|Last summer, I wrote an article on C&C Cigars. At that time, their Roll Back line had been released and they were working on the blends for their premium line of cigars. I have sampled each of these cigars over the last few months, and have stashed a few away for review purposes. A few days ago, I sat down and smoked each of the three cigars in their premium line for the purposes of this review. I rarely smoke 2 cigars from the same manufacturer in one day, and I have never smoked 3 cigars from a manufacturer in one day. I was pleasantly surprised at how well these cigars, which retail for $4.25 apiece, held up throughout the day.
I started off the day with their mildest offering, the C&C Connecticut with my cup of coffee. The first few puffs of the cigar tasted of lightly dry wood, but transitioned into a smoother smoke very quickly. For the remainder of the first third of the cigar, I tasted some herbal flavors, with a bit of wood and hints of cream. The herbal flavors diminished a bit in the second third and were replaced by notes of coffee. Some of the initial woodsiness returned in the final third along with some light peppery flavors.
My after lunch smoke was the C&C Corojo, which started off lightly peppery (typical of Corojo wrappers) and with a light sweet wood. I notice right away that the smoke has a pleasant aroma of cedar. In the second third, the peppery flavors pick up quite a bit, and I taste notes of pepper and sweet cedar on the finish. The final third brings more intense flavors of pepper with a long peppery finish. The light sweet cedar notes are no longer present in the final third.
C&C Limited Release Maduro (LRMD)
My late afternoon smoke, the C&C Limited Release Maduro (LRMD), started out very toasty with mild peppery and woodsy flavors on the finish. The second third introduces earthy flavors. The finish opens with bolder peppery flavors, then transitions into light dry woodsy flavors. More earthiness is present in the final third with a very quick transition into intense peppery flavors with hints of wood.
Category Archives: Cigar Tasting
|Living in Florida, I have the good fortune of not only living in one of the major cigar regions of the country, but also living near several cigar manufacturers and being able to talk with them in and out of events. I first met Jack Sanzeri of Illuminati Cigars at Maduros Cigars over the summer. He and Illuminati Sales Representative Kevin Robbins were there to discuss an upcoming event with the proprieter of Maduros and stayed to enjoy a smoke afterwards. A friend had recommended Illuminati cigars to me earlier this year, but this was the first time I had seen them at a local retailer. As someone who loves to talk to manufacturers about their cigars, I picked up an Illuminati Shield and made my way over to introduce myself and learn more about the company and their cigars.Sanzeri’s introduction to cigars came early in life. When visiting with uncles and grandparents who enjoyed cigars, they would encourage him to try their cigars. He thoroughly enjoyed the experiences, and dreamed of someday owning his own cigar company. It was not until 2010, after studying Electrical Engineering and owning and later selling his own electrical contracting company, that his dream was realized. The name “Illuminati” was inspired by Sanzeri’s eldest son. The plural of the Latin word illuminatis, it means “enlightened” and lends a powerful mystique to the brand.
Sanzeri was determined to, and has succeeded in creating a quality cigar that can be enjoyed by a variety of palates, whether experienced or novice. Illuminati offers 3 lines of cigars, that while blended to be classics, are in a class of their own. Their Mondo Nuovo cigar is a mild-medium bodied Connecticut with a spicy kick at the start, that mellows to smooth creamy, toasty and earthy flavors for the remainder of the smoke. The Crusade is a medium bodied cigar that has a lot of earthy flavor with some pepper and wood notes. The Shield is the Illuminati full-bodied offering, a smooth cigar with some leather, earth and pepper flavors to start that gives way to some sweetness and chocolate notes. The Mondo Nuovo and Crusade are offered in Robusto (5 x 50), Torpedo (6.5 x 52) and Toro (6 x 54) sizes. The Shield is also available in the Robusto and Torpedo sizes, and additionally can be smoked as a Corona (5 x 46) or Churchill (7.125 x 48).
I am happy to say that since I smoked my first Illuminati that day, I have seen their cigars carried by many retailers in the Tampa and Sarasota areas, including World Famous Cigar Bar, Maduros Cigars, Tampa Humidor and Cigar Castle. It’s always a pleasure bumping into Jack or Kevin at a local shop, and I look forward to smoking more Illuminati cigars in the near future.
|I recently had the pleasure of visiting C&C Cigars headquarters in Bradenton, FL with the officers of my local CRA Club. We have an upcoming sunset cruise event, and C&C Cigars has generously offered to be one of our sponsors and supply cigars for the event. We were greeted by John Chiusano, Jeff Aronson, Shane Hays and Maurice Tisseur. They were a very welcoming group, immediately giving us samples of their new Roll Back line to enjoy while we chatted.
We quickly learned that this group, who have been working together since their days at Cusano Cigars, is (rightfully) very passionate about their products. Joe Chiusano put it best when he said C&C Cigars “makes cigars for people who smoke cigars”. They clearly understand that there are people in the cigar community who enjoy several cigars a day, and that not all cigar smokers are easily able to afford to smoke several cigars on a daily basis. Hence, the birth of the Roll Back line. The Roll Back, available in bundles, is offered in Connecticut and Natural Ecuadorian Maduro wrappers (“Natural” because no processing is done to the wrapper beyond what is required to produce a Maduro wrapper). Initially, the Roll Back will be available in 3 sizes: Robusto (5×50; MSRP $2.09), Toro (6×52; MSRP $2.29) and Churchill (7×50; MSRP $2.49).
