Pinar del Rio El Trovador Natural | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Rosado
Binder: Nicaraguan, Nicaraguan Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan (Ligero & Viso)
Size: 5 x 52 Robusto
Strength: Medium
Price: $8.20

Today we take a look at the Pinar del Rio El Trovador Natural.
Only days ago, I reviewed the Pinar del Rio El Trovador Maduro which turned out to be a great blend. Had to jump on the natural blend right away to see how it compares.

Regular production.
Released 2016
From Famous Smoke:
“PDR El Trovador cigars were created by master blender and Pinar Del Rio Cigars founder, Abe Flores, who got his inspiration for this blend from two unique sources; first, his background as a gifted jazz bassist, and secondly, a visit to the Motherland, that is, Cuba. During his visit Flores saw a vintage Cuban cigar band labeled, “Trovador,” or Troubadour, which also happens to be the name of the legendary Los Angeles night club, one of the meccas for musicians from all over the world. Following a trademark check, Flores moved ahead with the project and fashioned a long-filler blend consisting of 2 parts Nicaraguan Ligero and 1½ parts Viso set in a double Nicaraguan/Corojo binder, and rolled them in Ecuadorian Rosado wrappers. The result is a medium-full smoke reeling with notes of earth, leather, roasted coffee, sweet spice, and a subtle floral note. Arguably, one of the most impressive cigars to come out of this highly-respected boutique cigar company, and well worth adding to your humidor.”

Petit Robusto: 4.5 x 50 $7.75
Robusto: 5 x 52 $8.20
Corona Gorda: 6 x 46 $8.75
Gran Toro: 6 x 54 $9.20

A nicely constructed cigar with an oily caramel colored wrapper. The veins are symmetrical giving off a natural leaf exposition of beauty. Seams are invisible but the stick has tree trunk sized veins running the length of the stick. The triple cap is a work of art with the differentiation between caps nearly invisible. The wrapper is smooth as your wife’s tush. The stick feels overly packed as it is rock hard. I think this may have been a box press but it is somewhere in the nether world of living in two worlds of round and box press.

From the shaft, I can smell sweetness, malt, black pepper, butter, cream, dried dates and raisins, milk chocolate, yeasty, crème caramel, cedar, and pecans.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell cream, malt, black pepper, cinnamon…and all of the flavors above.

The cold draw presents flavors of red pepper, malt, cream, dried fruit, cedar, lemon zest, sweet black tea, milk chocolate, and nuts.

A very nutty start. The draw is a bit tight. But I don’t believe I need my PerfecDraw cigar poker. We’ll see…

Flavors shoot the rink right out of the box. The start is full of early complexity and nuance. Malts reign supreme. Followed by extreme creaminess, tea, raisins, red pepper, candied pecans, lemon citrus, cocoa, cinnamon, and cedar.

I rated the Maduro version 93. The Natural, at this early point, lends me to believe this different blend will rate the equivalency of the maduro as the same passion emitting from Abe Flores is shared by both blends.
A host of different nuts are added to the pecan pie scenario.

Strength is an easy going medium.

Coffee shows up for the first time complemented by caramel; a dusting of nutmeg, and chocolate nibs.
The Nicaraguan guts make for a punchy cigar intensity. The Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper gives the flavor profile a very sweet dessert touch that counter balances the two regions beautifully.

Ol’ Abe really nailed both the natural and maduro blends perfectly. As they share the binder and filler elements, there is a natural and organic thread that runs between them…with the difference having quite the impact as Ecuador v. Mexico.

A spicy cinnamon appears and tunnels its way past the guards and on to open ocean as it approaches a sea of swarming simbas. (See what you missed out on during the 1960’s?)

Smoke time is 25 minutes.

No wrapper issues. A couple of touch ups needed for the burn line. Construction is OK with me.
The varied nut input is delicious with influences of pecan, walnut, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. I can taste each one individually. This happens very rarely. So I bow to the great nut sack in the sky to show my appreciation.

More sweetness upon the palate: Another list….blueberries, strawberries, and black berries. Strong flavors.
Strength remains at medium. I prefer the Maduro version for that single fact; I like strong cigars. Medium is OK for early morning along with a cup of good coffee. But I want my arse kicked. I want to be hung from chains and leather with a red ball in my mouth…(Too much?).

