Puros Huerfanos 52X

I recently smoked a cigar from Drew Estates that was so surprisingly bad that I had to go out and buy a few more just to ensure that my first impression wasn’t a sign of premature senility.  (Or maybe the fact that I went out and bought more is the sign itself.)

That review has been put on hold until my senses recover from my flirtation with disaster.  In the meantime, I thought I’d give Drew Estates another opportunity with Puros Huerfanos, a Famous Smoke exclusive which is described as an “ultra premium first overrun.” I’m not sure if that description is internally consistent, but the price was right on a sampler pack so I snapped up a few.

The story on these cigars is that they were somehow “orphaned,” as if they were left by a skittish teenager at the convent door. I’m not sure if this story is meant to inspire pity or suspicion. Maybe both.

These “ultra premiums” are available in four sizes — robusto, toro, corona, and belicoso — and are a blend of Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan long leaf tobaccos in an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. Sometimes I wonder if a reputable cigar maker could wrap sawdust and carpet trimmings in an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper and get away with it. There seems to be no better way to dress up a cigar than with a golden buttery shade wrapper. (For the record, the very attractive PH 52X is entirely free of sawdust and carpet fibers.)

Construction Notes

Pro: In addition to its general aesthetic appeal, the Puros Huerfanos 52X is a well rolled cigar. All of the samples I’ve smoked so far have exhibited a fine draw and an even burn, though some of them seem to burn rather quickly.

Con: The ash is a little crumbly and they burn a little hot in the last third.

Overall very good construction.

Tasting Notes

The opening notes of the Puros Huerfanos 52 are dry and papery with an earthy aftertaste. Dirt might be an acquired taste, but I’ve come across some wonderfully earthy smokes in my time. Combining those flavors with paper and tannin might not suit everyone though, I admit.

In any case, the earthiness is quickly replaced by a smooth nutty flavor. The smoke texture is creamy and the strength is mild enough that this cigar could make decent breakfast material. The middle section of the stick is less tannic and sweeter. The aroma is typical of good Connecticut shade wrapper — sweet and floral, with some woody characteristics. The finish lengthens and the dry aftertaste lingers.

There isn’t much of a transition into the last third, as there rarely is with mild cigars. The flavors seem to settle on dry wood with a sweet floral component, balanced by a slightly dry bitterness on the tongue. My only concern is that the smoke gets too warm in the last lap. Smoking this cigar past the band is not recommended, or in my case, even possible.

Conclusion

Right now it looks like the robustos are selling for around 70 USD per box of 25, and the belicosos for around 80. That’s a reasonable price for this smoke. It’s well made, tastes okay (if dry and a bit greenish are okay), and it’s relatively cheap. It won’t knock your socks off, but if you’re in the market for a mild morning smoke it might be worth a shot.

If you can, try a few before you buy a box.

Final Score: 84

Saint Luis Rey Maduro vs. Serie G Maduro

This week’s journey into the humidor is a tale of two maduros, cigars that have different compositions but share a common name: Saint Luis Rey. They are both products of the mammoth Altadis USA, the largest producer of cigars in the US. When they aren’t suing smaller companies for trademark infringement they have been known, on occasion, to roll out a decent stick.

Saint Luis Rey is an old Cuban brand name, and in accordance with the rule that all cigars with traditional Cuban cigar names must have an American counterpart, the non-Cuban SLR emerged from the Big Bang of the Cigar Boom in the mid 1990’s. This “original” SLR has done well, having spawned eight vitolas — some in tubes, cabs of 50, and even pequenos. It is available in both natural and maduro wrappers, but the maduro employed here is Mexican San Andres, which is complemented by a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru.

The “new” SLR is the Serie G. It was first introduced in 2006, when various cigar blenders engaged the novel concept of the double maduro blend — in this case both binder and wrapper are Connecticut Broadleaf. The filler is Nicaraguan. A year later the Serie G Natural, with a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, was added to the menu.

Bearing the same name might be the cause of some confusion between these two cigars, and whether this is deliberate or not (I have my theories) I hope to clarify the matter by obscuring the air with smoke.

St. Luis Rey Reserva Especial Maduro

The standard Saint Luis Rey — the “Reserva Especial” — is quite distinguishable from the Serie G. Aside from a slightly smaller ring gauge, the wrapper on the Reserva is a flat, almost matte black color. I was a little worried that it might be dyed, but aside from color there was no evidence of that. The roll is solid, and the cap is ugly, but serviceable. Most of it came off when I clipped the head, leaving a clean cut anyway.

