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Look, I’ll admit it. I totally got sucked into the packaging of this beauty. An ammo can? A sleek beanie? Shiny foil?! Ok, none of that means anything when it comes down to the cigar itself but I still like to be romanced from time to time.
So what is the blend like? Rubicon is made in Nicaragua with Dominican tobaccos and finished with Pennsylvania Broadleaf maduro. The blend starts off with a wallop of spice that wasn’t very welcome but it settled in quite nicely after that. The smoke is heavy and thick and just hung on palate with an incredibly long finish. Notes of cedar, espresso, and dark chocolate stay with you long after the cigar is finished. I wouldn’t start my day with a Rubicon but it’ll definitely be my go-to cigar after a long summer day.
Any given Friday, you can find my father and I standing under the oven hood sharing a cigar and perhaps a few whiskeys. Blowing clouds of smoke into the exhaust, refilling our whiskey glasses here and there, and recommending each other whatever smokes the other hasn't sampled yet. Recently he handed me an HC Series Criollo and told me that he could not believe how well-crafted and flavorful it was. Now my father and I normally find ourselves enjoying fuller bodied cigar but this medium-bodied smoke has a very pleasant nutty, woody taste with soft, lingering spice, right up my alley. This is definitely one of those cigars that just get better as you smoke it. The initial match up of this cigar may throw you with its subtle, tea-like aroma into thinking it's more of a mellow to medium smoke but as the cigar progresses, the woody and leathery flavors develop quite nicely. I did find that the second half of this cigar developed some creamy and toasted notes. The HC Series was created by the ever-growing Xikar accessory maker back in 2008 when it was originally named 'Defiance'. Xikar teamed up with the very talented Jesus Fuego to produce what is now known as the HC Series Criollo. Although the cigar originates from Nicaragua, my all-time favorite tobacco country, it shares both Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. One of my favorite attributes of this cigar is the oily and smooth wrapper. The Criollo wrapper is a 5 year aged shade grown wrapper from Nicaragua. When I first heard this, I expected a hefty price tag for the work and time they put into this particular cigar. Much to my surprise, I found these beauties ranged between $6-$8 apiece. We all have that one friend, you know, the guy who takes a $15 cigar out of your humidor and leaves most of it un-smoked in the ashtray. Next time, hand him one of these. Not only will you find yourself not having to lock your humidor and hide the key but you may see that guy actually finish a cigar for once. All in all, the HC Series Criollo is truly a bang for your buck.
When we hear the name Daniel Marshall, we automatically think of the world’s most beautifully crafted humidors. The craftsmanship, dedication, and creativity are endless and reverberate through these works of Art. His humidors have been used in films, rest in the homes of stars such as Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger and have been given to notable heads of state, such as George W. Bush. Even the late George Burns could contest to the standard of excellence, he stated in personal letter to Daniel Marshall, "Actually, the humidor is so beautiful that I'm going to start smoking better cigars." Finally, these same skill sets have been used to craft one of the finest cigars on the market today, the Daniel Marshall Red Label.
The Daniel Marshall Red Label was created in the Plasencia tabacalera in Esteli Nicaragua, one of the finest tabacaleras in Central America to date. This particular blend is laden with Nicaraguan long leaves, hailing from the Jalapa Valley, one of the most lush growing regions in the country. Next, it is sealed with a Nicaraguan binder from Esteli, then finally cloaked with a five year aged Cuban seed wrapper--once again from the Jalapa Valley. The wrapper itself is toothy and gives sweet cedar notes to the blend along with a consistent lite spice and notes of cream, which echo throughout the cigar from foot to head. The key to this blend is it's consistency; from start to finish it kept me pleased and not for one moment disappointed or bored. The ash was thick and stable and the thick plumes of smoke billowed across my parlor as I took puff after puff. The smoke was so think and creamy you can literally feel it coat your palate, leaving a lite nutty and cherry finish.
The flavor consistency really made this cigar perfect for pairing. I enjoyed this particular one with a single malt Scotch. The beautiful thing about this stick is that it never once over powered my palate, instead it perfectly complimented my drink, leading to one of those awe inspiring, perfect smoking experiences. This is another reason why I have so many of these sticks in my humidor, despite the plethora of other cigars, I always find my self reaching for one of these beauties. Whether I am out back on the deck firing up the grill, or sitting in the parlor with a book and a glass of Scotch, the Daniel Marshall Red Label is always there to perfectly compliment the moment.
Nica Libre or Free Nicaragua is a brand that not only celebrates the people’s emancipation but also the amazing tobaccos that are grown and imported into the Central American country. The latest installment of Nica Libre is called the Silver 25th Anniversary in honor of Violeta Chamorro’s victory in the 1990 Nicaraguan general election. While my teacher friends could tell you much more about the details, I’ll save my limited vocabulary to try and cover the cigar’s character and complexity.
Construction, Smoke & Burn
The wrapper is a dark, magohany brown with no tooth. Even colored, you can tell by looking at it the high priming of the leaf and the high quality. Using my soft flame it takes awhile to toast the foot. Next time I’ll use a torch. The cigar is thick at a 56 gauge and the tobacco are tightly packed. Despite this the draw is perfect and once I get the foot burning there’s clouds of smoke. Burn is razor sharp and damn, this cigars feels good in the hand.
Flavor & Body
This is my 3rd or 5th Silver now and I have to say without a doubt, the next tastes better than the last and the last one was awesome. At this rate it’ll be my favorite cigar in a few months! Seriously though I’m really impressed with how the flavor starts, holds steady until about half way through, and then develops a bit on the final 3rd. Savory is the term that keeps coming to mind. Toast and light spices give way to a bevy of nuances that include chocolate and vanilla and even apricot. Wild, really impressive complexity. Body is medium-full, retrohale makes my eyes sweat and get out the clippers - it puts (more) hair on my chest.
What’s not to like? It averages about $5 per, so the price is right. The flavor approaches the quality and complexity Ashton VSG and Cohiba Nicaragua. Impression? I’m impressed.
OVERALL SCORE: 93/100
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