Troya X-Tra Cetro

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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.

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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.

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Final Score: 88

~cigarfan

Vegas Cubanas Generosos by Don Pepin Garcia

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With the manifold array of brands issuing from the factories of Jose “Don Pepín” Garcia, it is interesting to note that only six of them bear the imprint of the master’s name. Vegas Cubanas (by Don Pepín Garcia) is one of them.

Introduced in 2005, before the Pepín renaissance reached full bloom, Vegas Cubanas was just another “boutique” cigar from Miami’s El Rey de Los Habanos.

By contrast with the swooning that accompanied Tatuaje, Padilla Miami, and later on San Cristobal, vclabel.jpgVegas Cubanas never really attracted that much attention. Perhaps because it’s a lighter-bodied cigar? Or because it is in relatively good supply? (When we all know that the power hitters and the “exclusive” limited editions are by definition better. Right?) In the retail shops I frequent this one is usually shunted off to the side, in the vicinity of the Tatuajes, Series JJ, El Centurion, etc., but never in the same spotlight.

So maybe they were trying to amp up the label a bit when El Rey de Los Habanos gave Vegas Cubanas a makeover in 2007: new box art, a new band, and cellophane. (Matt’s review shows the somewhat lackluster original band.)


Like most of Pepín’s blends, this one is a Nicaraguan puro. The wrapper is touted as “Habano Rosado Claro” and under the hood there’s a “Cuban Seed Corojo 99 blend.” Vegas Cubanas are available in six sizes:

  • Invictos – 5 x 50
  • Generosos – 6 x 50
  • Delicias – 7 x 50
  • Imperiales – 6.125 x 52
  • Magnates – 7.625 x 49
  • Coronas – 5.5 x 44

Early in my journey through the vast cigar wilderness I became partial to the toro size. I found that most draw problems could be avoided with a larger ring size, and a six inch cigar allows a little more room for development than a stubby robusto, so I gravitated to the toro, or corona grande, or whatever name is applied to a cigar with a 48 to 52 ring gauge and a length from 6 to 6 1/2 inches. Construction qualities have generally improved over the years, but I still like this size.

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So the one I reached for was the Generosos. The wrapper on this cigar is an attractive colorado claro, with an emphasis on the colorado. It has a sleek appearance without being oily. A close examination shows a small amount of tooth, but not enough to overcome the overall smooth impression. The roll is solid and the head bears the classic cuban triple-cap we expect from El Rey de Los Habanos.

Once lit, the Generosos opens with a tannic woody flavor and a smattering of pepper. Compared to a blend like the DPG Blue Label, this one is a sweetheart. After half an inch or so, the tannins and the wood merge and morph into the smooth cocoa flavor that for me defines DPG’s lighter bodied cigars. The finish at this stage is lingering, but mild — just a slightly earthy aftertaste, and a grazing of a scratch on the back of the throat.

Into the two-thirds stage the smoke evens out and takes on a wonderfully creamy and smooth texture. If by “body” you mean the texture of the smoke, this is a full bodied cigar at this point. But it’s not powerful; it’s simply full on the palate, like a full bodied Sumatran coffee with cream: it sits heavily on the palate, but doesn’t overwhelm with nicotine.

The final stage of the cigar features a gentle transition from smooth cocoa flavors to a darker, earthier taste. Up to this point, the wrapper has not really distinguished itself. For most of the way the wrapper melds nicely with the rest of the blend, but in the last couple inches the wrapper contributes an aroma that steps out and shouts Twang! It’s a sweet, spicy, caramel inflected aroma that defies description, but you know it when it shows up at your door.

My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that the burn was uneven throughout the length of this smoke. It wasn’t serious enough to affect the balance of the flavors, but it was just a tad annoying.

In the brick and mortar retail shops this cigar sells in the $6-7 US range. Boxes can be found for around $130 online, which is quite decent for a cigar of this quality. It compares favorably to the more expensive Troya Classico and Cabaiguan lines, though I’d have to say this one is a less complex experience than those.

From first light to last ash, Vegas Cubanas is an everyman’s cigar. It does not stomp on the terra like some of Pepín’s other blends; it steps lightly and sings a tuneful little ditty. It’s bound to please everyone, at one time or another, with the exception of those who insist on double ligero for breakfast. If I had to smoke nothing but these for a long time, I might get a little bored, but I’d be happy.

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