Conuco Robusto

A few weeks ago, the guys over at Famous Smoke Shop did what a lot of folks in the cigar world did around the same time: They published their take on the top cigars of 2008. While browsing their list of favorites, I noticed one I didn’t recognize. Some stick called a “Conuco”. Normally, I’d plug that right into Google to get the scoop, but I decided to leverage the power of the “cigar twitterpedia” instead. If you don’t know what the cigar twitterpedia is, don’t worry, it’s a term I just coined now for my favorite source of quick cigar information: All the cigar smokers on twitter.

So I asked the all-knowing cigar twitterpedia “anybody ever heard of this Conuco, and is it any good?” In short order I was informed that the Conuco is a Famous Smoke Shop exclusive, made for them by Rocky Patel. Though not many people could tell me if it was any good, as they’d never had one. Fortunately, Hayward Tenney from Famous, who is very active on twitter, saw my question and decided to answer me with a five pack so I could form my own opinion.

But before I evaluate the cigar, a little background. As I mentioned before, the cigar is made by Rocky Patel. It’s made in El Paraiso, Honduras and the name is pronounced “koh-noo-koh”. Conuco comes from the Taino word Conu’co, which is defined as farm lands, or gardens for planting. According to Famous Smoke Shop’s press release for the cigar, a Conu’co was “…a small plot of land an estate owner would grant deserving workers to cultivate their own tobacco crops for profit.” Which is all very interesting, let’s see if the cigar itself is equally interesting.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Honduras
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: $3 – $4

The Pre-Smoke
As I was looking over the cigars and getting ready to take some pictures, I noticed that these cigars differed significantly in appearance. One of the cigars was considerably darker and more mottled than the rest, which tended to be slightly reddish natural. The darker stick had a small wrapper hole near the foot, and a larger one at the head. I also noticed a there was some fine toothiness to some of the wrappers, and the stray water spot here and there.

Aside from a few superficial imperfections, there didn’t seem to be any other flaws in any of the cigars, no soft spots, reasonably sized veins, and nicely firm to the touch.

The wrapper had a fruity compost scent, and the foot smelled strongly of hay with a bit of chocolate. In the cold taste, I noticed a bit of fruity sweetness and faint chocolate.

The Burn
When I timed the first smoke, I thought I made a mistake. No way this robusto took me two hours to smoke. But then I timed the next one. Two hours again! This is one slow burning smoke! It’s a good thing Hayward didn’t send me the double corona, I might still be smoking it now.

Almost as impressive as the slow burn was the ash and the burn line. The ash is as firm as a rock, and the line nearly perfect, most of the time anyway. One cigar needed a touch up at one point. And I did have to relight one of the cigars a couple of times.

The Flavor
The Conuco starts off very sweetly. The sweetness seems to focus after the first few puffs and become very cherry in nature. It’s so prominent, it was a little difficult for me to pick out any other flavors. But I did start to get caramel, cocoa, and some coffee as the sweetness mellowed a bit toward the end of the third.

By the beginning of the second third the sweetness had scaled it back a notch and became more like a sweet pear than cherry. In this third I also detected wood notes, chocolate, coffee and some cinnamon. A couple of times the flavors came together and tasted very much like those Boston Baked Bean candies I used to eat occasionally as a kid. (Ever try those? They’re great.)

In the final third the scales tipped toward the chocolate over the sweet. The sweetness that had been so prominent earlier, was now more of a pear-like finish that followed the chocolate and coffee flavors.

The Price
It’s hard to find fault with the price, the Conuco is definitely a budget-friendly smoke. There is one detail about the price that I found amusing. Usually you expect to pay more per cigar when you buy them by the five pack as opposed to the box. That’s not the case here. This cigar is $3 per stick when you buy a fiver, and $4 per stick when you buy a box. It might be a mistake, or it might be because the folks at Famous really, really want you to try them out.

The Verdict
It’s funny, but without planning to, I have smoked some incredibly, naturally sweet cigars recently. This had me thinking about what I’m eating recently and if something might be responsible for skewing my palate toward sweetness. I can’t think of a single dietary or drink change that might do it, no more or less sweeter foods than usual. In fact there haven’t been any significant changes in my diet recently at all. I guess it could be a coincidence. Or maybe it’s a new trend towards sweeter cigar blends and I’m just noticing it. Or hey, I could just be nuts.

Fortunately, I do have a bit of a sweet tooth when it comes to cigars. I often enjoy naturally sweet cigars, and this time is no exception. Though I have to say the first third of this smoke was pushing it just a little bit. I was happy that the cigar toned down the sweetness a little bit and became more balanced by the second third. And taking into account the good burn and wallet-stimulating price tag, I have to give this smoke the thumbs up. I can really see this cigar being the smoke du jour at the next poker evening. And really, who doesn’t love a cigar that reminds them of Boston Baked Beans candy?

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Very likely
Recommend It: Only if you enjoy sweet cigars.

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