Nomad S-307 and Rodrigo Boutique Blend G4

Nomad S-307

Attentive readers will have noticed that the number of reviews on this blog has fallen precipitously over the past few years. Some readers may wonder, why does he bother at all? Why doesn’t he just shut up and watch the game? (Wait, though. Maybe he’s a Vikings fan.)

Well, I’ll tell you. I am a Vikings fan, but that’s not it.

Sometimes I’ll smoke a cigar and think, this is pretty good, maybe I should review this one. But time goes on, the Vikings lose again, and the inspiration simply isn’t there. But there are times when the spirit moves me, when I feel called to review a cigar because it is distinctive and exceptional and it just isn’t getting the attention it deserves. I can say that is the case with nearly every blend I’ve smoked from the House of Emilio.

The Nomad and Rodrigo blends are members of that esteemed House, which distributes and promotes some of the finest boutique cigars in production today.

Nomad S-307 Robusto

Nomad Cigars debuted in 2012, focusing on Dominican tobacco. It didn’t take long before Nomad founder Fred Rewey was drawn by the lure of Esteli and the production of a limited edition Nicaraguan blend was in the works. The S-307 was the first full production Nicaraguan cigar for Nomad. The heart of the cigar is, of course, Nicaraguan, but the binder is Ecuadorian Habano and the wrapper is Ecuadorian Sumatra. (The S in the brand name stands for Sumatra.) The cigar is produced in the A.J. Fernandez factory and is available in five sizes:

  • Toro – 6 x 50
  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • Torpedo – 6 1/2 x 52
  • Toro Grande – 6 x 58
  • Corona – 5 1/2 x 46

Nomad S-307b

Construction Notes

The S-307 Robusto is square pressed with a mottled, fairly dark colorado maduro wrapper. The roll is solid and it draws well. It’s a nice looking stick, and it burns evenly, which is always a pleasant surprise in a pressed cigar. The long, solid gray ash is another bonus. Overall construction: Excellent.

Tasting Notes

The cigar opens with leather on the nose and a long peppery finish on the palate. The pepper diminishes after the first inch or so and it develops a sweeter profile: cocoa and caramel over an earthy foundation. The S-307 is a medium bodied cigar with considerable complexity, and after the first bout of pepper the smoke is quite smooth. It’s a little less boisterous and a little less tannic than the typical Nicaraguan cigar, which allows the flavor development to go in a more interesting and unexpected direction. There aren’t too many cigars that can balance leather, earth, and sweetness this well. A very nice smoke.

Rodrigo G4

Rodrigo Boutique Blend G4

Rodrigo Cigars began when founder George Rodriguez stumbled upon former Davidoff blender William Ventura on a tourist foray into Santiago, D.R.  The story Rodriguez tells on his website is one of smoky serendipity. He went to Santiago to learn about cigars, and simply chanced on the man who would later make Rodrigo for him. Fortuitous happenstance, or destiny? Whichever it is, the Boutique Blend is Rodrigo’s “answer to the large ring cigar.” I’m not sure what the question was, but the blend is Dominican with a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, and of course the cigar is made in Ventura’s factory in three large-ring sizes:

  • G4 – 6 1/4 x 54
  • G5 – 5 1/2 x 56
  • G6 – 6 x 60

Construction Notes

The Boutique Blend G4 has the smallest ring gauge of its brethren, but it’s still a big ol’ cigar. The rough colorado claro wrapper is set off nicely by its red and gold band. The roll is solid and the head is finished with a workman-like rounded head. It draws well. It burns evenly. It’s made the way every cigar should be made. Overall construction: Excellent.

Rodrigo G4b

Tasting Notes

The Rodrigo Boutique Blend is smooth with a creamy texture. The foundation flavor is woody with just enough tannin to provide a nice pucker on the palate. The aromatics are cedary with some baking spice accents. As the cigar progresses to its conclusion it passes through the woods into earthier territory, but the cedar on the nose lingers and blends nicely through the transition. It’s a fairly mild cigar, a suitable cap to a luxurious breakfast.

Conclusion

The Nomad S-307 and the Rodrigo Boutique Blend are two totally different types of cigars, so there’s no comparing them except in terms of their overall performance, which is exemplary in both cases. The S-307 was the more interesting cigar for me, but it’s a slightly heavier smoke with more flavor resources at its disposal. The Rodrigo Boutique Blend is just as distinguished in its class. There is no reason to reach for one of the industry standard Connecticut-shade breakfast smokes if the Rodrigo is an available option. These are both great smokes, and both are highly recommended.

Nomad S-307c

 

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Epicurean Gonzo Santeria

Epicurean Santeria

Most of what I know about Santeria I learned from the movies, which I admit is not the most accurate source of cultural information. Or any information, for that matter. Santeria is in fact a religion that combines elements of several faiths — Yoruba from Western Africa, Roman Catholicism, and Native Caribbean rituals and beliefs. The geographic center of the religion is acknowledged to be in Cuba, so it’s natural that a cigar take its name from this esoteric cult faith. Well, maybe not natural. Supernatural?

Santeria is also the second blend in the Gonzo line from Epicurean Cigars. (A Gonzo line is sort of like a Conga line, but crazier.)  This blend features a double shot of Mexican San Andres — an almost flawless maduro wrapper over another San Andres leaf serving as binder — which is then paired with another binder from Jalapa, and these hold in place a blend of 2009 Jalapa and Condega leaves. It’s a bewitching brew, and I wasn’t surprised to find that it smokes like one too.

Gonzo Santeria is a very limited production with only 150 50-count boxes made per size. And those sizes are:

  • Ruca – 5 x 42
  • Heina – 6 x 52
  • Padrino – 6 x 60

Epicurean Santeria 2

Construction Notes

Like the AG Azul, the Gonzo Santeria is remarkably well made. (The one I smoked for the review was the toro-sized Heina.) The head and shoulders of the cigar are about as clean and perfect as I’ve seen. The cap is tightly wound and finished with a pigtail that sits like a beanie on the top of the stick. The wrapper is a dark colorado maduro, a little bit drier than the Habano wrapper on the AG, but still quite attractive. The cigar has a slight box press. It burns slowly and evenly.

Overall construction: Outstanding.

Tasting Notes

Based on the appellation of the cigar I was expecting a feistier smoke. I figured if the Gonzo didn’t get me then the Santeria would, so I was a little surprised by the smooth medium-bodied opening. The flavor is is earthy to start — minerals and black powder — so there seems to be a family resemblance to the AG Azul. There are a few muted spicy notes, but it’s not at all what I was expecting. There is no harshness and no bite.

But as the old Monty Python sketch advises: wait for it.  A third to half-way into the cigar the pepper kicks in, and so does the Vitamin N. The aroma turns from earth to leather. The cigar gathers strength and the fiesta begins. Hope you remembered the hooch.

Finally there is the cocoa or chocolate, or whatever it is, that I was expecting from the San Andres wrapper and binder combo. At this point it hardly matters because I’m thoroughly satisfied anyway.

Epicurean Santeria 3

Conclusion

Another excellent cigar from Epicurean. As with the AG Azul, I can’t give this cigar a rating because I only smoked a single representative of the blend, but based on the outstanding construction quality I would be shocked if the cigar isn’t consistent across the board. Looks like there’s another one I’ll be going out of my way to find.