I believe one issue that isn’t ringing my bell is a short finish. Complexity is nice. A simple line of transitions is occurring. But no lip smacking those leftovers.
Runs. At around every 5 minutes. Bummer, Moon Doggies.

Have you seen Robert Plant lately on TV? He is pushing a new album. Playing TV concerts. Man, he must have had a great time as a rock god because his life is drawn all over his face. He is only 6 months older than me and looks like shit. Those miles are showing. Still, a good bloke from this vantage point. But I am not crazy about his new band. Comparisons galore. Reform Zep with Jason Bonham as usual on drums.

Halfway point arrives at 50 minutes.
The blend kicks into gear. I finally get my long finish. Complexity is raised a couple notches. And transitions are a blur.

Ever find that you gotta scratch your balls but you are in public? What do you do? If you stick your hands in your jeans pockets, you look like a perv to some 34 year old woman with two kids. If you rub yourself up and down on the wall, folks will notice. Or do you place something in front of your crotch and go to town? I like going into a stinky public bathroom and dropping my drawers and hit the big time in D minor.

The Pinar del Rio El Trovador Natural is a very good cigar. Splendid. But it isn’t in the same league as the maduro version.

There is a boat load of sophistication in the Natural. One cannot avoid recognizing that no matter your cigar experience. The wrapper is making all the difference. Considering both versions use Corojo and ligero in the mix, I expected the Natural to be more of a lady killer. The more I smoke, the less impressed I’m becoming. It has an up and down motion to the way it attacks my palate. Flavors bloom and prosper and then fade into the background for a bit. Consistency. The key to all great blends. The Maduro version had it all going. The Natural? Not as much.

The blend really hit the 10 spot at the halfway point but then tapered off to its early gestation. I should see a steady transition from good to great with lots of surprises and oodles of complexity. Instead, it is beginning to lay there like a flounder; or as I like to call it: My first wife. She fucked like a bunny during courtship and on our honeymoon, she slammed the clam shell shut on me. She spent the next 10 months in an institution. After release, we divorced. How’s that for an uplifting story shoved into a cigar review? But we were only 21 when we got hitched. Young and dumb.

I like that the cigar stays lit regardless of how much time I spend away from the cigar writing and taking photos. Good rollers.
More runs. Sonovabitch.

Smoke time is one hour 15 minutes.

The Pinar del Rio El Trovador Natural has lost its zeal for living. The blend does an about face on me. Are those decadent flavor influences are nearly gone. Bland. What happened?
I’m actually shocked as I experience the Pinar del Rio El Trovador Natural dissolve into a bland bundle cigar blend. There are no distinguishable flavors. Just a mish mosh of nothingness.

I was on a run with some really good blends and then a baseball whack to the pate. Out cold.
Both the maduro and natural got the same humidor time of over 2 months. Yet one becomes the champ and the other becomes the chump.

Harshness appears really bumming me out. There is no redemption possible at this point. In fact, the Natural reminds me of other PDR blends….bland and uncomplicated. And a few bucks cheaper.

I wouldn’t pay over $8 for this stick. Even more in a B&M. The maduro was worth every cent plus some.
I keep huffing on this thing hoping a miracle will occur. C’mon baby Jesus. Help this old Jew out. Resurrect the blend.

It’s hopeless. What a major disappointment I hadn’t figure on after such a wonderful experience with its maduro partner in crime.

Clearly, Flores had all his shit in one bag when he developed the maduro but asleep at the wheel with the natural. Too bad. But then we all now know.

Final smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.


And now for something completely different:
One of my many experiences with drugs and corruption in the music industry.
Long ago and far away…Early 1980’s.

Rick was an ex-con. And he was my friend. He did some serious time in Quentin for boosting cars. But by the time I met him, he had been a free man for 10 years. To be honest, I really don’t know what Rick was in for…I took him at his word and left it alone.

I met him at a friend’s party. We started talking music and hit it off. A very clever and funny guy.
Rick was a gentle giant. But he could turn on an imposing and menacing appearance if he needed to project a scarier than shit demeanor. I saw that happen a couple times and I’m pretty sure no one fucked with him in prison.

