For folks that follow me on Instagram, it’s probably no secret that I have numerous hobbies and dabble in a few… “gentlemanly” things. I’m by no means an expert on these topics (few are from my perspective), but I obviously love craft beer and a fine wine. I’m currently developing the taste for a good bourbon (getting in touch with my Kentucky roots), and I occasionally enjoy a good cigar. Alcohol and tobacco can be a sticky subject for some, if that’s not something that strikes your fancy, I’m sure I’ll be returning to your regularly scheduled moto-media in short order. For those of you that partake in the “finer things in life” here’s my two cents.
A few days back Anthony, from Cigarscity, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in offering my opinion on a few cigars. As a guy who like to try new things, I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity. While I have smoked cigars for over a decade, (I took a little hiatus after being overseas) more recently social occasions, and shockingly motorcycles, have spiked the interest considerably.
The first cigar on tap was the Ave Maria Immaculata (Toro, 6” x 50). The Immaculata, from the Tabacalera Fernandez factory (A.J. Fernandez Cigars) in Nicaragua, is made with Nicarguan fillers, Nicaraguan Habano binder, and is wrapped with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper.
The Immaculata is a two banded cigar, with really catchy branding. Like wine, in my opinion, cigar labels don’t tell the whole story, but the Ave Maria logos and embossed bands are really classy. The cigar felt pretty light in my hand and unlit I detected mostly mild aromas of straw, otherwise “grassy” scents. The wrapper quality was well done, with the veins very clearly seen in the Connecticut wrapper. After cutting, the pre-light draw was very smooth; I actually cut this cigar, whereas I typically use a punch. For whatever reason, I actually prefer a slightly tighter draw, but there’s give and take with that depending on the cigar and your own personal preference.
The Immaculata was really easy to get lit and started out very mild. The first few puffs offered mild to bordering on medium “body” tastes and flavors. Initially I did detect a very subtle “pepper” flavor, but still subdued. The smoke was light and very inoffensive. To me, the first third of the cigar was mostly more of the same “grassy” tones related to the pre-light impressions, not bad, but somewhat unremarkable.
Considering the easy draw and otherwise mildness of the cigar, I was impressed that the ash held on for about an inch and a half before falling off. Moving into the second third I began to catch a very subtle vanilla taste for just a short second. Midway through the second third I began to feel the heat start to build with each draw. For me, one of the best parts of a cigar is the smoke aroma and the crisp sound of tobacco as it burns with each puff. I personally don’t enjoy the taste (especially after) so much as the olfactory stimulation (acquired taste I’m sure). That said, as the heat starts to become more prevalent, I find that starts to heavily impact the taste, and often in a negative way, but that’s just me.
Through the second third I began to notice the first tingle of nicotine emerge, nothing obtrusive, just a mild pleasant experience. Along with the heat the draw started to open up more and more as the cigar burned down. About halfway through I noticed the burn line was getting a little un-even, but the cigar had no problem staying lit, so no issue there. Into the last third the body started to pick up some; the overall aroma was still very good, but the taste started to get a bit “ashy”, as I said, probably correlated with the heat.
Start to finish the Immaculata lasted for over an hour and a half; significantly longer than I expected, especially after noticing the light weight, Connecticut wrapper, and easy draw. Overall I didn’t feel that the Immaculata was particularly complex; simply mild, consistent, and in no way offensive. Throughout the smoke I had a tough time putting my finger on a distinctive taste & scent, after the fact I think a detected a subtle “nutty” trace. At the same time others have described tastes of wood, leather, cream, and nutmeg. Admittedly my palate is simply not that refined, but all in all it was an excellent mild smoke for folks leaning in that direction. I think my personal preference would have me searching for something a little darker with a bit more complexity, but for anyone just getting into cigars or just looking for a mild mid-afternoon cigar the Immaculata is an excellent choice.