D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage
So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
After smoking and reviewing the Flor de D’Crossier Selection No. 512 back in February, I was very impressed with my experience, and compelled to try out some of the other lines produced by Pure Aroma Cigars, Inc. The D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage was originally introduced at the 2009 IPCPR trade show and the line has grown to include seven sizes: Robusto 4 7/8 x 50, Bullet (Belicoso) 5 1/8 x 58, Taino 5 7/8 x 54, Trabuco 5 1/8 x 60, Canonazo 5 7/8 x 52, Genio 5 1/8 x 55, and Wide Toro 5 1/8 x 58. The Imperium Class Vintage utilizes a Costa Rican grown wrapper that the company calls Habano Criollo Especial. The Robusto’s wrapper is designated as Maduro, while the others are called Centro Gordo, which is a term for the second layer of leaves on the Corojo plant. Prices run from $10 to $14 each in boxes of 25 uncellophaned sticks. I picked up a handful of the Robustos from our friends at Cuenca Cigars.
Wrapper: Costa Rican Habano Criollo Especial Maduro
Filler: Costa Rica and Dominican Republic
Size: Robusto 4 7/8 X 50
Smoking time: One hour, fifteen minutes
Pairing: Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Merlot (14.5% ABV)
There’s no getting around it – the D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage is an extremely handsome cigar, coming draped in a dark reddish-brown leaf with even darker mottling, a slight toothiness and a nice oily sheen. A couple of fine to medium veins are present and a nearly rock-hard roll culminates in a nicely applied triple cap. Although it is obviously well packed, it is not particularly heavy in the hand. Since it comes without a cellophane enclosure, the scent off of the wrapper is not pronounced, showing only a very faint tobacco, while the foot adds some sweet spice. The cold draw is a just a bit snug, but well within tolerance, and exhibits sweetly spiced tobacco.
The sweet spice picked up in the cold draw immediately hits the tip of my tongue, followed by earth, bread, and pepper pungency without the heat. The smoke is extremely smooth all the way through the retrohale, where a bit of leather emerges. The burn is sharp, albeit a bit wavy to start out, leaving behind a solid dark gray ash. In the latter portion of this section, the sweetness drops back in favor of light oakiness and refined tobacco flavors, as the Imperium Class Vintage closes out the first third at a low-medium body.
As the D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage ventures into its central portion, I’m picking up a spice component that’s not quite nutmeg or cinnamon as the flavors have suddenly deepened. The burn continues to waver as I give it a quick and easy correction. Toast, nuts (toasted nuts?), and light muskiness are now evident, as peppery heat begins to pop up in the retrohale.
The final section of the D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage ushers in a sweet coffee note to complement the week and earth, pushing the body of the cigar to just past medium. I’m really enjoying the way the cigar has continually intensified in flavor without diminishing its smoothness or introducing any harsh notes. There is even a bit of cinnamon in the aroma of the smoke as I draw on it that doesn’t show on the palate, which adds to my interest. Toasted nut again moves into the mix as the Imperium Class Vintage closes out at medium-plus in body and at a low-medium on the strength scale, smoking cool and just a bit soft with no harshness.
Overall, I really enjoyed the D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage. It provided top-notch construction and a decent burn (see below for details) to go along with great flavors and complexity. I know that my tasting notes are a bit short, but the experience was a lot more satisfying than that might indicate, and the few quick corrections to the burn were pretty much inconsequential. The price puts it in the realm of a lot of other very good cigars, but for those looking for a refined and relaxing smoke, this could very well prove to be one that will merit having on hand at all times.
However, I must add a word of warning: Of the five Imperium Class Vintage robustos I purchased, the first smoked well and showed the promise of the blend, whereas the second one was fraught with burn problems, not wanting to stay lit and tunneling, which made for a less than desirable experience. It seemed that the thick wrapper had absorbed too much humidity, so on that hunch, I dry boxed the next one for a few days, and it smoked much better. I contacted D’Crossier owner Santana Diaz, and he responded, agreeing that this cigar does indeed have combustion issues due to the wrapper, and should be smoked at 60%RH. Luckily, I happened to have an empty humidor that I put the remaining cigars in, maintaining it at 58-59% for about five weeks before I finally lit one up for this review, and the results speak for themselves. I want to stress that I am not pointing my finger at Santana when I say this, as he was very open about the burn issue, but it would be of great service for manufacturers to inform consumers (and retailers) in their descriptions of their cigars about issues that require care and storage that deviates from the norm; in this case the much lower than usual ideal humidity that the Imperium Class Vintage needs. An informed consumer is much less apt to be a disappointed one, and that can only be a plus for the cigar maker.
I decided to go with a red wine to pair with the D’Crossier Imperium Class Vintage, and the widely available and affordable Columbia Crest 2013 H3 Merlot seemed to be an ideal match. H3 stands for the Horse Heaven Hills AVA in Columbia Valley area of Washington state, and produces grapes for some of the state’s most sought after wines. This wine exhibits a profile that is on the more elegant side, although it is not the most complex of sippers. Medium bodied, with ripe, but not overly ripe berry fruit, earth, and a firm acidic backdrop, it might be a candidate for a bit of cellaring, as when I poured a second glass through my Vinturi wine aerator, it brought out a lot more sweet fruitiness that helped it to better mingle with the flavors of the cigar. Looking back on it, I think a fruitier red such as a good Australian Shiraz or Spanish old vines Garnacha might be a better foil for the Imperium Class Vintage. I could also see a nice Cognac or not overly sweet port being a great pairing for this cigar.