Reyes Family Vintage Robusto

Back in 2008, when the Puros Indios cigar company underwent a metamorphosis to become Reyes Family Cigars, the Reyes Family Vintage was slated to replace the Puros Indios Viejo blend.  It wasn’t going to be a new cigar though — the only thing that was going to change was the brand name and its associated bands and boxes.

But sometime last year Rolando Reyes, Sr. decided to preserve the Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados names, which has created some temporary confusion in how these cigars are presented.  At the moment the Reyes Vintage and the Puros Indios Viejo are two distinct, though similar blends.

True to its name, the highlight of the Reyes Vintage line is an aged wrapper — a swarthy Sumatra-seed leaf grown in Ecuador and aged for eight years. (The Viejo has a Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper that is two years older yet.) The binder is Ecuadoran as well, and the filler is a three country blend from Brazil, Nicaragua, and Ecuador yet again.

At this time the Reyes Family Vintage is available in four sizes:

  • Corona Extra – 5 1/2 x 45
  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • Toro – 6 x 53
  • Churchill –  7 1/2 x 47

Construction Notes

The wrapper on the Reyes Family Vintage is appropriately rough and weathered in appearance. It’s dark, a little dry, and rustic. This is set off by the head of the cigar, which is beautifully finished with a triple or quadruple seam.  The roll is firm and the draw is easy. My only complaint is that the burn was a little bit off at times, and the ash was extremely flaky. This is not one to smoke in a stiff breeze, unless you’re doing your best impression of Eyjafjallajokull.  (I’m waiting for someone to name a cigar Eyjafjallajokull — then maybe I’ll learn how to pronounce it.)

Overall construction: Very good.

Tasting Notes

This is one of the smoothest cigars I’ve smoked in a long time. It starts up with a light woody flavor with a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg and is light to medium in body. I like the woodsy aroma of this cigar — it reminds me a little of the Cienfuegos line, which is made by the same company.

The body builds in strength as it moves into the mid-section, but it stays silky smooth. I notice at this point that the aroma from the wrapper has grown a bit sweeter with floral accents, which is a little unusual considering how dark the wrapper is. (Floral notes are common in shade wrappers, and you could argue that Ecuadoran wrappers are shade-grown, but I find it a little unusual anyway. )

The only criticism I can make about the flavor is that it doesn’t change too much through the duration of the smoke. The Reyes Vintage sidles into its last act with the same tune — smooth and woody, only charring a bit at the very end. It’s not a grand finale, but it’s certainly pleasant.


The aged Sumatra wrapper on the Reyes Vintage robusto  is superb and it contributes to the exceptional smoothness of the cigar. Construction qualities, aside from a loose flaky ash, were also very good. On the other hand,  the cigar suffers from a lack of complexity. In my mind, however, the sweet woodsy aroma of the cigar and its easygoing nature outweigh its simplicity. And what’s wrong  with simplicity anyway?

Reyes Vintage cigars are packed 15 to the box, which run around 90 USD, or about 6 bucks a stick. If you’re looking for a smooth and woodsy medium-bodied smoke with a stellar bouquet, this is one to try.

Final Score: 88

Cuba Aliados Miami Edition

A man doesn’t get to be 85 years old in the cigar industry without seeing a lot of changes, and Rolando Reyes, Sr. has seen a thing or two. He currently presides over a thriving facility in Danli, Honduras, where most of the Reyes Family cigars are made, but a couple years ago he made a trip to Miami to interview cigar rollers for a special project.

It certainly wasn’t Reyes’  first experience in Miami — for four or five years in the ’80s he made Miami his home, until the move to Danli in 1989. And while Don Rolando remains in Honduras to supervise the factory there, his grandson and president of the company, Carlos Diez, has been revitalizing the company in Miami.

