Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado
Size: 6.5 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaragua
Price: $15

This cigar was rated the #1 in the world in 2014, according Cigar Aficionado.  Sure, these annual rankings come with a boatload of disclaimers, most notably that no non-Cuban cigar has ever been ranked that didn’t first buy advertising in the magazine, but it is the still the closest thing the industry has to The Oscars.

Last Friday, with our wives off to a church retreat, Shaun, Steve, and I found a babysitter and went to dinner at Emerald Thai, where I had a sumptuous dish of shredded steak and cucumbers with a mouth-watering (and tongue-burning) array of spices from Northern Thailand. Afterwards, we headed to the Burning Desire lounge for a cigar and several surreptitious shots of Old Bardstown Estate Bottled bourbon from a flask.

This cigar was expertly rolled, no construction issues at all.  The outer leaf was a lighter shade of brown than I expected from the photo in CA, and it was a sort of mottled color on the bottom of the cigar.  There was no prelight aroma, which also surprised me. 

However, once lit, there was no mistaking the punch in this cigar.  Very little pepper, but a lot of deep, rich tastes of leather and oak.  It was a slow burning cigar, with a lingering finish on the tongue that kept building in intensity.  It was a combination of: the great taste of a Don Kiki Brown at its peak, combined with the strength of 5 Vegas Cask Strength and the lean finish of La Flor de A. Allones.

To make the experience even more pleasant, I had a great liquor pairing.  Old Bardstown was one of the two original recipes of the Willet family in Kentucky, and I found this bourbon to be smooth with under-notes of honey.  It was the perfect complement of sweet to offset the bold, heavy, unrelenting taste of the cigar.  Even so, by the end, the cigar was so strong my heart was racing and my stomach threatened to turn over.  I am out of practice for a smoke this powerful!

This was a great cigar!  Will definitely try again in the future. 
State of the Humidor (written on Jan 7, 2015)

This year, I had to curtail my cigar enjoyment to once a week. My doctor says I need to lose weight and get my blood sugar under control to avoid developing diabetes later in life.  Turns out there is a strong link between cigarette smoking and blood sugar levels.  I don’t know if cigars are also a contributing factor (I doubt it), but cutting back seemed like the prudent thing to do this year. 
My new motto is going to be “Smoke less, but smoke better!”
Here's the 2015 State of the Humidor:
New cigars to try in 2015:
  1. Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado (Cigar Aficionado #1 cigar of 2014)
  2. Jesus Fuego Corojo Oscuro
  3. Henry Clay Honduran
Last cigar of 2014:
  • CI Legends-White Label (Camacho) -- at The Deuce’s New Years Eve party, while watching an impromptu knife throwing contest – Paired with Teacher’s Highland Cream
First cigar of 2015:
  • Xikar HC Maduro -- while watching the Sugar Bowl (Bama vs. Ohio State) at Steve Laster's house -- Paired with Belle Meade 9-year bourbon.
New cigars I tried in 2014 -- would purchase again:

  • Xikar HC Maduro
  • Pinar del Rio Oscuro
  • Joya de Nicaragua Antano Dark Corojo 
  • Pinar del Rio Seleccion 2010
  • 5 Vegas Relic
  • 5 Vegas High Primings
  • Perdomo Habano Corojo
  • Hoyo de Monterrey Excalibur Legend
New cigars I tried in 2014 -- still on the fence:
  • Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Black Corojo (review coming soon!)
  • Pinar del Rio Classico (maybe just needs more aging?)
  • La Perla Habano Morado (inconsistency, construction issues)
  • Oliveros Sun Grown (decided to age an extra year)
New cigars I tried in 2014 -- would not purchase again:  
  • LegendArio
  • 5 Vegas Limitada 2011
  • Partagas 1845
Here is an approximate listing of my humidor contents:
  • Oliveros Sun Grown Churchill (10)
  • Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Black Corojo (4)
  • Legends Series-Camacho (2)
  • J. Fuego Corojo Oscuro (20)
  • Man O War 2nds Robusto (15)
  • Honduran Factory Corojos
  • Pinar del Rio Habano Sun Grown Double Corona (20)
  • Consuegra Governor #16 (25)
  • Henry Clay Honduran Grandes (20)
  • Mario Mancini Magic Mountain (20)
  • Te-Amo World Selection Series Cuban Style (20)
  • Cuba Libre One Churchill (20)
  • La Gloria Cubana Miami Double Corona (20)
  • Omar Ortex Originals Belicoso (60)
  • 5 Vegas High Primings Box Pressed (20)
  • 5 Vegas Cask Strength Toro (20)
I also have 27 cigars in the Lost Sticks Cemetery, the top tray of my large humidor. I save the last cigar from each box and put it in this tray for long-term aging.  I have 8 cigars that are now over 5 years old: 
  1. 5 Vegas Limitada 2008
  2. 5 Vegas Miami Toro
  3. La Flor de Murias Epicure
  4. Omar Ortex Original Belicoso
  5. Ramon Allones Reserve Corona Gorda
  6. Gurkha Master Select Churchill
  7. Perdomo Slow Aged Glorioso (2)
One final note:  I have been enjoying a box of Legends White Label (Camacho) the past few weeks, a nice hearty cigar that gets better at lower humidity levels.  Unfortunately, I am very bummed to learn that CI has discontinued them.  For my money, this is the best Camacho line on the market.