La Casita Criolla

The wrapper leaf on a cigar is like the sear on a carefully cooked piece of beef — it’s often what makes the difference between a bland piece of protein and a sizzling dinner centerpiece. But the sear must be done right — overdo it and your dinner guest will send that Porterhouse right back to the kitchen. Like most of the fine things in life, flavors need balance.

So it’s a puzzle to me when a cigar maker decides to focus on one ingredient in the recipe to the exclusion of the other components, the ones that usually give a cigar balance. We’ve seen cigars that are almost exclusively ligero like Oliva’s Cain, and we’ve seen cigars that are 100% maduro, like Camacho’s Triple Maduro. I don’t care for either of them, and lack of balance is one of the reasons why.

So what possessed Pete Johnson of Tatuaje Cigars to create a cigar made entirely of Connecticut Broadleaf?

I’m not sure, but I was curious to find out. Connecticut broadleaf is prized by manufacturers of everything from machine-made Toppers to Fuente Anejos. It’s thick, it’s ugly, and it’s one of the most expensive tobaccos for blenders to use. But heavens, it’s tasty. (My apologies to Garrison Keillor.)

La Casita Criolla, an old Cuban brand name acquired by Johnson for this blend, means something like “the little native house.” That’s one brand name that is better left untranslated. I’m as puzzled by the name as I am by the idea of a broadleaf puro, but it does conjure up an image of rusticity which is reflected in the cigar’s appearance.

La Casita Criolla is made for Tatuaje by My Father Cigars in Esteli, Nicaragua, and was released last year in three sizes, all comfortably under a 50 ring gauge:

HCB Corona – 5 1/8 x 42
HCBC Corona Gorda – 5 5/8 x 46
HCBF Short Churchill – 6 1/2 x 48

Construction Notes

The HCB Corona is rough and marred with imperfections, which is typical of broadleaf. It’s maduro in color tone, a little bit oily, and has a rustic but rich appearance. The roll is firm, but staring down the barrel it appears to be loose due to the thickness of the leaf. Rolling broadleaf in the bunch must take some getting used to, but the torcedors have apparently made the appropriate adjustments.

Both samples drew very well — not too loose, despite initial visual impressions — and they burned almost evenly, much better than I expected. My only complaint is that the cigar burns a little too hot after the mid-point. Draw frequency should be limited to about once per minute in the last part of the smoke. Discipline is required.

Overall construction: Very good.

Tasting Notes

The Casita Criolla corona offers initial flavors of leather, minerals, and a whiff of black pepper, though there is far less pepper here than in many other Tatuaje blends. The aroma is what you’d expect from broadleaf — it’s rich and sweet with roasted coffee and chocolate.

The middle section doesn’t stray too far from the palate of flavors it starts with, but I notice that the smoke is surprisingly light in texture. The flavors are balanced, the strength is no greater than medium, but the body of the cigar is much lighter than I expected. An aftertaste of graham crackers is a nice touch.

The aroma in the last section turns from leather to wood, but the sweet chocolate notes remain as long as the draw frequency is kept to a minimum. A bitter taste appears if the cigar gets too hot, which it seems to do quite easily in the final stretch.

Conclusion

Contrary to my expectations, La Casita Criolla is a very well balanced cigar. Despite this, it seems to be lacking something. Maybe a different leaf thrown into the mix might give the smoke a little more weight and add to the overall experience. That said, the overall experience is still pretty good, and broadleaf lovers will get a thrill out of this stick.

The coronas are in the 5 to 6 USD range. For the experience of smoking a pure broadleaf cigar, it’s well worth the scratch. I’m not sure I’m ready to run out and buy a box, but I’m glad I had the chance to try them, and I expect I’ll be picking them up from time to time in the shop.

Final Score: 89

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El Triunfador No. 4

El Triunfador is made by Pete Johnson, known best for his Tatuaje brand and his partnership with Jose “Pepin” Garcia. The El Triunfador name is an old Cuban mark that Johnson revived, but in order to retain ownership of the name he had to produce a certain number of cigars under that mark. So he made what he described at the time as a Cabaiguan Maduro in a lancero size and released it to a select few in 2009 as El Triunfador.

