I waited a long time for an occasion to smoke one of my experimental cigars by no fault of mine (almost), with winter in Canada making it difficult to find a place and time to smoke.
First off, here's a pic of all ten experimental cigars. The original 8 as in my original post and 2 more sent to me graciously by SeeGar from the the CA forum, which have been naturally aged.
Just as a reminder :
Cigars 1-2 : high temperature, low humidity
Cigars 3-4 : one month in the freezer at -17.9°C/0°F
Cigars 5-6 : MSG added
Cigars 7-8 : control group, left in my main humidor with the remaining cigars of that box
Cigars 9-10 : aged cigars
So of course, which cigar did I pick to start the second phase of the experiment ?
#5 full of MSG goodness ! Or as others would say, full of &#@$?% ...
As you can see in the picture on cigars 5 and 6, a part of the MSG that the wrapper was exposed to did form a kind of salty residue once the solution evaporated. When putting the cigar to my lips, it gave off a kind of salty/meaty taste, almost the same as tasting MSG directly from the jar.
I used a punch cutter and tested the cold draw : deep tobacco flavor that was very pleasing, the kind of cold draw aroma you get when you know you're in for something special.
I lit the cigar with my trusty 7$ Ronson torch lighter and started slowly puffing away. Right away it was very noticeable that it was a different taste compared to the regular Cremas I've smoked before.
It tasted the same as the cold draw, deep, satisfying tobacco with no bitterness. In the first 1/4 to 1/2 inch, I'd say it was medium/full. As I continued to smoke, the intensity of flavour went to very full and stayed like that up to the half way point or so. After that it went back down to medium/full and then medium, though it stayed a little bit stronger than a "unmodified" Crema. The fullness of flavor reminded me of a good non-cuban cigar, but with cuban flavour. I haven't smoked all the "popular/classic" cubans yet, but I've smoked enough of them to say that it was as strong or stronger than a great majority of them. As for the aroma of the cigar, it stayed pretty much the same all the way through to the end, no change there, as a Crema doesn't have a rainbow of flavours to begin with. It still remains the best cheap and cheerful cuban cigar for me (I do like all Jose L. Piedra's, but the Crema is my favorite)
For the draw/burn/smoke characteristics, the draw was spot on (though I'm pretty sure the MSG had no impact on that), the burn was very good (I didn't have to relight or do some touch ups) and the amount of smoke was very good. I don't think the MSG had something to do with the amount of smoke, but it seemed to me that there was more of it than usual.
As I was thinking about that cigar today, I was wondering why the surge in intensity after half an inch or so and then less of it. Usually in a cigar, when the strength builds up the more you smoke it, it never goes down, to the point that pretty often you have to stop smoking it because it's too strong and/or bitter. Than I remembered how I applied the MSG : a little bit all over the wrapper and a lot in the first third or so with the syringe. So when the burn line reached the MSG inside the cigar, the intensity of flavour went up and when it passed it, the flavour went down. So I guess the MSG has a real impact on the tobacco or more precisely on the way we perceive it as it heightens the sensitivity of taste buds and/or olfactory receptors.
So the mellower, more refined taste of an aged cigar (if I can describe it like that) wasn't there at all, quite the contrary. It was more like a Crema on steroids, but still very good. I'd say that the MSG improved somewhat what a Crema is, regarless of strength, but not much. But if you go for a stronger cigar, than the addition of MSG is something to consider, because I would smoke that cigar again since it was pretty good !
Now would I or will I try again to add MSG to different cigars to improve on the fullness of flavour, meaning the deepness of the aromas and overall strength ? I don't think so. I'd rather just buy a more flavorful cigar if that's what I'm looking for instead of adding something to one. It's not because I don't want to add a nasty chemical to my cigars, as MSG is naturally occuring in a lot of food we eat, I just want to taste the cigar in it's natural state.
So what about the freezing or heat treatment I've done to other test cigars, would I do that again if it turns out that it's something wothwhile doing ? Yes I would as it's just changing what's already there.
I still have one other MSG modified cigar to smoke, but that one will be smoked in the double blind part of the experiment. I will have however to clean off the MSG residue on the wrapper so I can't recognize it.
So that's all for now, I'll try post an update as soon as I can.
In the mean time, HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU !!!