In 2009 the company inaugurated the Reyes Family line of cigars, a sign that the company might be headed in a new direction. At the time I thought that the old blends — Puros Indios, Cienfuegos, and Cuba Aliados — would be subsumed under the new name, but it didn’t turn out that way.  Which is good, because Cuba Aliados must hold a special place in Don Rolando’s heart — it’s been  his brand ever since the the ’70’s when he emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba.

With only six rollers, the Miami shop is very small, especially by comparison with the hundreds of Hondurans employed in the Danli factory. The rollers in Miami are Cubans who come to the table with experience in the Cuban cigar industry, as opposed to the folks in Honduras who had to learn the trade from scratch. Give one of these Miami cigars a gentle squeeze and you’ll see the difference is palpable. Each roller rolls one and only one specific size, which improves consistency. And the blend is quite a bit bolder than is typical for Reyes.

The Aliados Miami uses a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, binder from the Dominican Republic, and filler leaf from Nicaragua. Only three sizes are made, but they’re all big smokes:

  • Robusto – 5 x 50
  • Toro Viejo – 6 x 53
  • Valentino – 7 x 49

Construction Notes

What I noticed first about the Cuba Aliados Miami (after removing the cedar sleeve) is how densely rolled it is. This is a really solid cigar, and this is made clear by the slow and regular burn as well as the pre-light characteristics. The Habano wrapper is dark and grainy with plenty of oil. The head of the cigar is shaped well, and even though it isn’t perfectly triple-wrapped it cuts cleanly and looks fine.

The grain from the wrapper is evident in the dark gray ash, which holds for a good inch and a half before it starts to bend a little precariously.  These are slow burning, luxurious cigars, so make time for them. I spent about an hour with the robusto, and close to 90 minutes smoking the toro and churchill sizes.

Overall excellent construction.

Tasting Notes

The Aliados Miami opens with a combination of black pepper and a dry woody flavor that I think of as quintessentially Nicaraguan. After half an inch or so the wrapper kicks in a sweet cedary aroma that blends really well with the spicier notes on the palate.

The mid-section turns to another flavor on the Nicaraguan palette — cocoa. The spice mellows but remains assertive. The cedar and cocoa meld nicely and produce a sweet sensation on the tongue that at times almost reminded me of mint.

The last third turns a little darker. The cocoa turns to a semi-sweet chocolate taste with tannic overtones, and the nicotine kicks in. The smoke texture is full in body, leading me to think it would be matched by this in power, but it’s a little more moderate in that regard. It starts out in medium-strength territory and sneaks up to full strength only at the finale. The burn gets a bit hot at the band, but the flavor and aroma are still fresh for the nubbin’.


Cuba Aliados Miami is a crisp, well-balanced cigar that exhibits what I think of as Nicaraguan flair, but it does so without losing its composure. (Or making me lose mine.) It’s assertive, not aggressive, and that is a quality that I wish more upper echelon cigar makers would emulate.

The construction qualities of this cigar were top notch. I had to double check my math after scoring one of these cigars — the Toro Viejo — at a 47 out of 50 construction points. That’s the high water mark for the year so far, and judging by last year’s entries it might be the one to beat for 2010.

Considering the quality of the blend and the limited nature of the release, it’s surprising to see how reasonably the Miami edition is priced —  around 6 or 7 USD per stick.

The modest price tag is about the only thing it has in common with Reyes’ other cigars. For fans of Puros Indios or the classic Cuba Aliados, the Miami Limited will be a bold new experience, but a very enjoyable one.

Final Score: 90

Reyes Family Premier Line

Most cigar smokers are familiar with the venerable name of Rolando Reyes, Sr., maker of Cuba Aliados and Puros Indios cigars. These cigars have been in production for years and have remained relatively unchanged, aside from a wrapper change on the Aliados a few years ago.

The end of 2007 marked a true turning point for this classic brand: the grand old man stepped down as President of Puros Indios to make way for his grandson, Carlos Diez. Over the years, Reyes Sr. has earned a reputation for his stalwart work ethic and strict quality control. At the age of 85 he remains committed and on the job, but has decided at long last to turn the management reins over to the next generation.

