Zino Platinum Scepter “Low Rider”

ZinoPlat

Zino Davidoff was an acknowledged master of the cigar business in almost every way: he was a premier tobacconist, the author of The Connoisseur’s Book of the Cigar, and he is reportedly the inventor of the desktop humidor. For forty years he operated Davidoff of Geneva, nurturing the family business from a neighborhood shop to an international enterprise. He is credited with the success of the Hoyo de Monterrey Chateau series of Cuban cigars, as well as his own eponymous line of Cuban cigars. In 1989, disgusted with the low quality and shoddy workmanship of his Cuban suppliers, he publicly incinerated over one hundred thousand of his company’s cigars. From these ashes would rise a new, better Davidoff made in the Dominican Republic. As Lord Buckley might say, Zino stomped on the terra.

But before the famous conflagration was the Zino cigar. It was created in 1975 especially for Americans — due to the embargo, the Cuban Davidoff was of course not sold in the States. The original Zino was made in Honduras, and the Mouton-Cadet and Connoisseur blends were its well known lines. But when Davidoff broke off with Cubatabaco in 1989 the Dominican Davidoff White Label became the prototypical black tie cigar. Subsequently the Zino line stepped back into the shadows.

With all of its rich history and style, Davidoff has garnered a somewhat stodgy reputation. The company is understandably unwilling to part from its well earned reputation, but at the same time with Zino Platinum it wants to appeal to a younger set, to cater to the “modern urban pop culture of today.”

Zino Platinum is comprised of two distinct lines of regal cigars, the Crown and the Scepter. The Crown series is marketed as a super-premium in the 30 to 40 USD price range. (That’s the damage per stick, not box.) The Scepter is a more “affordable”  premium at around 9 to 14 USD. I guess nine bucks for a Davidoff is a cheap date, relatively speaking.

The marketing department evidently spared no expense. The cigars are packaged in 12 or 16 count cans that are elegantly decorated with dogs dressed up in period costume. The Low Rider can features a schnauzer in an Elizabethan collar — the lace kind, not the plastic post-surgery kind most dogs are familiar with.

ZinoPlat2

Seven sizes are in production:

  • Chubby – 4 15/16 x 54  (zeppelin perfecto)
  • Grand Master – 5 1/2 x 52  (robusto)
  • Stout – 7 x 52  (torpedo)
  • Low Rider – 6 x 43  (lonsdale)
  • Shorty – 4 1/2 x 43  (petite corona)
  • Bullet 4 x 48  (zeppelin perfecto)
  • XS  4 x 30  (demitasse)

The Zino Scepter blend starts out with Dominican piloto and two distinct San Vicente leaves, combined with a native Peruvian leaf for filler. That is surrounded by a Connecticut Broadleaf binder and then the whole shebang is wrapped in an Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf that has been matured for two years.

Construction Notes

The wrapper on this lonsdale is typical of good Connecticut shade leaf: a nice golden brown color with few inconsistencies. The roll is a little bit soft and the cap is not perfect, but good enough. With the classy silver band, this is a nice looking stick.

The draw is perfect, and very consistent from cigar to cigar. Once clipped and lit, it burns steadily though maybe a bit more rapidly than I expected. The burn is even and the ash is firm but it cracks enough that you’ll want to keep the ashtray handy.  Overall fine construction.

Tasting Notes

The Zino Scepter is a smooth, but still very flavorful smoke. It starts with an earthy introduction and a dry finish which is quickly joined by a light aftertaste of pepper. The texture is buttery smooth, and the aroma is quintessential Ecuadorian Connecticut: creamy, with notes of vanilla and oak.

The pepper downshifts in the middle section for smooth easy smoking. The flavors remain mellow and earthy, and it’s easy to sit back and coast on the rich aroma alone.

That pleasant sweet perfume laced with spice wraps things up in the last section.  The aftertaste stays clean up to the band, but soon after that the flavors start to turn a little papery.

Conclusion

The Zino Platinum Scepter series is a mild bodied cigar that is ultimately quite satisfying due to its complexity. You get what’s expected from a high quality Connecticut Shade wrapper, but beneath that there is a nice layer of pepper and oak that makes the experience a little more interesting than what you’d expect from a plain good cigar. The price is questionable, but you do get a nice can with pictures of dogs dressed up like Louis XIV prancing back to Versailles. If you don’t mind throwing away a few bucks on snazzy (or silly) advertising, you won’t be disappointed.

ZinoPlat3

Final Score: 88

Advertisements

Avo Maduro Robusto

avomaduro

The legend of Avo Uvezian, jazz pianist, composer of “Strangers in the Night,” and cigar celebrity, is well known. If you’re in the dark about Avo, it’s quite a story — a brief version can be found in our review of the Avo Domaine, and Zen and the Art of the Cigar has a manufacturer spotlight of Avo that includes a complete rundown of the various Avo blends.

Avo cigars are blended by master ligador Hendrik Kelner of Davidoff, which since 1995 has also owned the brand.

Avo’s Maduro line utilizes the same Dominican binder and filler as the Classic line — the only difference, of course, is the Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The Classic line is known for its mild sophistication, exactly what you’d expect from a firm like Davidoff, not to mention the suave character in the Mimbres hat. The Maduro wrapper changes the blend’s profile significantly, adding a little strength and a dose of sweetness.

Six sizes are currently available in the Maduro line:

  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • #2  – 6 x 50 (toro)
  • #3 – 7.5 x 50 (presidente)
  • #9 – 4.75 x 48 (corona extra)
  • Belicoso – 6 x 48
  • Piramides – 7 x 36/54

The binder and filler leaves are Dominican, mostly from the Cibao valley.

avomaduro2

The wrapper on this robusto is typical of genuine maduro — thick, rough, and a bit chipped in places. It looks a lot more serious than it smokes. The prelight scent is of sweet tobacco with a whiff of compost on the wrapper.  The roll is solid and the cap clips cleanly.

The first flavors to emerge from the Avo Maduro are grassy and sweet. The aroma is rich and chocolaty. The smoke is mild to medium in body and extremely smooth. There is almost no finish and the aftertaste is negligible.

By the mid-point the flavor continues to be mild and straightforward, though it gradually becomes earthier and less grassy. The sweet chocolate on the nose steals the show here while the finish and aftertaste seem to be waiting in the wings.

The last third brings out some toastier cereal-like flavors which combine on the palate with the sweet aroma to create something like oatmeal with maple syrup. It’s an interesting effect, though very mellow in intensity.

The Avo maduro smokes very much like the Classic line — it’s an easy smoking cigar with a very clean flavor profile. Construction qualities here were almost perfect: an easy draw and a perfectly even burn. My only complaint was an ash that had a tendency to crack every inch or so.

This is a cigar I would smoke for its aromatic qualities more than anything else. Paired with a Classic Avo with its Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper this would be a perfect way to teach a new cigar smoker the difference between natural and maduro flavors. It’s also a great example of how a rough looking, manly maduro can be incredibly clean and mild.

The robusto in this line runs around 5 to 6 USD before tax. A great price for the quality you’re getting.

Final Score: 86

avomaduro3

~cigarfan