Santos de Miami by Jameson

Not many American cigar lovers found it an occasion to celebrate, but last week marked the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s Proclamation 3447 and the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba. Since February 7, 1962, Americans have either had to seek out Non-Cuban substitutes for their inimitable Cuban favorites or to skirt the law and risk possible legal sanctions. Many of us — and I won’t say who — have done both.

Whatever your political viewpoint — and there are as many points for as there are against the embargo — a positive consequence of the ban has been the development of cigar industries in the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua that now rival that of Cuba’s. And this has been a huge boon for cigar lovers everywhere.

The “forbidden fruit” factor has always been an element at play in the blending and marketing of cigars to Americans, but to a certain extent this has faded with the introduction of super premiums from Fuente, Padron, Tatuaje, Davidoff, and many others. But the elusive flavor of Cuban tobacco is never far from our minds. And every once in a while a cigar comes along that gets very close to that flavor. I think Jameson has done that with Santos de Miami.

Santos de Miami is a Dominican puro with a Havana corojo wrapper, Criollo 98 binder, and a blend of criollo and corojo filler leaves. Only two sizes are made: a corona size called Alma (5 x 46) and a toro sized Haven (6 x 56). The cigars feature a box press so extreme that the sticks resemble wafers. They are presented in 10-count boxes of Spanish cedar that preserve the press. (Similar to La Flor Dominicana’s Factory Press line.)

Construction

Jameson’s Santos de Miami cigar is already distinctive with its box press and art deco band — add a pig tail cap and the distinction is complete. The claro wrapper shows some fine veins, but is otherwise clean. The draw is excellent, and the burn is only a little off kilter. This seems to be standard with box-pressed cigars, but in this case the uneven burn was a minor issue and corrected itself over time. The ash was solid, smooth, and delightfully quadrilateral.

Overall construction: Excellent.

Tasting Notes

The Haven and the Alma sizes smoke like very different cigars, though they share the same musky, earthy and Cubanesque aroma. The corona-sized Alma is a sharper, somewhat bolder smoke. It fires up with a pinch of cayenne pepper in the sinuses and then quickly evens out to a smoother but still full-flavored profile of cedar and musk. The Alma burns with a little more passion, but is also less complex than the larger vitola.

The toro-sized Haven is much less peppery and leans on the musk and cedar more heavily than the smaller cigar. The smoke texture is just as creamy smooth though, and it seems to have an additional bass note that the Alma lacks. The middle section is earthy with a sweet cedar edge, and the final third rests on its woody foundation while the earthy flavors take a back seat.

What both sizes have in common is an earthy and musky scent with a cedar note. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to Cuban cigars, but this aroma is really close to what I’ve found in many standard line Habanos. The scent is not quite as delicate, but I find it to be very similar. In any case the aroma complements the sharper character of the Alma just as well as the more complex flavors of the Haven.

Conclusion

Santos de Miami is not an easy cigar to find, but truly “boutique” cigars generally aren’t. This is one worth seeking out if your tastes run to earthy and medium-bodied Cuban-style smokes. At least you won’t have to get them from a guy who knows a guy and end up with cigars of mysterious provenance.

The retail price for the Alma is around 7 USD and the Haven sells for 8. They are available from a few online outlets, but you might as well go straight to the source at Jamesoncigars.com. Pick up a pound of Rockstone coffee while you’re at it and let me know how it is.

Final Score: 91

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Urbano Corojo Robusto

It is with some trepidation that I call Urbano Cigars a “boutique” manufacturer because the term has become a little shopworn. The word has become a mantra for the marketing departments of almost every cigar company, big and small, and I have consequently become wary of it.  But at this stage of the game it appears that Urbano Cigars is in truth a boutique manufacturer, and while no company wants to stay small forever, Urbano is committed to maintaining quality over quantity.

Urbano cigars are made in the Dominican Republic and limited to a total production of 75,000 cigars per year. The Corojo is their flagship blend, a Dominican puro with an assertive corojo wrapper. (The other primary blends are the Connecticut and the Sumatra.) The wrapper is triple fermented for smoothness and aged for three years.  The assembled cigars are then seasoned for at least 90 days before banding and boxing.

The rollers employ entubado bunching, a time-consuming process whereby the filler leaves are rolled into tiny tubes before bunching. This improves the cigar’s draw and eliminates the likelihood of plugging.

