Greetings and Salutations Lords and Ladies of the Leaf!
It’s been far too long since I’ve had a good smoke. And it’s been even longer since I have written for this blog – big thanks to Kyle for squirreling away his resources to make sure that I get to post when I can – and I’ve missed you all!
Well, let me tell you about this cigar I found at Riverside Cigar Lounge and Shop, located in Historic Jeffersonville Indiana. Jeff was really great, the cigar lounge looks totally cool with large comfortable leather chairs, lots of ashtrays, high-definition plasma screen tvs and it adjacent to the Brickhouse Bourbon Bar. Which it seemed was closed last night when I went in. Visit them at riversidecigars.com. I’ll be visiting them for sure over this Christmas break to sit and smoke a spell. Best part about the whole thing? It doesn’t really reek of cigars, which was a plus for my wife and her sister. How did I find this place? My wife found it, as we were ice-skating in the parking lot across the street. And as a reward for my patience and ice skating prowess, I managed to get some cigars out of the deal – go me. I walked out with two Pete Johnsons – A limited Edition “Wolfman” and a Cabaiguan guapo, and the Illusione “Holy Lance” in a Candela wrapper.
At any rate, I’ll get on with the review. Did you know that Dion Giolito (you’ll recognize him as one of my favorite cigar manufacturers) decided to make the Holy Lance in the standard colorado wrapper, the maduro wrapper, and the candela wrapper? I certainly didn’t and finding all three made this choice rather difficult. What is a candela wrapper you ask? It’s bright green – and according to some places it’s a dead wrapper. Candela wrappers have been very rare over the past 9-10 years. Sometimes referred to as AMS, or “American Market Selection,” cigars due to their tremendous popularity in the United States from the late 1800s through the mid 20th century, Candela is basically a bright green wrapper color achieved by a process which traps the chlorophyll content of the leaf prior to fermentation. This wrapper is sort of sour tasting and because of it’s acquired taste it seemes to have lost touch with aficionados of today.
This is my first candela wrapper, and it was purchased solely on Jeff’s recommendation, and the fact that the standard colorado Holy Lance was so damned good. Here’s what Giolito has to say on his website: “ Lancero , the lance. Get it? Constantine was the first Christian Emperor to lead Rome. It was fabled that he had possession of the very spear that punctured the side of Jesus while on the cross. He was said to carry this relic into battle and, it was said that it helped him win many battles. It is an artisan blend and, the mildest of all my cigars.”
On with the review! It should be noted: to my understanding, they are not a limited-run but will be produced so long as the candela wrapper is available.
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: American Market Standard – Candela Wrapper
Price: Expect to pay about $10.00 – $12.00 per smoke.
THE PRE-LIGHT RITUAL
Many of you will remember that I’m all about the experience – and as such this remains my favorite part of the entire smoking experience. Truly a boutique cigar the band was simple, white band with gold lettering. Again, since I believe we smoke (and eat) first with our eyes, this band was truly sexy and got me excited about smoking this cigar. The bright green wrapper was nice- just right it had sandy undertones underneath . It had no huge veins, and only one small tear, I think though that this is because it was transported home in the pocket of my leather coat.. Like all lanceros, they were light, but this one had only one soft spot. The cap was even, a nice triple seam with a deft pigtail on the top. The band was true to the Illusione type, and it was simple, classic, and even sexy. The smell was almost light fresh cut hay, grassy and light. It was a welcome breath of fresh air in the freezing night. A light floral scent accompanied the stick too. The pre-light was open and even, and tasted of wheat, and a small hint of leather.
The first third began grassy, and had hints of roasted wheat. This cigar had a pleasant almost leathery aftertaste. One of the best things about the cigar was that with a green wrapper, one would expect that it would be a “lighter” smoke, as Candela’s often are (at least to me), but this one is heady and enjoyable. Having enjoyed the standard Holy Lance, this one is totally in the same league as it’s brown cousin. Thick plumes of smoke coated the palate, but the ash was disappointing. It was loose, and dark gray – indicative that perhaps the cigar was rolled too wet. Towards the middle of the second third, there was an interesting addition to the flavors – it started to move from grassiness to the sweetness of caramel or even a toffee – a very pleasing flavor!
The second third started with notes of toasted bread with the undertone of toffee and transitioned into a savory spiciness that I found really rather satisfying. I’m a fan of cigars that are spicy, and heady. And this one was well on its way to delivering a powerful punch! The smoke moved into a cinnamon and pepper with the barest floral hints of anise and all-spice. The smoke was still very pronounced, and thick. It was delicious – keeping the palate coated in the savory spiciness that reared it’s head in this third.
The spiciness of the second third yielded in the final third to a flavor that was predominantly woody, and nutty. It was almost as if we returned to the beginning of the cigar because leathery undertones made their way back into the mix. The smoke remained thick and abundant, though I did have to relight a few times in this third, and had to even out the burn. Other than that the smoke was perfect. One thing that Giolito is famous for is the blending of tobaccos to create flavor profiles that linger on the palate.
With a total smoke time of one and a half hours, I found each minute to be an enjoyable one. The first notes were very grassy and summery which lead me to thinking I would be smoking a garden. But the whole smoke had such a complexity and subtle nuances that I can only compare to purchasing perfume for a significant other. It smells one way on the little plastic card, but on your loved one it’s completely different. This is the first cigar in a long time that I nubbed out.
Prelight: 9/10 –
Overall Experience: 9/10
Total Composite Score: 27/30
I totally want some more of these to fill this:
What a great Christmas present – my wife totally rocks! Speaking of Christmas – I hope that you and your loved ones have a great Holiday.