Monday, September 09, 2019

Review ~ SOSA Belicoso (6/10)

  So, it turns out the few of these sticks I have left from the bundle I bought ages ago are now a bit of a rarity.

Originally, they were made by the Fuente family in the Dominican Republic, but in December of 2016, A.J. Fernanzez announced that he would be buying the entire Sosa family line, and would be producing them, using the same blends and wrappers, but he would be growing the tobacco himself, and using his own, distinct manufacture and curing methods, as of January 2017, so I imagine the ones put out after that would have been a similar, but not the same cigar.

I got these around 2015, so they would have been the ones made at the A. Fuente Factory, apparently by Juan Sosa, himself! (Pretty cool factoid there, IMO).

They have since been completely discontinued. I'm not clear on just when that happened, but they are not available anywhere that I can find. Just as well they aren't a new favourite or I'd be hosed! ;)

Anyhow, on the the review part!



The construction was good and solid. It felt firm, with just the right give, and it looked nice - chocolate milk brown, and a smooth sheen to the wrapper. 
The scent was fairly straightforward tobacco, with a bit of coffee and spicy chocolate. 
It lit up nicely, using the light and cut method. 

Despite the light and cut, the cigar started out pretty harsh, (the first time that has happened since I learned that technique!) and I was wondering if it would end up in the ashtray in short order, but at about an inch or so in, the harsh beginning gave way to some actual flavour, albeit difficult to define. It was almost acrid, like a very, very dry white wine, but not in an unpleasant way. 

I have to admit, I was a little confused by the seeming disparity between the unlit smell and the taste of the smoke, but it isn't the first time I've encountered this. I may have even noticed it when I smoked the rest of them, several years ago, and then forgotten, or, perhaps, the time in the humidor has changed their profile more significantly than it does most.

The flavour continued to improve, as well as mellow, and by almost 1/3rd of the way down, I started detecting notes of cedar, and something almost, but not quite like leather, along with a tobacco... "crispness", is the best way to describe it. Definitely not bad at all.

It was about that time that the uneven burn became clear as well, but I'm willing to speculate that the breeze and not keeping it rotating could be at least partially to blame. It was simply a matter of having to periodically torch one side a bit.

The emergence of black pepper on the tip of my tongue, joined (finally!) by a nice black coffee/espresso flavour, and followed closely by hints of unsweetened cocoa was a nice turn of events.

At about the halfway point, I was confronted by a nasty "burnt cigar butt" taste, and was afraid the cigar was done, just when it had started to get pretty good. Luckily, just blowing it out well and letting it burn for a couple seconds banished the burn, and it was back to the slightly spicy, rich, dark, chocolate espresso profile for the duration which turned out to be right down the last inch and a half or so!

Most of the cigars I smoke with cocoa and/or coffee notes also tend to have creamy or sweet notes as well, and, curiously, this one didn't. At all. Like, there wasn't so much as a hint of either. Different from the usual, but not at all a criticism.

They are meant to be medium to full bodied, but I found it pretty mild after the initial few, dubious puffs. 

The ash held firm to a little past an inch and a half on average, and was a dusky, blue-grey.  The volume of smoke wasn't terribly impressive, but, while those thick billows of velvet clouds are usually a plus for me, as there is more to play with and taste and get a good mouth feel, it's not the end of the world. 

All in all, it was a decent smoke, and I do look forward to enjoying the rest of them over time. It gets a solid 6/10, which is pretty good from me, for something I didn't flat out love.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Review ~ Ave Maria Divinia on my 2nd Alaska Cruise (7/10)


 I'm finally getting round to posting this review from my 2019 cruise reviews and stuff notes! You know what would be SUPER awesome?? A cigar cruise, departing from Seattle, that I could hope to afford! Or even a well planned cigar event or two on a cruise that I can take. I mean, there are always at least a couple other cigar smokers on the smoking deck at some point in the time it takes to enjoy a stick, but it's just not the same as an intentional gathering.
Not much beats relaxing with my dog after a great meal with a fine cigar, awesome coffee, and the wind in my hair in the middle of the sea! 

I didn't get the chance to smoke as many cigars as planned on my most recent cruise, but this was definitely a good stick for the 2 hours I had free to smoke on the day in question. 

Right out of the cellophane, I noticed great, solid construction, no defects on the cap, as some seem to have noted, and a delicious smell. 
The dry draw was also promising, tasting of well aged tobacco, with a mellow, earthy sweetness and just a hint of spice. 