Four traditional sizes plus a Sixty are in production:

  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • Torpedo – 6 x 52
  • Toro – 6 x 50
  • Churchill – 7 x 48
  • Sixty – 6 x 60

Construction Notes

The wrapper on the Urbano Corojo is a weathered, veiny, and rustic colorado maduro. The veins are a bit puckered in places, which I’ve seen on other Dominican wrappers (like La Aurora’s Cien Años) and I usually take this to be a good sign. The cap is functional but adds no aesthetic value to the cigar. I guess this cigar is meant to be smoked and not framed. Very well then.

The draw is excellent, but the burn is not. Over the years I’ve discovered there is a prima donna factor to be reckoned with when smoking certain cigars. Sometimes a difficult burn is an unavoidable side effect of complex flavors — it’s like putting up with a virtuoso’s personality defects. You rarely get an opera star without some temperamental antics. And the corojo wrapper on this cigar is a great example of that. It reminds me a little of the Habana 2000 that was used a few years back — great taste and aroma, horrible burn. It’s a trade worth making. Just keep your lighter handy.

Overall construction: Very good.

Tasting Notes

The Urbano Corojo robusto skips the overture and goes straight to the aria. That’s a diva for you. (Maybe I should say divo instead. There isn’t anything remotely feminine about this cigar.) From the opening bars the flavor is complex and hearty, spicy but not harsh. There are notes of leather, grilled meat, pepper on the back of the palate, and sweet caramel on the nose. The smoke is medium in texture but full flavored. The spice gives the illusion of greater strength, but as the cigar mellows a bit in the middle section it seems on the full side of medium.

The flavors calm down a bit in the second act, but leather and spice predominate with the addition of cocoa and a touch of citrus on the nose. The cigar winds down with charred wood and can get a bit sharp as the curtain falls.

Conclusion

The complexity and temperament of this cigar demand attention from the smoker, and that’s not entirely a bad thing.  I don’t mind touching up a cigar every once in a while if the flavors and aroma are outstanding, which here they are. How’s the phrase go? With great flavors come great responsibility? Hmm. Maybe not. In any case, the Urbano Corojo is not an effortless smoke, but in my opinion it is worth the effort.

Urbano cigars are currently available only from brick and mortal retailers or directly from the Urbano Cigars website. The price for the robusto is around $7 USD.


Final Score: 90

Mi Dominicana Robusto

Not too long ago the conventional wisdom was that cigar wrapper leaf could not be grown in the Dominican Republic. This skepticism was in large part due to the fact that it hadn’t been done before, and nobody was willing to take a chance on a difficult venture. Fuente was the first to prove definitively that Dominican wrapper could be a success, and in 1995 the proof was presented in the form of the Opus X.

For the Fuentes the bet paid off in spades, and other manufacturers soon followed suit: La Flor Dominicana and La Aurora came along a few years later, and today even smaller boutique companies like La Tradicion Cubana and Cusano have Dominican puros in their lineups. Even Davidoff just released one, the Puro d’Oro.

So it was a little surprising that it took as long as it did for the giant of Dominican cigar production to develop a Dominican puro, but in late 2008 Altadis USA released Mi Dominicana, blended by Tabacalera de Garcia’s general manager, Jose Seijas.

My favorite Dominican puro has always been La Aurora’s Cien Años, but I remember the excitement that surrounded the release of Opus X. So anytime a cigar manufacturer announces a new blend with Dominican wrapper, it gets my attention. Which doesn’t explain why it’s taken me so long to review this cigar, but anyway…

Mi Dominicana is available in 8 sizes:

  • 7 1/2 x 40 -Lancero (ranked #20 in Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 Cigars for 2009)
  • 7 x 54 – Churchill
  • 6 1/8 x 52 – Belicoso
  • 6 x 54 – Toro
  • 5 3/4 x 52 – Figurado
  • 5 1/2 x 44 – Corona
  • 5 x 54 – Robusto
  • 4 1/4 x 46 – Short Figurado

Construction Notes

Mi Dominicana is a suave looking cigar with a slightly oily, smooth colorado claro wrapper. The head is triple wound, though not perfectly, and the cap is a bit wrinkled. These minor aesthetic considerations aside, the cigar is rolled well but softens a little too much as it burns. The draw is a little too open, which contributes to a hot burn at the cigar’s conclusion. Surprisingly, the loose draw does not affect this cigar’s burn time — it patiently smolders away at a leisurely pace. The ash is firm and the burn is even.

Overall construction: Good, but could be better.

