3 Nov 2011
“Made in the U.S.A.” is a phrase not often associated with premium cigars. But that’s the sort of spirit Walter “Lilo” Santiago wants to bring to his new brand, Crémo Cigars.
When Crémo actually hits the market in early 2012, Santiago will be promoting the fact that the cigars are crafted at the El Titan de Bronze Cigar Factory on Miami’s Calle Ocho. The factory, according to a recent Crémo press release, is “known best for its old-school Cuban entubado techniques, [and] is a family owned and operated ‘fabriquita’ which employs level-nine rollers from Cuba, who have worked for Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, Corona, and Partagas. These torcedores, like a painter to a canvas, handcraft each cigar with meticulous detail.”
I recently received several samples of Crémo’s inaugural blend—called “Classic”—in the mail from Santiago. Sure enough, along the side of each cream-colored band is the phrase “handcrafted in Little Havana.” But the tobacco within the blend is not American. It is comprised of a Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.
Exclusively blended by Willy Herrera prior to his departure to Drew Estate, Classic will be offered in three vitolas: a corona gorda called Magnum Opus (5.75 x 46), a robusto called Excelsior (5 x 50), and a toro called Intrepidus (6 x 52). The robusto will carry an MSRP of $8 while the other two formats will be priced in the $10-12 range.
The Intrepidus is a pale-looking smoke with a roadmap of thin veins across its otherwise smooth surface. The cap is constructed well, and there’s a moderately soft feel from head to toe. I notice faint pre-light notes of honey and hay as I take a draw before touching fire to the foot.
After establishing an even light, the cigar starts with a dry wood flavor, some coffee, and plenty of Nicaraguan kick. The latter taste, which comes across as a black pepper spice, slowly fades after the first inch, leaving a creamier texture and a more rounded profile. I’d be willing to say the Intrepidus starts fairly full-bodied and transitions to the medium-bodied range rather quickly. That’s where it remains until the end, giving off floral notes and cedar along the way. Construction on the toro is about as close to perfect as you can get.
Santiago tells me Crémo will be introducing a maduro line at the company’s official launch at next summer’s IPCPR Trade Show in Orlando. I look forward to trying that. For now, the Classic Intrepidus has made an impression on me, with all three samples smoking well, yielding complex flavors, and producing aromatic resting smoke. For these reasons, I have no qualms about rating this up-and-coming smoke four and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys