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Stogie Reviews: Cuba Libre Unico

3 Mar 2009

Spanish for “Free Cuba,” the Cuba Libre brand signifies Nestor Plasencia’s hope of one day returning to a homeland that embraces liberty. Like so many of today’s best cigar makers, he fled Cuba after the Castro regime took over his family’s thriving tobacco operation and confiscated their factories and fields.

Cuba Libre UnicoWith five generations of Cuban tobacco cultivation as a compass, Nestor reestablished the family business in Nicaragua to make use of the fertile Eselí and Jalapa Valley regions. Today his successful factories turn out many Rocky Patel blends, some Gurkha lines, and the Alec Bradley Maxx.

Cuba Libre, Nestor’s take on a value brand, is appropriately made from 100 percent Cuban-seed tobacco. The filler and Nicaraguan binder are covered by a smooth yet veiny wrapper with a reddish hue and a wrinkled complexion.

This cigar is by no means unattractive—the sharp box-press adds character and the red, gold, and blue band is appealing—but something about the appearance compels me to mentally liken it to a typical house brand. Maybe it’s the haphazardly applied cap. Or maybe it’s the prevalence of soft spots from head to foot.

Notwithstanding the Unico’s torpedo-like frame, and despite the fact that I only clipped a bit of tobacco off the top, the pre- and post-light draw is easy. Too easy, if you ask me. The flavors from this six and ¼ inch by 54 ring gauge cigar seemed to be watered down by each airy puff.

When I could sort through the taste in the voluminous tufts of smoke, I found mild- to medium-bodied flavors of earth, leather, and traces of pepper. Some acidic or sweet notes would have helped balance out the predominantly dry profile.

Aside from the hollowed-out draw, the physical properties were excellent—especially considering the price range. Boxes of 20 Unicos go for $75-90, and you can find singles for less than $3 apiece in various online samplers.

That’s ultimately why this cigar makes a decent golf course or barbeque companion: It offers good construction and consistent flavors for little cost. It just doesn’t have enough complexity or personality to be the main event.

Cuba Libre has a compelling story but, in the end, I am neither disappointed nor impressed with the Unico. It earns three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

3 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: Cuba Libre Unico”

  1. Christopher C Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    I wanted to like this cigar a lot but, as you point out, it just doesn't satisfy on some counts. Still, hang onto a box for friends and the golf course and you'll be happy.

  2. Jim Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 4:19 pm #

    As I frequently do, I tried this cigar before reading any comments, so I can have a completely non-influenced, objective opinion. I sat outside tonight under cover of the screened in porch listening to the New Jersey rain where temps are still very bareable. I received my Cuba Libre as part of a free sampler because I put some bucks down on a cache of Padilla Miamis, Gurkha Regents & Royal Brigades along and a 4 cigar sampler of the Alec Bradley Tempus Quadrum. Oh yeh. The review! When I lit this cigar, it had an initial bite to it but I could taste the underlying complexities at the same time. The bite subsided shortly there after, and I was able to enjoy quite a complex cigar. I was surprised by the review in that it wasn't airy at all to me. It had a very good draw, and it certainly did not have a dry profile. You want a dry profile, try an RP R4. Yuk! I would have guessed that it was nearer to a high end smoke than the price mentioned here. Maybe it was that fact that the one I smoked was not the same ring gauge reviewed above. Mine was maybe a 5.5 or 6×50 box pressed. All in all, I enjoyed the cigar completely, and did not want to put it down. It's definitely a feather for future caps.


Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Stogie Spirits: Five Classic Summer Rum Drinks - Thursday, August 27, 2009

    […] seems so much more fitting.  (The pairing is so fitting that Nestor Plasencia named a cigar Cuba Libre.) I recommend a spiced rum and pairing it with a spicy Cameroon-wrapped […]