If you’re a regular consumer of online cigar media, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with Barry Stein. He is highly active on social media, the founder (and former proprietor of) A Cigar Smoker, a former employee of Miami Cigar & Co., and a current employee of the New Hampshire-based Two Guys Smoke Shop, a chain of cigar retailers.
Back in 2013, Stein created a new cigar brand called Kilo, which was made a La Aurora in the Dominican Republic (La Aurora is distributed by Miami Cigar, where Stein served as director of social media). Kilo was considered a test blend and marketed to cigar chops in New Mexico, Texas, and Maryland before it was discontinued when Stein and Miami Cigar parted ways in the spring of 2014. Miami Cigar allowed Stein to keep the Kilo trademark when he relocated to New Hampshire.
Kilo has been re-blended and is now available in nearly 50 cigar shops nationwide. Made at the Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory in Nicaragua by Noel Rojas, owner of Guayacan Cigars, the new version of Kilo sports an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan Corojo 2006 binder, and three-year-old filler tobaccos from Rojas’ farms in Nicaragua and Aganorsa.
Kilo is offered in two sizes: Robusto (5 x 50, $9) and Toro (6 x 52, $9.50). This newer iteration is easily distinguished from the 2013 test blend Kilo because the attractive band is black with accents of gold and white, instead of completely gold. The back of the band also has a United Cigars tab, which not only identifies the parent company, it makes removing the band refreshingly easy.
I sampled several Toros for this review. This vitola is a firm, handsome specimen with a nice triple-cap and an overall feel of quality. The foot exudes notes of baking spices, cocoa, and hay, and the head clips cleanly to reveal an easy cold draw.
After setting an even light, the initial profile is characterized by a vegetal taste that’s almost grassy with background notes of coffee, leather, and white pepper. Cream and caramel add balance. There’s loads of strength with little spice.
After a half-inch, the Toro picks up some spice and intensity. Still, the vegetal taste is front and center, rounded off now by earth, natural tobacco, and sugary sweetness. The physical properties are perfect throughout, including a solid ash, straight burn line, effortless draw, and voluminous smoke production.
I have to admit, Kilo is a tough cigar to review. I’ve met Barry Stein on a number of occasions, and he’s a likable character with a sincere passion for tobacco. Plus, let’s face it: It’s easy for me to root for a cigar blogger turned brand owner. Take my opinion for what it’s worth, but I honestly think Stein and Rojas did a fantastic job with this blend. It’s balanced, cool-burning, interesting, unique, and superbly constructed. While the centerpiece flavor that I’ve been calling “vegetal”—it’s a difficult sensation to describe accurately—may not be for everyone, it really strikes a chord with me, and it confirms my suspicions that a lot of careful thought went into this cigar’s makeup. As such, I feel confident awarding the Kilo Toro four and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys