My recent trip back to Connecticut....
Like most avid enthusiasts, my palate has evolved over the years. A combination of me wanting more and cigar-makers giving me more, has resulted in my preference for complex, full-bodied, and full-flavored cigars. I love bold handmades. I love spicy handmades. I love big, rich flavors that consume every square millimeter of my palate, with thick heavy smoke I can practically chew on. To me, that’s solid....and something I will always come back to, time and time again.
Because of this natural progression of cigar-burning order, lighter cigars, or even cigars with more neutral tobacco types have fallen by the wayside. And no....by lighter I do not mean lighter in shade – I’ve had skin in this game long enough to know the color of a cigar has little to nothing to do with strength. I mean more mellow blends, with less complexity and tamer tobaccos. Blends like Excalibur and Romeo 1875 just don’t get the job done like they used to.
This is why Ramon Bueso Genesis The Project catered to my palate. It has a ton of flavor – unique flavors – has a solid strength profile, and doesn’t let up until you finally lay the cigar down to rest for good. Then, out of nowhere Ramon done did the unthinkable....he made a Connecticut-wrapped cigar for his second release. My first reaction: WTF? My second reaction: WTF!
Naturally, I had to try it....and my boy Jeff, who carries the part peculiar part ostentatious corporate title of Offensive Coordinator, warned me to keep an open mind while doing so.
So I did. And I chose Toro. The size that first introduced me to Genesis, and my favorite size in most cigars.
I’m going to be completely honest with you. It was freaking hard to keep an open mind with this cigar. I lit up the Toro and burned it all the way through. I burned it fast and left confused.
Later that day I lit another.
Before I left for the night, I lit another.
It’s been about a month since Jeff spewed forth his words of rare wisdom, and I now know I should have had an open mind from the start. The Odyssey is not your average Connecticut-wrapped premium. In fact, it’s hardly a Connecticut at all. This Honduran handmade employs a rare Connecticut-seed wrapper leaf grown in Honduras. It’s one of two cigars on the market – at this time – utilizing this leaf. The yield is low, and the crops are proprietary....so quantities are limited and reserved only for select cigar-makers. Ramon is one of them, and after speaking with him and his factory during a recent visit 2 weeks ago, they’re damn glad they have access to this leaf. Ramon has crafted countless Connecticut-wrapped cigars over the past few decades. Many of them sell like hotcakes, sporting big name brands you all know. But for him, they were nothing more than a light-bodied, uneventful blend. He’s a cigar-maker. He lives tobacco and loves blending it. For years Ramon has wanted to craft a full-flavored Connecticut-wrapped cigar that’s....well, Muy Bueso. The Odyssey is it.
The Odyssey may deceive you at first glance. The wrapper looks more like a Habano leaf than a Connecticut. But, it’s Connecticut, and the seeds mingled in the rustic, Cuban-esque fields of Honduras soaking up that glorious Honduran climate to produce a thick, almost leathery Connecticut leaf unlike any you’ve seen. This leaf is rustic to the core, offering a rich, earthy character and deep tobacco influence. To complement the wrapper, Ramon chose an aged, long-leaf blend of Cuban-seed tobaccos from Copan (Hondo), Ometepe (Nica), Condega (Nica), and the Cibao Valley (DR). Three countries married beneath the unique wrapper, skillfully blended and producing a satisfying array of flavors and aromas. From the get-go I pick up rich and creamy tobacco. On the exhale, long notes of earth and toast linger on the finish. Once she’s burning steady, warm notes of nuts, sweet cedar, and roasted coffee bean enter the bouquet. This is where things really get interesting, and your palate may be a bit confused. The flavors are subtle yet refined and seem to hit specific parts of your palate with each puff. Then, just when you think you figured it out: unsweetened cocoa. WTF. The final quarter is rich and toasty with gentle spices. A fitting closing for a truly confusing, yet truly delicious, cigar.
Get ready. I am about to give a Connecticut-wrapped cigar a rating over ’90.’ Oh. I just did it. I think you should grab a few and put this un-Connecticut Connecticut to the test.