About a half decade ago, Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers—the owners of Tobacco Grove in Maple Grove, Minnesota—began formulating a plan to produce their own line of cigars. The Crux Cigar Company made its debut in the spring of 2014 with the release of three blends—the Ninfamaniac, the Ninfamaniac Dark, and the Skeeterz. All three blends were rolled in narrow ring gauges and were produced at Plasencia Cigars S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. A few months later, the company introduced three additional lines—the Bull & Bear, the Classic, and the Passport. Fans of boutique cigars quickly embraced the offerings from Crux Cigars, with the Passport receiving an admirable rating of 90 points on Cigar Dojo. In introducing his new cigar brand, Jeff Haugen said—
At the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show in New Orleans, Crux Cigars added three new blends to its initial six offerings—the du Connoisseur, the Guild, and the Limitada PB5. The company describes the Crux du Connoisseur as follows—
“Bold and with an intense flavor, yet smooth to your palate, the Crux du Connoisseur has been designed to pair well with robust coffees and the finest of spirits. The blend of select and hearty premium tobaccos confirm what we already know about success. One of life’s special pleasures is a superior handmade cigar.”
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Crux du Connoisseur No. 2 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano (Jalapa)
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Honduran
- Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6½” x 38 “No. 2” (Panatela)
- Price: $8.99 (MSRP)
The Crux du Connoisseur is one of three new blends the company introduced in the middle of 2015. This line of cigars is offered in three sizes—du Connoisseur No. 1 (7½” x 38, $10.49 MSRP), du Connoisseur No. 2 (6½” x 38, $8.99 MSRP), and du Connoisseur No. 3 (5⅝” x 35, $7.99 MSRP). Individually wrapped in cellophane, the vitolas are shipped in ten-count wooden boxes with a sliding lid.
The company has elected not to disclosed the detailed specifics concerning the blend’s composition—except for the fact that the Habano wrapper is harvested from the Jalapa region of Nicaragua. Additionally, a Nicaraguan binder surrounds long leaf filler leaves from Honduras.
The du Connoisseur No. 2 is a very elegant looking panatela-sized cigar; aristocratic and swarthy when gently grasped between the fingers. Its Nicaraguan Habano wrapper is quite smooth—with fairly tight seams, only one predominant vein, and minimal tooth. The color of the cigar is a mixture of carob and walnut, with a few splashes of brunt umber and rosado scattered across the face. A medium amount of oiliness on the wrapper produces noticeable sheen when kissed by the rays of a setting sun.
The cigar is encased with a die-cut, lightly-embossed band printed in the colors of gold, red, and white. The Crux logo resides vertically at the top of the band, while the words “Du Connoisseur” are printed beneath. Firmly packed from the foot to the cap—bordering on the edge of sun-dried papier-mâché—the wrapper aroma is a delicate combination of chocolate, natural tobacco, and leather, while the open foot smells of coffee, light barnyard, and a touch of vanilla.
After the cap of the du Connoisseur is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the initial cold draw is fairly open for a cigar with such a narrow ring gauge. Flavors of caramel, cedar, dried fruits, and natural tobacco immediately touch the palate, while a touch of Sriracha sauce spreads across the upper lip.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft double-flame lighter, the first few puffs deliver an attractive mixture of cedar, drip-brewed coffee with a lump of sugar, and light pepper. After the fifth puff, the cigar begins to display the general characteristics of its Nicaraguan Jalapa wrapper—aromatic, silky, smooth, and sweet. These initial flavors are quickly enhanced with notes of caramel and leather. This combination quickly culminates in a mouthwatering flavor profile that attractively coats the entire tongue and the roof of the mouth while producing a lingering finish.
The draw of the panatela is just a tad tight, generating an average amount of smoke output. Subtle aromas and flavors of assorted nuts, hardwoods, raspberry, and vanilla bean mingle with the primary notes, while cedar, espresso bean, and a bit of peppery spice are dominant on the smooth retrohale. As with most fairly complex cigars, focused concentration and retrohaling is an essential part of the smoking experience
SEE ALSO: How to Retrohale a Cigar
As the panatela enters into its second third, it begins to display the following general characteristics—medium-to-full in body, medium-to-full in flavor, and medium in strength. The primary aromas and flavors present in the first third of the cigar continue to build, while the initial drip-brewed coffee note shifts toward a slightly stronger cup, like one prepared in a French press. Additional flavors and aromas of cream, citrus, mixed nuts, and spices flirt in and out of the mix, adding to the overall complexity of the cigar. The smoking experience is enjoyable and lush.
Room aroma is delicate and faintly sweet, filling every corner of the smoking room with the scents of finely-aged tobacco and caramel. The burn line has a very slight waver, holding nearly two inches of gainsboro gray ash highlighted wth streaks of slate between the tightly-compressed stacks. On the polished retrohale, the notes present in the first third are augmented by a mixture of red and black pepper with trace amounts of hardwoods and must.
As it burns through its final third, the Crux du Connoisseur No. 2 continues to provide an outstanding smoking experience—complex, flavorful, sophisticated, and smooth. The draw becomes more open, requiring only single puffs to produce bountiful amounts of smoke. Aromas and flavors continue to be a smooth amalgam of practically every major category on the cigar tasting wheel—nuts, dried fruits, herbs, spices, and earth—while a slight increase in minerality produces a desirable amount of saliva on the palate. The cigar is smoked all the way down to the nub.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Absolutely.” It takes a lot of chutzpah to use the word “connoisseur” when naming a new cigar, but the Crux du Connoisseur No. 2 certainly lives up to its name. It is perhaps one of the finest panatela cigars I have ever smoked. In fact, after smoking the review sample, I went out and purchased two boxes. At its price point, the cigar is an outstanding bargain.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: aged bourbon, champagne, espresso, San Pellegrino, Bombay martini
- Purchase Recommendation: full box
- Great construction
- Mouthwatering flavors
- Superlative retrohale
- Limited distribution