In the late 90’s I was fond of a cigar called Cupido, a rich and earthy Nicaraguan cigar made by Henry “Kiki” Berger. Don Kiki was making cigars for private customers in Esteli when he ran into Yossi Kviatkovsky and Dixi Monaco who had a stockpile of tobacco they wanted to turn into the Cupido brand cigar.
At first it was only available as a churchill, and that’s the size I remember. Looking over my notes from 1997, I said it was a little tight on the draw, but very tasty. I even compared it to a Cuban H. Upmann, which I will attribute to the enthusiasm of my youth.
The Cupido brand expanded and was eventually available in several more sizes, including the “torpito,” a truncated torpedo. A few years later the Cupido Criollo and the Tuxedo versions were also introduced. I liked these, but not as much as the original.
And then around 2002 or 2003 something happened and the brand went under. Sources vary as to whether it was poor business practices or just another victim of the “boom”. I bought several boxes on clearance around that time, and that was the end of my Cupidos. Or so I thought…
Regardless of what happened to the Cupido brand, Kiki Berger stayed in Nicaragua and continued to produce cigars. In 2005 Tabacaleri Esteli resurrected the Cupido under a new name: La Carolina. According to the manufacturer, La Carolina was an old Cuban brand that only “select connoisseurs” were able to obtain in the United States. The same tobacco and the same blend that was used to make the Cupido is now going into La Carolina, so I was eager to meet the reincarnation of what used to be one of my favorite smokes.
La Carolina cigars are Nicaraguan puros, and the Capitan is the line’s torpedo entry. The wrapper is a smooth EMS color with a few prominent veins. The first thing I noticed when I clipped the head and took a quick draw-check is that the wrapper is sweet, like a Baccarat. I usually don’t care for this, because there seems something unnatural about it, but that didn’t stop me from lighting up.
The draw is perfect, by the way, and this cigar exhibited excellent construction in all other ways as well. It burned perfectly from start to finish, and formed a solid near-white ash. Someone once said you could let a Cupido cigar burn for an inch or so, remove the ash with moistened fingers, and then stick the ash back on the cigar. I tried this with the Capitan. It didn’t work, but it’s still a solid ash.
This is a mild to medium cigar with an incredibly sweet floral scent. For the first half of the cigar it’s so smooth that it has no aftertaste at all. But the aroma is worth the price of admission alone. It’s hard to believe this is a Nicaraguan cigar until the half-way point where it picks up a little more body and a woody flavor enters the stage. From this point to the end it gets slightly salty. The real highlight of this cigar is the fantastic perfume. I can’t think of another cigar that smells quite like this — almost like lavender at times.
I don’t remember exactly what the Cupido tasted or smelled like, but I can see how I could, as a new cigar smoker, become quite enamored of a cigar like this. It’s a little too light for me now, as a grizzled fan of El Rico Habano and Padron, but on the right evening, when the air is still and the moon is full, I could still get sentimental about a cigar like this.
La Carolina is a winner. I’ll be looking for more of this great cigar from Cuban Crafters.