Recluse Kanu 1 Maduro

Recluse Kanu

Origin : Dominican RepublicRecluse cigars
Format : Proprietary Kanú (based on perfecto)
Size : 6 x 54
Wrapper : Brazilian Maduro
Filler : Dominican
Binder : Their binder is proprietary and they simply refer to it as ‘MBC’
Hand-Made
Price : ~$10

This new and unique shape by Iconic Leaf, the Kanú, was inspired by a Kayak boat. Iconic Leaf sent me a couple samples last autumn for review along with some promotional material. I wanted to give these cigars some resting time and as our winter hit early, I decided to put off smoking them until the time was right.

All of Iconic Leaf's cigars are produced in their factory; Tabacalera Leyendas Cubanas in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic. They roll all of their cigars entubado style and every leaf in the Recluse is fermented for two years.

At first glance the cigar resembles a box-pressed perfecto but to my eyes it actually resembled an Italian made 'Toscano' in a larger, more refined format. Don't snip it in the middle though as you would a Toscano! (*wink*) Thankfully the company offers instructions on where to snip the cigar in their boxes. I did not get these with my two review samples and as such I found the draw on the first one quite tight. I did snip more off the second one and found the draw much improved.

The function of a perfecto is that the different components from wrapper to filler allow for the cigar to go through subtle flavor transitions. Iconic Leaf Cigars advises that by developing this one of a kind shape the smoker is able to get a slow, cool burn as a result of the benefit of pressing along with flavor transitions. Iconic Leaf refers to their process as "specific and unique; a one of a kind process". Their company literature provides that "Every cigar has a story to tell. You have to read this book page by page. This one will not allow you to jump chapters. It is a novel."

Remember I rated their Recluse Toro higher than the Alec Bradley Prensado in flavor so I was more than curious as to how this shape would fare and whether it would alter the flavor profile at all.

The promotional material shipped with the cigars indicated that the cigar has "subtle cornering and is aerodynamic in fashion. It was a painstaking process to perfect this new shape but we have mastered it. The shape smokes razor sharp with a full easy compliment of flavorful smoke on the draw. It is a masterpiece!". Let's put this to the test shall we?

Appearance : ★★★★½ (4.25)
As I already noted, on first glimpse the cigar reminded me of a larger version of a Toscano. The nicely crafted "pig-tail" end is meant to be snipped and the company, as stated, offers instructions on where the perfect snip should be. The wrapper had visible veins and some seams. The rustic looking cigar had a nice oily sheen to it though and the visible veins and seams never impacted the burn. The pig-tail was nicely crafted.

Kanu Box

Construction : ★★★★★ (4.75)
The burn was excellent. Two touch-ups were needed to even out an otherwise consistent burn on my first sample. The second sample burned without need for any touch-up, possibly because I cut it at the correct spot. The pre-light draw was tight on the first sample, easily remedied by snipping a bit more on my second sample to create a larger opening.

The cigar had excellent smoke output for the most part but on both samples was a bit lacking at the start. As expected, the volume increased as it approached the middle (thicker) part of the cigar. Overall, it needed no relights, the ash was nice and firm with no flaking or other major complaints.

Flavor : ★★★★½
I must commend Iconic Leaf for manufacturing an extremely tasty cigar and you really do owe it to yourself to try a cigar from this newcomer to the scene. Fans of Maduro cigars should love this. I actually enjoyed the flavors of the Kanú more than I did the Toro and wonder if this perhaps was in part attributed to the fact these Kanú cigars sat in my humidor for 6 months before I smoked them.

The cigar starts off quite complex and remains that way. It is perfectly balanced with sweetness, salt, bitterness and spice. It has distinct maduro 'nuttiness' to it and much of the first third was an explosion of flavor going from sweet to creamy, nutty and a very mild hint of orange peel. The smoke was very velvety offering a nice oily sweet residue on the tongue.

The first third revealed flavors of cocoa, semi-sweet chocolate, coffee and toasted almond. There was some sweet earthiness on the palate and an occasional hint of orange peel. There was some pleasant saltiness on the lips and the cigar had enough spice to be noticeable and complimentary but not distracting. The finish was long with the sweetness hitting the front of the palate first and more spice lingering in between puffs. Due to its shape there wasn't a lot of thick smoke at the outset but this increases as you reach the thicker part of the cigar.

As I approached the halfway mark there were notes of toasted caramel that I likened to the ‘crispy crackle’ on a creme brulé. As expected, the cigar's smoke output increased and the smoke took on a sweet cappuccino-like texture. The cigar remained very pleasant, taking on some semi-sweet coffee and cocoa like flavors with hints of dark chocolate.

There were still some sweet tones present as I passed the halfway mark but the Kanu morphed into an earthier cigar with notes of toasted almond, sweet wood and leather notes. The spice remained consistent. It was a nice jalapeño-like heat with a medium finish.

By the final third the flavors continued to shine but more occasional bitterness did enter the profile. It wasn’t an unpleasant bitterness but because the majority of the cigar is on the sweeter side, you can really notice the diminished sweetness. However, the flavors were of dark chocolate, roasted coffee bean and unsweetened espresso and were still enjoyable. I did get a couple puffs of unpleasant hints of tar and some bitterness that put me off but these were very few and closer to the end of the cigar. There remained the occasional burst of toasted caramel sweetness with cocoa and spice that made it through in the final third but most of it was definitely more on the ‘earthier' side.

Value : ★★★★½ (4.25)
These cigars are still hard to find but the online retailers I've seen carry them have posted prices of between $180-$188 for a box of 20 and singles for approximatelty $10-10.50 staying pretty much consistent with the MSRP. It is priced as a premium cigar but thankfully it carries with it the enjoyment of one. I often state, value is relative to the enjoyment one gets from the product they purchase. I was quite pleased and as such I would pay $10.00 for one of these again but wonder if the price tag might put people off for a brand that they don’t recognize given the general public’s love affair with established “name brand” cigars. Buying by the box will save you some money. I've been sent disappointing cigars for review before but Iconic Leaf seems to have a winner on their hands and, compared to some other over-marketed cigars in this price range, this one actually kept me interested during the entire smoking experience.

Overall Rating : ★★★★½
The Recluse Kanú 1 Maduro was a very enjoyable complex cigar with enough flavor changes and flavor notes to keep you interested. It is certainly full bodied and medium strength. It was extremely tasty offering a variety of different flavor notes throughout that ranged from sweetness to pleasant earthiness. There was just enough spice and the cigar transitioned quite nicely. Admittedly when you did hit some bitter parts they were truly ‘bitter’ but thankfully these spots were very few and very short lasting in both samples that I smoked. For the most part the cigar was nicely balanced and consistent.

This is a cigar that the avid cigar smoker should seek out and try. I always encourage fellow cigar smokers to venture out of the comfort zone and try the new brands and blends. Admittedly with today’s rising tobacco prices, paying $10.00 for a cigar they never heard of might put some people off but they are worth trying even at this price because in my opinion, they will not leave you feeling ripped off. It is truly an above average cigar. It paired well with a cappuccino and would go well with a port or iced tea.

Having had both their Toro and now their Kanú, I am a fan. Their cigars are becoming easier to find and one can find a retailer near you on their website here. I look forward to further releases from Iconic Leaf.

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