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Commentary: My Cigar Safari Blends (Part 2)

11 Sep 2012

Yesterday, Patrick A wrote about the cigars he blended while attending Cigar Safari. Today I’m looking at my creations. Like my colleague, I blended two cigars: one at Joya de Nicaragua, and the other at Drew Estate. Unlike my previous experiences blending cigars, these cigars were rolled by experienced cigar makers, which is nice since the other blends I created (at La Aurora and General Cigar’s Dominican factories) were rolled mostly by me, meaning it was had to know whether the blend or just the rolling was sub-standard.

For both cigars I had one shared goal—to create a balanced cigar—along with flavor profiles I was seeking to create. In both cases, the cigars turned out smokeable, though they certainly aren’t better than the professional blends coming from either factory.

Joya de Nicaragua Blend
Wrapper: Habano criollo
Binder: Ecuador Connecticut
Filler: Jalapa seco (25%), Estelí viso (25%), Jalapa viso (25%), Estelí ligero (25%)
Size: 5.5 x 48

Here my goal was a medium-bodied cigar with plenty of balance and only a little spice. And while it isn’t the most harmonious cigar I’ve ever tried, I think I mostly hit those goals, though I don’t really know if it ended up like the “sample” I rolled myself. It’s leathery, earthy, and oaky, all of which makes it downright pleasant to smoke. If I was grading the half dozen or so samples I’ve smoked, I’d probably give it 3.5 stogies out of five (also known as a cigar I’d actually spend money on if it was reasonably priced) which probably says more about the relatively fool-proof options we were given than my own blending skills.

Drew Estate Blend
Wrapper: Brazilian mata fina oscuro
Binder: Habano Ecuador
Filler: Estelí seco (15%), Estelí viso (15%), Jalapa criollo (30%), mata fina (40%)
Size: 6 x 46

Interestingly, though completely unplanned, my colleague and I ended up selecting fairly similar blends from the plethora of options provided by Drew Estate. Like him, I’m a big fan of Brazilian mata fina tobacco, so both our cigars ended up featuring a mata fina wrapper and significant amounts of mata fina filler. While not as balanced as I thought it might turn out, this has become much better in the almost four months since I first smoked it fresh a few days after it was rolled. Still, the large percentage of mata fina overwhelms the blend and unfortunately does so not with the dark chocolate I hoped for, but with a slight sourness that permeates the entire cigar. While I thought this might be the better of the two smokes, it turned out that the Joya de Nicaragua blend was superior in almost every way.

In previous blending seminars, I found a common mistake was to use too much ligero tobacco, which often creates a strong but unbalanced smoke. I successfully avoided that pitfall, but that didn’t necessarily mean the results were fantastic. Most of all, the experience reminded me why the great cigars we enjoy, and even take for granted, are the result of many, often dozens, of blends.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

2 Responses to “Commentary: My Cigar Safari Blends (Part 2)”

  1. Tommy Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    I'm very jealous of you guys. Smoking cigars that you blended (and turned out decent) sounds awesome.

  2. Jonathan Drew Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 4:06 am #

    Good Story.
    JD