gingerbread

Cigar Review | K by Karen Berger

First off, I must say that this K by Karen Berger is a beautiful cigar! It’s an exquisite sharp box pressed Solomon with a pleasantly dark and shiny marbleized Maduro wrapper. I mean it is flawless!

K by Karen Cigars Head

This will be my 2nd time smoking this beauty, so I already have a baseline of what to expect. The first experience however, was at a cigar lounge paired with good company, some silver screen entertainment and my 1st bottle of Havana Club Rum. The point being, I was a tad bit distracted. I enjoyed it so it was a no-brainer to purchase again.

On this go round, I am in my safe happy place at home where I can focus and hopefully dissect the nuances and characters at play in this cigar. The Dungeon, aka my basement, (which by no means is the place that most aficionados would call a smokers paradise) is where I will be enjoying this cigar. Think of it as one of those basements that my Brother Lee Mack describes when he talks about the musky aroma he gets from certain wrappers in his reviews. Minus the funk. Haha!

I have however created my own little Oasis [no pun intended] for smoking at home. To be honest, once I’m in my zone, vibing with a good cigar and a good bourbon or coffee, I soon forget the struggle and turmoil of Baltimore City, right outside my window. Cigars provide that escape for us as smokers and it doesn’t matter where we are in the world. I’m sure all my BOTL & SOTL can get behind that concept.

As a new writer to the iROBUSTO team, I just wanted to give you all a glimpse into what I’ve got going on as I’m doing my review. With that being said, let’s get into it.

Who Is K. and What is The K

Karen Berger is the mistress of the late Don Kiki (Enrique Berger), and she’s also known as the “Cigar Queen”. The nickname stems from her vast knowledge and experience from being submerged in the cigar industry for many years. She is a native of Esteli, Nicaragua, and this cigar is a Nicaraguan Puro. This particular vitola is the 6×54 Solomon Maduro and as I mentioned earlier, it is a total treat to look at. It also comes in a Habano wrapped version, housed in boxes of 10 and priced roughly between $11-$13.

Pre-Light: (I’m so ready!!!)

Again, this is a dark, oily and marble textured wrapper with a sharp edged box press. The creases were so sharp, one could assume this cigar was ironed. The cap is applied perfectly and the wrapper smells of fermented tobacco, hay and herbs. I was expecting barnyard and musky earth from the look of the cigar, but it was more of a grass and tea kind of thing going on. The foot however, was a whole other level. Because of the tapered foot of this Solomon, I damn near jammed the whole thing up my nose (LOL)! But when I did get a whiff…Wow! I still got the hay, but it was accompanied by a sweet cocoa and milk chocolate blast. [And I did remember this from the 1st time I smoked it] I’m excited and optimistic at this point.

1ST THIRD: (Dessert before Dinner)

Right out of the gate, it was as delicious and sweet as the foot aroma premeditated on the cold draw. This cigar was super smooth too. Honestly, I don’t get my hopes up too often concerning actual palate taste by what I get on cold draws. Especially when there’s sweetness involved, or when the cigar is labeled as full body. It was a perfect match in this case. The tobacco core was almost as if the sweetness was added in some way or another. The chocolate was in cahoots with something that just kept telling my brain, “warm cookies”!!!

I’m puffing away at this gem and I start to notice a transition in flavor as the burn reaches the end of the tapered foot and gets into the body of the cigar. It made perfect sense because there’s no way that sweetness was gonna hold up. I mean, as I said, I’ve smoked this before and I would have remembered smoking a 6 inch candy bar and sure enough, change has come.

As the chocolatey dessert like sweetness mellows, a subtle spice starts to move in. It’s hinting more towards an allspice or cinnamon as opposed to a pepper spice. Then, low and behold, that herbal tea thing that happened during prelight has manifested itself and is peeking in and out, wanting to play along. I’m not mad at all.

2ND THIRD: (Construction, Complexity and Retrohales)

Before I ramble on about what I’m getting from this cigar, lemme just say that the draw and construction has been perfect. It’s not just pretty to look at and well made, it’s functional.

That whole sweet dessert factor has definitely toned down significantly but it has been replaced by a tasty nuance that I’m just gonna categorize as gingerbread since it’s a more subtle sweetness with a warm spice to it. I should also mention that this note is mostly experienced through the nose via retrohale and room aroma. (Sidebar- I’m the guy that retrohales probably 85-90% of the time because from my experience, the tongue and palate can only handle so much. I also prefer to smoke indoors or away from wind, fans, vents, etc., because I like to release clouds of smoke directly in front of me to actually smell the smoke. Not to inhale, but smell. This, paired with the retrohale and my palate, is how I pick up the notes in a cigar when I smoke.)

