The other week I took a look at one of two new cigars by Amendola Family Cigars that were showcased at this years Total Product Expo in Las Vegas. The two cigars are part of the NYC Series and named the West Side Story. The one I reviewed previously was the “Baseball Bats” and today I look at its rival the “Switch Blades“. As noted in the previous review, The West Side Story cigars are the first in a series of brands which will pay homage to the company’s New York roots.
The West Side Story is a true New Yorker as it was blended and rolled at the Martinez Cigar Factory based in Manhattan. The factory was established in 1974 in Manhattan by Dominican native Antonio Genaro Martinez, now owned by his son Master blender Jesus Martinez. Today it is the oldest cigar factory in New York. The factory is located on the West Side of Manhattan at 171 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001.
For this review I sampled one of the West Side Story Switch Blades which I received from company owner Jeffrey Amendola, for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
Whereas the Baseball Bats blend featured a Mexican San Andreas wrapper the Switch Blades sports a Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper. The full blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Brazilian Arapiraca
- Binder – Indonesian Sumatra
- Filler – Nicaraguan and Dominican
So one could say this is a battle between the Brazilians and the Mexicans with both getting support from the Nicaraguans and the Dominicans.
Like the West Side Story Baseball Bats, the Switch Blades are expressed in a single (6×52) Torpedo vitola and come packaged in 20-count boxes with an MSRP of $14.00/cigar. It should be noted that the boxes contain 10 of the Baseball Bats and 10 of the Switch Blades.
The Amendola Family Cigar Co. NYC Series – West Side Story Switch Blades cigar is a heavily marbled, medium brown torpedo that has with a slight oily sheen. The cigar is quite rugged looking with some very noticeable veins and bumps throughout the barrel. It has a decent packing and was firm to the touch with just a mild give when pressed between the fingers. A nicely finished torpedo cap completes the presentation.
Two bands adorn the cigar. Like the Baseball Bats blend, the primary band utilizes a metallic red, white, and black motif with the Amendola logo proudly centered on the band. The phrase N.Y.C Series is printed in script on the bottom while the back or I should say the far right side of the band has an image of the statue of liberty. The secondary band defines this as the West Side Story using the Amendola logo as the “O” in the word Story. To the left and right are crossed switch blade knives – signifying the blend.
The difference between the Switch Blades and Baseball Bats starts with the pre-light aromas. As soon as I ran the cigar along the nose, I picked up distinct BBQ notes along the barrel and pepper and earthy notes off the foot. In fact, the barrel was so fragrant that I could smell those BBQ notes as soon as the cello was off.
My CigarMedics Baller cutter took two snips on the torpedo tip to make a perfect opening. Once opened up I gave it some cold draw puffs that I found to be just fine with restriction and offered definite black pepper notes with a bit of the BBQ note I got from the barrel aroma. There is also some natural tobacco sweetness if you cold puff it some more.
Using my double flame torch, I warmed the foot to an even orange glow and drew in the initial puffs that offered a smooth draw of sweetness with a moderate pepper not, especially on retrohale. Follow along as burn this one to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial light offered natural sweetness and black pepper notes to start the journey
- You can feel the black pepper especially on the first retrohale
- A white ash forms on top of a medium thick and fairly even char line
- Sweet butter cracker notes join the profile early
- A mild wave in the burn forms but no touch-up required
- Pepper recedes and gives way to Espresso and cream (think Cafe latte) – smoothing the blend out nicely
- Dark chocolate notes join in the start of the second third giving it a cafe mocha sensation
- Ash fell in a nice chuck revealing a slightly off centered burn cone
- As the burn gets to the midway point there is touch of spice that develops
- Delightful sweetness builds deep in the second third
- Spice notes continue to evolve down to the final
- Medium to Full in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 45 Minutes
So who wins this battel of the west side? Is it the Brazilians or the Mexicans? They both offered a pleasurable flavor profile and burned for about an equal 1 hour and 45 minutes of enjoyment. The Switch Blades though, had a far better burn than the Baseball Bats and that says the Brazilians win this battle. The blades had a most interesting pre-light aroma and while both offered an early hit to the nose with black pepper, I enjoyed the Espresso and Dark Chocolate notes in the blades with the evolving sweetness of the Sumatra binder wrapping it all together. Go grab a fiver of these and get a fiver of the bats and stage your own battle and tell me what you think. I rate this one a 93.
Point Deductions: (-1) Mild Wave in Burn; (-1) Off Centered Burn Cone
Bonus Points: (+1) Complex and Balanced