Rick was loyal to a fault. Whenever the rigors of running a recording studio seven days a week got to me, I’d take a mental health break and visit him for a couple of hours. When I arrived he always shooed away the coke whores so we would be uninterrupted.

We’d sit on his patio, in the sun, smoke cigars and drink his homemade lemonade. I could leave and be able to return to my studio and deal with all the bullshit in a calmer, more relaxed, frame of mind.
Rick was the kind of guy who made it clear there was nothing he wouldn’t do for you. But if you cheated him, or crossed him, God help you.

I was in the middle of my Butch “Eddie Munster” Patrick project and running my recording studio at the same time. I was also producing acts and doing bass sessions both in my studio and L.A.

There weren’t enough hours in the day and this had me pulling my hair out. Rick always provided sound advice and became my consigliere. I was surrounded at the studio by “yes” men. I had no one that would openly speak their mind because of their fear of being fired by me.

Corruption in the music industry, in the 1980’s, had not changed an iota since the scandals of the 1950’s. Payola was in force and no one fucked with that concept. Bribery was an everyday affair. Blackmail came in a close second.

Record companies cheated their artists. Clubs cheated their artists. Entertainment lawyers cheated their clients. Getting a record played on the radio demanded definitive actions: Juice, payola, drugs, and crooked DJ’s.

In 1983, I had just completed the production of the Butch Patrick single, “Whatever Happened to Eddie?”
After the recording project had a pretty bow tied around it and all the ancillary PR material was complete, I ventured into unknown territory…the music video. Mind you, this was the era of the very start of MTV.

This was my first try at writing, producing, and directing a rock music video and the end result was better than expected. It was a real bitch but we pulled it off. I had a great team to help me flesh out my vision of a silly novelty song.
I’m rather proud of what was accomplished. The song is only 2 minutes long but the video has 33 scenes. An edit every 3.6 seconds. We beat the “Bourne” series of films that was the dawn of the lightning fast edit, by three decades.

As a side note, you can now find the video on YouTube

For several years, I sold the entire package of vintage Eddie Munster items on Ebay. I have kept a lot of 45’s, signed promo photos, T shirts, and copies of the videos in mint condition all these years.

Since my copyright is good for life +65 years, I can pass it down to my daughter, Katie. That way, if Butch climbs a tall clock tower with a scoped rifle, she can make a fortune selling licensing rights to the video.

My copyright was for the video only. Universal Studios owns the right to the music…as we used the Munster theme and added lyrics about Butch. Negotiating those rights was a horror movie and took more time than expected. They don’t call Universal Studios “The Black Tower” for no reason.

Over the years, I’ve gotten frantic phone calls and messages from friends who said they heard the song played on the radio and I should get my royalties. I don’t own the “The Munsters” theme. Universal does. I can only go after someone that played the video without my permission. Butch would go on TV talk shows or those washed up child actor documentaries and he lied and told them he owned the rights to the video. It put me in the perfect position to go after the production company after the fact. It gave me a great bargaining advantage as they had already shown the video.

We were signed by a shiny new record label that had been started by big shots from some prestigious record companies…all backed by the mob. The owner, Rocky Davis was an ex-con…and basically a front man for the organization. His wife Shirley was his partner (In name only). The name of the record company was taken from their names: Rocky and Shirley = Rocshire.

I don’t know the full extent of the mob ties but my guess is that Rocshire blew their wad signing dozens of acts. They grew too quickly; too soon. And got into serious money trouble. So Shirley, who worked for Hughes Aircraft, embezzled $15 million and funneled it to an unknown group of people to keep them happy.
Of course, at the time, I had no idea of these shenanigans.

Rocshire Records sent Butch and me all over the country doing TV and radio and public appearances. I didn’t want to go but Butch had substance abuse issues and needed a full time baby sitter…Me. The record label insisted I go with him.

The band, “Eddie & the Monsters” was strictly Milli Vanilli. Butch can’t sing. One of the Monsters did the vocals on both songs on the 45. Butch was also credited with playing bass. Give you one guess who really did the bass playing. The only other Monster that actually played on the record was drummer Reek Havok (Google him). I used session players for both songs.

