Bite Size Review: Esteban Carreras Mr. Brownstone
With campy names like “Chupacabra” and “Mr. Brownstone”, it’s refreshing to see a few in the industry who aren’t afraid to have a little fun. No one can touch Dion Giolito’s wonderful vibe at Illusione, but Craig Cunningham’s brand is no stranger to being a little edgy. The San Clemente, California-based Esteban Carreras Cigars offers 14 blends in its critically acclaimed portfolio and while most of the blends feature conventional names (and numbers), the Mr Brownstone line is the most unique.
The name “Mr. Brownstone” is slang for heroin and its 3 vitolas – “speedball”, “smack” and “mainline” – continue the farcical homage to the drug. Yes, this quite unintentionally offends some folks to the point that some B&M proprietors won’t carry any of Cunningham’s cigars. Nonetheless, Craig’s factory, Tabacaleras Carreras, in Estelí, Nicaragua, pumps out a prodigious one million stogeys annually supporting his brands as well as contracted premium cigars. Launched in August of 2017 at IPCPR, the Mr. Brownstone line is considered a small batch or exclusive marca due largely to the expensive Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco.
The espresso-colored broadleaf wrapper on our Mr. Brownstone is wonderfully oily and the triple cap is nicely done. She is tightly packed and is solid throughout. The aromas feature lots of chocolate, some citrus notes and a nice floral essence. The draw is superb with hints of the aforementioned chocolate on the palate. Any fan of Connecticut broadleaf will love the maduro sweetness, notes of leather and roasted nuts and loads of cocoa powder. You’ll notice some earthiness and spice as she settles in. The finish begins toasty, but becomes nicely woody with espresso undertones. Beware the pepper bomb towards the end. Do not expect a lot of complexity or smooth edges, but she’s tasty. Combustion is great until the second half where it required some TLC at times. With 2″ to go, the Mr. Brownstone became one-dimensional, very harsh and hot. Overall, this is a good smoke, but we were expecting more from an $9+ blend that included an Ecuadorian Habano binder and of course, some broadleaf. The droll nomenclature notwithstanding, notable shortcomings in value, body and combustion make it difficult to recommend this as even a 5-packer.- In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Esteban Carreras was a famous Cuban freedom fighter who helped Cuban families escape the island prior to Castro seizing power.
- Profile: Med- Full
- Vitola: Smack [Toro]
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.0″ / 52
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
- Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
- Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa and Condega)
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Xikar Exec. II
- Price paid: $9.20
- Age: 6 months
Build: Firm throughout; excellent triple cap; lightly veiny; toothy; holds 1″ ash
- Shaft – Sweet; floral essence; chocolate/cocoa.
- Foot – Floral; graham cracker; orange zest,
- Cold Draw – Chocolate; herbal tea.
- Initial: Maduro sweetness; rich, toasty inhale; roasted nuts and leathery profile; notes of chocolate/cocoa powder; toasted almonds on retro; becomes spicy and earthy; toasty finish.
- Transition: Savory wood character; espresso intonations on inhale; coffee bean finish; noticeable cedar notes; black pepper. Not smooth.
- Transition: Spicy; heavy dose of pepper and earth; hints of chocolate.
Touch ups: 1
Weaknesses: Combustion issues after halfway; narrow flavor palette; rough body texture; value
Recommend: 3 – 3rd stringer
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer
- Smoke a banana instead