Sometimes a new cigar makes more smoke before it’s even released than it does when you finally get a chance to light one up. The Nicaraguan made Siglo Limited Reserve has done just that with its blatant and obvious play on the Cuban Cohiba image. The gold and yellow band with the checkerboard above the name and the italic logo below it is the first giveaway.
This mimicry extends to the flimsy box design. The only detail it seems to be missing is the diagonal Habanos strip across the corner. Altadis USA appears to be engaging in some advertising chicanery here, and veterans of the leaf are letting them know about it on the blogs and boards. (Ironically those of us who are informed enough to be offended by these practices are not the consumers Altadis is targeting, so it probably doesn’t matter much to them… but that doesn’t mean we’re going to keep our pieholes shut.)
And as long as they’re borrowing frontmarks from the Cohiba “Linea 1492” range, they might as well just take “Siglo” as a brand name as well:
- Siglo I – 4 1/4 x 44 petite corona
- Siglo II – 5 5/8 x 45 grand corona
- Siglo III – 6 1/2 x 44 lonsdale
- Siglo IV – 5 x 54 robusto
- Siglo VI – 6 x 54 toro
- Siglo VII – 7 x 48 churchill
- Siglo X – 6 x 54 torpedo
To my knowledge, General Cigar owns the rights to the Cohiba name and all its trappings in the United States, so I would presume that either Altadis (or its parent Imperial) has brokered a deal with General (or its parent Swedish Match) to put on this masquerade, or they are currently being sued over it. (And it wouldn’t be the first time. This stuff gets messy.)
In addition to all these design allusions Altadis borrowed one other crucial production factor: the blender. Frank Llaneza had a long history with Villazon before it was bought by General, and now Altadis is using his name quite prominently in their promotion as the master behind the Siglo Limited Reserve. I always did like Villazon cigars though, so I think I’ll just wade through all this merchandising smoke and get to the cigar itself.
The wrapper for the Siglo Limited is an Ecuadorian Habano leaf, beneath which is a Nicaraguan broadleaf binder. The filler is a Dominican/Nicaraguan combo.
It’s not a bad looking cigar, overlooking the devious band design. The wrapper is a light colorado claro, consistent in color with a slightly sandy texture and a few veins that give it a rustic appearance. The roll is solid, and the Cullman style round cap is applied well enough that it’s hard to see any seams above the shoulder of the stick.
Both the toro and the robusto drew very well. Complain all you want about Altadis, but it’s extremely rare that I’ve had a plugged or tight cigar from this company. The burn is quite slow due to the large ring gauge but it is a little uneven at times — one cigar required a single correction. The flaky salt-and-pepper ash holds for as long as I need it to, but it crumbles a bit in the ashtray.
The Siglo starts up with a woody, straightforward tobacco flavor. Almost immediately the wrapper contributes a pleasantly floral aroma, similar to but a little heavier and sweeter than Connecticut Shade. There isn’t a great deal of complexity here, but it’s certainly smooth and enjoyable.
The aroma just gets sweeter as the cigar burns down, so much that it’s almost sugary at times. The flavor gets a little spicier, but by Nicaraguan standards remains quite mild. The body and strength of this smoke seem to level out around a solid medium.
The last section brings some cocoa to the fore while the aroma takes a back seat. The slightly salty finish lengthens into an earthy aftertaste which finally gets a bit dirty near the band.
I didn’t notice much of a difference between the robusto and toro sizes, aside from smoking time: they’re both slow smoking, solid sticks, with the robusto clocking in at around 45 minutes, and the toro about an hour.
What this is, I think, is a nice boring cigar. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I think a lot of newer smokers will genuinely enjoy it. On the other hand, it doesn’t offer the veteran cigar fiend anything new to crow about. It reminds me a little of the El Rey del Mundo Real — a decent medium bodied smoke with a fine wrapper that just bores the hell out of me. Which doesn’t mean that it’s bad… just boring.
The Siglo Limited Reserve is priced reasonably at around 5 bucks a pop.
Final Score: 84