The Cusano 18 line takes its name from the 1985 Dominican oro leaf used as its filler — at this cigar’s conception in 2003 this tobacco was 18 years old. By its very nature this must be a limited edition cigar because there obviously isn’t an endless supply of this particular leaf. But the popularity and very reasonable price of this line have inspired Cusano to continue production, with or without the inclusion of the extra-aged oro. The 18 may even refer to the unusual number of cigars packed in each box for this line. Yes, you guessed it. 18.
The Paired Maduro is a little different than some other “Double Maduro” cigars in that the maduro leaf is actually in the filler rather than the binder. The wrapper is an oily Connecticut broadleaf with a rough, pimply texture, and according to the Cusano website the binder is “San Vicente Olor.” (San Vicente and Olor are two different varieties of tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic. Perhaps this binder leaf is a hybrid of the two??) And finally, the filler is a Dominican blend that includes some Brazilian Mata Fina maduro leaf (and maybe some of that really old Oro that is also in the Double Connecticut.)
The construction on this robusto is very good. A slow toast of the foot starts a slow and even burn that lasts to the final puff.
The first of several flavors to arrive on scene is wood with a sweet maple tinge. It doesn’t taste like a garden variety maduro — the sweet char that I expect from a maduro is there, but it’s accompanied by an unexpected depth of character; the mapley flavor is a surprising attribute. Quickly following this light maple syrup accent is the more common chocolate and coffee combination, carried along by the woody foundation. This chocolate edge takes over and continues to about the one-third to half way point, when the sweetness starts to recede. At this juncture a good dose of pepper enters and keeps things moving, exciting my sinuses and inducing a couple of good sneezes. (Isn’t there something cathartic about a good sneeze?) After two thirds of the stick has turned to a solid white ash the taste turns a little bitter, signalling the final destination and the last act.
I was really pleased with this 18, and I think it’s my favorite of the Cusano cigars I’ve tried so far. They’re all good, but this one is the tops. It’s a medium to full bodied smoke with tons of flavor and a middling finish. The aftertaste is present but not persistent. If you like maduro cigars, you really ought to give this one a shot. I used to smoke Honduran El Rey del Mundos like they were the last cigars on earth, but I think the Cusano 18 Paired Maddie, while different, is better. At a retail price of 5 USD it’s a foregone conclusion. Yum.
But don’t take MY word for it. Cigar Envy has an insightful and informative review of the Paired Maduro, and Walt at the Stogie Review has posted a nice review as well. We all agree on one thing: this is a great smoke. Take heed Maduro lovers!