I just made it home to Boston, and I'm going to try and get at least one review done each day while I'm here. Maybe it won't work out, but... I'm going to make the attempt. Instinctively, I wanted to review the Big Papi by El Artista, but I've already done that one. So, I'm going to continue my progress on the “Quest for the Top 25s.” Tonight, I'll be lighting up a Padrón Serie 1926 No. 90, which is Cigar Aficionado's #5 pick for 2016.
Cigar: Padrón Serie 1926 No. 90
Vitola: Robusto (5 1/2” x 52)
Rating (out of 10): 9.6
The first thing those who know Padrón cigars will notice, is that this cigar breaks from the pattern of box-pressing Padrón cigars; instead of being neat and squarely pressed, it is evenly round. It features a secondary band to indicate that it is a “No. 90.” Apart from that, it is every bit as elegant as any other Padrón. It feels pretty tightly packed, and lightly oiled. It seems it may have dried out somewhat as I traveled with it (it was in a tubo in my suit jacket), and I just cracked the wrapper while examining it. Hopefully it doesn't screw things up too badly, or I'll have to get my hands on another one for review; I don't want to drag this one's score down too badly because of anything that I caused.
Until I cracked it, construction appeared quite nice. A bit densely packed and not much give, but it was consistent and undamaged. The cap is perfect, and the seams are invisible.
The aroma hit me hard, immediately after opening the tubo. It is powerful, and earthy and chocolatey. It's a lot of aroma, so I'm suspecting it will be a pretty full smoke.
Despite how tightly it felt like this stick was packed, the cold draw is actually quite open. It tastes softly of cocoa and coffee.
Once lit, there's a much earthier flavor, with hints of cocoa and coffee in the background. The aroma really takes off here, smelling of cocoa and rich, charred cedar.
I'm watching lovely little smoke rings come off the end of the cigar as I puff from it. Then I get a little too excited, accidentally inhale a bit, and hate myself for the burn in the back of my throat.
I turn the cigar over to check the crack I put in the wrapper, and I'm pleased to see it's not smoking through. It's not as bad as it looks.
Bit of black pepper spice here, and the faintest suggestion of vanilla sweetness hiding behind the cocoa and coffee. There's a lot of layers to this thing. But it tastes and smells fantastic.
The burn looked pretty questionable at the start, and I was going to call the uneven burn line the one real hit against this stick, but that has since self-corrected excellently. The line's not perfect; it's a bit wavy, but it's even. The ash column is white, with some minor flaking around the edges.
About an inch or so in, the flavor profile is predominantly cedar; cocoa and coffee notes fill out a secondary place, and a black pepper and vanilla finish round things out. It's a great, complex blend.
Not quite to the second third yet, and the burn is getting a bit uneven again. Just had to touch it up a bit.
I tapped the ash off here, out of caution. My computer is on the other side of the room from my ash tray tonight, so I didn't want to suddenly have it drop on its own and have to scramble to clean up the mess.
That coffee is starting to come through a bit stronger in the second third. Cocoa and vanilla continue to fill in the undertones, and black pepper still spices up the finish and the aftertaste.
The ash column is still nice and solid, but I'm about to ash it again, to be safe.
Needed another very slight touchup moving into the last third. Here, the coffee and cocoa take to the forefront, and the cedar fades just slightly. The peppery finish is softer here, and the vanilla picks up just a touch.
The burn was the most uneven in the last third, and had to be retouched a couple of times. But the complex and delicious blend of flavors easily makes up for it.
After smoking the Serie 1926 No. 90, I'm not the least bit surprised it made CA's top 5 for 2016. Even some of the issues I encountered with this particular stick were, admittedly, my own fault. I don't know quite how likely I am to smoke one again, mostly due to the price tag associated with being one of Padrón's finest, but it's certainly worth the experience of smoking at least one, and I'm glad this was the first one I smoked since arriving home. Kind of sets the tone for what I'm calling my “Cigar Tour Boston 2017.” Looking forward to finding something great for my birthday tomorrow!