Despite the obvious debt that Diez owes to his grandfather and mentor, he has philosophical differences that became apparent just months after he took control of the company. The first is in the name of the company: no longer Puros Indios, the outfit is now called Reyes Family Cigars. Along with this came a logo change — an emblematic R surrounded by semi-gothic accents — and two new lines of cigars.

Diez remarked in an interview for Cigar Weekly that Reyes Sr. was initially against all these changes because “he does not like the limelight or any press. He is all about his brands…” But Diez’s approach is clearly different. His focus appears to be shifting from the insular approach of his grandfather to one that is more market driven.

“I’m a bit different — if you don’t smoke my cigars, I’m going to find a way or a blend that you will enjoy. I will take the time to figure that out. I love marketing as well as blending.”

Diez has declared that “now is the time to take my company to another level,” and the new Premier line is the first step in that direction.

Available in five sizes, the Premier is the family’s first cigar to use a Costa Rican wrapper. The binder and filler are Nicaraguan, from Condega and Jalapa respectively. Only one of the vitolas in the line is under a 50 ring gauge, the corona at 6 x 46. The rest of them — including a fat Perfecto and a 60 ring gauge Gordo — are responding to the market’s demand for large ring gauge cigars.

The Costa Rican wrapper on the Premier line does not have the appearance typical of maduro leaf — it’s not black, nor has it been treated or blackened to conform to the maduro “standard.” Here the term “maduro” refers to a fermentation and maturation process, not the color of the leaf. The color of the wrapper is actually a heavily mottled dark colorado maduro and it has a nice oily sheen. It’s rough looking, but inviting.

With the exception of the corona, all of the sizes in this line have a very generous draw. (The corona was a little more restrictive but not what I would call tight.) The perfecto arrives with an open head — I cut it a bit more because the aperture seemed a little too small for me, even though it drew fine before lighting. The burn was even across the board and they all formed a light gray ash that flaked a little but was otherwise solid.

Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados have always been easy smoking, smooth cigars, and in that respect the new line is no different. On the other hand, the flavors here are a little bit bolder, at least at the outset. All of the sizes tested for this review seemed to have a basically woody character, though the corona had a leathery quality that I didn’t find in the others. They all share a very distinct and aromatic cedary spice that I’m relatively sure is coming from the wrapper. The spicy accents really engage the palate while the cigar maintains an overall smooth balance for the first third.

After a slightly more dramatic opening, the middle sections of these cigars describe a smooth and tranquil descent. The spicy flavors from the first third stand down a little and let the foundation of wood and the creamy texture take over. The aroma is still nice and toasty — sweet wood with a touch of caramel and coffee. The burn wavers just a bit and the few flakes on the ash fly off with a small puff of air.

The last third reminds me a lot of the classic PI brands — it can get a little flinty if hurried. I noticed this less with the corona, so maybe this is a function of the airy draw on the large bore sizes.

In any case, I have to say that I enjoyed the first third of these cigars the best; the second third was good, though not as interesting as the first, and I felt somewhat indifferent about the last section. I think the wrapper is the featured attraction here, so I would opt for either the corona or the perfecto: even though the perfecto is still quite a large cigar, the smaller ring gauge at the foot of the cigar lets the wrapper shine for the first ten to fifteen minutes.

The Reyes Family Premier line is set to sell at around the 7 dollar mark. I’d like to thank the Reyes Family for providing me with this sampler, and I look forward to picking up a few coronas when I see them in the shops soon!

Cuba Aliados Anniversary


Before there was Puros Indios there was Cuba Aliados, the original brand and pride of master cigar maker Rolando Reyes, Sr. Today his cigars are made in Danli, Honduras, but the name “Cuba Aliados” conjures up images of an earlier time when these cigars were rolled in Havana.

