Monday, July 29, 2013

Legado de Pepin

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaragua
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 6”
Ring: 52
Cost: $8.00

Appearance (0-20): While there really isn’t anything to scoff at when approaching the Legado De Pepin, there is also very little that jumps out at you and says “BUY THIS CIGAR NOW!”. The band is relatively unremarkable, and the cigar itself shows a multitude of smaller veins on a medium brown colored Nicaraguan wrapper. But it doesn’t have any major knocks against it either. It’s more or less unremarkable and one I may have passed over if I didn’t notice it was a Pepin blend, which I’m typically partial to.
Score: 16

Construction (0-20): The only constructionary (yeah, I made that word up) complaint I had would revolve around it being a little tight on the draw. The cut was beautiful and contained almost no debris, it felt slightly spongey to the touch, and burned both straight and consistently. The ash held for two+ inches at a time and didn’t flake at all.
Score: 18

Strength (0-20): Listed in the full range, I can tell you it definitely has the kick to be there, but I didn’t think it actually had that sort of longevity. If anything this is more a medium stick that peaks into the full realm from time to time. I was slightly disappointed by this.
Score: 16

Flavor (0-20): Before even lighting up, it’s easy to taste some hey and sweetness on the draw. Post lighting there are some wonderful earthy tobacco tastes that are mixed with some slight bitter coffee. The bitterness isn’t overpowering, but is well balanced quickly with some delightful dark chocolate notes that follow. As the stick progressed, there is more of a spicy pepper flavor that ends up being present. Unfortunately, there is also a bit of a grassy flavor that’s distracting from the core flavors. Even more disappointing is that the stick remains stagnant with the same flavor through the rest of the smoke.  
Score: 16

Value (0-20): $8.00 feels like I am more paying for the Pepin name than an outstanding cigar. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to justify buying another at said price.
Score: 14

Additional Notes: Paired with water at Cigars International.

Overall (0-100):  This Pepin blend is one that may have fallen by the wayside for me if I hadn’t seen his name on it. The actual look of the cigar gave no real pop, and it was actually kind of indicative of the experience overall. Nothing really shined for me here – the price is a bit steep, the strength is weaker than expected, and the flavor mixture is solid but is both one dimensional and a little distracted by the grassy flavor that comes through. I guess I expected more of Pepin. It’s not the worst blend I have had, but I would likely pass on buying one at retail price.
Score: 80

Monday, July 8, 2013

CAO Concert Roadie

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuador
Filler / Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf, Honduran, and Nicaraguan
Length: 5.5”
Ring: 54
Cost: $6.75

Appearance (0-20): CAO cigars typically have the same general design to their bands, but it looks like they are making small moves to diversify a bit. The last couple of offerings from them have showed some variance, the Concert included. This band has a combination of black and gold on it with a small ampage bolt at the top. It’s simple and uncluttered. The particular stick that I have has some nice rich colors to the wrapper, with just a slight discoloration at the bottom. It’s not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, just noticeable. Some small veins exist, but it’s mostly issue free otherwise.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): The feel of the cigar is a bit stiff but there are no lingering questions about if it is packed well [hint, it is]. The initial cut revealed nearly no debris, which is an absolute plus. The prelit draw was perfect, and after lighting it retained that slight resistance that it needed while also maintaining an excellent burn line. The ash was extremely white and aside from a small bit of flaking, it held very well. Unfortunately about a quarter of the way into the smoke, the thin wrapper tore a bit (though it didn’t affect the smoke very much at all).
Score: 17

Strength (0-20): Medium to full in billing, the Concert stands up to that rating very well. The smoke begins in the medium realm and slowly amps up until it hits the full range by about ¾ of the way in.
Score: 18

Flavor (0-20): There are a lot of good things that are readily evident when lighting up – namely the slight pepper with a really deep leathery and woodsy taste. The flavors are intensified by some smaller nuances as you move through the smoke which give it a creaminess that is delicious. There are undertones of a dark roasted espresso that you can catch from time to time and something akin to a slightly charred toast. It’s superbly intriguing and delightfully complex while still not being overpowering.
Score: 19

Value (0-20): With the complexity and beauty of this stick, paying roughly $6.75 per isn’t a shabby price at all (though under $4.50 per in a box of 24 makes it almost adaily smoker)
Score: 18

Additional Notes: Paired with Glenfiddich 12 at the lakehouse.
Overall (0-100):  CAO seems to be coming around with a lot of their recent offerings and really has a solid stick on their hands here. Everything about the stick is in the very good category, with some small issues here and there that dropped it down a few points. The one area it shines for me is the flavor since it melds multiple different flavors (leather, pepper, espresso, wood, etc) into a nice complex arrangement that fits in an almost perfect union. Its worth trying to grab a stick and its honestly nearly box worthy (thought I would recommend trying one for yourself first!)
Score: 89