Everyone knows cigars and whiskey are two things that go together like peanut butter and jelly. Typically, they are separate products enjoyed together, but more and more brands are borrowing techniques and barrels from the whiskey side of the house to create and flavor their cigars. Today’s example is from La Aurora.
Founded in 1903 by Eduardo León Jimenes, La Aurora was the first cigar manufacturing house to open its doors in the Dominican Republic. Over the last century it has continued to expand, producing cigars not only for the domestic market but also for export on almost every continent.
The company, La Aurora S.A., remains privately owned and operated. Their cigars are distributed in the United States by Miami Cigar & Co.
As you’d expect from a Dominican cigar company, the majority of this cigar is from the Dominican Republic (with some slight help from Nicaragua).
What makes this cigar so special is that all of the tobacco leaves used in it’s production — the wrapper, binder, and filler — are matured in oak barrels which were previously used to mature Dominican rum. That fermentation process is what helps them achieve their dark “maduro” color and flavor profile.
Once matured, the Dominican produced tobacco is used as the filler and the wrapper of the cigar, with a mixture of Dominican and Nicaraguan tobacco used for the binder.
First impression: Meh?
The company has been around for over a century. They have product lines that look great, with beautiful cedar boxes and amazing looking bands. I know they can do a good job with their branding and packaging.
This particular product line doesn’t quite match those high expectations.
In all fairness, this isn’t necessarily a “premium” priced product. The MSRP on this product is $7 a stick, but I’m consistently finding them for a little over $4 a piece. That definitely isn’t Davidoff-level stratospheric pricing — but it isn’t bottom shelf bargain levels either. I’d personally classify it on the lower end of the spectrum — affordable, but still not ‘cheap’.
Even with those lower standards, things aren’t great. The box looks like reinforced cardboard with labels that were printed off an office computer printer. The bands are sloppily applied, often with far too much glue that seeps out from behind the band and gets onto the cigar itself. And the artwork looks like something someone whipped up in MS Paint. All in all, a pretty disappointing presentation from a company that we know can do better.
The cigar itself is a completely different matter. The wrapper looks great and stays together well. The cap cuts cleanly and evenly without any issues. There’s no debris or floor sweepings coming out of the cigar once you cut it either — the whole thing is solid and well constructed.
So, don’t judge a book by its cover I guess?
Removing the cigar from its plastic wrapper, you’re greeted with a deep, rich maduro scent on wrapper. It seems to be playing the favorite hits of a good cigar: cedar wood, dark chocolate, and hay.
After snipping the cap and taking a quick pre-light draw, there’s definitely something in here besides just tobacco. There’s predominantly dark chocolate cacao mixed in with the regular tobacco — but also slight spice with some sweetness, possibly from the rum barrels in which the tobacco was aged.
As for the flavor of the lit cigar itself, what I get primarily is a rich chocolatey flavor with some earthy aspects. I think some people have described some coffee tones as well, but I didn’t detect as much of those as I thought I would. There’s also a slight spiced rum flavor mixed in, which fades a bit as the cigar smokes through — the sweetness of the rum disappears but the spices linger in the background throughout.
Interestingly, the flavors don’t change all that much as the cigar smokes. There’s a bit less sweetness as you get into the middle of the cigar, but overall it remains a consistent and delicious smoke.
In the end, I don’t think the barrel aging aspect contributed significantly to the final result. There’s some interesting notes that come and go, which I might attribute to the rum barrels… but even without those, you’ve still got a damn fine maduro cigar that won’t break the bank. Just disregard all of its packaging.