Now that we’re back from IPCPR 2012, and our hours of video coverage have gone live, it must be time to get back to what we do the other 51 weeks a year: review cigars. And what better way to start than with one of the most talked about new cigars at the show? (And as luck would have it, one of the first new products to appear on local humidor shelves.) I’m talking about the Cuenca y Blanco.
When Jose Blanco announced his retirement from La Aurora last year, speculation began immediately about his next project. No one believed for a minute that’d we’d seen the last of his contributions to the cigar industry. Sure enough, mere months later he was named Senior Vice President of Joya de Nicaragua. And from the sound of it he and Dr. Alejandro Cuenca got to work almost immediately on the cigar that would bear both of their names. Speaking of the name, in the words of Dr. Cuenca, putting their names on the cigar is “a sign of their commitment” to the project and its quality. After a year of work, the blend they chose features tobacco from four countries, including Jose Blanco’s former home, the Dominican Republic.
The Cuenca y Blano is available in boxes of 21 in five sizes: Corona Real (5 1/2 x 46), Robusto Deluxe (5 1/4 x 50), Lonsdale Club (6 1/2 x 44), Toro Supremo (6 x 54) and Torpedo Especial (6 1/4 x 52). I chose the Lonsdale Club for this review because I heard the rumor that it was the best expression of the blend, and because I like the vitola. Let’s find out if I chose wisely.
Size: 6 1/2 x 44
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Habano
Binder: Dominican Republic Piloto Cubano
Filler: Nicaraguan Esteli & Ometepe, Peru
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $8.45
Looking over the Cuenca y Blanco Lonsdale Clubs I smoked for this review, I didn’t see any visible issues. The wrapper appeared oily and flawless, traced with fine veins, and in some cases, fine tooth.
The cigars felt firm but with a little give, and had an aroma of hay and cheese-like funk with a rich fig aroma at the foot. Taking a cold taste, I found no draw concerns, and picked up molasses and chocolate.
The Cuence y Blanco burned almost flawlessly, producing even, solid, light-colored ashes and an ample volume of smoke. Occasionally I encountered very minor unevenness toward the end of cigar, and had to relight around that time too. But once done, the even burn resumed.
From the start the Cuenca y Blanco offered an impressive array of rich flavor. Cream, graham, leathery and aromatic cedar with sweet notes of honey and even a little vanilla made up the profile early on.
The cigar retained much of the sweetness in the second third, but the creaminess began to fade as it progressed. The aromatic and leathery cedar continued to play a major role and I also tasted oak, honey and cinnamon.
The leathery, sometimes aromatic cedar still played played a big part in the flavor profile in the final third, and the vanilla and graham notes returned. Cinnamon and chocolate appeared mostly in the finish.
No complaints, the price seems very reasonable.
I loved the Cuenca y Blanco Lonsdale Club, the way it burned, and its rich, complex flavors. It’s not the potent, full-bodied smoke that many people associate with Joya de Nicaragua, but it was never intended to be. As Jose Blanco said in an interview with us at the trade show:
“This cigar is just about about flavor, flavor, flavor, complexity.” And he’s right. It’s an easy-going cigar that was enjoyable any hour of the day, early or late, and I really recommend it.
Liked It: Love it, box-worthy.
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.