Reviews by Richard M.

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I dub Dark Night, Ruler of CI Nation!

Richard M.

Cigar: Ave Maria Dark Knight

Size: Robusto 5.2 x 54

Burn Time: 1 Hour, 30 minutes

Working in the retail stores we get to meet new people every day and discuss our passion for cigars. We discuss why the staff and customers like certain cigars, including specifics about what we personally like about each one, including flavor profiles, strength, size preferences, value, and overall satisfaction. Additionally, we get to discuss some of the biggest names in the premium cigar industry. I don’t think there is any bigger than Abel Fernandez, known as AJ Fernandez to nearly all the cigar community. Well, what happens when an iconic brand such as Ave Maria gets a new blend from AJ? I will tell you what happens, we in the retail biz go crazy!

See, Ave Maria is one of my go to brands, with not only the core brand but the elegant Divinia and bold and daring Reconquista. Enter…The Ave Maria Dark Knight…featuring a Knight clad in white and red, holding his shield and a gold and black sub band emblazoned with Dark Knight. This cigar immediately had my attention the moment I opened the matte black coffin protecting the treasure with-in. I was greeted with a dark and toothy wrapper and a pre-light aroma of cocoa bean.

But was I already getting ahead of myself? Did I already set an expectation subconsciously about what I was getting into? Well, that remained to be seen, but there was no way to know other than cutting and lighting this loyal subject and exploring its realm. Giving it a straight cut and grabbing the nearest source of fire I set forth on a quest to discover if I had found the next cigar I would have to buy a box of. The cut was firm, so I knew the Nicaraguan Broadleaf Maduro wrapper was going to hold something special.  

Immediately I realized this was richer than the Reconquista, not in strength at the time mind you, but in where I saw this cigar taking me. Rich and deep notes of leather, cocoa, and black pepper were hitting within the first few puffs, and there was a significant spice and pepper on the retro-hale. I knew if this cigar was going to be enjoyed with a beverage, it would have to stand up to some pretty dominating notes. Well, a double, neat Basil Hayden Dark Rye fit that bill very nice, and was a complimentary pairing, working well to enhance the spice and pepper while making the cocoa very noticeable. 

Since this is a Robusto, I would have to pay closer attention to the transitions since they could likely happen quicker. As the middle third of this cigar started in, I could not help but find the cocoa developing into dark chocolate. It was still rich, smooth, and full of character. It was at this point that I realized I was enjoying this cigar too much and that I had been puffing just a bit too fast, so I made a conscious effort to slow down an appreciate it for what it was, and not for what was coming next…it would get there, but patience is a virtue.

The Dark Night is rising in body, and if I had to say, once I passed the half-way point, this cigar is bolder to my palate and deeper and more complex. I feel this is the strongest Ave Maria I have yet enjoyed, and I was not done yet. The final third saw it all coming together. The retro-hale had leveled out for me, with the spice and pepper becoming less…shall we say eye-watering. The rich dark chocolate remained even over the Dark Rye I was enjoying with it, and I found them to both complement each other very well. I was not sure if I wanted to sip then puff, or puff then sip. If I sip then puff, I found the cocoa was dominant, however if I puffed then sipped I found the spice lead this dance.

As the cigar was winding down, I was pleased to find it had a medium yet clean finish, with the cocoa lingering just a little. When AJ puts out bold cigars you know when you are enjoying one, and this one was no exception. I knew this was the real deal, and was going to be a box purchase in the near future.

During the entire cigar I did not have to relight at any point, and I did not notice any burn issues. Since it was my fault I was smoking this one a bit too fast in the middle, I was surprised it did not have a burn issue or even any bitterness developing. Once I was about one and a quarter inches from the end, I decided it was time to place my sword and shield down for the evening and retire as the sun was setting.

If you are a fan of rich and bold cigars, grab a hand full of these to enjoy on your next dark night…