Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cigar Review: LEAF by Oscar, Maduro

Vitola: Toro
Size: 6” x 50 ring gauge
Price $9.50
Provided by Puros de Ballard

Two weeks ago, I started my look at LEAF by Oscar with a review of the Connecticut. I liked it...a lot! Last week, I fired up the Corojo version for review and I came away liking it, too. Stranger things have happened than me really enjoying two Honduran-heavy blend cigars in such a short time frame, but I’m not at liberty right now to disclose what those stranger things were. Long story short...Oscar Valladares’ blends hit my palate better than many other very famous brands that utilize a lot of Honduran leaf.

LEAF by Oscar is distributed in the U.S. by Kevin Ballard of Puros de Ballard. As with the others in this series, the filler and binder of the cigar are Honduran, while the wrapper this time around is from Nicaragua (the Connecticut and Corojo versions both had wrappers hailing from Ecuador). There is only one size (Toro) being made, they retail for $9.50 apiece, and Kevin sent me this cigar for review purposes.

This was the only one of the three where the outer wrapper leaf (not an actual “wrapper” in terms of cigars...more of a replacement for cellophane) did not match the actual wrapper leaf of the cigar. Maybe the cost of a Maduro leaf that’s close in color is too high? I wasn’t sure if it was actually the Maduro cigar until I got it unwrapped...then I saw the French Roast coffee bean color with its beautiful oily sheen and “Maduro” was confirmed. I gave the cigar a good sniff and got an aromatic mix of leather, earth and espresso beans. The foot had a stronger sweet earthiness and ripeness to it.

After clipping the head, I got a very good draw that had a cold flavor mix of cedar, raisins, anise, and earth.

The initial flavors from the burning leaf were very earthy, with a strong coffee component and not as much sweetness as I would like. There was a bit of dried fruit in there, but not much. I detected a hit of black pepper on the nose, but nothing terribly strong. I found it medium-plus in body right from the start. As I puffed through the first third, I noticed a sourness that I didn’t care for, as well as a strong anise note. 

As I neared the end of the first third, the sourness abated a bit although the anise stayed pretty strong. I started getting a little more raisin sweetness in the mix and the coffee notes started coming through better again. During the second third, the sweetness increased and the overall flavor was of a strong and creamy coffee. That continued through the final third, along with a growing cayenne pepper.

Construction was as good again with the LEAF Maduro. The draw was excellent, and that’s the most important thing. The burn line was wavier than the others, probably due to the Maduro wrapper. The ash was quite a bit more crumbly so it was important to keep it near the ash tray when it built up any, so as to avoid making an ash of myself.

I found the LEAF Maduro had a good value for the experience it delivered.

In the end I found the Maduro version of LEAF by Oscar was a solid cigar experience, even with a couple rough spots where the flavor was unbalanced. The cigar was full bodied but medium in strength and definitely rounded out my encounters with Oscar Valladares’ LEAF line quite well. It’s great to know that there are still Honduran blends out there I can get excited about. I would rank the three in the order I smoked them: Connecticut best, Corojo second, and Maduro third.

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1

Total: 9/10

1 comment:

  1. This is the 3rd of these that I have read about and I must try these. I think the wrapper / wrapper is a neat idea. I can't wait to get my hands on these!