Vallejuelo is best known for its nomination as one of Cigar Aficionado’s Best Bargain cigars of 2010. The Robusto Gordo scored 93 points, along with CAO’s La Traviata Divino and La Aroma de Cuba Robusto. I do not subscribe wholeheartedly to CA’s opinion, but I respect it like any other opinion, and I’m always interested in a bargain. So I began my quest for Vallejuelo.
So I searched and searched in my local shops, made inquiries, but finally came up empty handed. Eventually I got distracted by other developments in the cigar world and the brand fell off my horizon.
A few weeks ago I was reminded by a reader about the Vallejuelo brand and while placing an order for some other things saw that Atlantic Cigar now carries them. They’re not expensive, and they fit in my shopping basket nicely.
Vallejuelo is made by Intercigar, a Dominican company established by Dutch cigar impresario Maurice Antonius Koks. Intercigar also makes a budget brand called Antonius, and judging from their website they also make private label cigars for independent retailers. Vallejuelo was originally designed for the Swiss market as a less expensive alternative to Cuban cigars. They are certainly less expensive. In other respects it’s setting the bar very high, but we’ll just have to see if they stand up to the Behike.
Vallejuelo features a Nicaraguan and Dominican blend of fillers, a Dominican binder, and an Habano wrapper grown in Ecuador. There appear to be four sizes in production:
- Robusto – 5 x 50
- Robusto Gordo – 5 x 54
- Gran Toro – 6 x 54
- Gordo – 6 x 60
The name “Vallejuelo” means small valley.
Take the band off a Vallejuelo robusto and it might be confused for half a dozen other high-quality smokes featuring triple-wrapped heads. The wrapper is a dark golden brown with a nice sheen. Pressing the cigar reveals a hard pack with almost no give, but the draw is open and the cigar burns at a leisurely pace. The ash is slightly flaky, but it holds.
Overall very good construction.
This is a very much a Nicaraguan style cigar. It opens with a brash dose of black pepper and then mellows into an earthy, but somewhat sharp smoke.
After the initial spice of the Vallejuelo wears away, the mid-section slides into a potent mixture of earth and wood. The wrapper adds a note of cocoa and a touch of sweetness to the mix.
The finale of the cigar is a return to the first third as the pepper makes a brief comeback and the smoke gets down and dirty. I’d classify this cigar as medium in body but full in strength. It’s one of those cigars that throws me back in my chair like the guy in that old Maxell ad. Just sub in a lawn chair and put him in the back yard.
Vallejuelo is a tasty Nicaraguan-style cigar with a good thump. The robusto is a strong and earthy smoke with a subtle aroma, and that’s not easy to find in this price range. Its only flaw is some harshness that might fade a bit with age.
Is Vallejuelo a reasonable alternative to Cuban cigars? Not exactly. But at $4.00 a stick it’s a less expensive alternative to many of the high-end cigars coming out of Nicaragua these days. I’ll be looking for this one in a couple other sizes to see if I can get the same flavor at a slightly lower voltage level.
Final Score: 89