Aging Room M356 Presto

Made by Jochi Blanco at Tabacalera La Palma in Tamboril, DR, this Dominican puro has garnered rave reviews and a spot on CA’s “25 Best Cigars of 2011” list. The Aging Room brand is owned by Rafael Nodal, who also owns the Oliveros and Swag brands.

Aging Room cigars are designed to be limited release, small batch blends that utilize high quality tobaccos in short supply. This blend, designated M356, is made with an habano ligero wrapper, but other blends are now in the works — Aging Room Quattro will be a square pressed cigar with an Indonesian wrapper, and Aging Room Havao will have a Connecticut wrapper grown in Ecuador.

Rafael Nodal is a classically trained musician who came to the United States from Cuba during the Mariel boatlift. But Miami at the time was not exactly a bastion of classical music, so Nodal eventually worked his way from the symphony to the cigar business. This should explain the reason for the frontmarks:

  • Major: 6 1/2 x 60
  • Mezzo: 6 x 54
  • Presto: 4 1/2 x 48
  • Rondo: 5 x 50

Construction Notes

The Aging Room Presto is a small robusto with a rough-hewn colorado maduro wrapper. The band has a dated, almost 70s-style typeface, which is both unattractive and perhaps a portent of things to come. Of the two that I bought and smoked for this review, one of them was underfilled and tunnelled badly. The other was firm and had a respectably conservative draw, but it still got quite hot and bitter at the close.

Overall construction: Needs improvement.

Tasting Notes

The wrapper on this cigar is tasty and aromatic. Rich notes of oak and vanilla waft from the foot as the cigar is lit. The base note on the palate is black pepper, which eases up after a half-inch or so, leaving an earthy taste with grassy highlights.

But about half way through the cigar the flavors bottom out and become ashy, and finally they turn bitter. The first cigar that I smoked was clearly defective, so I attributed the acrid flavor to tunnelling. But even though the second cigar burned better, the taste was not vastly improved.

After a few minutes of furrowing my brow and staring quizzically at the cigar did not effect any improvement, I pitched it.


I generally do not review cigars that perform this poorly, but I decided to go ahead with with this one for a couple reasons. The first is that the wrapper on the Aging Room is quite nice, and I would love to try it on a different cigar. The second is that CA reviewed this blend so highly that I was somewhat shocked to have a radically different experience.

It’s possible that I may have drawn from a bad box, and I hesitate to slam a blend after smoking only two representatives of the brand. These limitations aside, I think I am inclined to gratitude for the limited nature of this release.

9 thoughts on “Aging Room M356 Presto

  1. Although I haven’t had a chance to try it, I have seen some lofty opinions about this cigar (and not just from CA). Two sub-par experiences out of the same box, though, would seem to point to lax QC, and that’s not good. Oddly enough, I too, have found that brow furrowing and cursing seem to have little effect on the experience, lol. Thanks for the honest take on it – I will still have to try it for myself sometime, but I have been forewarned. 😉

    • I think my experience was probably an anomaly, and I’ll be looking to try these again in a different size and definitely from a different box. If it was only one cigar I would not have ventured an opinion, but two…

      • Hi – I’m from Germany and I can confirm your taste. But what I think is, that this cigar needs a long time – will see after years. Advertising of “Experts”? young fresh cigars which needs years to got the maturity. At the big end – what I got – I got – What the experts has gotten – I don’t know… Excuse my bad English

  2. smoked a 5 pack sampler.only 1 was worth smoking. Threw the others out the window before halfway point. Very disappointed,after the rave reviews.

  3. Not impressed with CA’s high ratings on most of their top choices. Starting to think $$$ = 90+ on their reviews. I also live the way this wrapper looked but will pass, just too many other good cigars out there! Why waste my time and money. Thanks for the heads up. If u smoke another and it’s better, maybe I will give it a shot. I’ll stick with VSG’s, LFD ‘s and La Aroma De Cubas for now…

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