In 1990, a group of music executives formed rockthevote.org, a not-for-profit against censorship for the youth of America. This band of merry misfits (pun intended) would become synonymous with the start of a counter-culture revolution that spread well beyond simply politics.
“Cool story Steven, but how does this all fit into cigar culture?” This new wave of counter-culture enthusiasts did not simply stay within the confines of voting against censorship; they leaked into a myriad of social interaction, including cigars. Remember, those teens and young adults from the 90’s are now in their late 30’s or 40’s and guess what – they are still speaking up, still voting, and still considering themselves “The” culture of influence.
Now, we’ve got voting within cigar culture! Ask a smoker from yesteryear how many surveys, social media posts or group votes were taken from them and placed into the hands of the brand(s) they enjoyed. You’ll likely hear the same crickets I do. Today, cigar fans are starting to be included in projects like the Southern Draw Peccadilloes, EPC Platinum Bask Pack and the recent German Engineered Cigars Autonom “Lineup” pack. The most recent of these entries into the consumer voting space – Lineup – invited cigar enthusiasts to smoke three different vitolas of the same blend from Master Blender Claudio Sgroi. Anyone who wanted to vote could help decide which format will receive that all important facing next year.
To say that the reviewers and contributors at Cigar Public are immersed in the culture would be an understatement. Like you, we’re all passionate cigar heads. The idea of this publication is that from all walks of life we gather in one place each day – albeit virtually – to celebrate this appreciation for the leaf that is our common ground. We are cigar fans first, and everything is motivated by that perspective. As such, it was mere moments after the German Autonom article was published that I purchased the voting sampler pack to begin my own journey and Rock the Vote (Rock die Abstimmung for the German linguists).
For reference, I do not smoke too many Perfecto, Churchill, or Corona Grande vitolas on an annual basis (part of the allure to this project was going outside the box). To date for 2022, I have reviewed five Churchills, five Corona Grandes and zero Perfectos until this undertaking (out of 306 cigars). Typically, I find these sizes have construction issues and will cancel out what could be an amazing flavor profile unless we are into the $20+ price tags.
Also, every cigar was smoked outside, in the late afternoon into early evening and paired identically. For the first half, I paired with water and heading into the final half I transitioned to a smooth cognac. This approach allowed me to begin with the purity of the cigar and when flavors typically start to mute, I could then determine how well the cigar would hold up to an alcohol-based pairing.
Lastly, all three cigars had a bit too much oil and needed more rest. I was hoping the two weeks rest I gave them in my humidor after delivery would be enough, but I truly feel if these sat for six months or more the final scores would average out at least 4-6 points higher. With that said, let’s get into it all three vitolas – and then you too can decide to rock or not rock!
Cold Draw: Cocoa, Light Honey & Wheat Bread
Construction: Triple cap, dark brown color, few lumpy veins, minimal seams, tight pack.
First Light: Oak Barrel
1/3: Oak, Earth, Hints of Cream, Roasted Coffee & Bready
2/3: Coffee, Hints of Chocolate, Mild Cedar & Hints of Rye Bread
3/3: Cinnamon, Hints of Breads & Muted Notes
Retro: Baking Spices
Ash: Fell around 1/3 in and solid.
Draw/Smoke: Perfect and plenty of smoke.
Touch-Ups: 2 (No relights)
Notes: A tad bit oily, needed more rest. Turned a bit squishy in the final third. Aside from the minor construction issues, this was an incredibly enjoyable stick. Total smoking time was 55 Minutes.
Final Score: 91/100
Cold Draw: Cocoa, Light/Airy Tobacco
Construction: Double cap, mottled dark brown color, raised veins, visible seams, mid pack.
First Light: Sour Oak
1/3: Oak, Mexican Hot Chocolate & Cinnamon Spice
2/3: Cedar, Cinnamon & Barnyard
3/3: Mild Woods & Muted Notes
Retro: Red Pepper
Ash: I dropped around the halfway point and wonky but held well.
Draw/Smoke: Way too tight and plenty of smoke.
Touch-Ups: 3 with 1 re-light.
Notes: Could not open the flavor profile fully until around the halfway point because the construction was off. Felt like I needed a better roll or a larger vitola in order to pull more from the profile. Final smoking time was 66 minutes.
Final Score: 81/100
Cold Draw: Chocolate Sea Salt
Construction: Triple cap, shimmering dark brown color, raised and large veins, visible seams, medium-sized teeth, mid pack.
First Light: Oak
1/3: Bready, Cedar & Chocolate
2/3: Bready, Cedar, Chocolate & Rye Bread
3/3: Barnyard, Cinnamon & Muted Notes
Retro: Pepper & Baking Spices
Ash: I dropped at start of the second third and solid.
Draw/Smoke: Between good and too snug, and plenty of smoke.
Touch-Ups: 2 with 3 re-lights.
Notes: Halfway in, the cigar became plugged and needed a relight. Pinhole tunneling contributed to another plug, and another relight, along with some oils. Construction ruined the amazing flavors from the first third. Final smoking time was 75 minutes.
Final Score: 78/100
By my scoring alone, this was an easy vote for me to cast. The Perfecto takes it by a mile. Even as I write this up, I am still shocked that my first Perfecto of the year was not only worthy of my vote but went on to earn a 90+ rating. For complete transparency, only 36 of the 306 (or 11.76%) of the cigars I’ve smoked this year have hit that mark.
The Pros: All three samples had a clean cold draw and notched some common notes; started out pretty heavy on oak, transitioned to the chocolate and lighter bready notes, and finished out a bit muted but with some woods and spices. None of the samples had any sort of nicotine hit that would give pause to a novice or professional.
The Cons: Construction, construction, construction! I have no idea the amount of time these were aged, nor the shipping details which can cause a myriad of issues, but two of the three had issues that were nearly beyond repair. I take off 1 point for every touch-up and 2 points for every re-light so that alone would have put the Churchill and Corona Grande into the high 80’s at minimum.
With all that said, is this new line worthy of your hard-earned money? Yes. Will I purchase a box of Perfecto’s? Absolutely! I smoked these cigars and voted back in September. When the votes were recently tallied, the Perfecto format got more than 52% of the votes and will be heading into production soon. For everyone who enjoyed the two cigars that weren’t chosen, and for those that missed out on the Lineup packs, GEC may be releasing the remaining cigars individually. We aren’t sure at this time what impact the recent Tabacalera William Ventura fire will have on these plans or their original timeline. We reached out ahead of publication and will update this piece with new information if any should be provided.
With that, the mysterious Lineup project receives its formal name – Weltschmerz. Weltschmerz, a term coined by the German author Jean Paul in his 1827 novel Selina, is defined as a a feeling of melancholy and world-weariness. Raucher Weiter!