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Cigar Review: Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto

20 Aug 2018

In early 2014, Sam Leccia of Leccia Tobacco announced he was “looking to put the cigar industry in a headlock” with a new blend called Luchador (Spanish for “wrestler”). In keeping with its Mexican wrestler theme, that blend was formally introduced on Cinco de Mayo.

Luchador was the third line to come out of Leccia Tobacco, which also includes White, Black, and Desnudo. It features (as you’d expect) a Mexican San Andrés wrapper around an Ecuadorian Habano binder with filler from Nicaragua, Pennsylvania, and Honduras.

“Centering the blend is a distinctive tobacco from Ometepe, Nicaragua,” reads the Leccia Tobacco website. “Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua… Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains. It is the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world.”

“I wanted to create something fun, yet different and exciting,” said Leccia in 2014. “With Luchador being a combination of exotic blends and flavors with a Mexican wrapper, I thought it was time to tap into my childhood fascination of Mexican pro wrestling.”

Four regular-production vitolas are available: El Hombre (5 x 54), El Castigo (6 x 60), El Guapo (6 x 50), and Loco Perfecto (6 x 58). Each bears a red, white, and green band (think a Mexican flag) adorned with the image of a Mexican wrestling mask.

A box of Loco Perfectos retails for $180.60 at the Leccia Tobacco store. The cigar I sampled for this review had been in my humidor for four years. It had potent pre-light notes of cocoa, salted caramel, and earth. The pointed cap clipped easily to reveal an impressively smooth draw (especially when you consider the firmness of the cigar).

Given the narrow foot, a single wooden match is all that’s needed to establish an even light. The initial profile is one of black pepper spice, espresso, dark chocolate, and the gritty earthiness that’s so often associated with San Andrés tobacco.

Past the half-inch mark, the core flavors remain the same, but the spice becomes more subdued and a creaminess comes to the fore. From there, as the Loco Perfecto progresses, the profile shifts here and there not because of new flavors, but because the flavors rise and fall relative to one another. The journey concludes with a finale that’s very similar to the beginning.

Notwithstanding its solid construction and consistent combustion properties, the Luchador blend is unlikely to wow. It is enjoyable and serviceable, but falls a little short in terms of complexity or richness if you’re hoping for something memorable. That’s ultimately why I’ve landed the respectable rating of three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Interlude Maduro Carrillitos

13 Aug 2018

I’ve been working my way through the Interlude line from E.P. Carrillo this year, thus far writing reviews on the Natural Rothschild Jr. and the Maduro Rothschild Jr.

At first, my attraction to the pint-sized cigars was inspired by the temperatures of a Chicago winter; more recently, I’m drawn to the cigars for their ability to pack a premium cigar experience into a short time period—a plus when you’ve got two small children and a third on the way.

Ernesto Perez-Carrillo launched Interlude in 2016. There are two blends each presented in two small formats: Carrillitos (4 x 38) and Rothschild Jr. (3.75 x 48).

The Natural version of “Ernesto’s shortest cigar ever made” sports a Connecticut wrapper (same as the New Wave Reserva) around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Maduro boasts a Mexican San Andrés wrapper (same as La Historia) around an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler.

Both were hard to blend “because the dimensions limit the amount of tobacco that can be used,” Ernesto Perez-Carrillo shared via email. “So the proportions have to be just right to get the flavor profile sought.”

I smoked a handful of cigars in the Interlude Maduro Carrillitos format for this review. This cigar is neatly presented in a regal five-pack that retails for $15 (or $3 per cigar). The beautiful packaging is offset by the rustic, wrinkled appearance of the wrapper leaf. It is veiny, toothy, and mottled with moderately loose seams.

The firm, lumpy Maduro Carrillitos has a stiff cold draw and pre-light notes reminiscent of cocoa powder and damp earth. A single match is all that’s needed to establish an even burn. Once underway, I find a medium- to full-bodied profile of black pepper spice, cherry sweetness, dark chocolate, and cedar.

