Aurora Barrel Aged Belicoso

barrelaged

First things first. This is not a flavored cigar, despite the fact that “barrel aged” brings to mind rum, which conjures up those treacly sweet gas station cigars. (Or maybe that’s just my mind, under the influence of the season and an eggnog or two.)

José Blanco and the folks at La Aurora decided to seal the tobacco for this cigar in old oak casks (that once did in fact contain Dominican rum) not to “infuse” the tobacco, but to age it in a completely sealed environment. The result is a beautiful dark oscuro leaf. La Aurora is not new to barrel aging — much of the tobacco for its Preferidos, 1495, and vaunted 100 Años cigar is aged in barrels — but this is the first time wrappers have received this process.

The Barrel Aged utilizes a Dominican corojo wrapper viva la capa dominicana!) as well as a Dominican binder, and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Four sizes are widely available:

  • No. 4 — 43 x 5.75
  • Robusto — 50 x 5
  • Churchill — 50 x 7.5
  • Belicoso — 52 x 6.25

The wrapper on this belicoso is an attractive and uniform shade of dark brown — it could easily be mistaken for maduro, but the leaf seems to be thinner, a little less oily, and much more attractive than maduro — broadleaf maduro, anyway. On the other hand, it isn’t pitch black, like some cigars that are marketed as “oscuro.”  (True maduro requires a thick leaf like broadleaf that can withstand the intense fermentation process, whereas oscuro leaves have undergone a normal fermentation and are usually dark because of the priming and maturation process, not intense fermentation.)

The scent of the pre-light cigar is sweet and woody; despite the fact that these tobaccos have been aged several years, the cigar still has a fresh smell to it. The roll is solid and feels balanced in the hand. My only criticism of this stick so far is the slightly garish band, but that is easily ignored and even more easily removed.

barrelaged2

The draw is perfect on this belicoso and it lights up quickly. After a quarter inch or so my first impression is that this is a very smooth smoking, mild to medium bodied cigar.

The initial flavors are sweet and earthy, complemented by a pleasantly woody aroma. There is just a touch of tannin at the back of the tongue, otherwise there is no bite whatsoever and a very mild aftertaste of earth and wood. The aroma carries a little sweetness, but it’s not the cocoa-caramel sweetness that I associate with corojo. In fact, I don’t think I would have guessed this was corojo at all — I might have guessed Ecuador Sumatra, even though it doesn’t look like it.

Into the middle section of the cigar the finish lengthens and the aftertaste becomes woodier and a little dry. The tannic element intensifies a little and the flavor gets a little spicier, just a little pepper in there somewhere. The cigar burns mostly even (one touchup required) and builds a solid ash with a bright white exterior.

The last third brings a little more strength, but not much, and it closes with some earthy bean flavors — coffee or chocolate, I couldn’t decide which. The sweet woody aroma from the wrapper contributes to the mix, making me think chocolate, but there’s some roastiness to it that makes me think coffee.  Either way there’s a lot of complexity to this cigar — from its mild earthy beginning to a roasty medium-bodied conclusion, this is a smooth sailing smoke. Very nice.

MSRP is around 7 to 8 USD per stick (box price) which seems fair. I was prepared to say that was a little too much, but after smoking a couple of these I think the price is warranted. But I have to say that they really do deserve a better looking band.

barrelaged3

Other choice reviews of the Aurora Barrel Aged:

Walt reviews the No. 4 for Stogie Review

Doc smokes a pre-released version with José Blanco in Santiago for Stogie Fresh

Advertisements

Aging Report: 601 Oscuro Tronco

United Tobacco’s 601 series manufactured by Pepin Garcia has been a smashing success, and the Green Label is one of my favorites in the line. It hasn’t been easy to resist the siren’s call over the past year, but I still have a few of these left from the 2007 box that made it to the top ten list for the year.

This is a heavy cigar by design, and I was really curious to see how it would age. Many of the cigars I’ve chosen for “Aging Reports” have not benefited from their extended naps, but the ones that have are the sluggers like this one. I’m coming to the conclusion that as tobacco ages its strength and body attenuate, but in return more subtle nuances appear. So depending on the cigar, and the cigar smoker, this can be either a good or a bad thing.

I gravitate toward medium-bodied blends, with occasional forays into full-bodied and mild territory, so I was sort of looking forward to this one settling down a little. But only sort of, because the flavor is dynamite even if it’s not really in my weight class. So I still found myself picking at the box over the past year, handing a few out with both warnings and accolades, and now I have only a few left. But the year is up. Time for a visit from the ghost of Green Label past.

The first thing I noticed about the aged 601 Oscuro is that it doesn’t start up with the blast of pepper I was expecting — it’s certainly spicy, especially for the first half inch or so, but age has pacified the beast. The next thing I notice is that it burns very slowly, so slowly in fact that the time I allotted to smoke this robusto wasn’t enough to finish the cigar. But this being the 601 Green, two-thirds was enough. I’ve seen how this movie ends.

Despite the slow burn (and somewhat erratic burn line) the Green produces plenty of smoke. There is a sweet char on the nose that gradually becomes more chocolatey. On the palate I get wood with a nice black licorice accent, accompanied by a lingering but not overpowering aftertaste of chocolate and char. Ignoring the spicy overture, this is a medium bodied cigar that quickly becomes full bodied with a good nicotine hit, but it’s not the monster it was a year ago.

The bottom line is that the boldness of this cigar has faded somewhat. There’s plenty of flavor left for smokers of medium to full-bodied cigars, but if you love the explosion of pepper and tannin that a lot of Pepin blends offer when fresh, you’ll want to smoke these within a year of packing. But even after a year the Green Label is still a fantastic cigar, especially if you prefer a mellower profile. It looks like it’s time for me to restock.

601green

Some recent reviews of the 601 Oscuro Tronco:

Linus gives it a 7.5 out of 10 for Cigar Newbie.

Beezer goes toe to toe with the Tronco and learns his lesson.