Wrapper: Habano Criollo 98
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran
Brand: Felix Assouline
Factory: Assouline Omega Tabacos
Price Range: $5-$7 (Felix Assouline Store)
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Felix Assouline Ringo – First Thoughts
Our CigarNoise crew had the opportunity to video chat with D’artagnan of Felix Assouline a few weeks ago. What I took away from it was lots of knowledge as well as an appreciation for what they do. Most of their cigars are box pressed because Felix prefers a box pressed vitola. Genius. Most of their current stock was rolled almost five years ago. Awesome. And lastly, the boxes on these cigars come are specifically designed to maintain a seal and be used as humidors. Excellent.
They also facilitate the whole process from seed to shelf in house. Everything from growing to fermenting to boxing and distributing is handled by Felix Assouline.
I’ve smoked the Havana Sunrise and 2 Saints previously – both were solid cigars with an altruistic price tag. Today will be the first time with the Ringo. The wrapper seems to be slightly crinkled. The aroma coming off of the foot is of cedar, raisins, hay, and cocoa. Rolling with a shallow V cut and the usual pairing smorgasbord if the Ringo allows for extracurricular experimenting.
Felix Assouline Ringo – First Third
Earth, Nuts, Baking Spices, Milk Chocolate, Popcorn, Hay, Charred Meat, Chai, Pork, Apples, Leather, Molasses
Our first few moments are very gentle with only subtle hints of earth, nuts, and baking spices. The draw is super snug, and I’ll be working through trying to massage it out as we go. Straight cut, then straight cut again. That did the trick. We still have a hard spot underneath the band that will hopefully open up sooner rather than later. Smoke is rolling off of the cigar itself.
Hints of earth, milk chocolate, popcorn, hay, and charred meat are rising to the top with a nutty finish. Not necessarily in that order. I’m also getting chai spices in the back of the throat.
At roughly the half inch mark, a couple things begin to develop. There’s a sweeter undertone that is begging for more action while the spices shift towards more peppercorn characteristics. A retro hale yields pepper crusted pork tenderloin flavors with an apple-like sweetness. Crock pot much? Yes, yes I do.
Draw issues remain a little snugger than I’d prefer, but overall it’s much more amiable.
The Indonesian binder adds a sweet and spicy love affair to the Ringo. Whereas the last cigar I reviewed didn’t come together in it’s sweet and savory components, Ringo gels like peanut butter and jelly.
At an inch in, savory notes of charred meat take the helm. Secondary flavors of subtle cedar, rough side out cattle hide leather (thanks to the Army for knowing what that smells like), molasses, and lingering peppercorn round out the profile.
And just like that, cedar, baker’s chocolate, and those chai spices flip the script and make a run for the goal line. This cigar has enough character to share, and is more than welcome in my humidor with only the first third to judge it by.
Felix Assouline Ringo – Second Third
Cedar, Cocoa Butter, Spice, Molasses, Apple, Charred Meat, Leather, Walnuts, Raisins, Cream
The second third picks up where the first third left off. Dropping the ash, cedar becomes more prominent with notes of cocoa butter, molasses, spice, and apples playing second fiddle. Apple is the most subdued note, but plays off the spice beautifully.
Draw is almost on point now. Smoke is pouring off this cigar making it hard to get a good picture. Charred meat and leather reappear as well and just reinforces this cigar as a sweet, savory, and spicy ménage à trois. Absolutely love it when a cigar comes together like this.
Relight. Apparently I took too long trying to figure out the special characters for menage a trois. Oops. Luckily the flavors are mostly the same. Pepper comes roaring back to punish me for my mistake, but I can dig it. Now the draw is perfect.
Let’s run it through the gambit of spirits. Ron Zacapa? Nah. Pyrat Rum? Meh. Bulleit Rye? Not too shabby, not remarkable either. Blanton’s? Oh baby, getting better. Balvenie 14 year? Yes please! This scotch highlights the woodsy notes really well in our second third of Ringo. Coffee and cream? Winner winner, chicken dinner. Coffee perfectly showcases the balance of all the above mentioned flavors without diminishing other aspects of the cigar.
Another relight. Dammit.
After a few moments of rest, walnuts develop past the midway point in both the walnut flavor as well as the bitterness that I associate with walnuts from time to time. It could just be the relight, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
The texture of the smooth is silky smooth allowing for leisurely retro hales with every other puff. The casual retro hale produces notes of raisins, charred wood, cocoa powder, and cream.
Felix Assouline Ringo – Last Third
Bitter Chocolate, Coffee, Cream, Raisins, Stale Coffee, Molasses, Walnuts
Whereas the first and second third were fairly similar in raw flavors, the last third wants to be unique. Bitter chocolate is my first impression, along with hints of coffee, cream and a raisiny finish.
Heat begins developing in the sinuses as more savory notes of charred meat and faux leather settle in for the long haul. The leather this time is more like fresh handbag leather, reminiscent of smelling faux leather handbags while shopping with my eight year old diva.
Stale coffee, molasses, and walnuts rise to the occasion as I slip the band over the top. Looks like I was wrong, the last third is more of the same rather than striking a claim on it’s own. It’s enjoyable nonetheless, especially when you have this many notes to work and rework different combinations.
I wouldn’t say that this cigar has transition complexity, but there are a wide array of flavors under the hood. I’d recommend enjoying this cigar first thing in the morning to get as much out of it as possible.
Lots of Bang for your Buck