Craig Heap reviews Mehari’s Sweet Orient cigarillos
Meharis Sweet Orient
Approximate price £5.50 – 6; 10 cigarillos per pack
Mehari’s are one of the dominant cigarillo brands and should always be available from your tobacconist – if not, politely ask why (don’t shoot him – tobacconists are already a rare breed). Even the unaware individual can’t help but be drawn to this deep red box, the silhouette of a mountain range edged with a gold filigreed border suggesting both class and ruggedness.
The cigarillos are medium to dark brown in colour, like a good oak, and almost as rich looking as the box they come in. Also, at the same time you open the pack, a powerful waft of sweet odours charges up the nostrils. It’s a heavy pudding of toffee and treacle, marzipan and icing sugar, cinnamon and cocoa. In terms of smell, this is the Battenburg cake of the cigarillo world. This strong confectionary odour transported me back to my childhood, of peering into and sniffing the contents of sweet jars, so whether the playdough scent I also picked up was imagined, or a negative aspect of the marzipan smell, I couldn’t say for sure. Once I sensed it became impossible to ignore, but since it was merely a single slice in the overall cake of delicious smells, it didn’t detract significantly.
All of these sweet smells were there in the taste from the first draw. In fact, it was overwhelmingly sweet, like sticking a bar of chocolate into my mouth, lighting the end and inhaling. It soon balanced out, and became more like sipping a hot chocolate – a good one, the sort made with real milk and not just hot water. Toward the mid-section it gradually developed a bittersweet edge, like a strong coffee with several teaspoons of brown sugar stirred in. In the finishing third, the bitterness expanded noticeably, but not to any detriment, and in the final few pulls there was a quick resurgence of marzipan, and the playdough.
Long after the cigarillo has gone out, an excellent, warming aftertaste of cocoa and marzipan lingers, with traces of woodiness. This is very much a finish to savour. If you happen to smoke one of these in a room, you’ll be rewarded with a scent better than any naff plug-in air freshener. Instantly, the room will resound with mature, wood and fruity plum notes, with a hint of sugary sweetness. Classy.
If you like your house to not smell remotely smokey, stand about four miles away before lighting one of these up. It gives out plumes of dense, beautiful smoke. As mentioned in previous reviews, the construction is a bit of a contentious issue with Mehari’s. They’re larger than your average cigarillo, and all the welcome for it, but there’s a weak springiness in the construction. It burns well, but with every cigarillo I smoked bits of flaky tobacco fell out into my mouth, regardless of any efforts I made to pack it in tighter with a few taps against the box.
Minor construction issues aside, Sweet Orient is easily the best cigarillo I’ve encountered so far. The rich, sweet flavour may not appeal to all, but if you like smooth, tasty flavour in your smoke then this is one to try. Pipe smokers who are also accustomed to a flavoursome smoke may also be interested in this variety.