TAA sounds like it might be related to the TSA but it isn’t. TAA is an acronym for something like “Tobacconist Association of America” or something like that. I’m not completely straight on what the story behind this organization is but what I do know is that every year a handful of cigar makers will make special cigars for the brick and mortar retailers who belong to this organization. It’s a way to say “thank you” for carrying their products, I guess.
If memory serves, and it’s doing so with less regularity nowadays, I have liked TAA edition cigars in the past and, yes, that is true as I did like the Tatuaje TAA 2012. That was a tasty cigar and, unfortunately, it’s gone now. Moving forward….
This TAA exclusive is a thick, dark brown parejo that comes adorned with a band of black, white and gold. One unique thing about this cigar is that it comes with a closed foot, which looks cool and I think there’s some practical purpose to doing that as well.
Length: 6 3/8″
Ring Gauge: 54
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Price: $197.95/Box of 20 | $55.00/Pack of 5
I received the cigars I used for this review from General Cigar; as always, all reviews are my own
Esteli is a region in Nicaragua known for producing delicious tobacco. Personally, I like a lot of the cigars featuring tobacco from this region. Generally, the flavor profile leans towards being more robust with a good deal of spice. So, yes, I’m looking forward to reviewing this cigar.
On the other hand, it’s a thick cigar, which is something I generally do not like. So… strike one.
But it does look well made with a few minimal veins, some oils on the darkish brown wrapper and no soft spots in any of the samples that I have tried (this being the fifth).
Ring Gauge: 60
Price: MSRP $6.36/Single
Bear Dog Torch!
The beginning of the cigar is quite tasty. There’s a soft, effervescent spice buttressed by a combination of flavors including: cedar, cream, coffee and some sweetness (I swear, I didn’t mean to start out with that little bit of alliteration). It all works together extremely well and there isn’t a sour note to be found so far.
Caramel starts coming through during the second third. I think the saltiness of the caramel is playing very well with the soft, yet receding, spice and coffee notes.
A hint of vanilla gets added to the blend of flavors during the final third. At this point the spice is all but gone and the flavors that remain revolve around this sweet woodiness. It’s not a bad end, per se, but the first two thirds were much better.
Medium bodied with a good draw and burn; the La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli is a good cigar with a lot of good flavors going on during the first two thirds at least. During that part the dark flavor profile was a joy to experience and, perhaps, with some more age on these cigars the flavors will develop even more so.
I received the cigars for this review from Cigars Direct; as always, all reviews are my own.
Wicked… yeah, so, when I hear that I think of that Broadway show of the same name. I’ve never seen it, mind you, but I’ve seen commercials for it. And based off of those I think there’s some kind of New Age BS reconciliation between the Wicked Witch and the Good Witch (there is a Good Witch, right?). Just like popular culture to take a perfectly good story about flying monkeys and singing dwarfs and make it into something vile and boring. (I could be all wrong on this but I’ve found you can sometimes figure out the whole story to a show or movie by just watching previews so I’m making the assumption that translates to plays as well.)
And that’s the frame of mind I have coming into smoking this cigar. Sure, you could look at the red, black and gold bands (one normal band in the normal place and another band, more than two inches in length, at the foot) and think this cigar is going to be a ball buster but that’s accepting marketing too readily. After all, how many times have you seen a cigar marketed as “full bodied” to find out it’s a medium bodied cigar without much flavor? I guess it makes sense to market cigars as being full bodied nowadays as the cigar smoking public does seem to like them but, when you fail to live up to that promise (and the cigar doesn’t taste good), you will lose trust.
I’m not saying that’s the case here – the review will decide that one way or another – but this marketing gimmick is something that I have noticed with alarming regularity. Personally, I’m now numb to all that marketing jazz, so I basically forget about it… unless it’s obvious in the design of the bands and in the name of the cigar brand, as is the case here.
It is a good looking cigar; very dark wrapper with a few medium sized veins and a rough, oily feel to it. This is the torpedo, which is a vitola that I am partial to (it’s also the only vitola they make for this cigar at this time). There are some bumps visible on the surface giving it a rustic look.
Ring Gauge: 56
Wrapper: Pennsylvanian Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Price: $99.95/Box of 13 | $50.00/Pack of Five
Yeah, it starts out as a full bodied cigar and shows no signs of letting up; so there’s no lie in the marketing here. Banshee-like spice greets you in the beginning and sticks around for a while until it does moderate and becomes somewhat more enjoyable. Barley and cream are the other flavors that are evident here. I like the fact that it’s this strong of a cigar but I’m hoping that the flavors pick up a bit during the final two thirds.
