El Septimo ~ The Sacred Arts Collection Raphael Robusto Extra | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Undisclosed
Binder: Undisclosed
Filler: Undisclosed
Size: 6 x 50 Robusto Extra
Strength: Full
Price: $18.00

This special cigar was gifted to me by a special friend.
The cigars are available at Small Batch Cigar (10% off for promo code katman) and Luxury Cigar Club (15% off with promo code katman).
Let’s see how it does.

From El Septimo Cigars:
“Now the world can smoke an El Septimo Cigar designed and dedicated for each day of the week. Each cigar is dedicated to a famous painter who has created some of the world’s most famous pieces of artwork. Medium-bodied cigars come in more traditional sizes, including the Toro, Robusto, Lancero, Torpedo, Eagle, Salomon, and even the Royal Salomon. Cigars are aged for ten years, and we’ve even introduced a Sampler Box for you, so that you can try all seven blends at once!

“The Raphael cigar is a 6″ x 50 Robusto Extra that inspired by the piece Sistine Madonna. It represents the fourth day of creation when God created the sun, moon and stars. There is a coppery hue to the toothy wrapper of this solidly-rolled Toro, which has a firm draw. Primary notes of peanut oil and cocoa powder show some raisin character, but the smoke takes a bitter turn when an over-roasted coffee tone emerges before the herbal finish.”

Look at my photo of this cigar. Ring a ding…this 10-year aged mystery wrapper looks like molten oil. It glistens like the surface of TrES-2b – the darkest exoplanet. And to my dismay, not a single lemonade stand within a thousand miles of its north pole. That is just nuts.

The aroma of dark chocolate coated in lavender flowers would be intoxicating if not for the fact that I asked up front for an N/A version.

A cigar with nothing but 10-year aged tobacco should be good to go after 2-3 days dry boxing.

Construction is excellent and I find that my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool will retreat to fight another day.

A huge blast of dark chocolate, malt, black licorice, espresso, creaminess, minutiae of black pepper, brown sugar, smoked brisket, cedar, cinnamon, a bag of raw nuts (a joke in there somewhere), and Wheaties.

Strength is an immediate medium.

This blend comes out of the gate like a storm trooper asking Lucas for a raise.

Serious intensity slams into my palate like a hailstorm in a Wisconsin winter.

I’ve burned exactly half an inch.

If the cigar keeps this up, I expect water balloons and strippers.

Whether I puff or the cigar sits in my ashtray, smoke pours from the foot like a Pittsburgh chimney.

The black pepper is mild and finds itself in a battle with the spiciness of hot cinnamon toothpicks. The tip of my tongue tingles. It’s the first thing to tingle on my body in years. Speaking of the devil woman, our 38th comes up shortly. We plan on going to one of those sex motels with a built in jacuzzi. We will disrobe. We will complain that the water is too hot. We will immerse. And immediately drown as we can’t hold our own weight in bubbly water.

I’ve reviewed cigars that see important changes every half inch. This baby is changing and morphing in half that. Maybe less. The cigar is a black chameleon while it sits back and laughs at my deformities as I scrunch my face to keep up with the everchanging flavor profile.

When I say everchanging, I don’t mean that new flavors are added. I mean that the laundry list I’ve described moves up and down in quick time like a carousel horse. It is in a frenzy of constant motion. I have the biggest goddamn smile on my puss.

In 2022, I smoked and reviewed a lot of double figure priced sticks. Most I didn’t bother to review because they were shit on a stick and I didn’t want to waste my time. This $18 stick is the overlord of darkness commanding that I show homage by bending on one knee…and then ordering me to get up without yelling for Charlotte. Now, that’s power.

This is like a giant Tootsie Roll covered in edible sapphires.

The first sweet spot arrives at the 1-1/2” burned mark that took 19 minutes to get here. I have a gaggle of salmons swimming upstream to my palate while an imaginary bear swats them with yesterday’s newspaper. (I no longer can control when an acid flashback hits).

The balance of Savory v. Sweet is beyond my expectations. This cigar stands as my number one cigar for 2023. And holy shit, there are six more blends under the umbrella of The Sacred Arts Collection. Again…holy shit.

Man, the El Septimo folks could have gone for your nuts and sold this blend for $25 or more. A lot more. The $40 Alfonso Extra Añejo I rated as my number 3 for 2022 isn’t this good.

This is one of the most complex cigars I’ve ever smoked…in my life. More cheese, Moe.

I cannot keep up with the transitions moving at speeds only a greyhound can achieve or that comet heading towards a collision with earth in 2036.

