Robusto, 5.5 x 54 ring gauge / approx. $7, UPtown's Smoke Shop
Exclusive Cigars was established in 2005 and has prided themselves on being one of the fastest-growing boutique brands in the industry. Mostly known for their Kristoff line of cigars, the Brittania Reserva debuted in 2007, but was reblended in 2009. It features Cuban seed Nicaraguan and Dominican filler, a Cuban seed Dominican binder, and a Honduran-grown Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf. It is reportedly mild-to-medium in body with a "depth, flavor and complexity not found in other mild cigars." This review stick was my first experience with this blend, although I have smoked it since and enjoyed it just as much.
Removing the Brittania from its cellophane, I was immediately struck by a wave of pleasing aromas--something that rarely happens on "naked" cigars. The band was vintage-looking and classy. The cigar itself was surprisingly dark for a Connecticut Shade, but perhaps that is just how they grow such leaves in Honduras. It was almost medium-brown with darker mottling on it. It did appear to be very well-made with flat, even seams and a tight pigtail. On the wrapper leaf I got a note of hay and a little autumn spice; the foot gave off a stronger manure and wet earth aroma. I used my Xikar MTX to cleanly cap this cigar, giving me a smooth, easy draw full of caramel and chocolate sweetness as well as just a bit of pepper spice.
The Brittania lit easily and right away I was greeted with a very creamy smoke that had a ton of caramel sweetness and some hay as well. I also got flavors of vanilla and chocolate on the tongue and a nice nuttiness and creamy coffee on the retrohale. The first third provied to be just into the medium-bodied range after starting off fairly mild. What surprised me was the depth of flavor I got--the marketing was not just hyperbole! Amazingly creamy with a continuation of the flavors I noted before--at this point I was already considering a box purchase...or at least buying some more to see how further sampling compared.
During the second third, the character of the Brittania gradually changed from a luxuriant creaminess to a more solidly medium-bodied cigar with a little earthiness on the palate and some black pepper on the retrohale. The draw was nothing short of perfect so far and the burn line was very even.
As the final third started the Brittania continued to surprise me as a peppery burn crept into the palate and the retrohale exhibited notes of cedar. The smoke continued to be somewhat creamy and very thick and oily with a fairly long finish. In short, I really enjoyed this cigar from beginning to completion. It had a wide range of flavors that constantly progressed and never failed to surprise. Exclusive bills this as mild-to-medium, but I experienced mostly a dead-on medium-bodied smoke with a huge amount of flavor. It should be great as a morning cigar with coffee, but could also be enjoyed mid-day or even after a big dinner because of its complex flavor. The great thing is that is it not so powerful that novices cannot appreciate it or so mild that fans of stronger cigars should skip it. A box purchase in the future is definitely not out of the question.
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