At a first glance, a cigar smoker could be excused for thinking, "This is by far the ugliest looking cigar I have ever seen."
But in this case, initial appearances are misleading.
Leaf by Oscar - the cigar is presented in a wrapping of natural leaf, and not the usual cellophane wrapper most of us are accustomed to seeing on a stick in our tobacconist's humidor. Leaf is without a doubt quite distinctive in its packaged appearance, but the treat is held within. Removing the agave band stamped with "Leaf by Oscar" and opening up the outer, leafy wrapping as you would a piece of un-shucked roasted corn from the grill, feels like Christmas.
That's because within the the full-leaf wrapper you will find a beautiful cigar that is super smooth, perfectly shaped, lightly oiled, and thinly veined with a second agave band that mirrors the outer one. This band is all natural and can be smoked without removal. I know, I've done it — several times. The stick is tightly bound, perfectly firm, and the contrast of the rough leaf wrapper versus the perfectly crafted cigar within subconsciously states, "We turned a simple rough tobacco leaf into THIS."
The outer leaf wrapping versus the usual cellophane deal may be partly responsible for such a perfectly moist, oily exterior on the stick itself, but this is just a hypothesis from someone who got a C in science. (I'll admit it, I didn't really apply myself.)
Available in four different wrappers, Sumatra, Connecticut, Corojo and Maduro, these Leaves are a dream to toast and light. I achieved a perfect cherry from toasting alone with no preliminary puffing at all. The taste on the initial draw on each of these proves to be smooth and flavorful. Tones start with a mild earth, oak, and leather all while producing both nice plumes of white smoke and perfectly formed ash. Honestly, I couldn't be more pleased with any of these smokes. Over the past month I have delved into each of the four offerings several times over, and enjoyed each and every one of them for their individual tastes, yet uniform quality. I could easily stock my humidor with these alone and have a very enjoyable autumn smoke every evening.
The draw on all of these has also been excellent, which I contribute to the craftsmanship of the wrapper and binder. I am using a V-cut presently, but I have used both punch and guillotine in the past and can discern no noticeable difference in the the ease of puffing.
Pulling from a fine cigar shouldn't feel like work, and so far with the Leaf by Oscar line it never has.
I also really appreciated the straightforward nature of what Leaf by Oscar offers: no weird flavoring, no gimmicky notes, just the taste of premium leaf and a mild spicy-ness that really melds with the oaky flavors.
As mentioned earlier, Leaf by Oscar has pushed forward four distinct smokes. I will start with the Connecticut and continue with the other fine cigars, in detail, in later reviews:
The Connecticut's wrapper is a tannish, sanded oak color, making it the lightest in the series. The vitola is a thick and round Toro measuring in at 6x50, that is firm and dry to the touch. It is nicely triple capped, with a lightly veined appearance that feels very boutique — all while priced at only $10.00. On the initial light, notes of grass, pepper, and wood are prevailing, soon followed by a lemony sour note of citrus that suddenly takes the forefront. This all plays to the tune of a light airy puff as if one were tasting a cloud in the sky — a cloud that rains freshly squeezed lemon juice. It reminds me of the first lighting of a cigar in a Candela wrapper, minus the wood notes.
The cigar's burn calls for a slight touch-up at the start, but then smooths into a perfectly even, light grey ash with dark flecks that stay firm throughout the duration of the smoke.
Proceeding, the creamy notes begin to pull forward along with the persistent woody taste, as the citrus begins to fade into the background. At about the 2/3 mark, the flavors truly blend, transforming this cigar into a pleasurable smoke that is increasingly full of flavor. On retrohale you are suddenly made aware of another complex note hidden within: cocoa. The peppery tones begin to slide into the background, and the taste remains consistent and without change until the final 1/3 where things begin to get even more interesting.
You see it's at the last 1/3 that I begin to smoke through the band. What? Yes. I am smoking the band. Smoking through the band releases a sweet vegetable scent into the air. Ordinarily I wouldn't smoke a cigar's band, but reportedly you can with this one, so reportedly I shall. The band is made from agave, and it adds further complexity to the flavors that are persistent throughout the cigar, throwing a bit of drama (and anticipation) into the experience. Radical, I know, but I am the type of guy that eats the entire sunflower seed shell and all, so bear that in mind as you read in horror or fascination.
The bottom line is that the Connecticut offered a great smoke for Connecticut wrapper lovers, and I challenge you all to try one of these and smoke through the band.
Let me know if you tried these yourself already, and expect more to come on the Sumatra, Maduro and Corojo.