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Stogie Commentary: Mexicali Grows

19 Apr 2011

In a business imbued with tradition, things certainly can change quickly in the cigar world. For the latest example, look at Mexican tobacco.

Not long ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a cigar blender or manufacturer outside Mexico who would openly admit to having that country’s tobacco, much less using it in a premium cigar. Outside New York, someone lighting up a Te-Amo seemed a rarity.

Now, you’ll find “Mexico” proudly displayed on cigars and touted in ads. Exhibit A: the band on Pepin Garcia’s latest La Reloba: “Selección Mexico.”

In fact, Pepin’s widening use of Mexican tobacco may be a large part of its growing acceptance, especially the heavy San Andreas wrapper leaves that can be rolled natural or fermented further to produce a maduro. One of the first non-Mexican cigars I recall announcing its Mexican component was the Pepin-blended Murcielago from EO Brands in 2009.

Among top-of-the-line sticks said to include Mexican tobacco is the Avo Limited Edition 2010. Although Avo’s site doesn’t disclose the components, several retailers list a Mexican Sumatra binder.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Among cigar trends in recent years, such as large ring gauges and powerful smokes, the expanded experimentation with tobacco grown in different countries is among the strongest. Brazil and Costa Rica have quickly moved from exotic to nearly commonplace. There’s even a line using Louisiana pipe tobacco specialty perique leaves in cigars.

Mexico itself is getting in on the act, with the country’s leading tobacco family, the Turrents, releasing and promoting new blends. Perhaps the image of foul-tasting Mexican cigars has begun to fade. After all, it’s been over a decade since the country changed its tariffs on the importation of tobacco, making it feasible for blenders there to create something other than a Mexican puro.

I applaud all the experimentation and greater disclosure of ingredients. And even though I usually don’t like Mexican tobacco, I’m occasionally pleasantly surprised. If blenders weren’t willing to take a chance with new tobaccos—and ignore sometimes long-standing opinions—smokers wouldn’t get a chance to enjoy new and different cigars.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

Drew Estate

11 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Mexicali Grows”

  1. Nick M. Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    George,

    Try the La Aroma de Cuba Mi Amor if you haven't already. I beleive it featured a Mexican wrapper. Fantastic smoke.

  2. George E. Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    Nick –

    It all just shows how individual tastes are. You're correct that it has a Mexican-grown wrapper, and I have tried it. To me, it's far less enjoyable than either of the other two La Aroma lines.

  3. dmjones1009 Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    I agree with George…the Mi Amor is by far my least favorite La Aroma.

    There seem to be two main levels of Mexican wrapper tobacco…those used on cheaper cigars and those used on better ones. To me, most of that leaf used on cigars under, say, the $10 mark have a very bitter earthiness that I find unpleasant and is distinctively "Mexican." Cigars in this category include the Mi Amor, Murcielago, and San Lotano Maduro. Other Mexican leaves have bitterness but not nearly at the same level; there is still that "Mexican" flavor but not so strong I find it bad…in fact, sometimes it can be very good. I would cite the Padron 1926 and 1964 Maduros as well as the Tatuaje "The Face" as examples of these.

  4. sr Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    I agree with gmjones, I just recently found out about the Padron Maduro Anniversaries using wrappers from the Turrents. Thanks Alex Svenson for that info!

  5. Ethan K Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    I suppose blenders could get almost any tobacco into a cigar that tasted good, if they keep experimenting; same as a good cook can make use of some bitter vegetables in a stew–as long as the proportions are right & nothing is foul.

    Cooking, one can mix a lot of cheap ingredients to end up w/ great dishes. Perhaps someday someone will magically blend cheapest tobaccos to make a wonderful cigar. However, if someone did find the elusive, excellent, cheapest blend, would he sell it cheap?

  6. Dennis W. Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    As a former pipe smoker, I would be interested in the cigar which uses perique tobacco.

    Thanks,

    Dennis W.

  7. George E. Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    Dennis – Over the years, I've seen references to a cigar or two that contained perique, none of which I've ever smoked. The one that I believe is being made now is the Mysterioso, which you can check at http://www.cvtobacco.com/Templates/Mysteriosos.ht…. You might want to give them a call, though, because the prices are marked N/A.

  8. Patrick S Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    George E and Dennis W-

    If I'm not mistaken some (if not all) of the Drew Estate Natural line includes Perique tobacco. Also, I believe some use Latakia, another exotic pipe tobacco.

  9. George E Tuesday, April 19, 2011 at 5:52 pm #

    I've read numerous comments about Drew Estate tobacco, including the Root having perique. But I think Drew Estate is pretty tight about the tobaccos and botanicals it uses, and I don't know if the company has ever specifically named its tobaccos.

  10. Dennis W. Thursday, April 21, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Thanks for the information. I'll give them a try.

    Dennis W.

  11. TriMarkC Friday, April 22, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    Funny – I never thought I liked Mexican tobaccos. Now I read that some of my favorite cigars – Padron 1926 and 1964 Maduros, and the Tatuaje “The Face” – all have Mexican leaves. Live and learn