Are you a Connoisseur?

January 2021 Pack

Beginning in January 2021, Abe and the crew at Smoke Inn rolled out a new monthly club for cigar connoisseurs looking to test their abilities in blind smoking tests. Visit Smoke Inn to sign up for your own Connoisseur pack.

What follows below are my notes * and photos of the January 2021 inaugural pack. Remember these notes were taken during my live smoking session while I enjoyed the cigars blind. I have not altered my notes, but I have corrected any spelling or grammatical errors (that I caught) to make this post more readable.

Cigar 1: Robusto size, slightly darker wrapper for Habano, possibly a Maduro. Color is evenly dispersed and shows a slight variation near the cap. A slight grit wrapper with visible seams and some veining, a slight kink in a portion of the wrapper, the cap is made of two layers and not very neat. Due to the construction flaws and the uneven coloring I will confidently say this is not a big name cigar manufacturer. The body has a musty, fungus smell. The foot has a stronger tobacco and floral scent. The cigar seems to be well packed with a slightly spongy feel. Not rock hard.

Cold draw reinforces the bright floral note, well-aged judging by the smoothness.

Once lit, there was minimal spice. there was cream, bread and butter on my first two draws. It was replaced with white pepper and acidic aftertaste on the pallet. The draw was effortless. Smoke production was ample. This might be Maduro as the cigar is giving a hint of sweetness. I am tasting hints of a wood,…cedar.  I want to say this cigar was made with Dominican or Honduran tobacco.

Ash is firm and very white which is making me second guess myself, I’ve read that a white ash is a sign of mineral rich volcanic soil. It fell off in an inch and half chunk.

The aroma of the smoke is sweet with a little spice toward the middle of the stick. Mid way I am getting hints of cocoa on the inside of the cheeks. The cigar is showing some complexity.  I felt that at first the strength was light and became more intense as I smoked it, the body was medium and tasty. It has a good finish on the palate. Leaving a warm toasty flavor.

Cigar 2: Seems to be a larger ring gauge Robusto, the construction is visually impeccable, the cap structure is placed noticeably better than with cigar number one. The body of the cigar is giving almost no scent. I am sniffing and sniffing but not getting anything I can place. The texture is smooth, the color is even throughout and darkens towards the seam. Under light you can see ripples in the wrapper where veins lay under or visible. The foot is packed nicely and offers up a floral rose with something darker mixed in. There is a nice heft to the cigar and a satisfying crunch as I slide the v cut through the cap.

The draw is wide open with zero resistance. Cold draw offers a small sensation on the lips and I am getting red/green peppers. Scent on lighting gives me flashes of gunpowder, like lighting the wick of a firework. There is a bitterness on the draw like a Connecticut that gives way to a pepper spice. Retro is not overpoweringly spicy but the cigar is letting you know there is some kick in there. The acidity is shooting off CT in my mind but the color is not what I would associate with CT. 

Performing a triple puff to build up smoke introduces a warmth that reminds me of biting into a rare piece of meat, the smoke reminiscent of the juice hitting my tongue. The finish is medium to medium-full and leaves more of a tobacco taste than cigar 1. The bitterness shifts to a tingle in the mouth, it is not a citrus bitterness. There is no sweetness in this cigar. The body of the cigar is medium and the strength is on the heavier side, my stomach is reacting to this cigar even after just having dinner.

The burn is wavy but acceptable and not needing any care, the ash is nicely layered, salt and pepper colored with a lean towards the darker side. The smoke is sufficient but feels and looks anemic, the cigar stops smoking when I set it down. Drawing on the cigar fuels the cherry and combusts another layer of ash but I am taken back how it stops smoking after 15 seconds or so… no smoke. I worry this still would need to be ashed sooner to keep combustion going or it might go out if left down too long.

This cigar’s bitterness is holding it back for my taste. I am not nearly enjoying this one as much as the previous cigar. The acidity makes me wonder what this stick would taste like with more rest. The burn is starting to develop a serious 45 degree slant which might need some touching up if it continues.

Still shy of the halfway point the smoke is warm when taken in the mouth and there is a slight char developing on the palate. I am still holding the full ash having burned about 1.5 to 2” of the stick. The cigar remains lit even though I am letting it sit long between puffs.  Approaching the 2nd third, I am getting a black coffee similarity in the mouth. Ash dropped off at the 2.5” point.  

Not really enjoying this cigar, interested in finding out what this is so I avoid it in the future.

Cigar #3: Either a toro or Churchill viola, (later it was disclosed to be a 6×56) nice brown color on the wrapper with one small blemish near the cap. The wrapper was giving off a slight aroma of tobacco, very laid back. The first third packed lots of pepper up front, acidity, the strength is up right at the onset. Initial thoughts on the stick, good construction, not a fan of being hit over the head with spice and bitterness.

In the second third, the spice disappeared although the retrohale was torturous. Eye watering burn, I started getting a sweetness on the palate once the spice and tobacco dies down. Burn is razor tight and I ashed the stick with about 2 inches of medium to dark grey ash to avoid wearing it.

