Wrapper: Habano (Their web site does not say Nic or DR)
Size: “Excelsior” Robusto 5 x 50
Walter Santiago, along with ETB owner Sandy Cobas and Master Blender, Willy Herrera, created this high premium. And Cremo is Spanish for “To smoke.”
From the Cremo web site:
“The factory located in Miami’s famed Calle 8, known best for its old school Cuban entubado techniques, is a family owned and operated "fabriquita" which employs level 9 rollers from Cuba, whom have worked for Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Corona and Partagas. These torcedores (cigar rollers), like a painter to a canvas, handcraft each cigar with meticulous detail.”
The wrapper gives off a very sweet, cedar aroma…also I can smell the wonderful sweetness of unroasted cashews…especially, at the foot.
The construction is rock solid with a minimum of soft spots. There are a couple long veins running the length of the cigar. The cigar is rolled in the traditional Cuban style of tubing the filler (entubado) and finished with a triple cap.
I smoked one of the two that Lilo sent me a couple weeks ago. My head just about exploded from the spice. And I love spice. So I assessed a couple weeks of rest should tame the beast a bit.
I decide to punch the cap. Upon light up, I get a nice swath of wild spices and earthiness. Not the blast of spice from the first cigar. The sweetness abides. Just lovely so far.
Half an inch in, spice begins to rear its head. The burn line is a bit irregular but will probably correct itself.
More flavors begin to take hold… cashew, peanuts, and cinnamon. The cinnamon is subtle with floral notes like Ceylon cinnamon….a very expensive and delightful breed of the spice.
The body is mild at this point. The spiciness is the only flavor the gives the illusion of a stronger cigar. The Cremo web site says that their sticks are similar to the Viaje blends. If that’s true, it’s in the flavor department, not the body. But I have to admit, that with each passing puff, the flavors expand and blossom nicely making this very enjoyable.
The triple cap is done well. No detritus or scraps. My first stick had an ash as long as the cigar due to the entubado method of rolling. I wonder if this stick will do the same?
In discussing the cigar with Lilo Segar, rep for Cremo, he told me, “It really is, unfortunate that this industry is "brand driven.” Folks only like, or buy, BIG names...”
To some extent, Lilo is correct. Having reviewed my share of boutique cigars, I can attest the large percentage of mediocrity out there. Of course, that’s not saying that there is not a lot of mediocrity in the big brand name cigars too.
The ash is stuck to the cigar like it’s welded there.
As the first third ends and the second begins, the flavors are static. Nothing has changed. Except that the spice has moved to the back of my palate. And I’m surprised I haven’t really gotten any creaminess of note yet.
Into the halfway point, I get my creaminess. And the spice begins to ramp up. In the background, are the flavors of sweetness, nuttiness, and cedar. Because of the construction of the cigar, everyone that smokes one has to be tempted to see how long they can keep the ash on the end of the cigar intact. A rite of passage.
I read some other reviews and several complained that the cigar got very hot at this point and into the last third. So far, I am not experiencing this. It’s as cool as a cuke.
The cigar is still mild in body but full in flavor. This is the perfect morning cigar. While your palate is clean and refreshed from the onslaught the day before. As I write this, the ash falls on to the ashtray. Too bad. I was hoping for a cool photo…although, lasting halfway through the cigar is no mean feat.
The last third, is brimming with flavor. The sweetness and creaminess are blaring their horns at me.
The burn line had corrected itself but is now a bit irregular…occurring from the loss of the ash.
I’m getting a bit of a nicotine buzz as I only have a couple of inches to go.
As the cigar nubs itself, I found that I had a very enjoyable 45 minutes. In the world of full body expectations, this was a nice change. Superb blending and superb construction. I highly recommend this cigar for smokers who would like a change from smoking the chic Nicaraguan blends that are sometimes like an LSD trip by the time you’ve finished them.
You can read more about the cigars at: http://www.cremocigars.com
Thanks to Lilo Segar for the samples.
And now for something completely different:
We were at Sunset Gower Recording Studio in Hollywood. Legendary Hall of Fame drummer, Hal Blaine, was our percussionist. On the first night, there was huge expectations and excitement that I would finally meet one of my rock n roll heroes. He played with just about everyone in the 1960’s and has dozens of Number 1 hits under his belt.
The cartage company came and set up his kit. I wondered at this simple marvel. Ringo Starr copied his drum kit from what Hal had. In fact, Hal played on several Beatles songs.
Hal was a genial man. Kind to a fault. As we fiddled around with our instruments before going into record mode, Hal interrupted us.
He motioned us over. He reached into his stick bag and brought out some drum charts…written a long time ago. He handed them to us to peruse. At the same time we realized what we had in our hands, he told us these were the drum charts that Paul Simon wrote for him for the song, “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” We stood there stunned. He said he carried them with him for good luck.
Playing with Hal is like playing with a metronome. The man has perfect timing…not something rock musicians are know for. But I always had a good sense of time so I wasn’t swallowed up in frustration. He kept us on track throughout the songs.
He also had a keen ear for exactly what the song needed. There was never a balls forward type of approach. He was a listener. He is a genius.
My mentorship with Hal lasted only a few years. He moved up north after his divorce and finally retired. I didn’t keep in touch with him. I knew it would probably be fruitless since this man was friend to a million people in the music industry.
But I will always cherish my time with him. And I have all the recordings in which I played bass alongside the great Hal Blaine.
TOP: STEVEN HODGES SETTING UP HAL'S KIT
BELOW: ME AND HAL ON THE COUCH AT MY RECORDING STUDIO