Saturday, March 21, 2009

Perdomo Fresh-Rolled Double Corona
Size: 7.0 x 50
Tobacco: Nicaraguan puro
Price: $1.98

I have a friend Holt who loves to chew cigars. He rarely smokes them, sometimes he doesn't even bother to light them. He just chews and spits, chews and spits, for hours. I've never really understood the appeal of it, until now. Because if ever there was a stogie made for chewing, the Perdomo Fresh Rolled is it.

This cigar is sold exclusively through Cigars International. According to their copy, the idea resulted from the fact that, during various marketing events, Perdomo employs a beautiful young woman to hand-roll free cigars for the customers. The customers can watch the cigar as it is "born" and then smoke it, still-wet, while the sales guys hawk Perdomo's more coventional, higher quality, higher margin products. But the fresh cigars were so popular that CI decided to sell them directly to the public. They are sold in "cuban wheels" of 50, with no box, no bands, just tied together by a small brown ribbon. The CI price for an entire wheel: $99.

Of course, like most of the things you read at CI, this story isn't quite true. According to several magazine articles, Perdomo first started selling fresh-rolled cigars back in 2003, under the moniker Perdomo Fresco. Back then, they came in decorative boxes with a trading card featuring the name and likeness of the roller. Each cigar sold for about $4 apiece.

These churchills have all the problems you would expect from wet tobacco: erratic draw, prone to canoe, goes out if you leave them unattended. This is probably why they're so cheap (plus, Perdomo can reduce working capital if they don't have to store them in inventory during the 6-month aging process). Interestingly enough, no matter how many times I've had to relight, these cigars don't become bitter or harsh: no need to purge.

But here's the real rub: Despite the construction issues (which may calm down in time), they actually taste good, they never taste cheap. They're Nicaraguan puros, burn very slow (90-120 minutes), full of hearty earthy flavors. But they don't taste like any other Nic puro I've had. They are dense, rich, and woody. Lots of flavor on the draw, but no aftertaste. The adjective that keeps coming to mind is doughy. Like as a kid, when I would eat mom's biscuit batter out of the mixing bowl.

I've had a couple of these so far, and every time I am done, I didn't feel satiated, like I do with a Pepin or a Fuente, but instead I want to immediately chew on another one.

I'd definitely give this a thumbs-up in both taste and value. It will be interesting to see what happens after 6 months of aging.

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