La Antiguidad Toro

La Antiguidad

Sequels are not always a good idea on the creative side, but they are irresistible to both producers and consumers. Movies, TV shows — anything capable of continuation or spinoff demands a sequel when the original is a success. Cigars are no different, and we see this with brand extensions all the time. My Father Cigars had a hit in 2012 with Flor de Las Antillas, so they did the natural thing — they followed up on the success of that blend with another one and called it La Antiguidad.

I don’t think the Garcias are capable of making a mediocre smoke (barring the bargain market stuff) but I was expecting more from Flor de las Antillas. After all the hype and the stellar reviews (and the eventual 2012 Cigar of the Year crown bestowed on it by Cigar Aficionado) I was expecting a bit more. I’m still waiting for a My Father blend that revives the magic of the Rey de los Habanos years. So far I haven’t found it.

But the prospect of a new blend from “Don Pepin” and Jaime Garcia is enough to dry my tears, even if it is a sequel to a cigar I was slightly disappointed in. La Antiguedad plays on the same theme as Flor de Las Antillas — the 19th century Cuban artwork, the red cloth foot band, and the box press — but it is a somewhat bolder cigar.

All of the filler tobaccos in La Antiguidad, as well as the double binder, are grown on the Garcia farms in Nicaragua. The wrapper is an Ecuadoran Habano leaf described as “rosado oscuro,” which sounds to me like “colorado maduro,” but I will leave that distinction to the experts. The fillers are from three distinct regions in Nicaragua — San Rafael, Las Quebradas, and San Jose. The binders (two of ’em) are Nicaraguan criollo and corojo.

The cigar is made in five sizes, all box-pressed:

  • Robusto – 5 1/4 x 52
  • Toro – 5 5/8 x 55
  • Corona Grande – 6 3/8 x 47
  • Super Toro – 7 x 56
  • Toro Gordo – 6 x 60

Construction Notes

With its bright red foot ribbon and incredibly ornate band, the Antiguidad Toro is a fine looking cigar. The wrapper is colorado maduro in shade (or rosado oscuro, if you like) with widely spaced veins. It glistens with a slight sheen of oil. The cigar is box-pressed, but sharply enough to call it a square press. The head is nicely formed, but the triple-wound cap is not as perfect as the Pepin cigars of yore. The draw is excellent and the burn slow. The only criticism I can make on this front is that the ash was a little flaky.

Overall construction: Excellent.

La Antiguidad 1b

Tasting Notes

La Antiguidad opens with a healthy churn of the peppermill, which is not a surprise from this cigar maker. After five or ten minutes the pepper wears off enough to detect some cocoa, along with leather and a hint of honey on the nose. The tannins are strong, lending a citric tartness to the flavor and creating a dry sensation on the palate.

Over the course of the cigar the cocoa, leather, and tart flavors bob and weave around an earthy core which makes its presence known primarily in the aftertaste. By the end of the cigar the pepper has returned, and it finishes with a nice little punch to the gut. The smoke texture is medium to full, and the strength builds from moderate to quite potent in the last round.

Conclusion

La Antiguidad deserves a place in the humidor next to other My Father heavyweights like the Don Pepin Blue and My Father Le Bijou, though I’d say it has more nuance than either of those. It’s not a towering thunderhead, but it packs a nice little punch. More importantly, there is enough complexity here to keep my interest for an hour and half or so.  MSRP is in the $8 USD range, which is about right for a cigar of this quality.

It’s not a return to the reign of Rey de Los Habanos, but it’s fine cigar nevertheless.

La Antiguidad 2

Final Score: 90

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor Magnifico

Legend has it that La Aroma de Cuba was one of Winston Churchill’s preferred brands. That would be La Aroma de Cuba de Cuba, a brand which exists today only in the protected vaults of highly disciplined cigar collectors. But all is not lost for the rest of us. “Never give in!” as the old man said.  For we still have Don Pepin. And with the able assistance of the Ashton Cigar Company we have La Aroma de Cuba redux.

There are three distinct blends of La Aroma de Cuba: the non-extension LADC with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper (and distinguished red foot band), the Edicion Especial with a sun-grown Ecuadorian wrapper (and secondary EE band), and this one, Mi Amor. This incarnation features a Cuban-seed wrapper grown in Mexico. I’m not sure where in Mexico, but I’m guessing it’s not Tijuana. My guess would be somewhere in the San Andres Valley, one of the only regions in the world that produces leaf with the maduro potential of Connecticut’s broadleaf.

More detailed information about the San Andres region is available on the Montecristo Reserva Negra post. Come to think of it, the LADC Mi Amor reminded me a bit of the Monte Reserva — I wouldn’t be surprised if the wrapper is the same leaf, or at least a close relative. They look quite similar and they taste quite similar… so they must be, um, similar.

