Thursday, February 11, 2010
I remember the first time I had a La Flor; Monday, December 9, 2002. As the first semester of my college career was coming to a close, it had been a rough one. I was adjusting to time away from the only home I had ever known, classes, time management, social obligations, girls, and life unexpected as it came. I walked into my local cigar spot, a place you can still find me 1-2 times a week, and the place was especially crowded for a Monday. “Damn,” I thought, I came here to study for my Biology final that was the next day, and I was not about to blow my first college final. As I made my way through the crowd a large and tall gentleman with a brown mustache touched me on the shoulder and asked, “Son, have you ever tried a La Flor Dominicana?” I replied simply, “No.” The gentleman proceeded to talk to me about Litto Gomez (the maker of La Flor), the mystique of the ligero tobacco leaf, and trying to convince me that this was the greatest smoke on earth. Mind you, I had recently graduated from Titan Phillies and Swishers to Romeo y Julietas, Partagas, and Macanudos. I thought I knew what a premier cigar was. I hadn’t even heard of Rocky Patel, Paul Garmirian, Camacho, or even Ashton at this point.
The guy was so dedicated to me not smoking any cigar but his, he gave me one for free. And what a cigar it was, a beautiful 6x56 Double Ligero Toro. That guy knew what he was talking about even if he was full of it. I smoked that stogie down to the nub and bought five La Flors to take back to my dorm. Standing was a feat, while walking was damn near impossible. That tobacco high had me floating. Ahh, was I ever that young?
Litto Gomez, along with his wife, Ines Lorenzo-Gomez, entered the industry in the mid-1990s. After a few speedbumps, they buckled down and began investing their time with some of the best people in the business. They built their business slowly, improving their product until they eventually had their own factory. Backed by the old mantra of, "quality over quantity, they are now a major player in the world of cigars.
Gomez, who happens to be a huge fan of Kung Fu movies, named his latest creation after the story made famous by Japanese anime and the M. Night Shyamalan feature due for release this summer. The Air Bender sports a Cuban-seed Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that is the same leaf that Gomez used on his 95-rated Solomon from 2009. The binder and filler hail from, of course, the Dominican Republic.
The wrapper and construction is nearly flawless with one visible seam along the side. The dark brown color is gorgeous and solid with a pre-light smell of dark robust earth and lingering pepper. The dry draw also has some pepper and leather. I can tell this cigar is going to be a powerhouse before I even light it. I use a guillotine cutter to clip the end off and light the foot with a match.
As I continue to smoke, the ash begins to show its amazing solid light gray color. The burn begins to even up a bit more and the draw pulls in just the right amount of smoke. The aroma builds while the strength subsides. This stogie has a great mouth-feel and a creaminess that coats the palate with the perfect amount of smoke.
Gomez is quoted saying that the Airbender is "no sissy cigar." I fully agree. If you're a mild or even a medium cigar smoker, I urge to tread lightly. However, if you are used to full-bodied stogies or want to venture out a bit, then I really recommend the Airbender.
Balance - 9
Total Rating: 9.1
Smoke on guys and gals and remember, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I knew I wanted to review this cigar the moment I read about its release from the J.C. Newman Cigar Company. The Churchill received an awesome '91' rating from Cigar Aficionado Magazine in its last issue of 2009. I planned in indulging in one of those for this review, but when my local cigar shop only had one robusto left, I took it as a sign. According to brickhousecigars.com, the robusto lies more on the medium flavored front than its counterparts that finish more on the fuller side.
First, a little background for the uneducated. The original Newman, Julius Caesar (J.C.) Newman, immigrated to America in 1888. Seven short years later he founded J.C. Newman Cigar Co., which is the oldest family-owned cigar maker still standing in the U.S. today. One of Newman's earliest releases was Brick House, an omage to his heritage. Growing up as a child in his village, the building he called home was the only brick structure around. It was not only his home, but also served as the town's tavern. For decades, his friends, family, neighbors and travelers gathered at the end of a hard day's work to drink, eat, smoke and enjoy the company of others.
The first few puffs are nothing but a straight punch of earth with leathery notes. The draw is beautiful with cool, flavorful smoke that lingers softly on the palate. It's a little more mild than I first thought it would be, but overall the medium label fits really well.