Blanco Above & Beyond Unwilling. David Blanco, the CEO of Blanco Cigars, has a background in the military. Just as his father. And that background prompted them to create a cigar for the heroes that sacrificed all. For those that paid the ultimate price. Not just in the armed forces, but also in the civil service. As a former deputy sheriff and Chicago Fire Department paramedic, David Blanco knows first hand about those sacrifices. On top of his civil service, he served close to 30 years in the American Army. Both in active duty, National Guard and Reservist. He served 18 months in the Global War on Terrorism and Operation Enduring Freedom which brought him to Afghanistan. And at the same time, his father was serving in Iraq. Currently, Blanco is still an active jumpmaster for the United States Army Reserve. He joins veterans at World War II memorial jumps over Europe every chance he gets.
The Blanco Above and Beyond cigars honor those heroes. Part of the proceeds of the cigars goes to charities that help families of fallen service members, or survivors of tragedies while serving. And the cigars represent that. When a service member gets killed, the family members get an American flag, neatly folded into a triangle. All for sizes of the Above & Beyond are torpedos so that the head of the cigars can get a triangle-shaped blue ring with white stars. That resembles the American flag that the family members of fallen servicemen and women get. The cigar itself is a rebranded classic from Blanco Cigars, the American Legion cigar. The wrapper comes from Nicaragua. It’s a Rosado Habano wrapper. The binder is Honduran. The fillers come from both Nicaragua and Honduras.
David Blanco explained more of the meaning of the cigar in an email to Ministry of Cigars. He said, and we quote “This cigar looks amazing and is the FIRST EVER cigar to have a cone shaped ring on it. The depth and breath of everything on this cigar is significant in its meaning. The writing you refer to in the back is the “Oath” that is taken by all to “support and defend the constitution of The United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”….it ends with “So Help Me God”. The box press is emblematic of the coffin the Heroes rest in. The colored insignia you refer to represent Fire/EMS in red, Law Enforcement in blue and All Military Services in gold. The cone represents the folded U.S. flag that is presented in honor and reverence to the family of the fallen Hero at their burial. Finally, the four names of the sizes identify and define the four types of Heroes there are: Willing, Unwilling, Classic and Epic.”
Name: Blanco Above & Beyond
Vitola: box-pressed torpedo
Wrapper: Nicaragua, Habano Rosado
Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
Price: € 8,50 (The Netherlands)
Cutter: Xikar X2
Smoke conditions: indoors with ventilator
Smoke time: two hours fifteen minutes
Sponsored by Tabakado
The cigar has a beautiful reddish-brown wrapper. The point of the torpedo is extremely pointy and sharp for a cigar, The black and silver ring has the American flag. The Blanco name is written in the colors of the fire brigade, police and paramedics. Their logos are on the back of the ring as well. There is a text printed as well, probably the pledge of alliance but since we are not American, we don’t know for sure. The cigar feels well constructed. The aroma is strong. Wood, horses and a little ammonia comes to mind. After a third, it’s pepper, toast, spices, sweetness but now with wood as well. The mouthfeel is quite dry.
The cold draw is loose. The pre-draw is a little dry, with nutmeg and slightly wet hay. But those flavors are faint. Once lit, there is a bitter grassy flavor with spices and pepper. Not unpleasant, but quite unrefined. Soon, the cigar gets more balanced and the flavors get more rounded. The nutmeg and spices start to shine through. When some sweetness shows up, the bitterness fades away. After half a centimeter, the cigar has a sweet toasted flavor, with cinnamon and pepper. Halfway the cigar has a salty, licorice flavor with toast, spices, and pepper. The cinnamon-like sweetness returns, with wood, salt, licorice, and toast. The licorice flavor remains strong, with spices, wood, and pepper.
The smoke is thick and plentiful. The draw is good. The burn is a little off but doesn’t have to be corrected. The cigar is medium to medium full-bodied. The flavors are medium-full as well, with enough evolution to keep the cigar interesting all the way. The smoke time is two hours fifteen minutes.