We adopted a greyhound in the late 90’s from a racing track in Phoenix. She was a year old. Lovely dogs. But skittish. I remember the first near death experience I had with that dog when I took her to a big open park near our home. I took her leash off and told her to stay. I then ran about 100 yards away. I yelled at the dog to, “Come Tansy!” The dog took off and ran straight at me. These dogs can hit 45mph. As she got closer, I didn’t know if she was going to run into me or swerve at the last second…and which way was she going to swerve? What if I swerved to avoid collision in the wrong direction. I saw my dead relatives in that big tunnel of light laughing. At the last nano second, the dog swerved to my right with inches to spare. I collapsed on the grass and Tansy came back to me and licked my face while I laughed because I wasn’t dead.

The cigar stays lit whether I puff, or it lays dormant in the ashtray. The char line is on the money.

Strength hits medium/full at 2” burned…which has taken 30 minutes.

I hope that 50 years from now, Taste-O-Vision is a thing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could taste what a reviewer tastes as you read his review?

Sips of water turn the aforementioned flavors into a mushroom cloud that hovers above me.

Just a stunning blend. What a knuckle buster it must have been for the blenders waiting to see if those years were spent wisely.

I never mentioned how long these sticks lay naked in my humidor before today’s review…two weeks.

The seven blends change in price from $18-$40 each. SBC has a sampler pack that I believe is the way to go. It averages the price to $22.57 per stick. My promo code brings the $158 sampler down to $142 or $20.28 per stick. I’m going for it when I finish this review. By the time you’ve read this review, I will have already snagged mine.

The burn is slow and calculated. It is by no means a heavy in the hand cigar. I expected an 80–90-minute smoke. I’ve burned 2-1/2” in 45 minutes. At this pace, it will be a nearly 2-hour smoke. Magic.

Sweet spots are like wayward cattle that won’t be caught. The changes to the flavor points come every couple minutes.

Still medium/full but I expect that it will change to full tilt another inch from now.

Seasoned smokers will be spoiled rotten by this blend.

I just discovered that there is a ‘Saint Andrew Sampler Box’ with two of each stick that runs for $310. I cannot find any info about the production quantity. It was released last year but the date is hazy according to the cigar industry sites. The only background info is that the cigars are made in Costa Rica…but not a single mention whether this is a limited release or a regular production line. Not even the El Septimo site mentions availability.

If I had Dr. Rod’s dough, I would be frantically buying all the seven blends and storing them in my fallout shelter. This line is a desert island choice of cigars.

I only found two written reviews of this line. Both reviewed the Leonardo da Vinci, and it didn’t fare that well. Other than that, not another blend is reviewed online.

I may have just lucked out with this blend choice to review. Based on my impression of the Raphael, I am willing to try the smaller sampler.

At an hour and 10 minutes, I reach the halfway point.

Strength is a man killer. I can barely see my laptop screen.
From this point forward, I will slow the fuck down to maintain consciousness.
I grab my second bottle of water.

This is a flavor bomb extraordinaire.

I am failing as union cigar reviewer. The complexity, the intensity, the nuances, the subtleties, and its flavor wheel dominance are moving so quickly that I’m flummoxed as to how to describe this experience. And it has nothing to do with my recent stroke…I think.

One moment, the sweetness factors run the show and then the next, the savory notes drive the bus. Constant motion.

Odds are other reviewers will get to this blend and give it a meh rating. They’re wrong if they do. This is a monumental blend.
Special Note:
Look, I talk smack in the spirit of having fun.
In the workplace, are you allowed to say someone is wrong?
In discussions with your friends, are you allowed to point the finger and yell, “You’re wrong.”
In forums, are you allowed to disagree with someone and say they are wrong?
At family get togethers, all that happens is relatives telling each other they are wrong.
Of course. The art of saying someone is wrong is built into our psyches. We all have opinions and regardless of whether we are right or not, we express those opinions.
I respect every single hard working reviewer out there. Except for one angry, bitter guy who doesn’t understand why his writing is not bringing down the house. That person is the exception to this narrative.
But for everyone else who labors at loving cigars, I say hail good fellows all.
You have to give credit where credit is due, to all reviewers, when someone takes it upon themselves to create a hobby that may bring some free cigars or a business that puts bread on the table.
Except for that angry little man, I hope you take my bullshit in the mode it was intended…and at the age of 73, I will say whatever goddamn thing I want to. I earned it…Big smile.

I am not afraid of crossing the River Jordan due to the strength of this cigar. I’m hanging in even if it means Charlotte stands nearby with a defibrillator.

Clearly, not a blend for newbies. Even the most stalwart sophisticates will see their manhood tested.

I won’t bother mentioning flavors as none have been added or disappeared from my first description. The only change is a deeper complexity and an 800lb bomb intensity.