The burn is mostly even (no mean feat for any maduro cigar) but the ash is weak and flaky. (This was the first ash I’ve had fall in my lap in quite a while.) The draw, on the other hand, is perfect, producing billowing clouds of smooth smoke.

After a pleasantly peppery introduction, the core flavors are sweet wood and dark chocolate. It isn’t remarkably complex, but the blend is smooth as it gradually transitions in the last section to a sweet char. Aromatic isn’t exactly the word for this cigar — it’s pungent and quite powerful, more of a bonfire kind of cigar with it’s rich smell of tar and pine resin. A good room-clearing stogie if ever the need should arise.

St. Luis Rey Serie G Maduro

There are far fewer sizes to choose from in the Serie G formulation, but the rotund rothchilde has been a favorite of mine for years.  All of the vitolas in this line have over-sized waistlines; at a 54 ring gauge the rothchilde and the belicoso are the thinnest ones.

The Serie G is a little bit richer, a little bit smoother, and not quite as sweet as the regular SLR Maduro. This cigar is lighter in appearance (though still dark) and more natural looking, with its mottled and leathery wrapper. The roll is solid — sometimes a little too solid — and very well packed. From time to time I’ve had a tight draw with the rothchilde, but it burns well. The ash is a little stronger than the standard line SLR, but it still flakes a bit.

The core flavors are a piney wood with sweet char. There isn’t any pepper here until the last third of the cigar, and even then it stays pretty smooth. In the mid-section there are notes of leather and earth, but what I mostly find are the straightforward classic maduro flavors — wood, sweet char, and a touch of chocolate. It’s not heavy on the sweetness or the coffee/cocoa flavors, but it’s quite smooth. Like the regular SLR Maduro, the Serie G creates a pungent resting smoke.

Conclusion

Both of these cigars are fine everyday smokes, especially the Serie G, which is a bit more complex than the standard line. What sets them both apart is the price — the Serie G is just over 3 bucks a stick, and the regular line is well under that. One online retailer is selling the regular SLR for 55 USD per box of 25, and that officially makes this a bargain cigar.  Keep an eye out for these if your financial advisor (or your spouse, who are often one and the same) is getting cranky about your discretionary spending.

Final Scores:

Saint Luis Rey Reserva Especial Maduro: 86

Saint Luis Rey Serie G Maduro: 88

Bargain Arganese Rundown

ArganeseBands

I don’t have too much experience with Arganese cigars. I don’t see them in the shops I patronize and I’ve never been curious enough to take a chance on a box online. But when I saw a five-pack sampler of  discontinued blends on sale for less than ten bucks, I bit.

I’m not sure why these are being discontinued, but it’s a great opportunity to pick up some decent smokes for cheap. The last I heard, Arganese was catching flak for some kind of multi-level marketing scheme,  but what I know this company best for are the gloriously cheesy ads that accompanied their entry into the market. The douchebag at a casino table with two made-up blondes draped over his shoulders, or the obese guy on a golf course with the mini-skirted coed caddies… utterly hilarious.

So it’s safe to say that I am not in their marketing demographic.  Which is unfortunate in a way, because these are actually not bad cigars. I only picked up one sampler of these so I can’t in good faith give them a complete review, but I thought I’d offer some short notes this week for the bargain hunters out there.

ArgMadThe Maduro doesn’t stray too far from what you’d expect in a Dominican Maduro. The Brazilian wrapper is very toothy, in fact rough to the touch, and the draw is a little tight but it burns well with a straight and solid ash. The flavors are typical, but good: chocolate and nuts, with negligible finish or aftertaste. There is a touch of spice in the last third, but it won’t satisfy the power smoker  — it’s really pretty smooth and mild for the most part. Light to medium in body.  Quite pleasant as an everyday light maduro cigar.

ArgDoubleThe Double Wrap is an impressively built cigar — I think I counted 4 or 5 wraps at the head of this thing. Unfortunately it was unsmokeable. I fought with it for the first inch or so, but the draw was just too tight and what flavors I could get were sharp and metallic. I had to pitch this one and move on to the next.

The CL3 ArgCL3 is 100% “first-generation” Cuban-seed Corojo, and it was probably the most interesting smoke in the sampler. It starts up with a peppery bite and a nice caramel accent. The smoke seems a little thin, but the aroma is quite unusual — the only descriptor I could come up with was “gamey.” It burns slowly and is extremely well-behaved for a blend with so much ligero. The only issue I had was the thin smoke body, which is way over-matched by the power of the cigar. This stick has too much nicotine for me, but I did enjoy its distinctive aroma.

The Nicaraguan smokes like a maduro, but it has more kick to it than the Maduro blend. This is also a nice looking stick, and while the draw is a bit tight at first it opens up after a half-inch or so. ModerArgNicately spiced with black pepper and accompanied by some caramel sweetness on the nose, it’s nicely balanced. Chocolate flavors appear in the second half and it gets a bit rough on the throat. It’s not terribly complex, but there’s enough here to keep my interest for the duration of the cigar. A good medium-full bodied smoke.

I’d recommend the Connecticut to anyone who appreciates fine shade wrappers. It’s another handsome cigar, and even ArgCTthough the draw was again a little tight it was otherwise well constructed. In most ways it’s typical of Ecuadorian Connecticut — creamy with floral notes, but at one point I thought I could detect apple notes. That was unexpected. In the home stretch it’s mostly nuts and creamy shade-grown goodness. Another really decent smoke.

The Maduro, Nicaraguan, and Connecticut cigars are available in different weights — mild, medium, and full. I honestly don’t know which these were, but I would have to guess they were either medium or full. The Connecticut in particular was quite chewy for this style of cigar.

Conclusion

I wasn’t blown away by any of these cigars, but I wasn’t disappointed either. (It wouldn’t be fair to direct the full force of my derision on the Double Wrap after one bad stick. This time it will merely receive an indifferent shrug.)  For two to three dollars per stick I could see picking up a box or two — probably the Nicaraguan or maybe the Maduro.

These are great value cigars, at least while they’re still around. I had discounted Arganese cigars as a trendy upstart, but I’m happy to report that there is more behind these blends than just a cheesy ad campaign. After smoking all of five cigars from this outfit I’ll be interested to see what’s next on the horizon for them.

J. Fuego “Casa Fuego” Belicoso

CasaFuego

Jesus Fuego is perhaps best known for his work with Rocky Patel’s 1990 and 1992 Vintage blends, but he has come into his own in the last couple of years with Tabacos S.A. and his “J. Fuego” line of cigars.

Like so many other premium cigar makers, Fuego’s family tree stretches back several generations to the fertile soil of Pinar del Rio, Cuba.  His family has been in the tobacco growing business since the 1870’s, in a part of Cuba that would eventually become known as “El Corojo.”  The Fuegos were mostly tobacco producers for the factories in Havana, but Jesus took it a little further along the production line to become an expert in post-harvest tobacco processing.corojo

Fuego holds a master’s degree in agronomy and wrote his thesis on tobacco fermentation after studying at Havana University and receiving training at the Fabrica de Tobacos Francisco Donatien, where he worked on the emerging new Cuban marca called Vegueros.

In the late 90’s he left Cuba and arrived in Honduras, where he went to work for Camacho’s Julio Eiroa.  Later on, while he was working for U.S. Tobacco, he impressed Rocky Patel, who at the time was in the development stages of the blends that would become known as the Vintage 1990 and 1992. Fuego eventually would become Rocky’s “right-hand man,” not only assisting in the blending of his cigars but also supervising many of his factories.  Along the way he would also help to blend my favorite RP blend, the Sun Grown, and the Olde World Reserve as well.

But in late 2006 Fuego decided to step out on his own. With the help of the ubiquitous Plasencia family (the Fuegos and the Plasencias have a long history as neighbors going back to the nineteenth century in Cuba) Fuego introduced his inaugural J. Fuego cigars: the Natural, and the Gran Reserva Corojo No. 1.

Since then he has lent a hand in several other blends, both for his own J. Fuego brand and others such as Defiance by Xikar, a house blend for Famous Smoke (Royal Nicaraguan), and this one for Cigars International: Casa Fuego.Corojo3

The Casa Fuego is made in Honduras with Nicaraguan tobaccos: the wrapper is Nicaraguan Habano, while the binder and filler are corojo. Fuego has a long history with corojo — in fact, his family’s farm in Cuba was called Corojo No. 1 — and the fact that his first employer in Honduras was the Eiroa family says something as well. This guy really knows corojo.

Casa Fuego is available in five sizes:

  • Corona (5.5 x 46)
  • Double Corona (7 x 50)
  • Robusto (5 x 50)
  • Toro (6.5 x 52)
  • Belicoso (6 x 52)

Construction Notes

The Casa Fuego Belicoso features a slightly oily golden brown wrapper that shows a nice amount of fine tooth. The roll is a little bit spongy and irregular in places, particularly toward the head of the cigar, but once cut the draw and burn are perfect. These sticks are box pressed, but not square. After they have been in the humidor for a couple weeks the press is barely noticeable.

