Sindicato Maduro

Sindicato MaduroLast summer I had the chance to smoke and review what would become my 2014 Cigar of the Year — the Sindicato Corona Gorda. A combined performance in both construction and flavor earned that cigar 94 points and a trip up the aisle to collect the trophy. Instead of a speech, however, the folks at Sindicato and blender Arsenio Ramos are giving us a lagniappe: another Sindicato, this time in maduro.

The original Sindicato with its Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper certainly made an impression on me, so I was eager to try the same blend with a maduro wrapper. This time around it’s a San Andres Morron. (Morron refers to a chestnut shade of dark brown.) The internal components appear to be the same as the natural Sindicato: a double binder from Esteli and filler from Esteli and Jalapa, all Aganorsa tobacco from Eduardo Fernandez’s farms in Nicaragua. The sizes are also the same.

  • Corona Gorda: 5 1/2 x 48
  • Toro: 6 x 54
  • Churchill: 7 x 52
  • Magnum: 6 x 60
  • Belicoso: 6 1/8 x 54
  • Robusto: 5 x 54

Construction Notes

The wrapper is typical of high quality maduro — thick and rough, with signs of a rugged and thorough maturation process. The shade is darker than the word “morron” suggests: there isn’t much chestnut in this maduro, just rich earthy maduro browny-blackness. The foot of the cigar is unfinished, but not ragged, and the head is capped with a pig tail. The cigar is square pressed, just like the natural version, which is sometimes a concern because it tends to promote an uneven burn. Not in this case, however. The Sindicato Maduro burns just as evenly and easily as its natural counterpart, though maybe a bit slower. A long light gray ash builds and taps off in the ashtray with some hesitance after a couple inches. Clearly a well made cigar.

Overall construction: Excellent

Sindicato Maduro 2

Tasting Notes

The Sindicato Maduro opens with the hallmark flavor of San Andres maduro: chocolate. There is a hint of pepper here as well, but the first few puffs are predominately bittersweet baker’s chocolate. The smoke is medium to full in texture and has a slightly tannic aftertaste.  After a few minutes woody flavors become noticeable below the sweetness of the aroma.

Midway through the cigar the sweetness of the chocolate gives way to dark roasted coffee flavors. There is an increasing spiciness, but in addition to the pepper that you’d expect from a Nicaraguan cigar there is also a hint of mint or eucalyptus. Not much, just a fleeting hint to add unexpected complexity, which is somewhat rare for a maduro blend.

The finale of the cigar turns dark; the woodiness becomes earthy, and the cigar starts to wind down. The subtleties are overtaken by black pepper and at the very end the smoke becomes a little burnt tasting. The lights come up, the audience applauds.

Conclusion

There is hardly any difference in quality between the Sindicato natural and the Maduro blend. I would liken it to the difference between the natural and maduro versions of the Padron Anniversary 1964  — both are excellent, well-made cigars, and both have a reputation beyond question. I am one of the few who favor the natural 1964 over the maduro, and I do the same with the Sindicato.

The Sindicato Maduro is smooth, rich, and it exhibits a great deal more complexity than I had expected. The base flavors are typical of Nicaraguan cigars, but better behaved, and the aroma is full of chocolate and coffee — just what we crave in a maduro. It isn’t as complex as the natural Sindicato, which is why I lean towards the natural, but this is one of the better maduros I’ve smoked this year.

Both blends run in the $11-13 range. Try them both and enjoy an embarrassment of riches.

Sindicato Maduro 3

Final Score: 91

Advertisements

Sindicato Corona Gorda

Sindicato

Sindicato is a clever name for a cigar — it has that underworld overtone,  that slightly sinister suggestion of menace that is so common in cigar marketing these days. But the name is a classic red herring. Sindicato has nothing to do with the mob — it’s the Spanish term for a labor union. Leave the gun. Take the chaveta.

Sindicato Cigars are made by a union of cigar industry veterans: retailers, manufacturers, lobbyists, the whole kit. Their motto is “Join the Union.” After smoking a couple of their flagship brand cigars, I believe I will.

Sindicato is a Nicaraguan puro blended by Arsenio Ramos. The cigar is made in the Casa Fernandez factory, so it should be no surprise that the wrapper is a shade-grown Corojo leaf grown on the Fernandez farms in Jalapa. Under the hood is a double binder from Esteli and a filler blend of leaves from Jalapa and Esteli. I will openly confess my weakness for Jalapa tobacco, and I’ve been a fan of Aganorsa leaf from the early days of Tabacalera Tropical, so I was stoked to fire this one up.

Sindicato was released on March 1, 2014, in six sizes:

  • Corona Gorda – 5 1/2 x 48
  • Robusto – 5 x 54
  • Toro – 6 x 54
  • Belicoso – 6 1/8 x 54
  • Churchill – 7 x 52
  • Magnum – 6 x 60

Sindicato 2

Construction Notes

The Corona Gorda is a square pressed cigar with a soft and supple milk-chocolate brown wrapper. The cigar feels light in the hand, but it’s packed well and burns slowly. The foot is unfinished (flagged) and the head sports a tight pigtail cap. The draw is excellent, producing a consistent volume of medium-bodied smoke, and the cigar burns evenly.

This is a handsome cigar, obviously rolled by experts.

Overall construction: Excellent.

Tasting Notes

The Sindicato Corona Gorda is a medium strength cigar with notably aromatic complexity. The cigar starts out as smooth as its silky wrapper leaf and never gets harsh. Initial flavors are of roasted nuts with a dash of black pepper, but the aroma steals the show. It’s too complex to call it cedar –it smells to me like sandalwood. There is a sweetness to the scent that complements the flavors on the palate, a nutty brown sugar sweetness that grows earthier and more peppery as the cigar burns.

The finish is lengthy, and though it becomes fairly spicy in second half it stays smooth to the end.

Sindicato 3

Conclusion

Sindicato is an elegant and extraordinary smoke. I haven’t seen anyone do a flavor map for this cigar yet, but if I made one it would cover the whole spectrum. Everything from wood to pepper to floral scents — it pretty much made my palate light up like a Christmas tree. It’s smooth and sweet, very easy to smoke, and never boring. It’s one of the best new cigars I’ve tried in a long time.

Just one catch though, and you knew this was coming. You don’t get to join the Union without paying your dues. While the price is not exactly prohibitive, it is still considerable. The Corona Gorda runs around $10 USD, with larger sizes commanding commensurately larger fees. And you won’t find these in the discount aisle anytime soon, or ever, so save up your shekels. It’s a worthy investment.

Final Score: 94