I didn't stumble on jaysalti's Noob Review Contest until it was over, but it prompted me to try my hand at writing one of my own. If I'm going to hang out here, I need to participate a little more.
When I started smoking cigars, the local B&M didn't have a huge selection, but the older gentlemen that ran it always treated me well and steered me toward good cigars that weren't a terrible strain on a college kid's budget. One of those was Henry Clay, and I try to keep a few on hand for those times I want something full-flavored and not particularly subtle.
Last night I found a Breva Fina in the humidor that had been resting since this time last year, and went out on the porch with a good book and a big glass of ice water.
This is a well-made cigar. My memory of the Henry Clays I smoked years ago is of a fairly ugly cigar (rustic might be a better term). Not poorly made, but often box pressed into odd shapes. This one didn't exhibit those traits, though the toothy, reddish-brown wrapper did have a couple of prominent veins and a wrinkle or two. The cap was particularly well done, extending far enough to take a generous cut without risk of the cigar unraveling. The aroma was very pungent and earthy. There are a couple of pre-light pictures attached, the close-up an attempt to show how toothy the wrapper was. (Sorry, no action shots -- I was smoking outside in the dark.)
It lit easily, and immediately produced lots of smoke and good tobacco flavor. The burn was a little uneven for about the first inch. At that point, the ash fell, the burn immediately evened out, and a distinct sweetness developed. Getting further into the first third, the ash stayed firm and white with a few flakes here and there. My palate is not particularly refined, but at this point, there was a distinct hint of something on the finish that might be what some describe as licorice.
Into the second third, the licorice is more pronounced. At about the halfway point, a couple of veins in the wrapper contributed to an uneven burn, and a little bitterness, but it self-corrected fairly quickly. Once into the final third, the sweetness has disappeared. The characteristic Henry Clay flavor is back without any bitterness, and the burn is razor sharp. I slipped the band off, and smoked it until, after nearly two and a half hours, the nub was burning my fingers.
While I wouldn't categorize this as a particularly complex cigar, it's one I really enjoy. The flavors are strong ,straightforward, and pleasant. Other reviews on this cigar talk about spiciness, but I didn't pick up on that at all in this particular sample -- maybe the year's rest toned that aspect down. I definitely need to get a few of JR's Certified Vintage HC's while they're still available.