11 May 2009
When I think of things that are barrel aged I think of wine, bourbon, beer, and rum. But, thanks to José Blanco and the oldest cigar company in the Dominican Republic, now I think of stogies too. And for that I am grateful.
This blend, which debuted in August 2007 at the IPCPR Trade Show, features tobacco aged in oak barrels that were once home to Dominican rum. The process doesn’t necessarily infuse the leaves with a rum taste; rather, it speeds up the fermentation process. And while this idea isn’t new to the people over at La Aurora, the Barrel Aged blend is the first cigar they’ve made with 100 percent barrel aged tobacco.
They seem to have found a winning concept. The Belicoso (6.25 x 52), one of four vitolas in the line, was named the 14th best cigar of 2008 by Cigar Aficionado. The magazine imparted a rating of 92, writing the stick is “one of the company’s top cigars since its landmark 100 Años.”
With a dark, russet-colored corojo wrapper and a pre-light aroma of sweet chocolate and nuts, this cigar is downright appealing right out of the cellophane. The oily texture and hardened veins impart a feeling of age, even though the tobacco is likely only a few years old at this point.
The initial flavor is spicy with dominant hints of coffee beans, clove, and that straightforward tobacco taste that’s typical of corojo tobacco. The Dominican and Nicaraguan binder and filler leaves produce plenty of complexity yet zero harshness.
Sweet, woody, earthy…there’s a lot going on here. A touch of bite on the finish joins in the fray down the home stretch, and there it remains until you’re forced to set the nub down for good.
Fortunately, the physical properties mostly live up to this cigar’s $6.50-9 price tag. The draw is easy and smooth and the white, finely layered ash holds strong until tapped. I only wish the burn didn’t require as many touch-ups to stay even.
That aside, this is an outstanding choice for someone who enjoys the raw taste of a well-balanced, nicely constructed cigar. I applaud José Blanco and his colleagues for experimenting with the barrel aged concept. And I give the La Aurora Barrel Aged Belicoso a solid rating of four stogies out of five.
[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]
photo credit: Stogie Guys