First and foremost I hope everyone had themselves a good Labor Day weekend with lots of free time to kick back and enjoy a few fine cigars. As for myself, I am kicking back and enjoying a Tampa Sweetheart No. 50 which I received from “Smoke & Aces” as a cigar bomb from Cigar Live.
This particular cigar is a Natural (They are also available in Maduro) and weighs in at 5 inches long with a 50 ring gauge. The price point for this size is $32.40 per bundle of 20. Now the reason these are so affordable is due to the fact that these are rolled by Apprentice rollers of Arturo Fuente and provide training before their hands touch the finer Fuente Premiums. Because these are rolled by Apprentices you may find them to be inconsistent from stick to stick and have imperfections.
Upon my pre light inspection I found the stick to have a small imperfection at the foot (a bit of wrapper leaf was flaking and peeling back) but otherwise the cigar looked very good. When pinched the cigar felt very firm, almost overfilled with tobacco. After a quick cut I found the draw to be a little on the firm side but good overall.
After a quick toast and light I had the cigar lit and burning evenly. The ash had a salt and pepper appearance to it and was about average in terms of strength. The draw remained a little firm but provided me with lots of thick smoke. The body is in the mild to medium range while the finish is smooth and short. The base flavors seemed to be mostly a straightforward natural tobacco flavor with nutty undertones.
As I smoked deeper into the smoke I reached the second third of my Tampa Sweetheart No. 50. Just like the First Third, the burning characteristics of this stick were excellent. The burn rate was slow while producing an even burn and compacted ash. The draw was still a little stiff for my liking but produced lots of thick smoke that didn’t require lots of puffing to take advantage of. The body picked up a little but not enough to push it into the Medium range while the finish remained smooth and easy on the palate. The base flavor remained a straight forward natural tobacco flavor with nutty undertones.
When I reached the final third of my cigar I was becoming a little disappointed. All of a sudden I was getting a harsh nicotine punch. This harshness came on all of a sudden about where the band would be on a typical cigar. The sudden change was not enough for me to put the cigar down but was definitely taking away from the experience. I think this change was brought on by too little age and would get much better if allow to rest for a longer period of time before being shipped out to the consumer.
Aside from the harshness I found the cigar to be enjoyable. The burn rate remained slow as well as even while producing a compacted and clean looking ash. The draw remained a little firm but produced a good volume of thick smoke. The finish was slightly dry but smooth and easy on the palate. The base flavor was turning to more of a woody flavor and was enjoyable for me.
Overall I think that this is a decent smoke with good value. I don’t think the harshness had anything to do with the apprentice rollers and could be resolved with a little more aging time before being shipped out to the consumer/reseller.
If you are on a budget and enjoy the Fuente Gran Reserva Naturals I think that these would be a good alternative for you, especially with the cost being much less. I’ll be picking up some more of these and would recommend them to any Mild to Medium bodied cigar smoker who enjoys a good morning cigar.
Have a safe and happy Holiday everyone.