It's almost Halloween and I always look forward to the parties that come with it. The surprise of what people are wearing for a costume, the decorations, the food spread, spiked punch, they all help make for a fun evening. I had a buddy who once showed up to the costume party dressed as Michael Myers, but never told anybody. He stalked the house for over an hour, never saying a word, freaking everyone out and nobody could figure out who was behind the mask! Over and over I'd hear "Who are you?!". Eventually he took the mask off and we all had a good laugh. El Baton was like that, except the joke didn't land well. I kept wondering "who the hell are you?!", but a mask only revealed another mask...
Cigar: J.C. Newman El Baton Belicoso
Factory: J.C. Newman PENSA
Size: 5 x 56
El Baton is a sharp dresser. Smooth satin wrapper, seams almost vanish, and the tip was firm. I found myself being lifted off the ground when I smelled it! One of those fresh & clean smells you can't help but keep huffing repeatedly. Rarely will I mention pre-light aroma. I see lots of reviews that type multiple paragraphs about pre-light aroma and rattle off numerous notes. Personally, I don't care what the pre-herf notes are as it seems irrelevant. What it does when lit is what matters. That said, this one smelled super clean.
Chopping the tip with duel swings (v-cut & straight) I was given all the draw that was needed. No tinkering required
The burn wasn't overly impressive with much of the time being crowned. A couple times I flicked the flame at it, but didn't get out of line that much. Ash was fairly tight, which is always good.
1/3 - The first few puffs weren't very exciting. Dry peanut shells, damp hay, and the retro provides a dose of freshly manufactured cardboard. About 3/4" in some lemon grass shows up, along with a natural tobacco note. I thought mkay, maybe this will shape up.
2/3 - This is where the confusion begins. I was unusually interested in the pre-light aroma, which lead to an unflattering start, which lead to a rollercoaster of ups & downs. The lemon grass is there. The beloved milk chocolate note says "here!". Then other unsavory notes alert to their presence. There was a lavender blast that turned soapy. A spicy-sweet is in there too. Problem here is the back & forth. Nice puff, then gross puff, yum, then yuck. Spicy milk chocolate one minute and soapy flowers the next.
3/3 - This one finished with the same previously mentioned Jekyll & Hyde shenanigans. Hearty oak and stank foot do their best to help out, but to no avail.
I couldn't figure out what this cigar was supposed to taste like. The pace at which yummy puffs turned into gross puffs with a rinse & repeat action was amazing, and not in a good way. Maybe I ended up with dud. Maybe that was how it was intended to taste (although that's hard to imagine). There's good news though. Word on the street is that the entire blend has been revamped as well as the marketing. Drew Newman, owner of J.C. Newman Cigar Co., stated the following in a press release: "As I was unsatisfied, I decided to tweak the El Baton blend and return to more of a traditional style of packaging that better reflects the century-old history of this my great-grandfather’s old cigar brand.” If all of the previous El Baton are like the one I had, then this revamping was absolutely needed. Fingers crossed the new blend is better!
**Number of cigars smoked for the review: 1