At the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Ventura Cigar Co., best known for its PSyKo SEVEN cigars, decided to branch off—in a big way.
While the company sells a ton of other cigars not named PSyKo, notably Cuban Rounds, it decided to create two new premium brands not associated with the PSyKo name.
One is Case Study, a collection of 66 separate SKUs from five different factories divided between various blends, some of which are limited editions while others are regular production.
Then there is Archetype, a new, brighter line with a name inspired by Dr. Carl Jung, who wrote about the concept of archetypes, and then Joseph Campbell who applied them to a hero’s journey, a concept that is widely-used in storytelling, including in film.
There are five Archetype cigars; Drew Estate is producing two while Oettinger Davidoff AG is producing the other three in both the Dominican Republic and Honduras.
Initiation is one of the two Drew Estate-produced lines. It uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan habano binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The packaging for Archetype uses different symbols in the band—this line uses a dragon—as well as colors to distinguish between the blends. All lines use two-tone boxes; the Drew Estate-produced cigars have black bottoms, while the Davidoff-made blends have white bottoms. On the lids and secondary bands are a distinct color, in this case it’s a light gray that has some blue undertones to it.
Initiation is offered in four sizes.
- Archetype Initiation (5 x 46) — $9.99 (Boxes of 20, $199.80)
- Archetype Initiation Robusto (5 x 54) — $10.99 (Boxes of 20, $219.80)
- Archetype Initiation Toro (6 x 52) — $11.99 (Boxes of 20, $239.80)
- Archetype Initiation Churchill (7 x 48) — $12.99 (Boxes of 20, $259.80)
The two Drew Estate lines are considered Series B and were offered exclusively to Ventura’s VSR accounts at launch, though that seems to have changed.
- Cigar Reviewed: Archetype Initiation Corona
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
- Filler: Nicaraguan Habano
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona
- MSRP: $9.99 (Boxes of 20, $199.80)
- Release Date: Aug. 1, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
As is often the case when reviewing cigars, I did not know much of the details before smoking these. I was certainly aware that Drew Estate made some of the lines and after smelling the wrapper, which reminded me of Drew Estate’s MUWAT Kentucky Fire Cured along with some granola, I was pretty sure I knew where this came from. The foot of the Initiation showed some touches of the Kentucky Fire Cured, though it was surrounded by a lot more almonds and some chocolate and peanut butter along the lines of Reese’s Pieces. Then there is the cold draw. All three samples were stunningly bizarre; far and away the weirdest flavor I’ve ever found in any cigar. It’s not a singular odd flavor and I still don’t feel like I have the greatest grasp of it, but there’s cheap truffle oil, a bizarre cilantro-like sharpness, creamy corn, wood, and some meatiness. At best, this is what I imagine an awful trip to Genghis Grill in a blender would taste like.
Despite the smells and cold draw, the Archetype Initiation starts like many cigars do: a medium woody flavor, some hints of almond and dark chocolate and a milder creaminess. I am honestly shocked; if I was blindfolded I would have sworn my cigar had been switched because there’s no traces of the weird flavors on the cold draw. The odd part is that none of the weird flavors return on any of the three cigars. The Initiation’s core is woody with some mint chocolate chip and a tingle of metallic flavors. In the nose there’s pumpkin seeds and cornbread—not regular mentions in our tasting notes—but quite pedestrian compared to where things started. It’s still pretty much medium in flavor and strength with the body slightly higher. Construction is good, though I wish the burn ring on the cigar lasted a bit longer as I am somewhat concerned with it going out despite the ample smoke production.
A look at my second sample reveals that there’s close to two inches of ash forming through the middle portion of the cigar. Flavor-wise, the Archetype is quite similar to its earlier self. There’s a woody core with a metallic tingle on the back end. A watered down Sprite characteristic emerges as a sort of transition flavor before the flavor bouquets. It’s quite interesting because the woody flavor really stays on the middle of the tongue and it’s the only place the flavors react initially. But, a few seconds after the smoke hits, the outer parts of the tongue begin to show signs of flavors and I pick up an herbal spiciness on the sides of the tongue and a watered down bourbon characteristic elsewhere. Through the nose there’s some prunes and hints of creaminess, but it’s quite mild and largely overshadowed by the characters on the tongue.
The final third of the Archetype Initiation retains the woody core, though a peanut butter ice cream has almost matched it in terms of intensity. It dissipates before the one-inch mark, leaving a soggy Cap’n Crunch flavor and some barbecue sauce. Despite the small size and a noticeable increase in smoke temperature, I’m impressed that the Initiation Corona doesn’t get harsh until under the half inch mark. Two cigars require a touch-up in the final third, one I make largely to keep smoke production up rather than solely to improve an uneven burn line.
- We don’t score the cold draw, which is certainly a good thing for the Initiation, though it probably would help a lot of Edición Regionals.
- There was a time in which Drew Estate would generally not make cigars for other people. There were two notable exceptions: Java for Rocky Patel and Nosotros, a project with Illusione that did not go as intended. That certainly has changed as in the last few years Drew has produced cigars for Royal Gold, Ventura and most recently Caldwell.
- Phillips & King, the parent of Ventura Cigar Co., is a huge company that most consumers have never heard of. There’s a reason why a company like Ventura is able to get someone like Drew Estate to make cigars for them.
- I am not sure what my thoughts are on whether there is fire-cured tobacco inside. It certainly smelled like there was, but I didn’t taste any. For whatever it’s worth, the company says the binder and filler are all Nicaraguan. The bizarre cold draw leads me to believe that something different ended up in these cigars. Whether that was intentional is another story.
- Ventura has one of the better websites I’ve seen for a cigar company. Easy to navigate, the information you want is right there and the design is quite nice.
- This is a cigar where it really shows to pay attention which part of the tongue is being affected by the flavors.
- I cannot see a customer walking into the store and verbally saying they’d “like to purchase an Initiation.” There are a lot of weird cigar names that don’t meet this test, but this seems like something where the foot band color will likely be the big determination as to which cigar is which.
- Jason Carignan, the chief marketing officer for Kretek—the parent of Phillips & King and Ventura—launched an Indiegogo campaign for Alkemista Alcohol Infusion Vessel, which looks really cool.
- The primary bands are very Wu-Tang Clan-like. The Wu is very popular within the cigar industry.
- I thought that I was interested in psychology, not as a profession, but just as curiosity and so I took a basic psychology course in college. Given my attendance and performance in said class, it does not appear that my interest was that great.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Ventura Cigar Co., which advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was a very lengthy one hour and 45 minutes on average.
I am unsure if I would have lit this cigar after the cold draw if it wasn't for a review. The Archetype Initiation delivered easily the most bizarre cold draw I have ever experienced and certainly not one that was positive. And yet, once lit, the cigar didn’t show any of those flavors. Instead, it’s a medium-plus cigar largely centered around wood with mostly positive accompaniments. I would recommend taking one cold draw, just so you can find out what it's about, and then skipping the ritual on future cigars as it’s not the right way to start what otherwise is a good cigar.