As the core release, the Cubanacan Connecticut cigar has been around for years, and it is one of the few blends that the company is focusing on as it expands its operations. It seems like every boutique and tobacco giant is using the wrapper extensively these days, which can seem like overload sometimes, but when it’s executed well, the wrapper can create some of the most subtle flavors around. And with the brand’s strong brainpower behind the scenes, it’s no surprise that this blend has many layers working together.
It’s made with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, an Ecuadorian binder, and several fillers from Nicaragua, most of them from Esteli. The Cubanacan Connecticut cigar has a darker look to it that belies its construction, and it is finished with a good amount of oil. The band is stamped gold on maroon and white and contains a lot of interesting geometric designs along with the name of the company.
The stick’s flavors include a lot of sweet notes, including vanilla, sugar, lemon, cedar, spice, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds. There is also some butter and bread notes as well, which offer up a more savory side. At one point, a reviewer stated that the profile resembled the taste of lemon cake, making it a perfect after dinner smoke. The medium body and excellent construction helps on that front, so it offers up an interesting variation on a common theme.
As a member of the company’s core line, the Cubanacan Maduro cigar is one that a lot of aficionados will recognize. And even more people will be introduced to it in the coming months, as the company has trained up a large salesforce to pursue additional markets for the sticks. Anyone who has enjoyed one of Carlos’s offerings would be pleased to hear that, but that’s enough about the company. What about the blend?
It’s made with an Ecuadorian Oscuro wrapper, an Ecuadorian binder, and fillers from Esteli and Jalapa. The Cubanacan Maduro cigar reflects light with its thick layer of oil, and it is hard to see the few medium veins that rest on the smoke’s surface. The band shows off the name of the stick in gold lettering, and the rest of the navy and red band has an Art Deco aesthetic to it.
The smoke’s flavors include black pepper, raisin, spice, coffee, oak, leather, musk, toffee, dark chocolate and caramel. The oak, spice, and musk flavors are the strongest throughout the stick, and it makes for an interesting set of flavors that aficionados may not be used to. And, like other stogies produced by Carlos, it is a sharply built stick that holds up perfectly in terms of burn and draw.
The company may be undergoing some major changes to its brand, but as long as it keeps producing cigars like this one, it won’t have any trouble growing.
There are a couple sharp minds behind the Cabal Original cigar, including the son of a legendary blender. The stick’s creator, Chris Arolfo, found a kindred spirit in Henrik Kelner Jr., the son of the Davidoff mastermind. Together, they have tweaked the stogie until they got it just right and decided it would make an excellent flagship blend for Henrik’s Kelner Boutique Factory (KBF). The extra work has paid dividends for the stick, which is getting strong reviews.
The blend consists of a Dominican Bonao wrapper, a Dominican and Peruvian double binder, and several fillers from the Dominican, Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. It is a dark Bonao because higher primings are used in the stick, and though there are some small veins present, it is a smooth looking stogie overall. Arolfo and Kelner are releasing it in three formats, including a Short Robusto (4 x 52), a Robusto (5 x 50) and a Corona Gorda (5 1/2 x 46).
The Cabal Original cigar carries a complex and interesting profile, producing cedar, citrus peel, orange, earth, hay, pepper, peanut butter, and some delicious sweetness. According to reviewers, it’s a lot of flavor, to be sure, but Arolfo and Kelner keep it in a comfortable medium range. And with a superb burn and draw backing it up, it’s should be a fixture in any humidor.
The Matilde Renacer is the first and only release from the young boutique so far, but that’s not what’s most noteworthy about the brand. A lot of aficionados and industry publications were wondering where Jose Seijas was going to end up after he left Altadis USA following decades of work with them. Now, these aficionados and publications have their answer; he’s decided to offer his talents to building up this young upstart. As a former factory head, Seijas knows how to build a sharp cigar, and this one has his fingerprints all over it.
An Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, a Dominican binder and a pair of fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican are the tobaccos in play here. They combine to create a light brown smoke that is smooth to the touch though there are some large veins present – a product of the brand’s unique way of single cutting its harvested leaves.
The flavors in the Matilde Renacer include some punchy wood and pepper notes primarily though there are also spice, coffee, stone and mineral notes present. As expected, the burn and draw are flawless, and it delivers quite a bit of nicotine. Specifically, it is a medium cigar that rests in the medium-full range for long stretches, and it’s the kind of flavor profile that an experienced palate will get the most out of.
You can’t keep a good tobacco man down, and with Seijas back in the fold at his new project, there’s yet another boutique to keep an eye on.
The Crowned Heads Yellow Rose cigar is one of three exclusives that the brand has released, and this time it is only available to Texas residents. Tennessee and Hawaii were previous targets, and though the blend is the same, its size and inspiration is not. This blend, specifically, is named after the popular marching war tune that the Texas Brigade used to play during the Civil War.
The stick is made with a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro, and both the binder and fillers are from Nicaragua. The Crowned Heads Yellow Rose cigar is rustic and minimalistic in appearance, with a rough wrapper and a complete lack of a band. The only standout mark is a slash of yellow ribbon wrapped around the stogie’s foot. And it is only available in a single vitola, the 6 1/4 x 54 box pressed Torpedo.
The flavors in the stogie include apple, chocolate, graham cracker, wood, cocoa, spice, sweetness, tartness, campfire, peanuts and even a little Moscato, according to one reviewer. It’s a medium bodied smoke that performs extremely well with many sweet and dessert-like notes in the mix. It is ideal for someone who wants to take it easy while getting introduced to some new flavors.
