Reinado Grand Empire Reserve Elegidos

Drew Estate

If you’ve been following Stogie Review for a while, “Reinado” probably sounds familiar, even if you’ve yet to come across a cigar with that name. Between the diminutive Reinado Habanito and the new Grand Empire Reserve, Reinado cigars have appeared favorably in half a dozen of our Week in Smoke posts in the past year. Jerry has already given the new Grand Empire Reserve the thumbs up, but I’ve been waiting to voice my opinion until I was ready to give it a full review.

Getting enough sticks together for a review is no easy task here in Georgia. Reinado’s reach has grown to 19 states and the District of Columbia, but the Peach State and it’s nearly 80 retail tobacconists have slipped through the cracks so far. Antonio Lam, owner of the boutique cigar company, told me that my state is due for a sales call soon, but in the meantime people without a local source can order cigars directly from the Reinado website. I decided not to wait any longer and I placed an order.

My cigars arrived with a press release, which serves as a good introduction to the line:

The Grand Empire Reserve is a box pressed Robusto that incorporates a select habano maduro wrapper and an additional aged Nicaraguan filler which leverages REINADO’s signature fermentation process to provide even greater depth, richer undertones, and enhanced overall complexity for both the casual and the distinguished cigar smoker. The Reinado exclusive “soft” box press method has been crafted with subtle edges on the vitola to distinguish it further.

A single size called Elegidos meaning “chosen” has been released and additional sizes are to be announced in 2013.

I asked about Antonio about the unique fermentation process in an interview at 2012 IPCPR trade show and again over the phone recently, to which he replied with a laugh and “no comment.” So for now it remains a secret, and all I can reveal are my thoughts on the finished product. And here they are.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 55
Wrapper: “Select” Nicaraguan Habano Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $9.95

The Pre-Smoke
I’m a fan of the Reinado band, which bears a striking resemblance to the one on the Cuban Ramon Allones Specially Selected. Beneath the dual bands of the Grand Empire Reserve the deep brown wrapper leaf almost flawlessly conceals the box-pressed blend with fine veins and equally fine tooth. Inspecting the cigars closely, I did find a few tiny wrapper holes on some sticks which I would have missed had I not been looking for them.

The cigars seemed pretty firm for a box press, but the cold taste indicated I had nothing to worry about in terms of draw. It had a spicy, honey-like flavor that contrasted quite a bit with the herbal funky barnyard aroma of the wrapper.

The Burn
The Grand Empire Reserve didn’t burn perfectly, but it was pretty close. It produced long attractive ashes, stayed pretty evenly most of the time, and drew perfectly. At most, maybe one touch up and one relight was required per stick. And in some cases, those may have been more the result of distractions on my part than the tobacco.

The Flavor
The Grand Empire Reserve had a rich and syrupy beginning which evolved into an interesting vinegar-like spice. This spice was at its most pronounced in the very early stages of the cigar, before giving way to leather, chocolate and a good amount of candy sweetness.

The candy sweetness dropped off pretty quickly as the second third began, leaving a creamy, almond-like flavor to take its place. Chocolatey leather, caramel, cedar and a good deal pepper made appearances. There were also occasional hints of the earlier herbal vinegar spice.

As the cigar drew to a close, it continued to be creamy and leathery, but in some cases I picked up a cherry sweetness not present before, particularly when retrohaled. When I smoked the first one, I expected a very peppery or spicy conclusion and was surprised. Pepper was present, but complimented instead of dominating.

The Price
No complaints here, it seems like a good value for the money.

The Verdict
The Reinado Grand Empire Reserve is a cigar that stands out from the pack. It’s rich, delicious, complex and a little different than everything else I’ve had this year. Not to mention being a hard cigar to put down even when my fingers got uncomfortably warm. If you have the opportunity, I recommend lighting one up, it’s a winner.

Liked It: Yes. Box-worthy.
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes

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

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