing.
He jumped up with large dinner plate sized eyes, and said he was alright…meanwhile, blood dripped from his forearms where he scraped long layers of skin away due to the drum case latches.
He jumped back on stage, and we finished.
The audience, of course, loved it thinking it was part of the show.
The entire couple years I was with the band, we never did a gig where we weren’t high on hash or weed.
But this night was a most memorable experience.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS
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