Thursday, September 4, 2008

Island Prince Light Momona

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What do you get when you cross a Hawaiian with a Nicaraguan? The answer is you get a cigar called "Island Prince" by Kauai Cigar Company. A gentleman by the name of Les Drent, company president and grower of tobacco for Kauai Cigar Company was inspired to grow tobacco in the volcanic soil of Kauai after seeing a tobacco plant in a friend's ornamental garden. His initial experiments produced poor quality leaves, according to an article in the September 2008 Robb Report. Mr. Drent then consulted with the Oliva tobacco family of Miami and was able to obtain old generation Cuban Pinar del Rio seed as well as Cuban seed Habano, Corojo, and Criollo. The company also grows Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf seed which may result in an upcoming Hawaiian puro. In fact, the company plans on doing just that sometime next year with a cigar called the Grand Alii made entirely of Hawaiian tobacco and rolled in Hawaii.

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Right now, the only cigar that is available for purchase is the Island Prince (rolled in Esteli, Nicaragua) which comes in two wrappers: a light cigar using a Connecticut shade leaf from Ecuador and a dark cigar which uses a Nicaraguan Habano leaf. Both cigars can be purchased direct from the Kauai Cigar Co. website or at Silo cigars online. There are three sizes of each cigar with cute Hawaiian names like Momona (50 by 5 3/4), Luana Iki (46 by 4 1/2) and Bumboocha (52 by 6 1/8).

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I ordered a three pack of each cigar because they came in a really cool looking wooden cigar case with the name Kauai Cigar Company on it, along with a handsome green certification sticker denoting that it contains authentic Hawaiian tobacco.

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The cigar looks nicely constructed with no veins on this very smooth, lightly oiled, buttery tan wrapper. The cap was neatly applied and I noticed two tiny water spots near the foot of the cigar. Otherwise the presentation looks flawless. The Momona feels solid and packed with tobacco. The aroma of the cigar was disappointing as I detected traces of ammonia throughout. (I suspect that this young company may be rushing production to meet demand after it's recent press in the media. It went from normally producing 36,000 cigars a year to 100,000 cigars this year!) The cigar cliped easily and the firm draw tasted of ammonia as well.

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After lighting the cigar, I detected mild spices on my lips. The body of the cigar was pleasantly full and creamy despite the draw seeming firm on the pre-light. The draw was actually perfect and showed nice resistance. The initial flavors were sweet cream, vanilla, cinnamon and light coffee. The flavor level was mild but very pleasant and smooth. The creaminess took on a more macadamia nut tone, along with a slight floral quality. The finish was spicy and clean but not overwhelming. The mid to final stages of the cigar showed light cedar and spice with a touch of honey sweetness on the finish. I would classify this cigar as being mild to medium flavored. The last third did start to lose some body as the draw became firmer and harshness developed which started to irritate my throat.

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The cigar burned fairly evenly with a sharp burn line. The resulting ash was gray and flaky but it held on nicely well past the two inch mark. The cigar also puts out a pleasing aroma which is light and fragrant.

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Overall, I think this young cigar company shows great promise and should develop into producing better quality cigars in the future. Patience and longer aging is needed to rid these cigars of that distracting ammonia taste. I was actually enjoying the smoke once the ammonia burned off and the mellow, well balanced flavors kicked in. However at the end of the smoke I could taste the lingering ammonia in my mouth which made me want to reach for different cigar to get rid of the taste.

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At this point, I would hold off purchasing any more Island Prince cigars until future reviews show that these cigars are properly aged. I might want to add that my batch may be the exception, as far as the ammonia problem goes. If any one has different experiences I would love to hear it. I will eventually do a review of the dark Nicaraguan Habano wrapped Island Prince cigar. But after this experience, it may be a while.

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3 comments:

AprCorona said...

I haven't tried the Light Momona & I probably won't. I tend to like a darker cigar. I did try the Island Prince Momona dark & found it to be a pleasant 2-3 hour smoke. It had a nice oily wrapper, smooth draw. I did accompany it with a Kona coffee, the flavors bounced off each other really well. I hope you give this one a try & venture over to the Dark side :)

Katie Cakes said...

Very thorough and thoughtful review. I smoked the maduro and found it potent, a tad bitey but pretty flavorful. I bought it on Kauai and smoked it there too. It was a nice fit to relax, and contemplate the vastness of the ocean and have a tasty smoke.
After reading your review, I found this site which goes into detail about the manufacturing process of the Kauai Cigar company. You might find it interesting, especially about the aging.

http://silocigars.com/cigars-kauai-cigars-c-314_425.html

Check out my self portrait of said experience at

http://picasaweb.google.com/edwardsclan09/KauaiiAsSeenByPhil#5458268704617314130

40lowgear said...

I just finished a Momona Light and I would rate it as one of the best cigars I've ever smoked. It showed a perfect ash and a smooth draw from start to finish. The favors were mild and flavorful with a very clean and light after breath. The buzz was light and relaxing. I got it from a friend and I'm not shopping for a box.