Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hestia Tobacco Craft Cigars

I'm not entirely sure how I found Hestia Tobacco. Reflecting on it, I think it was fortuitous happenstance. I might have seen their iconic logo bopping around on Instagram or maybe I saw someone mention it on Twitter. But no matter what way I found it, I was enthused and intrigued. For the longest time, I had been wanting a bespoke cigarette blend and, since they stopped doing that in the 50's and 60s, this was my best bet. My secret smoke. Naturally, I contacted the owner, David Sley, asking him more about his craft cigars. He quite generously answered my questions and sent me a pack out to review. The box came and it looked a bit like this:

Needless to say, I was impressed. Taking the pack of cigars out of the box, I couldn't help but admire how damn slick it looked. His artwork/logo was just downright striking and it's what drew me to the smokes to begin with. How can you argue with this?

(You also may note how SO MUCH BETTER that photo looks. That's because it was taken with my new Canon T3i. The first photo on it.)

But fancy packaging can only get you in the door. Can it hold the door open and try to sell me a vacuum? Well...

Yeah, it can.

Let me preface this in saying that this is in NO way, shape, or form a replacement for cigarettes. I tried, I really did. But I hit quite a few problems with that. First off, it's packed to the brim with tobacco to the point that the draw is tight. Not "fresh Frostee through a straw" tight but enough to be a bit of a bother. I tried dry-boxing it a bit but it didn't help much. Another point is the blend itself. It utilizes a fair amount of Virginia (David told me it was bright Virginia with burley but wouldn't tell me ratios). This means that towards the end of the cigar, you get a bit of tongue bite if you're puffing away on it like it's a cigarette. Also, nicotine level didn't provide the buzz of a cigarette, even though it's a 100mm cigar.

THAT BEING's still a very high quality product that I enjoyed and would recommend. The flavor of the smoke is heavy on cedar with bright lemon notes coming through with chocolate, nutty undertones from the burley. It is fragrant...and smooth, if you do choose to inhale. And honestly, I can't fault them for the draw; it's because of tobacco classification, really. Small cigars have to weight a certain amount per 1,000 in order to qualify for the lower tobacco tax (HA) so they gotta cram it in there. So you can blame the law for the draw. So if you treat them like cigars, you will have an enjoyable, tasty treat to savor. What would I like to see them do? Offer it in a roll-your-own pouch or box. The taxes on shag cut are astronomical these days so I would understand if they went with the finest pipe cut they could and I'd probably be pretty happy. Hell, I'd throw it in a pipe too. It's a solid, if a bit Virginia heavy, Va/Bur. It would cut down on the cost of manufacturing and allow people to customize their smokes as they see fit. But Hestia is a new company and they're barely making enough to keep up demand as is.

I urge you to give them a try. While I need the sweet, subtle embrace of Dame Nicotine as much as the next man, I'll probably be slipping these into my rotation when I can find the money and time to wait for it to ship to my house. A Hestia, a coffee, and the warm sun is a pretty sweet mid-morning break from whatever shenanigans I'm up to. Much like my preferred consumption, take it slow and steady and Hestia will treat you right. Get 'em here.