The White Band Project, the second annual blind review series between Matt’s Cigar Journal and Zen & the Art of the Cigar has come to a close. It is now time to reveal what all six of the cigars were in the project and discuss the results. If you want to read up on exactly what the White Band Project is just click here for the project criteria and rules.

In a nutshell, Jamie and I exchanged three cigars each. We re-banded the cigars with our own numbered white bands and told each other nothing about the cigars. This time all we knew was that we were each giving the other three cigars made by a single cigar maker. Neither of us knew what cigar maker the other had chosen. We smoked them and wrote reviews of our experiences with them, and then hazard a guess on what they were. Now we find out how we did…

First let’s summarize the reviews…

Cigar #1
Jamie smoked cigar #1. He quickly and correctly identified it as a Nicaraguan cigar. I thought he was spot on with his assessment of the cigar and its flavors. At this point he was braver than I, and he gave his initial impressions which had him thinking this was either an Oliva or a Viaje. Read the full review here.  At this point he was on the right track.

Cigar #2
I smoked cigar #2.  It was a visually distinctive cigar because it was a Connecticut Shade wrapped Lonsdale and the first thing that popped into my head was an Ashton 8-9-8.  I knew almost immediately after lighting it that it was not an Ashton.  It had uniquely bold flavors and bit of spice not typical of what I get from traditional Connecticut Shade cigars.  I though I had a pretty good idea of what this cigar was I didn’t yet hazard a guess in the full review which you can read here.

Cigar #3
Number 3 was smoked by Jamie.  Apparently this particular specimen had a less than typical appearance for what this cigar was which served to throw Jamie off a bit.  He was on the right track initially thinking he was smoking another Nicaraguan puro but he picked up on something that made him think there was some Honduran tobacco in the cigar.  By his own admission he may have over analyzed this one a bit and that started to steer him down the wrong road.  He speculated that instead of Oliva or Viaje, that the cigars may be made by Rocky Patel.  Read his full review of #3 here.

Cigar #4
When I smoked this dark, oily, rustic looking maduro I began to gain more confidence in my impressions of cigar #2 and the cigar maker I thought Jamie had selected.     Rich and robust flavors of earth and wood, it had a decidedly Nicaraguan profile.  At this point I made public my suspicion that I was smoking Oliva Cigars. At first I thought this might be an Oliva “O” Maduro but talked myself out of that because I felt like the cigar was too full-bodied to be an “O”.  For that reason I thought it might be an El Cobre which is a very good and hard to find bundled cigar made by Oliva.  I just so happens that the local shop that Jamie and I frequent, Empire Cigars, happens to carry the El Cobre.  Read my full review of #4 here.

Cigar #5
Jamie’s final cigar had a slight box press to it.  This may spoil the unveiling a bit but I have to say he started off his review on the right track before turning down the wrong road again.  He found it to be a medium bodied smoke with pleasant flavors of wood,leather, and coffee.  The blend of this particular cigar is a bit of a secret so his impressions that it was a multi-country blend could very well be correct.  At this point it was time for him to take a stab at identifying the cigars.  He reluctantly guessed Rocky Patel as the manufacturer and guess that #1 was a RP Vintage 92, #2 an Edge Maduro, and #3 a RP Decade.  Read his full review here.

Cigar #6
The final cigar for me looked and smelled very familiar to me and at this point I had a good idea of what it was before I got started.  It was a beefy torpedo with a beautiful, oily brown wrapper.  Excellent construction and rich, robust flavors of hardwood, dark chocolate, and a subtle sweet spice confirmed for me that I was smoking an Oliva Serie V.By the time I finished this cigar I felt confident that my cigars were all Oliva cigars.  I guessed that #2 was a Connecticut Reserve Lonsdale, #4 an El Cobre Robusto, and #6 a Serie V Torpedo.  Read my full review here.

The Results

  • Cigar #1 – Guessed RP Vintage ’92.
    It was an El Cobre Robusto by Oliva
  • Cigar #2 – Guessed Oliva Connecticut Reserve Lonsdale.
    It was an Oliva Connecticut Reserve Lonsdale
  • Cigar #3 – Guessed RP Edge Maduro.
    It was an Oliva Serie V Double Robusto
  • Cigar #4 – Guessed El Cobre Robusto.
    It was an Oliva Serie “O” Maduro Robusto
  • Cigar #5 – Guessed RP Decade.
    It was an Oliva Master Blend III Robusto
  • Cigar #6 – Guessed Oliva Serie V Torpedo.
    It was an Oliva Serie V Torpedo

So it turns out that Jamie and I unknowingly both selected Oliva as the cigar manufacturer for this project.  As it turns out, Jamie was nicer to me than I was to him with the cigar selection.  When we both selected Oliva neither of us really knew exactly how often or how recently the other may have smoked Oliva cigars.  It just so happens that Jamie hadn’t been smoking many Oliva’s lately and I on the other hand, have been smoking a lot, particularly the Serie V.  So I got lucky with the draw for sure.  After talking with Jamie about the project and the results last night, I feel that even though Jamie missed on his guesses, his review clearly show that his initial instincts about the cigars were spot on and if he had stuck with it, he’d have guessed Oliva and then probably would have gotten the cigars right as well.  He over analyzed things a bit like he did with one of the cigars in last years blind reviews.  That is my feeling on it anyway.

Me…  Like I said, I got very lucky with the cigars Jamie picked.  The V and the CT reserve have been common in my smoking rotation as of late, especially the V.  That made it pretty easy for me to identify the cigars.  It seems I over analyzed the Oliva “O” a bit.  I had it right with my initial impression but ended up convincing myself it was an El Cobre instead.  Truth is, I am still a little surprised on how robust that “O” Maduro was and how dark the wrapper was.  My past experiences with that cigar were different in my memory, but that was the one cigar of the three that I hadn’t smoked recently.

This year’s White Band Project was a lot of fun and challenging as always.  I continue to be very impressed with Jamie’s ability to taste cigars.  Last year under a much more broad format, he essentially got every cigar right.  This year he started off on the right track with every cigar and would have likely gotten each one had he just stuck with his gut.  Next year he and I agree that he will stick with his gut instinct on his reviews.  His gut hasn’t been wrong yet.  I can only hope that whatever format we choose for the next edition, that I get lucky again.