Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic
Vitola: Corona Gorda 5.5 x 46
Brand: Governors Cigar & Pipe
Factory: Oveja Negra
CigarNoise Price Range: $8-$10
Availability: Store Exclusive (GovernorsCigars.com)
Source: Review Samples
Please Note: I have an extreme bias towards Governors Cigar & Pipe. They’re not only my hometown Cigar Lounge, but Friday Ellis is my personal tobacconist and introduced me to the world of boutique cigars. While waiting on the right weather conditions, I’ve struggled for weeks now with the decision to rate this cigar or just annotate my experience.
In the end, I decided that all reviewers must overcome bias on a daily basis and I believe that our Community Rating system serves as a check and balance against any persistent bias on my end. If you’ve smoked this cigar as well, I encourage you to Make Some Noise at the bottom of this review and add your thoughts and rating. This will not only keep me in check but will allow future readers to read a more comprehensive review.
To understand the depth of my bias and get a tour of Governor’s Cigar & Pipe, watch this episode of CigarNoise Weekly:
The First Lady – Initial Thoughts
The First Lady is one of two 2017 releases from Governors Cigar & Pipe out of Monroe, Louisiana. Rather than go into the unlit foot and pre-light inspection notes, I’ll just let Friday do what it does best and give us the introduction to how this cigar came to be.
From Friday Ellis, “As for the blend, the guys lovingly call Ashley “The First Lady” of Governors. I wanted something that not only honored the hard work she puts in, but also represents her personality in some way… she is easy on the eyes, no doubt, but she has depth and a strong will and work ethic. By no means does this EC wrapped cigar lack in Body or Strength. I find that those who bought The First Lady were taken back by how much depth and strength come from an EC Shade blend. I chose the pig tail cap to mimic the curls in her hair and I chose a size that I think both represents what BLTC does well but happens to be her favorite vitola.
As far as the artwork goes, I truly believe that the bands are pretty bad ass and one of the sharpest ones out there. I chose a skeleton cameo with curly hair and again, it fit perfectly with the BLTC brand image. I worked with Humberto of Cigar Package Design out of Miami. Humberto is a great dude and made the process seamless. Truly a class act operation. To finish it off I reached out to Angela and had a poem included in every box of the First Lady that was special to us. She didn’t have a clue. When she opened the first box of First Lady’s she had a moment… I definitely scored some serious extra credit for that move. From start to finish James and Angela paid attention to every detail and delivered a fantastic product.”
The First Lady – First Third
Cedar, Spice, Earth, Hay, Croissants, Cream, Honeysuckle, Toasted Graham Cracker
The very first draw pulls me in with a heady concoction of cedar, gentle spice, sweet earth, hay, and croissants, with a healthy dose of cream on top. It’s rare that the pre-light inspection makes it’s way into the smoking experience, but the first lady makes it happen. There’s a brief effervescent quality to the smoke as well, giving it a unique texture as the tasting notes develop.
Pepper comes in soft on the palate but lingers between puffs, striking the perfect balance of flavor and effect without overpowering the experience. Likewise, body weighs in around the medium+ mark, also allowing for maximum enjoyment without bullying the taste buds around.
Around the half inch mark, earthy and bready components really begin to shine, playing a sophisticated duo that’s way more refined that it sounds at first . These earthy notes take me on a walk through spring time, combining that sense of fresh morning due on the grass with the unmistakable smell of moist dirt. Imagine picking up a croissant at your favorite bakery and then sitting in your backyard on a beautiful day and enjoying it – that’s what the First Lady is like right now. Home.
At the one inch mark, body and pepper both intensify in lock-step like synchronized swimmers. Creamy cedar rises to the top as hints of honeysuckle and toasted graham cracker weave their way into the profile. While I stand by my conviction that this is an excellent coffee pairing, I highly suggest you enjoy it with water at least once to fully experience the intricate nuances.
But how ’bout those mechanics? The burn line is exactly what you’d expect from a well-made cigar, requiring no additional maintenance and remaining aesthetically pleasing as well. The draw is equally on point, finding that sweet spot with just enough resistance for a perfect draw.
The First Lady – Second Third
Hay, Pepper, Cashew, Popcorn Jelly Beans, Hawaiian Sweet Rolls, Coffee-Rubbed Roast Pork
Dropping the ash, our second third begins with notes of hay, pepper, cashew, and a finish that reminds of popcorn jelly beans. Pepper starts out stronger at first, but as the ash builds it slowly recedes – no longer lingering as in the first segment. Cream also layers itself into the profile as the ash builds, serving to both meld the flavors together and providing that refined texture to the smoke.
This cigar has earned the right to ash in my ash tray.
And then the magic happens: approaching the halfway mark, the First Lady picks up the pastry-esque mantle again and I’m fairly certain that I’m smoking Hawaiian Sweet Rolls! Peppery components continue to surge intermittently to keep the experience lively, providing that delicate equilibrium of sweet and spicy that is too often tilted one way or the other.
Boom goes the dynamite! Not satisfied with sticking to the sweet and spicy roadmap, hints of coffee-rubbed pork roast bring out a savory element to the First Lady. If you’ve ever made that recipe in a crockpot, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Such a dynamic flavor profile – it’s like when your favorite team shows up to show out on the court or field.
The First Lady – Last Third
Coffee, Pepper, Roasted Meat, Lime, Cream, Almond-Flour Pancakes, Toasted Almonds, Cinnamon, Burnt Molasses
The last segment begins with a healthy dose of coffee, pepper, and roasted meat with an interesting hint of lime on the finish. Rather than melting together like in the second third, they’re more distinguished and sequential at this point. As the ash builds yet again, cream layers into the mix and tempers the pepper as those lime notes linger in the background.
One thing that strikes me about this cigar is how some of the players like pepper and cream ebb and flow throughout the experience. As a reader it probably becomes monotonous to read, but as a reviewer it’s very enjoyable. There’s nothing worse than giving your undivided attention to a cigar over the course of 90-120 minutes and describing a very linear event.
I’m also impressed with how this Connie is holding up in the heat. I’m outside in the middle east without shade – not the best of conditions for a cigar review anyway, much less something like a connecticut shade that performs much better when it’s not burning up from all angles.
Have you ever had almond flour pancakes? That’s exactly what I’m tasting right now minus the fixings. Throw in some coffee and voila – a balanced breakfast. In fact, most of the pepper has completely dissipated with an inch and a half to go.
And that’s pretty much how we wrap it up. Coffee, toasted almonds, a peculiar pinch of cinnamon, intermittent pepper, and burnt molasses.
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