The blend in production today is entirely different from that original release, though the lancero with a broadleaf wrapper is still made in a limited number. The new blend, originally designed for release in Europe, has an Ecuadorian Habano cover. Under the hood is a Nicaraguan binder and filler, including leaf from Pepin Garcia’s La Estrella farm in Esteli. Seven sizes are in production:

  • No. 1 Lonsdale – 6 1/2 x 42
  • No. 2 Belicoso Fino – 5 1/2 x 52
  • No. 3 Corona Gorda – 5 5/8 x 46
  • No. 4 Robusto – 5 x 48
  • No. 5 Petite Corona – 4 3/8 x 42
  • No. 6 Lancero – 7 1/2 x 38
  • No. 7 Toro Grande – 5 7/8 x 54

The original release El Triunfador is easily distinguished from the No. 6 lancero by the band — the original broadleaf lancero has a dark brown band, while all of the newer numbered cigars have red bands. Both bands are classic and simple, reminiscent of the vintage Havana style. As are the cigars, for that matter.

El Triunfador is made by Jaime Garcia at My Father Cigars in Nicaragua.

Construction Notes

According to the specs on the Tatuaje website, the No. 4 Robusto is a standard 5 x 50, but it seems a bit undersized for a robusto. Maybe it’s because so many cigar makers are inflating their robustos with an extra leaf or two these days, or maybe it’s because of the box press. The roll is solid and the head and cap are classic Havana style, as expected from My Father Cigars. The wrapper is a rich looking colorado maduro with some fine veins. The burn is perfectly even and leaves a solid light gray ash in its wake.

The draw on one of the two I smoked for the review was loose and drew hot in the last third, but the other one was just right. Both cigars seemed to burn very quickly, however. I can usually stretch a robusto sized cigar out to 45 or 50 minutes, but the No. 4 seemed to have only 30-35 minutes in the tank.

Good to very good construction, with possible consistency issues.

Tasting Notes

The styling of this cigar is classically Cuban, so it makes sense that the flavor would be similar, or as similar as possible outside of Havana. It’s a medium-bodied smoke that starts up with sweet cedar and an earthy muskiness eerily reminiscent of the classic Cuban blends. There is a touch of pepper in the first half-inch, but that quickly dies away. The Nicaraguan zing is present on the tongue for the first half of the stick, but eventually that too gives way to a smoother, but less expressive combination of sweet wood and musk. In the last half some saltiness comes through and at the very end are floral notes similar to what I love in La Riqueza, one of Johnson’s other blends.

Conclusion

El Triunfador combines the best of Nicaraguan tobacco and Cuban style into a medium-bodied package that almost anyone will enjoy. It’s mild enough for a mid-day smoke, but will serve medium-bodied cigar smokers well at any time of day.  It appears to be designed as a mainstream cigar, and it smokes like one. It’s very good, but it’s not going to blow away of any of the top tier smokes in Tatuaje’s portfolio.

Going price for the No. 4 is 8 USD. There is a lot of competition in that price range, but El Triunfador is still a blend worth checking out.

Final Score: 88

Tatuaje Havana VI Verocu No. 9

This boy is no longer a boy. He’s a brave. He is little in body, but his heart is big. His name shall be “Little Big Man.”

–Calder Willingham

So let’s get this straight. The Tatuaje Havana VI series is a toned down version of Tatuaje, but the Verocu is the “Havana VI on steroids.” Not a big man, but not a small man either. A little big man.

Whatever it is, the Verocu is a little hard to find these days except in the stubby form of the No. 9. The first Verocu blends were regional releases — the 6 1/4 x 52 parejo dubbed No. 1 and sold west of the Mississippi, and the 5 1/2 x 54 No. 2 for those east of the river. Those releases are sold out, but the No. 9 is still available as an exclusive from Holt’s. I picked these up about six months when they were running a special, and I’m glad I did.

But I wasn’t so glad when I first got them. There aren’t too many cigars made by Don Pepin’s outfit that I haven’t been pleased with, but the Verocu No. 9 left a lot to be desired right off the truck. They were quite harsh, unbalanced, and burned terribly. Not what I expected from a Tat at all.

So I did what all hapless victims of the badly behaved box do: I attributed its faults to youth and put it away for a few months. And here I am, a few months later, with another good Nicaraguan puro to crow about.

The Verocu No. 9 is a short rothschild — at 4 1/2 inches long the cigar is almost eclipsed by its double bands, but its 49 ring gauge provides enough girth to keep it from petite corona status.

