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Toraño The Brick robusto

Punch and Draw grab their trowels and lay up some bricks: Toraño The Brick. Is it the foundation for something grand, or just another brick from a wall?Torano The Brick robusto cigar

Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Honduran

Draw: Smells nice: mild chocolate and coffee, or maybe graham. Smooth-construction style, with a moderately crisp box-press. Darker, natural wrapper with very fine, craft-paper tooth.

This 5.5 x 56 prensado robusto is one of two new line extensions to the existing The Brick brand by Toraño which were released in October of 2015. So The Brick is not new to the market; the vitolas are. But, The Brick is new to us!

Punch: I was just thinking graham as the dominant cold draw flavor, too. There is also a chocolate aroma from the foot. The rectangular head is begging for a figure-eight punch, so I comply. The draw is slightly tighter than loose. The construction is fine on two of my three samples for this review, but one has a frazzled head (I feel like that in the morning sometimes) – the wrapper is lifting an inch from the head and the cap is lifting and there seems to be an area missing some wrapper. This shouldn’t affect smoke-ability, as I don’t intend to smoke it down that far. I would have no problem with this if it were a factory second, but the craftsmanship on this one stick is not what I’d expect from a premium. The large band is a foot band, so it has to be removed before lighting. When doing so a thumbnail-sized piece of wrapper had glue on it and it lifted away. Again, this won’t be a problem, as I should be able to smoke right through it.

D: Yes, there IS graham on the cold draw, and also sea salt. A light toasting only succeeded in charring my wrapper; no new flavors were released. Initial flavors are pretzel and turnip. Smooth and salty, with the turnip sting. On one stick I tried Punch’s figure-eight using the small punch. Punched nicely, no problems. On another, I did a single large punch which left me with a flaky cap similar to Punch.

P: With my first of three, on the attack I’m getting a metallic brightness on the roof of my mouth; subconsciously it is causing me to flinch because I associate it with the sensation of biting on a piece of foil. Otherwise the flavor intensity is medium, very earthy in nature. I’m curious to see how this develops. My second stick has a dusty initial flavor and no metallic brightness. After ¼” I’m getting citrus. With my third, I got a burnt citrus attack with a woody finish.

D: That metallic brightness, I think, is what I’m calling the “turnip sting”, and you’re right, it persists in a dominant fashion. For me it comes in on the attack and hovers there over the middle and finish, then it gets pressed onto your tongue as aftertaste. It seems to be a featured flavor, so I’m not going to bag on it so much. It does complement the pretzel starch and salt, as well as the subtle graham sweetness. On later sticks, I discovered that “less hot-boxing results in a much better flavor”: less turnip sting, more creaminess in the middle – creamy leather – and salty starch.

P: At the start of the second third of my first stick (type that three times real fast), the metallic is shifting to a citrus tang. On my second Toraño The Brick, there is some vegetal flavor joining in. On my third, it balanced out a bit: still predominantly burnt citrus and no vegetals yet.

D: Hmm. Now that you mention it, here about halfway I am noticing stronger starch, and the turnip sting is turning more limey. This is consistent across all three of my sticks, regardless of my puff frequency. The vegetals don’t stand out here, for me, unless you count turnip as a vegetable.

P: At the halfway point on stick number one, there is some vegetal complexity showing up, but definitely not green bean – it is a mild durian, I’m thinking. The twang is still present and maintaining the same intensity. There is also a mild green pepper on the finish and lingering in the back of my throat. As I approach the middle of my third Toraño The Brick, the flavor is starting to bloom with skunk aroma flavor and some chlorophyll, along with a funky chemical I can’t describe. I’m not sure if I dislike it, though. The flavor intensity is pretty much full, and the character and potency are over-the-top.

D: Exactly what I was going to say (except the durian fruit)! Also, the aftertaste has an old leather component, along with the green pepper. And, describing my first stick (which I hot-boxed), I like the middle more than the start. On my second Toraño The Brick (which I took slow), I liked the start better. There was more green bean this time, but a lime over-flavor is dominant and not so tasty. I think I finally mastered the puff frequency on my third, because this time the middle was about as likable as the start. I had some floral sweetness, some chlorophyll, the starchy leather, and some burnt lime. I didn’t quite get the skunk musk that Punch describes. I’m just lucky that I don’t have the exact same tobacco leaves! For me the character is complex, and only medium intensity.

P: In the last third of the first sample, the twang has diminished some, but the profile and balance stayed relatively true to the previous. The second sample has menthol starting to take over at this point. On number three the potent flavors have mellowed returning the character to the previous burnt citrus base flavor with a finish of wood and green pepper – quite earthy at this point – which is a pleasant reprieve from the previous intensity.

