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Ring Gauge: 50

Length: just under 5”

This Bespoke Robusto starts out looking great in the hand. The shape is attractive and the oily maduro wrapper is gorgeous. (It’s the kind of wrapper you’d expect to find on a much more expensive cigar.) I was looking forward to lighting it up.

When I did, I got the feeling that, like the name, this was a very English cigar – reticent about saying too much about itself at first. My biggest (and maybe only) complaint was that the draw was tight, especially at the beginning. That, of course, could have been the fault of the particular stick I was smoking, but I got the feeling that some of the tightness was intentional. It wasn’t painfully tight, but it was tight enough to distract from what else was going on.

I usually don’t like to use subjective flavors to describe cigars, but the word “nutty” kept coming to mind during the first part of the cigar. Not that it tasted of walnuts (to which I’m allergic anyway), and certainly not of almonds, but there was a slight sweetness with an interesting (yet soft) edge. All that through that “English” reticence I mentioned. The opening section is definitely mild and pleasant…just not very committed to going one way or the other.

When you get a third of the way through, the reticence disappears, and the cigar becomes unequivocally sweet. Very sweet. Sweeter than any cigar in recent memory, actually. I’ve always questioned the “maduro = sweet” equation (I find it far from universally true), but, in this case, it applies full-out. Those “nutty” hints continue to be present, but, while they remain in the background, they also become more pronounced through the sweetness. Just as sugar intensifies the flavors when you add it to a dish.

Although that burst of flavor came as a welcome surprise, and while there was less of it, the tightness was still noticeable. That’s probably one of the reasons why I found the smoke on the thin and insubstantial side, but remember that I like a lot of smoke out of my cigars. The verb is, after all, “to smoke” a cigar.

I mention the smoke in particular because, after that sweet main course, the dessert third of the cigar has it open up a lot, and, all of a sudden, the smoke gets a great deal thicker and more abundant. The sweetness also subsides, so the enjoyment here is largely in the texture of the smoke. A lot of reviewers describe smoke as “creamy” – I wouldn’t do that in this case. While there is plenty of smoke, it’s not especially rich. I’m tempted to say that, in keeping with the “British” characteristics of the stick, it doesn’t want to get too ostentatiously sumptuous. That’s descriptive rather than a criticism: when I got to the last part of the cigar, I was no longer in want of the kind of smoke I enjoy rolling around my oral mucosa. Curiously, the flavor profile went down as the smoke increased. The sweetness definitely disappears, as does that perceived “nuttiness”, but there’s not too much to replace it. Of course, after that intense burst of sweetness, any other flavors would seem faint in comparison.

Although the tightness is a problem, construction is otherwise excellent. The stick stayed lit most of the way, then became recalcitrant towards the end. This would hardly be the first cigar about which I could say that.

The nicotine profile is on the subtle side, without much palpable variation as the stick progressed. For people who make the “maduro = heavy nicotine” assumption, this stick is a good counterexample. That would make it a good choice for people who like milder cigars to enjoy a maduro wrapper.

All in all: bien to muy bien, especially when the price point is brought into consideration. The Bespoke Robusto is unquestionably a good cigar for the money. As Bespoke has limited distribution, and is sold only in a few select stores, I’d say it’s worth a trip to Cigars by Chivas to try one.

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