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Commentary: My Cigar Safari Blends

10 Sep 2012

As you may remember from all of our coverage in late May, this spring I journeyed to Estelí, Nicaragua, to participate in Drew Estate’s unforgettable Cigar Safari adventure.

There, in addition to getting to tour the factories where some of the world’s best cigars are made, I got the awesome opportunity to blend two cigars: one at Joya de Nicaragua, and the other at Drew Estate. Today I’d like to present my work to you, now that I’ve had ample time to allow the cigars to rest and to smoke a fair number of my samples.

I’d like to point out two things about both cigars before getting into the details. First, I did not grow, cultivate, ferment, or actually roll any of the cigars. All the hard work was done by the fine folks at Joya de Nicaragua and Drew Estate, respectively. My role consisted of walking into a room full of tobacco and selecting a wrapper, a binder, and a filler blend from available tobaccos. As such, the process was fairly idiot-proof—almost anyone could have turned out a decent-tasting smoke since either factory has wonderful tobacco to work with.

Second, while most folks presented with this opportunity might try to produce a cigar tailored for their palate, I set out with a specific goal for each cigar, and then tried to select a blend that would hit the mark. As you’ll see below, for one of these cigars I think I succeeded; for the other, not so much (but I’m not complaining about the result).

Joya de Nicaragua Blend
Wrapper: Connecticut Ecuador
Binder: Habano volado
Filler: Condega seco (30%), Estelí viso (40%), Condega ligero (30%)
Size: 5.5 x 48

My objective with this cigar was to produce a mild, creamy smoke that would be excellent with a morning cup of coffee. I couldn’t be more pleased with the result. This beautiful, golden cigar burns like a champ and yields a nice flavor of cream, butter, almond, and just a bit of spice. I got ten of these from Joya de Nicaragua and I’ve almost completely blazed through the entire stash. I may have to fly back down to Nicaragua to see if I can get more. While Joya de Nicaragua isn’t known for making mild smokes, this one turned out wonderfully.

Drew Estate Blend
Wrapper: Brazilian mata fina oscuro
Binder: Habano Ecuador
Filler: Estelí seco (33%), Jalapa ligero (33%), Brazilian mata fina (33%)
Size: 5.25 x 42

My objective here was to get a medium-bodied smoke that’s low on spice but big on dark chocolate flavors—something that would pair nicely with a glass of red wine. That’s why I loaded it up with mata fina, a tobacco that’s typically sweet and chocolaty. In my blend, though, the Habano Ecuador binder and seco and ligero fillers unexpectedly shine though. The result is a profile devoid of chocolate or any sweetness. Instead, the flavor packs dry spice, leather, and oak. I like this cigar, and it is getting better each month, but it isn’t at all what I had intended.

Regardless of either result, blending these cigars was one of the most rewarding and educational cigar experiences I’ve ever had. Thanks again to everyone at Drew Estate and Joya de Nicaragua for the opportunity. Until my next visit, I won’t quit my day job.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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