Cubao is the latest offering from Erik Espinosa and Eddie Ortega’s United Tobacco, blended by Pepin Garcia and manufactured at the Tabacalera Cubana factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The No. 5 is the toro in the line, and comes equipped with a rough looking oscuro Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. The boxes are really interesting — the wood almost looks salvaged, like it was recovered from an old barn.
From the Habanos-style parchment included in the box:
Cu-bao – The Taino word for “where fertile land is abundant” or “a great place.”
Cuba is the most populous insular nation in the Caribbean. Its people, culture and customs draw from several sources including the aboriginal Taino and Ciboney tribes. It is believed that the name “Cuba” comes from the Taino word “cubao” which can be translated into either “where fertile land is abundant” or “a great place” (coabana.)
We have selected the finest filler and binder grown in the Jalapa and Esteli region of Nicaragua — where the soil is as rich as Cuba’s Pinar del Rio — and wrapped it in a rich flavorful Ecuadorian grown Sumatra oscuro wrapper to create CUBAO.
The tobacco growing is overseen by experts, the rolling is done by skilled torcedors, practiced in this centuries old art. We believe we have created a cigar with a truly old world flavor. We hope you will agree.
The wrapper on this cigar mirrors the distressed look of the box — it’s not black (as you might expect from an “oscuro”) but dark brown with some black mottling.The wrappers bear the scars of thorough fermentation and the result is a weather beaten appearance. But the compensation for this less than gorgeous appearance is the flavor.
The 6 x 50 Cubao No. 5 lights up easily and burns almost perfectly for the duration of the smoke. The draw is excellent and the smoke production is generous. It forms a solid light gray ash that seems to hold for about an inch and a half before cracks form. Draw whatever comparisons you like to the fine cigars of Havana, the Cubao has them outflanked in the construction department.
This toro starts up with that trademark Pepin pepper, but it’s not as powerful as a lot of his heavier blends. It’s certainly lighter than any of the 601 cigars, and as usual this flavor dissipates after an inch but never really exits the stage completely. After an inch I’m tasting cocoa and coffee with cream types of flavors, and the aroma from the foot is quite nice, though non-smokers will find it pretty pungent. Stogie connoisseurs, on the other hand, will appreciate the way the sweet wood on the nose melds with the spiced cocoa on the palate.
There isn’t a lot of transition in the second half of the cigar, but I’m noticing a dry finish and a little scratch on the throat. Nothing a cold pale ale can’t take of. The intensity doesn’t pick up too much until I hit the band where the pepper ratchets up a bit. The flavor remains sweetly woody up front with cocoa notes in the margin. The pepper stays in the background and in the aftertaste, which is otherwise pretty clean.
Overall I’d say this is a medium to full bodied cigar, though regular Pepin smokers will think it’s more on the medium side. It certainly heavier than the Rey de Los Habanos (Red Label) or Vegas Cubanas, but it seems lighter than the 601s, San Cristobal, and most of the Tatuaje family. But for me it’s still most definitely an after-dinner smoke.
These are going for around 6 or 7 bucks, which is a great deal for the complexity you’re getting. I think most DPG fans will like this cigar as a flavorful medium-bodied departure from the heavyweights, and for those new to Pepin’s many blends, this is a great place to start. It’s not the prettiest cigar in the Pepin stable, but it definitely smokes better than it looks. And finally, an added bonus: these seem to be getting better after only a couple months in storage.
Other Reviews of the Cubao Line