Reviewing Victor Sinclair Serie ’55’ Perfecto Sampler
While I’ve had a long and checkered relationship with tobacco throughout my life (so far), I’ve only been a cigar smoker since 2013. So, I’ve not yet found my personal “holy grail” of cigars, if such a thing actually exists.
With that said, I’ve tried my share of different cigar varieties over 2013 and 2014. I’ve sampled some classic brands like Padron, Ashton, and H Upmann, as well as some of the newer sensations like Diesel, Man of War, and Gurkha. I’ve even had the “guilty pleasure” of enjoying more than a few tastes of CAO Flavors and Drew Estate Acid infused cigars.
In my search for special cigars that fit my personal taste, I’ve found that samplers are a cost effective way to survey the variety I’m craving as a newer cigar enthusiast. While samplers can come with their own hazards (often times sample packs are composed of the varieties most needed to be moved by the cigar distributor/retailer rather than what a smoker most wants to experience,) I’ve found many to be excellent purchases.
With that in mind, I’ve started a new series of posts, not featuring individual cigar reviews, (I’m already doing that,) but instead to offer an objective appraisal of the quality to be found in cigar samplers offered for sale on the Internet. For my initial offering, I’m reviewing a sampler I purchased back in July, the Victor Sinclair Serie ’55’ Perfecto Sampler from CigarsInternational.com.
Official Product Description – Victor Sinclair Serie ’55’ Perfecto Sampler
Quoting from the sampler’s product page at Cigars International:
Fit for a king.
Series ‘55’ is the crowning achievement of Dominican cigarman Jose Dominguez (of Victor Sinclair). The Series ‘55’ is an impressive super-premium featuring 5-year-old tobaccos from 5 different countries. Available in four varieties, Series ‘55’ is normally accompanied by the super-premium price tag. But to entice you into sampling this beauty, Senor Dominguez has crafted a special sampler for his friends at CI. This impressive collection combines four cigars from each of the flavorful ’55’ blends. But wait, it gets better, each cigar is crafted into an intriguing perfecto shape, releasing concentrated layers of intoxicating flavors.
The Serie ’55’ Perfecto Sampler includes 16 cigars:
4 – Serie ’55’ Blue Maduro Perfecto (5″ x 54)
4 – Serie ’55’ Green Sun Grown Perfecto (5″ x 54)
4 – Serie ’55’ Red Corojo Perfecto (5″ x 54)
4 – Serie ’55’ Yellow Cameroon Perfecto (5″ x 54)
Current retail price @ Cigars International: $34.95
That all sounds really good, doesn’t it? Or perhaps the opposite . . . Maybe it just makes you want to laugh?
Cigar ad copy can be very much over the top in
some many cases, and seriously folks, nobody says their cigars taste like dog turds. That’s why websites and blogs reviewing cigars are an integral part of the hobby. The only way to know if the cigar closely resembles it’s description is to light up!
So, let’s sample the sampler!
Sampling the Cigars
While I’ll leave descriptions of the individual cigars to their own separate reviews, I would like to give some general overall impressions from the sampler. In addition to how they burn and taste, cigars are rated on a variety of aesthetics. Unfortunately, that’s where we find the most obvious issues with this sampler.
The first thing that’s obvious upon inspection of the Victor Sinclair Serie ’55’ Perfecto Sampler is the uneven surface texture of the individual cigars, they don’t look as nice as many other premium cigars I’ve sampled. In terms of texture they are also a little soft and spongy, as compared to my experience. That itself isn’t a huge problem, but it does contribute to the biggest issue I find with the appearance of these cigars. It’s said that shapes like the Perfecto, which tapers at both the head and foot of the cigar, are more difficult to roll than a standard shape. That’s all fine and good, but it assumes that cigar rolling is an art form, and these don’t strike me as being a particularly artistic example of a torcedor’s art.
Small bumps and ridges are obvious, not just to the eye, but also to the touch. While this seems to primarily be an aesthetic problem that doesn’t effect the cigar as it’s smoked, the rough finish might be off-putting to people who demand that their cigars look as refined as they actually taste. Unfortunately, the double perfecto shape combined with the rough exterior, work together to make these cigars resemble a bundled pack of dog turds.
Another issue I found is the overuse of glue to secure the label. This has turned into a pet peeve of mine. At it’s best it’s just sloppy, and at it’s worst it has the potential to ruin a cigar. If the label sticks to the cigar wrapper instead of itself, even the most careful efforts can result in a torn wrapper and a cigar that simply won’t smoke properly. Not good . . .
Once cut and lit, the cigars I’ve smoked from this sampler have burned relatively well. The draw was perhaps a tad bit light, but always at least acceptable. Each of the four varieties are different blends, so the flavors to be found among the varieties in this sampler are relatively diverse. My favorites were the Maduro and Corojo, with the Cameroon in third place, but all were at least acceptable to my personal smoking palate.
While tasty enough, none of the individual cigars were especially complex in terms of flavor, none of these is going to get a 90+ rating from Cigar Aficionado. That’s OK. Victor Sinclair cigars, while certainly qualifying as premium handrolled cigars, are more affordable than a lot of other alternatives. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. And, while some of the more affordable cigars on the market today are quite good, these are not going to be comparable to Padron 1926 Series retailing at $20 a stick. Sorry, but that’s just life.
Conclusions – Victor Sinclair Serie ’55’ Perfecto Sampler
The MSRP for this sampler bundle of sixteen cigars is $144, so at least in theory these are supposed to be $9 a stick. At that price, I’d not ever consider purchasing any of the individual cigars in this sampler, nor would I recommend the sampler to anyone. The current cost at Cigars International is $34.95, or about $2.18 each. At that price point they are certainly an acceptable value, but perhaps not the greatest to be found on the market today, not so much because of the quality of the tobacco as it’s smoked, but instead because of the aesthetic issues I’ve already detailed.
My actual cost of the sampler was $24.93, picked up back in July at a sale price. I’m well satisfied with that value. Heck, at a $1.55 each, I can’t complain at all, it worked out to be a great deal. Yes, I thought a blend of tobacco’s from five different countries would offer a more complex flavor, no doubt about that. And, they are far from the most physically attractive cigar I’ve had the pleasure to appreciate. Still, they are tasty enough little tobacco turds, just not the kind of rich complex flavor I’d sit and appreciate for it’s own experience.
I smoked one of each variety (Cameroon, Corojo, Maduro, and Sun Grown) for this review. After setting aside a single “best looking” example of the four different blends for individual cigar reviews, I found a good use for the eight that remained – I like to smoke one while I mow my lawn! Being a five inch perfecto, with a tapered head and foot, the Victor Sinclair Serie ’55’ cigars in this sampler last perhaps a half hour. Not long enough for a deep conversation with my friend Alpha on the deck of the “Kinky Kabin”, but just about the right timing for a bit of yard work.
Perhaps that’s not the greatest praise I’d ever give to a cigar, but these are not the greatest cigars I’ve managed to enjoy. For nothing more than six bits per stick, I can afford to burn one while I mow. In the grand scheme of things that’s not the highest purpose I’ve found for smoking, but it certainly has it’s place.