Alec Bradley has a history of thinking outside the box. All you have to do is to look at the Trilogy cigars they used to make; after all, how many stogies are a triangular box-press? So, when the trend started toward larger ring gauges, they decided to pull out all the stops and make an entire line of behemoths. There are six shapes in the Maxx series, starting with a 4 x 46, going to ring gauges up to 60 and lengths as long as 9 1/4 inches.
For my foray into these Honduran-made beasts, I tried The Freak, a 6 3⁄8thsinch long stick with a 60 ring. The cigar is firm to the touch and is wrapped with a Nicaraguan Habano leaf of a deep coffee-brown hue, and glistening with oil. The pre-light aroma is earthy, and the draw is easy with just enough resistance and some wood and earth flavors before lighting up.
After toasting the foot, I lit the cigar completely, and settled in for a long smoke. I had figured that this would be a complex and interesting stick since it also has a Costa Rican binder and filler from Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico and Honduras. As expected with such a massive cigar, the cigar burns slowly, and the flavor was solid but not overly assertive. A distinct combination of medium-roast coffee and a woodiness that smacked of oak greeted me, which a touch of vegetal sweetness and a hint of mild spice under the surface. The aroma was similar to the flavor, and was not heavy enough to be a nuisance.
One of my beefs with big honkin’ stogies (beside having to unhinge my jaw to indulge) is that they tend to burn a bit more unevenly than those with a smaller ring gauge, and this leviathan was no different. After the first half-inch, the burn started to creep up one side. To be completely fair, I’ve smoked some good quality smaller cigars that burned worse, and for a cigar that’s almost a full inch in diameter, I wasn’t put off by this slightly crooked burn.
As I approached the second third of the cigar, the flavors remained fundamentally the same but became richer and a bit more intense, with the oak flavor moving a bit more to the forefront. I also was surprised to note that this cigar smoked unusually cool, even for a bigger vitola, and never even hinted at becoming hot.
After about the two-inch point, the ash evened out, and the flavor picked up a touch of cocoa, and a hint of dry black cherry on the finish.
Like many medium to full bodied cigars with a dark wrapper and a bigger diameter, care should be exercised to not smoke it too quickly, or it may develop a chemical harshness, but when smoked at an even pace, the flavors are pleasant and enjoyable while maintaining a rich body.
My preference leans toward 42 to 50 gauge cigars, so the Maxx Freak, size-wise, isn’t my cup of tea, but I found it very enjoyable, and I will definitely try some of the other sizes to see how they stack up.
The coffee brown wrapper, with its fine veins and oiliness makes the cigar, itself, very attractive. If the band was a little less pedestrian, it would earn 14 or 15 points out of 15, instead of the 13 I’m giving it. The construction was very solid overall, with the only hiccup being an intermittently wonky burn. Making allowance for the large ring, I give it 30 out of 35 points. The flavor was pleasant, not overpowering and reasonably complex, if not particularly unique, earning it 42 out of 50 points, for an aggregate score of 85, which is made even better by The Freak’s fair price (around $8.00 MSRP). If you like bigger cigars, this one is a must try.
Overall rating: 85
6 3⁄8ths x 60
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Costa Rica
Filler: Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia
The following 1.5-minute video clip has Alan Rubin giving us some background information on the Maxx Cigar.
|Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of pipe tobaccos for Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe and www.pipesandcigars.com in Albany, NY. He has been a cigar smoker and pipe tobacco blender for over 30 years. Russ will be contributing articles in several areas starting with reviewing cigars that are the best bang for the buck – something we anticipate many readers will be interested in during these challenging economic times.|