Size: robusto (5x54)
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: wine fermented Dominican criollo '98
Filler: Dominican criollo '98
Price: around 5 bucks per stick
Time in humidor: 2+ months
This is the second cigar from the "three of a kind" Exactus sampler sent to me by Ram Rodriguez at Tabacalera El Artista. It has been a while since I smoked the clasico and remember that is was an exceptional smoke, with perfect draw and complex flavors. I read my tasting notes from the Classico and prepared myself for another outstanding smoking experience. Now let's see if it came through.
The Habano wrapper had a nice oily sheen, with only very small and smooth veins. It had a milk chocolate brown color with a touch of reddish hue. The body was firm and well packed, with very little rebound upon squeezing. The body offered the aroma of cocoa and the foot offered notes of cocoa with a mild sweetness. I clipped the cap with my trusty Xikar cutter and found a perfect draw with notes of cocoa and a hint of honey. I used my Xikar executive to get the foot toasted and get things going with no problems.
The initial third opened with notes of wood and toasted nuts with a very faint note of coffee. There is a spicy kick to the retrohale and a nice tingle left on the palate. The finish is long and woody with a very mild lingering sweetness. Somewhere around a half inch into the burn the spice calms as the smoke becomes more creamy and smooth. So far it is a whirlwind of flavor with a lot brewing in the background just waiting to develop. The flavors to start to settle in as I progress through the first third.
Going into the second third the coffee notes have fully developed and taken center stage with the nutty and woody notes winning "best supporting roll". The toasted nut notes are ever changing as I progress through the second third. One puff resembles almonds, while another may more resemble walnut or pecan. This smoke is anything but boring for sure! Even the woody notes do a bit of morphing, as they go from cedar to oaky. There are butter notes that come and go and seemed to become more frequent as I progressed through the burn. Somewhere around the midway point, the smoke took on a salty/sweet component that really made the flavors pop that much more. I detected a few notes of honey, they were infrequent but definitely noticeable.
As I journey into the final third the ever-changing nutty notes finally settle in as a toasted walnut flavor. There is a hint of sourdough that comes and goes as the coffee moves back to allow the nutty notes to take the lead. Most of the honey notes have subsided and the sweetness faded a bit with them. This was a pleasant roller coaster ride for my palate.
The final verdict is that the Habano absolutely delivered as well as the Classico. The body was consistently on the full side of medium-full while maintaining a creamy smoothness. The burn and construction was excellent and only required a minor touch up or two. The Exactus Habano brought flavor and smoke production by the truckload and held my interest through every inch of the burn. The ash was a bit flaky but still managed to hold to two inches or better at a time, I only ashed twice before I was at the nub. Tabacalera El Artista has a fine thing going with the Exactus line and at a great value for the consumer. I would have to say that the Habano is box worthy and it is possible it will be in my favorites of 2013 list. Thanks to Ram Rodriguez and tabacalera El Artists for sending me the samples to review, they are mighty fine smokes and I look forward to upcoming releases. A search for these online didn't turn up a plethora of sites to pick these up at, but my buddy Brad over at cigarstix.com as them in stock and ready to ship. If you would like to try them out before committing to a box, the "Three of a kind" sampler includes one each of the Habano, maduro, and the Classico. The sampler is available in 5 different sizes so you can find your favorite blend and size before ordering a box. You can find Exactus cigars on cigarstix.com at http://www.cigarstix.com/categories/premium-boutique-cigars/exactus-cigars.html