FLOR DE LAS ANTILLAS TORO
Length: 6” Ring Gauge: 52 Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Strength: Medium MSRP: $8.10
On one hand you can count the number of cigar makers who arrived on the scene and changed the game. At the top of that very short list is Jose “Pepin” Garcia and boy did he turn the industry on its ear. At the time, there was no one making cigars that captured the essence and flavor of Cuban cigars. His unique fermenting and blending style, coupled with his small batch production in Miami quickly catapulted his cigars to the top of aficionados hit lists. With his well-deserved success, expansion was the only way to keep up with demand. He quickly established the My Father factory in Nicaragua and began to transfer production and expand his portfolio. One of the first big hits his new factory produced was the Flor de las Antillas. It was a smash hit and was his first blend to earn Cigar Aficionado’s prestigious Cigar of the Year award.
The name Flor de las Antillas translates from Spanish to Flower of the Antilles. It is Pepin’s homage to Cuba (the largest of the Antilles Islands) where he was born and raised. At 11 years old he began his life’s work in tobacco. He learned everything he could and eventually rose to be one of Cuba’s most respected cigar makers. Using the skills he learned in Cuba, Pepin set out to make his Flor de las Antillas in the tradition of a classic Cuban cigar using all Nicaraguan tobaccos. This may sound a bit unusual, but the result speaks for itself. Pepin combined a special blend of well-aged Nicaraguan tobaccos for the filler and binder. The wrapper is a Rosado Sun Grown leaf grown on a Garcia owned farm. Tasting notes include notes of coffee, nutmeg, and white pepper with hints of marzipan and cocoa. These cigars are delicious!
HERRERA ESTELI HABANO TORO ESPECIAL
Length: 6” Ring Gauge: 52 Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Strength: Medium MSRP: $9.75
Willy Herrera, Drew Estate’s master blender, seemingly appeared on the cigar scene out of know where. While few people had heard of him (or his family’s Miami cigar factory El Titan de Bronze), there was a buzz on Calle Ocho about his talents and the cigars being blended and crafted at the small, storefront factory. When Drew Estate made the announcement that Willy had joined the team, many people were shocked. Who was this guy from Miami that was taking over the creation of new products for Drew? Could he do it? Would the cigars be any good? Lots of questions swirled about the company’s future prospects. While it took Herrera some time to get his bearings, his Herrera Esteli blend quickly put any doubts to rest.
When Herrera joined the team, he spent the better part of a year at Drew Estate’s Esteli factory playing with a wide variety of tobaccos that he had never worked with before. He spent the time experimenting with different ratios and types of tobaccos, creating over 100 different blends for Drew’s tasting panel to evaluate. It was one of the 1st blends he created that became Herrera Esteli. Using choice Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, a Honduran-grown binder leaf, and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, Willy’s Herrera Esteli is a tribute to classic Cuban cigars. It is a smooth but complex blend that balances sweet and spice. Tasting notes include cream, cedar, and toasted nuts with hints of pepper and vanilla that mingle to create a wonderfully enjoyable experience.
MIL DIAS DOUBLE ROBUSTO BY CROWNED HEADS
Length: 6 3/8” Ring Gauge: 50 Wrapper: Ecuador Habano Strength: Medium-Full MSRP: $10.75
Back in 2011, a couple of alums of CAO set off on a path to create a new cigar brand called Crowned Heads. They burst onto the scene with some great cigars and a whole lot of deserved hype. The company was founded by the duo of Mike Conder and Jon Huber with a different philosophy than that of their previous employers. Rather than spending tons of money of advertising and fancy packaging, they chose to invest in quality tobaccos and partnerships with cigar factories with the hope of creating an authentic brand that consumers would flock to. It’s safe to say that their brand and way of cigar making has achieved the success that they had hoped for. Their blends have been well received over the years, but their new Crowned Head Mil Dias is on another level.
The story of the Crowned Heads Mil Dias began with an impromptu meeting between Jon Huber and their manufacturing partner at the Tabacalera Pichardo factory in Nicaragua. The blend they presented to Huber that day was something unique that would require patience to complete. After enjoying quite a few samples, Huber knew this blend was special and accepted that this outstanding blend would test his patience by taking over 1000 days to come to market. Hence the name Mil Dias. Using a complex blend of filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Peru along with a Nicaraguan binder, and an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, the Mil Dias is a complex yet balanced cigar. Featuring flavors of earth, cedar, cream, and nuts with hints of pepper, cinnamon, and caramel the Mil Dias is a blend that was truly worth the wait.
LEAF BY JAMES TORO
Length: 6” Ring Gauge: 50 Wrapper: USA Pennsylvania Broadleaf Strength: Medium-Full MSRP: $10.00
The Leaf series of cigars is the brainchild of Pittsburgh retailer “Island” Jim Robinson and was conceived to be a house blend for his retail store. But as time goes by, plans change and the Leaf series is now distributed nationally. His thought with the brand was to have different blenders make a version of the Leaf and put their own unique spin on it. It’s a great concept that has seen blends created by Noel Rojas of Guyacan and Esteban Disla of RoMa Craft. The line achieved critical success when he partnered with his friend Oscar Valladeres for a Leaf series. It quickly became one of the most talked about cigars in the industry thanks to the rough leaf wrapping surrounding a superb, finished blend. Keeping the ball rolling, in 2018 Robinson turned to James Brown of Black Label Trading Co. to create the latest edition in the Leaf series.
Leaf By James may lack the rough leaf wrapping surrounding a finished cigar, but this blend carries on the tradition of its predecessors in the Leaf line of cigars. It is extremely high quality, and features a homogenized tobacco band bearing the Leaf name. It may not look like much, but lovers of the Leaf series of cigars know that there is more to the cigar beyond its minimal presentation. Leaf by James is made in Brown’s Oveja Negra (Black Sheep) factory in Nicaragua using quality Nicaraguan fillers, an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and a Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper. It is a fairly full blend that balances complex flavors of coffee, pepper, and leather with hints of baking spices and brown sugar. It’s another hit for the Leaf series!
GUARDIAN OF THE FARM CAMPEON BY AGANORSA LEAF
Length: 6” Ring Gauge: 52 Wrapper: Corojo ‘99 Strength: Medium Plus MSRP: $9.75
Guardian of the Farm cigars began as a collaboration between Kyle Gellis of Warped Cigars and Max Fernandez of Aganorsa Leaf. Both are avid dog lovers, and wanted to create a bit of a tribute to the loveable American Bulldogs that help guard the Aganorsa farms and factory in Nicaragua. Each vitola in the line is named after one of the canine protectors, but is really a tribute to man’s best friend in general. That’s why you see the image of a dog on every Guardian of the Farm cigar.
Guardian of the Farm is a delicious cigar crafted to honor Aganorsa’s famous defenders and showcase the iconic flavor of their tobaccos. Warped Cigars Kyle Gellis worked with Max and Eduardo Fernandez to develop the blend using Aganorsa grown tobacco exclusively. While this may sometimes produce a one dimensional profile, the Guardian of the farm is extremely flavorful and complex. The blend uses Nicaraguan fillers along with an exclusive Aganorsa Corojo ’99 wrapper to deliver a cigar that has been highly rated and well regarded by aficionados near and far. Tasting notes include coffee, roasted nuts, and earth along with hints of caramel and cinnamon. The Guardian of the Farm Campeon features a unique blunted belicoso shape with a closed foot. This great cigar may become your new best friend!