Recently, Erin has been ordering me random sampler packs from Pipers & Cigars or Famous Smoke. These have been bargain-priced clearance packs because, let’s face it: money for tobacco has been kind of tight as of late. I’ve got nothing against clearance packs; often it’s just a matter of some things not selling for whatever random market fluctuation, or maybe they’re just overstocked and the products have been sitting long enough that quality is threatened. I’ve found some great deals and some really enjoyable smokes that way.
But sometimes, the cigars in a clearance-priced sampler pack just won’t sell. People are fickle, so there could be any number of causes. New brands not being as well known as older brands could be one of them. And sometimes, it’s because the cigars just aren’t as spectacular as other brands available from a given supplier.
So I didn’t really know what to expect when I unwrapped the East Coast Rollers Pure Mayhem, a big boy at 7 inches by 50 mm. East Coast Rollers is Famous Smoke’s house brand, so who knew how it would stand up compared to more famous brands?
The specs told me it was unlikely to be my favourite cigar: its strength is rated as medium-bodied (I like either strong smokes I can savour, or light smokes I can finish quickly,) it’s rolled with Honduran tobaccos (I tend to prefer Cubans, Nicaraguans, Dominicans and Sumatrans,) and it’s wrapped in a Habano wrapper (I like Maduros and Corojos best.) On the other hand, its wrapper is a natural Nicaraguan Habano, so that was a plus.
The label was fairly simple: brown, gold and parchment, with the name and initials on either side in a brown, vaguely Old West font. The name on the front was underneath an image of a bell, very American, with the initials in a circle resembling a porthole on the back, styled with brown stars in a parchment band and thickly bordered in a flat gold shade. If it was meant to evoke a feeling of New England and American history, it worked.
My spirits raised when I saw the tight triple-cap, which cut easily with my desk cutter. I chose a round cut for this big boy rather than a slit or a punch, because I find that larger and longer cigars often need the extra air flow to burn well. The wrapper note smelled like garden dirt in the spring, which is perhaps appropriate, because everything is finally starting to melt, the spring birds are back, and I’m thinking about planting some early flowers this year for the birds and butterflies.
Toasting the foot, again appropriately, produced a scent like buttered toast in the morning. Don’t hold it against me, but my torch was out of fluid, so I had to light it with a simple Bic. That often spoils the initial draw, but it still held up well. It wasn’t quite as buttery as the initial toasting had promised, perhaps because it’s older and therefore, dry (which was maybe why it was on clearance – sometimes you get what you pay for.) I was reminded more of toast and soft suede leather, with an extremely subtle sweet undertone. I’ll definitely give it this: the Pure Mayhem is all-natural; no flavouring involved. And that, I like.
I got a good burn going at about quarter after four in the afternoon, and I sat down to work on this review and updates for my new anthology, Gunsmoke & Dragonfire. It was a bright sunny day and I sat under an open window to work, enjoying the pleasant, library-esque room note as it blended with a fresh, warming breeze.
The flavour profile quickly shifted to include even more of that pleasant sweet element, but it was still extremely subtle. Picture a piece of lightly-buttered, medium-browned toast with a verrrrry thin scraping of honey over the top; that’s what it reminded me of. This persisted the length of the first third, which was about 40 minutes.
The second third announced itself suddenly with a distinctly wooden flavour element. I was immediately reminded of dry old pine logs crackling in a fireplace. The suede flavour stuck with it as an undertone, too. My attitude was rapidly warming. Apparently this cigar was more complex than it initially looked! I found it accompanied strong creamy coffee perfectly, and I imagine it would go brilliantly with a peaty Islay scotch! Mmm! The second third lasted about 50 minutes.
In the final third, the cigar took on a strong pinewood taste, with something like a rougher shoe leather as an undertone. Much more campfire than fireplace, and a touch bitter. That’s pretty normal for the last third in my experience, and it was still good, just not as good as the rest of it. I tore the band off just as it was starting to scortch at about six o’clock.
It finished up with a smokey, woody flavour that I quite enjoyed, however, at about 20 after six. And just to note: the burn stayed almost perfectly straight, and with a clean light-grey ash, almost all the way through.
Overall I wouldn’t say it was a great cigar, but it was certainly surprisingly good! I think I’d have to give it a rating of:
You can get them here at Famous Smoke for a dollar apiece ($20 USD for a bundle of 20) which is 75% off regular price! I don’t think I would pay $80 for a bundle of these, but at a dollar each, they’re a steal.
And that, my friends, is A Lady’s Perspective!