UPDATE FOR 2009: This cigar has been reblended by Pepin Garcia and is now produced in Nicaragua at Garcia’s Tabacalera Cubana.
Nestor Miranda is the maker of the Don Lino line of cigars, and his Miami Cigar Company is the U.S. distributor for La Aurora. (Please see Lucky7’s background about Nestor in his review of the Don Lino Africa for a good overview of the company and the man.)
Nestor Miranda’s “Special Selection” is a new line so I was hoping to provide a little more detail on the blend, but scouring the internet and interrogating cigar shop personnel was not particularly effective this time. What I ended up with was a hodge podge of conflicting information.
Putting this information on the Miami Cigar Company website would just be too easy. So I found myself in the data mine, digging with some sharpened kitchen cutlery by the light of a Prince Blazer. (While the Blazer burns hot enough to weld metal, it isn’t reknowned for its luminosity. My search results reflect that.)
The unsubstantiated results of my foray into the darkness:
This is Nestor’s “personal cigar,” the one he hands out to friends and colleagues, etc.
It is available in two sizes, a 5 1/2 x 54 robusto grande, and a 6 x 60 toro grande.
It comes in a choice of two Nicaraguan wrappers, oscuro or rosado.
One retail site says this cigar is “predominately Honduran.” Another says the binder is Nicaraguan, and the filler is Nicaraguan ligero.
In a 2007 Cigar Aficionado interview, Nestor Miranda announced that a special Don Lino edition would be released with his signature “next year.” This is not marketed as a Don Lino cigar, but the box does indeed bear the signature of Nestor Miranda.
Aesthetically, this is a nice looking stick. The wrapper is a swirl of dark brown to nearly black, and it glistens with oil. The tobaccos for this stick have been aged for three years (at least according to one vendor site) and judging by the appearance of the wrapper, I don’t doubt it. There are some prominent veins and the head is a little lopsided, but I don’t really mind that in a rustic maduro cigar. I also like the band — a feature I usually try to ignore — for its simplicity.
The very best and the very worst qualities of the Special Selection are apparent as soon as flame meets foot. The best is an aroma of sweet hickory char that rises with the first thick puff. The worst is a burn that slacks off like a high school senior in May.
There isn’t a whole lot of transition from start to finish, but what it starts with it carries to the finish line and personally I never got tired of it. It’s a medium to full bodied blend with a medium length finish that has no sharpness at all. After a couple inches the smoke becomes a little creamier in texture, but the flavors remain consistent — it’s basically what you expect from a maduro, sweet char, but with an aroma like grilled meat and maple syrup. Scrumptious!
Construction values are high with regard to the roll and the draw, but the wrapper is as ornery as it is tasty. It burns unevenly, with difficulty, and requires frequent correction. Threats of tunneling have to be kept in constant check and detract from an enjoyment of the rich flavor this cigar has to offer.
It also produces one of the darkest, most crumbly and generally unpleasant ashes I’ve ever seen. It’s so ugly it’s actually interesting to look at. So I guess in a way that adds to its entertainment value, but not in a way that enhances the experience exactly.
Overall, I really found this to be a cigar of distinction, in more ways than one. I really enjoyed the flavor but the burn was alternately annoying and fascinating in its perversity. Ultimately I think the outstanding flavor outweighs its problems, and in terms of flavor it’s one of the better maduro cigars out there. Unfortunately when I went back to the B&M where I initially found these they were sold out, with no expectation of resupply.
They are still available from a few online vendors at a reasonable price — around $100 a box. I can’t recommend this cigar completely without reservation, but if you don’t mind tending the burn in exchange for a rich woodsy flavor and a heady aroma, go for it.