On Friday, I spent about 8 hours shooting the shit with the crew at Uptown Cigars and the man of the hour: Marvin Samel. I had met him before, from a distance, at the Stoli and Stogies dinner and he graciously agreed to take a picture with me. At this event, it was quite a bit more special. We ended up smoking and chatting for a little over an hour (with breaks in between to say hello or goodbye to people). Marvin is a fascinating man and hearing him tell the story of founding Drew Estates is nothing less than magical. We sat around telling the stories of our first cigars, of our childhood (Marvin had some damn funny stories about that) and about life in general. He could weave a story, let me tell you. He even dispensed some valuable wisdom and sage advice to me as well.
Being the idiot that I am, the entire time I was smoking cigars not of the Drew Estate lineup. The entire time we were chatting, I smoked an Illusione and a Nestor Miranda 1989. He mentioned this and I blushed. It was true. What the hell was I waiting for? One of the consensuses we reached was that life is short; enjoy it while you can. So, in a bout of crystal clear insight, I decided to burn down the Dirty Rat. And it was worth it.
I don't have any pictures because I'm dumb and forgot to bring my camera. Don't worry about the Indy Spirits Expo on Wednesday, I'll have a cameraman with me. Anyway, here are the notes:
Prelight draw: The prelight draw was oddly...not very interesting. It was pretty much just clean tobacco with a touch of that fresh, well aged tobacco sweetness to it.
First quarter: A clip of the Xikar and a hit from the lighter and it was off and running. The burn on this thing was flawless. It burned even and slow which made sense for the density of this thing. It was like a miniature neutron star.The taste was excellent too. It had a dry spice to it of white pepper and light chili. Baker's chocolate came through, along with a pleasant grassy taste. The barnyard smell and taste that everyone talks about came out of it too. And, for the first time, a cigar had a taste of wildflower honey. That was pretty impressive.
Half-way: It had evolved at this point. The chocolate faded some while very heavy leather overtones started to weave in. A nutty taste came out, maybe a peanut or almond. The white pepper taste was still present but had faded in its intensity. It was more of a background note at this point.
Third quarter: The chocolate came back in full force but this time it was a milk chocolate. The nuttiness intensified some, making it almost like smoking a nutty buddy bar at some portions. The peppery taste had almost faded completely except for a few instances where it flitted in and out.
To say I nubbed this cigar would be a lie. Nubbing means that at some point you put it down. I picked the tiny stub of a cigar out of the ashtray at least twice, not wanting to let it go. It was FANTASTIC. Whether or not it gets a release, Marvin wasn't sure. The problem with the Dirty Rat is the fact that it's a corona. If you don't know, the Dirty Rat is a cigar made by Drew Estate that isn't technically commercially released for sale. It's handed out at events and such for people to smoke but it's too expensive for them to fully produce. As Marvin explained it, the Dirty Rat is the Liga Privada line condensed into a corona. Most cigars have two, maybe three types of filler leaf. The Liga Privada (and, subsequently, the Dirty Rat) contain five kinds. However, while it's easy to put five types of filler into, say, a robusto (No. 9) or perfecto (Flying Pig) ...cramming five different kinds of filler into a corona is damn near impossible. It is extremely expensive to do (it requires an extra person to sit there with scissors and cut the leaf) and extremely hard to make (it's a tiny damn cigar, you can't have meaty mitts like I do to roll those things), so they're not sure if they can get it to work out.
I sincerely hope they do. It's amazing. I just want to thank Marvin for hanging out and chatting with me. It was a unique experience to talk with someone so keen and interested in his customers.