It lit pretty well, especially considering that I was on an open deck and we were travelling at around 21 nautical miles per hour at the time. First puff delivered as promised - mellow, silky, slightly sweet, earthy, with more of a smell than taste of coffee grounds, and full of undefined, but full bodied flavour. From the beginning, the burn was nice and even, despite the wind factor, and produced a good, firm, grey white ash that wouldn't let go before the 1.5" mark, at least. The spice wasn't really evident at all until almost into the second third, which is also when some of the other, previously undefined flavours began to take shape. Alongside the mild, black pepper, a roasty, toasty (not to be confused with toast), mildly sweet, almost creamy taste began coating the roof of my mouth, and shortly after, hints of strong coffee and dark chocolate than came and went until the last third. 
Overall, the flavour is far more mild than I had been anticipating, and would have preferred it to pack more of a punch, but I do tend to favour sticks on the very strong end of the spectrum, so others may disagree with me there. 
Either way, the mild profile did not negate its great taste, mouthfeel, draw, or burn. 
All in all, a nice smoke for an afternoon, a probably a good intro to "fuller bodied" cigars too, for those who want to venture out a bit and put a toe in stronger waters. 
I'm giving it a solid 7/10.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

My Namesake Cigar?

Someone on a cigar forum commented earlier today; 
 "a name "Khaos WolfKat" could have been cameroon's masterpiece." 
That got me to thinking...

If a masterpiece of a cigar were to bear my name, it would have to be one doozy of a stick! I would simply insist upon it.

It would be large and plump, with extra curves in the right places, and aged to perfection. 

I'm envisioning the tobacconist's incarnation of Venus of Willendorf. 
The smooth, richly dark and fragrant wrapper - finely, though exquisitely lined - if you look closely enough, and fair to bursting with succulent promise, would simultaneously hint at and conceal -  both hide and reveal the boldness, strength, complexity, and nuance packed within. The profile would tempt and tease, pound and confound, delight and ignite, sway and slay the palate by turns, with sneaking subtlety laced with explosions of flavour. 

It would be as stealthy as a Prensaso, luxuriously silky as an Oliva V, sweet as Drew Estate's  Java, dark as an Onyx, bold as a Camacho, spicier than The Punisher, more powerfully chuggin' than a Diesel, and pack far more punch than a mere Punch. 


As long as care and time were taken and attention paid to the process, the light would be, not "effortless", but a joyful simplicity in itself and well worth the small effort, leading to a long, slow, sultry smoulder, rather than something so crude as a burn. 


The initial flavours would be a smooth, slightly nutty, and almost caramel coated, roasted coffee bean, with just a few puffs whispering the merest hint of vanilla, soon to be joined, then replaced by notes of cinnamon and cocoa, deepening to dark chocolate, accompanied by strong espresso and an underlying, velvety sweetness, which would stay the distance. Meanwhile, sometimes fleeting, other times lingering visits of cardamom, leather, cream, cedar, and black pepper would make their rounds, the flawless dance of flavours lulling the senses such that the addition of cayenne goes nearly unnoticed, save for the undeniable rush of energy, seemingly from nowhere, and the heat seems, somehow, more sweet than searing. By the end, the flavours will coalesce into what should be cacophonous, yet is, against all odds, bombastic and symphonic.

One would be smitten at first sight, eager to have it all, though not without some amount of (well advised) trepidation. Having further examined, (coveted) the dusky jewel and fired it up, determined to sample the myriad treasures within, they would discover, far too late, that it is, perhaps, themselves who have been had. Long after, when all was said and done and they had at least somewhat recovered from being thoroughly knocked on their arse most deliciously, though still more than a little punch drunk, they would revere the experience, already looking forward to the next bout. 


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Review ~ Nub 460 Connecticut (7/10)



This isn't really the sort of cigar I generally buy, as it just doesn't fit my preferred flavour, strength, or type profiles in the least, but it came in a sampler a long time ago, and I had decided to start smoking some of the sticks in my humis that fall outside of my normal rotation.

Cigars International describes it thusly;

"smooth, silky wrapper. Mellow and creamy to start, with a rich, somewhat sweet core. The aftertaste is toasty, but crisp. Toasted cedar through the nose. Medium-bodied with a rich, milky texture."

I'm just gonna go with a "stream of consciousness", sort of vibe on this review, and transcribe my thoughts and comments as I smoked it. Is this the way reviews are "normally" done? No. Do I look normal to you?? That's what I thought!


By the way, I didn't read any descriptions of the stick before I smoked it, as I didn't want any unconscious bias butting in, especially considering I was already starting out with my own bias, ready to put my nose in the air and declare it "boring" just on principle, due to my typical preferred smokes. 


Paired with single origin, organic, Peruvian, meduim-dark roast coffee, served hot with a bit of Milo and 1/2 & 1/2.

"Hmm... Toast.

Ooh. Creamy.

Oh, it's buttery... Like BUTTERED toast!

*smack smack smacking lips*

So much toast! And it's so buttery and creamy!

Oh! And now it's kinda sweet too.

*more lip smacking*

Look at all these huge billows of creamy, white smoke!

Mmmm. Now there's this hint of woodsy cedar adding to the mix.
This is actually pretty nice!

