In the omnipresent quest of the modern era to multitask, I have discovered an efficient way to spend time doing two things at once that I love to do. While I work at novel-writing, something I spend a good three hours a day doing, I light up a cigar to review and use my thoughts on the experience as a way to take my brain out of my fantasy world for a moment. Since I am writing fantasy, I thought that a cigar called the “Excalibur Dark Knight” might be an outstanding accompaniment.
Another installment in my Big Brand Showstopper Full-Bodied Sampler from Pipes and Cigars.com, the Dark Knight is made by prime cigar manufacturer Hoyo de Monterrey. They have the most helpful and informative site for their brand I have ever seen in a tobacco-manufacturer’s official website! They tell me that this stick was originally a part of the Excalibur 1066 line, which the General Cigar Company phased out in 2010, but “the Dark Knight will be given a stage of its very own to highlight the great taste of its rich and unique wrapper.” Said wrapper is US Connecticut Havano Grueso (a Cuban seed tobacco sometimes mistaken for a Cameroon maduro,) the filler is Nicaraguan, Honduran and Dominican, and the binder is US Connecticut Broadleaf. Well, this sure sounds like an interesting combination of prime cigar tobaccos with a distinctly American edge!
My toro was rather large, probably a 52 ring gauge. That’s always good; I like a lot of smoke for my money! The label is an attractive black and gold affair with a crown and a coat of arms to match a font that might suggest medieval villainry or a certain sinister caped comic-book hero, and it is marked with the name of the designer, Gener Jose.
The wrapper note was the distinct dark, chewy scent of dark maduros; like barbecued steak almost. And yet you could scent those unique Connecticut tobacco elements underneath. Very promising. It had a shiny, veiny texture and a pristine cap with perfect seams. The pack was a very firm pack; almost dangerously hard, I would say. I was, however, a little concerned with the internal folding at the center. I thought it might burn oddly. After some internal dithering, I decided that I would punch that lovely cap, but I would be prepared to clip it with my guillotine cutter if it offered a difficult draw. And it punched with the perfect grace that the cap led me to expect! The pre-light draw had that promising taste of a good maduro; cocoa and BBQ.
Speaking of BBQ, I toasted the foot and the wafting room note was a rich buttery cocoa scent with a leather undertone. Now very eager to sample this sinister crusader, I lit up. The room was engulfed in a cloud of voluptuous smoke and cocoa butter oil coated my lips. Delicious! There was also a slightly bitter espresso undertone, which I guess would be the Dominicans; not at all unpleasant, but certainly a welcome enhancement of the complexity. In direct contradiction of my fears, the cigar burned with perfect evenness and was no work at all to draw. Indeed, the amount of smoke I could take into my mouth at once was downright luxurious!
Perhaps my only complaint in the first third was that I found myself smoking it too fast because it was simply too good to put down. You can correctly infer, as a result, that the nicotine content was delightfully stimulating but not overwhelming. After the initial draws a distinctly sweet element, perhaps vanilla, perhaps honey, made itself known. Nor did it lose the espresso, the barbecue or the cocoa. Other sites have described the Dark Knight as “dark, rich, and complex.” Just like Batman, the Dark Knight himself. I was finding that it lived up to its hype very well! It burnt pleasantly away in my sinister ashtray as I worked on my writing, hardly needing the slightest encouragement with my mouth to stay alight. (You know, if that were true under different circumstances . . .) 😉
But I digress. The halfway point came all too soon because I was enjoying it so much; it only took about forty minutes to get there. And after purging, the rich buttery cocoa returned; only now there was a strong peppery element that had crept in sometime in the first third while I wasn’t looking, and a smokey steak undertone, and a molasses blend to balance the vanilla. Imagine that someone took a properly well-done Montreal steak, thick with its peppery signature steak spice, and brushed it in a brown sugar glaze. Apparently the Dark Knight is full of surprises; he has many layers of complexity and quite a lot of tricks up his sleeve! I couldn’t wait to see what else his utility belt might reveal.
As I approached the final third, it did go out twice; my fault, since I was working at the writing. At this point, the pepper diminished a little and the brown sugar flavour came into the spotlight, accompanied by a hint of leather in the aftertaste. The second light, which I insisted upon even though I was now required to remove the golden label, was a little wonky and the pack had become soft by this time. Yet that perfect cap remained intact and the experience did not lose its luster. I finally allowed the last nub of the stick to die, which it did only with great stubbornness, at 3:45 pm, for a total smoke time of an hour and a half.
Yes, this is a cigar worthy of its name. Batman would understand its dark complexity, and its richness would suit even Bruce Wayne’s rarefied tastes. Rich and dark are the flavours it celebrates; just like the Wayne Manor. Perfect for showing off antique armour in the armoury off of the ballroom, or watching monitors in the Batcave!
I have nothing bad to say about this cigar. Nothing. And I have nothing but praises to offer it in every department. I therefore have no choice but to salute Excalibur’s kingly accomplishment, and offer this fine crusader:
For a meagre prize-purse of $6.99 USD, you can secure the services of a single champion at Cigar.com. For a purse of $22.00 USD you can hire five men-at-arms at Cigars International, and for $95.80 USD you can secure the services of twenty guardsmen at Pipes & Cigars; you can also find their heirs (there are four Dark Knight lines now; II is the most expensive and III the least). You will also find knights for hire at Thompson Cigar.
I would suggest that this cigar is probably best smoked without accompaniment, but certainly it would do nothing to harm an espresso, a full-bodied red wine, or a plate of Turkish Delight. Any coffee should not diminish it, and it would be a suitable after-dinner smoke for Montreal steak or smoked and peppered salmon.
Pleased to be in the High King’s court, I humbly offer this lady’s perspective! And I invite you good knights to join the Round Table by offering your comments.