Construction Notes

The first impression this cigar makes is that it is well made, but rustic. The wrapper has a dry leathery appearance with a lot of variation in shade — from a dark brown, maduro-like color, to a ruddy colorado. The roll is solid and the head is finished with a traditional triple-cap. It’s not a gorgeous cigar, but it has redeeming qualities to be found elsewhere.

The draw is excellent, but these bad boys still burn a little off kilter. They behave much better than the fresh ones I smoked last summer, but they haven’t been completely reformed.

Overall good construction, but it has a stubborn wrapper leaf.

Tasting Notes

The Verocu No. 9 opens with flavors that I usually associate with maduro wrappers — anise and chocolate. Of course it wouldn’t be a Tat without a little black pepper to liven things up, and the No. 9 does not disappoint in this regard. It’s not overpowering, but it spikes the palate in a friendly way. The underlying flavor seems to be leather, and this continues for the duration of the cigar.

The bold corojo heart of the No. 9 beats a little stronger in the mid section, adding some caramel-tinged sweetness to the aroma. It helps to slow down a little with this one to minimize the sharpness of the aftertaste. The resting smoke seems a little sweeter this way as well.

The last stage continues to serve up a base flavor of leather with delicious caramel tones, along with a more assertive spice on the tongue.

Conclusion

Tatuaje’s Verocu No. 9 is a cigar to be savored. It cannot be rushed or all kinds of things go wrong — the burn goes haywire, the flavors get muddied, and the aftertaste becomes burnt tasting. Taken slowly, the flavors are instead quite distinct and enjoyable and the burn is decent (but not great.) They do have a decent kick, but by Tatuaje standards these are still medium-bodied.

This cigar doesn’t really taste like the standard Havana VI (which I think I like a bit better) or any other Tatuaje exactly. It’s a blend unto its own, with its own merits and downfalls.  I think any lover of Tatuaje or Pepin Garcia’s blends will find the Verocu No. 9 an enjoyable experience, though it might not rate among the best of them all.

The Verocu No. 9 is a Holt’s exclusive. Boxes of 20 retail for around 130 USD, though that price occasionally drops. I snagged a box for $100 last summer, and I’m not disappointed. The intervening months have done them a world of good, and if they continue on their current trajectory, these could turn out to be bigger little men than they already are right now.

Final Score: 85 (but climbing)

Tatuaje Havana VI Angeles

TatVIAngeles

I first reviewed the Tatuaje Havana at the end of 2006, not long after the blend was released as a medium-bodied alternative to the standard Tatuaje line.  Since then I’ve continued to enjoy this line as well as it’s more powerful mutation — the  Havana VI Verocu, which is also a good, but very different smoke.

Since I am routinely exiled to the back yard for my evening smoke and the temperature has been hovering around 105 degrees, I find myself reaching for smaller vitolas. That’s where the Angeles comes in.

There are six models of the Tat VI — the first letter of each size forms an anagram of the name of one of Pete Johnson’s dogs, “Havana.”

  • Hermosos – 5.625 x 46
  • Angeles – 4.625 x 42
  • Victorias – 6 x 38
  • Artistas – 6.125 x 52  (torpedo)
  • Nobles – 5 x 50
  • Almirante – 7 x 47

The Angeles is of course the  petite corona size.  Just the right size cigar for when the mercury drops below the century mark around 8 pm this time of year.

As is the case with most Tatuaje cigars, this one is a Nicaraguan puro and is made in Esteli by Tabacalera Cubana. The wrapper is Pepin’s familiar Corojo 99.

TatVIAngeles2

Construction Notes

Almost every cigar to leave one of Don Pepin or Jaime Garcia’s factories is picture perfect, and this little corona is no exception. The wrapper is a slightly oily colorado maduro, almost rosado in the fading light, and the tight triple cap is the envy of the industry. The only flaw in this cigar is a prominent vein running down the back of the stick, straight as a stocking seam in one of those classic pin-ups.

The draw is good, and the burn is fine. All cigars should made as well as these.

Tasting Notes

The cigar makes its first impression with that trademark Pepin twang. I’d like to think that I could identify this flavor and aroma anywhere, because this Corojo 99 is just that distinct.  The aroma is slightly sweet, somewhat caramel-like, and this is counterbalanced by a mild woody tannic flavor on the palate. The overall effect is earthy at first and gradually becomes more leathery as the stick burns down.

