Danny Moya and Nelson Ruiz are smart cookies. They present the model for which all boutique cigar makers should follow.
First, they have paid their dues and are journeymen in cigar blending; and they labor over every detail of a blend. And second, they take their time. No cigar is released until it is scrutinized, over and over. It must meet their high standards. And if it takes longer than their deadline, then so be it.
This new addition to the La Jugada line, the Habano, was ready back at the 2012 IPCPR trade show. But not really. I spoke to Nelson on the phone on Monday night, July 29. He told me that they were almost there with the Habano but wanted to tweak it a bit more. So they held back the release. Yeah, it would have been good for business to have two releases, but it was more crucial that the cigar was perfect. So they waited and tweaked. Their mission statement is basically that “We are in this for the long run and blends will take whatever time is needed.”
The cigar is made at Erik Espinosa’s factory, La Zona in Esteli, Nicaragua. They debuted the Habano at last month’s trade show in Vegas and got tremendous feedback. The cigar is ready and will be shipped to quality B & M’s all over the country, next week.
The design behind this cigar, according to Nelson, is that there was a demand for a stronger cigar than the Prieto. In fact, Nelson told me, “The Habano is significantly stronger than the Prieto.” And I can verify that from the stick I smoked last night.
While the Prieto has a Mexican San Andres wrapper, the Habano has an Ecuadorian Habano. Nelson said that the thinner Habano wrapper would burn a bit better than the San Andres. While the Prieto had only a slight waviness, Danny and Nelson wanted a stick with a razor sharp char line. And a thinner wrapper should give them this.
The key to the Habano’s strength is a secret, secondary binder, proprietary leaf. I tried to get the name of the leaf out of Nelson but he stood his ground. He told me that if he divulged the leaf, I would be visited by two guys named Guido and Luigi. And it wouldn’t be pretty. I would be typing, from now on, with 1-1/2 fingers.
Their new web site should be up and running by the end of August. They weren’t happy with the previous designs. They want something they can be proud of and still be user friendly for the reader.
A third blend in the La Jugada line will be released in late 2013/early 2014. Nelson kept the name and blend close to his chest on this, as well.
The La Jugada Habano is being launched in the same five sizes as the La Jugada Prieto:
Robusto: 5 x 52
Belicoso: 6.125 x 52
Toro: 6 x 52
Doble Corona: 7.5 x 49
Ancho: 6 x 60
The price range for the Habano will be from $7.50-$8.30 depending on the size of the stick. The Habano wrapper is a bit less expensive than the San Andres and they are passing on the savings to the consumer.
Nelson told me that their booth, at the trade show, was right next to their good friend, Erik Espinosa, who has the new Warhead coming out next week. And that Erik had a real military missile at the booth. He encouraged vets to sign it. Pretty cool. Kudos Erik.
Danny and Nelson are personally focusing on placing cigars in quality B & M’s, not online. That will come later. Both Danny and Nelson are doing the leg work themselves to make sure things are done right.
I received my samples yesterday. Nelson told me to eat a big dinner and then smoke one. So I followed his instructions. First, the cigar is extremely potent in the strength department. And second, within the first half inch, the cigar became a flavor bomb.
Nelson said that the cigars are rolled and then warehoused for 6 months. Clearly, these sticks need no humi time to mature. They made sure these babies are ready to go on delivery. This actually shocked me after I lit up the stick last night.
Construction on the La Jugada line is impeccable. And the Habano is no different. The seams are invisible. There is a modicum of small veins. The triple cap is magnificent in its presentation. And based on what I’ve seen and smoked from these men, presentation must be very important. The wrapper is medium brown. It has a nice oily sheen.
The Moya Ruiz La Jugada cigar band is about ornate as they come. The green, white and gold pop. In small letters beneath the name are the words, “Esteli, Nicaragua.”
I clip the cap and find aromas of spice, cocoa, leather, cedar, marzipan, baking spice, and a bit of raisin. The more I move my shnoz against the length of the cigar, the more my eyes water from the spiciness. I actually have to use a Kleenex to wipe the water out of my eyes.
Time to light up.
The burn line is a bit wavy. Last night’s cigar had a razor sharp char line.
The cigar begins at medium body. It is at full flavor bomb status half an inch in. The cigar tastes like it’s been humidor aged for 6 months.
It was surprising getting the creaminess so soon. The cocoa is matched by a small amount of coffee.
The char line corrects itself.
Flavors are everywhere. The strong marzipan is met with a natural tobacco sweetness that is delicious. The red pepper essence started out very strong and then winds down just a bit. A toastiness arrives around the middle of the first third.
The cigar is just a delight. The secondary binder and the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper make this a completely different cigar than the Prieto. Not better, just different. Both are superb blends. Moya Ruiz offers up two blends that can match the mood of the moment. A medium or a full bodied blend.
The second third begins with the flavor profile becoming very complex. Flavors morph into each other providing a mixture of cream, cocoa, toast, nuts, spice, and the leather/cedar elements. The body is still at medium, but moving towards full.
As the last third begins, a new flavor is added: dried fruit. Most probably raisin. It gives out a sticky sweet sensation.
The body is lurching forward into full status. And then the sweetness morphs into a caramel flavor. Combined with the tangy sweetness of the raisin, it makes a nice pairing.
The cigar band comes off with ease.
This is a great cigar. I’m sure that when the web site goes up, there will be a list of retailers. At the moment, this cigar is in limited edition phase. If you have a favorite B & M, I suggest you hound them to get this cigar. And the Prieto. I doubt that either cigar will last very long at any cigar store around the country. So you will have to move fast.
I do know that Cuenca Cigars carries them.
The triple cap is doing its job and is behaving perfectly. Not a single piece of loose tobacco on the lips. The char line is a champ. Almost razor sharp.
The profile shifts a bit. And the coffee component moves forward to match the cocoa. The marzipan moves forward as well. In fact, the flavors are taking turns at leading the charge. The toast flavor is just perfectly executed. The cigar tastes like a fine pastry. Without the cloying sweetness.
This is the best cigar I’ve reviewed in a very long time. I was blown away last night when I stoked up the first one. So I knew what to expect this morning. But with my palate clean and fresh, I am receiving flavors that I didn’t last night.
The body shifts into high gear as I get a bit light headed from the nicotine. Having this cigar be so delicious, this early, makes me wonder what more humi time will accomplish. Truly, I can’t think of how this cigar could possibly get any better. Just amazing.
As the last third comes close to the end, the flavors are even stronger than the beginning of this part of the cigar. The cigar is full bodied but does not impede the flavor profile one bit.
I am very glad I had a big bowl of cereal before smoking this cigar. I may have gotten in trouble without something in my stomach.
Clearly, the cigar is a big winner in the flavor, character, body, and nuance categories.
I want to thank Nelson Ruiz and Danny Moya for the samples.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS