Generally, I don’t mind milder smokes every now and then, though I must admit that Connecticut shade wrappers have in the past left me somewhat cold. Still, life is always full of surprises: a few days I had a chance to smoke a Connecticut shade cigar that seriously impressed me and so I decided to give these pale wrapped cigars another go and pay more attention. In the next weeks I’ll be tasting a few different Connecticut shade cigars I have at hand, hence the title above, “The Connecticut files”. Today we start with a cigar I have been hearing very good reviews and opinions about, the Espinosa y Ortega black label Robusto.
Espinosa y Ortega (actually called United Tobacco Inc.) is a relatively young brand, started in 2003 and known for its Cubao, and more recently Murceliago cigars. Like the Blue Label, which I really like, this cigar is made for Espynosa y Ortega by Don Pepin Garcia, widely recognized as one of the best cigar makers out there and shown by the accolades he receives as the cigars made by his company present in CAs top of this year. It is supposed to be a quite untypical and is advertised as “far richer and much full bodied” than other Connecticut cigars. Sounds promising to me.
Black Label Robusto
Price: singles go for 6–7.50$ in the US
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Smoking Time: minutes
Appearance and pre-smoke
The first thing that hits you is how toothy and dark this wrapper is for a Connecticut wrapper. It’s quite nice otherwise (few veins and no other faults, but it almost looks as if this cigar was wrapped in the wrong tobacco leaf, especially if you compare the opening picture with the wrapper on the United Tobacco website. Does EyO make this cigar with two wrappers? From their website it wouldn’t seem so, but I have heard something like this mentioned in a post on Puff, so if anyone has seen the same dark wrapper on these, I’d love to hear about it. The cigar feels quite firm, just a couple of small soft spots, with very little give. The draw is slightly loose and the aroma is quite peppery.
The start is of Nicaraguan tobacco with its typical zing and spice, but not much else. What is really disappointing is the burn -wavy, wrapper not burning in places- and the ash, which flakes in large chinks and never becomes longer than 1/3“.
After a couple of corrections, the burn becomes a lot straighter and the ash is more solid, though never really long. The flavour keeps pretty steady, again on Nicaraguan tobacco notes with the occasional notes of wood and some extra chilli spice.
No big change towards the end, although there is a pleasant sweetness on the aftertaste that rounds things up nicely.
I can’t deny I found the Black label quite disappointing, especially since other Pepin Garcia cigars I tried before had impressed me.
If you exclude the first inch or so of the cigar with its terrible construction, it is not bad as such, but being so simple in its flavours it simply does not live up to its price. The spice is very evident but personally I didn’t find that disturbing as such, just a tad tiring. Most of all, the wrapper thing quite bugs me. If I had to judge this as a Connecticut shade cigar it would get points, a little more () ignoring the wrapper discrepancy. Call me anal retentive, but if I buy a cigar that is supposed to have a certain wrapper, I expect it to have that wrapper; it would be like ordering a steak at a restaurant and getting a pork chop… you would complaint right?
If you like spicy cigars which have a very straight and unchanging taste, this might be for you, but it definitely didn’t rock my boat. (I have to note that if you look at the reviews on Puff for the Black the Robusto scores lower than other vitolas, so maybe the bigger cigars are better).