Last spring, Abe Flores of Pinar del Rio Cigars (PDR) issued an announcement that PDR would be managing the sales and distribution of the El Primer Mundo (EPM) brand. “This is a great opportunity for the EPM brand,” said Sean Williams, head of the Atlanta-based EPM. “Abe and I have… some good synergies with our overlap on sales reps and key accounts. This move will just make things a lot more efficient for our reps and our retailers.”
The EPM lines now sold and distributed by PDR include Liga Miami, Epifania, and La Hermandad. The latter, which translates to “brotherhood,” has been made by Abe Flores at his factory in the Dominican Republic since its inception in 2012. (It should be noted that Flores’ factory also produces cigars for other brands outside the PDR-EPM fold, including Gurkha and La Palina).
EPM also has La Hermandad Costa Fuerte, which sports a Bahia Brazilian wrapper, a Dominican binder, and filler tobaccos that include Corojo ’06 from the Dominican and Criollo ’98 from Nicaragua. It is offered in three sizes that retail in the $8-$10 range: Caballito (5 x 50), Embajador (6 x 52), and Consejero (6 x 60).
I sampled three Caballitos for this review. Once I removed the white sleeve that covers the majority of the cigar, I notice this robusto-sized format has a number of fairly large veins across its otherwise smooth surface. The foot shows a cross-section of tightly packed tobaccos that give off some earthy pre-light notes. The cap seems hastily applied.
According to the EPM website, Costa Fuerte is intended to be a full-bodied smoke “with complex notes of spice, light coffee, and subtle creaminess.” After torching the foot and establishing an even light, a spice-forward profile of dry cedar takes center stage. The draw is virtually devoid of resistance, which I think adds to the intensity of the spice. It’s almost as though the voluminous smoke is concentrated at the tip of the tongue, rendering the profile salty and abrasive. For me, the sensation is quite agreeable. What’s more, I find it’s even better if paired with rum (Flor de Caña 18, in my case), as the sweetness of the rum offsets the cigar’s spice.
Into the second third and beyond, the Costa Fuerte mellows a bit, replacing some of the dry cedary spice and salt with notes of cream and roasted nut. Here the smoke begins to taste more along the lines of what I consider to be the profile of a classic full-bodied Cuban. It’s more balanced, and very traditional-tasting. All the while, the combustion properties are superb, including a straight burn, effortless draw, and solid ash.
We all know cigar reviews are subjective. I can see how some might be less enthralled by Costa Fuerte, especially since the first third is so dry and spicy. But the Caballito really strikes a chord with me, at least in part because I’m a fan of good cigars to pair with sweet sipping rums in the evening. After smoking through three samples this weekend, I’ve settled on an admirable score of four stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys