It’s a stunning, summery Puget Sound day in May and Rain City Cigar is hosting an Oliva event, one of my top brands which also includes Nub and Cain. I look forward to getting some quality time with Russell Graham, the Oliva rep, and enjoying the top notch camaraderie one can expect at RCC. I attend these events regardless of the weather but on such a glorious day, something that has been is very short supply this Spring, it will be jacketless smoking pleasure outside — natural vitamin D and clouds of aromatic cigar smoke — sweet! Other cigar lovers must feel the same way because the tiny store is packed for hours as people talk to Russell, make their selections and line up to purchase them. Knowing exactly what I want, a box of super fine Cain 550 Habano, I grab them, cash out immediately, accept a free Oliva sampler from Russell on my way out the door and retreat to the empty smoking area out in the parking lot under the canopy they erect for such events. Time to light one up!
I shuck the cellophane off the new box and extract a stick. The prelight aroma is absolutely delicious and it always reminds me why I love these superb cigars. I snip off the cap and carefully toast the foot until it is gently glowing. I light it up and the first few puffs yield smooth, rich leather and cedar flavor — ahhh! — I settle back into my folding camp chair beneath the canopy and begin to truly savor the moment. Fellow Brothers of the Leaf join me as they emerge from the store with their goodies in hand — greetings are exchanged, old acquaintances are renewed and new ones are made. Three of my cigar clan brothers, Robert, Doug and Justin, are on hand as well which is always a added bonus. Stogies fire up, smiles broaden, sighs of contentment are expressed, blessings are spontaneously counted out loud and the eclectic conversations begin — cigar lore, the progress of the cigar lounge bill in the State House of Representatives, our crazy weather, how we earn livings to pay for our hobbies, the joy of riding motorcycles and we share smartphone pics of our beloved dogs — no doubt spurred on by Robbie, my 4 year old Chinook, being present and making sure everyone is properly greeted as they take their seats.
Russell finally gets a chance to come outside after the shopping rush and he asks who is smoking a Cain. I fess up by raising my hand and he hands me a prototype Cain cheroot to try. He tells me it has a very fresh wrapper, as in just rolled a few days prior, and he says to expect a real treat. Russell says he has come to enjoy freshly rolled sticks much more than aged ones and he explains how in Cuban cigar shops, the fresh cigars are on display up front and the aged sticks are kept in the back as less desirable and something you have to specifically ask for. He says he’s really impressed with this new stick and with a boyish grin, he admits he smoked 8 of them in one day. Now I’m really eager to fire this bad boy up and he makes me pledge to do so very soon in order to get the full effect of the fresh wrapper — scout’s honor! Here are my notes from the day after the event:
- Tapered cheroot shape with the typical narrow ring gauge and what looks like 5 inches long (sorry, I didn’t have my tape measure handy)
- A rough, rugged wrapper, like something you rolled up yourself after a long day of rounding up cattle — very cool!
- It’s firmly packed with only one small soft spot near the cap
- A perfect springy feel and ready to smoke
- A spicy leather taste and the typical Cain smoothness.
- The smoke has a nutty aroma.
- A gentle retrohale yields a peppery sensation in my nose.
- There’s a tingling sensation on my lips and the tip of my tongue.
- Plenty of thick smoke — perfect!
- Perfect draw and a razor sharp burn.
- The ash is firm and holds on for a solid inch before I tap it off, not wanting to get volcanic debris on the laptop keyboard.
- The nutty flavor is now much more pronounced and the spiciness is present just on the finish.
- The pleasant nicotine buzz goes great wtih Led Zeppelin’s Battle of Evermore playing on Pandora.
- The burn is still spot on.
- It’s gone out and the burn has tunneled a bit. Shall I ditch it in the ashtray? Nah! I insert a toothpick in this finger burner, touch up the burn and continue on to the end.
- Jethro Tull’s Minstrel In The Gallery is the perfect soundtack for this little headbanger.
- I’m feeling the nicotine in the pit of my stomach but it’s not overwhelming and certainly what I expect from a Cain.
I accompany this cigar with water instead of my usual single malt Scotch so I’ll get an unbiased experience and I take it nice and slow so I won’t overheat the stick and wash out the flavors. Despite the small ring gauge, it burns cool until the very end. It takes a little over an hour to finish which is remarkable for such a small stick but then then that’s to be expected from a Oliva Cain or Nub due to the density of the filler they are known for.
Oliva Rep Dude, when I can I buy a box???
Thanks, Russell! It’s time for dinner and then some Scotch and a Cain 550 Habano for dessert. — Scott Bruce Duncan */:-)