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 Méthode 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.