Tasting Notes

The robusto opens with a smooth, mildly woody flavor. After a few puffs I notice a salty earthiness on the palate that almost reminds me of being by the ocean, so maybe Seijas is right when he says, “Everything that is beautiful about the Dominican Republic has gone into this cigar.”  The smoke texture is medium in body, at times almost creamy. The finish is slightly dry.

For me the highlight of Mi Dominicana is the aroma, but I find it to be very subtle and difficult to describe. It’s similar to the floral scents that I find in Connecticut shade wrapper, but understated and less sweet. The flavor on the palate becomes nuttier in the mid-section of the cigar, but the aftertaste continues to be earthy and dry with a salty edge.

There is a whiff of black pepper in the final section of the smoke and it grows a touch bitter at the very end, but the aroma continues to impress me. The loose draw also contributes to a somewhat heated last inch.

Conclusion

Mi Dominicana is a medium-bodied cigar with a mild disposition that will appeal to smokers who appreciate subtlety. The flavor on the palate is not tremendously complex, but the aroma is. It won’t wow lovers of big Nicaraguan blends, but if you’re a fan of nutty Dominican smokes you might find this one intriguing.

And for a Dominican puro, the price is on the mark: around 7 or 8 USD for the robusto. I don’t find that price point terribly attractive for the cigar in general, but for a Dominican puro it’s not bad.

Final Score: 87

Declaration by Jameson

For my wild Irish friends and relatives the name Jameson has always been associated with one thing and one thing only: uisce beatha. That’s whiskey with an “e.” Fine Irish wine.

But not anymore. A couple years ago Jameson cigars arrived, thereby providing the perfect match for the perfect drink, a combination which by Winston Churchill’s example can be enjoyed even at breakfast. I’m not about to follow that example, but I’m not about to argue with a man who leads his forces to victory behind a bottle of Johnny Walker Black.

Indeed, cigar smokers can look to Churchill as a model of defiance as we fight the powers that would like to snuff us out. It is in that same spirit that Jameson’s new cigar is called Declaration. It is a blend designed to inspire personal liberty, or as the promotional material advises,  “Smoke to be Free.”

The Declaration is a Dominican puro featuring a Habano 98 wrapper and a Criollo 98 binder. They are manufactured by Tabacalera LTC (La Tradicion Cubana) in Santiago, and are available in boxes of 21. There is only one size: the 5.5 x 50 “Iniquity.”

I confess some confusion about the meaning of the name Iniquity, which means something like licentiousness or sin.  I could give in to the urge to discuss the distinctions between liberty and license, and how these might apply to the legislation of morality, but I think I’d rather smoke this cigar instead.

Construction Notes

This cigar is built like a tank but it performs with finesse. The wrapper is a dark and rustic looking colorado maduro. Some sections of the wrapper are more oily than others, which is a little strange, but aesthetic appeal is not this cigar’s forte anyway. The head is formed well with firm shoulders. The cap is pasted on rather than wound.

The roll is solid and the draw is firm without being tight. At times the ash can be a little flaky at the perimeter but when it’s ready to drop it falls like a stone without crumbling. The burn is even and effortless.

Overall excellent construction.

Tasting Notes

The Declaration Iniquity starts up with a flavor of hard wood and a sweet note of maple syrup.  After an inch or so some peppery spice kicks in and the flavors develop more complexity. This cigar seems leathery or meaty on the palate, but it has a sweet and woody aroma that blends well with the other flavors. It’s smooth, but the varied flavors and subdued punch keep it interesting.

The mid section gets a little spicier on the tongue and the finish lengthens. The aroma is still sweet though, woody with a touch of graham cracker.

There are no dramatic changes in the last third, just a deepening meaty spice. The syrupy note transitions to caramel. The aftertaste gets a little charred in the last lap, but aside from that it smokes well to the nub.

Conclusion

Jameson’s Declaration cigar is a tasty and finely rolled medium-bodied smoke that I think almost anyone would enjoy.  The sweet aroma is quite distinct from the palate flavors, lending the smoke a complexity that will interest veterans, but at the same time it’s smooth enough that it won’t frighten off the novices. Overall it’s a very well balanced cigar.

The Declaration Iniquity retails for around $6.00 per stick, which is excellent for any cigar, but for a Dominican puro it’s outstanding.

