Bonita Smoke Shop – Time Warp – Big Ben – Guest Review
Here at Casas Fumando we are always open to guest reviews, and this most recent guest review has come to use from Jeff Oda in Seattle. Jeff has been a long time reader and probably the most active reader/commenter on our site for some time. Over the last few years Jeremy and I have had contact contact with the guy, traded sticks, and even pulled off a few beer trades. Recently he popped up in a guest review of the cigar that I created when I was in Nicaragua at the Drew Estate Cigar Safari last year and then again with an excellent review of Nomad’s Vagabond, one of EO Brands 601 Green Label, La Gloria Cubana’s Rabito de Cochino, and also Villiger’s La Libertad. Please show him some love! – Tony
If you have been reading Casas Fumando for any length of time, you would be aware that Bonita Smoke Shop in Bonita Springs, FL has long been a sponsor and great supporter of the site. In addition to being a well stocked cigar shop, they also have created several lines of their own blends including the Value House Blends, the 18th Anniversary, and the Time Warp series. Daniel paid them a visit a few years ago while on vacation, and had nothing but great things to say about them. You can read about his visit here.
The Time Warp was released two years ago in a single 6×50 toro size. The 6×60 Big Ben appeared on the scene last year, and the 6×47 corona gorda sized Time Zone just recently made its debut. All come cellophane, but unbanded and unboxed, and are available directly from the Bonita Smoke Shop website. The Time Warps run from $6.49 – $7.95 as singles, and are also available in 5-packs and bundles of 20. The toro is also available in Cuban wheels of 50.
The components of the Time Warp lines have been a pretty closely guarded secret, but the Bonita website does say that the wrapper is a natural maduro with a Nicaraguan binder and a three leaf filler. The original blend was put together by Willy Herrera, who was at the time still at the highly regarded El Titan de Bronze factory in Miami and the Time Warp is still manufactured there. When I contacted Bonita’s owner Jackie for specifics, this is what she, in part, had to say:
“…For Time Warp once again I had a very specific wrapper in mind, That wrapper is still a closely guarded secret. 🙂 I wanted a rich complex wrapper that was naturally “Maduro”, No dye, no cooking, no anything other than the natural fermentation process to allow the leaf to develop with all it’s natural flavors intact.
“Big Ben” was the name chosen for the larger size in Time Warp and we adjusted the wrapper to filler and binder ratio of that, Our family is Scottish and English and as a child I recall my uncle tuning in his short wave radio so we could all tip our glass (as Robbie Burns would say “We’ll tak a cup o kindness yet for Auld Lang Syne” each New Year’s Eve. So that was my first “Time Travel” and that is how the name Time Warp was born. A cigar to sit back and travel through time, anyway you’d like, past – present and future with!”
Sounds good to me! Now let’s see where this Time Warp Big Ben takes me…
Gifted to me by Tony Casas
Wrapper: Natural maduro, origin unknown
Size: Big Ben 6×60
Smoke Time: Two hours, ten minutes
Pairing: Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier (just don’t make me pronounce it!)
The wrapper of the Time Warp Big Ben is a lightly oily medium brown mottled throughout with darker brown areas, with a few medium sized veins and a solid triple cap. This stick is firmly packed, with just a bit of softness toward the foot. The scent off the wrapper is a peppery, grassy barnyard, while the foot offers up more of an earthy tobacco. I’ve decided to go with my (cheapo) V-cutter on this large gauge stick rather than my guillotine, in order to restrict and focus the draw a bit. The cold draw shows sweet tobacco and not much more.
The initial puffs produce the same sweet tobacco flavors with the addition of earth, light cedar, and grass. The retrohale shows much of the same, with some definite pepper sting in the sinuses. The burn line has started out a bit wavy and thick, but is already starting to self-correct. Leather has emerged and the pepper has almost disappeared in terms of bite, but not in pungency. The body at ¾” in is at the low side of medium, with no nicotine to be felt. An inch in, the burn has completely corrected itself and is now dead even. A bit of a mossy aged tobacco element is now appearing, as the sweetness, earth, and leather play in the background along with cedar. The body has backed off a little and is now closer to mild. The ash tapped off in a solid 1-1/2” chunk. Further in, sweet cedar now moves to the front and the body once again has shifted toward medium.
The start of the second third opened with a bit of creaminess along with some lightly roasted coffee, and the cedar has taken on a very slight charred note, adding to the flavors, rather than detracting from them. The body of the Big Ben is still at a solid medium and the burn has again gone wavy. The pepper once again rears its head on the retrohale, along with some toasty bread.
Coming down the home stretch, the Time Warp Big Ben is moving into the medium-plus range with the flavors pretty much remaining consistent, but deepening in intensity. The burn has slanted, but I see no need for a correction at this time. Toasty cedar, musty tobacco, and earth once again come to the forefront, and there is a peppery tingle on the tongue. The smoked has remained cool with no harshness. With 1-1/2” left and the flavors remaining static and nicotine finally starting to show itself, it’s time to put the Big Ben to rest.
I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not much of a fan of large ring gauge cigars. The Bonita Smoke Shop Time Warp Big Ben is one that I can say may be a departure from that opinion, as the first one I had was a bit of an eye opener. Subsequent ones were not quite as compelling to me, but this is something that can be all about the circumstances in which we smoke. But don’t let that stop you from trying the Big Ben, especially if you are among those who prefer the larger sizes. In this age of the new wave of modern flavor preference (i.e. chocolate, spice, etc.), the Time Warp is kind of a throwback in terms of “old time” flavors, and the Time Warp Big Ben does a pretty solid job in delivering on those, although I found myself craving a bit more sweetness to provide more balance. The construction is terrific, especially with the signature El Titan de Bronze entubado roll that provides a great draw and burn, resulting in an enjoyable big ring smoke. No re-lights were needed and only one minor correction near the end of the smoke was necessary. I will say that having had a couple of the original toros, I much prefer that one. It’s a terrific smoke. The flavors are richer and more balanced, in my rather amateurish opinion, plus from a personal standpoint, it’s just more comfortable to smoke. I also look forward to picking up and trying the new Time Zone size sometime soon, as that size is right up my alley.
P.S. – If you’ve seen my reviews here before, you may have noticed the cool fire engine red CAO ashtray at the end of the posts. That came to me through the generosity of Bonita’s Jackie when I won a giveaway on their currently – and sadly – dormant cigarvlog.com website. Thanks Jackie, I love that ashtray! I’m hoping that Jackie will revive that site, as it carried some very informative video snippets regarding cigars, accessories, and even food.
Like I said, I couldn’t pronounce Weihenstaphaner Hefe Weissbier if my life depended on it, but as long as I can find it on the shelf, it doesn’t matter. Brewed at Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery, it boasts a hazy yellow-gold pour, a ton of banana, clove, and wheat flavors, and an ABV of 5.4%, it’s a bright and refreshing brew that will go with just about any mild to medium cigar, and matched up very well with the Time Warp Big Ben.