K by Karen Cigars Half

At this point, the herbal tea is leading the charge accompanied by dark roast coffee and some leather. This cigar is officially adulting now. I can now deem this cigar as complex.

Further along, the tea is morphing from what it has been to a floral lemongrass like note, then back again. The coffee and leather are still very much present while the gingerbread spice is more like a white pepper and cinnamon combo thru the nose. I can’t say that the power of the cigar has been evident before now but at this point it’s at Med+ for me.

FINAL THIRD: (Holy sh*t! She’s Back!)  

K by Karen Cigars Final third. The return of some of the great sweet nuances that dominated the 1st light.

The chocolate sweetness has returned, and here I was waiting for a peppery bitter finale. Not only has the chocolate returned, but the gingerbread is back as well. I’m pretty positive that this is a direct result of the shape of the cigar. The Solomon is tapered at the foot and the head. This means less baccy in these sections, which is where the sweetest most dessert like experiences were. Note to Self…we need a lancero version!!!

As the cigar comes to a close, the coffee has come down to a medium roast. The strength has definitely reached med to full and there is a minerally soil flavor coming thru. As enjoyable as this ride has been, it’s time to put this nub to bed and call it a night.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There were so many welcomed yet unexpected moments with this cigar. I would have never expected such a sweet comeback in the 4th quarter. I’m used to coffee notes getting stronger towards the end of most sticks, not the other way around. I was also expecting some black pepper blast. Although there were spicy moments, they were more of an allspice, cinnamon and maybe a touch of white pepper type of deal.

I was super impressed by the burn as well. We all know how spot on you gotta be when toasting and lighting solomones and figurados, but she burned like a champ from start to finish.

K by Karen Cigars was super complex and delicious down to the nub!

I’d like to Thank You guys for joining me for this ride. I look forward to sharing many more of my cigar adventures with you and I’m also hoping to hear some of your experiences with the same cigars. Please feel free to comment and share this post.

Cheers & Salute BOTL & SOTL

Oasis

Cigar Review | Espinosa Reggae Dread

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Espinosa Reggae Dread. This stout cigar comes in at a hefty 6 x 56 and displays little stringy “dreads” out of the cap. It is an extension to the regular Reggae line and features an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper on top of a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. The cigar retails for $12.

Espinosa Reggae Dread

The wrapper produces an earthy barnyard aroma, while I smell cedar out of the foot. The cold draw offers me cedar as well. Once lit, I get some cinnamon with light cedar and earth. Through the nose, I find sweet cocoa. The finish gives me light white pepper and cinnamon.

Espinosa Reggae Dread

Thirty minutes in, the first third comes to a close. On the draw, I pick up cinnamon, toast, and black pepper. Through the nose, a nuttiness blends with floral notes. The finish hits me with sweet caramel on top of white pepper and citrus. Strength and body settle in at a steady medium.

Espinosa Reggae Dread

The second third gets me to one hour. More black pepper and cinnamon take over the draw. On the retro-hale, I get a blend of toast and almond. The final third offers up notes of gingerbread alongside white pepper. There is no change to strength or body.

Espinosa Reggae Dread

The final third finishes at one hour and thirty minutes. I find citrus on the draw with meaty earth and some black pepper. Through the nose, a sweet nuttiness takes over with notes of wheat. The finish is dominated by white pepper alongside undertones of floral notes and toast. Strength and body finish out at a medium plus.

Espinosa Reggae Dread

The Espinosa Reggae Dread is a wonderful cigar with lots of great flavors. There is a solid amount of complexity with smooth smoke. Construction was pretty good on the sample I reviewed, though I did have a bit of a wrapper explosion towards the end of the cigar. That wasn’t a big issue, and I’ve not had issues with any others I’ve smoked. I highly recommend giving this one a go. It’s a unique treat!

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Crux du Connoisseur

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Crux du Connoisseur in the No. 2 size. This 6.5×38 stick features a Habano Jalapa wrapper on top of a Nicaraguan binder and Honduran fillers. It retails for $8.99 and is a very nice looking cigar.

Crux du Connoisseur

The wrapper produces a rotten plum aroma with leather, and I smell dried fruit out of the foot. The cold draw displays distinct walnut flavor. Once lit, I get light cedar with a hint of dark leather and a cinnamon-nutmeg note. Through the nose, there is very little flavor with light leather and cedar. The finish gives me black licorice and woody notes.

Twenty minutes in, the first third closes out. On the draw, I pick up cedar with sour earth and white pepper. Through the nose, there is light toast and cedar. The finish offers a cinnamon and nutmeg combo alongside leather. Both strength and body settle in at the medium mark.

