Johnny O - EL Genio My cigar smoking is a bit funny being from Minnesota. The temp drops to negative numbers, and by February a high of 35 feels sweltering, but what I’ve noticed lately is how this major shift in temperature (and as a result, in personal habits) affects my taste profile. It’s cyclical. In the summer, thanks to all the BOTL’s here, I’m almost respectable in my cigar choices. But as the winter comes and I’m forced indoors, patroning local cigar shops who do not allow any outside smokes, my taste goes down the tubes. I start overpaying (gladly, I might add, because I want to keep the cigar shops open) for less-respectable sticks just to enjoy a cigar in 60+ degrees with my few friends who are into it. And even when I brave the temps outside, I usually stick to very small ring gauge sticks as they don’t tunnel. Pretty much everything tunnels when it’s below 20 degrees. You can practically see the frost at the edges of the wrapper, so the only way to keep it all lit and not tunneling is to smoke it about 3x faster than normal – which isn’t enjoyable or relaxing at all. So when I finally got a day at a sweltering 37F, I decided to light up a fresh Johnny O El Genio from the El Laguito factory. Because I love a good Cohiba from an island south of Miami, but goodness they are expensive these days. And pretty much everything Johnny stocks is excellent. The dry draw has a barnyard scent. It’s hard to smell much, but I get a hint of something sweet almost. Maybe caramel. I give the stick a v-cut and light it up. The first third is amazing. I’m getting an almostcoffee-like taste and I find myself wishing I’d brewed a pot before starting. The smoke is thick, rich and silky. There’s almost a little bit of a cocoa finish. The only thing even close to a Maduro cc I’ve tried was the slightly darker wrappers in the Monte Petit Edmundo and I wasn’t a fan, so I was almost expecting to not love a cc with a darker Maduro wrapper. Literally paired with chocolate cookies and it’s awesome. Fudge stripes for the win. I ended up brewing that pot of coffee and pouring myself a cup. The whole combination was rich, but excellent. I can’t believe how much I like this stick.Cohiba’s always have a distinctive flavor unlike any other marca, but this is just very good. By the second third, my coffee is already half gone. Getting strong notes of honey and that classic sweet hay taste in most cc’s. But something about the sweetness feels different. There’s a thick richness to it? I’m not sure how to describe it. Still getting a hint of that more cocoaaftertaste. The intensity is still a solid medium but increasing in taste and power as I go. There’s more richness and plenty of smoke production. Never quite had something like this. The profile is so hard to describe. It’s not really like a Maduro non-cuban, at least not like any I’ve tried, other than the velvety smoke. All I can say is it hits the spot. There’s almost a little hazelnut on the retrohale. It almost reminds me of the earthy/nutty taste of a good Colombian coffee. By the third third, I’ve put down the pen and just focused on enjoying the smoke. No really noticeable difference, other than the beginnings of some tunneling likely due to the hour plus in the low temperature. But I don’t mind it. Doesn’t appear to be any issue with construction, or I would’ve experienced it much sooner. Still can’t get over how much I enjoyed the stick. All in all, the EL Genios aren’t going to last very long in my humi. The few packs of EL’s I’ve bought from Johnny also don’t seem to endure quite the same sick period that some of the other sticks have. I wonder if this is just a product of how the EL factory does their aging versus how LC does. Regardless, I’m sure I’ll want to get a bundle of these and save them as a good rich change-of-pace smoke.