4 Mar 2013
The Vintage Especial by Tesa is one of the finest, most complex mild cigars on the market—and currently my favorite Connecticut smoke. Its only drawback is its price.
So I was intrigued when Chris Kelly told me he was bringing a value-priced Connecticut blend to Tesa, a Chicago boutique with a portfolio of fantastic house blends. Picadura King, as the new blend is called, is made with a Connecticut shade wrapper and Nicaraguan long-filler mixed with short-filler scraps (called picadura).
The difference in cost between Vintage Especial and Picadura King is striking: the robusto-sized Vintage Especial Rothchild runs $14, whereas the Picadura King Robusto is about $4-5. Three other Picadura King sizes are available: Churchill (7 x 50), Toro (6 x 50), and Super Toro (6 x 62). Each also comes in a Maduro variety.
I grabbed a handful of Robustos at Tesa in early February, seeing them prominently on display within the shop’s walk-in humidor. Each has a closed foot and a delicate, pale wrapper with a few larger viens. Faint notes of sweet hay are apparent pre-light. The density is consistent from head to foot and stiffer than you might expect a mix-filler cigar to be.
After lighting the Robusto and taking a few introductory puffs, I can’t help but smile. The familiar taste is very reminiscent of the Vintage Especial: oak, sweet hay, cream, and roasted nuts. Mild, harmonious, and well-balanced with an interesting interplay between the sweetness of the smoke and the lingering spice on the finish.
For me—a cigar enthusiast who strives to smoke milder cigars about 30% of the time—the Picadura King Robusto, like the Vintage Especial Rothchild, hits all the right notes. It’s mild enough to be smoked any time of day. It’s flavorful and complex enough to keep my interest. And it never succumbs to the pitfalls of many other Connecticut smokes (namely papery or chemical-like tastes).
Construction is outstanding, which is what I’ve come to expect from Tesa’s factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. The burn is perfectly straight. The draw is smooth. Each puff releases plenty of smoke. And the ash holds pretty well given the filler mix.
Time will tell if Picadura King can be an outright replacement for Vintage Especial in my rotation. I need to smoke a few back-to-back to see if the former has all the complexity of the latter. I suspect it doesn’t (though maybe I’m just thinking it can’t given the price difference). Either way, the Picadura King Robusto is an excellent mild cigar that can firmly stand on its own legs, one that’s worthy of four and a half stogies out of five.
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photo credit: Stogie Guys