Every now and again I get the urge to smoke an unbanded cigar. Sometimes it is nice to have no preconceived notion of what you are smoking. You get to just sit back and enjoy the cigar for what it is, with no expectations. It is also nice to challenge your palate by attempting to decipher the blend of the cigar and maybe even make a guess at the manufacturer or the exact cigar. I could have my wife go grab a cigar and take the band off and hand it to me, but I know what’s in my humidor now-a-days because I keep a much more humble collection on hand than I used to. So I elected to take to Simply Stogies and see if someone one wanted to hook me up. A gentleman by the name of Fritasfan87 took me up on the offer and kindly replaced the bands on 5 cigars with numbers bands. He then placed the answer key in a sealed envelope.
I originally wasn’t sure if I was going to use this as content, but as I began smoking the first one I decided that I should document my thoughts for each cigar and make an article discussing these thoughts. This is a good way to discuss characteristics and flavors of presumably different tobaccos, factories, and companies without any outside influence. So the plan is: I will lay out the notes I took as I smoked each cigar as well as any guesses I made regarding the cigar. I will then reveal what the cigar is and give some feedback on my thoughts regarding the reveal and explain anything I think needs explaining. I am typing this before I have smoked all the cigars and have revealed the answers. Here’s to hoping I don’t make an ass of my palate!
Blind Cigar No. 1
Appearance: It’s about 5ish inches long and I’d say 50. It seems a little under 50, but playing the odds I’d say 5x50. Visually I’m thinking it’s a Nicaraguan Corojo ‘99 wrapper.
Flavor Notes: First light shows some subtle sweetness, some pepper, charred wood and a little spice. Immediately I was thinking something out of TABSA from the flavor and wrapper appearance. Then I started to get spice in the retro that reminded me of Sumatran wrapper. Definitely Nicaraguan fillers, and as it continued, I ditched the TABSA idea and I’m all in on Sumatra. The first light flavors are still the primary components, less the charr. Maybe Crowned Heads or Tatuaje? Halfwayish is showing a toasted marshmallow note. I like it. I’m leaning Crowned Heads. It’s toasted marshmallow, some subtle wood (maybe oak), and a little baking spice. Medium in body, medium full in flavor. In the final third a little citrus is coming in and more of the charred wood. There’s a caramel-like sweetness in there. Ending at about an hour and 5 minutes.
Blend Guess: Ecuadorian Sumatra Wrapper, Nicaraguan Binder, Nicaraguan Fillers (if my prediction is correct, there are Dominican Fillers as well I believe, but I got no indication of that so I can’t say I guessed that).
Cigar Guess: Crowned Heads Four Kicks Capa Especial Robusto
Justification: The baking spice and wood notes are common for me in Ecuadorian Sumatran wrappers. The type of sweetness, the pepper, the citrus, the woodiness, and the overall texture and impression of flavors are common in Nicaraguan binder and fillers for me. The overall profile is consistent with Sumatran cigars I have had from Tatuaje and Crowned Heads, however, I have had the Four Kicks Capa Especial in the Corona Gorda size and this cigar was quite reminiscent to that cigar, just a little lighter in body and flavor.
Actual Cigar: Archetype Crystals; Country of Origin: Nicaragua; Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.; Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Habano; Binder: Nicaraguan Habano; Fillers: Nicaraguan Habano
Reaction: I have never smoked this cigar. I actually have never even heard of it. I have smoked one Archetype before - the Axis Mundi. I am not at all surprised by this being a Nicaraguan cigar utilizing Nicaraguan fillers. I am surprised by the wrapper, however. I was really expecting this to be an Ecuadorian Suamtran wrapper based on some flavor notes. Oftentimes people say the wrapper dictates most of the flavor in a cigar. This was a good reminder that the wrapper is just one leaf in a blend and that flavors come from all the components together.
Blind Cigar No. 2
Appearance: This cigar appears to be another 5x50 Robusto. There’s a pigtail cap that’s more like a fan and a closed foot. Very veiny wrapper. Maybe Ecuadorian Habano. Maybe Dominican?
Flavor Notes: First light flavors are Dominican-like with musky earth and sweet pepper. Some Ligero like meatiness is coming. It’s Full bodied and full flavor. I think this is multinational. I get that Dominican musky earth but with some Nicaraguan spice and woodiness. I think I’m going Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper. This is a very interesting cigar. Nearing the end of the first third I’m getting a little pepper spice, a little cocoa, and a syrupy sweetness that turns into a toasted sweetness on the finish. Every now and then I get a slightly mineral/metallic and meaty note. Halfway It reminds me of something I feel I smoked somewhat recently. Lots of sweetness still. Final third is starting with an oily chocolate. There’s still a lot of sweetness. It’s like a bright artificial sweetness now. The final third is taking on a sweet cherry and cinnamon. Which definitely has me sticking to a multinational blend of Nicaragua and Dominican. It’s a Dominican note to me. Ending at an hour and 20 minutes.
