Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Dear Internet,

Those of you who know me best will readily testifiy to the fact I am a sophisticated cheapskate. VERY sophisticated, sure, but a cheapskate nonetheless.

So, much like I have done previously with wines, I am here to give you the inside track on getting spectacular, Robb Report-like levels of luxuriosity for chump change.

This is where you need your Uncle Joke.

Today's steal is the Pedro Martin Cigars Corojo blend.

The short version of the back story is this: Back in Cuba, there was a guy (Pedro Martin) who grew up in the cigar and tobacco business. His father and father-in-law were legends in their own right, growing top-shelf leaf and rolling amazing cigars. So this guy has serious DNA going on.

The bad guys take over Cuba, and Pedro and his crew come to the USA. Pedro sets up shop at Tropical Tobacco and immediately starts producing ridiculously good cigars, cigars that give a good scare to the giga-buck illicit smokes from Cuba. Pedro rides the initial wave of the cigar boom to well deserved acclaim and the hits just keep on coming: V Centennial, Don Juan and culminating in the spectacular V Centennial 500* Series, about which Cigar Aficionado's raters fell over themselves to praise with no score lower than a 90.

Pedro is riding high, and he has great plans for the future. But then...

(You KNEW there would be a "but then", right?)

Pedro gets sick, and is forced to sell the company.

Many years later, his daughter Maria finds her dad's "recipes" (the cigar blends) the near-mythical Pedro had devised all those years ago, in the expectation the tobacco growers would finally provide him the raw material to work his magic. Having absorbed much of the knowledge and wisdom her father had to impart, Maria decides to make a bold move: She will honor her family legacy by creating a cigar company dedicated to resurrecting the legendary blends her father had devised.

Such is her faith that she and her business partner, Ammer Cabrera launched her company into one of the worst economies in living memory.

I'm here to tell you that faith was very, very well placed.

But I'm skipping ahead.

With cigars I like to try one "straight" and then one the way I'd normally enjoy one in a social context. Sometimes a cigar that tastes great in isolation doesn't go with a spirit, and vice versa. A stellar cigar does both, with no stories and no apologies.

This, dear Internet, is a stellar cigar.

First of all, if you were a Very Bad Person you would buy all of these that you found and relabel them with some fancy-pants embargoed Cuban cigar bands, and you'd fool ANYONE, and get repeat business. Seriously, if this thing had a Cuban label, you'd have to bay upwards of $25 per stick and be glad for the privilege.

But be gladder you don't have to. This thing is a steal.

I got a Churchill. Me, personally, I prefer a high wrapper to filler ratio. You do whatever you want.

The wrapper is minimally veined. Smooth, glossy and a textbook definition of what a cigar wrapper should look like.

The pre-lighting aroma was very cinnamon/cedar. Construction was firm, but not hard. Clipping and drawing were easy. This is classical stuff. So we light.

The aroma of sweet spices ERUPTS from this cigar. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg envelop your senses. The draw and construction are -- and there's no other way around this -- flawless. The downside to a flawless construction is that, if you're not paying attention, you will have cheerfully smoked the whole thing down to the band in no time at all.

Of course, anything with the name "Pedro Martin" on it had better be constructed perfectly, otherwise Pedro himself may come back down to earth and start chasing people with a chaveta.

The ash is a dark silver, tight and even all the way down. (Seriously, I may YouTube a video of this thing, you have to see it to believe it.)

Anyway, as the filler warms up, different notes appear in the cigar, (don't think I'm crazy, but I sensed an orange creme brulee thing that was delicious) going from citrus, to hazelnuts, to a leather thing was was unspeakably heady. This, incidentally, is a full bodied cigar. Very, very smooth, but full bodied. Kind of like a Navy SEAL in a Savile Row suit, you don't realize how full bodied it is until it sneaks up on you. This is not "medium-to-full" or anything like that. Unapologetically full. Like the classics ol' Pedro grew up with.

In a way, it's like finding an opera or symphony written by a great composer that had never been performed before. That's what this cigar is like. It gives you an idea what Pedro Martin was thinking when he looked at a tobacco crop, or a warehouse full of curing leaf.

Finally, these amazing blends get to come back to life.

Draw remained perfect to the very end.

So, basically, you should run and not wait and buy a box. Actually buy two, because with a Corojo cigar like this, it can only improve with humidor time.

-J.

* Just last year, a mint, unopened box of V Centennial 500 robustos sold for $1200 at auction. Stop and ponder that.