27 Jul 2015
In August 2013, Joya de Nicaragua announced José Blanco, the company’s senior vice president, had stepped down and would be leaving Estelí for “his roots in the Dominican Republic.” While Blanco’s two-year contract with the oldest cigar maker in Nicaragua was not renewed, he left behind his eponymous, critically acclaimed CyB cigar line (formerly Cuenca y Blanco). Some speculated CyB’s sales never lived up to expectations—notwithstanding virtually unanimous praise from the online cigar community.
A man like Blanco could not be expected to leave the premium cigar industry behind. After all, Blanco is a longtime industry veteran and roving cigar ambassador who is well known for his tasting seminars and extensive travel to cigar shops. (Before joining Joya, he spent 29 years at La Aurora.)
So it sparked little surprise—and considerable fanfare—when Blanco announced the creation of Las Cumbres Tabaco in February 2014. The new venture, which translates to “summits of tobacco,” runs out of the Dominican Republic and includes a partnership with Tabacalera Palma, operated by Blanco’s cousin, Jochi Blanco, in Tamboril, Santiago.
The first Las Cumbres blend was officially launched June 2014. Called Señorial (Spanish for “lordly”), it boasts a Habano Ecuardor wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder from Estelí, and Dominican filler tobaccos of the Piloto Cubano and Corojo varieties. Marketed as “full-bodied and truly full-flavored,” it is offered in 5 sizes that retail for $7 to $11: Corona Gorda No. 5 (5.5 x 46), Paco Robusto (5.25 x 52), Toro Bravo (6 x 54), Le Grand (6 x 60), and Belicoso No. 2 (6.25 x 52).
Some sticks just feel like they’re going to smoke perfectly when you hold them. The Paco Robusto is one of those cigars. It has a solid weight and a firm cross-section of tobaccos visible at the foot. The cap clips easily to reveal a smooth pre-light draw, and the oily wrapper has a silky texture.
Once lit, pre-light notes of syrup and cinnamon transition to a complex, medium-bodied profile of graham cracker, black pepper, creamy nut, and molasses. Dried fruit—maybe apricot?—also makes an appearance. The finish is long and spicy with cinnamon and more pepper.
At the midway point and beyond, the smoke remains bountiful and cool, and the flavors intensify to approach the medium- to full-bodied end of the spectrum. All the while the combustion qualities are superb, including a straight burn line, solid ash, clear draw, and good smoke production.
Señorial is the kind of blend that makes you want to expect more from cigars. And its the kind of cigar that makes you want to light up another as soon as it’s finished. It delivers handsomely in the departments of flavor, balance, complexity, and construction. As I smoke the Paco Robusto, I find myself wondering what more I could want—and I find myself struggling to find a flaw or weakness, struggling to identify some need that isn’t satisfied. Kudos to José Blanco. This is an outstanding way to spend $7 and an experience worthy of a rare rating of five stogies out of five.
photo credit: Stogie Guys