The peppery flavors I associate with Tatuaje are toned down in this blend, and they don’t make an appearance here until the second half of the smoke. This peppery note never really makes a solo appearance, but it does quietly simmer beneath the bitter-sweet melange above.  The last half-inch or so gets a little hot and starts to taste graphitic, but slow down and it can easily be enjoyed to a point well below the band.

Conclusion

Even in the triple-digit heat I find myself nubbing these little guys.  The Tatuaje Havana blend is a nice alternative for medium-bodied smokers, and I think this is my favorite vitola in the line. It’s all killer, no filler, as the kids say.

Once again though, the price is not ideal. These retail for around 5 or 6 dollars a stick. Not bad really, but not fantastic either. Still, if you’re in the market for a medium-bodied petite corona with real distinction, this is one you’ll have to consider.

Final Score: 90

TatVIAngeles3

Other Reviews of Note

Stinkie says the Angeles has it all on Cigar Beat

Rob (from PuffingCigars.com) finds the Angeles a clean, but less spicy smoke than others in the line.

Scott reviews the Almirante for Cigar Command and says EVERYONE should try this cigar at least once.

Patrick S. hedges his bet on the Nobles for The Stogie Guys.

Ambos Mundos by Tatuaje

ambosmundos

There is no cigar cliché that gets under my skin more than the image of the fat cat lighting up his churchill with a hundred dollar bill. Aside from being moronic (rich people don’t get that way by burning money) it justifies in the minds of many non-smokers the marginalization of cigar enthusiasts and the taxing of cigars. The reality is that most of us checking out cigar reviews and eyeballing the auction sites are doing our best to manage a tight budget in a challenging economic environment.  It’s been a while since I saw any fat cats licking their paws around my neighborhood.

It wasn’t due to the stormy economy that Pete Johnson decided to blend a cigar with affordability in mind, but price control was definitely an objective in developing Ambos Mundos. Tatuaje has been a runaway success for “Tattoo” Pete, but like many Miami-rolled cigars, they’re pricey. By producing this cigar in Nicaragua with lower grade (but still high-quality) tobaccos, he is hoping to keep the price down and fill the bargain cigar niche for his label.

As Pete told Cigar Insider,

This value-priced cigar uses B and C – grade tobacco. In other words, it’s tobacco that was not used on Tatuaje, the premium brand,  which uses A – grade. It’s very good tobacco, but just needs more time to be processed and needs more fermentation, taking a little longer to get out all the impurities. These bales don’t cost as much, so it’s a way to pass on the savings using some really good tobacco.

Ambos Mundos differs a bit from Tatuaje’s other budget-priced cigar, the Tatuaje Serie P, in that the latter is a short filler cigar made from the scraps of the standard Tatuaje line. AmbosAdAmbos Mundos is a long filler cigar that uses tobacco that just didn’t make the cut for standard Tatuaje cigars.

Only two sizes are in production so far (a robusto and a toro) but they are available  in two different wrappers: Ecuadorian Sumatra (red label) and  Nicaraguan Habano (white label.)  They are rolled in Jaime Garcia’s Tabacalera Garcia factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

Construction Notes

I smoked the Habano (white label) Ambos Mundos Toro first and found that it has just the quality construction you’d expect from Tatuaje and Tabacalera Cubana. A toothy wrapper tops off a solid roll, finished with Garcia’s trademark triple cap. Once lit, the Habano set to building a solid white ash. The burn was steady and even from start to finish. The draw was just a little bit firm, but that was the only demerit it received. Aside from that it was perfect.

The Sumatra (red label) version has a leathery looking wrapper, a little smoother and a little oilier than the Habano. The same good construction qualities were in evidence here, though the draw on these seemed to be a little better, while the burn was more erratic and required a couple touchups. The ash on the Sumatra was more variegated in color, but held just as well as the Habano.

ambos3

Tasting Notes

Both of these toro-sized cigars are lighter in body than the standard Tatuaje line, but the Sumatra seems a little bolder than the Habano version. Both cigars score well in terms of aroma — the Habano had a woody spiciness to it, while the Sumatra was a little meatier with notes of leather. Both versions have Pepin’s characteristic tartness, especially in the first inch or so, but also a sharpness and an irritating burn at the back of the throat, with the Sumatra being heavier, more peppery, and more aggressive in this regard. Some aging might temper this quality.

