Pinar del Rio Oscuro | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Brazilian Habano Oscuro
Binder: Dominican Criollo ‘98
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Size: 6 x 50 “Toro”
Body: Medium
Price: $6.00
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I’m dumpster diving…no disrespect to Abe Flores. But I have a bunch of cigars not ready for review and a bunch more on their way so I find myself in the cigar reviewer’s netherworld.

Meaning, I have gone into my humidor put aside with only cigars that have been aging for a year or more. And are inexpensive. Almost all were gifts. I have Andy S. to thank for this.

I’ve reviewed this cigar and the rest of the Pinar del Rio line a couple times for other blogs and online stores. And each time, found the Pinar del Rio line very enjoyable.

I haven’t smoked the Oscuro for some time and look forward to see if my tastes have changed in the last couple of years since first reviewing them.

First, Pinar del Rio cigars are produced at the Dominican La Fabrica factory, owned by Abe Flores and Juan Rodriquez
There is not much background on this cigar. So time to move on to the construction.

This is a nicely made cigar. It is packed with tobacco and yet has the perfect give to it. The wrapper is a wonderful oily chocolate. Sandy to the touch. The PDR rollers used the Entubado bunching style. Normally, only found in more expensive cigars.

There is a perfectly applied double cap. Seams are tight and near invisible. And for the most part, the cigar is near vein free.

I cannot find a single shred of information as to why the secondary band says, “Liga Cubana no. 2.”

I clip the cap and find aromas of peppery spice, cocoa, earthiness, heavy dose of cedar and oak, and raisins.
Time to light up.

The stick starts off very earthy and sweet. The draw is spot on. The sweetness of raisin is very prevalent. And the cocoa is milk chocolate.

Spice begins to build slowly. I am guessing that the extended humidor time has tamed a lot of the spiciness out of the cigar.
And right away, I get the start of a canoe that I call a V burn on one side. I quickly correct it. Not a good start. This happens in way too many cigars. Sloppy rolling.
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I’ve reviewed several of Abe Flores’s high premium blends: PDR A Flores Serie Privada Maduro($9.75), PDR AFR-75 Edición Limitada($14.75), A. Flores 1975 Gran Reserva($5-$7), and my favorite: Flores y Rodriguez Cabinet Seleccion…which is a steal at around $4-$5.

It is a miserably cloudy and cold day in Milwaukee and not a drip of sunlight for my photos. My apologies.

Creaminess appears at the 1” mark. In fact, the entire flavor profile is undergoing a massive shift. Here are the flavors, in order: Earthiness, sweetness, creaminess, chocolate, red pepper, raisin, oak, cedar, espresso, buttery pie crust, and fruit.
I find this an odd grouping of flavors in an Oscuro wrapped primarily Dominican cigar.

But it is a welcome change to a lot of cigars I’ve reviewed lately. And I cannot convey strongly enough how important to the flavor profile of the lush earthiness.
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In spite of the burn issues, I am really enjoying this cigar. It is nigh on to being a flavor bomb. And while the char line is nothing close to being a sharp line, its waviness is controlled and no longer a pain in the ass.

The strength started out as classic medium but by the start of the second third, it moves up to medium/full.

I checked Cbid and was surprised to see that not only the Oscuro, but the other blends are going for at least $4 a stick.

This is a popular cigar. Good quality and inexpensive. If Abe Flores used better rollers he could ask a few bucks more for these sticks.
The char line is beginning to really behave itself.

It is official. A flavor bomb. Just oozing smoothness and balance. It has a very long finish on the palate. Just delicious. Clearly, the extensive humidor aging made a big difference in this blend. Because I don’t remember this stick tasting this good.

And aside…Next week, I will be reviewing a pre-release cigar that everyone is waiting for. I cannot tell you more than that as not even the press release has been doled out to all of the reviewers yet. I am very excited about this. And don’t worry; you will know when it happens.

I approach the halfway point, and the cigar is cruising. A nice subtle complexity digs its heels in. Flavors aren’t shooting like lasers, but instead, are a nice rotating ball of perfect combinations of the entire flavor profile.
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The strength is still medium/full bodied. But not a hint of nicotine.

Creaminess is driving the bus making the cigar ultra-smooth.

You know, the whole reason for using the Entubado method of rolling is to avoid the burn issues I had earlier. This befuddles me.

