I was offered another chance to review cigars for CigarsCity.com, and I jumped on it like a hungry dog on a bone. The box arrived yesterday, and I opened it up with trembling hands, revealing this glorious beauty: The Ave Maria Charlemagne.
Just holding this cigar is breath-taking, let me tell you. And as a Catholic guy, how can I not love a cigar named "Ave Maria"?
All kidding aside, I wanted to light it up right away. I probably could have, as Anthony made sure it arrived in perfect condition. I let it sit in the humidor for a day to make sure I would get all the flavor from it, and after dinner decided it was time to light it up.
First observation - make sure you have time. This cigar is 7.5 inches long with a ring gauge of 54. The website says it's an hour and a half smoke. My smoke tonight lasted two and a half hours, and I could have milked it for a bit more if I wanted to. Bring a book. And the adult beverage of your choice. This is a cigar meant for a good, long, relaxing smoke. If you lit this bad boy at the beginning of a football game you'd still be smoking it well into the third quarter if not longer.
Once I unwrapped it I gave it a good sniff. Sweet tobacco aroma. Clipped the end, gave it a test puff and the draw was perfect. It's a well crafted cigar. As I was toasting the foot, I caught my first whiff of the smoke. You know that smell you get when you first walk into a top-end cigar lounge? That smell that says you're in a store dedicated to the best smokes that cigar makers can put out? The smell that makes you just want to stand in the entrance and inhale the air? Yeah. That was the smell I got. This is how a cigar should smell. I think I actually said that aloud.
The first part of the cigar is straight tobacco flavor with a hint of cream. The description of the cigar is medium-full, but I found the start of the cigar to be almost mild/medium. About a quarter of the way through, you started to get hints of toast and coffee that slowly built in strength. The strength kept building, and a third of the way through the cigar had attained its medium-full potential, with notes of spice starting to pick up. It was an outstanding way to start a cigar of this size. It doesn't show up and kick over your palate, it lets you get warmed up before it flexes its muscles.
About halfway through, the spice became more pronounced, and the cream notes faded. The toast and coffee flavors held steady. Two-thirds of the way through, the spice and tobacco flavors were hitting the "full" description, and remained there until the finish.
I normally don't go into that kind of depth - quarter, third, etc. But this cigar lasted so long with the flavor profile changing accordingly that I felt it was worth remarking on.
The ash held for over an inch at the start. I eventually knocked the ash off before it could fall, and it was firm. I never had any ash fall off for the entire smoke. It burned even all the way to the finish, with no canoeing or hot spots. The draw held steady from start to finish. The construction on this cigar was superb.
My bottom line: This cigar is frigging awesome. I wanted to come up with some sort of flowery description about how much I enjoyed it and all of that pleasant verbiage, but what it comes down to is that this is just a great smoke. When you buy the box the price per cigar is $7.95. I've paid $15 for a cigar that wasn't even close to as good as this Ave Maria was. After I smoked it, I went to the website so I could put the hyperlink into this post and was astonished at how little it cost. This is a top-notch cigar.
Once again, I'd like to thank Anthony from CigarsCity.com for allowing me to review these cigars. You can find their link under the "Be A Man" sidebar, or just use the link in this post to get to the Ave Maria line. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.