Well the 83rd Annual IPCPR is over and there were plenty of new blends hitting the shelves. Today we review the new Arondoza Cigars DEFCON which I received as sample from the Arondoza team at their booth.
In case you did not know what DEFCON stands for, it is the defense readiness condition (DEFCON), an alert state used by the United States Armed Forces. It prescribes five graduated levels of readiness (or states of alert) for the U.S. military, and increase in severity from DEFCON 5 (least severe) to DEFCON 1 (most severe) to match varying military situations.
At first look at the Arandoza DEFCON cigar, you cant help but notice the band. The bright red DEFCON with a glowing silver-grey sphere in the background. The Arandoza is embossed in bright silver-chrome on the bottom. The fade of purple to black across the band is quite the eery look.
Once I got past the band, and it seems to keep calling me back to look at it, it was time to examine the rest of the Arandoza DEFCON. This cigar is a departure from the previous three Arandoza cigars (Red, White, and Blue). The cigar itself is a rather rugged looking stick with a deep chocolate-brown Connecticut Broadleaf Wrapper. By the way, at the IPCPR, we noticed quite a number of new cigars with either Connecticut or Pennsylvania Broadleaf as wrapper of blend.
The wrapper on the DEFCON is veiny with tight seams and a slight sheen to it. It finished with a triple cap. The foot gives off a sweet tobacco smell and the barrel has that fermented tobacco, musky scent to it.
The Arandoza DEFCON is available in 3 vitolas:
- Toro – 6 x 50
- Super Toro – 6 1/2 x 54
- Super Robusto – 5 1/2 x 60
For this review I am sampling the Super Toro vitola. Like all Arandoza blends, the DEFCON is manufactured at the La Zona Cigar Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Depending on your locale, you can expect to spend between $9.80 and $11.00 for the DEFCON.
Slicing off the cap I gave it a dry draw and would say that we are already at DEFCON 4 – Double Take – Increased intelligence watch and strengthened security measures. There is a slightly restricted draw which tells me this will be a long smoke. My early warning sensors detect a mild pepper and a teasingly bit of sweetness on my lips.
As I fire up the DEFCON, I immediately get an expected burst of pepper through the nasal on the retro hale. My pre-light intelligence gathering was spot on. The pepper mellows out after a half-inch or so, and I am holding the warning at DEFCON 4 for now.
After the 1st inch there is a nice dose of cedar with a background of sugary delight. The ash is medium grey and is holding tight so far. The burn is spot on with a thin char line. So far the DEFCON is a medium strength smoke after the first 2 inches. It has a perfect draw and a full volume of smoke production. As I was writing this, the ash did fall around two inches.
The cedar flavor turns to a citrus peel note, that has a long finish on the palate, just north of the band. The strength is starting to build as I raise the warning to DEFCON 3 – Round House – Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness. I better get some seltzer water ready to sip on, just in case this goes nuclear on me. Even with the increased strength the retro-hale has become wonderfully smooth at this point. That is more than I can say about my Red Sox after losing 8 games straight on the road. Maybe tonight things will turn around.
After removing the band, a sweet note re-enters the profile toning down the citrus peel as the strength begins to move up some more. There seems to be a dance going on between the citrus peel and the sweetness. It is almost like eating a morning grapefruit with sugar sprinkled on top. Every now and then you get a tangy bitter citrus and then some sweetness.
Into the final third and I must raise the warning again to DEFCON 2 – Fast Pace – Next step to nuclear war. We are full strength here and yes fellow Stogie Heads, Boston Jimmie is feeling it. Not many cigars on the market light me up but the Arandoza DEFCON certainly is a creeper and will catch up with you. I am glad I got that seltzer water as a I needed a little something to ease the woozy head.
I took it slow through the final third and am glad we never got to DECON 1 – Cocked Pistol – “Nuclear war is imminent”, as I was not ready to be embarrassed by the Stogie Press Lounge Heads. The DEFCON finishes with a touch of spice that hits the back of the throat.
Overall, Arandoza has created a wonderful smoking experience with the introduction of the Arandoza DEFCON. The name is aptly applied. If you are looking for a medium strength cigar I would suggest smoking the DEFCON only half way. The broad leaf wrapper, although rough in look, burned perfectly and the construction was spot on. The ash maintained for about 2 inches at a time throughout the journey.
I will need to pick up some more of these at my local brick and mortar shops here on the Space Coast of Florida. In closing, my Red Sox won in 11 innings and are on the road to recovery. I can only dream.