Epicurean Cigars – AG Azul Vintage 2008
Today, I bring to you a review of Epicurean Cigars’ AG Azul Vintage 2008 that is produced in Nicaragua and available in four vitolas: Trajabador (5 by 54), Toro (6 by 50), Petit Corona (5 1/2 by 48), and Justus (6 by 60). Epicurean Cigars is responsible for cigars such AG Armando Gutierrez Vintage 2007, Gonzo Vintage 2007, and AG Azul Vintage 2008. At the end of 2012, Steven Ysidron, President of Epicurean Cigars, entered into a distribution agreement with House of Emilio.
This is according to House of Emilio’s website:
Epicurean Cigars was created under the careful eye of Steven Ysidron with its focus on handcrafted small batch salon cigars. Steven started making cigars in the late 1980’s with his father and the Fuente family in the Dominican Republic. His passion for the long forgotten art of making hand-rolled cigars stems from four generations of his Cuban cigar making heritage that has been reborn in the Epicurean brand.
In 1999, Steven and his family started producing cigars in Nicaragua. The richness and bold aromas that are characteristic to Nicaraguan tobacco became Steven’s preferred filler for creating top quality sticks today.
Steven knows what it takes to blend and create a premium cigar and proudly offers 3 distinct boutique blends culminating his 24 years of industry experience: “AG” Armando Guiterrez Vintage 2007, named after his Cuban grandfather who inspired the brand, Gonzo Vintage 2007 and AG Azul 2008 Vintage. Only 700 boxes are produced per size per vintage.
All tobaccos have been aged for 4 years after rolled to blend and marinate to perfection. Steven believes you cannot rush true quality and that this process is the only way to successfully deliver the very best in tobacco flavor. Whether Epicurean cigars are already on your list of favorite sticks or you are looking forward to trying one soon, these unique blends crafted with Cuban tradition will always leave a lasting impression.
Samples Provided by House of Emilio
Size: 6 by 60
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun-Grown Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa and Esteliano
Smoke Time: 1 hour and 50 minutes
The AG Azul Vintage 2008 wears a dark tan sun-grown Habano wrapper that is mostly consistent in color. The tan color does nothing to hide the characteristic of the leaf. The cigar has three medium to large veins and it is rather bumpy. Upon removing the cedar sleeve, I am met with aromas of manure, vinegar, and some sweetness.
The foot has notes of black licorice, pepper, and cedar. The cigar is evenly and firmly packed through and through. Due to the larger ring gauge, I make a shallow cut on the neatly applied double cap. The cold draw has a cinnamon spice, cedar, and pepper. The spice is leaving a slight tingle on my lips. The draw is a little more restrictive than preferred but I will see how it smokes before I cut any deeper.
After taking my time evenly lighting this 60 ring gauge stick, it is off to the races with dark notes of pepper and cedar. Earthy tones and coffee are on the finish of the smoke. The pepper is really getting to me on the retrohale. I am having to fight off a sneeze each time but I am still enjoying it. At the inch and a half mark, the flavors have lightened and the cedar is now much warmer and richer. A slight sweetness is contrasting the darker notes quite nicely. The eyeliner burn is performing well leaving behind a salt and pepper ash. I am already noticing some strength, which I seem to be more sensitive to on spicier cigars.
Pulling into the second third of the Azul, the flavors continue to balance out and have become almost refreshing. While I would say the main notes are still in place, the flavors are intertwining well. At this point in the cigar, the retrohale is one of the most enjoyable retrohales I have come across. The smoke is smooth as it passes through my sinus passage with the same notes of cedar and pepper but without the edge. There is some underlying cocoa on the finish and I would like to see it play a larger role before the end of the cigar. The burn is right on and the ash is holding way past an inch. No touch-ups have been needed thus far.
The smoke production has been just awesome. The smallest puff produces a satisfying amount of smoke. The peppery spice has stepped up its game from the middle third being right in the front of the profile. Some yeasty, bread-like notes are accompanying the cedar and the cocoa is still hanging out on the finish. The sweetness I mentioned earlier has really picked up and there is tad of bitterness as I get down to the last inch and half. The burn-line is edgy as I put the cigar down for the final time.
The performance of the AG Azul 2008 was exceptional, allowing me to sit back and relax for almost 2 hours. The cedar and pepper made up the core of the profile but the shifts in the intensity of the spice, sweetness, and cocoa finish made this an engaging ride. The flavors were medium/full and the strength ended right around the same range. While the availability online seems quite limited, you should be able to find some available for around $10 with a little searching. If the profile seems like it would fit your taste, I recommend that you pick a couple up and give them a try. If I stumble across these in the future, I would be glad to visit this cigar again.