L’Atelier Imports Extension de la Racine ER14
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.
I’m a little late to the party in reviewing this cigar, which I have been meaning to get around to for a while now. The L’Atelier Extension de la Racine ER14 which hit retailers’ shelves last year is the second annual release of the limited line that debuted in 2013. I previously reviewed the ER13 last October and that review can be found here. The Extension de la Racine is to be released on an annual basis, with each year bringing in a different vitola, the first being a toro, the ER14 which I’m reviewing here is a torpedo, while the newest version, the 2015, is a lonsdale. All three releases were manufactured at the My Father factory in Nicaragua. The tobaccos used in the ER14 are the same as what was used in the ER13, at least as far as I can tell. There seems to be some discrepancy on various websites as to whether the Sancti Spiritus comes from Ecuador or Nicaragua, and since the cigar is not listed on the L’Atelier Imports site, I will go with what is implied on the New Havana Cigars website, since owner Dan Welsh is a partner in L’Atelier. I’m interested in seeing what, if any, difference the shape of the cigar and vintage makes. I purchased a handful of these from Small Batch Cigar at the same time as the L’Atelier LAT46 Selection Spéciale that I reviewed back in June.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo
Binder: Nicaraguan Sancti Spiritus Double Binder
Filler: Nicaraguan, including Sancti Spirits
Size: Torpedo 6.125 x 52
Price: $9.50 MSRP
Smoking time: One hour, forty-five minutes
Pairing: Unibroue La Fin du Monde Belgian-style Tripel (ABV 9%)
The L’Atelier Extension de la Racine ER14 comes draped in a medium brown wrapper with a slight reddish hue, although it is not quite as uniform in its color as the ER13. Some areas are darker than others and there is some mottling in the wrapper. A few noticeable, though rather minor, veins are present in the fairly oily leaf, and the firm roll is well executed all the way to the pointy triple cap. The band of the ER14 sports the same red, gold, black, and silver color scheme as the previous year, but the where the red background of the ER13 was a bright metallic red, the ER14 has a pinkish non-metallic red, giving it a little less of a bright and elegant look. The scent off the wrapper is rather faint and primarily cedar, while the foot is more of an oak with rich tobacco and light earth.
The Extension de la Racine ER14 starts out with flavors of dry cedar, earth, and a touch of leather, with the leather being more pronounced on the retrohale. The body has started out on the milder side and has a nice smooth mouthfeel to it. While the draw is still a bit more snug than I prefer, the cigar has no problem producing an adequate amount of smoke. The weed, earth, leather, and tobacco are performing a nice balancing act with each other, and I am getting occasional notes of tea and unsweetened cocoa powder on the retrohale. The ER14 has been burning at a bit of a slant and the somewhat flaky ash has fallen off into my lap at barely over an inch and crumbles upon impact. As I approach the latter part of the first third, the cigar body of the cigar has moved into the medium range and an enjoyable smooth black pepper has begun to emerge in the retrohale.
As I delve into the middle portion of the ER14, the cigar continues to display a well balanced profile of wood, earth, leather, and tobacco, with notes of the unsweetened cocoa and some citrus-y brightness lurking in the background. It continues to burn at a slant, but I haven’t had to think about correcting it. As I hit the mid-point of the cigar, it has gone to a medium-plus and the flavors have deepened, even showing a bit of (cherry?) fruit on the back end, and the burn has pretty much evened itself out.
At the start of the final third of the L’Atelier Extension de la Racine ER14, I finally give it a quick correction and purge, as it once again started to go crooked and was starting to show some unwanted bitterness. Doing so has really cleaned up the flavors, which are now perched upon a medium-full body. What was once cocoa is now more coffee-like, and the pepper has ramped up a bit and now has more bite to it. A bit of char and musky sweetness enter the fray, as well. With just over an inch left, the ER14 picks up a bit of harshness, and it’s time to put it down, although it is still smoking cool and firm. I felt some nicotine strength, but not a large amount, so I would deem it to be of medium strength.
Looking over my review of the first release of the Extension de la Racine (ER13), it appears that this one is quite a bit different in the flavors it presents, and I have to wonder if the shape of the cigar has something to do with that. I definitely missed the Asian spice and floral elements that were present in the ER13 and that I enjoyed so much, so perhaps the Parejo shape is a better fit for this blend than figurado. That being said, this is still a very good cigar and I did enjoy it, as the flavors it did present were well integrated and reasonably complex. I wish that I hadn’t for some reason blown off taking notes on the other ER14 that I smoked prior to this one, but I don’t recall having the crooked burn and weak ash that this one did, nor do I remember it having a tight draw, so the construction on this one – which was still good overall – may just be an anomaly.
Unibroue ales from Quebec are no strangers to Casas Fumando, but La Fin du Monde hasn’t shown up here in quite a while. A Belgian-style Tripel with an ABV of 9%, it abounds in sweet maltiness, bright citrus, a touch of coriander, and of course that iconic banana note from the Belgian yeast, all of which match up beautifully with the flavors of the Extension de la Racine ER14. I think that Belgian or a German wheat beer is the way to go here, with a sweetened tea or coffee being a good alternative.