We’ve heard it all before… limited edition cigars made from scarce materials. Then, a year later, they are still readily available, everywhere. But in the case of the new CAO Amazon Basin, its rarity is only part of the intrigue. It’s truly a cigar with a story to tell. I was lucky enough to get one of the last available boxes, and now, four cigars in, consider myself lucky indeed.
According to the official CAO statement, the Amazon Basin cigar “utilizes rare organic tobacco cultivated at small farms in remote regions of the Amazonian Rainforest. The tobacco called ‘Braganca’ is grown in virgin lands and is harvested just once every three years…the leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called ‘carottes’, and left to rest under high pressure. After six months of natural fermentation inside the carrotes, they are transported by canoe from the rainforest and delivered to our factory.” Wow, that’s quite a story! One interesting aspect of cigar smoking is how we experience exotic locales through the tobaccos we smoke. And the Amazonian Rainforest is about as exotic as it gets. If nothing else, smoking an Amazon Basin cigar is a curiosity. But what I’ve discovered is a cigar so unique; it actually lives up to the hype.
A few months ago we posted an article called "The Bands: the Whole Colour of Tobacco", which was part of a relatively new cigar magazine called CigarsLover. Based in Italy, the team behind this publication is doing a great job and each issue is better than the previous one. Today we're posting an article written by Heiko Blumentritt from the most recent issue, which you can download here.
Smoking could be only a mere pleasure, but sometimes it could also be a scientific experience, pursuant to “La Méthode de Jacques Puisais”, or “The Method of Jacques Puisais”.
Mr. Puisais, the director of the French Institute of Taste, developed his personal theory about the lighting of the cigar. The flame emits a relevant heat, which creates a temperature gap between the head and the foot of the cigar; for this reason if you light up a cigar after having cut – or punched – its head, part of the smoke ends up in the middle of the cigar. This phenomenon leads to some negative aspects and it influences the taste in a significant way. His recommendation is to light up the cigar without cutting it before, and to blow on its foot before starting to smoke it, so that the impurities arisen with the heat can be expelled.
Jacques Puisais is a renowned character who made a big effort in the Taste field research. Many experienced smokers, in the field of food & wine, with well educated taste buds, are committed supporters of this theory, so this pushed me to give it a try.
I have been using this method for 4-5 years, and I tried it with various cigars. The test for this article has been led with a Montecristo No. 4.
For this test, two cigars of the same type have been lit up at the same time (using a non jetflame lighter). One of the cigars have been cut after the lighting, blowing through it before to make the first puff. The other cigar has been cut and lighted up after heating its foot until the burn was even (the first puff has been taken without blowing through the cigar).
The question now is: is there any difference between the two cigars?
As far as I’m concerned the answer is yes, especially for the first third.
One possible explanation is the “Chimneystack effect” inside the cigar, as claims Puisais. The lighting of a cigar gives off a strong heat and the smoke emitted looks for a way out. With the head cut, part of the smoke goes through the body of the cigar, releasing several impurities on the tobacco leaves. The part near the foot is the most affected one by this phenomenon, and this could be a possible reason why the first third is the most negatively influenced part.
The smoke regularly passes through the cigar during the smoking process. So why does the problem only come up during the lighting? Probably it is because the temperature of the lighter’s flame is much higher than the one kept by the cigar when it is lit. This theory finds its validation in the fact that smoking very fast involves an overheating and, what is important, usually makes the cigar bitter and unpleasant.
This is obviously only theory, but it is convenient to test it with the practice. In order to figure it out, the only thing we can do is smoking two cigars in parallel, simultaneously. That is exactly what we did, and the following is our report, where cigar 1 is the one lit with the Puisais Method and cigar 2 has been cut before lighting it up.
Cigar 1: the opening is really creamy, with rich notes of cocoa and delicate aromas of coffee, with hints of chocolate and milk. The aromas are well combined.
Cigar 2: the opening is sour, notes of coffee and spices (black pepper) are highlighted.
Both the cigars develop the same aromatic palette, and no differences have been noticed. The woody aroma (cedar) plays the main role, followed by coffee and leather.
The cedar and leather notes increase in intensity. Every puff develops toasted aromas. The two cigars show some slight differences. While cigar1 is still really creamy and pleasant, cigar2 is the first one to rest in the ashtray. Since we smoked both of them with the same rythim, we exclude that this happened beacuse of an overheating.