Final Score: 90

Contest

I want to thank Jameson for offering samples of their Declaration cigar for this review by sharing their generosity with a lucky reader. Just leave a comment about Jameson or La Tradicion Cubana cigars below and I will pick one entry at random to receive a few of these fine smokes for their own enjoyment.  Contest ends January 31, 2010. U.S. residents only please.

And don’t forget to enter the Jameson Humidor contest! All you have to do is sign up for their newsletter and you’re eligible to win a very sweet Vanderburgh Forteleza Humidor stocked with Declaration cigars.

La Tradicion Cubana Deluxe 15th Anniversary

La Tradicion Cubana has been in business for fifteen years, and to celebrate this they have released their 15th Anniversary Deluxe edition. Their last anniversary edition, the tenth, was excellent — they were some of the best cigars in my collection before they mysteriously went up in smoke a couple years ago.

LTC remains one of my favorite boutique cigar companies because they produce a quality premium cigar at a really reasonable price. Anyone who has been reading the cigar press and smoking the latest and greatest knows that an exorbitant price does not always mean high quality — sometimes it just means more hype. Fifteen-dollar limited edition cigars are great for the industry, and fun for those who can afford them, but it’s nice that LTC is looking out for the rest of us.

I was expecting the 15th Anniversary blend to be similar to the 10th, a blend from several countries with an Ecuadorian wrapper, but it’s a different story this time. The 15th Anniversary Deluxe is a Dominican puro. Wrapper, binder, filler — all from the Dominican Republic, where LTC cigars are made in Santiago.

La Tradicion Cubana is known for producing cigars with large ring gauges, including one of the largest commercially available cigars produced anywhere, the 12 x 192 LTC “Big One.” The new Deluxe line is no where close to to that, thank God, but all three sizes are still big in the barrel:

  • Robusto: 5 x 56
  • Churchill: 6 x 52
  • Torpedo: 5 3/4 x 54

They might have come up with a better frontmark for the churchill (which is more like a fat toro) but as Juliet once asked, “what’s in a name?” At least they didn’t call it Montague.

Construction Notes

The wrapper on this 15th Anniversary is gorgeous. This looks like a sun grown wrapper — it’s dark and a little bit rough, and the color is not perfectly consistent, but it has clearly been fermented and processed very carefully. It’s oily enough right out of the cello, but as soon as the cigar is lit and the wrapper warms up, the oils just ooze out. Beautiful. The roll is firm with an easy draw. The large ring gauge and skillful blending result in a slow, cool burn. The robusto and the torpedo smoke for a good hour or more, and the toro (em… the churchill, I mean) went into 90 minute territory.

The only construction issue I had with these was a somewhat erratic burn. They didn’t need correction, but the jagged burn line was a touch irksome. More and more it seems that the better the wrapper leaf is, the more eccentric the burn. It must be the prima donna factor.

Overall construction very good.

Tasting Notes

The sustaining note for this blend is coffee, but it’s a note that goes through some interesting modulations. The first third is marked by coffee (of course) and mildly sweet milk chocolate. Beneath this I detected something like roasted nuts. The smoke is medium bodied in texture and very smooth. There is a slightly acidic touch on the tongue and the finish is mild, but dry.

The base flavor of coffee and roasted nuts takes on a sweeter edge in the second stage, as caramel comes to the fore and some spicier notes drop on the palate. The finish lengthens a little, bit by bit, but the smoke is still smooth and the aftertaste clean.

In the last third the flavors become more concentrated and the coffee-caramel combination starts to taste like a coffee liqueur. There’s also a flavor that mystified me — I couldn’t identify it until I had smoked three or four of these cigars in various shapes, but it finally came to me as I finished off a churchill the other night — I might be crazy, but I think it’s coconut.

Toward the band the flavor turns a little charred, as expected, and the nicotine sneaks up. La Tradicion Cubana isn’t known for powerhouse smokes, but they are certainly capable of producing them. Smoke these past the band and you might get a pretty good buzz, depending on your tolerance. This was surprising because they start out so mild and debonair.

Conclusion

I’m not sure if i like these better than the 10th Anniversary — it’s such a different blend — but without question the Deluxe 15th is worthy of carrying the Anniversary flag for LTC. If I could have my wish there would be an offering with a smaller ring gauge, but the blend has obviously been very well thought out in these larger sizes.

These are slated for release this month, and as I mentioned before, one of the remarkable things about this cigar is its price: boxes of 24 range from 100 USD for the robusto, $110 for the churchill, and $115 for the torpedo. The quality is unbeatable at that price if you like this style of cigar: medium-bodied, smooth, and delicious. Great with coffee. Bring the thermos.

