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Cigar Review: Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto

22 Jan 2014

In addition to heading up Emilio Cigars, Gary Griffith is at the helm of House of Emilio, an organization that provides distribution to what he considers to be the “best of the boutiques.”

RodrigoCurrently, the House of Emilio portfolio includes 1502, Bodega, Epicurean, Ezra Zion, Guayacan, Herederos, Nomad, and Rodrigo. “These are up and coming cigar companies that have superior product and great interaction with retailers and cigar aficionados alike,” reads the House of Emilio website.

The story behind the Rodrigo brand—which can be read in its entirety here—is one of a man who loved cigars, flew to Santiago on a whim in 2010, and by chance got connected to a former master blender for Davidoff who taught him the business. That man is George Rodriguez, founder and president of Rodrigo Cigars.

Rodrigo consists of three small-batch blends: Habano Clasico, Boutique Blend, and La Fortaleza. The latter is a Dominican puro that translates to “strength” and is intended to counter the “stigma that flavor and complexity must be sacrificed in order to gain strength.” It comes in four sizes: Absoluto (5.1 x 43), Forte (5.5 x 50), Elegante (6.75 x 48), and Cinco (6 x 56). All have an oscuro wrapper, and no more than 7,000 cigars are made in each size.

The Absoluto is a rustic specimen that’s a little rough around the edges. It has a few lumps, some large veins, and the seams are very pronounced. The cap has a nice pigtail, though, and the cold draw is smooth. At the foot, pre-light notes of red pepper are apparent.

After establishing an even light, a medium- to full-bodied profile of black pepper and damp earth emerges. The strength is evident yet not overwhelming, and the flavor is bold and rich with a thick, leathery texture. Floral notes and traces of sweetness are fleeting but noticeable, particularly when you smoke through the nose.

I find this slow-burning cigar takes longer to smoke than I would typically expect from a cigar this size. All the while the combustion qualities are very solid. The burn is straight, the ash holds firm, the draw is smooth, and the smoke production is high.

Do yourself a favor and give the Rodrigo La Fortaleza Absoluto a try. For the going rate of about $7, you’ll get a bold smoke with a lot to offer in the flavor department. I find it works particularly well as an after-dinner companion to a cup of coffee and, as advertised, delivers both complexity and strength. In my book it rates four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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