I tell you this to tell you another story. A few days ago Xikar, of the cutter fame, sent out a survey asking a few questions about cigar clubs and such. While I shamefully admit I've never used a Xikar before I do enjoy the concept of their cutter and I've heard awesome things about their lighters. I figured "Aw hell, throw a dog a bone". So I filled it out for 'em. While I'm not in a cigar club per se, I do have a hardcore group of ragtag ragamuffins that do enjoy meeting at Uptown when the fates and stars align (read: our vacations aren't off by a few weeks). I filled the survey out the best I could and went on my merry way. A few days later I received a "thanks for the info" email stating that they're sending out cigar packs of their cigar brand, Xikar Series HC, to those that participated.
I'd never actually had a HC cigar before because, well, no one even remotely near me carried them. They're made/blended by Jesus Fuego, who I've heard makes some great cigars under the "Jesus Fuego" name. Specifically the 777. I informed them that I'd review the cigars I got and ye gods, I certainly will. When the package came, I opened it to find a Xikar HC Series three pack of their Criollo, Habana Colorado, and Connecticut. I was in the mood for a spicy cigar so I grabbed the Criollo and headed out into the beautiful 80 degree day. Here's a picture of it before it's sacrifice to Pele, Goddess of Fire:
I actually forgot to get the prelight draw on this one. Sorry folks. The cigar itself was nicely made. Good draw, slightly veiny but in an attractive way. Clipped it with my Palio (the irony did not escape me) and lit it with my trusty Bic. Yeah, that's right. I use a Bic. Mainly because if a lighter is more than $2.50, I can't keep track of it for more than a week. Less than that and I'd take a bullet getting it back. Odd eh?
First quarter started out surprisingly like the JdN Antano. It came right off the light with a zesty, spicy punch. My first puff and I went "Bam!". It was like someone lit Emeril on fire and he roundhouse kicked my tongue. Almost as quick as the spice came, it disappeared. It burst forth with espresso and peanuts.
Half-way and the spice has gone. The cigar has really, really mellowed; almost surprisingly so. It's a pretty mild criollo cigar. Leather picks up along with the espresso and it gains a slightly grassy flavor that's not unpleasant but unexpected.
Third quarter and it hasn't changed much. Very, very mild to my palate. I'm used to smoking LFD Double Ligeros so take this with a grain of salt though. It isn't exactly a shitty cigar though. Leather, coffee, nuts, some caramel, and grassy notes interplay.
Last quarter and it started burning a touch hot and a bit bitter but I was kinda smoking like a chimney. I was reading Imbibe Magazine while smoking so I was a touch distracted but not enough to discount the review. Same flavor profile as before but the spice kicked up a bit more.
Overall, it's a nice cigar. To me, it's mild-medium and a nice change of pace. However, if you're looking for spicy criollo like I was, I wouldn't go for it. But it wasn't unpleasant.