Most cigar smokers are familiar with the venerable name of Rolando Reyes, Sr., maker of Cuba Aliados and Puros Indios cigars. These cigars have been in production for years and have remained relatively unchanged, aside from a wrapper change on the Aliados a few years ago.
The end of 2007 marked a true turning point for this classic brand: the grand old man stepped down as President of Puros Indios to make way for his grandson, Carlos Diez. Over the years, Reyes Sr. has earned a reputation for his stalwart work ethic and strict quality control. At the age of 85 he remains committed and on the job, but has decided at long last to turn the management reins over to the next generation.
Despite the obvious debt that Diez owes to his grandfather and mentor, he has philosophical differences that became apparent just months after he took control of the company. The first is in the name of the company: no longer Puros Indios, the outfit is now called Reyes Family Cigars. Along with this came a logo change — an emblematic R surrounded by semi-gothic accents — and two new lines of cigars.
Diez remarked in an interview for Cigar Weekly that Reyes Sr. was initially against all these changes because “he does not like the limelight or any press. He is all about his brands…” But Diez’s approach is clearly different. His focus appears to be shifting from the insular approach of his grandfather to one that is more market driven.
“I’m a bit different — if you don’t smoke my cigars, I’m going to find a way or a blend that you will enjoy. I will take the time to figure that out. I love marketing as well as blending.”
Diez has declared that “now is the time to take my company to another level,” and the new Premier line is the first step in that direction.
Available in five sizes, the Premier is the family’s first cigar to use a Costa Rican wrapper. The binder and filler are Nicaraguan, from Condega and Jalapa respectively. Only one of the vitolas in the line is under a 50 ring gauge, the corona at 6 x 46. The rest of them — including a fat Perfecto and a 60 ring gauge Gordo — are responding to the market’s demand for large ring gauge cigars.
The Costa Rican wrapper on the Premier line does not have the appearance typical of maduro leaf — it’s not black, nor has it been treated or blackened to conform to the maduro “standard.” Here the term “maduro” refers to a fermentation and maturation process, not the color of the leaf. The color of the wrapper is actually a heavily mottled dark colorado maduro and it has a nice oily sheen. It’s rough looking, but inviting.
With the exception of the corona, all of the sizes in this line have a very generous draw. (The corona was a little more restrictive but not what I would call tight.) The perfecto arrives with an open head — I cut it a bit more because the aperture seemed a little too small for me, even though it drew fine before lighting. The burn was even across the board and they all formed a light gray ash that flaked a little but was otherwise solid.
Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados have always been easy smoking, smooth cigars, and in that respect the new line is no different. On the other hand, the flavors here are a little bit bolder, at least at the outset. All of the sizes tested for this review seemed to have a basically woody character, though the corona had a leathery quality that I didn’t find in the others. They all share a very distinct and aromatic cedary spice that I’m relatively sure is coming from the wrapper. The spicy accents really engage the palate while the cigar maintains an overall smooth balance for the first third.
After a slightly more dramatic opening, the middle sections of these cigars describe a smooth and tranquil descent. The spicy flavors from the first third stand down a little and let the foundation of wood and the creamy texture take over. The aroma is still nice and toasty — sweet wood with a touch of caramel and coffee. The burn wavers just a bit and the few flakes on the ash fly off with a small puff of air.
The last third reminds me a lot of the classic PI brands — it can get a little flinty if hurried. I noticed this less with the corona, so maybe this is a function of the airy draw on the large bore sizes.
In any case, I have to say that I enjoyed the first third of these cigars the best; the second third was good, though not as interesting as the first, and I felt somewhat indifferent about the last section. I think the wrapper is the featured attraction here, so I would opt for either the corona or the perfecto: even though the perfecto is still quite a large cigar, the smaller ring gauge at the foot of the cigar lets the wrapper shine for the first ten to fifteen minutes.
The Reyes Family Premier line is set to sell at around the 7 dollar mark. I’d like to thank the Reyes Family for providing me with this sampler, and I look forward to picking up a few coronas when I see them in the shops soon!