Cusano Corojo 1997 Robusto

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The term “Corojo” has been used to describe both a particular type of wrapper leaf and the style of a cigar. In the case of the Cusano Corojo, it’s a little of both.

The original corojo leaf was developed in Cuba on a plantation called Santa Ines del Corojo by agriculturalist Diego Rodriguez. This leaf became famous for its delicate and silky texture as well as its flavor and fine burning qualities. Genuine corojo was Cuba’s premier wrapper leaf for several decades.

But cultivation of corojo in Cuba came to a halt in the mid 90’s because the strain is highly susceptible to blue mold and other diseases. Corojo hybrids were then developed that could withstand the ills that cigar tobacco is heir to. Among the more famous — and infamous — Cuban hybrids are H2000, Corojo 96 and Corojo 97.

The corojo on the Cusano Corojo is a hybrid of some sort, but as owner Michael Chiusano said in Smoke Magazine, “You can make an orange pest-resistant without turning it into something other than an orange.” From this I take it that Chiusano means that his corojo is still Corojo, and bears at least a family resemblance to the original Cuban variety.

Cusano’s corojo is grown naturally tapado under cloud cover in Ecuador. The original crop was harvested in 1996 and the seeds from this harvest were selected and produced the 1997 wrappers the following year. The 1996 Corojo was released with a Connecticut binder, but the 1997s have a spicy Mexican Sumatra binder. The filler is Dominican in both cases. The brand was first released in 2004.

The wrapper on this robusto is a toothy dark colorado maduro. I used a punch on the cap and found the preliminary draw to be very good. The cap itself was not applied with the greatest care, but the rest of the cigar looks to be in good shape.

When I whipped the cello off this stick I thought I detected a whiff of ammonia. Not strong, but present. Lighting up this cigar confirmed my first impression — this cigar is a youngster. The first taste is grassy and slightly bitter, and it remains this way to the end. The aroma is toasty and delicate, but the greenish flavor doesn’t do the wrapper justice.

Additionally, the ash is crumbly and a mottled gray and black in color. Min Ron Nee in his seminal work on Post-Revolution Havana Cigars notes that this phenomenon is caused by incomplete combustion of the leaf. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but it is relatively common with unaged Cuban cigars.

Try this. Torch the black/grey ashes. They become white. The black/grey ashes are due to incomplete combustion. The black particles might be partially burnt organic molecules, because they are too large to be combustible.

He goes on to say that the fermentation process causes the breakdown of these molecules, resulting in complete combustion and a white ash.

Again, I don’t know if MRN’s explanation carries any scientific weight, but it is, as Plato says, “a likely story.” What I do know is that this is the second Cusano cigar I’ve tried that has tasted like this.

Aside from the green issues, this is a very well constructed medium-bodied smoke. Toward the mid-point it turns a bit musky, and the aroma remains pleasantly toasty throughout.

Like the Cusano 18 Double Connecticut I think the Corojo 1997 shows great potential, but it’s not there yet. I’m going to pick up a few and stow them away for a few years to see if my hypothesis is correct. Both the 18 Double CT and the Corojo 1997 are reasonably priced — well worth the investment of time and space in my humidor.

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