It has been a long standing tradition of mine of posting an in depth cigar review every ten years here at CP, and I could think of no better occasion as reason to get my second travesty out of the way. So, without further ado, I respectfully submit my review of a cigar sent to me by our dear friend Billy D out in Ranch Cucamonga, CA. I am proud to say that I have been the lucky recipient of two of Bill’s Bombs in his time here at Cigar Pass…and both times I have been floored by the cigars he so graciously gifted me. When a BOTL like Bill bombs you, it’s basically impossible to return the favor as his selection of cigars is second to none. Period. End of story. Of the cigars he has sent me, they included the very first Cohiba I ever smoked that I genuinely enjoyed, a 2004 LE/EL, Regional Release, Your Sister’s Ass Edition…something like that. I smoked it a year or two after he sent it to me on a Super Bowl Sunday…and it was so good, it caused me to marvel over the stick to the point I paid limited attention to the first half of the game. He also sent me an Italian RR that took me back in time to the flavors of the native Cuban criollo tobacco wrapped with the original corojo leaf that I miss so much. I wish all the members of CP could experience what Cuban cigars were like before the blue mold forced Cuba Tobacco to implement the new resistant hybrids…the Havana '92, Havana 2000, Criollo '98 and Corojo '99. What we smoke today pales in comparison to Cuban cigars rolled prior to 1997-1998 debacle. Also mixed in the gifts that Bill sent were Partagas LEs, Bolivar LEs…each one better than the one before. Incredible smokes they were, each and every one of them. But of all the cigars he sent me, there was one that stood out from all the others. One I had never seen before or since, not even read about….and when Bill sends me a cigar that I’ve never seen in my 42+ years of smoking CC…you save that one for a VERY special occasion. Well, it looks like that occasion has finally arrived. I am honored to share this experience with all my friends here at CP. I have always known of the days when Cuba tobacco put very good, well blended cigars in cellophane wrappers prior to boxing them for sale…the Davidoff lines being one of them…but this one was very different, it was encased in a half cardboard tubos as well! I tried Googling the description by brand, the length & ring size of the vitola, even its packaging…and each time I came up empty. Now I know a man of Bill’s means, worldwide connections, and stellar palate only smokes the best of the best…so I put this one aside hoping to discover some tidbit of info that would lead me to its mysterious lineage. Now you may be asking yourself ‘why didn’t you just ask Bill about it?’ Well, the answer to that would be a severe blow to my ego and cause me to admit there was a Cuban cigar that I actually knew nothing about. Me of all people…a guy that grew up in an Italian family of Cuban cigar smokers no less! I mean. I smoked my first CC at the age of 13, almost 50 years ago…and in all that time since, I NEVER heard of this cigar. All I knew was it was a Cohiba. I have also been fortunate in that I have smoked a few Cohiba cigars before the brand was released worldwide in’82, when they were only given out as gifts by the Castros…another one of the many perks of growing up in an Italian family in the tri-state area. Could this cigar be another of those ultra-rare cigars? In this review, I will finally enjoy this enigmatic masterpiece of rolled tobacco as I bear my soul…and ignorance…for all my B & SOTL to see and read. Let the journey begin…. Like most of us here at CP, when we receive a cigar from a fellow member or trade one out in a Pass, we label that cigar because it has a special meaning. That usually consists of the date & factory code, but I always put the senders name on the cigar as well so when I smoke it…even many years later…I like to thank the stick’s former owner. This proved difficult due to its small ring size, but I was able to get that delicate procedure done upon its receipt. I am going by the assumption that this cigar is from the early to mid ‘70s based strictly on its small ring size and length which were popular in that era. Having said that, the cello has remained relatively clear for such an old cigar…which has me thinking this was some special experimental packaging by Cuba Tobacco….like Skunkworks del la Cubana. While I continued to unravel this mystery, out popped the design of the band…it looked eerily similar to the current Cohiba bands. WTF? Does Bill have a time machine of something. Another facet of mystery to this jewel! Next came the most amazing sight I have ever set eyes on regarding a cigar. In all my time of smoking literally thousands of cigars, I thought I had seen all the different constructed heads on them…single cap, double cap, triple cap, pigtail, shag head, circumcised, uncircumcised…but NEVER have I seen one like this. Upon closer inspection of the head, it seems to be made of some sort of exotic wood. My best guess would be it’s either a variety of guibourtia demeussi from the mountainous regions of West Africa or a blonde cordia gerascanthus found only in the jungles of Mexico. Can you imagine?...a rare Cohiba with a built-in wooden cigar holder?!?! This truly is a ‘one-of-a-kind’ smoke! I’m going to assume it needs no additional means of perforating the head as it already possessed an abysmal cold draw….and what a draw it was! I can pick up pungencies of the rose & almond-like machalepi & anardan (of the pomegranate variety of course) along with a hint of TGI Friday’s Pork chimichangas. Can you imagine this triple header of flavors? This is going to be a treat for sure!! Bill, you are THE MAN. Like a backroll off the starboard side of a sport fisherman, in I go! As I put it in my mouth, I immediately picked up a sweetness from this smooth exotic wood that was initially