Mysterioso Maduro Enigma
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Some time ago I reviewed the outstanding Old Powder Keg Maduro Robusto from Connecticut Valley Tobacconist. Today we have another limited release from brand owner and blender Mike Tarnowicz, the Mysterioso Maduro Enigma.
As to be expected, this maduro is cloaked in Broadleaf grown only a few miles from CVT. These wrappers were aged for seven years before production, which makes them nearly 10 years-old today.
But Tarnowicz’s creativity and knowledge as a leaf broker are most evident in his choice of filler — the rare Louisiana perique.
Perique was once a common pipe tobacco, but production has declined in recent decades. St. James Parish, LA was once home to 1,100 acres of perique fields. Today, fewer than 40 acres are under plant, nearly all by a single farmer, 90 year-old Percy Martin.
When cured, perique is moist and nearly black. Too overpowering to be smoked on its own, it has always been used as “seasoning” in pipe and cigarette blends. Pipe connoisseurs speak of Perique’s fruity and pungent quality, noting it lends hints of plum and pepper to a blend.
The Mysterioso debuted at the 2003 R.T.D.A. show. The 5″ x 50 Enigma is a box pressed robusto with a slightly mottled and gritty wrapper. In this sense, the CTBL looks more like the PABL wrapper found on the JML 1902.
From the first pull, there’s something different about it. It starts woody with a tangy finish, reminiscent of a Fonseca. But there is also a tough-to-pinpoint zip. It’s not spice, though there is a pinch of black pepper on the end. After less than an inch, I’m able to pick out chocolate, but that’s not quite it either. Then I pick up a faint hint of winey acidity. Finally, I put the pieces together — it’s reminding me of the nose of a port wine (this one in particular). Okay, I think, this must be the perique.
The base flavor is woody throughout, though the finish is increasingly complex and chewy. The bright acidity is also a constant. I assume this is the tricky part of blending with perique. Too much and the acidity can overwhelm. In this case, it seems to have been balanced perfectly.
I begin to taste raisin in addition to the chocolate, and the pepper picks up as well. It is both sweeter and spicier on the second half. By this point, I would call it medium to full bodied. Meanwhile, the burn is unusually slow and the draw cool. I apply two touchups to the meandering burn line, though I suspect it would have been fine if left alone.
It picks up a little char with an inch and a half to go, but not enough to foul the balance. It is only the increasing heat of the draw that causes me to lay it down with 3/4″ remaining.
CONCLUSION: The Mysterioso Maduro is a distinctive, delicious smoke. It begins like a Fonseca, then marches off in adventurous directions. Because it’s like nothing else, it probably isn’t for everyone. But if you’re the type of smoker who looks for something off the beaten path, trust me, this is out there. The value is average at $6.63 per stick. And they’re not much to look at. But in the all-important flavor category, the Mysterioso is a smoke that’ll stick with you. And my lucky streak with maduro robustos continues!