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Cigar Review: Boutique Blends La Bohème Encantador Turin

2 Nov 2015

Cuban-born Rafael Nodal—who emigrated in 1980 via the Mariel boatlift—says La Bohème brings together three passions: cigars, Cuba, and music. The blend is rooted in Cuban heritage with artwork from a nineteenth century Cuban cigar. The name is a tribute to the opera by Giacomo Puccini. And Nodal calls it “my take on the golden era of Cuban cigars.”

TurinLa Bohème came out in 2014 with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper around Dominican binder and filler tobaccos. This February, my colleague reviewed the small Mimi size (3.5 x 46), finding it to be “another virtuoso performance for Boutique Blends,” which is a partnership between Nodal, Hank Bischoff, and Nodal’s wife, Dr. Alina Cordoves Nodal.

This summer, Nodal introduced a La Bohème extension called Encantador (Spanish for “enchanted”). It uses a darker, higher priming of the Ecuadorian Habano capa than the original La Bohème, which comes from José “Jochi” Blanco’s stash of limited tobaccos.

La Bohème Encantador is made at Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic. Three sizes are available in the $10.25 to $12.24 range: Turin (5 x 46), Fenice (6 x 52), and La Scala (5.75 x 54). Only 400,000 total cigars will be made before the line is discontinued due to tobacco availability.

Encantador is easily distinguished from the original La Bohème via its secondary band, as well as the background color on the main band (La Bohème has a cream-colored base to match its lighter wrapper, whereas Encantador is black). Turin sports a sharp box-press with a rustic, dark, mottled exterior that’s oily and traversed by a network of thin veins. The pre-light notes are sweet and chocolaty. A careful punch cut is all that’s needed to reveal an easy cold draw.

Once lit, the profile is a medium- to full-bodied combination of cayenne spice, black pepper, garlic powder, and coffee grounds. The finish exhibits a sharp spice on the tip of the tongue, and the aromatic resting smoke is a beautiful mixture of roasted nuts and coffee. Later on, hints of dark chocolate, cream, and dried fruit make appearances.

Turin—which is named for the northern Italian city where Puccini’s opera debuted in 1896—is a slow-burning cigar with moderate smoke production, a solid gray ash, and a burn that tends to meander a bit.

Any slight shortcomings in the construction department, though, are made up for by a unique, well-balanced flavor that jumps from savory to sweet, fruity to leathery, and creamy to salty. The Boutique Blends mantra centers on small batch production from limited tobaccos for discerning cigar smokers. Whatever the method, the output—in this case La Bohème Encantador Turin—works. And the smaller format seems to suit this blend particularly well, packing a lot of condensed punch into a distinctive, interesting cigar that’s worthy of four stogies out of five.

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

–Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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