Denver isn’t exactly a mecca for hand-rolled cigars, sure there are plenty of nice shops and lounges for the casual smoker, but cigar manufacturers? Unheard of. Which is why I was so surprised to come across Palma Cigars on my way to the whiskey bar yesterday. This is quite an interesting place, not only is it a cigar shop/lounge, but a wine bar, and barber shop as well! Now do I have your attention? Well don’t let me get ahead of myself, this is a cigar review, not an “all of the above” review, that is for another post.
As shop owner Clay Carlton showed us around his moderate sized walk-in humi, Mr. Stogato and I had no idea what we were in for. In my experience, “homemade” cigars are usually a bit of a gimmick. You know, those cigars you find some dude rolling on the beach claiming, “These are the best” because they’re rolled right in front of you! Then you light up and it’s full of sand and hair… Well let me tell you, this was not the case. As i described my “taste” (full body/flavor etc) I was handed a gorgeous T.L. Johnson Legend Reserve 63, Mr. Johnson’s flagship cigar. This thing looked legit, not at all what I expected. With a glossy red, gold, and black band that read T.L. Johnson in silver down the middle I’d say it passed the band test.
The Legend Reserve 63 is huge, a 52 x 6.5″ maduro torpedo. The look and feel was similar to an Añejo #77 Shark, as it was semi box-pressed with a torpedo head, we’ve been calling this the “bullet shape”. Smelling of chocolate and tobacco, I was beginning to think this was going to be good. The cut felt great, firm, with no peeling or cracking. The draw was good but not great, it was rolled tight and felt pretty dense. Lighting up there was a fair amount of smoke, a 1 or 2 puff smoke, but I had a feeling it could do better. A second cut loosened the draw up a bit and produced a decent amount of smoke. Oily and chewy, this is the kind of cigar you have to roll in your mouth to absorb all the flavor, you almost want to take a bite right out of this thing.
The best way to describe the taste of the Legend Reserve is rich. This was definitely a luxurious smoke, with loads of chocolate creaminess. The flavors stayed pretty consistent throughout, adding a hint of nuttiness a 3rd into the stick. The burn was a bit lacking, with multiple touchups and two relights, this was the one area this cigar needs a little work. About halfway in, the smoke was more and more difficult to draw out and I ended up letting go just before the band.
I have to say this thing was an eye opener to the quality that can be produced in the most unexpected places. Similar to the way a small indie film can make a mockery of a blockbuster, this boutique shop is producing some stellar products worthy of going up against the best. With flavors reminiscent of a Padron 1964 and Jamie Garcia Reserva Especial coming to mind, these guys mean business.
- Rich flavors
- Good construction
- Wavy burn