The Cubanacan Habano Cigar is the third in a line of esteemed products from the famous Medero family of Nicaragua. With roots in the country, and of stogie production that reaches as far back as the mid-19th century, the Medero family additionally produces their own home-grown tobacco, giving their products a particular cohesiveness that’s difficult to emulate otherwise.
The stick is medium-bodied and carries an Ecuadorian binder. The filler is from Nicaragua, while the tobacco used in the stogie is from a mixture of the aforementioned countries of origin. Though the band has been reworked a bit, the same white background and titular logo are sported front and center. Critics agree on the unique flavor profile that accompanies the sweet tobacco notes throughout the burn of the stick.
The pre-light of the Cubanacan Habano Cigar has been described as relatively non-complex, keeping with the theme of the other Medero products in this line, though it remains satisfying in its simplicity. Both black and white pepper notes shine through during the first third of the stick, with more wood-like tones replacing those by mid-burn. Cedar flavors are then accompanied by an especially sweet and unique syrup flavor. Though not overpowering, cocoa flavors round out the profile by the end of the burn, making way for the sweet tobacco flavors from before to finish off the stick. The Medero family, and more so the master blender Omar Aleman, have done well in continuing the line of esteemed stogies from the same namesake. Critics have noted the growth in interest of Medero products, something that won’t likely see signs of diminishing if the company continues to churn out quality sticks like this one.
The MBombay Classic is Mel Shah’s second creation in the industry, and is another reason why many aficionados consider Shah to be someone worth watching in tobacco. In recent years, owners of cigar retail shops have been switching to the manufacturing side, hoping to put their extensive knowledge of consumer trends to work. The transition doesn’t always work, though, as blending and manufacturing cigars is more difficult than it seems. Shah has hit the ground running with this cigar, and it’s a strong sign that his boutique is on the rise.
An Ecuadorian Connecticut adorns the MBombay Classic, and it is finished with a Dominican binder and fillers from four nations. The first thing most people notice when looking at the stick is its band. It takes up about half of the stick and features complex Indian ornamentation. The cigar itself is a rich tan, almost orange, and is beautifully constructed.
The cigar’s flavors are on the sweeter side and include a large amount of cream, wood, spice, natural tobacco, and a dash of black pepper. For the most part, the stick remains in mild medium territory, but it has a deep, rich body. In short, it’s more flavor than nicotine, so if a smoker wants something they can handle at any time of the day, Shah has got them covered with this cigar.
When Mel Shah decided to walk away from his successful cigar retail shop and start his own boutique manufacturer, he probably didn’t realize how well it would do right away, but with blends like the MBombay Corojo in his portfolio already, it’s clear the man knows what he’s doing. This blend was among the first four that Shah made available to the public, and it is all the more impressive when you consider how young Shah’s company is, and how well developed this stick is.
The MBombay Corojo has an Ecuadorian Corojo Oscuro wrapper, an Ecuadorian Criollo 98 binder and fillers sourced from Ecuador, Peru, and the Dominican. It’s a dark looking stick that contrasts beautifully with its brighter, ornately designed band. The wrapper is laced with some small veins, but the dark leaf helps hide them.
The stick’s flavors include herbs, earth, chocolate, caramel, smoke, mineral, soil and coffee though some reviewers also detected the taste of roast wood. It is a highly aromatic cigar, so the flavor will linger a bit even after the stick is put out, and it sports a medium-full body from start to finish. Construction is also a superior point in Shah’s favor, and his sticks never disappoint when it comes to performance, either on the burn or draw.
It’s just a strong effort overall by someone that aficionados had never heard of just a year ago. Now, his name is one to look out for in the coming years.
Micah Johnson’s move into stogie manufacturing, culminating with the release of the Bloodline Habano cigars, is the kind of story that’s becoming increasingly common in the industry. With the rise of the boutique, it seems like the standard progression is for a retailer to spend several years on the seller’s side and then move into manufacturing. That’s the case with Johnson’s new startup, and he has made sure to pay his respects with this stick, as its official name is the O.P.A. blend. The three initials represent three of the most influential families in tobacco, so it’s clear where Johnson is getting his inspiration from.
The Bloodline Habano cigars are rolled with a Rosado wrapper and a handful of Nicaraguan plants in the binder and filler. It’s a medium brown stick with some veining, finished with a pair of bands. The primary band is orange, maroon, white and gold, and features the name of the blend on an elegant shape and design. The secondary band is a ribbon, which isn’t seen all that often.
The stick’s flavors include a lot of floral and cedar notes, along with natural tobacco, coffee, earth and black pepper. The cedar and floral notes are the strongest, and they combine to create a taste similar to rose.
The smoke is a solid medium, and there’s nothing to gripe about with the performance. It’s just a strong first effort all around for Johnson, which is increasingly hard to find in the industry these days.
The Hechicera cigars are the last blend Grace Sotolongo and CLE Cigars will be associated with together, as Grace made a sudden split from the company in 2014. Grace has since moved on to other things while Christian Eiroa and CLE have asserted that they will keep the line going unfettered. That’s good news because this stick is a beauty. It’s fitting, as the name of the stogie translates to a tempting sorceress that charms others with her look.
The stick is a Nicaraguan puro that glows with a golden brown hue and gives a touch when it’s squeezed. The band, though, is the real standout as it was created by Nikoska Perez Castellon, a famous Cuban artist. It looks like a piece of stained glass, with bold colors and thick lines. As for size, The Hechicera cigars are available in a 4 1/2 x 50, a 5 1/2 x 44, a 6 x 52 and a 6 x 60 vitola.
The flavors in the smoke include cinnamon, raisin, white pepper and nougat. The real star of the show is a strong cream note that controls the profile from start to finish. The cream infuses some sweetness into the profile, but it’s not overly sweet. Overall, it looks pretty, burns pretty and tastes well put together.