Thanks to LTC for giving me a sneak preview of this fantastic smoke!

Final Score: 91

La Tradicion Cubana cigars can be difficult to find in neighborhood cigar shops. The 15th Anniversary is now available from these internet retailers:

The Cuban Shop

Fuller’s Pullers

LG Diez Chisel Puro

Litto Gomez has never been afraid to experiment. From the oddly shaped El Jocko to the widely praised chisel shapes — not to mention his innovations with purely Dominican tobacco blends — Gomez has always been interested in the creation of something new and interesting for the cigar smoker.

The LG Diez Line was released in 2004 to celebrate La Flor Dominicana’s tenth anniversary. Following in the footsteps of the Fuentes, Diez decided to create a Dominican puro for the occasion. Never an easy feat, they nevertheless succeeded in growing a suitable wrapper on the Flor Dominicana farms in La Canela. Patience was required as they grew, cured, fermented, and aged the tobacco to perfection — in all it took five years before the blend for the LG Diez was ready.

The year before, 2003, marked the introduction of La Flor Dominicana’s most celebrated innovation: the Chisel. The story is that Litto was on his way to work one morning, chewing on a pyramid shaped cigar, and came to the realization that the flattened shape really felt good in his mouth. He arrived at the factory and gave his torcedors the challenge of creating a chisel shaped head. Ten months later, they succeeded.

“This way it goes into the mouth in a perfect way, very comfortable,” said Litto Gomez. “I think it even fits better than a torpedo or a pyramid. It also allows you to smoke a big ring gauge cigar without filling your mouth. After I made it and I smoked it, I discovered the way that it distributes smoke into your palate is fantastic.” (Cigar Aficionado, 2003)

The first chisels to enter the marketplace were the Double Ligeros, arguably the most powerful cigars commonly available when they hit the scene in 2003. (And even today they rival the saurian strength of the Opus X or Tatuaje Cojonu.) So it was natural to create a chisel for the full-bodied LG Diez line of Dominican puros as well.

The one I smoked for this review was from a 2006 box. This is important to know because La Flor Dominicana recently changed their approach to this blend; they are now blending them as annual “vintage” cigars that will change each year. This will reportedly release them from having to maintain the exact same flavor from year to year, a difficult task when all of the tobacco comes from one relatively small farm.

The wrapper on this LG Diez puro is a beautiful colorado maduro, not quite rosado but golden brown. Several bumps and veins from the binder show through the slightly oily sheen of the wrapper, which gives it a rough, but still handsome appearance. The spike is perfectly formed and wrapped. I was a little worried about the wrapper at the head unraveling with a straight cut, but my worries were unfounded. It cut as easily as a torpedo, if not easier.

I had some difficulty getting this one to light evenly: after torching the foot for a good fifteen to twenty seconds it still lacked an even glow. With a little more work it finally came to life, but the wrapper on this cigar is not what I’d call a team player. On the other hand, it smolders with an exquisite and uniquely pungent aroma.

From reading other reviews I was prepared to be met with a Pepin-style fusillade of pepper, but I found that the first flavors from this cigar are more complex than that. The aroma is unusual and difficult to describe, but it’s equal parts leather and spice with an extremely smooth and creamy texture. I once remember laughing at a Russian cigar review that described a tobacco flavor as “animal,” but I think that might just be the descriptor I’m looking for here.

The flavor, as well as the power of this cigar gathers strength into the second third. Strong earthy tobacco flavors begin to cloud the complexity that I experienced in the first section. I can still detect a little woodiness, but the pepper starts to take over at this point and the finish lengthens considerably.

The last section — the last section for me anyway — is extremely intense. The dark spicy finish overpowers everything and I can’t taste much else. Letting the butt cool in the ashtray for a while helps a little. When I pick it up again I can still pick out the sweet pungency of the wrapper, but when I take another puff that subtlety disappears in a flood of pepper.

The ash on this cigar is a little crumbly and actually blew off when I purged the cigar in the last section. The burn problems I experienced at the start improved over the course of the smoke, but were never entirely resolved. Keep your lighter handy with this one.

The LG Diez Chisel is definitely a cigar everyone should experience at least once: the flavors here are as original as they are powerful. Retail prices hover around the ten dollar mark, so it’s not an everyday kind of smoke, but I think it’s worth the experience.

This Chisel is an A-ticket ride. Remember to buckle up!

