Santa Damiana is produced by Tabacalera de Garcia in La Romana, Dominican Republic. This is the huge Altadis-owned factory operated by Jose Seijas, who is also responsible for Santa Damiana’s “sister” brands Montecristo and Playboy by Don Diego. This is the only cigar in the Santa Damiana line that does not have a Connecticut shade wrapper — all the rest are very similar to the classic yellow-boxed Montecristo cigars and I’ve really enjoyed them in the past.
In doing a little online research about Santa Damiana I found that this brands sells pretty well in Europe. For European cigar smokers looking for a mild bodied Dominican-style cigar with the flavor of Connecticut shade, the Dominican Montecristo can’t be beat. But there’s a problem. The Dominican Montecristo cannot be sold in countries where the Cuban Montecristos are sold due to trademark laws. A cigar that tastes very similar to the Dominican Monte, however, could fill that niche in the market. And that cigar may just be Santa Damiana.
There appear to be two lines of Santa Damiana: the original blue-labeled Connecticut shade line, and a Habana 2000 line with a red band. I have yet to find the H2000 line available in the U.S. It may have been phased out here along with many other H2000 wrapped cigars. But this is how the British cigar trade magazine Cigarbuyer describes the blue label torpedo:
Light, chunky, sweet, mellow, Cuban figurado with yellowish wrapper. One for the ladies, perhaps. Score: 9.1
That is a pretty good description of the CT shade version. But the Tubulares Grandes is an oddball. Why the Connecticut Broadleaf instead of the classic Connecticut Shade? This size is not listed in the Altadis lineup on their website; has it been discontinued? Or exiled to Europe with the H2000? Who knows…
In any case, this tubo has a rough looking blotchy wrapper. The prelight draw is extremely easy (too easy perhaps?) and the tobacco is very spicy on the tongue.
It lights up fine, but burns down one side. I had to touch up this stogie almost immediately. The draw offers no resistance. Undoubtedly the very loose roll contributes to the bad burn. It starts out spongy and gets progressively mushier.
The flavor isn’t much better than the construction here. The wrapper has a nice spicy element to it, when it burns well enough to detect it, but the flavor is, umm … have you ever been stuck behind one of those tar trailers that roofers tow, the ones with the pitch still smoking as they go down the road? This cigar tastes a little like the way that smells. Not exactly what I’m looking for from a premium cigar. I smoked only half of this dog rocket and gladly threw the rest away.
This cigar is unfortunately nothing like the standard line Santa Damiana. It is indeed a heavier cigar, but it lacks all the finesse and flavor of the regular Connecticut shade Santa Damiana. This stogie rates lower than a decent yard gar, and given the name on the label it’s a real shame.