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Stogie Reviews: Tesa Cabinet 312 Series R

12 Jul 2010

Only a select few cigar outfits have impressed me like Tesa, a boutique manufacturer run from a fashionable lounge in Chicago. From the Gran Cru and the Havanitas to the Vintage Especial and the Series Finos, I’m a big fan of these naked, tiger-endorsed blends made by atypical cigar maker Chris Kelly.

Tesa Cabinet 312 Series R“I’m a 24-year-old Irish kid from the South Side of Chicago,” Kelly told me in an interview. “My father bought a building in Nicaragua and offered to let me make cigars. At 18 I said, ‘Hell yes!’ and have been doing it ever since.”

Listening to Kelly talk about the challenges of blending and the difficulties of operating as an outsider in Nicaragua is an eye-opening experience. But no one can doubt that he caught on to the trade quickly. Tesa has grown a loyal following, earned a well-deserved reputation for quality and consistency, and scored very well in our reviews.

The Cabinet 312 blend is no exception. Named for Chicago’s best-known area code, this line sports a criollo ’98 maduro leaf wrapped around Nicaraguan tobaccos from Estelí and Jalapa. It is available in five cifuentes-capped vitolas and one torpedo size called the Series G.

I sampled two Series Rs (4.75 x 52) for this review. Each had a textured, somewhat lumpy surface but was devoid of any real physical imperfections. The tightly packed robusto is firm in the hand and draws well on the cold taste. Pre-light notes of sweet wood are subtle.

In the spring Kelly told me this cigar is one of his favorites and among his best-sellers. It’s easy to see why from the first puff. The Cabinet 312’s full-bodied flavor is of warm spice and dry cocoa with sugary, creamy undertones. While it has characteristics of other criollo-wrapped smokes, the Series R is more refined than others I can recall in terms of balance and complexity.

As the solid gray ash builds off the foot, the burn line tends to wave down the cigar. A few touch-ups are needed here and there to keep things running on schedule, but construction is otherwise top-notch and worthy of a smoke of this depth and flavor.

It goes without saying that criollo fans need to add the Cabinet 312 to their must-try list. Seek out the $10 Series R for a fine example of everything a great criollo cigar should be. For its memorable, complex profile that’s spicy yet smooth, this Tesa creation earns four and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

4 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: Tesa Cabinet 312 Series R”

  1. Dan Monday, July 12, 2010 at 5:39 am #

    I'm a regular at Tesa and I think your review of this particular stick is spot on. I'm also a big fan of their Shaman series. It's a wonderful oily maduro and comes in a bigger gauge which provides for a good 90 minutes of pure heaven. Great review and great site..

    When you boys gonna come back to Chicago for a mini-herf at Tesa?

  2. Wade Howard Monday, July 12, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    This cigar is brilliant. I had a chance to try it at their lounge in Chicago in May. It is one of the best Criollo wrapped cigars that I have ever had. The owner was terrific to talk to and it is a pleasure to support the "little guy". Great job Tesa!

  3. oceanelect4 Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:40 am #

    can you only get it at the chicago store. is there a web site to go to?

  4. Brian Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Thanks for the support guys! Glad you all love the sticks. You go directly to our website at or call (312) 929-3075.