Blend Guess: Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper, Nicaraguan or Dominican Binder, Nicaragua & Dominican Fillers
Cigar Guess: Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Robusto
Justification: The musky earth in the beginning, minerality/metallic notes in the middle, and the sweet cherry and cinnamon at the end all pointed to Dominican for me. The pepper, wood, cocoa, and syrup were Nicaraguan. The wrapper looked like Ecuadorian Habano because of the shade and texture, and the profile was consistent with that wrapper choice. I haven’t smoked one of these in well over a year, but something in the profile stood out to me that made me think of this cigar. Then I looked up the DOTW Robusto to verify it was multinational, and the appearance had me pretty well convinced I was correct.
Actual Cigar: Casdagli Daughters of the Wind Robusto; Country of Origin: Costa Rica; Factory: Tobacos de Costa Rica; Wrapper: HVA Ecuador; Binder: Criollo ‘98 Ecuador; Fillers: Nicaragua, Ecuador, Dominican
Reaction: This is a cigar I have smoked a few of, however as I mentioned, I haven’t smoked one in quite awhile. This one took some thinking to make a guess. I was confident it used at least an Ecuadorian Habano Wrapper and Dominican and Nicaraguan fillers. It also had characteristics that were very familiar, but I smoke a lot of cigars. Something about the visual appearance of this wrapper really stood out to me while I was smoking it, and it clicked to me what it was with about an inch and a half left.
Blind Cigar No. 3
Appearance: This cigar has to be a 5x54-56, but I’m going 5x56. At first glance, my immediate thought is RoMa Craft Intemperance BA because I don’t know any other cigar lines off hand, besides Intemperance, with such a small amount of uncovered foot tobacco. However, the wrapper looks more like a Nicaraguan Habano.
Flavor Notes: First light is a lot of pepper and charred wood with some cocoa. A recognizable note sneaks in but I can’t pinpoint where I recognize it from. Is this an Intemperance Whiskey Rebellion? There’s like a burnt vanilla and citrus note I get from the Aquitaine and Whiskey Rebellion that I think is the recognizable note. I forgot the Intemperance line had a Habano wrapped cigar in the line, The Whiskey Rebellion. Nearing the end of the first third, the smoke is oily and flavorful. Still with citrus and vanilla on the draw. There’s a little pepper and charred wood on the finish and retrohale. At halfway the flavors turn towards a musty earth, wood, and slight pepper. Going into the final third there’s some charred wood still, a bit of citrus, and a nuttiness. I’m missing the more potent citrus and any vanilla at all. This last third is still solid, but more on the earthier and woodier side with some bitterness lingering. Nearing the end there’s a metallic note in and out. Still some nuttiness. The finish, at times, can be quite savory and makes me salivate. Some citrus is becoming more prominent again. Ending at an hour and 26 minutes.
Blend Guess: Ecuadorian Habano Ligero Wrapper, Nicaraguan Fillers (if I am right on my prediction of the cigar, the binder is Indonesian Besuki and there are also Dominican fillers, however, I did not get any flavor notes that indicated this to me, so I can’t say I guessed them).
Cigar Guess: RoMa Craft Tobac Intemperance WR 1794 Bradford
Justification: The appearance of the Intemperance line is distinct because on all the cigars in the line, there is a small bit of the binder exposed at the foot of the cigar. The pepper, wood, cocoa, earth, and citrus throughout pointed towards Nicaraguan fillers for me. In hindsight, the must earth note at halfway should have indicated the Dominican fillers for me, if my prediction is correct. The vanilla and citrus note is super distinct for the Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper that RoMa sources for the Whiskey Rebellion and Aquitaine lines, that made the wrapper prediction easy to make.
Actual Cigar: RoMa Craft Tobac Intemperance WR 1794 Bradford; Country of Origin: Nicaragua; Factory: Nico Sueno; Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Ligero; Binder: Indonesian Besuki; Filler: Nicaragua & Dominican
Reaction: I have never smoked this cigar in this particular size, but the slightly uncovered foot tobacco was a gimme. I was almost fooled because I forgot the Intemperance line had a Habano wrapped cigar with the Whiskey Rebellion. So I was digging deep in my memory banks trying to think of another company that had a similar looking cigar. Fortunately, the cigar flavors jogged my memory and pointed towards the Whiskey Rebellion.
Blind Cigar No. 4
Appearance: This cigar appears to be 7 x 47-48ish. The wrapper shade looks like light Ecuadorian Habano.
Flavor Notes: The cold draw is distinctly peanut shells. First light is mild, slightly bitter, nutty, some creaminess, hay, a little spice through the nose, and musky earthiness. It’s definitely Dominican and it seems like a Connecticut, but the wrapper shade is tricking me. The retrohale is screaming Avo. Or at least something from the Davidoff factory. It’s got a little soapiness to it that dries my mouth out some. The retrohale is exactly like an AVO Improvisation I had about a year ago, but I recall that having an even lighter wrapper. Nearing halfway the flavors are consistent, and it definitely has Dominican innards, but the wrapper is still perplexing me a bit. I am enjoying this when the musky retrohale isn’t too strong. At halfway there’s a stingy pepper that hits and a rich leather. In conjunction with the other flavors that have been there throughout, it reminded me of a Caldwell Eastern Standard Dos Firmas I smoked a couple years back. It was out the Ventura Factory in the DR, if I recall, and was actually William Ventura’s personal blend or something like that. I don’t think it came in a size like this, but that factory is in my head now. Is this one of those Archetype collaborations Ventura did? The only remnants of my Davidoff/Avo idea now is the musk on the retrohale. The rest is a creamy leather, pepper or cinnamon spiciness, nuttiness, and a little wood. The final third is going back to the first third flavors. Ending after an hour and 55 minutes, it’s full in flavor and body with notes of hay, wood, some earth, but not musky, a little cream, and some pepper.
