Cupido Criollo Commemorative

The cigar up for review this week is intriguing. Not only does it have an unusual shape, it has a unusual background as well. It’s history involves the high times of the 90’s cigar boom, counterfeiting, the drama of a confrontation at an RTDA trade show, name changes, disappearance and finally, reintroduction to the market by Cuban Crafters. Honestly, I had no idea the line had such a checkered past when I picked up a few of these quirky looking sticks to review. I’d love to tell the story, but the juicy details seem to have escaped the reach of Google. Or perhaps the truth was too scandalous to put online. (Readers who are in the know, feel free leave a comment and fill us in on the dirt!)

The Cupido Criollo Commemorative is a Nicaraguan puro that was introduced in 2008 by Cuban Crafters and comes in boxes of 25. According to the the website, the cigar has won several awards, including “Top Medium Bodied Cigar in America” and “Boutique Premium Cigar of the Year”. (Though who presented these awards is not stated.) Far more telling to me is that a local shop owner liked them enough to carry them. Now it’s time to see if I’d give this cigar an award, or pass them by the next time I’m in the humidor.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 1/2 x 54
Wrapper: Nicaragua Criollo
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP $3.75

The Pre-Smoke
What grabs the eyes about Cupido Criollo Commemorative is it’s unusual shape. From a distance, it looks like a figurado, but on closer inspection, it clearly isn’t. What it is essentially, is a box-pressed robusto with a nippled foot. Only the very end of the stick is tapered.

As you might have guessed, Cupido is Spanish for Cupid, the god of love and beauty, and accordingly the band depicts said god on a giant, gold-bordered, red heart. I’m tempted to include the band as flaw in my pre-light inspection, simply because I can see it as something that would discourage people picking from buying one. Unless, of course, you’re picking up a Valentines day gift for a significant other.

Getting beyond the cheesy band, the wrapper was a nice light reddish brown that tends to be mostly smooth and free of major veins. The cigars were a little softer than other sticks, probably due to the need to slightly under fill a cigar when box pressing it. The scent of the wrapper was a mild honey-sweet barnyard and cold taste produced a creamy syrupy chocolate flavor.

The Burn
If you cheated and looked at the tower of burn first, shame on you. But if you did, you know there are some burn issues to report. But it’s not quite as bad as you think. While one cigar did develop a huge crack in the ash that was reminiscent of a gaping alligator mouth, the other cigars were better behaved. Not a lot better though.

Generally speaking, the ash was solid most of the time, though not always very attractive. It didn’t help that the only time the burn line was straight was immediately after a relight or touch up. And believe me, you’ll need to keep that lighter handy for this guy. It doesn’t seem possible to make it through the second and final thirds without a list one relight. And canoeing was a perennial danger.

The Flavor
Due to the higher percentage of wrapper to filler in the tapered foot, I noticed some flavors that were much more prominent than in the rest of the cigar. Things like frosting and roasted nuts where present here and nowhere else. There was also some sweet cedar and white pepper flavor that grew sharper and more pronounced as it progressed into the rest of the third. Creamy coffee flavor emerged as I burned past the nippled end.

The second third was all about creamy coffee, sharp wood and spicy white pepper. A dryness to the smoke really magnified the sharpness of the flavor and overwhelmed the creamy coffee, giving it a very unbalanced feeling. I couldn’t escape the feeling that there was some middle ground that was missing. There was also the occasional bit of aromatic cedar, chocolate and cinnamon.

The most notable evolution in flavor in the final third was an earthier, grittier texture to the smoke. The dominant flavors in this third were still creamy, and at times aromatic coffee, sharp wood and white pepper. Though the spice had diminished and there was less of a bite to the wood and pepper elements.

The Price
The price on these cigars is excellent. Even with the added state and SCHIP taxes I paid, it was still comfortably in the $4 range. And that’s a rarity these days.

The Verdict
There were things I liked about the Cupido Criollo Commemorative, and other aspects that were not so good. The burn problems were frequent enough and annoying enough to make me abandon the cigar I photographed for the tower of burn early. The other sticks, being better behaved, were smoked a little longer. Also the consistent spicy edge started to wear on me a bit by the end of the smoke. Fortunately, it was more of a front of mouth thing, which I prefer to rough treatment on the throat that some cigars dish out.

On the other hand, I did enjoy both the bargain price and the majority of the flavor profile. There were numerous points I found myself thinking, “wow, that’s really good!” It wasn’t a particularly complex cigar and it didn’t take me places, but it shows definite promise as stick to light up with the right drink. However, I don’t recommend trying it after drinking a dry wine. Based on prior experience, it will hold it’s own during a herf. It’s something to try if you’re looking for a stick with some bite.

Liked It: It was OK
Buy It Again: Probably.
Recommend It: Yes, if you enjoy that spicy edge

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