Rocshire instructed me on the art of corruption and bribery. I always had to have some coke and cash ready to distribute to the radio DJ’s and program directors as we toured the country. Rick was my connection. He took a cut of the project to be one of my financial partners. He had no shortage of dough or coke.
If you saw the movie, “Blow” with Johnny Depp…all that shit was true. Coke hit L.A. in the early 80’s like a blinding blizzard. Everyone was doing it. It was chic. And then it spread to the rest of the country.

The whole time I played in a rock band in England during the 1970’s, I never saw coke once. It was always hash or pot.

Rick got the biggest kick that I always turned down his offers to do a snoot full when I visited. I came to get away and relax…not get all amped up. Plus, I just didn’t like the way it made my nose and face feel numb. And it made me paranoid. The stuff accentuated the manic behavior that had become my lifestyle as a result of too much on my professional plate.

One day, Rick took me up to his bedroom’s walk-in closet that had a huge lock on the door. Inside, he had a 4 drawer chest. On it rested his paraphernalia and digital scale.

So this one particular day, he wanted to show off how he processed his coke. He was able to take the plain looking white powder and give it an opalescent appearance that customers equated with perfection and purity.

I sat next to him as he showed me the steps required. He had this huge mirror with about 3 ounces of cocaine on it. Right in the middle of explaining the steps, he elbowed the mirror and 3 ounces of coke exploded into the air. It became a snow storm.

Some of the chest’s drawers were open and the white powder coated the clothes inside. The carpet and our shoes were covered by it.
I remember hyperventilating. I don’t remember what the drug cost back then but that much coke had to have been worth a lot of dough.
Rick never lost a beat as he continued to explain his process. I finally choked out the words, “Rick. Your coke is everywhere!!”

In a calming voice, he told me not to worry. He told me that he had a special hand vacuum that would pick up 95% of it. I really hoped so because Rick was a big man and I didn’t want to be there if he went postal due to his klutziness.

Meanwhile, all I could think was that this would be the exact moment that a SWAT team would enter and find the both of us covered in white powder and I’d end up being some guy named Swifty’s bitch in prison for the next 20 years.

I had a real piece of shit press agent named John Collins…a Brit. I went through a bunch of PR agents before I settled on this one shark of a fuck. And he was involved with the mob activities and a talent scout for Rocshire. I had no idea at the time.

After “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” was released, I got a call from John and he told me to immediately bring him $3000. He had the program director from the big radio L.A. station KROQ in his office who agreed to put our Eddie Munster record in heavy rotation…for a price.

I called Rick and told him to bring some money. We were about to negotiate. Of course what I didn’t know at the time was that it was all bullshit. John just needed the dough for himself and the radio guy was a scam.

We got there and did the transaction. It felt slimy. We were promised to see the record played 3-4 times per day depending on the reaction from their listening audience.

The program director must have been all coked up because he was like a human jack-in-the-box…never stopped moving, speed talking, and jumping around. Rick and I looked at each other and read each other’s minds…program director, my ass.
Weeks passed, and of course, not once did we hear the song on KROQ.
Rick was furious. I mean he was enraged.

Rick showed up unexpectedly at my studio and said we had to go talk to my press agent. Now!

I made the call and we left immediately for Hollywood. I knew what was going to transpire. Rick felt betrayed. This was something Rick didn’t tolerate. I knew Rick was going to scare the shit out of this asshole and hopefully get the money back. Rick yelled all the way…a good 45 minute drive. I kept quiet and smiled. This fucker in Hollywood had no idea I was about to introduce him to King Kong.

Rick and I walked past the receptionist and we barged into the press agent’s office.

“We want our money back now!!” Rick put both his huge hands on the shoulders of this guy keeping him from getting out of his chair. I saw a fire storm in Rick’s eyes.

The press agent made a bunch of lousy excuses, told us to chill, told us to be patient, and just dug the hole deeper and deeper. He still didn’t get that I brought the Grim Reaper with me to his office.
Rick removed his hands from the agent and pulled back his jacket and showed the guy a huge stainless steel .357 magnum revolver in his shoulder holster. I didn’t see that coming.

