Here it is: The first true review on the new site. If you're comparing with other review sites, you'll notice I'm not including constant photo updates of what the cigar looks like as it burns. That's a personal decision on my part. I've never really felt like that practice added a whole lot to cigar reviews, and any time I've read other people's reviews, I've always skipped right over those burn photos. I've opted to put in a picture of the cigar before the smoking experience, because that, for me, is when it's at its most visually appealing. If I decide there's something that needs to be captured after that, like, say, a really solid ash column, then I'll include it. But otherwise, it's not something I plan on doing.
You'll also notice, if you've been reading my reviews on Facebook up until now, I've revamped the format of my reviews. This format is loosely modeled on other reviewing formats, but still (hopefully) allows me to do my thing in a manner that should still be pretty consistent with my writing style from before. Hope you all enjoy.
Cigar: Archetype Strange Passage
Vitola: Robusto (5 1/2” x 54)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Honduran Corojo
Rating (out of 10): 9.7
The Archetype Strange Passage is certainly eye-catching, with a green foot band marked with a white Greek letter 'alpha,' set within a labyrinth pattern, above the name “Archetype.” The primary band is white, and features a green, “painted” circle background, with an image of a winged ouroboros encircling the Earth. Both bands contrast against the soft, milk chocolate Habano wrapper, which is almost perfectly smooth, with just a couple of veins running lengthwise along the barrel. A faint coating of oil can be detected with the fingertips, and the stick is softly box pressed. It has a neat double cap, which graciously accepts my wide-gauge punch with no problem.
The construction of the Strange Passage appears just about perfect. No soft, spongy spots, or hard spots. No cracks or tears, and the cut is flawless. First time I smoked one of these, though, there were several little pinhead-sized holes in the wrapper, which didn't actually cause many issues, but were definitely noticeable, with the smoke coming out of them. So, we'll be keeping an eye out for that this time.
Prior to lighting, the stick smells primarily earthy, with a soft fruity sweetness hiding in there. The fruit is far more prominent near the foot.
The cold draw is pretty open, and tastes of earth and fruit. Something nice and sweet, but I can't put my finger on it right away. One it's lit, though, the fruity sweetness is unmistakeable: green apple. It's unlike anything I've ever tasted in a cigar before. No wonder the filler leaf is of an undisclosed blend. This is absolutely delicious. Some soft notes of cedar on the finish, and especially in the aroma.
No sign of the pinhead sized holes I observed before. Probably just an issue with that particular stick. The apple flavor is lingering on the aftertaste. It's a little like smoking a Jolly Rancher. It's burning at a bit of an angle, but we'll see if it adjusts.
It did not. It required a quick touchup just around the first inch. Even so, the ash is near-white, but a bit flaky, and looks like it may drop any moment.
It dropped right after I mentioned that, before I could get it to the ash tray. It dropped right onto my thumb. Ow, ow, OOOWWW.
Moving into the second third, I'm starting to detect another sweet note... caramel, perhaps? Yes. Salted caramel, pairing against the green apple flavor for a truly unique profile. The salt is making its presence felt in the aftertaste. It's burning much more neatly here, as well. Not perfect, but far better than it had been.
I ashed again before the final third, just to be safe. At this point the band slides off quite easily. The flavor is pretty consistent, but the burn is a little off. There's one little corner that just doesn't want to keep up. Had to touch it up with the lighter again.
As it drew to its end, the salted caramel faded from the main flavor profile, allowing the apple to come through on the draw, while the caramel rounded out the finish, and the salt lingered on the aftertaste quite nicely.
It's been kind of a wild week so far, and things have been going on in my spiritual life that might be considered a “strange passage” of their own. I suppose, in some ways, this is a fitting cigar to be smoking today. But all the mumbo-jumbo aside, this is a damned tasty stick. I don't know that I've ever tasted a cigar with a primarily caramel apple flavor profile before. Doesn't mean they're not out there, but I've never encountered one. Certainly not one that wasn't artificially flavored. It's a mysterious blend, to be sure, and one that I'd be glad to smoke again and again. It especially leaves me thinking of fall, especially the season around Halloween. That has to be because it's basically a caramel apple in cigar form. But it'd make a fine smoke for such a holiday.