The cigar industry is littered with copy cats at every turn. Look at the success of Padron over the last decade and also take a look at how many cigars have come out with rough looking wrappers, vintage dates, and also happen to be box pressed. Listen to how many Cigar Reps reference Padron by name when making a comparison to the “box pressed beauty” they are trying to get you to sample.
If you think Padron while smoking any box pressed cigar your mind will instantly summon earthy, dark chocolate, and black cherries to your tong. This cigar, that would never be able to stand up to the real deal in a side by side “Pepsi challenge” tastes better, burns better, and in every way seems better than it otherwise would, had it been disrobed of its band and “story” before you smoked it.
The next time you are in your brick and mortar shop and have an hour to kill, I want you to try The Cigar Authority “Band Free” experiment. Slap a $20 on the counter. Tell the clerk what you like to smoke and have them pick out something for you to try that is along the same lines as your flavor profile. Have them remove the band, ring you out, and hold on to your change until you are done smoking (so you are not tempted to cheat by checking price tags as you walk around).
Before you light it give the wrapper a solid once over and evaluate the construction and the pre light taste. Pay close attention to the aroma of your pre-light toasting of the foot. Savor the initial puffs during the light. Then sit back and let the cigar tell its story.
Was the tobacco gingerly aged or was the process accelerated? Has it rested a minimum of 100 days or did the blender rush this batch to market to keep up with demand? Does the smoke bring any flavors to mind…Chard oak, hints of vanilla, string bean almondine (couldn’t resist)? Did the blender take the time to consider the combustion level of the different tobaccos present? Does it burn even? Does it Tunnel? Does it canoe? How much would you pay for this cigar if you bought it with the band still on it? Consider as much information as you can and stack them up to the preconceived notions that you have when the same stick is sitting on the shelf and then make up your mind as to weather it’s good or not.