The white label Habano starts up with an earthy flavor and a good dose of tannin. The aroma is a pleasantly spicy, but for the first couple inches this is a simple and straightforward smoke. It transitions to aromas of hardwood with a touch of caramel and about an inch from the band picks up a good pinch of black pepper. The last third gets fairly sharp, but it’s smokeable. The Habano reminds me of some of Pepin’s milder offerings, but with less complexity.

ambos4

The red label Sumatra starts up where the white label leaves off — with lots of pepper. The difference between the two is immediately apparent. The Sumatra is a meaty and leathery smoke while the white label is woody. The tannins still make an appearance, but they seem to be overpowered by the wrapper’s rich flavor and aroma.  It’s slightly sweet with a dry finish. The last third increases in intensity until it unexpectly sours about a half inch from the band.

Conclusion

Both versions of the Ambos Mundos are good, but not great cigars. Personally I’d rather pony up the full price for an “A-grade” Tat than settle for a C-grade alternative that pales by comparison.  If this were a 2 dollar bundle stick I’d  be impressed, but it isn’t, and my opinion of this cigar suffers for it. For nearly the same price you could be smoking a DPG Black or an Illusione, better cigars that are similar in style as well as price.

Ambos Mundos is a long filler cigar set to retail around 5 USD per stick, or around $115 per box of 25. This stretches my definition of “bargain” a little bit, but it’s still a reasonable price for a premium cigar.  Just remember that there is a fair amount of competition in this price range.

Final Scores

Ambos Mundos White Label Habano: 85

Ambos Mundos Red Label Sumatra: 79

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Other Points of View

Her Humidor approves of Ambos Mundos as an everyday smoke.

The Great Torpedo thinks the Sumatra version is a decent smoke for its price.

Barry gives the Sumatra an edge over the Habano.

Resident Tatuaje expert Matt lets both wrappers have both barrels.

~cigarfan

La Riqueza No. 3

La Riqueza is the latest offering from Pete Johnson, maker of popular Tatuaje and Cabaiguan cigars. Not surprisingly, La Riqueza is also manufactured by Jose “Don Pepín” Garcia, this time around in his Nicaraguan factory.

Five sizes have been released, curiously numbered one through five:

  • No. 1 — 6 1/2 x 42
  • No. 2  — 5 1/2 x 52
  • No. 3  — 5 5/8 x 46
  • No. 4 — 5 x 48
  • No. 5 — 4 3/8 x 42

Even more curious is the wrapper on this cigar — it’s Connecticut broadleaf. We have become so accustomed to to Johnson’s (and Pepín’s) Nicaraguan puros, and his corojo wrappers in particular, that a broadleaf wrapper invites special scrutiny. There’s something inherently less refined about broadleaf, an impression inspired mostly by its rough and dry appearance.

Broadleaf tends to be thick and veiny, and unlike its shade-grown brethren it bears the full brunt of the weather. While Connecticut Shade is beautiful, refined, and mild, broadleaf is much bolder and more flavorful. But this amplified bravado is accompanied by a reduction in finesse. For all these reasons it is most often used as binder — it’s tough and flavorful, but for aesthetic reasons best kept under wraps.

Further piquing my interest is the fact that the Riqueza wrapper is the product of the Oliva Tobacco Company. Oliva grows and processes tobacco for some of the most prestigious labels in the business: Fuente and Newman being at the top of the list. The Angel 100 is the only cigar the Oliva Tobacco Company has actually produced themselves, and to my eye (and nose) there is in fact a similarity between the Angel 100 and La Riqueza.

The Riqueza is box pressed and bears the classic triple cap we expect from Pepin’s Tabacalera Cubana. The dark wrapper looks like a maduro, but it is reportedly a naturally dark broadleaf that hasn’t received maduro fermentation. The wrapper leaf is just barely oily and a close examination reveals a few fine crystals glittering in the tooth.

The draw on this cigar is spot on perfect.  It burns evenly and builds a solid light gray ash. Overall construction values are excellent.

La Riqueza No. 3 lights easily and produces billows of smoke from the start. The smoke texture is smooth and the initial flavor is moderately peppery with a mild bite. Pretty much what you’d expect from Pepin, but within half an inch the cigar opens up and becomes something completely different.