The ash is a solid dirty gray with lots of white speckles, a common occurrence with grainy wrapper leaf. The toothiness of this wrapper is quite reminiscent of Cameroon, as are some of the other smoking characteristics.

CasaFuego2

Tasting Notes

The Casa Fuego starts up with that typically tannic Nicaraguan flavor — woody, with a smattering of black pepper. The finish is dry and leaves an acidic tang on the tongue. The aroma contributes a sweet note of caramel and blends well with the drier flavors on the palate.

The sharp nature of the smoke softens up a bit after a couple inches. The pepper drops off and is replaced by cocoa or mild coffee, which combined with the residual tannins might come across as bittersweet chocolate. The aroma is spicier at this point, cedary with some mint, which strikes me as very Cameroonian.

The last third turns up the nicotine a couple notches, giving this medium-weight cigar a little more punch. The aroma is almost piney as the ash approaches the band. The aftertaste gets heavy and a bit tarry if rushed, so take it easy across the finish line.

Conclusion

Aside from the fact that the Casa Fuego is a very well made and pleasant cigar, what impresses me the most is the price. The retail price is around 5 USD, but these can be easily had for half that on Cigarbid, the auction arm of Cigars International. For less than three dollars this is a great everyday cigar. Even though it isn’t a spectacular smoke, dollar for dollar this is one of the better buys I’ve made this year.

CasaFuego3

Final Score: 85

A. Fernandez Signature Maduro Lancero

A

Abdel Fernandez has been hailed as a “rising star” in the cigar world, and judging by the number of established cigar makers who now trust him with their blends, it is safe to assume that his star is still on the upswing. Among a few of his partners are Rocky Patel (RP Signature, Triple Fusion, ITC 10th Anniversary), Ernesto Padilla (Padilla Habano) and Oliva (Sol Cubano Cuban Cabinet.) If you pick up generally unrecognized brands from CI, there’s a good chance that you’ve smoked one of his cigars without knowing it — La Herencia Cubana, La Cuna, Man O’War, and the like. But name recognition is important for obvious reasons, so it’s no surprise that we are now seeing the name A. Fernandez on a cigar band.

Fernandez is based in Esteli, Nicaragua, and grows most of his own tobacco on farms near Esteli, Condega, and the Jalapa Valley. He is relatively new to Nicaragua, having arrived from Cuba only five years ago. Virtually everything ever written about Abdel mentions that he received an education in tobacco from the iconic Alejandro Robaina, so let me join the chorus and reiterate that fact once again.

AFernandezMad2

Construction Notes

The Fernandez Maduro is a mean looking stick. Maduro wrapper in its natural, unadulterated form is a thick, rustic leaf, so there’s not much to praise here in the way of aesthetics. The equally utilitarian cap is roughly applied, but shears well. The roll is solid. But of course the true test of a lancero with its narrow ring gauge is the draw, and the ones I have sampled have all been perfect in that regard.

The wrapper’s prelight scent is rich and earthy, straight from the barnyard, indicating fine fermentation. Lighting a lancero is easy, and this one fires up without a hitch. The burn wavers a little bit, as maduro leaf tends to do, but it corrects itself eventually. The ash tends to flake during this correction, but otherwise it’s solid and holds fairly well.

AFernandezMad3

Tasting Notes

The aroma from this maduro wrapper takes center stage immediately and doesn’t make an exit until the band is peeled and the butt laid to rest. The wrapper on a lancero is bound to operate in this fashion due to the proportions of the stick, but make it a sweet and rich smelling maduro leaf and it’s guaranteed to be the star of the show. Right up front are the typical flavors of chocolate and char. An inch in and it gets a little spicier. Like a lot of lanceros this one gets a little hot if rushed, but I found that my unfortunate tendency to draw too often was greatly reduced by the prodigious amount of smoke this stick produces.

After the first third the cigar never really transitions to new flavors. There are some lighter woody notes along the way, but the basic theme of chocolate and char continues to the end. The flavors intensify in the last section, but don’t change too much. The finish lengthens and a mild aftertaste of pepper concludes the cigar.

Conclusion

This cigar reminds me a lot of the Padron standard series, in terms of both appearance and taste. It’s not complex, but it’s satisfying: a tasty, straight forward, no-nonsense maduro. The A. Fernandez Signature maduro is a little smoother and doesn’t pack the same punch as a Padron, but for a couple dollars less I think it’s comparable.

