White Band Project 2010 Blind Review #6 Thursday, Jan 28 2010 

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The White Band Project 2010 is the second annual blind review project between Matt’s Cigar Journal and Zen & the Art of the Cigar. You can read about the project, its criteria and rules by clicking here.

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Cigar number 6 is a big beefy torpedo.  The wrapper is very handsome.  It is the dark brown of a leather bomber jacket with a very slight tooth and an oily sheen.  A cold draw delivers some black pepper and musty earth flavors.  Upon lighting it up it starts off with a sharp black pepper bite.  It doesn’t take long for the black pepper to fade to the background and notes of warm hardwoods and dark chocolate dominate complimented by a subtle, sweet undertone of vanilla and spice.  The draw is perfect and the burn jagged but even.  Smoke has a rich, heavy, cedar aroma.It is a very robust smoke, not quite full bodied with a stout nicotine punch. (more…)

White Band Project 2010 Blind Review #4 Thursday, Jan 21 2010 

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The White Band Project 2010 is the second annual blind review project between Matt’s Cigar Journal and Zen & the Art of the Cigar. You can read about the project, its criteria and rules by clicking here.

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Cigar number 4 is a dark, oily, rustic cigar.  It looks like a maduro or an oscuro wrapper and measures 5 inches Long.  I’d say it is a 50 ring gauge, your standard robusto.  The first inch or so of this cigar was very harsh and bitter and very powerful.  Thankfully it mellowed out a bit after that.  It was a medium to full bodied smoke with strong flavors of earth and leather and wood with a slight sweet undertone. At the halfway mark the smoke developed a chewiness to it but the flavors became a bit muddled. There is quite a bit of strength in this cigar, packing a fairly strong nicotine kick. The flavors and the strength have me thinking this is a Nicaraguan cigar. The last third was surprisingly mellow (considering how robust the rest of the smoke was)  with flat notes of burnt wood.

The construction was excellent. A good draw, even burn, and a well formed ash that held well. It didn’t finish very strong but overall it was a very nice smoke.  This cigar seemed very familiar to me.  I could very well change my mind after smoking the third cigar but at this point I think these cigars may be made by Oliva. I’ll even go as far as to say this particular cigar, if it was indeed an Oliva may have been an El Cobre Robusto.  It was far too robust to be an “O” Maduro and besides not really tasting like a “G”, it also isn’t box pressed like a “G” would be.   That said, I’ll reserve my final verdict until after I smoke the last cigar. Boy this could get embarrassing if I’m wrong……

Check out the review of Cigar #3 on Zen & the Art of the Cigar.

You can also read Jamie’s review of Cigar #1 here and my review of Cigar #2 here.

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White Band Project 2010 Blind Review #2 Thursday, Jan 14 2010 

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The White Band Project 2010 is the second annual blind review project between Matt’s Cigar Journal and Zen & the Art of the Cigar. You can read about the project, its criteria and rules by clicking here.

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Cigar number 2 has a wrapper that is pretty easy to identify visually. It is a Connecticut Shade wrapper. I’m not sure if it is Connecticut grown or Ecuadorian. I measured the cigar and it is 6.5 inches long. The ring gauge appears to be about 44 or 46 which makes this cigar a Lonsdale. I guess it could be a Churchill but usually they are a full 7 inches and the ring gauge usually a little thicker so I am sticking with calling it a Lonsdale which just happens to be my favorite size. The wrapper is smooth and buttery looking. The color is uniform and it has very few veins on it. Looking at the cigar I immediately thought of an Ashton 8-9-8. Lets light it up and see what it tastes like. (more…)

Blind Review #5 Thursday, Jan 22 2009 

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This review is part of a series of blind reviews I am doing in conjunction with Jamie of Zen and the Art of the Cigar. We each exchanged three unbanded cigars. The only previously agreed upon criteria for the exchange was the there would be one value cigar, one mid-range cigar. and one premium cigar. The cigars were numbered randomly. I will be reviewing cigars number 1, 3, and 5. Cigars numbers 2, 4 and 6 will be reviewed by Jamie and can be read on his blog. The reviews will be posted over the next two weeks and at the end of the series a summary of all the blind reviews will be posted.

Cigar #5

Cigar number 5 is a good looking cigar.  The wrapper is smooth and silky with very few, small veins.  The wrapper is expertly applied as is the cap.  Inspecting the clipped head and the foot revels a good looking bunch of the filler tobacco and the pre-light draw is perfect.  It has a mild earthy aroma and the wrapper is leathery, and a uniform rich brown in color. It looks to be about a 46 ring and is 5 inches long. There was a small patch on the wrapper near the head about the size of the nail on my pinky finger.  What is particularly interesting about this patch is that I almost didn’t see it even given the fact that I went over this stick with a fine tooth comb.  Because it is a blind review I paid closer than usual attention to the physical appearance of the cigar and I still almost didn’t see this patch.  It was simply the best patch job I have ever seen on a cigar.  Even with the patch this is the best looking of the three cigars.  That alone doesn’t mean it is the premium stick in the bunch, but if I had to guess just based on appearance this would be my pick.