D: Coming into the last third, the lime has faded, but the whang is back stronger on the attack. I may still be in the “middle third”…more in a moment. Later, the whang faded; I’m in the nub, and it remains consistent, without purging. A purge -does- alleviate some of the remaining citrus whang, allowing more of the veggie and leather to come through.

I let one of the sticks idle too long, and had to relight just short of the nub. This really concentrated the flavors, as well as munged them. By the time the flavors started to shine on their own again, it was too hot of a nub. Le sigh.

Overall, the last third was pleasant; more muddied, less intense, and menthol, but still pleasant. Maybe a slight sourness to the aftertaste on one sample. This cigar needs to be smoked slowly, with infrequent puffs, and that is hard to do.

Burn it or Spurn it?

Punch: This Toraño The Brick blend didn’t seem to resonate with me – a non-resonant Brick! It didn’t help that I got a wide variation of flavors on each of the three different samples I smoked for this review. This is the first time this has happened to us when doing a full, three-stick review. On one, I tasted a wide variety of flavors – as if an eight-year old were making a smoothie with random foods.

The second sample was better blended for me. It started with earth (dust) and progressed through citrus and vegetal complexity (mild-medium) to earth again, with menthol. In spite of the poor construction on this one, I liked the flavor better. If all of them would be like this second stick it would be a great value.

My third one started off with an earthy character of burnt citrus with a woody finish, progressing to a middle of full intensity skunk musk and some chlorophyll, along with a funky, hard-to-describe chemical-ness and finishing with the original earthy burnt citrus with a wood and green pepper finish. Overall the intensity on this one was from medium to full with a couple of significant transitions which demanded my attention. It got a bit too intense in the middle but both the beginning and end, while not particularly complex or flavorful, were pleasant bookends.

As low-priced of a stick as these are, more variation might be expected between samples since less experienced rollers may take less care in the selection of the components. I did not notice any appreciable nicotine from any of mine, and in spite of construction problems on one in particular, the burn on all three was great. On average the smoking experience was commensurate with the $4 asking price, and it may be just the ticket for the smoker who likes bold, earthy, profiles.

Draw: This harmonized for me – a harmonic Brick! I think the flavors went well together, particularly being so odd. However, it’s not within my flavor gamut overall. The flavor was medium intense throughout, if only because the whang was ever-present. Character was mild-to-medium – I couldn’t detect the subtleties beyond the major flavors reported. Strength is weak-to-mild. It burned well, with fair ash retention and a generous smoke production that was substantial in quality (it tended to persist against the Kansas breeze).

Punch has made a good assessment of possible consistency issues, however I didn’t find such wide variation in the three sticks that I smoked. For my part, I felt that how these sticks were smoked affected the flavor more directly. But, I admit I may be delusional. Either way, I say give these sticks a try and see if the flavor is to your liking.

This review based on three cigars each, generously provided by our friends at General Cigar. Tune in for a follow-up in six and 18 months.

Redeux Winter 2017

Draw: Punch observed that we haven’t published anything in nearly nine months. That struck me as odd; I remember smoking cigars. I remember reviewing them, even. Why weren’t we published? Turns out, there’s a backlog of finished reviews that one or the other of us failed to send to print. Screen. Whatever.  So here is not only some new content, but follow-up to that content.

I found a Tuesday evening where the daytime temp soared over 50 degrees, and the breeze has quieted as the sun aproaches the horizon. I used a figure-eight punch pattern as described above, and this stick lit up with no problem.

Initial flavor is as described before, turnip and pretzel. As the weather is slightly chill, I’m having trouble not hot-boxing as a form of shivering. However, the first third tastes as described before. I’m getting more of a citrus hint than I reviewed, a profile more consistent with Punch’s review. After an extended rest to don a warmer coat and brew some coffee, I had to stoke it hard to relight the wrapper, but it was stoke ready. A few puffs later and the creamy salty leather starchiness was back in full bloom.

Coming into the second third, I taste the flavor cavalcade which Punch described as an eight-year-old’s random smoothie. Toasted graham, tequila-lime grilled veggies, bergamot, and salty leather. Each puff is rich with a different blend of similar flavors, and the intensity is high in this phase. This continues through the middle third, eventually developing a toasted green bean and leather dominance as it transitions to the last third.

Last third, the toastiness becomes a burnt citrus whang, over green beans or green pepper and leather. Very similar as reviewed 18 months ago. Overall, the bitterness/whanginess is much less dominant.I believe the box-press seems less likely to develop burn issues, and be more correctable if they do develop without retouching. I really appreciate this vitola.

The flavor of this Toraño The Brick is much richer, less subtle and yet less sharp. It is much more to my liking. I’m now grateful that we somehow spaced-off doing the six-month review, because I now have one more of these nicely aged sticks in my vault. Definitely a smoker.

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