I got lucky and picked up these Fernandez lanceros for less than 2 dollars each, but the MSRP is still only 50 USD for a bundle of 20. I believe these are a Cigars International exclusive, and at the moment they appear to be sold out in this size, but hopefully we’ll see them back on the board soon. The bottom line is that this is a quality bargain smoke.

AFernandezMad4

Final Score: 85


Blue Label Robusto

blue-label

I was a little wary at first of a cigar called “Blue Label.”  Not Gran Habano Blue Label, or STC Blue Label…just Blue Label. This generic sounding name has been used before — in fact, one large online retailer sells both this Blue Label and their own house brand Blue Label, not to mention the Legends Series Blue Label, and the Don Pepin Garcia cigar popularly known as the “Blue Label.”  Aside from the confusion this might engender, it just seems like bad advertising — it doesn’t distinguish the product, and it doesn’t entice the consumer. What would you prefer — a luscious looking double-banded Alec Bradley Tempus, or a homely Blue Label?

Some History

Curiously, the Blue Label has a history in cigar lore, which may or may not have anything to do with the naming of this particular cigar. The original Blue Label wasn’t a blend or a brand; it was the mark of labor union approval.

union-label

The Cigar Maker’s International Union was formed in 1864 in New York City. A fourteen year old cigar maker named Samuel Gompers joined the Cigar Maker’s Union that same year and within ten years became the president of Local 144. In 1881 he helped form the American Federation of Labor (AFL.)  Gompers was eventually elected president of the AFL and is recognized today as a key figure in American labor history.

The Cigar Makers’ Union was one of the first to use labels to distinguish its products — this allowed union members and supporters to buy “union made” whenever possible, and to boycott non-union products. Label committees were formed to determine the conditions under which companies would be allowed use of the label, label custodians and secretaries within the organizations were appointed to administer the union policies, and label “agitators” promoted the use of the label and agitated against non-union made products.

In the official publication of the Cigars Makers’ International Union, members were encouraged to enter poems and songs rejoicing in the glory of union-made cigars:

The Blue Label

Now, friends, if you will listen to what I’ve got to say,
I promise not to keep you long, or ask you any pay,
I want to ask a favor, you’ll agree it is no joke;
please ask for “union” made cigars whene’er you want a smoke

They’re made by good mechanics, they’re made for all mankind;
And if you roam the wide world o’er, no better will you find,
So, boys, be up and doing, be as sly as an old fox,
And see that the “Blue Label” is pasted on each box.

— Fred M. Williams of Union 427, Rahway N.J.

union-adWithin other cigar unions the label had more insidious uses: when Chinese immigrants flooded the country in the late 1860’s, many of them found employment in cigar factories. Displaced or disgruntled white workers formed the Cigar Makers’ Association of the Pacific which subsequently issued cigar box labels reading, “The cigars contained in this box are made by WHITE MEN.”

For good or ill, the label was a big deal. The Cigar Makers’ International Union developed several different labels over the years, finally settling on a standardized blue label in 1880. Details of the labels continued to change, frequently enough that these changes are often used today by collectors to date cigar boxes.

So what does that have to do with the Blue Label Robusto? Maybe nothing. But the Blue Label itself is nothing new to the cigar world.

The Cigar

The Blue Label robustos I’ve been smoking lately (while reading hundred-year old cigar trade papers) are made by Guillermo and George Rico of Gran Habano fame. They are produced in the STC factory in Danli, Honduras, and are available in the four standard sizes:

  • Churchill – 7 x 50
  • Corona –   6 x 44
  • Torpedo – 6.5 52
  • Robusto – 5 x 52

Only partial information is available about the blend:

  • Wrapper: Habano (country of origin unstated)
  • Binder: Corojo (country of origin unstated)
  • Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican

bluelabel2

Construction Notes

The robustos are finely crafted cigars — the wrappers are a semi-glossy colorado claro, consistent in color and smooth in texture. The heads are soundly triple capped and are very attractive. They are rolled rock solid and feel heavy in the hand. All samples drew very well with either a punch or a guillotine cut.

The burn was a little lopsided at times, but always self-correcting. The yellowish-gray ash was a little crumbly, but held on long enough not to create a mess in my lap.

Tasting Notes

The Blue Label starts off with an intensely earthy flavor, very similar to the Gran Habano No. 5 Corojo. A mouthful of dirt is admittedly an acquired taste, but I’m afraid I have acquired it. This flavor does slowly dissipate, turning to oaky wood and vanilla in the middle section, and finally gets a little nutty toward the end. On the other hand, if earthy is not your thing you probably won’t get past the first inch.