Crux du Connoisseur

The second third gets me to forty minutes. There is more sour earth on the draw with leather and cinnamon. The retro-hale is very simple with light gingerbread. More cinnamon and nutmeg come through on the finish with the addition of vanilla. Both strength and body remain at the medium mark.

Crux du Connoisseur

Fifty-five minutes in, the final third comes to a close. There is no change on the draw. Through the nose, I find more gingerbread with the introduction of vanilla. The finish sees no change, and strength and body remain the same as well.

Crux du Connoisseur

The Crux du Connoisseur is an okay cigar. It’s not a bad smoke, but it did not wow me by any means. Complexity is shallow, and the price is a bit steep for the experience. It may agree with some palates, but don’t expect this one to be cigar of the year.

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out the Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary in the Rothschild size. This 4.5×50 box-pressed cigar features a Honduran wrapper concealing Honduran and Nicaraguan leaves. It was made to commemorate Rocky’s 20th year in business.

Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary

The wrapper offers a light leather aroma, while I smell graham cracker out of the foot. Once lit, there is oily leather, black pepper, and earth on the draw. Through the nose, I pick up sweet peanut with caramel. The finish gives me more black pepper with leather and earth.

After twenty minutes, the first third closes out. On the draw, I pick up nutty earth with black pepper and a metallic note. Through the nose, spicy cinnamon mixes with sweet gingerbread. The finish offers oak with leather and black pepper. Strength and body settle in at the medium-to-full mark.

Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary

Fifty minutes in, the second third finishes out. Nutmeg comes through on the draw with some black pepper and earth. There is no change to the retro-hale. The finish gives me bitter leather on top of charred oak. Strength and body continue to be at the medium-to-full mark.

Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary

The final third gets me to one hour and fifteen minutes. I get more nutmeg on the draw with leather and cedar. Through the nose, bitter gingerbread dominates. The finish offers a near-Dominican twang flavor on top of black pepper and leather. Strength and body finish out at the medium-to-full mark.

Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary

The Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary is a decent offering that could use some humidor time. It has a decent amount of complexity, but the flavors need to mellow out a bit before it really shines. I’d love to give this one another go after a year of rest. It’s worth a single or a five pack, but I wouldn’t rush out and buy a box, especially for nearly $10 per stick.

Smoke on!
-Noah (CutLightSmoke)

Cigar Review | Davidoff Winston Churchill

It’s Stog o’Clock, and this time, I check out one of the recent offerings from a luxury brand. The Davidoff Winston Churchill is a gorgeous stick with a simple, yet elegant band. It features an Ecuadorian Rojiza wrapper securing a Mexican San Andres binder, and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. I will be reviewing none other than the Churchill equivalent size in the line called the Aristocrat which comes in at 6.9×47.

Davidoff Winston Churchill

The wrapper gives off a potent barnyard and earth aroma. Out of the foot, I find a fruity chocolate smell. The cold draw is loose with a hint of musty cedar. Once lit, the cigar opens up with creamy, buttery cedar on top of some cinnamon. Through the nose, I find a hint of black pepper spice and creamy leather. On the finish, there is potent cinnamon and nutmeg.

After thirty minutes, I finish the first third. On the draw, I find cedar with old leather on top of gingerbread. The retro-hale offers up some good coffee flavor with almond and earthy notes. On the finish, I pick up a distinct cinnamon and nutmeg mix alongside smoky leather. The strength and body both fall in at the medium mark.

Davidoff Winston Churchill

The second third closes out at one hour. The draw gives me more leather with the addition of some spicy red pepper and hickory. Through the nose, I find toast with more coffee and a light cocoa flavor. There is no change to the finish as I continue to get the cinnamon and nutmeg mix on top of smoky leather. Strength and body continue to float in the medium range as well.

Davidoff Winston Churchill

The final third finishes after one hour and forty minutes. The entire experience of the cigar becomes very creamy, yet bold. On the draw, I find a very creamy earth with more spicy red pepper and leather. The retro-hale hits me with spicy black pepper on top of a sweet gingerbread and almond combo. The finish offers up some toast on top of a noticeable cocoa and nutmeg. Strength and body jump up slightly in this last third to the medium-to-full mark.

Davidoff Winston Churchill

The Davidoff Winston Churchill is a fine cigar. It has a lot of complexity with many balanced unique flavors. Construction is absolutely perfect, and it’s definitely a cigar I would smoke again. My only struggle with this stick is the price. Coming in at just under $18, there are a handful of other super-premium sticks I would likely reach for first at that price, but that’s not to say this thing doesn’t hold its own. I highly recommend it if you can stomach the hit to the wallet.