Apparently you guys like beer. I received a lot of feedback on the beer portion of my review. While I don’t want these reviews to lose their focus, I’ll gladly toss in some sidebars on craft beer from time to time. And since I just had two new (to me) IPAs this past weekend, I might as well tell you about them.
Great Lakes Chillwave Double IPA – A flavorful, 9.4% IPA that is extremely hop forward, but complemented with a strong note of pink grapefruit that’s crisp, somewhat bitter, and surprisingly refreshing. A must-try from a solid brewery.
Spring House The Astounding She Monster Mango IPA – This one surprised me. Big time. Not a huge mango fan, but I love IPAs, and I love Spring House’s other unique offerings, so I had to reach for it. A little lighter, at just 7.7%, no doubt floral, but mildly bitter with a noble mango-sweetness throughout. Not something I’d gravitate towards regularly, but definitely worth a try and re-try occasionally.
Now, for the cigar.
Casa Magna Dominican. Years back, legendary cigar-maker Manuel ‘Manolo’ Quesada spread his wings and created an entirely new line of handmades called Casa Magna. Soon after its release, Manolo’s efforts were rewarded by Cigar Aficionado, who named Casa Magna the Number 1 Cigar of 2008. This achievement paved the way for his long anticipated unveiling of the ultimate Dominican puro: Casa Magna Dominican.
Like all of Manolo’s cigars, Casa Magna Dominican sits heavy in the hand and comes jam-packed with sweet, aromatic tobacco. The wrapper is one of my favorites, a Dominican-grown Corojo glistening with oils, boasting a reddish hue and a thick, leathery texture. Each cigar is solid from head to toe, with minimal veins and perfect color. It looks edible, and it is tempting.
Upon lighting, Casa Magna Dominican shows instant character. Thick, creamy smoke envelops my palate with each puff. I notice oak and earth instantly, while a trace of fresh black pepper lingers on the finish. The bouquet is rich and chewy, coating every taste bud in velvety-smooth fashion, yet offering just enough bite to let me know this isn’t your average Dominican puro.
Side note: when I say bite, I don’t mean harsh or sharp. Consider it a slight edge to the flavor. An intentional roughness. A little meat on the bone, if you will.
The richness of Casa Magna Dominican does not waver. The burn is slow and cool, and continues to deliver thick plumes of smoke no matter how long this Belicoso sits in my ashtray between performances. The flavor opens up a bit more after the first 2 inches to yield coffee bean and a hint of nuts. A toasted peanut flavor, like eating the thick brown ‘skin’ of a peanut. I enjoy this flavor, and don’t find it often....but when I do, I instantly recognize it.
Just past the midway point, the strength of this cigar becomes relevant. Casa Magna Dominican is a strong cigar. It’s not in your face strength with unbalanced flavor, like so many of the ‘full-bodied’ handmades on the market today. You know how it goes: cigar has a lot of bold flavors, confuses my palate, smacks with spice, overwhelms my taste buds, etc. etc. Casa Magna, on the other hand, has an underlying strength that’s constant from start to finish. It hovers right on the border of medium and full, and gradually becomes more noticeable as my palate grows accustomed to the flavors at play. I feel it less in my head than my belly, especially when I’m taking my time with the cigar.
The final leg is exactly like the first. Velvety smoke blanketing my palate in rich and chewy fashion. Balanced notes of oak and earth, and of course rich tobacco, with a subtle touch of coffee bean and that freshly cracked black pepper to top off each puff. No twists, no turns, just a solid cigar with a lot of flavor, and something you don’t have to sit down and think about to enjoy. That’s Casa Magna Dominican. Satisfying, and (very) easy to enjoy.
While some cigar-makers try to wow you with something drastically different or ‘revolutionary,’ Manolo simply masters what we ask for: a quality cigar that delivers at every level.