The spicy cedary aroma is a really nice touch — ginger and cinnamon or nutmeg, that sort of thing. It’s light enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the medium-strength flavors on the palate, but it’s assertive enough to make a noticeable and pleasant contribution.

The finale is mildly peppery and more powerful than expected.  It’s certainly not a heavy hitting smoke, but they may sneak up on you if you’re smoking quickly and not paying attention.

Retail price for a box of Blue Label robustos is around 60 USD (even less at auction) making this a great blue collar cigar… assuming you can make it past that peaty first inch.

Final Score: 88

bluelabel3

References

Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919 by Patricia A. Cooper, 1987

Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working-Class History, edited by Eric Arnesen, 2006

Cigar Makers’ Official Journal, Feb 15, 1903, Chicago.

~cigarfan

Troya X-Tra Cetro

troyaxtra

When Britain’s Imperial Tobacco swallowed up California’s tiny Lignum-2 last summer for a paltry $22 million they were primarily interested in Lignum’s budget cigarette line called “Rave.” I’d never heard of Rave, nor have I any interest whatsoever in cheap cigarettes, but I was momentarily alarmed by the news because Lignum-2 owns one of my favorite premium cigars: Troya Clasico.

Imperial’s acquisition means that Altadis USA will take over distribution. When I saw an Altadis sales rep in the B&M the other day I had to ask him about the fate of Troya Clasico. He said “I think that’s the one they’re keeping,” and that the other lines would most likely be re-blended, or dropped and replaced with other lines.

Which makes sense — if they are going to keep any of the lines it has to be the one Don Pepin Garcia makes. It’s the only DPG blend Altadis owns. Even if it isn’t their best seller, it might be their best cigar.

So it was no surprise when I began to see Troya X-tra Cetros for under 2 dollars a stick in clearance sales and on the auction sites.  A premium cigar for under two bucks? Hell, I’ll try it, even if the line is on the endangered species list.

The traditional Troya is a mild-mannered Dominican blend that was unveiled way back in 1985. The X-Tra was released in 2004 in response to the demand for fuller bodied cigars — it’s a Nicaraguan puro featuring a Corojo 99 wrapper and binder surrounding a criollo filler in the core.  Sound familiar? According to the manufacturer, Pepin had a hand in the early development of the X-Tra, though he was not the sole blender.

The X-Tra line is available (for now) in five sizes which are numbered, as all Troya cigars are, in rather mysterious fashion:

  • No. 18 – Robusto
  • No. 54 – Toro
  • No. 63 – Churchill
  • No. 81 – Torpedo
  • No. 45 – Cetro

The first four are standard size vitolas, but the Cetro is a little unusual. At 6.2 x 45 it’s basically a gran corona.

The wrapper is a rich dark colorado maduro with a few veins and a grainy texture. It’s not the prettiest wrapper around, and the cap is nothing to look at either — just a single flap slapped on tight. But the roll is solid and the cap shears off nicely. The prelight scent is horsey.

troyaxtra2

I’ve tried these in batches of five from three different boxes and have found the draw to be a little inconsistent. Some of them had a perfect draw, some were a little tight. The tight ones were still smokeable, if a little annoying.

First light impressions were that this is a nice medium-bodied Nicaraguan style cigar — lots of corojo sweetness over a base of leather. The coffee and caramel notes that are typical of Nicaraguan corojo are the primary players here.

Aside from the minor draw issues that some of these exhibited, construction values are good: most of them burned plumb-line straight, and the resulting ash is strong and tight.

The mid section seems to me a little juicier than the first, almost fruity at times. As it winds down to the close there isn’t too much of a transition and the cigar doesn’t get much more complex: just continued caramel-tinged coffee that combines with the leathery aroma to create a satisfyingly simple package. It’s somewhat similar to an aged Famous Nicaraguan Corojo.

If there’s anything “extra” as this cigar burns past the secondary band it’s a slight burn at the back of the throat — this is typical of  mid-range Nicaraguan cigars, and is quickly cured with a swig of iced tea or cold beer. That’s really the only fault I could find with this cigar.

The Troya X-Tra is a pretty decent smoke at its regular price, but at closeout prices around 50 USD for bundles of 24 it’s fantastic. If you’re looking for a deal on medium-bodied Nicaraguan corojos, this is a nice pickup. Better be quick about it though.

troyaxtra3

Final Score: 88

~cigarfan