Thursday I dug into the sampler pack that Gurkha gave me at the trade show, and came out of it with the newest addition to their Cellar Reserve line, the 12 year aged Platinum in the 6″ x 58 Hedonism size. This is a nice perfecto shaped cigar with a Ecuador Oscuro wrapper (and I can’t guess what actual varietal that might be, couple be a Connecticut fermented to a dark color, or something else…hard to tell). The band boasts a “blend strength” of 98%, again, not sure what that means as it was a perfect medium in strength to my palate. It also has a Nicaraguan binder and 12 year old fillers from Esteli, Congega and Jalapa in Nicaragua. It’s made in the Dominican Republic. Aside from all the marketing buzzwords and vague information on the blend, what I found it to be was a very good tasting cigar. It was creamy and smooth and quite nice. There was no shortage of flavor, it was by no means mild, and was probably my second favorite of the four blends in the Cellar Reserve line, second to the maduro Limitada with the Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. I owe the Edicion Especial with the Corojo wrapper another shot as I smoked one in New Orleans outside in hot, soupy weather and it wasn’t the best representation of that cigar I don’t think. There are quite a few Gurkha cigars I like, and this happens to be one of them.
Friday I wrapped up the work week with a 1502 Black Gold toro that I had in the humidor for a couple years. This has always been my favorite in the 1502 range, it’s got a deep, dark maduro wrapper that I want to say is San Andrés from Mexico if I recall. I like the way the wrapper leaf is folded around the foot off the cigar on all the lines, it’s a nice touch, and you get a little bit more wrapper flavor on the light. It has to add cost to the process though. Anyway, it was 1502 owner Enrique Sanchez’ birthday Friday, so I thought it seemed appropriate to smoke one of his cigars. I had some trouble keeping this one lit for some reason, but it has the dark and dirty black coffee and earth flavor that I really like. All of the 1502 cigars are great smokes, this one, when it burns right, is always a favorite. Oddly, when I smoked the 1502 line in the Lancero size last year, I think the Emerald was my favorite, and the same with the coronas. Maybe the flavor I really like from the Black Gold wrapper needs to be tempered by more filler, too much of a good thing, you know.
As usual, when I toured General Cigar‘s booth at the IPCPR show, I had no idea what to expect from their Foundry division. I knew that Sam Leccia was working under that umbrella, but one never can tell what’s going on in the creative mind of Michael Giannini. I was surprised to find that his latest project was the re-imagining of the Bolivar and Ramon Allones brands. I sparked up the Bolivar first in the 550 size. This has an unfinished foot and a curly-q pigtail cap, and is a nice, dark cigar. As is the custom with Foundry, all we know about the blend is that it’s six country blend. If I had to guess, I’d say this has a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, based on the delicious and lush espresso/cocoa flavor. As you might guess, I really liked this cigar, it had the dark, bitter flavors I like, with a hint of sweetness. It burned perfectly and that uncut foot gave a huge blast of wrapper flavor on the light. The box art is pretty sharp, featuring images of the bands that Bolivar has used over the one hundred or so years it’s been on the market. I am not over fond of the bands on the cigars, though, I am afraid it makes the cigar look like an inexpensive bundle instead of the fine premium cigar that it is.
The Ramon Allones 550 shares the same sizes as the Bolivar line, but is a Nicaraguan puro, and that’s all the information available on the blend. The presentation follows the same theme as well, with the Ramon Allones having a blue band where the Bolivar has red. I will never forget the first Cuban Ramon Allones I ever smoked, a “Specially Selected” robusto back in the late ’90s. This cigar was so peppery that I could still feel the tingle on my tongue the next day. I’ve had others since and never had that much pepper, but still enjoyed the cigars. The new version Michael Giannini has put together has none of that. Once again, the uncut foot showcases the dark Nicaraguan wrapper upon lighting, and it’s a blast of what I can only associate with sourdough bread. The sourdough flavor persisted throughout the cigar. Again, the construction was perfect, and it burned and drew great. I have to say, I would lean toward the Bolivar if I had to choose between the two, I’m not a fan of the sour flavors, but there are those who are, and the Ramon Allones is a very good choice if that is your preference. I look forward to trying both of these in the other sizes to see how they differ. Again, I’d like to see a classier band, but that’s just me, there’s no denying that they will stand out on the shelf.
One thing I’ve noticed as I’m writing this article is that companies are still slow to update their websites to reflect the new releases. It’s now almost two months after the IPCPR show where some of these cigars were released and the only information I can find are on media sites. I should think that should be a priority in 2015, and it’s not that difficult to expensive to do, like the old days when they would have to re-print a catalog or something. It’s just something that continues to befuddle me. On another note, since my wife is going to be selling books at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention near Baltimore this weekend, I am going to be looking for cigar shops to waste time in. The Humidour in Cockeysville, MD is first on the list, but if anyone is in the area please let me know, I will be down there Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That’s enough from me, until the next time,