On the weekly radio show Mr. Jonathan was known for finding strange notes in a cigar, but with the addition of cigar blogger Barry Stein to the mix, the battle of supremacy was up for grabs with each trying to outdo the other. It was decided that these two cigar smokers would battle it out with a review. Mr. Jonathan vs Big Barry, the battle for Supremacy has begun…
Barry: Every year the phenomenon known as Shark Week takes over the airwaves. First broadcast on July 17, 1987, it is now the longest running cable television programming event in history and is broadcast in over 72 countries. In 2013, it was estimated more than 2 million people tuned in to Shark Week.
United Cigar Retailers has released a cigar called the Great White to coincide with Shark Week. The cigar made at an undisclosed factory in Nicaragua features a Brazillian Mata Fina wrapper as reported last week in a press release.
Mr: Jonathan: No prequel submitted.
Cigar: Great White
Size: 5.25 x 52
Wrapper: Brazil (Mata Fina)
Distributed By: United Cigar Retailers
Barry: Brazilian wrappers have long been a favorite of mine, with Mata Fina only being surpassed by Ariparaca. On the Great White the Mata Fina wrapper that adorns the cigar is well aged which you can tell by how it has receded off the foot. There is a nice amount of oils present and only the thinnest of veins on the leaf. The band bucks the trend, coming off the cigar to showcase the fin of the Great White. In the hand the cigar has an average weight and is firm to the touch with a well packed foot.
Mr. Jonathan: Your eyes can’t help but focus on the unique band of this cigar at first. Unlike most bands that simply wrap around the top third of their host, this one juts straight up like a scene from the 70’s classic “Jaws”. Once the novelty wears off you notice a dark oily and toothy wrapper. Maybe it’s the name “Great White” but the point of this torpedo exactly resembles the nose of the oceanic beast of the same name.
Barry: People have asked me why I choose to do a pre-light tasting, and I always respond that I do it help open up the palate. A lot of times the notes before the cigar is lit is easier to determine and as a result it helps prepare for the review. With the Great White the cold draw reveals notes of earth with a light sprinkling of mocha. The foot has some more earth present with the slightest bit of a spice and hints of cedar.
Once the cigar is lit there is a note of cinnamon that takes charge. It’s a subtle cinnamon as opposed to the type found in a red hot candy. As we move into the first third of the cigar, the cinnamon note is joined by a high-end chocolate that is refined and complimentary of the cinnamon. Through the nose there is some spice and cedar to round out the complexity that is evident from the first inch.
As we breach the second third of the Great White, the notes of wood, begin to take hold with a nuttiness that reminds me of cashews. There are some floral notes in the aroma that compliment the continued base notes of cinnamon and chocolate.
In the last third it changes to the point where I said out loud, “Wow!”. The cigar develops well-defined notes of anise and licorice making me wish I had a glass of Sambuca which I could only imagine would amplify the taste. The finish of the cigar is nutty and moderate in length.
Mr. Jonathan: As the plume of smoke billows out of my mouth and wafts toward my nose the taste and aroma of the initial light flood the pallet with cedar, plum, Chinese peapods, and a hint of the white pepper, from the pre light, dances playfully in the background.
Burning though the first inch, the almost nearly stark white ash tightly defies gravity daring the smoker to continue puffing away without wiping it off. The thin carbon line where the ash and the wrapper meet denotes some well-aged tobacco and the taste backs up this hypothesis.
The first third of this dark and delicious beauty closes with 80% dark chocolate, cinnamon (like that found in the wrapper of a piece of Dentine gum), subtle aromatic cedar, and sees the vanishing of the white pepper present earlier. Closing out the first third the cinnamon moves from the wrapper to the gum itself and it battles with a sweeter milk chocolate Toll House morsel. The ash is showing no signs of wavering. One of my favorite tests of a cigar’s quality gets passed as I set the cigar down to use the restroom and it stayed fully lit after one full minute of sitting in the ash tray. This ash was good for nearly half of this cigar; it broke clean leaving a slight cone indicating that the ligero was placed properly in the center.
The second half of this delicious smoke brings about a Sweet and salty tug of war in the Burnt ends of a dry aged beef brisket. This flavor profile also answers the question “Where is the Beef?” as the strength kicks up to almost full bodied.
Barry: If you had to use an example for a belicoso with a perfect draw this cigar would be it. Featuring a razor-sharp burn with a thin carbon line and a white ash this cigar stayed lit from first light to the last puff. The ash was a bit weak though and I wound up losing the ash rather quick forcing me to smoke another (oh, the horror) to get a picture of the burn line.
Mr Jonathan: Included with “The Notes”
Barry: The Great White is a medium bodied masterpiece. The notes evolve from the start reaching near epic proportions in the final third when the cigar really brings it all together. It seems as though torpedo/belicoso smokes have fallen in terms of popularity and I will admit I rarely smoke them these days. However, this belicoso has rekindled an interest in them and it was one of the most enjoyable cigars I’ve had this year.
Mr. Jonathan: Although the cigar started off as a Mild plus to medium bodied smoke, it launched itself quickly and violently from medium to medium plus where it stay till the end. Much like a shark attack it moved from flavor to flavor and transitioned from sweet and spicy to straight of the charcoal grill and earthy. It was good all the way until I had to put it down because it was too hot to hold any more.
Mr. Jonathan: 94