Mi Amor was reportedly in planning for two years prior to its release at the IPCPR convention last year. Since then it has garnered rave reviews, including the No. 6 spot on Cigar Aficionado’s Best Cigars of 2010. I don’t always agree with CA, but I think they got it right this time.

LADC Mi Amor is made by My Father Cigars in Esteli, Nicaragua. Five sizes are in production:

  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • Magnifico – 6 x 52
  • Valentino – 5 3/4 x 58
  • Churchill – 7 x 50
  • Belicoso – 5 1/2 x 54

Construction Notes

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor is not billed as a maduro cigar, but it looks like one, and it tastes like one, so I’m going to say it is one. The wrapper shade is a medium dark maduro, but the wrapper is a little drier and much toothier than what you get with typical maduro processing.

The cigar is box pressed and sports a flat Cuban-style head and My Father Cigars’ impeccable triple-cap. The draw is excellent, and it burns slowly and evenly. The ash is a solid light gray verging on white, though it flakes slightly.

Overall construction: Excellent.

Tasting Notes

The Mi Amor Magnifico (the toro of the family) opens with a combination of earth and chocolate. In the first half-inch there is an old attic-like aroma, somewhat mushroomy, but sweetness soon takes over and the chocolate and coffee flavors prevail. When those somewhat outlandish initial flavors settle down the base flavor of the Nicaraguan filler comes through: a bright acidic tang on the palate. The smoke is rich and smooth.

The chocolate and coffee blend and simmer down to a smooth cocoa in the mid-section of the cigar, but the aroma is still distinctly sweet and the earth tones have almost entirely disappeared.

Some pepper enters the fray in the last third and the smoke is a little sharper on the tongue, though it never becomes harsh. On the nose it’s mostly coffee, but I’m surprised by the floral accents that remind me of another cigar with a romantic reputation — the Cuban Romeo y Julieta.

Conclusion

La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor is a damn fine smoke. It’s flavorful, smooth, rich, and almost perfectly balanced. The initial earthy flavors quickly mellow into the sweet ones, and the underlying zing keeps the palate popping. The smoke is smooth and the cigar burns beautifully.

After smoking a few of these I immediately went looking for the box price. A heavenly choir did not emerge from a cloud of smoke to sing the under $100 hymn, but I can’t say I was surprised. Around $170 USD is the going rate for the Magnifico. A little outside my range for boxes, but that puts them in the $7-8 range for a single, which I can manage every once in a while. And for a cigar this good, you can bet I will.

Final Score: 93

El Triunfador No. 4

El Triunfador is made by Pete Johnson, known best for his Tatuaje brand and his partnership with Jose “Pepin” Garcia. The El Triunfador name is an old Cuban mark that Johnson revived, but in order to retain ownership of the name he had to produce a certain number of cigars under that mark. So he made what he described at the time as a Cabaiguan Maduro in a lancero size and released it to a select few in 2009 as El Triunfador.

The blend in production today is entirely different from that original release, though the lancero with a broadleaf wrapper is still made in a limited number. The new blend, originally designed for release in Europe, has an Ecuadorian Habano cover. Under the hood is a Nicaraguan binder and filler, including leaf from Pepin Garcia’s La Estrella farm in Esteli. Seven sizes are in production:

  • No. 1 Lonsdale – 6 1/2 x 42
  • No. 2 Belicoso Fino – 5 1/2 x 52
  • No. 3 Corona Gorda – 5 5/8 x 46
  • No. 4 Robusto – 5 x 48
  • No. 5 Petite Corona – 4 3/8 x 42
  • No. 6 Lancero – 7 1/2 x 38
  • No. 7 Toro Grande – 5 7/8 x 54

The original release El Triunfador is easily distinguished from the No. 6 lancero by the band — the original broadleaf lancero has a dark brown band, while all of the newer numbered cigars have red bands. Both bands are classic and simple, reminiscent of the vintage Havana style. As are the cigars, for that matter.

El Triunfador is made by Jaime Garcia at My Father Cigars in Nicaragua.

Construction Notes

According to the specs on the Tatuaje website, the No. 4 Robusto is a standard 5 x 50, but it seems a bit undersized for a robusto. Maybe it’s because so many cigar makers are inflating their robustos with an extra leaf or two these days, or maybe it’s because of the box press. The roll is solid and the head and cap are classic Havana style, as expected from My Father Cigars. The wrapper is a rich looking colorado maduro with some fine veins. The burn is perfectly even and leaves a solid light gray ash in its wake.

The draw on one of the two I smoked for the review was loose and drew hot in the last third, but the other one was just right. Both cigars seemed to burn very quickly, however. I can usually stretch a robusto sized cigar out to 45 or 50 minutes, but the No. 4 seemed to have only 30-35 minutes in the tank.