As I smoked my Maduro, I realized they had created a cigar that is a great anytime smoke. It is not an overpowering cigar, but offers a medium bodied profile that can be enjoyed any time of day, before a meal or after. I lit up a Connecticut Roll Back the next morning to enjoy with my coffee. The Connecticut was mild but flavorful, with the slightly sweet and creamy flavors that I tend to go for in a morning smoke. Both cigars burned very well, had a great draw and were obviously well constructed.
C&C also offers the LRMD (Limited Release Maduro), which is their premium boxed cigar. I have not yet had the opportunity to sample this cigar, but am looking forward to what should be a medium-full strength cigar with decent amounts of Dominican Ligero tobacco. The LRMD will be available in the same 3 sizes as the Roll Back, and at very reasonable prices for a premium line (Robusto: $3.99, Toro $4.29 and Churchill $4.49).
I recently started doing video cigar reviews. Initially, the job sounded pretty straightforward. Smoke a cigar, give my opinions… That made me stop and think. Should I be giving my personal opinions on cigars, or should I be giving the objective facts on the cigars and let people decide for themselves whether or not they would want to try the cigar?
Sitting with a group of friends at our local cigar lounge, there are certainly some cigars that all of us can agree on. Then there are cigars that everyone will dislike, and one odd person out will say they enjoy. It can be an awkward moment for the person who enjoys the cigar, especially if the group gives them grief for it.
I have been to cigar events, where the manufacturer hands out a sample cigar to encourage people to try their brand. There was one particular event where, as I walked through the crowded cigar lounge, I saw ashtrays full of half-smoked discarded samples. I have to admit, I was one of the people who discarded the cigar less than halfway through. (Note: I tend not to do this anymore, I have begun to smoke all cigars the whole way through to see if the profile develops.) Yet, I have seen many positive reviews for this cigar online and many tweets from people who enjoy this cigar on a regular basis.
I have to believe that at the very least the blender liked something about the flavor profile of the cigar. At the very least, they believed that the blend was good for the price point they wanted to achieve. So there would have to be smokers who would find it an enjoyable cigar, regardless of what my personal opinion of the cigar is. Some flavors are appealing to some folks, while others would find the same flavors undesirable.
All of which led me to realize that while I certainly could share my personal opinion of cigars in my reviews, that was not what I wanted to do. I would much rather share my objective observations of each cigar – what do I taste, how is the draw, etc. – and let each prospective smoker decide whether or not it was a good cigar for them. Once in awhile, if I find a cigar’s flavor profile more offensive, I will mention that it’s not something that I personally enjoy, but that if viewers like the flavors I described they should try it.
When I first started smoking cigars 5 years ago, it was a very social experience for me. We didn’t have a humidor so we always went out to smoke. Consequently, there was a lot of conversation amongst ourselves and any friends we would run into at our chosen cigar lounge. We talked about the cigars we were smoking, but only in vague terms. A particular cigar was “really strong” or “great” or “not very enjoyable”. A cigar would have a “great draw” or would “canoe”. For a long time, as my friend Dale likes to say, I would think of cigars as “good”, “eh”, or “bad”. It was all about kicking back with a drink and friends and relaxing. The cigar was part of the social experience. There were some I really liked and others that I didn’t, but I never put too much thought into why. I would read cigar reviews online and be in awe of all the details of the flavor profile. I never picked up on any specific flavors, but that was because I never gave myself the chance.
We went to a cigar event one night where the rep handed out pieces of dark chocolate and a small sample of scotch to accompany the cigar we were sampling. Before giving out the cigar, he told us at what point to have a bite of chocolate or a sip of scotch to enhance the flavors in the cigar. While it might sound a bit extreme, by doing so he made us think about the flavors in the cigar rather than merely smoking it. I started picking up some vague flavors that night, but still nothing specific. He also taught us that retrohaling a cigar is important, in that it helps detect more flavors since the smoke touches more taste buds. It would be a few weeks before I finally learned the art of retrohaling. While some of our friends thought it was a cool party trick, I found I was picking up even more detailed flavors.
I was intrigued by my newfound knowledge and did some reading on how to really taste the flavors in a cigar. I learned that I am not a super taster, and that I need to bring in the smoke on the forefront of my tongue to taste more of a cigar. I also learned to stop and focus on the lingering flavors in my mouth to pick up the subtleties on the finish. Once I started working on these details, I learned to pair my drinks to further maximize the smoking experience whereas before I would drink whatever I was in the mood to drink. A spicy cigar would be enhanced by a Malbec, whereas a mild creamy cigar was perfect with a cup of coffee.
It has been an eye opening transition over the past year, one that I am still making, I still do smoke socially and get involved in conversation or a sports game where I don’t pay so much attention to nuances of my cigar. But there are also evenings, where I can sit and relax with a smoke and really enjoy the flavor profiles and transitions that a cigar has to offer. I thoroughly enjoy both types of experiences, each in its own way.
I started this blog to share my experiences with cigars, whether it be a general experience or a review of a particular cigar. I hope to introduce you to new cigars and perhaps even help enhance your cigar experience.