Skull 77 El Volcano: A smooth, rich, gentle giant of a cigar
I always love trying new cigars. When Boutique Smokes announced that they were going to be doing a live tasting of a new vitola from Skull 77 cigars I obviously had to join. When the sampling pack came through I was even more excited that the new cigar was a piramide named El Volcano. As with the other cigars in Laurent Taha’s portfolio, this is not a small cigar but don’t be put off by its measurements as it is a beautiful cigar.
Once again the silver skull with a glint in its eye is emblazoned on the band, on the back of which is written “Never Surrender” – rather apt for the gordo nature of the Skull 77 cigars. The chocolatey wrapper of the El Volcano had some lovely and delicate parallel veins wrapping around it and felt well packed from head to foot. Aromas of liquorice, toffee and bay leaf tickled my nose enticing me to cut and light this handsome cigar.
As this was a piramide cigar, I chose to straight cut the head as I find that this gives me a more satisfying experience with this vitola. I also kept my cutter to hand as I often find that this shape can need extra trimming as you smoke your way to the head. The cold draw was free but with just enough resistance to give a hearty mouthful of flavours. In this case they were predominantly bay leaf and liquorice.
Lighting up allowed beautiful aromas of warm spice to fill the air and my first draws were creamy and smooth. The spices, which I placed as cumin and cayenne were not overpowering, staying very much at the front of the flavour before melting away to allow chestnuts and a rich fruity flavour to show through. The smoke as well was not harsh. It felt light and clean as I swilled it round my mouth and no tannic coating was left as I released it into the ether.
With a spicy cigar such as the Skull 77 El Volcano I tend to be rather wary of retrohaling, especially in the opening third, but I decided to take the risk. I was treated to a silky sweet flavour with notes of white pepper but absolutely no burn. I found myself retrohaling quite a bit throughout this cigar and at no point did I get any unpleasant burn as you might expect with a large cigar full of peppery spices such as this.
The drink that had been provided to pair with the cigar was a beautiful Centenario 9yr old Conmemorativo Rum from Costa Rica. It was smooth and rich with flavours of molasses and treacle. This sweetness really brought out some of the underlying sweetness in the Ecuadorian Habano 200 wrapper. This would have been the perfect pairing for the entire length of the El Volcano, but alas, I only had a sampler so I ended up changing drink two more times during my time with the cigar. My next pairing was Mount Gay rum. This was alright, but nowhere near as good as the Centenario! My final tipple was Glayva which was nearly as good as the Costa Rican rum, and proved the right drink to see out the smoke.
When I reached the middle of the cigar, the flavours had developed nicely. The spiciness had become a delicious chilli pepper tingle on the tip of my tongue which allowed the other tastes to sparkle. Amongst these were prunes in apple juice and a rich fried lamb mince. I could see delicate hairs of oil forming on the wrapper just below the beautiful black burn line. The ash was almost perfectly white and as I tapped it off it remained in tact in my ashtray. Looking at the head of the Skull 77 El Volcano there was absolutely no darkening of the tobacco leaves.
A fleeting taste of charcoal signalled my entry into the final third. Right up until this point the cigar had been consistently smooth and creamy despite the presence of chilli and pepper spices. Given that the tobacco used in this cigar goes through two fermentations and is at least three years old, this isn’t exactly surprising. Rather than getting spicier towards the nub, the El Volcano actually started to sweeten up. I heard a gentle crackle as I took each draw but this only added to my enjoyment of the cigar.
Even as I smoked right down to the final few millimetres of the cigar, there was no fire in the flavour or heat on my lips. This cigar was an absolute delight to smoke. The flavours were consistent from foot to head, but at no point were they muddy. Each taste and aroma got its moment in the spotlight as they wove and intricate waltzed around each other. I truly hope that this cigar becomes a permanent addition to the already excellent Skull 77 portfolio.
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Skull 77 El Volcano Cigar Details
- Vitola: Piramide
- Length: 6¼”
- Ring Gauge: 55
- Smoke Time: 2h
- Source: Boutique Smokes
- Origin: Costa Rican
- Binder: Ecuadorian
- Filler: Peruvian, Dominican Republic, Nicaraguan
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000
Skull 77 El Volcano Review Summary
This was an amazingly smooth cigar erupting with flavours. I really hope makes it into Skull 77’s portfolio in the near-future.
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