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.
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.
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