La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Maduro

One of the more interesting things to come out of the 2011 trade show was the new La Flor Dominicana Air Bender Maduro. Or more accurately, the packaging for new Air Bender Maduro. You know, the humidor box that’s so unique, it has it’s own name? Of course I’m talking about the “Casa de Tobaco” humidor, which was modeled after “a true Dominican tobacco curing barn”. Having seen one of them up close, I can say it’s an impressive piece of collectible tobacciana. And I have been tempted to buy one. However, as this is a cigar review, and the “Casa de Tobaco” undoubtedly looks better than it burns, we turn our attention to the cigar. (You can see the barn at IPCPR here and here and see Litto talk about it here.)

For the moment it appears that the Air Bender Maduro and it’s creative Casa was available only to retailers who made purchases on the floor of IPCPR this year. It comes Casas of 24 in a single size, a roughly toro-ish 6 1/4 x 54. And despite word to the contrary, the press release and official pictures indicate that it bears a Brazilian, not an Ecuadoran wrapper leaf. Pricing per stick also seems to vary, as some retailers will invariably choose to sell the Casa de Tobaco humidor separately from the cigars, but you can expect a price between $13 and $15.

Though I am not a fan of the Air Bender line, I am a fan of the vast majority of La Flor Dominicana’s maduro wrapped sticks, and generally have favorable feelings for Brazilian tobacco. As you can imagine this makes the Air Bender maduro particularly interesting. Wrapper has an enormous impact on the flavor of a cigar, so the outcome isn’t a given. Let’s see how it works out.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 1/2 x 54
Wrapper: Brazilian Habano
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 2 1/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: ~$15.00

The Pre-Smoke
The Air Bender Maduro is a beautiful stick, with a deep reddish brown hue, medium-sized veins and healthy dose of fine tooth. I should also mention that dark to though the wrapper may be, the sticks I smoked for this review were not the midnight black shown in the promotional pictures. The upside to that is I didn’t for a second wonder whether they were painted. In all other ways, the smokes seemed flawless.

To the touch the cigars were firm, but offered a fair amount of consistent give. The wrapper had a funky hay aroma, and the cold draw was good and tasted of prune and grass.

The Burn
The majority of the cigars burned perfectly, produced long, solid white ashes, and drew well. However, one stick developed a significant tunnel around the half way point, which disappeared a little way into the final third. I was able to smoke through it, but all aspects of the burn suffered during that time. Fortunately, it was the odd man out, and I chalked it up to a bum stick.

One other thing worth noting is it doesn’t pay to be cheap with butane when lighting this cigar. It’s a good idea to spend a little extra time toasting the foot at the beginning. If you don’t, you’ll be picking up your lighter again after a few puffs.

The Flavor
The Air Bender Maduro began with a rich grain sweetness, reminiscent of some of the aromas you’d encounter in a brewery, and quickly transitions into sweet grassy, woody and peppery flavors. I also noted a coffee, earth and herbal spice in the initial third.

Earth, espresso, dark and bittersweet chocolates, pepper and charry wood made up the profile of the middle section of the cigar. As the many flavors battled fro dominance, grass and spices also made noteworthy appearances in the finish. Much like the original Air Bender, the power begins to sneak up on you as you near the end of this third.

The profile seemed more acidic, grassy, woody and peppery as the cigar began to wind down. In the finish was a mildly sweet spiciness that kept the acidic quality in check. Along the way, I picked up hints of a less intense coffee.

The Price
I’d love to know what the Air Bender Maduro would retail for if it came in an ordinary cigar box. The price per single is a little rich for my blood, especially if the humidor isn’t included in the transaction. Who knows, if the reception is good enough, maybe we’ll find out. Either way, these would be an easier buy if they were within a dollar or two of the original Air Bender.

The Verdict
The wrapper indeed made the difference, I enjoyed the Air Bender Maduro. It’s an agressive beast of a smoke with the rich, heavy flavors and the power you expect from La Flor Dominicana. But it isn’t a one-note smoke either, there’s a lot going on in the flavor department. This is the kind of cigar I’d like to light up after a heavy or spicy meal, or with a strong drink. If I smoke one earlier in the day, you can bet it will be with a stout cup of coffee.

I think the Air Bender Maduro is a must try for La Flor Dominicana fans, especially devotees to the popular Air Bender line. But you probably don’t need me to tell you that if you’re in either camp. As for me, the price is the only factor that would limit my purchases. But each time I smoke one I can feel the purse strings loosen. Maybe that’s just the nicotine talking.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Maybe
Recommend It: Yes

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