I’ve had the the same conversation several times in the cigar shop recently. It starts of with someone asking me if I’ve tried that new Siglo cigar Altadis came out with. Invariably I ask them if they mean the latest Cuban Cohiba look-alike in the humidor. The response always seems to be some variant of “well, yeah, but it’s actually a pretty good cigar.” And finally, after a request came in for a review of this famous Cuban cigar impersonator, I broke down and picked some up.
Yeah, I know, I sound a little biased against this cigar. I’ve learned the hard way that if it looks like a Cuban Cohiba, is banded like a Cuban Cohiba, but wasn’t purchased from a certified Habanos S.A. retailer, it’s crap. (And sometimes, even if it is, it’s not much better than yesterday’s dog food.) But don’t worry, I plan to give the Siglo a fair review. And to be fair, side by side, the two bands are significantly different. The only people who will be fooled by it are the vacation smokers who light up one Cohiba a year while on a cruise through the Caribbean. (The chances are they’re smoking fakes anyway, so they’d actually be better off switching to the legally produced Siglo.)
Right about now I’d tell you a little about the cigar. Unfortunately, Altadis has not gotten around to adding Siglo information to their website, so I have no official information on this cigar. (Altadis, could you do that for us please? Thanks. Hugs & kisses.) Instead, I bring to you the results of extensive Googling. The word going around is that the Siglo is handmade in Nicaragua and was blended by Frank Llaneza, known for his prior work at Villazon & Co. The Siglo comes in seven vitolas, I, II, III, IV, VI, VII and X, and the name Siglo means “century”. With that it looks like it’s time to light up the 4th century. Constantine I and the Kama Sutra, it should make for a hot review!
Size: 5 x 54
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Cubano
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Price: MSRP $6.00
Since we’ve already discussed the band, let’s get right to the wrapper leaf. I found it to be very rustic in appearance, with a your standard compost aroma. Two of the cigars I smoked for this review were nice and smooth, and had only a few fine veins. The other was very lumpy and had larger veins. I also noticed the lumpy stick had a small crack just below the band that I missed when I bought these cigars. (It’s always a good idea to examine your cigars before you buy them. Someday I’ll remember that.)
After executing the cranial screw cutting method with my Xikar scissors, I remembered to get a read on the cold taste. It was creamy and slightly sweet.
The Siglo starts burning beautifully. It’s even and has a nice light-colored solid ash for around the first third. But then things start to derail. Most of the time, that meant the burn started getting jagged and ash a bit flaky. Nothing that a touch up wouldn’t correct. In the one case, the lumpy cigar, the wrapper started splitting badly at both ends. It was smokeable, but only just. Leaving the band on as long as possible probably did a lot to keep me from getting a lap full of burning leaves.
One aspect of the burn that was never a problem is the draw. It was perfect even when everything else wasn’t.
Nothing illustrates the importance of the wrapper to the flavor of a cigar like losing a part of it early on in the smoke. Things started off with creamy, roasted nut and coffee flavors, but the lumpy cigar had an extra metallic element that lingered for the most of the first third. I suspect that was caused by the widening crack at the head of the cigar which brought the binder leaf and some of the filler in direct contact with my mouth. Some sweetness, butteriness, earth and faint pepper emerged as it the cigar progressed.
The second third introduced a somewhat abrupt addition of a grassy flavor. The sweetness remained and helped keep this new prominent vegetal flavor in check. And an earthy, mouth warming pepperiness started to take over the finish of this cigar. From time to time there were also creamy or buttery elements.
I didn’t notice a significant change in the final third, it was still that sweet grass with an earthy, peppery finish. The body did build at bit, and there was a little more bite to the cigar, but that’s about it.
I have no real complaints about the price. It’s on the high side of reasonable, perhaps.
In spite of the burn issues I had with that lumpy Siglo, I did enjoy this cigar. Like people kept telling me, it was a pretty good stick. Not overly complex, or particularly exciting, but one that’s worth smoking from time to time. In light of the wrapper issues, I’m thinking that it might be best to light it up at your local shop. That way, if your Siglo starts seriously misbehaving, you can get it replaced.
Another thing that helped swing my verdict in favor of the Siglo is that it went really well with a lager. Specifically, Full Sail Session Lager, (which I recommend), but I suspect that a Yuengling, a Heineken or other common lager will also do the trick.
Liked It: It was a pretty good stick
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes, especially if you’ve been buying fake Cohibas on a cruise ship
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.