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Staff Reviews

Jalopy Staff Review

Grant T. Thompson's picture

Grant T.

Looks only count for so much. Today, I’m test-driving a Jalopy, friends – an unassuming yard ‘gar that sells for a paltry, bottom-of-the-barrel price tag of just a hair past two bucks per cigar for a 7-by-50 Churchill. I’ll gladly take this clunker around the block and tell you if any parts fall off when I kick the tires.

You see, “jalopy” is more of term of endearment than a snub in my book. Folks who aren’t afraid to parade around in a bucket of rusty bolts are actually advertising their frugality – aka resourcefulness. I’ve got the same penny-pinching philosophy when it comes to filling my coolerdor at home. When I toss a bundle of Jalopies in, they aren’t for comic effect – I’ll smoke every last one of them, right down to the nub, so long as it stays lit.

Jalopy cigars hail from one of the hundreds of anonymous small-batch cigar factories that dot the landscape in the Dominican Republic. I couldn’t point to it on a map, and I couldn’t even tell you who started the brand. But one fact I’m one percent certain of, and happy to report, is that Jalopy cigars are cheap. Darn cheap. As cheap as any I’ve ever smoked, and cheap enough Mark Twain, who himself smoked notoriously cheap cigars, would proudly pat me on the back were he still above ground.

When I unsheathe the cello on a fresh batch of Jalopy cigars, 20 decently uniform Churchills radiate with an above-mediocre complexion which is overshadowed by bright orange-and-black cigar bands that picture a beat-up Model T. I pluck a Churchill from the bundle and I’m pleasantly surprised to see the cap has been perfectly applied, while the cigar exhibits no soft spots from head to foot. The Jalopy brand is crafted from a blend of premium Cuban-sandwich tobaccos tucked under a light-blond Connecticut Shade wrapper.

Cuban-sandwich cigars, or Fumas, are created with a mix of long-filler and short-filler tobaccos on the inside. In many cases, Cuban-sandwich bundles are assembled from scraps of tobacco leftover from rolling long-filler cigars. This is why Fumas are so affordable. Plus, they don’t come in boxes. And as I’ve pleaded a million times before, you can’t smoke the packaging, so why pay for it?

When I clip the cap and give the cigar my signature close-up inspection, I pick up a faint aroma of hay and pepper with a touch of fresh tobacco. Taste-wise, I don’t want to get your hopes up. A good Fumas cigar, like Jalopy, is basic at best when it comes to the tasting notes, but the texture and burn quality are just as important. Because Jalopy cigars contain some short-filler tobacco, there’s always potential to wind up with an uneven burn, so the goal when you’re buying Fumas cigars is to find the brands that exhibit the most consistent craftsmanship. If you’re like me, you just want a cigar like Jalopy to stay lit while you’re pushing the lawn mower around. Bonus points if it avoids offending the palate.

Jalopy cigars are a little creamy, a little nutty, and a bit chalky. The flavor is just okay, but that’s all I ask for. If I accidentally drop one in the lake when I’m fishing, I’m not going to panic. I’ll just pull a replacement from my vest pocket. Woody and toasty notes of dried cereal and pepper describe Jalopy best. There’s not much meat on the bone beyond that, but the finish is tolerable. And you’re definitely not overpaying for what you’re getting.

It’s simple. If you’re like me and you can’t imagine your coolerdor without a steady supply of Cuban-sandwich cigars, add a bundle of Jalopy cigars to the cart, and smoke ‘em when you’re busy putzing around the yard. Before you know it, your taste buds will adapt as fast as your budget.

Until next time, long ashes to you!


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