I couldn’t stand the arrogance of this British wanker.

But then things got out of control quickly. Rick’s inner demons rushed to the forefront.
Rick pulled the revolver out and slammed the 6” barrel into the side of John’s head causing him to fall backwards in his chair. He slammed into the floor like he was hit by a train.
Rick then went around the desk and hit him once more…this time with his giant fist.
“Get our money!! NOW!!”

John cried uncontrollably. I didn’t blame him. But I was beginning to seriously worry about what we had just gotten ourselves into. But this guy was so dirty and tied so tightly to Rocshire Records…and the mob, that he couldn’t do shit. What would he say to the police, if called? “These guys wanted their illegal payola money back because I lied and scammed them.” His mob bosses and Rocshire would be pissed off.

The press agent thought Rick was going to kill him. I sort of wondered the same thing.

While crying, John kept asking Rick not to hurt him anymore. Rick screamed at him saying it was the last time he would ask for his money.

The press agent reached into his desk and grabbed a cash box and handed all the cash to Rick. It was way more than $3000. Rick counted out what he was owed and threw the rest of the cash into the face of the prick…who had crawled underneath his desk for safety. I couldn’t help it…I started laughing. Then Rick started laughing. The PR agent was still crying.

Rick left his with these words: “You ever try to cheat us again and I’m going to bury you in the desert…Alive!”

Obviously, we never had another problem with this guy. He was too afraid to call the police.

Of course, Rocshire Records got the last word in later on when they were taken down by the FBI. We sold 181,000 units in a couple months and I got 25 cents per single right up front.

I had a production deal. So I provided all finished material to the record company: Mastered tapes, finished 45 single sleeve, promo photos, T-shirts, and the music video. So they only had to press it, distribute it, and promote it.

I got $900 for two weeks of sale in the first quarter. My second quarter earnings should have been close to $50K. But alas, the FBI swooped in and shut everything down. That brouhaha over the $3K seemed like chump change at that point. I never got paid my royalties.

I was interrogated by the FBI twice. I told the truth and they never contacted me again. Clearly, I was just some stupid musician patsy for Rocshire.

I lost touch with Rick over the years. He called me in the late 80’s and asked if he could borrow $500. I told him of course. We met and had a great time reminiscing.

But Rick was now making a living gambling in the legal poker palaces in Gardena. His wife had left him. And he no longer did drugs. Plus the market had changed drastically from those early days in the early 80’s. Demand was low.
I have no idea where he is now. Hopefully, it’s not prison…or worse.

A week after my last FBI interview, Butch showed up drunk at my house in Long Beach. It was barely noon and he was sloshed.
He wagged our contract in my face demanding I pay him the basic minimum of $10K guaranteed to him in my management deal with him.

I had just lost $50K. I was behind on my mortgage and car payments. My recording studio partner, Dave Glenn, was embezzling studio income while I was on the fucking road with Butch. I was broke.

And now this shit heel, has-been washed up child actor was demanding I pay him $10,000.
Everything went black after that. I have no idea how I responded. But it was the last time I ever saw Butch.

A few weeks later, Butch had a meeting with NBC. He was pitching my project to them about a new Munsters show. They loved it. He forgot to mention that except for appearing in the video and posing for promo photos, he had nothing to do with the project besides promoting it.
They called him back a week later and said the project was a go. But Butch would not be included in the project. He was out.

They did a few episodes but they were so bad they scrapped them.
I got a phone call from Butch telling me how he got scammed. He wanted my help to negotiate. He did all this shit behind my back and now because they fucked him, I was now his best friend once again.
I hung up on him.

While the Eddie and the Monsters project was scrapped, they decided to do a new Munsters show with all new characters. It was in syndication for a couple years before it was cancelled. It was a desecration of the original show.
So now you know whose fault it is that NBC foisted a new and terrible version of The Munsters on an unsuspecting public.
My bad.


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1 reply

  1. HOLY SHIT!! I’m not even thinking about the shit stick you just reviewed anymore. HOLY SHIT!! Damn Uncle, you have the best stories.

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