Pinar del Rio cigars are made in the Dominican Republic at La Fabrica Don Leoncio, a small but growing factory in Tamboril. The gentlemen responsible for Pinar del Rio cigars have roots in the Dominican tobacco industry that go back generations.
The factory itself is named for the father of Juan Rodriguez. Along with his two brothers, Juan has played an active role in the Dominican cigar industry, including a stint with Davidoff. In addition to Pinar del Rio, Don Leoncio produces cigars for several other companies, including Devil’s Weed, Flor de Cesar, and the Dominican 4000 for Famous Smoke Shop.
Abe Flores comes from a family that has grown just about everything you can grow on the island, including tobacco for Leon Jimenez. (See Walt’s interview with Abe on StogieReview.com for the whole story. It’s a great interview, and Abe’s knowledge and passion for cigars really comes through.)
A couple years ago the two got together to develop a new cigar blend that eventually became the Pinar del Rio line. The original blends were the Habano Sun Grown and the Oscuro, but a Connecticut-wrapped Clasico is now available as well. (One other limited edition cigar is available only in the four-pack “Premium Collection” sampler.)
The Habano Sun Grown utilizes a habano seed leaf grown in the Dominican Republic for both filler and binder. The wrapper is, of course, sun grown. The filler is a blend of Nicaraguan leaf and Dominican corojo. As Abe explains in the StogieReview video, both he and Juan are sticklers for leaf quality, and big believers in proper aging. Most of the tobaccos in Pinar del Rio cigars are aged for four years or more.
The Habano Sun Grown robusto is a nice looking cigar. The stick has a flat head similar to many Cuban cigars, and the wrapper is a smooth and consistent colorado claro (or maybe a shade darker.) The roll is supple, with a little give to it. Looking at the filler at the foot of the cigar I notice no stems, not even a thick vein. Unfortunately there were a couple of perforations in the wrapper near the band on one of these. Instead of smoking this like James Galway playing a Mozart concerto, I patched it up with a wrapper scrap from another cigar.
After clipping the cap I encountered a perfect draw. I had a little trouble lighting one of these robustos (the one with the perforations) and had to relight it a couple times to keep the wrapper smoldering in tune with the filler. Once properly ignited both sticks burned evenly, though there may be some combustion issues here. The ash is fairly solid, aside from the flaking that occurred relighting the stubborn one.
Overall good construction.
My first impression was that this could be a great candidate for a blind test if it were matched against a Cuban cigar. The flavors are not a perfect match, but the aroma of this cigar is eerily similar to what I get from some Cubans — that musky, earthy scent that at one time I thought was irreproducible. (Maybe it still is, but this one comes very close.) The initial flavors on the palate are a little stronger when compared to a Bolivar Royal Corona or Petite Corona; the Pinar del Rio is a little sharper and less creamy, but still very tasty indeed.
Red pepper in the nasal passages is how I’ll remember this one. What is really interesting about this is that it didn’t have the burning sensation at the back of the throat that I often get with peppery cigars. It’s spicy without the mild irritation that comes from many of the heavier Pepin Garcia blends.
I didn’t notice much transition in flavor, but the core characteristic of the PDR HSG is leather. There is also a sweet caramel companion that comes and goes throughout the smoke. All told, with the pepper on the upper palate, the fleeting sweet caramel flavors, and the musky leathery aroma, there is enough complexity in each puff that transition flavors are unnecessary, especially in a robusto size.
Aside from the burn issues that I had with one sample, which I think was a fluke, I thoroughly enjoyed this cigar. The nicotine hit me a little hard at the end, but the flavors were balanced and the aroma was outstanding. This is one of the few legitimate examples of where the label “Cubanesque” really does apply to a non-Cuban cigar.
The Pinar del Rio Habano SG robusto is in the 5 to 6 USD range, a reasonable price given the quality of this cigar.
Final Score: 88