A few months back I gave the Augusto Reyes Nativo corona a walk around the block and found it to be a tasty — if a little bit quirky — cigar. Around the same time I pick up a couple of their cousins, the Augusto Reyes Criollo coronas. Having consigned my Nativos to the flames with fine results, I thought it was time for the Criollos to have their day of reckoning as well.
The robusto size in the AR Criollo line earned an accolade from the Robb Report as the “Best of the Best 2007.” I’m not sure how many cigars are entered into their evaluation, or what their technique is, but I would expect that they’re not testing too many Consuegras. Cruising in your Audi R8 with a Connie just ain’t happening.
The information I have on the blend is pretty basic: the binder and filler are Dominican, and the wrapper is Ecuadorian grown Connecticut Shade. One of the few articles I could find about this cigar is from a Dominican social news site, which relates that it was “designed for smokers who enjoy a blend a little smoother than the Nativo, but with a lot of aroma and flavor.” Having smoked this cigar, I have to disagree that it’s smoother, but it certainly does have plenty of flavor and a nice aroma.
I had forgotten that this cigar had a Connecticut wrapper when I first lit it up — because the name of the cigar is Criollo, I assumed that the wrapper was as well. So I was surprised by the first few puffs, which were smooth and nutty. Hmmm, I thought. It’s almost like Connecticut Shade. After half an inch or so I changed my mind because a touch of cayenne kicks in; too spicy to be Connecticut, I thought.
My first impression was correct, of course. The Connecticut wrapper itself is a smooth claro in shade, with a very light sheen of oil and miniscule veins. The draw is excellent, and these little coronas burn perfectly to a solid light gray ash.
Into the second third the Criollo turns up the intensity. The flavor turns from nuts with a bit of pepper to earth with even more pepper, and the finish lengthens considerably. The aroma contrasts with the changes in the flavor of the cigar in an interesting way — as the flavor takes on more minerals and becomes richer, the aroma seems sweeter.
The last third is positively punchy. This is basically a medium-bodied cigar, but the nicotine content is nothing to sneeze at. The flavor is intensely earthy, almost ashy at times, and the aftertaste is overpowering. Some might call this “harsh,” but I find it just very intense. On the other hand, if earthy is not your thing, you’ll want to avoid this smoke.
The “criollo” in this smoke is obviously not from the wrapper — it’s from the blend itself, which has a lot in common with the flavors of Creole food — charbroiled seafood, paprika, and cayenne. Topped off with a little sweet nuttiness from that wrapper and a good dose of nicotine.
The Augusto Reyes Criollo line runs a little less than the Nativo, but not by much. Expect to see these for around 7 USD, if at all. They’re still in production, but not exactly ubiquitous. Consuegras they’re not. Just ask the folks at the Robb Report.