El Rico Habano Maduro Torpedo

I’ve taken a break this week from reviewing new cigars to touch on one that comes heavily recommended by the Stogie Review fan forum‘s resident cigar poet and “Wife Chagrin Level” analyst, Ace. In the past, Ace and I have had a colorful history of differing opinions on a number of different smokes, most notably the Don Lino Africa. (The comments are pretty entertaining.) Ace really enjoys the cigar, and the prospect of starting off another comment war is just too tempting.

But before I get into my review of the cigar, here’s Ace’s mini review for comparison. (Two reviews for the price of one, bonus!)

I think they are a hidden gem, much like the El Cobre and perhaps for the same reason. They are strong and full. I have found their strength and body not at all over the top. Their draw and burn have been nearly exemplary. What most reviews have missed is the very subtle licorice sweetness that a slow, patient smoking of them offers. To me, their taste seems dry at first, but lurking in the background and waiting to be picked out (and often missed) is an almost licorice-like sweetness that is quite unique. Most of the reviews have centered on their power (which I find far less than intimidating) and their nicotine rush and all of that. What people are missing apparently is their surprisingly rich and deep subtle sweetness, to me a real treasure. Combine that, their physical characteristics, and an almost bargain-basement price and they are an attractive alternative to a lot of higher-priced and lesser-flavored maduros.

What’s just as interesting as the possible initiation of another flame war is the history of the El Rico Habano. The word is that this was the first cigar created by Ernesto Perez-Carillo Sr. in his Miami factory. But due to a shortage of Nicaraguan tobacco during the cigar boom, the line was discontinued for a number of years. It was reintroduced around 2001 and a few years later in 2003, the maduro was added to the line.

And now it’s time to check it out, and see if we can look forward to some fireworks!

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 54
Wrapper: Connecticut
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: $5.65

The Pre-Smoke
It’s been a while since I smoked a maduro this dark. A lot of times you see a great dark cigar in a magazine or catalog and order it, only to find the images to be an exaggeration. That is not the case here. I think this cigar is dark enough to qualify as “oscuro.” And this really makes the red and gold band pop when you look at it. That doesn’t seem to come through in the pictures I’ve seen either.

Looking over the wrapper, I was impressed. There were almost no visible veins anywhere to be found on that oily surface. I did note a small hole in one wrapper and a bit of scratch in another, but I really had to search to find these flaws.

To the touch, the cigar feels a little lumpy and just slightly soft. One cigar I smoked for this review did have a soft spot around a third of the way in.

The Burn
The burn issues I experienced with this cigar weren’t too significant, and were completely overshadowed by one of the longest ashes I’ve gotten from a cigar in quite a while. The first cigar i smoked was nearly half ash before that light grey column of spent tobacco dropped with a thud into the ashtray. I know I’m a bit silly about these things, but that was pretty dang impressive. The second cigar, the one with the soft spot was more average in this department, but respectable.

The burn line was a little wavy and erratic, and at times jagged throughout the burn. This was also a bit worse in the second cigar. It never became a problem, and self corrected.

Both cigars did require a couple of relights in the second third, and, yes, as you probably suspect, the second cigar with the soft spot went out more often than the first.

The Flavor
The cigars started off with a rich combination of nuts, dark chocolate and coffee. And for the most part, the flavor profile remained pretty consistent throughout the duration of the cigar, with the dark chocolate growing in fullness and prominence as the cigar progressed. In the first third of the first cigar, I did find a small pocket of the subtle sweetness that Ace described in his review and I do think there was just the faintest hint of licorice. Though I think I probably would have missed that had I not read his review beforehand.

The second third was pretty similar to the first, lots of dark chocolate with coffee, though I did get some pretty pronounced citrus toward the end. Along with that citrus was an interesting berry flavor. The predominant dark chocolate flavor did take on some dry earthiness in this third as well.

Not too much changed in the final third, aside from the citrus disappearing. And I was happy to see it go and settle back into the dark mocha flavor. Just before the end of the cigar, I noticed a bit of that subtle licorice flavor again in the finish.

One thing that bears mention is that durning the final two thirds of the cigar is there was an unusually unpleasant room aroma. I don’t notice it sitting there smoking it, but it really hit me as I was returning from filling my water glass. I smelled a burning, synthetic aroma that I really didn’t care for. (Probably not a good cigar to smoke around non-smoking spouses!)

The Price
Not too much to say about the price. I think it’s very reasonable.

The Verdict
Though there were a few things about the cigar that bugged me (mostly quirks with the second smoke, and the room funk), I actually enjoyed the cigar. While smoking it, I had a craving for a cup of the darkest, smokiest coffee money can buy. With the review out of the way, the next one I light up will be paired with a bold cup of coffee. I’m looking forward to it.

While new and mild cigar smokers might find this cigar a little full bodied for their tastes, I have to agree with Ace’s evaluation of the power. To re-purpose a phrase from the great Mark Twain, rumors of this cigar’s power have been greatly exaggerated. Proceed without caution.

Liked It: Yeah, it was pretty good
Buy It Again: Probably with a bag of dark roast coffee beans.
Recommend It: Yeah, give it a shot!

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.