After a quarter-inch or so, the draw mercifully opens up nicely. At the same time, there is a shift in flavor away from spice and towards creaminess. Here, flavors include dry oak, marshmallow, and café au lait. This is where things remain until the final third, which is characterized by a reprise of black pepper and cedar spice.

The physical properties are outstanding. All of my samples exhibited straight burn lines, sturdy ashes, and good smoke production. The only blemish is the tight draw at the outset.

When I started to get serious about cigars about 12 years ago, the most challenging scarcity was the cost of the hobby. Now, the biggest constraint is time. I can’t seem to carve out 90 to 120 minutes nearly as often as I would like.

That’s why the Interlude series strikes a chord with me. E.P. Carrillo found a way to deliver much of what I love most about cigars into more manageable formats. For that, I’m thankful. I’ve especially been impressed with the San Andrés-wrapped Maduro Interlude cigars. Like the Rothschild Jr., I’m awarding this one a very solid rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Villiger Flor de Ynclan Lancero Especial

8 Aug 2018

Last summer, Villiger Cigars introduced the Flor de Ynclan line. Actually, it was more of a re-introduction. Villiger originally debuted the line, which takes its name from an old Cuban brand, back in 2007.

Eleven years ago, a “small batch” of La Flor de Ynclan was crafted by Villiger with unsatisfactory results, leading to a decision to cease production. The 2017 re-introduction, therefore, wasn’t merely a second go-around with the same recipe. It had been re-blended by José Matias Maragoto—overseer of all Villiger-made product in the Dominican Republic—to feature an Ecuadorian wrapper, Indonesian binder, and Nicaraguan and Dominican filler tobaccos.

Villiger got it right this time, according to Heinrich Villiger, chairman of Switzerland-based Villiger Soehne AG: “The La Flor de Ynclan cigar has been an ongoing labor of love for us. We feel that there is a difference between a good and great cigar, [and] Matias Maragoto and I hope you feel the same.”

La Flor de Ynclan is handmade at the ABAM Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic. It has three regular-production formats: Robusto (5 x 50, $11), Torpedo (5 x 52, $12), and Churchill (7 x 48, $12).

In addition, this year a limited edition Lancero Especial (6.75 x 43, $11) was added; only 500 boxes of 25 will be made annually. This vitola has a pigtail cap and, like its 2017 predecessors, sports a metallic band of silver, blue, red, and black (in case you’re wondering, the 2007 La Flor de Ynclan band depicts an enrobed woman posing with two spears and one hand atop a globe).

In terms of flavor, the Lancero Especial can be thought of as a more concentrated, slightly stronger version of the Toro I reviewed over a year ago. The core profile of oak, cream, and cinnamon is very similar, though the body is decidedly medium instead of mild- to medium-bodied. In the background, attentive smokers will notice hints of citrus, vanilla, and almond. The texture is bready.

The cinnamon spice becomes more prevalent toward the midway point. Here, I also find a taste of white pepper. In the final third, there is a shift back to oak and citrus, and the spice is more reminiscent of black pepper.

Across both samples I smoked for this review, the physical properties left little to be desired. Despite being spongy to the touch, the Lancero Especial exhibits a near-perfect burn behind a sturdy ash. The draw has some resistance but is mostly clear. The smoke production is average.

All told, I give the slight edge to the Lancero Especial over the Churchill—but not enough of an edge to change the overall score. I’m sticking with my (very admirable) rating of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Joya de Nicaragua Clásico Toro

30 Jul 2018

About a month ago, Joya de Nicaragua announced the reintroduction of the Clásico line to the U.S. market. The move to bring back “the first Nicaraguan cigar ever” seems fitting at a time when the company is celebrating its golden anniversary.

“Clásico goes back to America at a moment when we have reached the highest quality standards at the factory in our 50-year history,” said Mario Perez, sales director for Joya de Nicaragua. “But we kept the same blend that the founders of the company created, the blend that once captivated world leaders when it was the official cigar of the White House back in the 70s.”