hard to put my finger on. It seems to be a merging of multiple flavors & scents. Because of this unique cigar, I took a long pause until I could best describe this sensation in words…and the best I could do in characterizing this sensation would be to describe it as a cross between early harvest juniper berries, Northern Indian kala jeera, combined with the delicate scent of the Home Depot pine lumber aisle. Simply abhorrent! With an experience like this so far, I almost hesitate in lighting this little gem as I know this will be a once in a lifetime experience. For a cigar this special, I would only trust my faithful Chinese made plastic triple jet flame lighter to begin this journey. Once the foot was touched with the delicate blue flame of my Alibaba special, it lit up faster than a forest fire in Southern California. Sitting in front of my house, I continued to char the foot of this pearl and it started to glow like a road flare on a dark desert highway…with a cool wind in my hair…the warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air. I was in Heaven. But in a fraction of a second I realized I was wrong; it wasn’t the sweet smell of colitas, it was another spoor that once again baffled my senses. I kept waving the smoke towards my nose in a desperate attempt at identifying this unknown repulsive redolence. I kept waving this baffling bouquet repeatedly at my face as if I suffering from a bout of ‘the vapas’. At first I thought it reminded me of the straight forward ‘forest floor’ tang of a good red wine…but after a few moments it came to me. It was more like if you dug a hole INTO the forest floor at the base of a Connecticut shade skunk plant and took a long deep breath. Now THAT was a first for me as I started to perspire in anticipation of an incredible smoking journey and imminent abdominal spasms. At that moment I quickly realized I needed an appropriate drink to accompany me this journey into the Cuban unknown….and I could think of no better choice! As I took the first few draws of this cigar, I immediately picked up the familiar flavor of very mature, well aged Cuban tobacco….but with a twist. I have always enjoyed the smooth sweet leathery flavors & aromas of the Cuban cigars of the 60s, 70, and 80s…but this one had an addition sensation that took me a few minutes to put my finger on. Along with that well aged tang, I also experienced a bit of toasted chestnuts (roasted over an open fire), some raw anise, with just a touch of circular saw dust. Even early on, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience! It’s lip smacking time! The burn was straight, albeit a bit quick burning. The ash had a nice shade of handcuff steel gray and held on for at least a 1/16th of an inch before requiring a tap in the ashtray. I now pick up flavors of unbaked Oreo dough along with dirty cat litterbox on the finish. As I continued on this magical journey Bill has so graciously provided for me, the cigar began to take on a completely new layer of flavors I have NEVER experienced before in a cigar…but I can relate to them in the natural. The first was kiwi, skin on….and some unleavened lemon shortbread with just a touch of wet Beagle hair. Through the retrohale, my nose pick up a sour buttermilk-like overtone to the wet dog hair. I’m at the 20 minute mark and this cigar is still talking to me with an array of interesting flavors that just can’t end soon enough. Absolutely incredible! As I continued to forcibly puff on this perfect specimen of a cigar, the unleavened lemon shortbread flavors are now giving way to a bagel-like lox aroma only found in Brooklyn, NY during Passover. I had to take a second nauseating puff to confirm it….it was definitely Nova lox, smoked no less…only the best from Bill! I wish all my CP friends could be here with me now…this is truly a once in a lifetime treat! I’m now about 23 ½ minutes into this charming little wonder and I have a strange feeling coming over me. It’s not a nicotine rush, it’s more like the feeling you get when you ascend too quickly from 200 feet and start feeling DCS. I’m a bit lightheaded, and can feel large amounts of saliva filling my mouth. I quickly headed over to the garden to drain my mouth as the feeling quickly vanished after taking a few sips of my delicious Barbie beverage. How delightfully vile! Once I got my bearings back, I was able to concentrate on the final leg of this rollercoaster of flavors Bill so kindly forfeited to me. The Brooklyn smoked Nova lox flavors are now giving was to a most amazing array of new piquancies. I’m now picking up salted elephant’s nuts, freshly roasted coffee, coffee roasted about a half an hour ago, leather from a bondage dungeon, mature jumping goat feces, Colombian poppy powder, Jiffy marshmallows, little flirts of coffin cedar, notes of shitty Starbucks cappuccino, prison made chocolate soufflé, bagged Halloween licorice, crispy wheat (you ever had crispy wheat?), floral cow farts, with a slight citrusy hay note. The parade of flavors continued with the sweetness of stewed plums, rotten Gala apples, wet oak tree leaves, with a little traveling circus earthiness. Then came Antarctic black ice pepper, Russian cayenne, with an insinuation of Aunt Bee’s burnt walnut pie emerging. As I wrapped this up I was experiencing some light pralines, musty mushroom-like raisins, which culminated with a strong whiff of taint…O.M.G.!!!! I’m truly exhausted!! I can’t take any more of this marvelously revolting voyage!! Bill, how can I thank you? I had a feeling this was going to be a ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’…but NOTHING like this!! My only wish is that Bill has a few more of these to share so we can all get together and grumble about our experiences. A cigar as repugnantly unique as this will most assuredly satisfy any Habanaophile who is completely oblivious to the flavors of a well aged Cuban cigar! Bravo Bill…thank you my friend!