Unlike many of the big names in the Dominican and Central American cigar industry, this one has no Cuban ancestry. The Augusto Reyes family has roots in the Dominican Republic and the Dominican tobacco world going back 150 years and six generations, though much of that time has been in the agricultural and leaf brokerage side of the business rather than in cigar manufacturing.
Currently the Augusto Reyes family of companies includes a leaf importing concern (Tobacco Leaf Sorting S.A.), a company that processes Dominican leaf only (Capas Nacionales), and two cigar manufacturers: Corporacion Cigar Export and De Los Reyes Inc.
The first Reyes-operated cigar factory was established in 1990 in Navarette. Over the years they have produced several different private label cigars but the only one to gain much recognition is the Fittipaldi brand designed for Emerson Fittipaldi, the racing legend.
It was only in 2006 that the Reyes came up with a blend they could truly call their own. It was fittingly introduced at the wedding of Augusto Reyes to Monika Kelner. (I was unable to determine if Monika is a relation of Hendrik, but it wouldn’t surprise me!) After the wedding those who had tried the cigar began to clamor for more, so it was readied for commercial production and finally released at that year’s RTDA.
This blend also has the honor of being the first non-Cuban cigar to be featured at the “Epicur Dinner” hosted by the the Spanish cigar club of the same name. As Augusto explains, it is a more powerful Cuban style blend that Spanish smokers frequently prefer. This style has also developed a following in America, so we are lucky to have the same cigar available now in the U.S. It is currently being distributed here by SAG Imports, who also bring us Fonseca and Joya de Nicaragua.
There are now three lines of the Augusto Reyes brand: the Criollo and Epicur lines — both of which are finished with Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers — and this one, the Nativo, a Dominican puro. The Reyes have been experimenting with wrapper crops in the DR since the 1960s and at various times have provided wrapper leaf to other companies, but the Criollo 98 wrapper for the Nativo comes from a farm dedicated to AR cigar production. It is complemented by an olor binder and a piloto/criollo filler blend.
The Nativo is available in seven sizes from double corona to a 4 x 34 perla. The corona size I’ve been smoking measures 5 1/2 inches by a 44 ring gauge. They’re nice looking smokes with wide bands and a decorative gold ribbon at the foot. The wrapper is a creamy looking colorado claro with very moderate veining and a few small water spots. The cap is nicely formed and the stick is firm to the touch. My only initial concern was that the feet on a couple of these seemed underfilled.
The prelight scent from the wrapper is very mild. The draw is acceptable (maybe just a tad loose) and a prelight draw results in some grassy and coffee bean flavors.
The loose fill at the foot made for a difficult light, and one sample had a seriously deficient burn. Consistency problems aside, I found this to be a complex and fascinating little stick.
It starts up with an earthy, dusty quality that quickly takes on a peppery edge. The base flavor is leathery with a dollop of musk that rises from the wrapper. This wrapper, despite its smoldering hesitance, is extremely pungent. In fact, when my wife stepped outside for a moment she thought the kids down the block might be smoking something illegal. “No,” I told her, “it’s my cigar. Which isn’t illegal. At least not yet.”
The AR Nativo produces a good volume of smoke that I would characterize as full bodied in terms of texture and mouth feel, but medium in terms of strength. The flavors become more concentrated as the cigar burns, getting spicier as the ash gets longer. That is, if the ash actually succeeded in getting longer…which leads to what might be a problem with this cigar.
The first sample I smoked went out several times, needed constant adjustment, and developed an ash that was flaky, crumbly and tragic to behold. And while I have to say I really enjoyed the rich peppery flavor and musky aroma of this cigar, its burning qualities (or lack thereof) really weighed it down. The second cigar was much better — it burned straight and the ash didn’t peel away like the first one, but without constant puffing (which results in a hot smoke) it went out. To be fair, I have to say that I let these rest for less than a week after receiving them in the mail… but even so, the construction could probably use a little work.
The retail price on these is in the 7 to 9 USD range, which makes them the most costly of the three Augusto Reyes lines. Lower prices may be found online, but I’ll be trying a few different sizes before I invest in a box. The smooth peppery flavor and funky aroma have convinced me to give the Nativo another shot, but if other sizes have the same inconsistency I won’t be returning. There are just too many great cigars out there right now to put up with faulty or inconsistent construction in a 7 dollar smoke.