The cigar 1 lasted 65 minutes, without any combustion issue. I had to put it down to not burn my fingers.
The cigar 2 lasted around 50 minutes and some burn corrections were necessary. It got bitter in the last third.
With this article we don’t want to say that Puisais Method is the correct one and the “traditional lightning” is not. We just want to make you curious about it and perhaps make you try it out!
Right out of the bubble wrap I took one out of the cellophane wrapper and lit up. I will take a moment to provide a little background, for those of us who are new to J. Fuego cigars, like me!
"The Fuego family has been in the business of growing, blending, and making cigars for five generations. Established in 1876, J Fuego was founded as a leaf growing company in "El Corojo" farm, Cuba. In 1995, the family moved to Central America and in 2006, after years growing, blending and producing cigars for other companies, Jesus Fuego launched "Tobacos S.A." with the release of the "J Fuego brand..." (jfuego.com).
The Judge cigars are brand new exclusives you can only find at Famous-Smoke Shop. The blend was crafted by no other than Jesus Fuego.
The Mata Fina is named after where it is grown, is a reference to one of the four major growing zones in Brazil.
This cigar is GOOD! Such a smooth draw, even burn and stayed that way to the end, consistent full tobacco flavor with a medium body of taste and aroma. The Judge Blind Justice is not finished with me yet! That's just a sample of what this cigar will smoke like after some time in my humidor! My first J. Fuego cigar and it was a purchase well worth making.
Last month came the amazing news from the White House that America is going to normalize relations with Cuba. This is great news for cigar smokers, who can now look forward to legally bringing cigars home with them to the states. Now there’s something else to look forward to from Cuba, and that’s the news that Habanos S.A. will debut two vitolas in the first quarter of 2015 in their new "Añejados" line. Añejados cigars have been aged in Cuba, in perfect conditions of preservation, for a minimum of five years.
The two new vitolas will be the 155 mm x 52 Romeo y Julieta Píramides Añejados and the 178 mm x 47 Montecristo Churchills Añejados. Both cigars will come in boxes of 25 stamped with the Añejados sticker as well as the month and year of manufacture and the word “Revisado.” This translates to “checked,” as a measure of quality control. What will they be like? Habanos S.A. has stated in a press release that the aging process will give these vitolas a “rounder and mellower” flavor than the others in the Añejados line. The cedar boxes they have been aged in will contribute a wood note. These same boxes are the ones the cigars will be sold and distributed in, with the artwork printed on fresh before shipping. The pricing for these cigars has yet to be announced.
The Punch Serie d'Oro 2013 Edicion Limitada was a highly anticipated release from Habanos S.A. As usual, the wrappers for this limited edition come from tapado (shade-grown) leaves, which is the reason why they have such a dark and oily appearance. The tobacco used in these cigars was aged for two years. Again, no surprises here. What's quite surprising on the other hand is that this is the first ever Edicion Limitada from Punch (the Serie d'Oro No. 1 was a regional edition for the UK that we reviewed... five years ago! this makes me feel old) — and as with any Edicion Limitada, my expectations are high.
The Tatuaje Havana VI line is another solid production from Pete Johnson and Pepin Garcia. Said to be more mellow and medium bodied than the brown label, the Havana VI line is comprised of eight different vitolas: Hermosos – 5 5/8 x 46, Angeles – 4 5/8 x 42, Victorias 6 x 38, Artistas – 6 1/8 x 52 (reviewed here), Nobles – 5 x 50 (reviewed here), Almirantes – 7 x 47, Gorditos – 5 ½ x 56, Verocu No.5 – 4 x 40.
Out of the entire Havana VI line, the only other sizes I’ve tried are the Almirantes (Churchill), which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was certainly excited to have the chance to sample a smaller vitola (Corona Especial), so let's see how it went.
Recently we posted about the revitalization of the famous Vegueros brand, which dates back to 1961, and which was discontinued in 2012. Vegueros was one of the best-known Habanos SA brands, especially after they started exporting in 1997. Previously there were four vitolas in their line: Especial No. 1, Especial No. 2, Seoane, and Mareva. Vegueros recently started up production again with three new vitolas: Tapados, Entretiempos, and Mañanitas. They’ve also done a complete makeover of their image, redesigning their logo, bands, and packaging. I picked up the Mañanitas, which is a Petit Figurado measuring 4 inches for a mere $6.