In a departure from the powerful smokes for which the company is known, Joya is marketing Clásico as “mild” and “creamy.” There are 6 formats, each packaged in 25-count boxes: Churchill (6.9 x 48, $8.50), Toro (6 x 50, $8.15), Consul (4.5 x 52, $7.00), Torpedo (6 x 52, $9.50), Número 6 (6 x 41, $6.50) and Señorita (5.5 x 42, $5.50).

The recipe remains the same as it did decades ago. The wrapper is Cuban-seed Ecuadorian Connecticut, and the binder and filler tobaccos are, of course, Nicaraguan.

I sampled the Toro for this review. In addition to traditional, understated, and—in my opinion—beautiful bands that nicely highlight the golden color of the smooth, buttery wrapper, this cigar has bright, crisp pre-light notes of sweet hay at the foot. The cap clips cleanly to reveal a smooth cold draw.

Once an even light is established, I find a creamy texture and a medium body to the smoke. The flavors include white pepper, oak, and café au lait. Roasted peanut comes to the fore after half an inch; this is the most enjoyable segment of the cigar.

About a third of the way in, there is a notable decrease in what was already a soft spice, and the creaminess ramps up. The profile teeters between mild and medium once you reach the halfway mark. Here, the roasted peanut is now a creamier peanut, and the former base of white pepper and oak is mostly oak. At times, I can pick up hints of melon.

The finale is mellower than I expected. There is no spice, and the overall taste is somewhat papery with a subdued creaminess. As a result, I found myself setting the cigar down earlier than I do with most smokes.

The construction is in line with the standards that are characteristic of Joya de Nicaragua: straight burn, smooth draw, sturdy ash, and voluminous smoke production.

I enjoy mild cigars, but mild cigars need to have flavor. The Clásico Toro has flavor. At times it shines, and at times—especially the final third—it falls a little short. I’m going to try the other sizes to see if this is true across the board, or if other formats behave differently in this regard. For now, I’m awarding the Joya de Nicaragua Clásico Toro three stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Palina No. 1 Robusto

23 Jul 2018

This is the second of La Palina’s debut offerings in its Numbers line that I’ve reviewed. There was no reason that I went in reverse order, it just happened that way.

While the two lines share a modernistic approach to packaging and presentation, the cigars themselves are quite different.

The No. 1 is a four-country blend: Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, Costa Rican binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos. Like the No. 2, it comes in four sizes, though they aren’t all the same dimensions. The No. 1 Robusto is a 5.5-inch parejo with a ring gauge of 50 (the No. 2 Robusto has a 52 ring gauge), and it retails for $9.50.

My first impression came from the smooth wrapper’s enticing pre-light aroma. To me, it seemed a little like perfume, making me wonder what I’d experience when I lit it.

I tasted none of the perfume. What I did find initially was a little spice, and a little bite—not the pepper often associated with Nicaraguan tobacco. Farther into the smoke I got leather, some sweetness, and pepper on the retrohale.

There was a nice balance to the flavors throughout. Strength was firmly in the medium range. Rolled at the Plascencia factory in Honduras, each of the Robustos I smoked for this review performed perfectly. The burn was sharp, the ash tight, the draw just right, and the smoke production excellent.

La Palina has been an interesting company since Bill Paley revived the brand in 2010 by introducing a high-end, high-priced cigar at a flashy New York party. Since, Paley has significantly expanded his offerings to include a wide range of cigars that run the gamut of strength, size, and price.

The Numbers line is yet another addition and one well worth trying. I rate the No. 1 Robusto three and a half stogies out of five.

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

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: E.P. Carrillo Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr.

16 Jul 2018

I recently moved from the city to Oak Park, a close suburb of Chicago. The whole process, to say the least, has been stressful and time-consuming. Under normal circumstances, it’s hard enough to find time for a cigar when you’re working full-time and raising two small children (with a third on the way). When you add in the daunting task of unpacking about 75 million boxes… well, you can see where this is going.

I know I’m not the only one with a challenging schedule. Chances are you, too, find it difficult to set aside the requisite time to thoroughly enjoy a fine cigar.

