Connoisseur, 6" x 52 ring gauge / MSRP $17
Paul Garmirian developed his cigar business based on a life-long love of fine cigars and released his first line in 1991. To celebrate his 20th year in the industry, Garmirian teamed with Heinke Kelner and Eladio Diaz from Davidoff to create the Symphony 20 Limited Edition. The blend consists of 4 filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, a Cuban-seed Dominican binder, and an Ecuadorian wrapper that the website says is "the greatest wrapper we've ever seen." I picked up this sampler during the latest Twitter Cigar Pass and it spent almost a month in my humidor before I sparked it up for this review.
I generally judge the appearance pretty strictly on a cigar costing upwards of $20 a stick and this is no different. While the look was classy and appealing for the most part, closer inspection revealed barely concealed large veins, including one spot where a binder vein almost broke through the wrapper, as well as a spot where the leaf was wrinkled. Other than that, the leaf was smooth and moderately oily to the touch and to the eye. The filler was fairly evenly packed, although I did detect a couple slightly soft spots. When sniffed, I got an earthiness from the body and cedar and manure on the foot. My Palio cutter made an extremely clean slice on the head and the cold draw was fantastic: not the least bit tight and it had flavors of molasses, hay and that woodsy note I always associate with Davidoff products.
From the first puff, I got big flavors: a foresty earthiness, a sweet caramel, a distinct grassiness, and a heavy cedar note on the finish. The retrohale had roasted nuts, black pepper, and that woodsy, almost mushroom/fungus note I got in prelight. Like it or not, it is one way to tell if the Davidoff crew has had a hand in the blend. The first third performed beautifully--a continually wonderful flavor of earth with a little sweetness and occasional hints of the aforementioned flavor cavalcade. The draw was just about perfect and the burn line was straight enough to not need touching up.
Until now the Symphony 20 had been a medium-bodied smoke, but during the second third, the body ramped up to the full level while the smoke stayed as smooth and voluminous as ever. The earthiness subsided to a more leathery flavor with just a little pepper spice on the finish.
The Symphony 20 was one of those rare cigars that maintained a full body yet also maintained an extraordinary smoothness and elegance. The final third was still somewhat earthy, but a strong wood/cedar note was there as well. There was just enough pepper spice still around to keep things very interesting as well, but there was just enough nicotine to alert you to its presence without it ever being really strong. The bottom line here is that this is a superb cigar with a ton of flavor and should keep any experienced smoker well-satisfied all the way down to the nub. If not for the high price tag, I would smoke these on a regular basis...it is possibly the best Kelner/Diaz blend I have ever tasted. Simply wonderful.
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