Brand: Isla de Cuba Aged Maduro
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
The Isla de Cuba Brand is roughly three years old and is crafted in Honduras by Altadis. The brand president, Darryl Lieser, had a vision to create a cigar of his very own and choose the 1956 Montecristo No.3 to model it after. Years before being released to the public, this cigar was enjoyed only by friends as well as Darryl himself.
The Isla de Cuba Aged Maduro is available in five sizes which include a Corona (44 x 5.50), Robusto (54 x 5.00), Toro (50 x 6.00), Belicoso (52 x 6.125), and a Churchill (54 x 7.00). Each vitola is packed in boxes of twenty five.
In addition to the Aged Maduro, the Isla de Cuba is also offered as a Classic which features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper in place of the Maduro. Two new variations of the line were unveiled at this years IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas. These two lines consist of the Wango Tango and Blend 376.
A little more than a week ago, I received an email from Darryl Lieser asking if I would like to review his lineup of cigars. I accepted and within a few days I received a package of Isla de Cuba Cigars. After allowing them to acclimate for a few days, I began smoking the line to get a feel for what I would be reviewing. Today I decided that I would kick things off with Aged Maduro variety.
As I removed my cigar from its cellophane sleeve, I started looking over the wrapper. My first impression was that it was a little too dark to be completely natural, or at least what I have come to believe is completely natural. The dark color appeared as though it was applied with a heavy knap paint roller. Between the heavy spots of darkness, there were lighter colored spots which gave the cigar bit of a mottled appearance.
When held up towards a light source I could easily see several specs of crystallized oils (plume) in various spots. When handling the cigar, I thought that it felt smooth with the occasional bump of a vein. The aroma on both the wrapper and exposed foot were very heavy and reminded me damp straw.
Before opening up the cap, which was very small and neatly placed, I gave the cigar a pinch from head to foot. When finished, I felt that the cigar was consistently packed but may be slightly overfilled due to the firmness of the stick. While pinching, I was able to find one soft spot between the cap and the band.
Once the pre-light visual inspection was complete, I reached for my Palio cutter and made quick work of the cap. I found the pre light draw to be firm with flavors of chocolate on the cold draw. After the pre-light check was complete, I moved on to toasting and lighting.
After I was finished toasting my cigar, I extinguished the flame of my lighter and took a puff on my Isla de Cuba Aged Maduro. The first puff was firm and required some extra effort on my part to get a mouthful of smoke. The initial smoke produced a pleasant cocoa flavor and smooth finish.
As I settled into my cigar and approached the fifteen minute mark, the thing that stuck out most in my mind a pleasant sweet taste on my lips. Its seemed to be coming directly from the wrapper and mingled well with the smoke.
Burning further into the stick produced a mild to medium body and a smooth finish. After allowing my palate to rest for a few seconds after each puff, I get a soft creamy sensation with a touch of bitterness that lasts for a minute, or so, before fading.
The primary flavor consists of cocoa. This flavor becomes amplified after taking a quick puff due to a distinct sweetness on the lips and tip of the tongue. As the sweetness fades, the cocoa flavor mellows out and begins to compliment the slight bitterness of the finish. As the cocoa flavor begins to subside, I pick up a mild nutty aroma through the sinus.
As the cigar burns it produces a light color ash that is firm and compacted. A firm tap is needed in order to remove the ash from the foot of the stick. The result is a slight cone and a crisp burn line. With the draw being a little firm, the burn rate is slow and steady.
After about an hour of smoking, I found myself into the second third of my cigar. At this point the sweetness on my lips was beginning to fade as the cocoa flavor becomes more complex. Just as before, the sweetness adds a lot to the cocoa flavor before settling out. The secondary flavor of nuts remain in the background and make for an interesting aftertaste.
The body has progressed a bit, but I don’t know if I would classify it as medium just yet. The finish continues to be smooth and creamy. The bitterness that moves onto the palate, after the creaminess fades, is getting milder as I progress. This creamy and bitter combination reminds me of Guiness Stout. As the creaminess fades, I get a slight punch of bitterness that stimulates the palate and immediately makes me salivate.
As I pass the smoke through the sinus, I am beginning to pick up some pleasant spice. This spice starts off fairly mild and makes a slow and steady progression into more of a medium spice. I creates a mild tingling sensation on the tip of the tongue and through the nose. After about thirty seconds, the spicy sensation fades completely, as if it were never there.
The draw remained a bit firm for my liking but produced a steady supply of dense smoke. The room aroma was woody and lingered for a few minutes before dissipating. The burn line remained thin and crisp while producing a light colored ash that was firm and compacted.
After about two hours of smoking, I removed the band on my Isla de Cuba. The body has continued to build, slowly reaching medium. The finish remained creamy and hung onto the palate for a minute, or so, before fading. As the finish faded, the familiar bitter flavor moved back into the picture. Just as before, this bitterness reminded me of a good stout.
In the flavor department, I was experiencing more of the same in terms of distinct flavors. The dominant flavor remained that of cocoa while the sweetness on the lips faded. The cocoa was turning more and more complex as I smoked along, meanwhile the nutty flavor remained consistent in the background.
The spice I experienced earlier in the smoke continues to build. At its peak I was experiencing a distinct tingle through my nose and on the entire surface of my tongue. After about a minute the spice passed and left my palate feeling clean. On occasion I was getting a quick citrus note through the nose. Just as quickly as it came on, it faded and left no lingering taste.
The burn line remained even while producing a crisp, dark ring around the foot of the cigar. The draw remained a bit firm and was now making the cigar a tad warm on the tongue and fingers. With the increased heat the flavors never turned harsh or bitter.
Overall I was pleased with my Isla de Cuba Aged Maduro. The flavors were easy on the palate and made for a rich and complex smoke. The only downer of the whole experience was swallowing the price point. With an MSRP of $6.70, this cigar is a little out of my comfort zone.
The only cigar that came to mind in which I would compare this to, is the Ashton Maduro. The flavors aren’t quite the same, but I feel they both make for an excellent smoke in the late morning / early afternoon. If forced to choose between the two, I would select the Isla de Cuba over the Ashton. In doing so, I think that the result would be a cigar with a little more depth and flavor, all the while saving a little cash per stick.
If you are in search of a solid Maduro to make the rounds with a cup of coffee, I would suggest giving the Isla de Cuba Aged Maduro a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
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