23 Jun 2009
When I checked out the Series Gran Cru No. 2 back in April, I said I was ready to add Tesa to my short list of favorite boutiques. Today’s review reaffirms that decision in a big way.
Located in a shop on the Near North Side of the Windy City, Tesa cigars are “meticulously blended by Chicago area resident Chris Kelly and crafted in the Tesa Cigar factory in Estelí.” Their flagship house blend, Vintage Especial, features a Connecticut shade wrapper with Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. Only 80,000 sticks of each vitola are made annually.
The Rothchild vitola (no, that’s not a typo; Tesa omits the “s”) is a classically sized robusto with five inch by 50 ring gauge dimensions. Like the eight other blends in the Tabacalera Tesa lineup, it comes dressed in nothing but its birthday suit—a move that some enthusiasts find annoying but one that I’ve always admired.
Why? Because naked cigars suggest two things about their manufacturers: (1) they likely care more about tobacco than marketing and (2) they have confidence in the reputation and appearance of their creations to move their products.
With a gorgeous, seamless, and nearly vein-free wrapper, I think Tesa made a smart move by not dressing up the Vintage Especial. The four samples in my humidor were attractive enough on their own merits to grab my attention and prompt this review.
The first few puffs are salty with little else going on. But as soon as the thick, shiny mascara starts to wind its way down the cigar, I am immediately reminded of two fantastic stogies: the Davidoff Grand Cru and the PG Gourmet. The thick, superbly balanced smoke yields a delicious flavor of oak, cream, buttery nuts, and sweet hay. Mild and harmonious.
With phenomenal physical properties that include a straight-edge burn, a sturdy ash, and the slightest resistance in draw, the Tesa Vintage Especial Rothchild is an absolute treasure. It encompasses everything I love about great Connecticut shade smokes—balance and intricate subtleties that reward attentive smokers.
As with the Series Gran Cru, however, this cigar’s singular drawback is its limited availability and relatively high cost. As far as I can tell, the only way to get your hands on one of these is to either visit the shop in person or purchase it from Tesa’s online store for $13.95 per single.
I hope you don’t let those barriers discourage you from seeking one out, particularly if you’re the kind of smoker who can appreciate milder creations. I certainly am. And for all the reasons listed above, I’m pleased to award the Tesa Vintage Especial Rothchild our highest rating of five stogies out of five.
photo credit: Stogie Guys