Cigars, Costa Rica

El Septimo Black: I got the power!

I met Zaya Younan at an event a few weeks ago. He is the owner of El Septimo cigars, a brand of high end cigars rolled in Costa Rica. He was interested in my opinion on his cigars; I was interested in trying them. He offered me a couple to try, and suggested that they would be excellent cigars to smoke on the golf course. Friday afternoon I tested that.

IMG_4145The cigar I selected for this beautiful afternoon was from El Septimo’s Luxus collection. The Exception Black is a 5″x60 gauge cigar that looked and felt magnificent. I expected from the length and ring gauge that it would be a good 90 minute smoke, so when I lit it on the second tee, it might have lasted right until the 9th hole.

The wrapper is dark, with a pleasant oily feel to it. It is a solid cigar that feels like you could defend yourself against a physical assault with it. I always enjoy a cigar with a good, solid feel to it. The smell of the unlit cigar was pleasant; the closed foot reminded me of a potential lover whose long dress is coyly hiding her wonderful surprises underneath.

How one prepares a cigar for smoking can make a huge difference in the smoking experience. For any cigar of this gauge, my go-to is my Xikar 11mm twist punch. Even on a cigar with an obviously solid construction, I like keeping as much of the cigar’s head intact as possible… especially when I suspect it will be in my mouth for over an hour. If I were lighting the cigar inside, or even on a calmer day (there was a nice breeze across the fairway that worked hard at preventing me from breaking 80) I would have preferred to light the cigar with a wooden match. I settled for using the single flame butane torch which maintains its residency in my golf bag. Toasting the closed foot of the cigar made it easier to light, and the burn was even right from the outset.

Different tobacco growing regions produce different flavours in the tobacco. While this was not the first Costa Rican cigar that I have smoked, it is not a region that I am used to. As such, the flavours jumped out at me as unique from the very first puff. The tasting notes that I got from the first third of the cigar were strong, herbal, and mellow. There was not even a hint of chemicals – the sign of a well-aged cigar. The woodiness of the notes became apparent in the second third. I was having trouble putting my finger on the spiciness, but cinnamon would not be an unreasonable description.

IMG_4144Even in the breeze the smoke was plentiful; I always appreciate a good thick smoke coming out.

I am not a novice cigar smoker, and it is rare that one leaves me light-headed. This cigar packs a punch! It is not the cigar I would recommend to a beginner as their first foray into the brotherhood of the leaf, nor would I recommend it to anyone whose flavour profile preferences lean toward creamy and mild. For a longtime smoker who likes them strong and spicy, this is a must try.

As a cigar sommelier and whisky lover, I am always worried that a strong whisky might overpower a cigar. I would have no problem pairing this cigar with even the strongest Islay single malts, say a Caol Ila 12, or the Lagavulin 8. If you prefer wine over whisky, then a nice malbec – the Catena from Mendoza, Argentina or Seven Hills from Washington State would also go nicely with this stick. Additionally, I would be very interested in extending my pairing recommendation to include a dark chocolate, which I think would compliment any of those pairings very nicely.

I will offer this word of advice: This is not a cigar to take lightly, or on an empty stomach. I would suggest it to follow a nice steak dinner, and yes… enjoy it on your patio, or in your favourite cigar lounge. If you had a light fish dinner, this cigar might not be the right cigar… although you may be different, so try it and enjoy it… however you like it!

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