11 months ago, Master Roller, Partagas Factory, Jaime Hamlet Paredes visited Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and rolled a couple of cigars for me. For the final cigar, i asked him, “Hamlet — surprise me. Make this one blow my socks off.”

Hamlet took a moment, stared at me, and grinned a sneaky grin. Reaching towards the very bottom of the pile of tobacco by his side, he took a moment as though as he was searching for something, found it, took the leaves out, smiled and started using them to make my cigar. How little i was to know, that cigar was going to finish me off, nearly a year whence it was rolled.

The famed shaggy foot of a custom rolled cigar

Just over 6 inches long, with a healthy ring gauge of around 46-47 or so, this cigar was parejo shaped like a corona gorda on steroids. The leaf used for the wrapper is pretty ugly, with veins criss crossing its total length. The veins are quite apparent on this natural coloured wrapper. It feels exceptionally oily to the touch, and passing my fingers over it was like caressing a firm tube of silk. Fantastic.

Burns well, nice coloured ash

The scent is very different from what i’m used to with regards to Cuban cigars — as i ran this tube of tobacco under my nose, and put its foot of exposed filler and binder against my nostrils, i detected very pronounced aromas that reminded me of the scent from the bark of a young pine tree. Fresh, woody, slightly green, with a light muskiness.

Slightly uneven burn

After a quick snip, the pre-light draw offered some light chalky saltiness which revealed very little of what was about to come. I took a Vector flint lighter to its foot, not wanting to risk singeing the tobacco with a torch. And then i tasted heaven.

The draw was perfect. Just enough resistance to make it worthwhile, each draw offering enough smoke to clog up a small room. The flavours hit me almost immediately, there was absolutely no foreplay with this cigar. The initial flavours were very Partagas-like; i think i could be forgiven if i thought i was smoking a Partagas Lusitania, but as i soon discovered, this was just a diversion to set me up for the home run smack out of the park.

As i sat there, smoking through the first third, enjoying the freshly cut grass, mildly woody, slightly sweet-bitter flavours, something strange began to creep up on me. As i took a few more draws, i realized the a virtual freight train was coming right at me: SMACK. The most outrageous spicy burst of flavours i’ve ever encountered in a cigar, bar none hit me square on. The assault on my tongue and taste buds was remarkable to the point of being sadistic. I took this cigar out of my mouth, and actually looked at it quizically. What the heck? Whoa stallion.

This cigar overwhelmed my lips and tongue — i had to lie down!

But it didn’t let up. It kept on coming, again, waves after waves, again, more, stronger (if that was possible at this point). By the time the cigar was down half-way or so, my lips were lost in a tingle of pepper and spice, and my tongue felt as though a thousand tiny needles had pricked it. Believe me, this has never happened before. Of course, it never crossed my mind to give up, i was by now completely intoxicated by its wonderful mix of smooth flavours and outright power-spice. The flavours never got harsh, never even began approaching the full bodied blast the CAO Odyssey offered — it just kept on blasting away with a thousand spicy needles. It was an assault on my mouth, my pleasure senses, and certainly it was an experience this blog will never, ever forget.

After 2 hours of pleasure and pain — the S&M cigar if there ever was one!

Verdict: This cigar took forever to burn; incredibly slow even under heavy puffing. Lasted a whole 150 minutes, never went out once, but suffered from a little bit of uneven burning. These symptoms lead me to suspect that Hamlet whacked me with a double, nay, triple dose of ligero leaves — this part of the tobacco plant burns very slowly, usually a bit unevenly, and is famed for its spicy flavour and power. The whole cigar might as well have been made of ligero leaves, i wonder. The wrapper certainly looked unglier than your standard premium Cuban leaf — ligero in disguise?? What a knockout cigar this was. A fantastic, amazing experience. It certainly deserves My Cigar Blog’s Highest Recommendation.