For those of you with real jobs where you get paid actual money, here’s where we poor journalism majors finally get the last laugh. OK, finally get a laugh. Our wonderful partners send us cigars so we can review them and pass our opinions onto you, our dear readers. Sound amazing? Yeah, it is. But it also sounds simple, right? Well, you don’t know our smoking editor, William “Cliff” Nelson. No one on this planet loves and appreciates tobacco products more than this man, and his palate is meant for this.
We’re getting ready to revamp our offices, and Cliff is orchestrating how the cigars get handled from here on, including a dedicated freezer, a refrigerator, and two humidors—one at 65 percent humidity, the other at 75 percent. When we receive new samples, they immediately go into the freezer and then the fridge (for more on that, read the sidebar on the next page). From there they will go into the proper humidor/humidors for a week or two before they will be available for reviewing, which at that point will theoretically have them at their absolute best.
We know many of you have a similar system for caring for your cigars, but for others this seems foreign and cumbersome. That’s why we are going to walk you through our cigar-keeping processes each issue, with the hopes of transferring a little knowledge so you, too, can enjoy your smokes at their peak of perfection. We’ll talk about each cigar here briefly, but be sure to visit us online for the complete, in-depth reviews.
This month we received cigars from Fratello, Maya Selva, Drew Estate, and Cohiba. I was eager to try all of them, but we needed to stick to our cigar-keeping procedures. (Don’t tell anyone, but as the Cohiba Blues went into the freezer, I did sneak one out, poured myself a whiskey and Sprite, and sat on my porch to enjoy this superb smoke.)
IN THE FREEZER
Drew Estate’s Kentucky Fire Cured Swamp Thang Toro
This is being described as a deeply disturbing, yet pleasing, smoke. Count me intrigued. Is the freezing process over yet?
Size: 6 x 52
For more information, and to order this cigar, visit drewestate.com.
IN THE HUMIDOR
Fratello Oro Robusto
Fratello, launched in 2013 by former NASA employee Omar de Frias is one of the fastest-growing cigar manufacturers on the market. The reviews for these cigars are exemplary, so to say I’m excited to smoke the Oro is an understatement. Here are some descriptions from Fratello about this fine cigar.
The wrapper: “This gorgeous San Andres Negro maduro wrapper provides a sweetness to the cigar that shines through as a key component of this blend. This Mexican wrapper offsets the flavors of our binder and filler, providing a perfect balance to a very smooth finish.”
The binder: “Our Dominican binder was the result of multiple smoke iterations to strike the right balance between aroma and flavor. The combination between our wrapper and binder exerts an aroma that provides for a very complex nose in your cigar.”
The filler: “With three different countries, our filler tobacco leaps the flavor to a different level. Peruvian with the sweetness, Nicaragua with its spiciness, and Pennsylvania broadleaf ligero with its boldness truly encompass an amazing smoking experience.”
For more information, and to order this cigar, visit fratellocigar.com.
This was the one I smoked right away, and what a beautiful smoke it was. This cigar lasted almost 90 minutes and has a rich taste (with hints of cocoa), enticing aroma, and a silky rosado-hued Honduran Olancho San Agustin wrapper. The manufacturers say they created this cigar for those who seek the indulgence of a fine cigar, and boy, did I feel indulged.
“Cohiba Blue symbolizes a life well-lived,” says Andres Maturen, brand manager of Cohiba.
Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua
Size: 7 1/2 x 50
Maya Selva Cumpay Volcan Maduro
This was another superb smoke. A snippet from our smoking editor’s review says, “This cigar could do newbies a service, opening a window to fuller flavors without kicking the smoker in the head. It can stand as a reliable after-dinner smoke for consumers of any experience level. Especially true when paired with a bourbon on the rocks—a smoke that earns its $13 single-cigar price.”
Why the hell are your cigars in the freezer?
The answer is simple: tobacco beetles. This is a real and tragic thing. If you don’t freeze your cigars before stacking them in your humidor, you may open it up one day and find your cigars full of tiny holes where the beetles have been boring. Freezing them is known to kill the beetles and eggs. Put your cigars into the freezer for three days; then move them to the refrigerator for another few days to avoid shocking them with temperature changes. Finally, allow them to recover their humidity in your humidor for at least a week, even two, before smoking them. After this, your cigars are in the clear and ready to be enjoyed.
If you love cigars, and we know you do, check out how to select the best cigar.