Good to very good construction, with possible consistency issues.

Tasting Notes

The styling of this cigar is classically Cuban, so it makes sense that the flavor would be similar, or as similar as possible outside of Havana. It’s a medium-bodied smoke that starts up with sweet cedar and an earthy muskiness eerily reminiscent of the classic Cuban blends. There is a touch of pepper in the first half-inch, but that quickly dies away. The Nicaraguan zing is present on the tongue for the first half of the stick, but eventually that too gives way to a smoother, but less expressive combination of sweet wood and musk. In the last half some saltiness comes through and at the very end are floral notes similar to what I love in La Riqueza, one of Johnson’s other blends.

Conclusion

El Triunfador combines the best of Nicaraguan tobacco and Cuban style into a medium-bodied package that almost anyone will enjoy. It’s mild enough for a mid-day smoke, but will serve medium-bodied cigar smokers well at any time of day.  It appears to be designed as a mainstream cigar, and it smokes like one. It’s very good, but it’s not going to blow away of any of the top tier smokes in Tatuaje’s portfolio.

Going price for the No. 4 is 8 USD. There is a lot of competition in that price range, but El Triunfador is still a blend worth checking out.

Final Score: 88

Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial Robusto

There are so many reviews of this cigar in the blogosphere — all of them positive from what I could see — that I can find no reason not to throw another one on the fire. Unfortunately the volume of material fact about the composition of this cigar exists in inverse proportion to the number of opinions, and the My Father Cigars website is still under construction. (A very classy site, by the way, but every link to actual information about a cigar blend yields only a promise that it is “Coming Soon”. )

But the reliable intel is that this cigar is made by My Father Cigars in Esteli, Nicaragua, and is named for (and probably blended by) Jaime Garcia, the son of cigar superhero Jose “Don Pepin” Garcia. The wrapper is a dark Connecticut Broadleaf, and the filler leaf is a combination of tobacco harvested from Garcia’s farms and Oliva’s farms in Nicaragua. Some sites indicate that the binder is Ecuadoran (which would be an unusual choice, but Oliva does grow a huge amount of tobacco in Ecuador) and other sites say the binder is Nicaraguan.

Six sizes are in production, including the newly introduced fireplug format, denominated here as the “super gordo”.

  • Petite Robusto – 4 1/2 x 50
  • Robusto – 5 1/4 x 52
  • Belicoso – 5 1/2 x 52
  • Toro – 6 x 54
  • Toro Gordo – 6 x 60
  • Super Gordo – 5.75 x 66

Construction Notes

It’s not easy to make broadleaf look beautiful, but My Father Cigars does about the best that anyone can to make it presentable. The wrapper is dark, but variegated in color from dark brown to black. No artificial processing here.  There are the expected veins, but they’re fairly discreet by broadleaf standards. The roll is solid, though the cigar seems a bit light in the hand for some reason. The  head of the stick is rounded and the cap is not triple wound. This is very unusual for a cigar from this factory, but it is understandable given the toughness of the leaf.

The draw is excellent, and while the burn wavers a bit it catches up without encouragement. It seems to burn rather quickly. The ash is solid but slightly flaky.

Overall construction: Very Good.

Tasting Notes

The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the Jaime Garcia Reserva certainly retains many of the flavors we’re familiar with from his father’s blends. The toro starts up with a dry tannic pinch to the salivary glands, followed by a moderate amount of black pepper on the tongue. The base flavor is earthy, but it is balanced very nicely by the broadleaf’s sweet chocolate aroma.

The mid section continues in the same vein, dry and peppery, though the volume is dropped a few notches on the spice. The sweet earthy flavors momentarily combine to give the impression of pine resin.

The last third focuses on a black coffee flavor as the sweetness dissipates. It finishes a little bit harsh, as if it were serving up a mouthful of grounds rather than a smooth cup o’ joe. The complexity of flavors presented up to this point might have persuaded me to smoke this cigar beyond a prudent point, but I couldn’t help myself.

Conclusion

The Jaime Garcia Reserva Especial robusto is an excellent medium-bodied smoke with an earthy taste on the palate but a sweet broadleaf maduro-style aroma. The blend tastes very much like what one would expect from My Father Cigars, though perhaps a little milder than many of them. It reminded me of a less manly 601 Maduro. 601’s little brother, maybe.

There is a slight raspiness to the smoke that won’t bother My Father aficionados, but I’m hoping that with a little age these will smooth out a bit more. That said, they’re certainly not difficult to smoke now. MSRP appears to be in the 7 USD range. Definitely worth a look for maduro lovers, especially those who enjoy the Garcias’ tannic pinch.

Final Score: 89