Merlion by La Sirena Robusto

What do you get when you cross a lion with a fish? The worst cat scratch of your life; lions eat zebras, not fish, dummy. I kid of course, lions eat everything. What you would get, Dr. Moreau, is the mythical Merlion. A mermaid lion, minus the maid part, with a lot of teeth and a hunger for Mer-zebra meat. (I’m a fan of the combo, and have been ever since I saw my first Merlion in Singapore many years ago.) But more relevantly, the king of the kelp jungle is the subject of the new cigar line, the Merlion by La Sirena.

The word is this aquatic lion isn’t the aggressive kind I’ve described. Or at least not as full in body as the original La Sirena. As the folks from Miami Cigar Company describe it, it’s more a beauty and the beast situation. But before I get sidetracked talking about singing and dancing household appliances, let’s have a look at the official scoop and get right into the review.

The Merlion will be rolled at La Aurora Cigar Factory utilizing 6 different types of tobacco. The wrapper is a silky looking Ecuadorian Corojo, while the binder is Sumatra from Brazil. The filler, has 4 different types of tobacco including; Brazillian Bahia, Dominican Corojo, Dominican Criollo ’98, and Nicaraguan ligero to add that strength that you expect from a La Sirena cigar.

The Merlion which comes 20 in a box is available in 3 sizes, Robusto (5 x 50 / $9.00); Toro (5.5 x 54 / $10.00) and Gran Toro (6 x 58 / $10.50). All prices are before local taxes.

According to Brand Manager, Arielle Ditkowich “We are very excited to be working with Guillermo and La Aurora, they have blended us a beautiful medium bodied cigar that is extremely complex and offers a nice contrast to our existing line.”

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Ecuadoran Corojo
Binder: Brazilian Sumatra
Filler: Brazilian Bahia, Dominican Republic Corojo & Criollo ’98, Nicaraguan Ligero
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $9.00

The Pre-Smoke
The Ecuadoran Corojo wrapper on the Merlion is considerably lighter in color and a little less oily than the thick broadleaf that the name “La Sirena” brings to mind. The band, while still every bit as flashy as the original, is actually a little smaller as well. But not so much so that we won’t be hearing “smoke it to the band” jokes a lot in the coming months.

Looking the cigars over, I found medium to fine veins, consistent coloration, and generally no imperfections. Though one cigar had a significant stealth crack just above the band and a smaller one near the foot of the cigar. The wrapper aroma varied a little from stick to stick, smelling of compost, funky cheese, or more interestingly, like burning grass in one case. The scent at the foot and the cold draw was more consistent, offering up fig and chocolate.

The Burn
I had some issues with cigars cracking while I smoked them, sometimes nearer the foot, and sometimes nearer the cap. What’s interesting is that it seemed to have no impact on how the sticks burned, which is always a pleasant surprise. I suspect that if I had not been in a hurry to get this review out before IPCPR, extra humidor time may have prevented some of the issues. Aside from that, the cigars produced even burn lines and long, sturdy ashes with only a little flaking.

The Flavor
There was a oaky and smoky quality to the beginning of the Merlion, but it faded quickly and was replaced by earth, sweet grass and a tart zing. I also picked up a little butterscotch at times.

The smokey flavor returned in the second third, bringing with it hints of chocolate and more earth. The earlier tart sweetness continued a little further into the cigar and disappeared with the arrival of an intriguing spice. For a time the Merlion reminded me of a savory mix of seasoning you might put on barbecue.

As the cigar burned through the final third, I started to pick up more grassy and earthy notes with some faint chocolate. Some of the previously mentioned spice remained, but was a little sharper than before.

The Price
Depending on what your local taxes, these cigars should come in below the ten dollar mark, and that’s always nice to see.

The Verdict
I enjoyed the Merlion, it had a lot of interesting things happening in the flavor department. Though given the choice, I’d rather have the original La Sirena. But it’s a solid smoke, and definitely a contrast to the existing line as described earlier. If you thought the original La Sirena was a little much, or if you’re a fan of La Aurora’s products, you should give this a try. I have a few of them left, and plan to let them rest while I’m off covering IPCPR. Maybe I’ll lay them next to a barber pole so they have something to munch on while I’m gone.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes

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