Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"The play's the thing."* This Nat Sherman cigar is definitely the thing.

No one loves an extended metaphor more than me. And Nat Sherman's Vice President of Retail & Brand Development Michael Herklots's metaphor skills are so mad crazy good he should be over on Broadway writing rather than at the Nat Sherman townhouse on 42nd street being awesome.

Michael, center stage. (That's Jimmy on the left.)
During a cigar demonstration and tasting, he started by comparing the elements that make up a cigar to the characters that make up a story. So this tasting? We're learning about the characters that make whole the very-highly rated Epoca. In fact, it made the top 25 of many end-of-the-year roundups.

A bit of background: Epoca was, in fact, the first cigar of the Nat Sherman company sold when it acquired the Schwab Bros. and Baer in 1929.**

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to resurrect the cigar and now, here we are, lucky enough to enjoy the Dominican and Nicaraguan cigar. This blend was the focus of an informational demonstration and dinner sponsored by Mr. J's Havana and held at Millonzi's restaurant in West Warwick.

"The blend for Epoca is a tribute to the experience of what it was like to smoke premium cigars in the 1920s and ‘30s," said Michael Herklots, in an article in Cigar Aficionado. It's also a play on the Timeless blend that brought the Nat Sherman company back into the forefront of smokers' consciousness and then shot them straight into super success. There's another interesting article about the company's resurgence in the January/February 2015 edition of Cigar Aficionado. (It wasn't available online yet, when I last checked.)

And you know we are suckers for a pretty face and a cool story, so when Nat Sherman Northeast Representative Jimmy Shaffer showed us the box and explained how it is a near-perfect replication of the original box, and all the work that went into the recreation, we were sold, before aforementioned box was ever opened. Yes, we were charmed by the set dressing. So sue us.***


At this demonstration and tasting, Michael started us out with the first character, the first element of what would eventually become the Epoca. This Dominican seco, by itself, was meh, both as a dry smoke and a smoking stick. We all agreed it was a little musty, kind of like grandma's basement, and hit one part of the tongue, although that location varied by person.

The second small stick, the second character in this play, was a Dominican ligero. Ligero by nature is the strongest of the leaf types, and a bit sweeter; this one, however, had some age on it, so it was a bit more mellow than we expected, based on the first. As a result, the flavor profile hit a different part of everyone's tongues, offering a different perspective to the plot.

Then we tried the third player, a Nicaraguan ligero, which had similar elements but was much stronger than the other ligero. Again, this one hit different elements on the tongue, just as a third character offers another layer to the play, which was an interesting turn of events.

Our hero smokes three at a time!
Then! Then Michael had everyone smoke the first and third samples. Funnest part of the evening? The comic relief? Watching everyone's faces as they hated the tastes in their mouths. "It tastes like shit, doesn't it?" he asked. Everyone nodded in agreement as they drank away the horror.

Then they smoked all three...

Ike Karipides, Director of Premium Cigars, and Jimmy handed us all one of the Epoca cigars. Everyone lit it up. "Tastes just like those," said Valentino, pointing to the three characters in the ashtray.

According to Michael, all three of those are well represented, but there is a heavier Nicaraguan influence in the Epoca because it has more filler than their 1930 cigar, which has a similar blend. In the Epoca, however, there is less emphasis on the Dominican ligero, which is used as the binder and a small percentage of the filler. 
"With the Epoca, the feel of its smoke is weighty. It has body. It's classified as full-bodied, but not strong," said Michael. It's not an ass-kicker, not strong.  It has well-balanced flavors, creamier and nuttier than the 1930, more cappuccino rather than the strength of espresso."

You guys. If you haven't tried the Epoca yet, you need to do it. If creaminess, nuttiness, cappuccino, and slight woodiness got together and started a band, this cigar would be The Beatles.

Or to complete the extended metaphor, this cigar would be The Glass Menagerie or Death of a Salesman, or A Doll's House--sure to be a classic, thanks, in part, to the master "playwright" Michael Herklots.

Michael shares his Epoca with Will

I'll have grounds
More relative than this—the play's the thing
Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King.
**There's an historical rumor that Nat Sherman won the business in a card game. We love a great backstory.

***Not really. Please don't.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Looking for something special? Search the blog