Fortunately, if you need to pack a premium cigar experience into a short amount of time, cigar legend Ernesto Perez-Carrillo has your back. In 2016, he launched Interlude, a line of two different blends, each presented in two time-friendly formats: Carrillitos (4 x 38) and Rothschild Jr. (3.75 x 48).

The Natural version of “Ernesto’s shortest cigar ever made” sports a Connecticut wrapper (same as the New Wave Reserva) around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. The Maduro boasts a Mexican San Andrés wrapper (same as La Historia) around an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler. Given their small size, both were challenging to blend “because the dimensions limit the amount of tobacco that can be used,” Ernesto Perez-Carrillo shared via email. “So the proportions have to be just right to get the flavor profile sought.”

I smoked a handful of cigars in the Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr. format for this review. This cigar is neatly presented in a regal, compact five-pack that retails for $16.25 (or $3.25 per cigar). Unlike the Maduro version—which has a rustic, highly mottled wrapper that’s wrinkled, veiny, and rough around the edges—the Natural has a clean, dry surface. A standard guillotine cut reveals a smooth cold draw. At the foot, I find pre-light notes of honey and graham cracker.

A cigar of this size needs to get off to a fast start. The Natural Rothschild Jr. does just that. The first few puffs are a medium-bodied burst of white pepper, dry oak, and cereals. The texture is bready. A bit of cinnamon spice helps to add balance.

Into the midway point, while the cigar settles a bit in terms of body and spice, the core flavors remain the same. Not much changes in the finale except for an increase in intensity and heat. Throughout, the combustion properties are excellent. The burn line is straight, the smoke production high, and the draw is easy. Notably, the light gray ash holds really well off the foot; on average, I only had to ash once per cigar.

As expected, the Interlude Natural Rothschild Jr. is a solid choice if you’re low on time but high on desire for a premium cigar experience. I’m not rating the Natural version quite as high as the Maduro—which, in my opinion, is more interesting from a flavor perspective—but this cigar still earns an admirable rating of three and a half stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Gran Habano La Conquista Robusto

9 Jul 2018

Over two years ago, I examined a pre-release sample of the new La Conquista line from Gran Habano. I found the Gran Robusto to be well-constructed but a little flat.

Flash forward to this spring when my colleague favorably wrote about the same cigar. His conclusions prompted me to revisit the blend, this time in the Robusto size.

La Conquista was introduced in 2016. At that time, it had an understated band of black, cream, and gold with a simple image of a cross. Now, the band is larger and considerably more ornate, featuring a depiction of Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas. It is further accented by a cedar sleeve emblazoned with “La Conquista” and a foot ribbon.

The golden, toothy Nicaraguan Corojo wrapper comes into full view once the cedar is removed. On its surface you’re likely to find at least one thick vein and perhaps some harmless green splotches of discoloration. Otherwise, though, the wrapper is attractive.

At the foot, the Nicaraguan Corojo binder combines with filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Colombia to yield sweet, grassy pre-light notes. The well-executed cap clips cleanly to reveal a smooth cold draw.

After using the cedar sleeve to establish an even light, the Robusto (5 x 52, under $7 when bought by the box of 24) starts with a medium-bodied, spice-forward profile of dry cedar, cinnamon, and cereals. The texture is bready. In the background, I find a pleasing, balanced note of café au lait.

As the Robusto progresses, the bready, cedary core remains while new flavors come and go. They include vanilla bean, oak, cashew, and a fleeting, incredibly sweet, bright taste that reminds me of candied cherries.

All the while, the construction is impeccable. Even under windy conditions I found a straight burn that required no-touch ups, along with an easy draw, solid ash, and good smoke production.

Gran Habano offers two other sizes in the La Conquista portfolio: Gran Robusto (6 x 54) and Imperial (6 x 60).

I’m glad I gave this blend another try. Either my tastes have changed, the difference in format (Gran Robusto vs. Robusto) has a big impact, the tobaccos have been treated differently, or perhaps all three. Whatever the case, I’m awarding the Honduras-made La Conquista Robusto an admirable score of four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys