Haven Parejo (Toro), 6” x 54 ring gauge / ~$7.80 (in a box of 10) on Jameson website
Jameson Cigars began with the dream of creating “world-class cigars” and the desire of Brad Mayo and the other involved to share their passion in making them. Despite having created quite the buzz in the online cigar community over the past couple years, I have yet to actually sample a single Jameson product. My most frequented shop (Burns Tobacconist) does not carry them and none of the other shops I have been through in the past couple years does, either. So I was very happy when they decided to become a sponsor of the 2012 Chattanooga Tweet-Up as it would, at the very least, give me a chance to try them...judging from the reaction of most people to seeing “Santos de Miami” in their event bags, it was the first time many of them had seen Jameson brands as well. The Santos de Miami is a “blend inspired by the spirit of Miami, particularly Calle Ocho.” It is a Dominican puro with “a Havana Corojo wrapper, Criollo ’98 binder, and Corojo and Criollo fillers.” The first two sizes of Santos de Miami were presented as a severe box press (almost like LFD’s Double Press or Factory Press vitolas), but I will be reviewing the non-box-pressed Toro that is relatively new to the market. This review is based on the first one I smoked and I got it from the cigars sent for the Tweet-Up event.
As I took the Jameson Santos de Miami out on the porch, the calendar told me it was still summer...my years of growing up in Southern California told me it should still be summer for another month or two!...but my eyes, ears, nose...pretty much all my senses...told me summer was rapidly coming to an end here in the Tennessee Valley and autumn was muscling its way on in. In the shade, it was cool and dry; standing in the sun it was hot. There was a certain quality to the light and a certain smell in the air that just whispered of fall’s approach. And there was the unmistakable “thump...thump...thump” of acorns hitting the ground in the neighbor’s yard...happens every year at this time and I always wonder if they can even walk in their yard safely in the autumn. Turning my attention to the cigar, I noticed the wrapper color to be a medium brown with a bit of mottling and a lightly oily feel. The banding is art deco style with Miami Vice colors. The body of the stick had an aroma of natural, aged tobacco with a slight sweetness to it; the foot had more earth and a pronounced cedar aroma. I applied a straight cut with my usual Xikar Xi cutter and got a very good draw that had subtle flavors of molasses sweetness along with more prominent notes of hay, natural tobacco, and earth.
The first few puffs on the Santos de Miami were definitely interesting. As cigar makers experiment more, it is just hard to know what to expect when you hear “Dominican puro.” Ten years ago, it would be a mild to medium bodied smoke with a hay-like flavor profile, maybe a bit of spice, but never too much. From this I got an abundance of cedar flavor up front, along with earthiness and grassier notes underneath. There was a lingering spicy finish and the retrohale had plenty of spice along with a great roasted nuttiness. If giving this cigar and told nothing about it, I would probably guess it was a blend of mostly Nicaraguan and Honduran leaf, with maybe a bit of Dominican thrown in along with maybe something else to make things interesting. As I burned through the first third, I noted that the cedar notes stayed strong, which is usually something I’m not wild about, but there seemed to be plenty of balancing sweetness and earthiness so it was not off-putting to me. The spice did die down quite a bit before the first third was done.
During the second third of the Santos de Miami, I still got plenty of cedar, but I started getting some anise and raisin notes as well...more sweet and a little sourness added to the mix. Construction was near perfect, with a great draw, very strong ash and an even burn line without need of touching up.
In the last third, the Jameson Santos de Miami got earthier and the pepper spice came back to cause a dull, constant burn on my palate. I still got cedar notes as well, but they played just a supporting role by this time. I found this cigar to be medium to full in body and strength, not too much for the seasoned cigar aficionado, but probably too much for newer smokers. In the end, I liked it a lot, especially for pushing the boundaries of what a Dominican puro is usually thought to be. By the end, I would have sworn this was mostly, if not completely, Nicaraguan in origin. The price point is very fair, too, for a cigar of this caliber and size.