Aging Report: Troya Clasico LXIII

One of the exciting things about being a cigar smoker is that there’s always something new on the shelf, and cigar makers take full advantage of our excitable nature. It doesn’t matter to me if a cigar has been hailed as the Second Coming or panned like a Uwe Boll movie — if Pepin Garcia made it, I’m buying it. At least once.

But this phenomenon is not without its drawbacks. There is a commercial law of conservation at work here that says for every new blend that hits the shelves, an older one must go. Shop keepers struggle to find shelf space, and consumers have only so much money in their wallets. At the end of the day it’s a popularity contest. The winners are restocked and the losers go to the discount warehouses.

It’s disappointing to see the sun set on a great blend, but Pepin Garcia’s Troya Clasico is about to disappear into the glare. The company that distributed the blend was acquired by Britain’s Imperial Tobacco, which acquired Altadis, which is why there are still Troya brands in circulation — but they’re not Pepin’s blend. The newest Troya is the Clasico Limited Edition, blended by the late great Frank Llaneza. It’s probably a good smoke, but it’s not the same cigar.

It looks like the remaining Pepin Clasicos were picked up by one of the usual suspects (JR Cigar) and have been on the chopping block for a few months now. Late last year I picked up a couple boxes of the churchills at a cut rate price, and I may have to double up on that soon, before they’re gone forever.

But before I wash away in a tide of nostalgia I thought I should muster up an aging report on this great cigar. I broke a few of these out of long-term storage to see what three years has done for them.

Construction Notes

The wrapper on this cigar is not quite as supple as it used to be, but I’d put that down to less than optimal storage conditions. My vinotemp does a pretty good job, but it’s not a locker at Alfred Dunhill.  The roll is solid and it clips cleanly. The draw is perfect, the burn is straight, and the ash is built like a dowel rod. My only complaint, if I have to have one, is that it burns a little quickly. But even at the band it doesn’t get hot.

Overall construction: Excellent.

Tasting Notes

After three years this cigar retains most of its identifying characteristics — primarily wood with a sweet, beany aroma, something like caramel and coffee. The Troya Clasico hasn’t undergone any radical transformations, but the bitterness is completely gone. Fresh Pepin blends almost always have a tannic edge to them, and although this cigar wasn’t over the top in that regard, it was still a touch bitter. The years have taken that edge off completely.

In the second and last thirds the flavor turns to leather, but the sweetness and mild-mannered nature of the cigar continues on. It’s smooth as butter, about medium in body, and easy on the nicotine. The flavor starts to muddy at the band, but that is after 60 minutes of pure pleasure.

Conclusion

My opinion of the Troya Clasico hasn’t really changed too much — I picked it as the second best cigar of 2007, and I don’t regret that ranking.

For me, a new Pepin Garcia blend is like a new Francis Ford Coppola movie. I don’t always like the movie, but my respect for his talent dictates that I will get in line on opening night and watch whatever it is that he’s decided to do. I feel the same way about Pepin. A lot of what he blends is too strong for my taste, but for me the Troya Clasico hits all the right notes, and it doesn’t play them too loud.

It’s one of the nicer cigars I’ve smoked this year, and it’s sad to see it go.

Final Score: 93

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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.