Review: Archetype Axis Mundi
Southern California isn’t exactly ground zero for cigars. In fact, no state has lobbied more to hinder smoking hobbies and raise awareness to its dangers. Well, it didn’t stop Mark Cassar of Kretek International from creating the Ventura cigar brand in 2011, a venture he and the well-known clove cigarette manufacturer had coveted since it’s inception some 35 years before. Their business plan didn’t include a factory, so their first brands, Pura Sangre and Estilo Cubano, were hewn with the help of Nestor Plasencia. Their contracting efforts continue to this day with legendary factories Davidoff (Psyko Seven), Oliva (Archetype Fantasy Series), La Aurora (Project 805) and Drew Estate (Archetype).
For beginners, there’s nothing typical about the original Archetype line up. Ventura states that the line was inspired by quotes by and musings of psychologist Dr. Carl Jung and mythographer, Joseph Campbell: dreams, recurrent characters, mythology. Add a name like Axis Mundi and you’re now gettin’ jiggy with a heady mix of center-of-the-world philosophies and cosmic ethereality. Deep ruminations for just a cigar. Launched in 2016, the planets aligned as Archetype blends flew off shelves and cigar lovers skipped church to get their hands on boxes of Axis Mundi. A fan favorite for sure and arguably their highest rated blend in this line (a 93 from Cigar Aficionado; #13 cigar of 2017), Axis Mundi promises to enlighten and amaze.
The Tree of Life on the main band is a manifestation of the heaven-meets-earth shtick and in fact, there’s a pithy Jungian quote on the back of the primary band. Our Mundi, sporting a striking russet-colored Habano wrapper, has a nice firmness throughout, but a rather ugly cap. She’s seamless, oily and has a few veins. There’s a very strong, almost unpleasant barnyard aroma from the shaft, but the notes of graham cracker from the foot diverted our concern. The draw is superb.
Initial tasting impressions were marvelous with a heady profile dominated by toasted nuts accompanied by notes of cream, caramel and a hint of wood. The nuttiness continues on the finish. The smoke is pleasantly aromatic as complexity grows to add black pepper and notes of earth on the finish. The profile and texture are as smooth as a TV evangelist. Transitions feature a mélange of woodier profiles well-balanced by notes of leather, salted caramel, sweet cedar and a floral essence. The spice Gods show up in the last transition along with composite hints of pecan and chocolate. If you have not perfected the “retrohale” technique, you will miss much of the complexity. Combustion is solid when its going well, but three touch-ups were required to correct some pretty serious “helmeting” throughout the smoke.
The Mundi holds a strong, 1”+ ash throughout the smoke and she likes to be smoked, i.e. don’t dilly dally – puff away. There’s no question the Mundi deserves the accolades it has received based on flavor palette, complexity and balance. Construction is solid overall, but the “helmeting” issues were becoming annoying to the point that if they continued or worsened, we may have dropped our recommendation of the Mundi to 5-packer status. Fortunately, there’s a lot to like and a lot going on so the uniqueness and enjoyment mitigate much of the burn irregularities. Find your center and enjoy a Mundi during yoga class – worth every penny. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: The Archetype blends are so popular that when after launching in 2016, demand exceeded supply and retailers sold out almost immediately and didn’t get restocked til Spring of 2017.
- Profile: Full
- Vitola: Toro
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.0″x52
- Purchased: Online
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Indonesian Sumatra
- Filler: Nicaraguan Habano
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $11.20
- Humidor Age: 6 mo.
- Box: 20
- Other Vitolas: Churchill [7.0″x48], Toro [6.0″x55], Robusto [5.0″x54], Corona [5.0″x46]
Smoke Time: 1:20
Build: Nice firmness throughout; seamless; oily; some veins; russet-colored wrapper; sloppy cap; holds strong 1″+ salt-pepper ash.
- Shaft – Strong barnyard; musty
- Foot – Graham cracker
- Cold Draw – Cocoa powder
- Initial: Lots of toasted nuts, cream and caramel notes; more nuts on the finish; hint of wood; spice on palate; nougat on draw and retro; settles into more woody profile with cedar intonations on retro and finish; addition of black pepper; finish becomes earthier.
- Transition: Full wood profile with complex layers of leather and caramel; hint of malt; coffee on finish; floral notes on retro.
- Transition: Profile of sweet cedar with hefty spice; notes of chocolate and cedar on finish; hint of pecans/figs; notes of salted caramel; becomes harsh with 1.5″ remaining.
Touch ups: 3
Weaknesses: Poor combustion at times causing “helmeting”
Recommend: 1. Go-to
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer (keep 1 on hand)
- Smoke a banana instead