Augusto Reyes Nativo Corona

arn-corona.jpg

Unlike many of the big names in the Dominican and Central American cigar industry, this one has no Cuban ancestry. The Augusto Reyes family has roots in the Dominican Republic and the Dominican tobacco world going back 150 years and six generations, though much of that time has been in the agricultural and leaf brokerage side of the business rather than in cigar manufacturing.

Currently the Augusto Reyes family of companies includes a leaf importing concern (Tobacco Leaf Sorting S.A.), a company that processes Dominican leaf only (Capas Nacionales), and two cigar manufacturers: Corporacion Cigar Export and De Los Reyes Inc.

The first Reyes-operated cigar factory was established in 1990 in Navarette. Over the years they have produced several different private label cigars but the only one to gain much recognition is the Fittipaldi brand designed for Emerson Fittipaldi, the racing legend.

It was only in 2006 that the Reyes came up with a blend they could truly call their own. It was fittingly introduced at the wedding of Augusto Reyes to Monika Kelner. (I was unable to determine if Monika is a relation of Hendrik, but it wouldn’t surprise me!) After the wedding those who had tried the cigar began to clamor for more, so it was readied for commercial production and finally released at that year’s RTDA.

This blend also has the honor of being the first non-Cuban cigar to be featured at the “Epicur Dinner” hosted by the the Spanish cigar club of the same name. As Augusto explains, it is a more powerful Cuban style blend that Spanish smokers frequently prefer. This style has also developed a following in America, so we are lucky to have the same cigar available now in the U.S. It is currently being distributed here by SAG Imports, who also bring us Fonseca and Joya de Nicaragua.

There are now three lines of the Augusto Reyes brand: the Criollo and Epicur lines — both of which are finished with Ecuadorian Connecticut wrappers — and this one, the Nativo, a Dominican puro. The Reyes have been experimenting with wrapper crops in the DR since the 1960s and at various times have provided wrapper leaf to other companies, but the Criollo 98 wrapper for the Nativo comes from a farm dedicated to AR cigar production. It is complemented by an olor binder and a piloto/criollo filler blend.

The Nativo is available in seven sizes from double corona to a 4 x 34 perla. The corona size I’ve been smoking measures 5 1/2 inches by a 44 ring gauge. They’re nice looking smokes with wide bands and a decorative gold ribbon at the foot. The wrapper is a creamy looking colorado claro with very moderate veining and a few small water spots. The cap is nicely formed and the stick is firm to the touch. My only initial concern was that the feet on a couple of these seemed underfilled.

The prelight scent from the wrapper is very mild. The draw is acceptable (maybe just a tad loose) and a prelight draw results in some grassy and coffee bean flavors.

The loose fill at the foot made for a difficult light, and one sample had a seriously deficient burn. Consistency problems aside, I found this to be a complex and fascinating little stick.

It starts up with an earthy, dusty quality that quickly takes on a peppery edge. The base flavor is leathery with a dollop of musk that rises from the wrapper. This wrapper, despite its smoldering hesitance, is extremely pungent. In fact, when my wife stepped outside for a moment she thought the kids down the block might be smoking something illegal. “No,” I told her, “it’s my cigar. Which isn’t illegal. At least not yet.”

The AR Nativo produces a good volume of smoke that I would characterize as full bodied in terms of texture and mouth feel, but medium in terms of strength. The flavors become more concentrated as the cigar burns, getting spicier as the ash gets longer. That is, if the ash actually succeeded in getting longer…which leads to what might be a problem with this cigar.

The first sample I smoked went out several times, needed constant adjustment, and developed an ash that was flaky, crumbly and tragic to behold. And while I have to say I really enjoyed the rich peppery flavor and musky aroma of this cigar, its burning qualities (or lack thereof) really weighed it down. The second cigar was much better — it burned straight and the ash didn’t peel away like the first one, but without constant puffing (which results in a hot smoke) it went out. To be fair, I have to say that I let these rest for less than a week after receiving them in the mail… but even so, the construction could probably use a little work.

The retail price on these is in the 7 to 9 USD range, which makes them the most costly of the three Augusto Reyes lines. Lower prices may be found online, but I’ll be trying a few different sizes before I invest in a box. The smooth peppery flavor and funky aroma have convinced me to give the Nativo another shot, but if other sizes have the same inconsistency I won’t be returning. There are just too many great cigars out there right now to put up with faulty or inconsistent construction in a 7 dollar smoke.

-cigarfan