Exiting the 2/3, the spice has died down completely and the cigar has gotten creamy and smooth. Still a slight tingle on the palate while drawing but with lots of sweetness on the finish.  The retro loses its spiciness and is smooth. This is a good stick, the complexity is nice, I would ask the blender to ease up a little on the opening, but I totally enjoyed it after the first third. This was smoked during the Smoke Inn Zoom Herf with Fred Reway.

Cigar #4: This cigar measures less than or right about 4”. The gauge on this stick is about 50-54, I don’t have a formal measuring tool. It has a firm feel with little give, a nice even coppery light brown color and a cute pig-tail twist cap. Two visible lines for the cap and loads of veins, the wrapper has the look and feel of a brown paper bag at the grocery store. I hope it doesn’t taste like one. 

The body has an ever so faint scent of sweetness, sawdust and tobacco. The foot has the same, only more pronounced. There is another satisfying crunch as I cut the cap with my Colibri V, the cold draw has a rancid warm bitterness, no barnyard but like a sweet spoiled grape. The aroma is a stronger tobacco scent, with that acidic note and just smelling the foot smoke makes the sinuses tingle and weep. PEPPER! First big puff produces ample smoke with that warming sensation and a flavor that makes me think of a dry red vintage, reinforcing that grape fruity note I picked up during the cold draw. This wrapper screams Habano to me. There is a lot happening in my mouth with the smoke, brightness, acidic, drying and the back of the palate had a metallic zing. The finish is warm tobacco, medium-full, it lingers.

Draw is great, perfect. Burn is even so far. The smoke is ample, full and chewy… this is the first stick where I’ve experienced this coating on my teeth where there is resistance to separate and pull apart. This cigar has body, I might upgrade it to a full. I have not felt much in the way of strength so far. I can feel the girth on this cigar more pronounced that the other two I smoked, this is a 50+ ring gauge.

As I get into the second third, the cigar hasn’t changed or given up anything new, not a complex stick. Flavor remains the same although it might be smoothing out or my palate is adjusting to its fullness. Ash is tight, light grey with some flakes bending out from the main stack of dimes. The cherry has remained lit even after a couple of minutes rest as I take notes and work on a post. The ash fell of at the hallway point while I was puffing on the cigar. Almost landed in my lap!

The cigar offers up nothing more in its final third than it did upon first light, maybe less body and spice on the retro. No flavors jump out in the retro or finish. Consistently good, not great. This stick will not go out regardless of how long I left it sitting! A plus for that quality burn. 

Cigar #5: A smaller length cigar, maybe a Robusto. The odor on the wrapper was not pleasant to me, it had an air of rancid milk with a soft barnyard. The cold draw and first light were bitter and not pleasing, this continued through the first 1/3 of the cigar. My smoking buddy was laughing at the faces I made while smoking this stick. The three other cigars I smoked with water but this one was so bad I made a cup of black coffee to pair with it.

I don’t have much to say as I did not start out enjoying the stick but I will say that about the half way mark with coffee on the palate I got a strong taste of hard pretzel from the cigar which was interesting. A first-time flavor sensation for me. I was able to enjoy the remainder down to the nub.  The stick was well made and did not require any touch ups or relights. The ash came off in thick chunks. Not something I would try again.

I have enjoyed the Connoisseur Club experience so far, all the sticks were well made, the materials provided with the cigars was nice and the associated Herf with Fred Rewey was entertaining. When scanning the QR Code, I was presented with some survey questions about the general aesthetics and construction of the cigars, my opinion on cost and if I wanted to purchase more of a particular stick, the option was there.

I am looking forward to February’s box and if any of this sounded like something you might be interested in, you better put your name on the list as spots are filling up fast. Visit the Smoke Inn page for more details.

*** These are my opinions while participating in the Smoke Inn Connoisseur Club, my palate is not the same as yours and all the cigars were good in their own respect and without any flaws. It is not my intent to suede or dissuade you from trying any manufacture’s products. I encourage you to get out and smoke everything you can and form your own opinion.

#browardcigarboard #thecigarboard #smokeinn #connoisseurclub #cigar #cigars

The Big Reveal – 2/14/2021

Cigar #1: Alec Bradley 5×50 Wrapper Honduran Criollo, Binder Nicaraguan, Filler Honduran Broadleaf

Cigar #2: Aganorsa 5×56 Wrapper Corojo Esteli, Binder Corojo Esteli, Filler Jalapa Corojo 99

Cigar #3: Sindicato Cigars 6×56 Wrapper Criollo Esteli, Binder Corojo Lijero, Filler Ecuadoran Shade Habano

Cigar #4: Espinosa Cigars 4.5×55 Wrapper/Binder/Filler Costa Rica

Cigar #5: CLE Cigars 5×50 Wrapper/Binder/Filler Honduran

Sadly, The Connoisseur Club is no longer being offered.