9 Dec 2013
Keep an eye on the Tesa Cigar Company, the boutique manufacturer with a lounge in Chicago and production facilities in Estelí, Nicaragua. While I’ve been writing about the outfit since 2009, Tesa may be on the verge of becoming much more prevalent in the near future.
For years, Chris Kelly has been the most talented cigar blender you’ve never heard of. (If you don’t believe me, read the many Tesa reviews in our archive, or visit the Tesa online store, place an order, and try his blends for yourself.) Now he’s expanding Tesa’s distribution. And he’s also offering up new cigars that are priced to broaden Tesa’s base beyond its core lines, which typically run in excess of $10 per smoke.
First among the new value smokes was the Picadura King Connecticut, which I reviewed back in March. It is made with a Connecticut shade wrapper and Nicaraguan long-filler mixed with short-filler scraps (called picadura). The result is a fantastic smoke with notes of oak, hay, cream, and roasted nuts, and it has similarities to the exquisite Tesa Vintage Especial—yet, at $4-5 apiece, it’s a fraction of the price.
Picadura King now also comes in a Habano variety. It features a moderately veined Habano Ecuador wrapper that’s dry and a little rustic around a Nicaraguan Criollo ’98 binder and a mixture of long- and short-filler from Nicaragua. Both sizes (5 x 44 and 5.5 x 48) come with closed feet and bands with the Tesa Cigar Company’s new “TC” logo.
The Picadura King Habano has an unassuming appearance and pre-light notes of earth and mustiness that aren’t exactly inspirational. Couple these attributes with a $6 price and you might not expect much from this cigar. But you’d be wrong. The numerous samples I smoked for this review have led me to agree with Tesa’s website that Picadura King “has truly elevated the world of bundles,” and the brand is “setting new standards for the art of mixed fill blends.”
From the start, the cigar is silky, balanced, and a little spicy. Sweet cream, leather, and espresso all contribute to the core of the well-rounded, medium-bodied profile. The resting smoke is particularly sweet, and the finish is short yet satisfying. Throughout, the construction qualities are impeccable, and I find zero issues resulting from the use of mixed filler, or anything else for that matter.
I don’t think either Picadura King variety is going to supplant or surpass the depth and complexity offered by Tesa’s hallmark blends, like Cabinet 312 or Vintage Especial. But I absolutely love what the Picadura King Habano brings to the table for such a reasonable price. For that reason, I consider this one of the best new cigars of 2013, and I bestow it with a stellar rating of four and a half stogies out of five.
[To read more StogieGuys.com cigar reviews, please click here.]
photo credit: Stogie Guys