Oak and spice are the main flavors during the second third but the main thing here is that it’s a strong cigar. And I think that was what the makers were going after here; a really strong cigar. That’s fine and all but I want more.
Burning in my nose from the full bodied smoke, which is the main thing that you will be getting from this cigar. I like full bodied cigars and, by all rights, I should be all over this cigar liking every last puff but I find myself not enjoying it very much. Again, spice and oak are the main flavors and there’s also a bit of earth going on.
Full bodied with a good draw and burn; the Diesel Wicked is fine for what it is, strictly a full bodied cigar, but there needs to be some strength in the flavors as well, which wasn’t evident here. Take the Joya de Nicaragua Antaño 1970 as an example. It has a ton of strength and a ton of flavor as well, even in the diminutive vitola that I reviewed (click the link in the previous sentence to see what I’m talking about).
It’s not all bad, though. The flavors aren’t bad they just aren’t very strong. It’s an okay cigar and if you’re looking for strength this does fit the bill. But, at that price….
PS: I actually bought a box of these cigar without trying a single one, which was a mistake. What was interesting about this purchase is that the box comes with a mystery cigar, which I will eventually smoke and post a review of. So stay tuned!
Previously, on The Perfect Draw, the original natural Oliva Serie V earned a 94 rating. It was a cigar I immensely enjoyed and I still pick up a few here and there. This means two things:
- I have high expectations for the Melanio version
- I want to smoke this cigar
Fortunately, I have the second point covered as there is a nice, uncut Melanio sitting on one of the stirrups of my Stinky Ashtray. In both length and ring gauge this is a smallish, box pressed cigar with some imperfections on the wrapper. However, the look of this wrapper is pretty fascinating in that the color ranges from medium brown to much lighter shades of brown around the veins. It’s also a fairly oily cigar.
Now onto the first point…
Vitola: petit corona
Length: 4 ½”
Ring Gauge: 46
Price: $80.00/Box of 10 | $40.00/5 Pack
Zombies Can Happen Light!
If you were thinking that there’s something special about the wrapper, maybe it’s some kind of new leaf code named “Melanio,” you would be wrong. Melanio Oliva is believed to be the first person in the Oliva family to grow tobacco (link) and that is where the name comes from. Maybe it is a special leaf, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if in some marketing materials you would find that the wrapper is described as being special because that is pretty much de rigueur for cigar marketing.
The flavor profile starts out with dry spice that lingers in the nose, cream and oak. Not a very strong cigar strengthwise but the flavors are nice and mix well together.
During the second third there is a subtle change in the flavor profile as it moves away from the spice and more towards the cream spectrum. Oak is still present and there is a little bit of chocolate in the background as well. It’s tasty and more than a bit different from what you would expect from an Oliva Serie V.
The final third is pretty much the same as the second with the cream and oak. But, the chocolate is gone and in its place is a meaty flavor.
Medium bodied with a good draw and burn; this cigar is enjoyable. What is really interesting about this cigar is that it really illustrates the importance of the wrapper as a component of the overall flavor profile (even though I’ve heard that there are some slight changes to the filler tobaccos used in the Melanio from the blend in the original V I think what I said holds true and comparing the original to the Melanio would still be an interesting exercise for you).
Whereas the original V features a plethora of robust, even aggressive, flavors the Melanio is much more reserved. Personally, I like the original a lot more but I can see how this cigar would appeal to those who like more medium bodied cigars. I’d assume that if you pick up one of the thicker vitolas the flavor profile would be more reminiscent of the original V because the ratio of filler/binder to wrapper tobacco would be greater.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo | Binder: Nicaraguan | Filler: Nicaraguan | Single: ~ $12.00 | Torpedo | 4 ½″ x 52
0/3: Viaje, which is Spanish for “boutique,” has put out a limited edition torpedo the last two years called “?”. Sounds like a Super Villain’s name to me but, hey, I guess it works.
It’s short (obviously) and it looks well made. Tightly packed, the wrapper does have some stretch marks but is also very oily.
1/3: Strong with clean, fruity spice, leather and some coco. Nice mixture of flavors. Not too strong, but the flavors are really alive.
2/3: Black cherry and spice dominate the second third. Coco and cream are there as well. So is leather. Very smooth cigar with a slight nasal spice burn that lasts for a while.
3/3: Spice, leather and a bit of bitterness. Not much bitterness but it starts to creep in during this third.
4/3: Good draw and burn, this full bodied cigar is alright. A little bit better than “alright” but not a lot better. Personally, I’m beginning to get a little Viaje limited edition fatigue because they are relatively expensive cigars and they aren’t always great cigars. Better than average, perhaps, but nothing spectacular. That being said, it’s still an intriguing brand to me.
3.5 out of 5 points