The flavor on the palate is coffee-like, but the aroma is very sweet, floral but also spicy. There is a lingering aftertaste of wood and pepper, and the overall effect is complex.

Into the second third the flavors lose some of their nuance and focus on earth. There is still a smattering of pepper on the palate, and the fragrance remains spicy sweet. The smoke gathers strength at this point as well, becoming slightly harsh on the back of the throat and sinuses.

The last section of the Riqueza No. 3 delivers rich earthy tobacco flavors — exactly what you’d expect from broadleaf — but the concentration of this flavor begins to overpower the subtle aromas in the last third. By an inch from the band the aftertaste surpasses earthiness and borders on dirty, becoming a little bitter, a little dry, and a little too much in my opinion.

What is remarkable about this cigar is the aroma, which is similar in some respects to what I’ve found in the Cuban Romeo y Julieta. But even more than that, it reminds me of the wrapper on the Angel 100 — the overall impression La Riqueza creates in combination with the flavor on the palate is more complex than the Angel, but the floral spiciness is quite similar. I have to wonder if these will age as well as the Angels, and if they will eventually lose some of their sharpness, especially in the back third. My only criticism of this cigar is that it seems to end about an inch and half too soon.

Aside from the unpleasant turn this one took in the last lap I think it’s a fine cigar. With age it should mellow into a great medium bodied Nicaraguan style smoke, one with a fantastic bouquet. If a retail tag of 9 USD isn’t a sticking point for you, I’d recommend picking up a box and letting it simmer for a year or two.

For other opinions of La Riqueza check out the Great Torpedo’s video review of the No. 3 at the Stogie Review, and Lisa’s review of the robusto size at Her Humidor.

Cabaiguan Guapo

Cabaiguan Guapo on Box

Cigar Stats
Brand Owner:
Peter Hassell Johnson – West Hollywood, CA
Factory: Tabacalera Cubana, S. A. (TACUBA) – Esteli, Nicaragua
Factory: Quality Control – El Rey de los Habanos – Miami, FL
Model/Vitola: Cabaiguan Guapo – Limited Edition
Size: 5.625 x 54 (robusto grande)
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut – Sun Grown
Filler & Binder: Nicaragua

Original Cabaiguan vitola sizes available:

  • Petite Cabaiguan 4.5 x 32 (small panatela)
  • Robustos Extra 5.25 x 50 (robusto)
  • Belicosos Finos 5.5 x 52 (torpedo)
  • Coronas Extra 5.625 x 46 (grand corona)
  • Imperiales 7.0 x 47 (churchill)

The Guapo is the only “Sun Grown” size offered. It comes in cedar boxes of 20 without cellophane sleeves in a bunch surrounded by a grey satin ribbon and then wrapped in wax paper. The original Cabaiguans are packaged 24 to a box except the Petite which comes in boxes of 50.

Guapo Box Top

The Guapo Experiment

I believe all Pepin fans are quite amazed at the number of cigars he is involved with either directly, as the brand owner himself or for other brand owners. Especially since he has only been at it for about 5 years after leaving Cuba. Pepin’s initial operation established in Miami has been quickly outgrown (discussed in the Serie JJ review) and as Pepin’s business partner and tobacco supplier, Eduardo Fernandez, hails from Nicaragua, it was only natural to set up the next facility there.The success of Tatuaje and Cabaiguan had a major impact on the decision to branch out. Consistency and quality are paramount to any real cigar success and I’m sure Pete Johnson, owner of those brands, enjoyed the control a small operation affords. But then there is the continuing need to create new and exciting products. To facilitate expansion, Pete and Don Pepin decided some production must move to Tabacalera Cubana, S.A. (TACUBA) but it would be necessary to test quality and consistency. Thus the Cabaiguan Guapo experiment was initiated. A limited-edition run of 50,000 cigars “totalamente hecho en TACUBA” and with quality control conducted at El Rey de los Habanos (ERDLH) in Miami. The Cabaiguan Guapo was the chosen guinea pig.

Cabaiguan Guapo (kah-bei-gWAHN goo-ah-poe)

The Cabaiguan brand is named after the purported Cuban home town of Maestro Tobaquero Don “Pepin” Garcia. Cabaiguan is the capital city in the municipality, of the same name, within the province of Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. The Guapo — Spanish for “handsome” — is a regular Cabaiguan on the inside with an Ecuadorian Sun Grown wrapper on the outside. Larger in ring gauge (54) than the others yielding some blending room. Unlike the original, it was rolled with a pigtail cap. It was pre-released to the market in September just before RTDA 2007.

