Technically, this is the J. L. Salazar y Hermanos Reserva Especial Robusto, but amongst friends it just goes by J. L. Salazar. This is a Cuban Crafters cigar that takes its name from one of Kiki Berger’s partners whose family still tills the soil and harvests the leaf in Cuba.
This box pressed robusto is a bit stouter and a little longer than most; at 5 1/2 inches with a 52 ring I thought at first it was a toro. The tobaccos (except the wrapper) are from the Cuban Crafters vega in Nicaragua, Tabacalera Esteli, and are cured through four fermentations and aged for three years. The filler is sungrown “cuban seed Habano,” the binder is a wrapper grade Habana 2000 leaf, and the wrapper itself is Ecuadorian sun grown. Rich stuff here.
The cap on this cigar is a little bit sloppy, and while the cigar is not ugly per se, it isn’t going to make it as a pinup either. On the other hand, this stick has a very nice perfume even before it’s lit. The wrapper smells chocolatey sweet with a cedar edge.
I subjected two samples of the Salazar robusto to the rigorous KOTF testing procedure: to wit, I cut them, lit them, and smoked them to the band. The good news is that these have a very nice flavor and aroma. I would compare them favorably to Rocky Patel’s Vintage line — they’re sweet and cedary, starting up with some chocolate flavors and a hint of cinnamon and then slowly moving into a smoldering forest of woody aromas. Very nice.
The bad news is that they suffer from a tough draw and a burn that requires constant vigilance. The draw is very firm, but each laborious draw results in a good volume of smoke, so despite the work involved it isn’t a lost cause. The uneven burn is another matter. From the first lick of the flame this cigar required touching up. And then some more touching up, and then some more, until my lighter was out of fluid. These were stored at 65% RH for four months, so I don’t think humidity was an issue.
In the final analysis, I am a bit conflicted about the quality of the J. L. Salazar — they’re great tasting medium bodied smokes, but the construction definitely leaves something to be desired. I would try these again though in the hopes that I got a couple of off sticks because the flavor is outstanding. I hope others have had better luck with the construction on these. If so, please leave a comment below. Keep hope alive!