Naturally, after I complete the sentence above, new flavors join the pack: graham crackers, peanuts, black cherries, teriyaki, Ritz crackers, red pepper, cumin, and spiced rum.

“Ramble On” by Led Zep is playing. Man, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I’ve never been so overwhelmed by a bunch of tobacco leaves like this…ever.
In my delirium, I’m having a great time.

I have no idea if extended humidor time will calm the strength. My first thought is that no it won’t. If 10 years of aging hasn’t calmed the blend, nothing will.

Using my slide rule, this cigar should find its demise in over two hours.

I’m not putting it down but I’m going to finish this cigar offline.
You can purchase this, and the other 6 blends from sponsors Small Batch Cigar (10% off with promo code katman) and Luxury Cigar Club (15% off with promo code katman).


And now for something almost completely different:

My band, Curved Air, was scheduled to tour Ireland back in 1975. The relationship between the British government and the IRA, in those days, was beyond brutal. The winter of 1974 saw indiscriminate bombings in downtown London every day for 14 days during the Christmas holiday. It was the scariest thing imaginable. Everyone was afraid to go outside.

Bombs were placed in waist high trash bins, on main drags, and if you happened to walk by one when it went off, well…bye-bye.

I remember two photos in the newspaper after one bombing. It showed a Bobby policeman bending over to look at a package on the street. Next photo showed him blown apart about 30 feet away.

This following incident will stick with me forever…it was a good day to die.
I had been fired from Curved Air. This guy, Andy Morris, contacted me telling me he was associated with Ringo Starr, and he was putting a band together and they would rehearse in L.A. Ringo wanted me as his bassist. I was ecstatic, so I called home to L.A. and told all my friends.

This guy’s name was very familiar. But I just couldn’t place it.

Our first meeting took place at the London Hilton lobby at 1pm on a Monday. We met, had coffee, and discussed very specific details. He even asked me to join him as he had an appointment with his lawyer. I thought I’d be invited in on the discussion. Instead, I sat in the lobby cooling my heels for an hour. This was the first red flag.

Exactly 24 hours later, almost to the minute, a huge bomb went off in the Hilton lobby killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds. I was in shock. For the grace of God, I could have been there.

A week passed and this guy was giving me excuses about meeting with Ringo.

For the first time, he told me that he was an original member of the English band, “Badfinger.” That’s why his name hit a note. These guys were big for a while but had broken up before this guy contacted me. The Beatles discovered them and even wrote some big songs for them.

I needed to check out his story.
I went to record stores trying to find Badfinger records, but they were out of print. I couldn’t verify shit.

So, I made a bold move and called Apple Records and asked to speak to Derek Taylor. He was The Beatles’ press agent since the beginning. He was their guy for the entire time the Beatles were together. Everyone knew who this guy was. I was thrilled just to talk to him, but I had business to discuss with him.

Derek took my call, because I was in Curved Air, and I asked about this guy. Derek said this guy was never in Badfinger…he had never heard of him. And then we chatted. He told me some inside Beatles stories and I was on Cloud 9. I wish I could remember them but that was 46 years ago. He confirmed to me the names of some of the famous musicians that played on their albums and were never given credit.

Nowadays, all that info is pretty much common knowledge, but then…nobody knew shit.

I realized I had been had by this Andy Morris…and I was fuming.
I got on the phone with the guy and called him a fraud and it was the last time we spoke.

A month later, I was listening to records at my Edgeware home (a suburb of London), and I grabbed a CA album that I played on. On the back of the Curved Air “Live” album, I noticed something. Down at the bottom were credits. And here was this guy’s name as big as day…he was a fucking production assistant during the mixing at Air Studios. The fucking fraud! A music assistant’s duties were merely being a go-fer. He got us tea and coffee. And if necessary, cleaned the toilets.

I had bragged to all my friends about this project. I was about to live a dream come true: play with a Beatle.

I did, for a moment, run into a Beatle while in London. The only big guitar shop was on Tottenham Court Road called the Fender Sound House.
I was leaving when I grabbed the glass door to open it. On the other side was McCartney grabbing his side of the handle. I was in shock. He rattled the handle a couple times motioning to let him in, but I was frozen in time.

I finally let go and he entered and as he passed, he said, “Thanks mate.” I just stood there like a moron with nothing coming out of my mouth. I wanted to go back in and talk to him, but I was too sheepish.

My final analysis of the music business is everything you imagine it is. Uncontrolled greed, massive corruption, and full of bullshit masters with black belts.

Being naïve is the death knell for any musician. Especially, young ones.


Tags: , , , , , ,