La Aurora 1495 Connecticut and Cameroon (Blind Tasting)

Over the last several moths I have been toying with the idea of doing some sort of blind tasting. Being the video heavy site that we are, I knew this was going to be a tough task to implement over skype with Brian, Jerry and myself. The next best thing was to go ahead and do it locally with the guys from my favorite cigar shop.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Jose Blanco from La Aurora Cigars. I went to a La Aurora event at the Top Shelf Cigars store here in PA and had a chance to talk cigars for some time with Jose. During our talks we discussed the idea of a tasting and he liked the idea.

A few more weeks went by and I had a package forwarded to me from the Miami office. The next step was to head over to my local shop and speak with the owner to work out recording a blind tasting in his private club. Without hesitation he allowed me to use his space and his customers as guinea pigs.

Last week marked the first of many, hopefully, blind tastings. I got together with five of the regulars and handed them an un-banded cigar and a questionnaire. After the first cigar was turned to ash we moved on to a second.

When the tasting came to and end everyone was surprised to learn what they smoked. A good time was had by all and I hope that you guys enjoy watching the recording as much as I did creating it. The only thing edited out of the video was dead air and the rare off topic discussion.

La Aurora 1495 - ConnecticutCigar Key: 001
Brand: La Aurora 1494 – Connecticut
Vitola: Robusto
Ring Gauge: 50
Length: 5.00
Wrapper: Connecticut
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Nicaraguan, Peruvian, Dominican
Origin: Dominican Republic
Price: Roughly $7.00

Pre Light:
Around 1:00 PM on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I had the guys from Kensington Tobacconist seated and ready to get into their first Stogie Review Blind Tasting. I handed out a few questionnaires as well as the first cigar of the afternoon and before I could hit record on the camcorder the guys were already jumping into the review.

We started off just like I would with any review and began looking over the construction of our cigars. The Connecticut wrappers were all mildly veiny and possessed a slight oily sheen. The wrapper was also consistent in color from head to foot and put off an earthy aroma. The same earthy aroma was described at the exposed foot of the cigar.

After spending a moment to allow everyone to open their cigars, the opinions started to deviate a little across the board in regards to pre light flavor. Some felt that the cigar had a woody flavor on the cold draw while other noted things like sweetness, citrus, and earth. While there were variations in the flavor department to start, everyone agreed that the draw was smooth and did not have too much, or too little, resistance for anyone’s liking.

First Third:
The next step in the process was to toast and light our cigars. By now I had learned that packing a spare lighter and cutter, or two, for the next tasting would not be a bad idea. After we got things situated everyone had their cigars lit and we were on our way to creating a pile of ash. The first thing to tackle was the general consensus of the body of the smoke. The majority felt that the body was light while one person called it medium to start. The single answer that deviated from the rest made total sense in my mind. I also felt that the body was medium to start and that everyone was going to interpret the smoke a little differently.

Using the term “strength” in regards to nicotine was a little foreign to most of the guys. After following the term “strength” with “in regards to nicotine” the guys caught on fairly quickly and we all began using the word to describe the same aspect of the smoke. Everyone was in agreement that the cigar contained little to no nicotine kick in the first third.

The finish was described using a couple of different ways which included slightly spicy and quick on the palate, mild lingering texture, earthy and nutty, and fruity. Just like the description of body, I expected there to be some variation between answers.

Unlike the finish, everyone was in agreement that the predominant flavor of the cigar was wood. This flavor stayed consistent throughout the first third. Everyone was also in agreement that the burning characteristics of the cigar were solid and that the construction was pleasing.

Second Third:
As the guys worked further into their cigars, they more or less were saying more of the same for the second third. The body was picking up slightly as was the strength in relationship to nicotine. The finish was just as varying among the notes now as it was in the first third.

The flavors were beginning to develop in the second third and everyone felt that the smoke was a little more enjoyable at this point. The primary wood flavor remained but was being paired with spice, pepper, and leather.

The ash was fairly dark in color while being firm and compacted. The burn line had a slight waviness for some and for others was spot on. The room aroma was not offensive, which says a lot as the smoke was really beginning to hang in the air from so many cigars burning.

Final Third:
As the cigars were winding down to an end, the guys experienced a sudden shift in the cigar which put a damper on the enjoyment on the smoke. As if a switch was thrown, the cigars began producing a heavy and lingering aroma that was not very enjoyable.

The body picked up a little on the way and most felt that it was mild to medium and that the strength, in terms of nicotine, was getting heavier. The finish was described by some as bitter and by others as heavy and uninviting.

In the flavor department, the guys notes indicated that they felt that wood remained the primary flavor. Behind the woody flavor were notes of earth, leather, spice, and a lingering pepper flavor. When I asked if they felt the cigar had depth and character, all felt that the smoke possessed those qualities.

Final Thoughts:
After an hour of smoking, the general consensus was that it was a good cigar that would be good to give to someone new to cigars. The body wouldn’t overwhelm and the flavors would keep it interesting, even for those who have been smoking for some time.

What hurt this cigar the most was the sudden change in the final third. Up until then the guys were enjoying it very much. When the change took place, you could see the change in expression and the enjoyment come to a halt.

When asking the guys what they would feel comfortable paying for this cigar, the average price range came out to $4.00 to $6.00 per single. All but one person stated that they would be likely to purchase this cigar in the future. The one person that said they would not purchase later stated that it was too mild for his tastes.

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La Aurora 1495 - CameroonCigar Key: 002
Brand: La Aurora 1494 – Cameroon
Vitola: Robusto
Ring Gauge: 50
Length: 5.00
Wrapper: Cameroon
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Nicaraguan, Peruvian, Dominican
Origin: Dominican Republic
Price: Roughly $7.00

Pre Light:
After the back breaking work of smoking and talking cigars, the guys grabbed a drink and were ready to move onto the next and final cigar of the afternoon. Before handing out the next cigar I explained to the guys that the Cameroon wrapper on this stick was very fragile. While removing the bands the night before, four cigars were damaged and had to have some minor repairs (nothing a dap of pectin couldn’t fix). As it turned out, we were a couple of guys short and the damaged cigars never saw action.

Once everyone had a cigar in hand, they quickly began giving them a looking over. The cigar was thought to be mildly veiny with a light oily sheen and consistent color throughout. When handled the cigar felt firm and well made.

After clipping, the cigar had a good draw with some slight resistance. On the cold draw, flavors of wood were noted as well as a starchy, like the glue on a stamp, taste on the cap. The aroma on the wrapper, as well as the exposed foot, were also noted as being woody.

First Third:
After a quick and painless toasting and lighting session, all cigars were evenly lit and producing a good volume of smoke. The body starts off in the medium range with a creamy finish. The strength, in regards to nicotine, is very light.

The flavors from the start were noted as rich and interesting. The guys really gave the impression of this cigar being full flavored right from the get-go. Some of the descriptions used included woody, nutty, and mildly spicy.

All cigars were noted as feeling good in the hand. It provided a nice weight and firmness which gave the impression that it would hold up to a bit of rough handling. The ash ranged from light gray to medium gray and were compacted. The burn line was thin and even while producing an abundance of smoke with each and every puff.

Second Third:
After about thirty minutes of filming, we reached the second third of cigar number two. The body picked up slightly but remained firmly planted in the medium range. The finish was noted as creamy and easy on the palate while the strength remained mild.

The flavors were wowing these guys and they felt that they were very inviting. The smoke was very complex yet easy to follow which was making for a very enjoyable smoke. The main focus remained on the woody flavor from the first third. Some of the more subtle flavors included leather, spice, and cognac.

The burning characteristics of the cigar remained pleasant. As the cigar burned shorter it remained cool, as did the smoke on the palate. Out of the six cigars being smoked, only one began to get a little soft and spongy at the head.

Final Third:
As the guys wound down to the final third, about fifty minutes had elapsed. The body picked up a little more and was described as a good medium. The finish was becoming more creamy as the cigar burned shorter and the strength picked up just a touch from the previous third.

Just as the finish became more enjoyable as the cigar grew shorter, the flavors did the same. The primary focus remained on the woody flavor but the more subtle flavors were becoming much more complex. When asked if the smoke had a lot of character, the answer was a resounding yes.

The single cigar that became spongy along the way developed a small crack towards the head. It appeared as though the crack was in the top wrap and did not go through the underlying layer. All other cigars remained firm and cool to the touch.

Final Thoughts:
Of the two cigars smoked, this one was clearly the favorite. The bitter turn in aroma of the first cigar was still fresh in their mind, which I’m sure was a one of the deciding factors in their choice of this cigar being the favorite.

The guys were very happy with the complexity of the smoke and felt that this would be an excellent mid day smoke while lounging around reading a book. When asked what they would be comfortable paying for this cigar, the average price came out to be between $6.00 and $8.00.

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Conclusion:
After smoking both cigars, the guys were eager to learn what they just smoked. Up until this point the only information they were given was that they were Robusto sized cigars with Connecticut (Cigar 001) and Cameroon (Cigar 002) wrappers.

When they learned that the cigars came from the La Aurora 1495 Connoisseur Selection and had the exact same binder and filler they were shocked. Up until this point they knew that the wrapper played a large role in flavor distribution but had no idea it had as much of an impact as it did. They called it a learning experience that they certainly would keep in mind when they made future cigar selections.

Walt’s Note:
I want to thank all of the guys from Kensington Tobacconist that participated in this tasting, as well as Kurt for allowing me the use of his private lounge. I had a blast hosting it and hope everyone that has read the article and watched the video enjoyed it as well.

Participants:

  • Bud
  • Brian
  • Benny
  • Jess
  • Jimmy
  • Blair

I am working on making this a monthly occurrence.
If anyone has any suggestions as to how I could make this more pleasing to watch/read please speak up.