This cigar is very smooth right from the start.  Mild to medium bodied. The flavors are balanced and delicate.  It smokes like a cigar with a little bit of age on it.  At the beginning there are notes of espresso and bakers cocoa.  It wasn’t long before this smoke started changing on me.  It developed woody/oak overtones with smooth creamy notes.  Halfway through it got more robust but was still on the mild side of medium in body and flavor.  It developed a leathery core complimented with roasted coffee beans.  It always put off thick clouds of creamy white smoke and had a wonderful room bouquet.  The finish was long, smooth, and pleasant.  The ash was well formed and firm.  Flavor and construction on this cigar was superb.  It was a complex, well balanced, delicate smoke.

After all that, I have no clue as to what this cigar was or where it came from.  I can take a wild stab and say, due to its mildness, that it is a Dominican cigar but I really don’t know.  That is just a wild gues on my part.  It was a very good smoke, not typical of the robust powerhouses I have grown most fond of, but I must say as good as this was, I could see myself enjoying this cigar more regularly. Putting together its appearance, flavor, complexity and construction I would think this is a premium top-shelf smoke.  If it isn’t then it is a heck of a value.

Check out  the review of Cigar #6 at Zen and the Art of the Cigar

So now all the reviews are done for this little project.  I have to say it has been a lot of fun up to this point but now comes the most exciting part.  Jamie and I will be hanging out tonight at our local cigar shop and we will be discussing all the cigars.  Expect a wrap-up to be posted in the next few days.

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Blind Review #3 Sunday, Jan 18 2009 

This review is part of a series of blind reviews I am doing in conjunction with Jamie of Zen and the Art of the Cigar. We each exchanged three unbanded cigars. The only previously agreed upon criteria for the exchange was the there would be one value cigar, one mid-range cigar. and one premium cigar. The cigars were numbered randomly. I will be reviewing cigars number 1, 3, and 5. Cigars numbers 2, 4 and 6 will be reviewed by Jamie and can be read on his blog. The reviews will be posted over the next two weeks and at the end of the series a summary of all the blind reviews will be posted.

Cigar #3

Cigar number 3 in this series of blind reviews is a Torpedo. I don’t have a ring gauge guide to measure it with but it looks to be about 52 to 54 ring and is 61/4 inches long. It has a leathery brown wrapper covered in small veins and a little bit of tooth. Examining the foot , it shows a nice, neatly done bunch in the filler. the same could be said for the head after I clipped it. The draw pre-light is excellent and it has a somewhat nondescript aroma.

Putting the foot to flame the first few draws deliver a blast of black pepper and a rich earthiness. After I worked my way past that first inch or so of black pepper there was a core of coffee and earth. I don’t want to hazard a guess this early in the smoke but I have to say that the start of this cigar is very “Pepinesque” and if it isn’t one of his there is almost certainly have to be Nicaraguan tobacco in this cigar. There, I put myself out there a bit with that statement. I am even more anxious to find out what this cigar is now. The last third was excellent. Robust with tons of spice and earth and a nice creamy, cocoa finish. The burn was a little erratic and the ash a little flaky but this was a well made cigar packed full of tobacco. It was a very good smoke.

I am going to stand by my initial impression of this cigar. I am guessing it is a Don Pepin made smoke and if not one of his, it had a very Nicaraguan flavor to it. I even go as far as to say it was very much like a Cubao I had recently. I hope I’m not too far off and end up embarrassing myself.

Be sure to check out the review of Cigar #4 over at Zen and the Art of the Cigar.

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Blind Review #1 Wednesday, Jan 14 2009 

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This review is part of a series of blind reviews I am doing in conjunction with Jamie of Zen and the Art of the Cigar.  We each exchanged three unbanded cigars.  The only previously agreed upon criteria for the exchange was the there would be one value cigar, one mid-range cigar. and one premium cigar.  The cigars were numbered randomly.  I will be reviewing cigars number 1, 3, and 5.  Cigars numbers 2, 4 and 6 will be reviewed by Jamie and can be read on his blog.  The reviews will be posted over the next two weeks and at the end of the series a summary of all the blind reviews will be posted.

Cigar #1

This cigar looks to a be a Robusto, 5″ x 50 or 52 ring gauge.  The cap is sloppily applied.  The wrapper is veiny and dry looking.  Inspection of the foot reveals several small stems.  I expected to find the same in the head after clipping it, but there were none there.  Its pre-light aroma was a nondescript tobacco.  The flavors were a bit muddled but I picked up notes of leather and tobacco and flashes of grass.  The finish was long and bitter.

Construction wise, this looks and smokes like a cheap cigar.  The burn was all over the place and I found a huge tunnel in the filler less than an inch into the smoke.  The gaping hole continued all the way down until the last 2 inches.  The ash was loose and flaky requiring that it be tapped frequently.  It was medium bodied and one dimensional. There was also a lot of sticky tar in the head.  I ran my finger across the head and strings of brown tar came off the head and stuck to my finger tip.   I really didn’t enjoy this one very much.  The construction issues make me think this was either a cheap bundle type cigar or a bum stick that slipped through someones QA department undetected.

Now I am going to take a stab at identification.  I expect to be very wrong here.  I freely admit, when you don’t know anything about a cigar it is very difficult to identify it.  I don’t think I’m that good, but I’ll give it a shot here with the wrapper at least.  I think the wrapper is Sumatran.  The cigar reminded me a bit of other Sumatran wrapped cigars I’ve tried like the Flor de Oliva.  I can hardly wait to see how far off I am…

Be sure to check out the review of Cigar #2 over at Zen and the Art of the Cigar.

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