By Tad Gage
I have seen and smoked an awful lot of cigars over the years, but I’ve never encountered a band quite like one on this new offering from Achievement Cigar Company (ACC). The cigar is a 50 ring and about 6 inches, and the four-inch band covers most of the cigar. Just viewing it, I felt like I was watching a 1930s fan dance by Sally Rand: lots of tease, but what’s underneath? The reason I don’t like big cigar bands is that they can hide a lot of wrapper flaws, or try to "wow" you with elegance when there is nothing underneath.
So, cutting to the chase, I removed the band (which was lightly glued and, admittedly, easy to peel). Low and behold, this Sally Rand was smokin’ hot. This was one gloriously oily, deep brown Colorado wrapper. The three-piece cap, which you actually can see even with the band on, was seamlessly applied. I admit to not being familiar with this brand, which was founded in Ecuador in 1952 using only Ecuadorian tobacco, and which has evolved into a company utilizing a variety of leaf from numerous countries. ACC is a very well-kept secret, but no longer!
After removing the more-than-generous band, the wrapper did have a couple of water spots, and the foot was rather ragged. The cigar had a nice, vegetal pre-light aroma – what you’d expect from a very expensive cigar. Toasting the foot and diving in yielded a plethora of flavors from the get-go. There was an immediate meaty hit, embracing seared roast beef and Kansas City burnt ends (a pleasure I’d heartily recommend to you if you have never experienced it). I am not fond of getting too "out there" on finding flavors in cigars, but this smoke delivered hints of cedar, leather, and dark, sweet chocolate.
The company claims to conduct an extensive fermentation process; turning the sweats eight times and fermenting the tobacco for 6 to 9 months. Now, this is three times longer than your typical fermentation, and I would be intrigued to follow up with ACC on how and why it does this. But, I could not argue with the results of however they process their leaf. As the cigar progressed, it gave off hints of browned butter and olive oil, and delivered a perfect draw.
The El Presidente (and this line differs from a couple other lines the company offers) is encased in a Sumatra leaf wrapper (Ecuadorian grown, I believe), a binder of Nicaraguan Cubano (using a leaf amazingly high on the tobacco plant, since wrappers tend to be taken from lower leaves owing to their toughness and strength), and an all-Dominican filler of broadleaf, Habano 2000, and Santa Lucia. While based in Ecuador and at one time an all-Ecuador cigar, the company has expanded its supply of leaf to embrace tobaccos from numerous nations.
ACC claims to age its specially fermented tobacco for up to 12 years. Normally, I would consider this a rather questionable claim, but the company HAS been in business since 1952 and hitting on all 8 cylinders since 1967. So it is, indeed, possible, that they have bales and bales of old leaf on which to draw. There is simply no arguing with the mellow, complex and perfectly aged character of this cigar. It burned perfectly to the nub, and I hated to put it out, but the only alternative to getting more out of the smoke would have been a roach clip.
This is a very premium-priced cigar. It is exclusively imported by JMG International, and only available at selected brick and mortar shops, and there is no Internet availability. Expect to pay up to $100 per stick, but you might find a deal below that. But I would tell you that I would choose this cigar over any similarly priced Cuban product, and not feel bad about my decision.
I would characterize this as a medium/full bodied smoke. A couple decades ago, I would have called this a full-bodied cigar. But with so many manufacturers producing cigars of monumental strength and harshness, this is actually pretty mellow by today’s standards. Whether I accept the 9 month fermenting process is still up for question. However, there is no questioning that this is an absolutely premier product, with all the appeal of a leather-clad new car, butter-drenched beef and the finest chocolate all rolled into one beautifully constructed product. This is not an easy cigar to track down, but I recommend you do so. The line features four standard shapes, and is a must-have for any humidor. It rivals the best Cuban or non-Cuban product on today’s market.
6 x 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan Cubano Ligero
Filler: Dominican Broadleaf, Habano 2000, Santa Lucia
Made in: Ecuador
[Editor's Note 1: Presidente is a name of an actual cigar size that measures from 7 to 8 ½ inches with a ring gauge of 52 to 60. However, in this case Presidente is actually the name of the cigar blend, which is offered in the sizes of Robusto, Toro, Torpedo, and Churchill. Tad reviewed the Churchill.]
[Editor’s Note 2: The Don Cervantes El Presidente line uses the hand-bunching method called Entubado. "This is a rolling format in which each filler leaf is rolled into itself, then bunched with other individually rolled leaves. Entubado rolling, the most complex and difficult rolling method, and therefore the most rare, creates a more firmly packed and balanced cigar by providing an excellent draw." – The Tobacconist Handbook, by Jorge L. Armenteros, CMT.
|Tad Gage is the author of the best selling Penguin Books "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cigars," in its second edition. The book has sold over 40,000 copies worldwide, in three languages, and is available in stores and online distributors. Tad has made cigar connoisseurship accessible to beginners and veteran cigar smokes alike. He is delighted to answer questions through CigarChronicles.com. Just comment below.|