Blend Guess: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade, Dominican Binder, Dominican Fillers (if my prediction is correct, the wrapper is actually “Dominican Connecticut”, but I can’t claim to have predicted that).
Cigar Guess: Ventura Cigar Company Archetype Dreamstate Churchill
Justification: I really didn’t think it was a Connecticut wrapper by appearance, but I have to go with Connecticut Shade based on flavors of cream, hay, and slight bitterness, as well as the overall feel of the flavor profile. The first and final thirds were undeniable Dominican tobacco, the giveaway was the musky earth and nuttiness. The soapiness and muskiness told me it was at least Davidoff tobacco, but not the tobacco they use in their $30+ cigars. This is why I had Avo in mind. The flavors I got midway were not inline with an exclusively Davidoff product and for whatever reason the Caldwell Eastern Standard Dos Firmas came into my mind immediately. This put William Ventura in my mind. Although I have never smoked the Archetype Dreamstate, I have seen them around and know he worked with Davidoff on them. I am sure it is not the Caldwell Eastern Standard Dos Firmas, but the regular Eastern Standard was up for debate because it does have a different style Connecticut Wrapper and Robert Caldwell does like Avo cigars, however, this cigar was so much like Avo that Davidoff had to have been directly involved.
Actual Cigar: Winston Churchill Blenheim; Country of Origin: Dominican Republic; Factory: Cigars Davidoff; Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown; Binder: Dominican Yamasa ; Filler: Dominican Republic, Peru, Nicaragua
Reaction: I have never smoked this cigar before, but I was not surprised by the reveal given it is a Davidoff product and that was something I was confident in. I also have never really nailed down what I get out of Peruvian tobacco, as I haven’t smoked a lot of cigars that utilize it. The Caldwell Eastern Standard Dos Firmas I was reminded of has undisclosed binder and filler tobaccos, so I can’t be certain what caused that similarity. As for the wrapper… I feel foolish for betting against the appearance but sometimes appearance isn’t everything and the flavors were more convincing.
Blind Cigar No. 5
Appearance: This cigars appears to be a 5x50. The color and vein structure of the wrapper looks like that of a Cuban cigar.
Flavor Notes: When lighting this cigar, the smoke smells very Cuban-esque - a floral, soapy smell. First light brings Cuban flavors of wood and twang. The wood is prominent with a little char. There’s a youthful pepperiness it seems. There’s also a honey sweetness and some hay. Near the end of the first third there’s a lot of sweetness. In Cubans, I’ve only had this much sweetness in a Quai D’Orsay. There’s a little bite in the throat. I kind of hope this is a non-Cuban because it would be a good one to show people who haven’t had a Cuban but want a feel for what they are like. Going into the final third, the flavors have been consistent. The Cuban twang has really not been present. The soapy, floral CC smell is still present. The flavors are becoming more woody and oily. A little more of that bitterness and pepper bite in youthful Cubans is coming back in on the finish. Ending at an hour and 10 minutes.
Blend Guess: Cuban Wrapper, Binder, and Fillers
Cigar Guess: Quai D’orsay, I don’t know that they even have a 5x50 vitola unless it’s a regional. I think their 50 RG vitola is shorter.
Justification: Cuban wrappers can have a pretty distinct appearance. Usually the texture and color reminds me of a brown paper bag, and they can have some rustic vein structures. The smell of the smoke is usually a give away for me as well. Traditionally, when people talk about Cuban cigars, they talk about a “Twang”. This cigar did not showcase much of that twang. The flavor notes that gave it away were the slightly bitter charred wood and the slight harshness that bit at the throat a bit. I am not an expert in Cubans, so I can only base a guess off of the way the sweet honey like flavors and wood flavors played together like some Quai D’orsays I have smoked.
Actual Cigar: Ramon Allones Specially Selected; Country of Origin: Cuba; Factory: N/A; Wrapper: Cuba; Binder: Cuba; Filler: Cuba
Reaction: I am not at all surprised that this was Cuban or that I was wrong on my specific guess. Honestly, I am not a Cuban cigar fan typically, in both profile and overall experience. It is also difficult to accurately make guesses on Cubans because there are so many consistency issues with Cuban cigars. I am not going to say any more on the Cuban cigar topic. At least not until a later article.
Feel free to reach out to me with questions, concerns, criticisms, or just to talk at @guitarsandcigarsfarm on Instagram, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.