Filler: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Connecticut
One of my biggest disappointments at IPCPR, was not meeting George Rico. He seems like a class act, and everyone I talk to speaks highly of him, so I made sure to hit the booth with Jerad during the show. At the time we went, he was busy with customers, so we left him alone, but one of his reps struck up a conversation with us. Before you know it, his mother was handing us shirts and the newest blend from George, the American Puro (AP). I reviewed the Zulu Zulu habano lancero recently, and absolutely fell in love, so I was excited to get my hands on his latest blend. As the show moved along, I kept hearing people talk about the blend and the buzz became significant. His blends are normally a bit out of my wheelhouse, but for some reason I am attracted to his blending style, so the AP became a priority to review after the show.
Dry Draw: tastes like pipe tobacco smell and left a distinct molasses, with light pepper on lips.
First Third: The profile began very sharp, very powerful, and a bit overpowering for my tastes at first. The molasses was there, and it provided the most unique flavor to me, uncommon of most cigars. Tons of cedar all over my mouth and tongue, and the profile was very dry. My notes suggested age or rest might be a factor, or improve this third for what I like as a mild-medium smoker. There was a definite vanilla finish and elements of pipe. The retro was full body, almost too much, which made it hard to pinpoint flavors. The heaviness of the finish felt like it hit different spots in my mouth then normal fuller bodied cigars; odd beginning to say the least and a bit harsh at times.
Second Third: The profile backed down a bit, and became much more enjoyable for my tastes. The vanilla note became very smooth, very enjoyable overall, and reminded me black Cavendish at this point. There was not much spice, maybe a touch of green pepper, but not much. Retro was still very heavy on the cedar, and towards the end the green pepper note began to settle in on the retrohale.
Final Third: the profile was still medium and consistently balanced between the green pepper, vanilla, and some molasses. The green pepper pushed to the forefront of the profile, and at times I was reminded of Virginia tobaccos. The vanilla and molasses provided the backdrop with the Cavendish for added depth. Finish had significantly improved, with pronounced flavors on the roof and settling mid tongue. I was really surprised at how much the finish improved over the length of the cigar and pulled out my Havana Saver to nub it.
Construction: I only ashed it twice, it was perfect. The pigtail is always a nice touch, and it looked killer.
Final Thoughts: I think George has a hit on his hands. I personally think the cigar needs about 3-6 months down to settle. I say this as last year I had new releases or prereleases that seemed to improve in that period, so much so that some I hated initially then fell in love with and ate my words. My guess is that weirdness in the first third that was part harsh, part full body, will settle and balance out. This is a very different cigar, so I suggest anyone and everyone to try it. I would really like to hear what seasoned pipe smokers say about it, as my palate for pipe is immature, but the profile reminded me of 1776 and Captain Black at times. Not that this is a pipe cigar by any means, just that I picked up some elements and would love to hear if I was on, which may be the Kentucky filler talking. I think the blend will appeal to a broad range of palates really, and for a mild-medium guy like me, the strength up front was not too much to handle, given the reward at the end. It might just be me being a wuss, so full-bodied smokers may not even notice and just enjoy the strength. I will definitely be buying more, and after this, need to make exploring the rest of his STK line a priority. In the end, if you see a Havana Saver in my last pic, it is probably because I did not want the cigar to end… The American Puro is an excellent blend.