#1Of 2016 – La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull

Here is an unusual, perhaps unfamiliar cigar that gleams with distinction but doesn’t have much market history, as it only came out last summer. The wrapper is a striking hue somewhere between red and brown and the beautiful shape is all curves and tapers. Salomones, as they’re known in cigar factories, are far from an easy cigar to craft. Look closely at the band, which is a shade of emerald green, and you see the letters “LFD”: La Flor Dominicana. The cigar is called the Andalusian Bull, and nothing about it is typical.

But nothing about its creator, Litto Gomez is typical either. With Gomez, you’ll find few of the tropes and stories typically associated with men in the tobacco business. No family history in tobacco. No Cuban lineage. No passed-down tobacco traditions. Born in Spain, but raised in Uruguay, Gomez came into the cigar industry in 1994 after a stint in the jewelry business went sour. His initial cigars were mild, but Gomez started getting the attention of premium smokers when he began producing stronger blends rolled in unusual shapes. Some will remember the El Jocko Perfecto No. 1 and all should know the wedge-shaped Chisel. Such odd shapes have become mainstays in the cigar world. Among serious smokers, the Chisel is now synonymous with La Flor Dominicana—which brings us to the Bull.

The La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull is a truly new concept within La Flor’s portfolio of fine cigars. The size is based on that of an old cigar mold that Gomez found in Belgium. Naming it after Andalusia was a nod to Spain, the country where Gomez was born. And the silhouette of a matador on the band represents the celebrated history of the sport of bullfighting in Andalusia. That eye-catching shade of green is similar to that found on the Andalusian flag. But there’s more to decode. The font on the band is based on Pablo Picasso’s handwriting—he loved to paint bulls—and the scrollwork reflects patterns found on a bullfighter’s uniform.

Fittingly, with this combination of heavy-handed and subtle symbolism comes a blend that is both bold and refined (like a bull and a matador). Gomez and his son Tony collaborated on the cigar and spent a fair amount of time fine-tuning the blend. The result was a cigar as intriguing in flavor as it is in appearance. It’s a combination of Corojo-seed Ecuador Habano wrapper on a blend that consists primarily of Dominican Criollo ’98 tobacco, a hybrid and a bit of Pelo d’Oro too. First impressions are bold and savory with strong notes of hickory and leather. But it continues to take on a complex spiciness of saffron and cumin as well as a slight tangy note that brings the strength and spice together quite gracefully—and it only gets better with every puff.

Gomez owns the brand and company with his wife, Ines Lorenzo-Gomez. This marks the first time that La Flor Dominicana has been awarded No. 1 Cigar of the Year.

*Credit: Cigar Aficionado

San Lotano Maduro: Black Is Black

Years ago, I thought maduro cigars were the greatest thing. Perhaps because they were different from what I was used to. In 2011 I received a box of San Lotano Maduro as a birthday gift and they did not last long. Today if I had a box of them, they would probably last a year or more.

Brand/ Name of Cigar: San Lotano/ Maduro

Country of origin: Nicaragua 
Wrapper: Mexican Maduro
Binder: Honduras and Dominican ( Dual Binder )
Filler: Honduras and Nicaragua
Shape: Toro, 6 x by 54 X, Box Pressed
Where and when smoked: 11/20/16 , Lone Wolf Cigar Lounge, Los Angeles Ca.

Appearance/Construction: 

Dark brown, depending on the light almost black. Solid box press, tight, and oily to the touch. Smooth almost slick feel to the wrapper. A very sharp looking,  well made cigar.

Flavor/ Taste and Aroma:

Initially it was a rich mixture of chocolate, sweetness and a candy quality bordering on brown sugar. These are the best characteristics of a well made maduro. Also, a bit of a spice blast but not overpowering.

Smoking Characteristics: 

The smoke had an even burn, very pleasant looking grey ash and did not lose it’s solid
construction.  The cigar held it’s shape which is a plus as some smokes as we know lose their  integrity as down the road. Did not burn hot or have any issues.

Conclusion/Overall Impression:

I stand by my original thought that maduro cigars will be a once in awhile occasion for me. The flavor, construction and smoking experience was a nice ride but the nuances of a great smoke was not there. I liken it  to being on the 405 on a non rush moment in LA. Glad the traffic was moving but the view was nothing special. I would rather be on the Pacific Coast Highway looking at the ocean. For maduro smokers, this is an unqualified hit. For me, if someone gave me this cigar I would smoke it, not sure I would buy it.

Final Thoughts and numbers:  

Appearance/ Construction: 4 out 5
Flavor/Taste and Aroma: 3.5 out of 5
Smoking Characteristics: 3.5 out 5
Conclusion/ Overall Impression: 3.8 out of 5                                                                    

For maduro smokers this is a must for your humidor, for others, a good but occasional change for your usual . A good choice however.

*Credit: Frank “Bo” Gerechter, The UrbanFishing Pole.