Cabaiguan Location

Both Cigarfan and Lucky7 have sampled the Cabaiguan Guapo and the following review represents a combination of our observations.

Bottom line up front …..
The Guapo is definitely a little stronger than the original Cabaiguan but not by much. Probably a little strong for a breakfast cigar but certainly good any other time of day. Medium body with interesting flavor development through the first half and great aroma. Good construction yielding a beauty to look at as well as good draw and burn. Just a little pricey at $11 but a very good smoke.

Pre-light
This cigar is quite the looker. It sports a smooth milk chocolate brown wrapper with a few veins and an abbreviated pigtail triple-cap just begging to be clipped. Construction is solid with no soft spots and it feels very nice in the hand. Aroma from the wrap is almost non-existent and the foot a grassy tobacco. Pre-light draw was fantastic with just the slightest resistance and a sweet tobacco taste. The aroma from the toasting foot really gets the juices flowing. Lucky7 tried both straight cut with a Xikar and a punch. The punch seemed to limit the ensuing heat towards the nub a little better.

The Smoking Experience
Starts with a little bite then smoothes out quickly to a creamy base of toasty wood and bread with some spice and pepper on the nose. The wrapper imparts more spice than the regular Cabaiguan. Some notes of caramel and vanilla are evident in the first half. Second third ushers in a slight coffee flavor and the peppery edge on the nose subsides. Flavors leveled off at the halfway mark to a creamy sweet tobacco and remained that way to the nub without much additional development. Still a very pleasant smoke.The draw remained fantastic throughout. Burn line was a little bumpy at times but didn’t require the torch. Moderate volumes of smoke remain cool until the last third where it begins to heat up a bit. The ash is a medium gray and holds very well but flakes a bit. Initial ash nearly made the halfway mark and the rest made the nub. As an experiment Lucky7 tried ashing a Guapo every inch or so which seemed to improve flavor development.

Cabaiguan Guapo Ash

Finish is medium in length with a light grassy aftertaste and it gets a little more toasty in the last third. Not much of a nicotine kick evident in this stick. Very easy going. Smoking time ran about an hour 15 minutes.

Our take …..
Lucky7:
A very nice easy going smoke. It made for a successful experiment IMO. Quality and consistency were very good. Think it is probably a little too expensive at $11. Pepin makes some $6-$7 medium-bodied sticks that I would select over this one.

Cigarfan: The Tatuaje family resemblance is clearly evident in this Cabaiguan, but it’s also very distinct from its cousins. Not as powerful, but still very distinguished. To start with, it’s a beautifully constructed stick: solid with a velvety texture, though the wrapper looks light for a sungrown leaf. The burn throughout was good; overall this cigar exhibits very good construction. The flavors and aroma are everything we expect from Pepin and Tatuaje: lots of complexity, starting with his signature spicy opening. Later on we are treated to some interesting citrus flavors (which I always read about but rarely experience in a cigar) and varying shades of cocoa. I found a nice sweet maltiness in the last third. The underlying flavor is a mild woodiness that keeps an even steady beat without ever taking over, preferring to let the accents play the tune. Blending a mildish Ecuador Connecticut Shade with a toned-down version of the Tatuaje blend is an intriguing experiment. My suggestion is for everyone to sign up for guinea pig status. ASAP.

MSRP is $11 per stick. Best online price at the moment is Smoke Inn at $179.95/20 or $9 per stick. At Jack Schwartz Importers you can also buy singles for $10.25. This is a limited edition cigar so if you want to try one and can find them. Now’s the time.

Smoke Til You're Green Like it … Yes
Smoke Til You're Green Buy it again … Probably not
Smoke Til You're Green Recommend it … At least for a try

What others are saying about the Cabaiguan Guapo …..

17 August 2007
Club Stogie Thread
Cabaiguan Guapo

19 September 2007
Moglman – Brothers of the Leaf
(you have to scroll down some)

23 September 2007
Doc – Stogie Fresh
Episode 83: Cabaiguan Guapo

Publications

Tatuaje – Cabaiguan Cigar Selection


… cigarfan & lucky7

“It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep,and never to refrain when awake.” (Mark Twain)