A. Flores 1975 Gran Reserva

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince 2004 Pinar del Rio Cigars have been making their way into discerning smokers’ humidors, and while I’ve been familiar with the standard lines for a long time, I haven’t had the opportunity to smoke any of their limited releases. After smoking two sizes of the A. Flores Gran Reserva, I am happy to announce that Srs. Rodriguez and Flores have not been resting on their laurels.

The PDR factory is located in the La Palma free zone area of Tamboril in the Dominican Republic. It’s a fairly new facility, where they make not only PDR’s standard lines, but also contract brands like La Palina Classic and El Primer Mundo. In the last year or so they have also released limited lines like this one, AFR-75, and Flores y Rodriguez Tamboril in a variety of small batch blends. And I’m sure there are many more.

A. (Abraham) Flores is PDR’s primary blender, a native Dominican, and the man behind the A. Flores Reserva. This cigar was originally released in one size only — the curious half-corona size, inspired by the classic Cuban H. Upmann half corona. The cigar was well recieved, so the lineup was expanded to include a 5 x 52 Robusto and a 6 x 54 Gran Toro.

Flores heavily favors Dominican tobaccos, but Nicaraguan leaf frequently appears in PDR blends as well. The A. Flores Reserva utilizes a 2006 Dominican corojo wrapper, with Dominican corojo and Nicaraguan Habano binder and filler leaves. The cigar is rolled using the entubado method.

Construction Notes

PDR Cigars was kind enough to send the A. Flores 1975 Gran Reserva in two sizes — the original half corona size, and the robusto. Both are very attractive looking smokes, arriving complete with cedar sleeve and red ribbon foot bands. Once divested of its sleeve, the Gran Reserva exhibits a maduro-colored wrapper that looks as rich and rough as broadleaf.

The roll is solid and the head of the cigar is triple wound with nice broad seams. The cap is pasted on and looks a little messy, but that problem is quickly remedied with a guillotine cut. The draw is excellent, and it burns slowly and evenly, leaving a solid light gray ash.

Overall Construction: Excellent

A Flores Reserva

Tasting Notes

The flavor of the Gran Reserva reminds me why aged wrapper leaf is so fine. There is a component to the aroma of this cigar that I’ve noticed before in carefully aged wrappers — a sweet liqueur-ish quality, almost like the taste of brandy, that is fairly rare and quite enjoyable. The smoke is thick and creamy in texture. The robusto is much smoother than the half corona, which I think deserves fully as much time to smoke as the robusto. The smaller cigar shares many of the same flavors as the robusto, but the flavors are concentrated and more intense.

The middle section of the cigar brings a little more strength. This is more noticeable in the robusto, because the half corona is feisty from the start. Woody flavors come to the fore, accompanied by a slightly astringent Nicaraguan acidity. The aroma remains sweet, rounded out by the flavors on the palate.

Both sizes finish up with a lot of spice, though the robusto seems a little more complex and balanced than the half corona. On the nose are notes of coffee and caramelized sugar.

Conclusion

The A. Flores Gran Reserva is a special smoke. I liked both sizes a lot, though I found the robusto to be more complex and a little easier to smoke. The half corona needs to be sipped like whisky to get the most out of it. Judging by its size I thought it might be a good short smoke, but it probably needs a good 45 minutes to be appreciated. Don’t rush this little feller.

The half corona is available for around $5 USD, maybe slightly less in tins of five. The robusto is around $11, which puts it in the special-occasion premium category for me. But it deserves to be there.

A. Flores Reserva

Final Score: 91

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Pinar del Rio Clasico Robusto

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I had planned on reviewing the Pinar del Rio Oscuro Robusto this time around, but I must have pulled from a bad box because both of the cigars I had were underfilled and wouldn’t burn right. I’ve smoked this cigar before and I know this is a better cigar than that, so I decided to shelve the Oscuro review for now.

But I have really been enjoying the Habano Sun Grown robustos that I reviewed a few weeks back, so I was bound and determined to try another PDR this weekend. The Habano Sun Grown and the Oscuro are the flagship blends for PDR, but they have recently released a Connecticut wrapped stick called Clasico. It turned out that I had one of these Clasicos left from some sampler boxes I purchased a few months back. I opened the humidor, and I had the Clasico in my sights.

The Clasico gets no love (or even a mention) on the PDR website, but a recent review in Smoke Magazine offers the following anatomical description:

  • Wrapper: CT
  • Binder: Dom Rep
  • Filler: Dom Rep & Nicaragua

NewHavanaCigars.com lists the binder as Habano, so maybe we can guess that this is piloto cubano. There’s some pepper in this cigar and that may be where it’s coming from.

PDRClasico

Construction Notes

Just about perfect all the way around. The roll is solid, and looking down the business end of this stick it looks like it’s filled quite nicely. The wrapper is typical of shade grown leaf — pretty, with minimal veins and a nice creamy complexion. The head of the cigar is flat in the cuban style, and the seams of the cap are almost invisible. Pre-light this cigar has a dusty, hay-like scent with a touch of cedar.

Once lit, this stogie burns with steady precision — in addition to the creamy and floral qualities of Connecticut Shade, that is one of the nice things about this wrapper. It burns beautifully and builds a solid light gray ash. My only complaint here is that it seems to burn very quickly. I had to stretch this one out to make it last thirty minutes.

Tasting Notes

The Pinar del Rio Clasico opens up with an oaky flavor accented with black pepper on the tongue. The aroma is earthy with a touch of vanilla and the smoke coats the mouth. It’s fairly mild in strength but the smoke itself has a heavier texture, more of a medium body I’d say.  The aroma is not as floral as some Connecticut wrapped cigars — while still soft and creamy the smoke is toasty, like charred oak barrels. As the cigar progresses I don’t notice many new flavors in transition — it sticks to its opening theme for the most part, though the finish grows and becomes a little drier. By the band the aftertaste is predominately earthy with a light peppery seasoning.

The combination of Connecticut creaminess with black pepper had me thinking that this could be a much lighter variation on the 601 Black Label, or maybe La Aurora’s 1495 Connecticut. It’s a mild to medium bodied cigar, but one with lots of flavor. A great morning cigar, or given how quickly it burns, maybe even a nice lunchtime smoke at work.

The robusto rings up at around 4 USD per stick when buying by the box, which is a great price for a quality smoke.  Currently available from New Havana Cigars or you can buy singles from Silo for a few cents more.

Final Score: 87

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