It's like... having sweet cream, buttered toast with my coffee on the back deck of a forest cabin.

Wow! Who knew such a mild little cigar could be so yummy?
Oh, well, I guess Oliva knew - Duhhhh.
Man! This is really nice for such a mild stick.

I might actually have to get a few more of these for breakfast/morning coffee cigars."
I smoked it alllll the way down to the.. well, Nub!

So, there you have it!

 Even for this die-hard, bold and strong fanatic/snob, the Nub 460 is a treat, and it's getting, believe it or not, a 7/10, which is practically unheard of from me, for something this low key.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Review ~ JFR Lunatic Habano Short Robusto (5/10)

This was the featured cigar at this months Tulalip Resort Casino Cigar Night.

Coming in at #7 in Cigar Aficionado's top 10 rated cigars of 2018, and boasting a CA rating of 93, the JFR Lunatic Habano should have been something to write home about - one would think.

On initial inspection, the stick looks beautiful - smooth and sleek, with a nice, slight sheen, solid construction, and is presented with a golden, foil wrap, which, when removed, reveals a lovely,  partially closed foot.

According to Cigar Aficionado,

    "The cigar is profoundly nutty (no pun intended) with precise notes of cashew and walnut wonderfully layered atop a core of coffee bean",
 and Cigars International says it is,
    "Exploding with notes of roasted nuts, earth, toast and coffee".

 Taking in the aroma of the unlit beauty, it seems all those promises will be delivered, in abundance. It smells like a high end sweets store, specialising in chocolates and nuts, and my expectations are in line with the rating.

The light was practically effortless (I use the light and cut method - AKA, La M├ęthode de Jacques Puisais), and the draw was smooth right off the bat, though it didn't really seem to taste like much at all. No biggie - That is often the case at the beginning of a stick, though less common with the medium to full bodied smokes, as this one purports to be.

After the first several puffs though, the only description I could come up with for the flavour profile was, "confusing".

Initially, there was a very slight peppery hint, followed by just kind of generic, any-cigar flavour, light and smooth, with a decent amount of smoke and solid ash. Pleasant, but not especially noteworthy.

Once it got to about 1/3rd down, a bit of an earthy, almost grassy flavour revealed itself. Not quite earth and not quite grass, but more, as I described to a fellow attendee, kind of tasted like the scent of the bottom of a piece of sod. Now, I know that may not sound very nice out loud (or in print), but it really isn't at all an  unpleasant aroma. If you've ever done landscaping, you know what I mean. If not, just take my word that it is a nice, early summertime, outdoorsy, nostalgic kind of smell that feels like lying on the lawn after a good day's work.

As it got closer to the last 1/3rd, the pepper resurfaced, this time more distinguishable as perhaps white pepper. Again, not strongly at all. Just a touch to linger on the tongue and back of the throat.

It was smokable all the way down to just into the last 1/4, before it tasted "done".
My initial instinct was to label this stick as "bland" or "boring", but the truth is that it is simply a lot milder and more subtle than I tend to prefer in my smokes.

Bottom line, despite my disappointment (my sponsor says the definition of expectations is premeditated disappointment. I concur!), it is a decent tasting, pleasant cigar, and,  at $6 a stick, if you like mild to medium, not too complex cigars, worth a try, as long as you're not expecting it to taste like the unlit version smells, or like the advertisers say it does.

While I wont be buying any more of the habanos, I actually DID buy a couple of the Maduros to try, figuring they may be more to my liking. One to smoke in a few days, and another to leave in the humidor for a few months and see how it ages. So, we'll see how those go.

I give this one a 5/10, meaning just average, but not at all bad. YMMV. 



As an addendum, seeing as pretty much everyone at the event I spoke to or overheard seemed to have a very similar experience, combined with the fact that there was some issue with this shipment being late in arriving, meaning that it may have spent more time in transit than usual, and the box may NOT have spent as much time in the humi before we got them... It occurs to me that this could have been a factor. So, if the Maduro versions are good after some time in my humidor, I may see about trying another one of these, or at least giving them the benefit of the doubt. 

Monday, August 05, 2019

Reviving Smokey Kisses

Soooo... 
It's been a very long time since this blog and the corresponding website have been active, for which I apologise!

My life has been, as the proverb goes, "interesting". 
That said, I HAVE still been enjoying the pleasures of the leaf, and even have a few photos and such to share from the last few years. 

For instance, I've been on not one, but TWO cruises since the last post, and there are a few cigar pics from each of those. 
And, of course, there have been conventions, at least one cigar meetup, and just random cigar photo sets. 

I'll be adding content from all those over the next couple months, as well as creating and posting new content, both here and on the main website and forums

The first post to look for will be a review of the featured cigar at this month's Tulalip Resort Casino Cigar Night. That WAS going to be tonight, but instead, was pushed forward to the 12th, because of a shipment issue. SO... Stay tuned, folks!