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Cigar Geeks Geek Critique

L'Atelier Surrogates Crystal Baller
Written by Cigar Geeks Member: Karl F. (CrazyK)
93
Cigar Geeks Rating

Pete Johnson & crew were at it again.

Introducing the next project from L'Atelier cigars, Surrogates. Blended by Pete Johnson, and crafted in Don Pepin's My Father factory in Nicaragua, each Surrogate was masterfully created to serve up four unique and completely different experiences. This time around, their goal was simple. To create a new series of cigars, limited-edition in nature, that would be readily available to the consumer without breaking the bank. A winning combination if you ask me. Here's the bottom line: Surrogates deliver the goods as promised.

Each blend is easily distinguished by its....errr....'one of a kind' names and bands. I don't know where they came up with these, but they sure make for a good conversation.

Crystal Baller – Medium to full-bodied. Notes of natural sweetness, spice, cocoa, cedar, and a toasty finish. Featuring: Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Nicaraguan long-fillers, and box-pressed finish.


Length:
5.75
Ring Gauge:
54
Country Manufactured:
Nicaragua
Filler:
Nicaragua
Binder:
Nicaragua
Wrapper:
Ecuador
Color:
Colorado Maduro
Strength:
Medium-Full
Shape:
Toro

This cigar was enjoyed with Water

Pre-Light: 18 Points of 20 Possible

This is a nice looking cigar with a relatively dry medium brown wrapper. These is a barely a vein in sight, the triple cap looks firm and well applied. I used a Xikar V-Cutter and the result was a clean, nearly perfect cut with very little flaking. The cigar is a bit on the firm side in spots, and there is a decidedly mushy spot about midway through - hopefully not a sign of impending burn issues! The pre-light aroma is very clearly sweet baking spices with the slightest hint of menthol hiding at the end. Overall, this is a very nice looking cigar!

Light & Burn: 11 Points of 15 Possible

The initial toasting and lighting went off without a hitch, and the volume of smoke coming out of the V-Cut is, in my humble opinion, second only to Drew Estates. The overall burn of the cigar was not as inconsistent as its firmness may have suggested, but it did tunnel a bit near the end. It also burned a bit unevenly, and required a touch up or two to get it going right. The ash is a flaky medium grey that maintained its form for the most part.

Construction: 29 Points of 30 Possible

The draw through the V-Cut was quite good, I would say nearly perfect at first, but there were points along its duration that had me a bit worried. It worked itself out with the aforementioned touch ups, so overall it was quite enjoyable. The wrapper was very smoothly applied, to the point where the edges are difficult to see without a real close look - or is my sight just getting that bad? Again, a well applied triple cap that cut very well and did not budge for the duration of the cigar - well done!

Flavor: 35 Points of 35 Possible

This is a very nice, creamy and sweet cigar with wonderful pepper undertones.
First third: As suspected, the first third was dominated by baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) with just a subtle hint of white pepper and even dried fruits. Thinks of a really good fruit cake, before soaking in rum.
Second Third: The pepper is picking up quite a bit, but the creaminess is staying on strong. This is like a wonderful, creamy peppercorn sauce at your favorite steak house. Very nice.
Last third: Where did the time go? The progression of this cigar is amazing! The baking spices have all but vanished, and now some creamy leather and more  black pepper are taking over. I know it is a wonderful flavour profile as I nearly burnt myself, and I immediately wish I had another of these sitting in my humidor. Oh wait, I do - well did. The second one was just as good!

Summary

The small flaws in construction and burn aside, this was an excellent cigar! So good in fact that I pulled another out of my humidor and smoked it too! The flavor profile is nearly exactly what I am looking for, and now I need to find some more! Well done Pete Johnson and company, this is a great cigar that has withstood the test of time!



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