As with almost every cigar that winds up in my humidor this one has a bit of a story behind it. I picked these guys up at a massive sale happening at a favorite local B&M named Blue Havana II. I dropped in to buy up the H. Upmann Cabinet Selections I enjoyed so much recently. Jim, ever the salesman, and I, ever the fool wanting to be separated from my extra cash pointed me at these. He was giving away a beautiful Don Lino Africa humidor, and all I had to do was buy a few sticks to have my name thrown in the hat. And the rest is history.
Not that great of a story you say? Well I have another one for you. This one is actually about the cigar. According to an interview with Cigar Aficionado last year, Nestor Miranda, creator of the Don Lino line was out on Safari in Africa a few years ago. On the lengthy 21 hour flight back, he was thinking about how much he enjoyed his time in Africa. Upon his arrival back in Miami, he was inspired to create the Africa in honor of the continent. To do it right, the box art is inspired by African art, and the names of the vitolas come from the Maasi words for the famous animals of the continent. How’s that for a story? I think I’m ready to smoke it now!
Size: 5 x 50*
Filler: Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 hours
*Note: When I measured these cigars, I found them to be actually be 4 3/4″ in length.
Right off the bat you can’t help but notice the band, with it’s huge, swooshy letter A. (Swooshy. It’s a word. I swear.) I love band art, and this is one that merits a few minutes to appreciate. Zebra stripes. Gold bands. African inspired hatch patterns. And the name of the cigar imprinted in a font resembling the title of a book. In all, a very well produced band.
But eventually, I had to tear my eyes away from the ornate, flashy band. In my inspection of the darker wrapper, I found it to be pretty veiny and just a little lumpy. The cigar was nicely firm, and without any noticeable flaws.
The scent on the wrapper was a sweet and pungent compost, and more like chocolate at the foot. After a quick clip with my flamboyantly-red Xikar, noted a pleasant sweet molasses flavor in the cold taste.
Looks more like an elephant foot than a cheetah…
There are two stories here as well. A happy, but uninteresting tale about normal burn, and one of a fire horribly out of control. The first Africa I smoked had a normal burn and a good draw, right up until the end of the final third, where it became rather uneven. Not great, but on the whole, not terrible.
The second cigar was like a brush fire on the Serengeti. I had an even burn for a short way into the first third, and just at the end of the last third. In between, burned incredibly erratically, went out, had draw issues, and even tunneled a bit. I lost count of how many times I had to relight this cigar. Fortunately for this review, this natural disaster was the cigar I photographed for the tower of burn. (If it looks like less than total chaos in the pictures, it’s because I was constantly touching it up.)
That’s just fugly.
As the tobacco composition implies, this cigar has a very interesting array of flavors. The cigar began with a creamy combination of coffee and wood. The wood quickly faded and was replaced by a wet fruity flavor. This fruity element remained present for almost the entire cigar.
In the second third, a cocoa flavor appeared and the wood made another brief cameo appearance. In the middle of this third, the ever-present fruit flavor was very much like pear. For a while, it was like smoking a chocolate covered pear.
As the cigar progressed into the final third, the cocoa left and dark chocolate asserted itself. For the majority of the last third, the cigar had a very mocha flavor, and the fruit flavor disappeared.
I paid $7.65 a stick for these, a solid mid-range price. Before I bought these, I had assumed they’d be in the $9 to $11 range. Unlike that burn, this was a pleasant surprise.
Given that one cigar performed nicely, and the other was a crime against the premium tobacco leaf, I’d say that the verdict is still out. But then I did a quick scan of some other reviews of the Don Lino Africa. It seems this cigar has quite the reputation for being a wild child. Assuming that the better cigar was a fluke, I’m going to have to say I didn’t care for this cigar. The flavors are interesting, but they’re hard to appreciate when you have to keep refilling you lighter to keep it going. It’s a shame, I really liked the story behind it.
Liked It: Somewhat
Buy It Again: Probably not
Recommend It: Probably not
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.