Reyes’ experience in the cigar business stretches back seventy years and includes training and employment at the Partagas and H. Upmann factories in Havana. Eventually he opened his own factory — the original Cuba Aliados, named for an old bus line — that was producing six million cigars a year for the Cuban domestic market when it was seized by the Castro regime after the revolution.

The Reyes family moved to the United States in 1970, and after struggling to gain a foothold in Union City, New Jersey, Cuba Aliados was born again. Demand for Reyes’ cigars soon exceeded the supply, so they migrated first to Miami where they increased production, and then to Honduras several years later. They still maintain a presence in both Union City and Miami.

For many years Cuba Aliados had an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper similar to the one on the Puros Indios cigar, and was distributed exclusively by JR Cigars. In 2004, distribution rights were reacquired by Reyes and the occasion was marked by a change to distinguish the two brands — a new Nicaraguan corojo wrapper was introduced to the Cuba Aliados line.

So I was thrilled to receive a sampler pack from Puros Indios that included two of their new Cuba Aliados Anniversary cigars — a beautiful Diadema No. 3 with a natural Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper and a Short in a rich and dark corojo maduro. The press release notes that both of “these unique sizes have come to represent Cuban Master Blender Rolando Reyes Sr. and his 60 years of experience in the tobacco industry.”

These Anniversary cigars celebrate both the century-plus tradition of the Cuba Aliados brand name as well as the seven decades of Don Rolando Reyes’ work in the industry. They will be available in both Nicaraguan corojo and Ecuadoran Sumatra wrappers, with filler from Brazil, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic, and Ecuadoran Sumatra binders. All tobaccos are aged for at least six years and total production will be limited to between 200,000 and 300,000 cigars.

The Diadema No. 3 is an example of the cigars maker’s art at its highest. These are made completely by hand and without the use of molds, which takes considerable skill and experience. My sample suffered a little damage in shipping, but I was able to repair it with a little vegetable glue and it smoked fine. The prelight scent is slightly cedary and it cut cleanly to open a free prelight draw. The tapered foot lights as easily as if it were a candle. (In a Cigar Aficionado interview Rolando Sr. joked that some people are intially confused by this unique shape and don’t know which end put in their mouths!)

The first third focuses on cocoa and caramel aromas with a mild taste and almost no finish. It burns slowly and evenly and the ash holds nicely. The flavor builds gradually, bringing at the end a zing of pepper and a sharp aftertaste that sneaks up and wakes me from my reverie as the ash nears my fingertips. This is a very refined cigar with a sweet cubanesque aroma that at times reminded me of maple syrup. It’s an easy going but sophisticated medium-bodied smoke.


The Short has an altogether different personality, starting with an oily corojo maduro wrapper that makes it look like a thoroughly grilled sausage link. There’s a ton of flavor packed in this 4 x 48 firecracker, but any prelight indication of this is hidden beneath a cedar sheath which imparts a distinctly woody scent to the wrapper. Once lit this little guy pours on a full-bodied sweet and spicy flavor with a rich leathery aroma and some residual cedar. Into the second half, the sweetness from the wrapper predominates. The woody component reminds me of PI’s Cienfuegos, but the Aliados is stouter, with more bittersweet chocolate and coffee notes. This is the heaviest cigar I’ve smoked from Puros Indios, and the rich flavor is best enjoyed slowly, sipped like a smoky cognac. My only criticism is that the thick and oily wrapper tends to burn erratically and needs an occasional touchup.

These are outstanding cigars, the best of the best from Cuba Aliados, and a fitting tribute to the master who started it all so many years ago. Suggested retail prices are $12.00 for the Diadema and $8.00 for the Short.

Thanks to the fine folks at Puros Indios for allowing me to preview these cigars. Stay tuned for the official announcement of interesting developments at PI for 2008: a new company name, a new logo, a new website and — most importantly — new blends, including their first cigar with a Cameroon wrapper!