The Saint Luis Rey Serie G is a new double maduro cigar from Altadis USA. Traditionally the serie associated with this frontmark is the “Serie A,” the classic Cuban cigar, so maybe borrowing the theme and adding another serie to the line is a good marketing play. Or maybe it’s just plain larceny. After all, what Cuban brands don’t have non-Cuban versions available for legal U.S. consumption? Vegueros? Guantanamera? It’s safe to say that at least the big names are spoken for — sometimes more than once — in the strange world of the cigar trade.
I always thought that the name of the brand came from Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey, the classic novel about the collapse of a Peruvian bridge and the Francisan missionary who tries to make sense of the senseless suffering that results. Now why one would name a cigar after a book as ponderous as this, I don’t know, but that’s why I was pleased to hear an alternative story: the original vegas that produced the tobacco for Saint Luis Rey were located in San Luis, in Cuba’s Vuelta Abajo, and somehow Rey got tacked on at the end as an honorific.
The whole “double maduro” thing has become a bit of a trend as well. CAO has done it with the MX2 (a cigar I plan to review soon as a companion piece to this one) and Cusano’s paired maduro is a very fine smoke as well. So I was looking forward to trying Altadis’s crack at the formula.
The Serie G cigars are all large ring gauge smokes — the Rothchilde is a large robusto at 5 x 56; the Churchill measures 7 x 58; and the “No. 6” is 6 x 60. So I guess we have a combination of trends here — double maduro, plus super huge ring gauge. The wrapper and binder are both Connecticut broadleaf maduro, and the filler is Nicaraguan.
This SLR double maduro is a solid log of a cigar with a dry dark maduro wrapper. The pre-light scent is earthy and redolent of good old fermented tobacco leaf. Due to the large ring gauge it takes some time to set this one alight, but once going it burns with a slow and even determination.
Given all this, it’s somewhat surprising that the volume of smoke produced isn’t larger — the smoke seems a little thin bodied to start out with, but it gradually grows to about medium at smoke’s end. What it lacks in body it makes up for in smoothness though. Neither bark nor bite come anywhere near this cigar.
The flavor is woody and when combined with the sweet char coming from the wrapper the overall impression I get is that it’s like being next to a warm camp fire on a crisp autumn night. It’s not a complex, symphonic kind of cigar, but the simple tune it carries is honest and sincere. The last third adds a heartier earthy component to the mix until it slowly declines and signals its demise with a final dash of tar. (I might have smoked it a little too far at that point, but it’s hard to know when to stop when you’re enjoying a good cigar.)
If you’re a maduro guy you’ll definitely want to sample a couple of Serie Gs, and if you’re new to maduros I think this one is a great example of the breed. Just keep in mind that it’s not a powerhouse cigar, and there isn’t a whole lot of complexity. It’s just a good old cigar.
(Afterthought: I smoked one of these in the garage last night and didn’t air the place out as well as I could have when I was done. When I went to get in the truck to go to work this morning it smelled great in there! It reminded me of what my grandfather’s tool shed smelled like when I was a kid: old leather and pine tar and gunpowder. What a smell. My wife doesn’t agree, but that’s why guys like us spend so much time in places like tool sheds and garages smoking stinky cigars. Long live the stink!)