The spice returns as a major player. It ups the anty and now my eyes are watering and my nose is running. Add an, “Over You” to the end of that and you have a country music title.

The last third begins with a bang. The subtlety disappears and the flavors explode with a nuclear intensity.

The lineup of flavors remains the same. Nothing is added. Nothing needs to be added. But the creaminess takes on a nice vanilla nuance.
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I check the humidor to see if there are more. Sadly, no. But I do have one each of the Habano Sun Grown. Small Batch Exclusivo, and the Classico Exclusivo. I definitely intend on reviewing these aged puppies.

One of the hazards of smoking a lot of good cigars is that one can become a snob. I am guilty of that bad habit. And one forgets how many good, regular production inexpensive cigars are out there. Without finishing this cigar, I can say that I highly recommend it. The caveat is that you must be patient and let your humidor do its thing.

Amazingly, not a single piece of wrapper cracks. Considering how long it has been in my humidor, I am impressed. Lately, I’ve reviewed some nicely aged sticks that had real construction issues and that can really ruin the cigar experience. I hate tossing a cigar because of that, especially if I enjoy the flavor profile.
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A bit of nicotine kick settles in. At the very low end, but it is there and probably waiting to make me hallucinate in the last 1-1/2”.

A new flavor shows up: Caramel. It enhances both the creaminess and vanilla elements.

The cigar finishes up with my ass handed being to me by the nicotine. But it ends without a sign of harshness or heat. It is perfectly balanced. The char line is almost perfect. And a flavor bomb to the core. I suggest you get a fiver or a box and just put them away and forget about them for at least 6 months.

Good work, Abe.
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And now for something completely different:

It was the first time I took acid. 1973. I was 23.

A good friend, Mike Cook, now passed, came over with some blotter and we decided to make the day of it.

Two friends and I had rented a nice house in Santa Ana, Ca. They were gone for the day…so just me and Mike.

We had recently moved into the house less than a month earlier. And while putting the very first thing into our moving truck, I had an accident and broke my wrist. I had my 10 speed bike from when I was 13. I took a flying leap trying to drive the bike up the ramp and just as I got to the top, I ran out of steam and fell sideways to the ground, four feet below. My feet were in the rat traps so the only thing I could use to break my fall was my right arm. Snap!

A whole bunch of friends had accepted our invitation to help all us move from our current abodes. I walked back into the apartment where everyone was drinking and smoking joints and I said, “I think I broke my arm.”

My oldest buddy, Skip, grabbed it, looked at it and said I was fine. He now makes antibiotics for farm animals.

That day was horrendous. It ended up being a 15 hour move. And to make things much worse, no one knew how to drive a stick on that big truck but me. The stick was about 6 feet tall. And each time I had to use it, I screamed out in pain.

On the way back from Riverside, a friend said he would drive the truck. Why he let me drive in so much pain is beyond me. So, Mike and I were in the back with the door closed. It was pitch black. And the pain was making me crazy. Mike told me to take a hit of hash, which I did. Then the pain went from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds.

On Monday, I went to an orthopod and all he did was look at it and told me it was broken. But an X-ray was in order.

Anyway, back to the acid story.

Mike handed me the little piece of blotter paper and we sat on the living room floor and listened to records.
freak

45 minutes later, it hit me. Whoa. You cannot explain what taking acid is like to someone who has never taken it. Like Jimi said, “Are You Experienced?”

Mike got real paranoid and did a lot of stupid things.

Two things stand out in my memory.

The first being that Mike told me he was worried that I would hit myself in the head with my cast and split my head in two. So he spent a lot of time holding my arm to make sure that didn’t happen. I kept saying, “OW!” a lot.

The second was a song came on the radio called “Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Band. It was an instrumental. A synthesizer part came on and we began to freak so Mike yelled at me to turn the radio off.

I crawled over to the radio and it might as well have been the dashboard of the shuttle. I had no idea how to do anything. All those knobs confused me so we had to leave it on.
stereo

That evening, friends stopped by and one took me for a ride in his new sports car. I was still frying and he knew it so he drove like a maniac scaring the shit out of me.

That’s the nice thing about friends. They are always there to take advantage of your situation.

Late that night, the stuff wore off and the hallucinations stopped. I was a limp noodle.

I took it another time when we went to Disneyland. That was a huge mistake. Standing in those long lines frying.

And the last time I took it was on my 25th birthday in London. It was the perfect trip and around a dozen or so of my musical friends took it with me. It was a great night and I decided never to take it again. Go out on a good experience.

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Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS

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9 replies

  1. For some reason, your cartoon panel reminded me of “Wonder Warthog”.

  2. I had a great experience with blotter In my crazy days ( long time ago ) and that comic was one of my favorites! Especially when you smoked a joint and started to relate with the characters, oh my! Now, as far as the Pinar’s, I find that if you let them rest for 6 months or more they really turn around. I love there Cubano Especial Maduro in the corona size and only this size for there larger brethren just suck. But when I let them rest for 6 or more months they become so good you just want to eat them! And you find it so hard to believe it’s the same cigar. So for anyone that wants to truly find out why Pinar has such a following just purchase some and hide them for as long as you can and discover what makes Pinar, a Pinar Del Rio Cigar.

  3. Properly aging a cigar has always been a conundrum for me…Constantly changing temperatures, climate, and humidity make it difficult for me to understand how any of this can make the cigar better…I notice changes in flavor profile, but sometimes not for the better…I assume if it’s a crappy cigar then it will just get crappier as time rolls along…Maybe not…Most of my smokes are languishing in the Humi from 6 months to a year at the least…I separate the infused from the non infused, but sometimes they inadvertently commingle to make some interesting flavor profiles…Then there is keeping the cello on instead of taking it off, or keeping the cello on and cutting the foot off so the cigar can breathe properly…Then to make matters more confusing there is hardly any information out there on how to do any of this properly…I guess as a casual recreational smoker I am screwed…Help a boy to understand…Nice review Katman…

    • Wally,
      Everyone has their own opinion on how to do the things you mentioned.
      This is my opinion:
      Always remove the cellos. By doing this, it not only allows the entire cigar to breath but allows it mingle with the other sticks in your humidor giving the cigar a little extra oomph and flavor.
      A crappy cigar never gets better no matter how much humidor time you allow it. I have several of those type in my year or older humidor and the are still crap.

      I don’t know the science of why a cigar gets better once it is in your humidor. I’ve never had a single expert explain this to my satisfaction. But a maturation process does happen. That’s why I don’t like to go to local stores, buy a cigar and smoke it right there. You will have better luck with a cigar that cello is not used.
      In fact, I find that those cigars are good to go almost immediately. So the reality is that a cigar needs to breathe. Remember, it has been aged and then put in an airtight cigar box for who knows how long…thereby stilting the maturation process. Something happens to an aged cigar once it is removed from the surrounding air.
      I know smokers who just cut off the end of the cello. But this just makes the cigar take longer to mature than if the cello was completely removed.
      I’ve been a cigar aficionado for 46 years. While my father and grandfather bought crappy liquor store cigars like El Producto and Dutch Masters, I immediately went to cigar stores and bought good cigars. My father had a humidor and I used that to store my cigars. And I used that same humidor for almost 20 years. It is now gone through the exercise of moving so much for new jobs.

      I agree that mixing infused cigars with your regular cigars is no big deal..as long as the ratio is correct. A little bit of infused flavor on a regular cigar gives it a different nuance. But when I do this, I make sure that there aren’t too many regular cigars mixed with the infused ones and keep most of them in a different humidor. Just in case the infused flavor impregnates the regular one too much.

      • Thanks Katman…Good advice…I was taking the cello off of all my cigars for storage, when a friend told me I was making a BIG mistake…That never made any logical sense to me..I have an infused Humi, and occasionally throw a few of my favorite sticks in to see what happens just for the hell of it…I have a few Jamaican’s that were actually manufactured in Jamaica , resting comfortably in my humidor for over 10 years…They have picked up the flavors of many other sticks over the years, and are more interesting now than they were originally…Thanks again…The journey continues…

  4. You covered the yellow, red, and blue foot-banded PDR’s, but you left out the Seleccion 2010( black foot band), that were grouped together in various samplers until the Seleccion was replaced by the Limitada Reserva late in 2013. I have 25-40 of each of these won on cbid for < $2 per stick with at least 1 year humi time.
    I totally agree with the desirability to let these sit a long time. Fresher examples( 100's) that I have already smoked exhibited burn issues and inconsistent, sometimes even nasty, flavors. But for the price they were ok. Now they are very good. I have about 1000 sticks in my inventory with an average price of $2-2.25 per stick, and I am trying to let at least 75% rest at least a year.
    Thanks for your great reviews, and your rockin' stories.