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When AJ was approached by Altadis' Grupo de Maestros to re-blend a classic, the result was a cigar rather befitting of today's audience. The Ecuador Sumatra wrapper brings out the nuttiness of the Corojo '99 binder, and a Criollo '98 plus Piloto Cubano filler yield plumes of nuanced smoke with a razor-sharp burn.
The most premium blend in the AVO family, XO hails from Davidoff's famed Tabadom Factory. A complex array of cream, wood, nuts, and dried fruit subtly unfold on the palate thanks to its five-country tobacco blend. This medium-bodied cigar has a spicy finish, and I enjoy my AVO XO alongside a sturdy Rye served neat.
'92' rated, extensively-aged long-fillers set the tone for a richer, bolder La Gloria Cubana. This initial line extension is still popular 23 years after its release, and the No.4 is a vitola for those who still prefer classic sizing. Expect sweet cedar, spice, earth, citrus peel, and a floral bouquet with an even burn.
Comprised of top crops aged four years plus an extra year in rum barrels, it's an exotic mix of Dominican, Brazilian, and Cameroonian tobaccos capped with a Cameroon-seed wrapper grown under Ecuadorian skies. Notes of black peppercorn are underscored by wheat, leather, and sugar, culminating in a warm, salt-and-pepper-like finish. This medium-bodied Perfecto never disappoints.
The team at Alec Bradley realized a mellow to medium-bodied blend was missing within the Black Market portfolio: enter Vandal "The Con". Utilizing a Connecticut-seed wrapper grown on Honduran soil, this smooth premium showcases coffee bean, roasted almonds, citrus peel, and hints of black pepper that will satisfy the palates of enthusiasts and aficionados alike.
This '92' rated blend is special. For starters, it's the only non-Cuban Cohiba legally allowed to bear the trademark. Perhaps more pertinent, its Cameroon wrapper provides a rich profile of earth, cocoa, pepper, nuts, and caramel. It took five years' worth of blending to get this cigar just right, and the diligence has paid off.
Featuring Mexican San Andrés binder leaves aged in former Rabbit Hole bourbon barrels, AJ Fernandez devised a proprietary process to impart residual nuances evenly among the tobacco. The result? A medium-bodied blend with notes of oak, cream, white pepper, baking spice, and sweet cedar. Cheers to AJ, and here's hoping he continues being an innovator!
The boldest within the Elite Series, the '94' rated Selección Oscuro was the #4 Cigar of 2016 with good reason: its nuanced profile and impeccable construction remind long-time fans of EPC's Little Havana days. Notes of spice, chocolate, cedar, and dried-fruit sweetness all remain balanced, because only a true master is capable of such harmony.
Many covet Cuban cigars, but I covet Nicaraguan made by Cuban ex-pats such as Jose Pepín García. '94' rated, this blend exemplifies excellence in quality, complexity, and delivery. A Cuban-seed Rosado wrapper plus Nicaraguan long-fillers equals full flavors of earth, leather, cashew, coffee bean, and an undertone of spice with a long, full finish.
Nicaraguan puros are some of my favorite cigars on the market, and the elegant look of this line extension exudes premium. A collaboration between AJ Fernandez and Rafael Nodal has resulted in notes of dark chocolate, espresso bean, dried berries, and cedar in a medium to full-bodied package. Supremely balanced.
Ave Maria is a classic, and is still one of my favorites. Nicaraguan fillers are wrapped up in an Ecuador Habano leaf, bringing in rich notes of leather and cedar, along with hints of earth. Certainly strong enough for a warrior, its smoothness is heavenly, and is an experience all can truly enjoy.
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