Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler: Colombian, Dominican, Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 52
Factory: Tabacalera Las Lavas S.R.L.
“Originally a limited release (2019) of 500 boxes of cigars, the company has announced that it is bringing it back as a regular production cigar with an updated secondary band that bears the La Mandarria logo.
”We were completely overwhelmed by the response for La Mandarria,” said Luis Cuevas Jr., president of Casa Cuevas Cigars, via a press release.
“This brand was a smash hit at the 2019 IPCPR and sales have remained strong. We are grateful to the public for accepting the product with open arms.”
I’ve had the cigar cooking naked in my humidor for 2-1/2 months.
A solid cigar but pretty hard. No soft spots. Seams are tight. Lots of small and large veinage. But it feels heavy in the hand. This is always the first thing I look for. I don’t like sticks that feel like a handful of toothpicks in my hand. The triple cap with the pigtail is nicely done. ¾” of the foot is exposed with no wrapper. Lots of oil permeating the stick. A nice shiny golden color in the proper light. A single cigar band designed to look like two bands is kind of purty with the contrast of gold and dark red.
SMELL THE GLOVE:
I’m getting equal amounts of floral and chocolate from the wrapper. In abundance, are notes of creaminess, pepper, graham cracker, cedar, barnyard, salted caramel, and peanuts.
The cold draw presents flavors of malt, barnyard, black pepper, espresso, cocoa, creaminess, cedar, nutty, and fried rice.
The draw is spot on, just the way I like it, uh-huh, uh-huh. I put my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away.
First puffs are full of mini-flavors. The most prevalent flavor is nicely chosen cigar tobacco. Black pepper hovers in the back of my throat causing no fuss. I always find that I must get past the open foot before the cigar flavors really begin to exhibit themselves. This will take a good 5 minutes before I can relay a blender’s intent.
The strength hits a potent medium immediately. The P.R. says it is full tilt and I believe them.
The smellathon begins to translate into flavors: peanuts, creaminess, some savory qualities, espresso, cedar, and toast.
My mouth is dry from talking so much last night at a dinner with superhero Johnny Piette of Isabela Cigars. That in itself, would make a good after review story so I will sneak stuff in during the review. I need a sip of water early on to coat my dry throat and it boosts the flavor profile appropriately.
The burn is now adjunct to the end of the open foot and now beginning to burn some wrapper. Cigars get a lot of their flavor from the properly chosen wrapper. Just a single leaf can make or break a cigar.
Strength hits medium/full.
Everyone that reviewed this cigar seemed to like it. But they all had one thing in common in their opinions…the cigar is not a flash bang cigar. It does not emit a laundry list of flavors. In fact, it seems more about the tobacco flavor and complexity than it does about anything else. And all seemed to react the way I am at this moment…it starts slow but accelerates as the stick makes some headway. One last thing…I did read that one or two reviewers think the blend needs more than just a few months humi time. Interesting.
The main flavors are toast, graham cracker, a bit of unidentified sweetness, malt, black pepper, a small touch of dark chocolate, espresso, and cedar.
There is an underlying flavor which is, again, the tobacco. I can now taste an intent. It’s about the leaves. If you’re looking for a bevy of fruits, candies, and assorted meats, this is the wrong cigar to pick.
I find that it is simple in its approach. The tobacco nuances become the focus. It is one of those cigars in which one savors the blender’s intent rather than trying to win a prize by finding the most flavor points.
This is a cigar for grownups. The complexity is really kicking in now as the cigar nears the second third. This causes the flavor points to kick start a bit. But the flavors come at me in unison. It is very difficult to pick out specific elements. That’s OK. Not every cigar we smoke needs to have a gazillion components for the palate to enjoy.
Johnny and I went to a great sushi place. We ate sensibly by ordering sashimi, no rice. But as we looked around at the pretty packed place, we saw men and women with 7lbs of sushi on their plates. And being consumed by fairly heavy people. After their meal with all that rice, Johnny said it would at least 4 days before they could take a dump without screaming for their mommies. Something about this state…the women are all obese. Most of the men as well. Brats and cheese curds does not bode well for a sleek appearance.
A sip of water this time allows a very bright finish to the cigar’s flavors. Things sparkle. It is about the tobacco, not a myriad of crazy flavor points.
As the cigar becomes more and more complex, the flavor profile moves to the background. But then again, I too wonder if maybe this cigar needs many months of naked humi time or is this the blender’s intent?
The cigar came on strong at first, but it has since smoothed out considerably. No sudden moves by the flavor profile. But the little important stuff, like short sparks of subtleties and nuance keep this puny brain interested in what will happen next.
The finish is actually delicious. I didn’t notice it until I realized I was continually smacking my lips.
If I had to call out flavors…toast, peanuts, espresso, malt, cedar, nutmeg, creaminess, black pepper, and graham cracker. The sweetness factor really isn’t all in at this point causing the profile to be a tad bit off kilter for my likes. I am a sucker for a balanced blend of both sweet and savory.
Each sip of water amplifies the flavors I’ve described.
I don’t feel particularly funny this morning…my bad.
The strength has remained at medium/full. I’m sure once I get past the second half, I’m going to get my arse kicked.
This is a good cigar. But expectations need to be put aside. This blend is very different than most good cigars. The focus is completely on how the cigar was designed and blended…without worrying about if the cigar wheel of flavors is employed.
This is what I call an earthy cigar. And you know how I hate that term. But by earthy, I mean that I can taste the five leaf stats working in harmony allowing me to enjoy what a good tobacco farmer can produce. Again, the taste of the tobacco, without ancillary ‘food’ flavors, makes this choo choo get over the tall mountain.
Nothing linear going on. Each puff forces the momentum of an intense complexity to flourish. It goes deeper and wider as the cigar slides into 2nd base.
Oh shit, I’m really digging it now. But as the cigar hits the midway point, strength hits full tilt. I’m a goner.
A deep richness is now present. The finish is terrific. This is not a cigar you want to water down with liquor. It would drown out the subtle approach the blend is providing. And all you’d taste is the liquor.
A cigar to be savored in quiet.
Johnny is a very funny guy, so our dinner was loud with laughter. Everyone around us was listening. Naturally, outrageous things came from our mouths. Our waiter was a complete goof ball. He must have visited our table a dozen times asking the same questions over and over. We openly made fun of him; but he had a good sense of humor and went with it. Plus, he got a very nice tip. Maybe he was lonely.
I have more sticks as I bought a fiver and have only smoked one before today’s stick. I plan on letting them rest for a few months before I light another up. I believe it will be an even better cigar. Don’t you wish that every cello had a recommendation for humi time?
The second half is nearly a different cigar than the first half. It squishes the citizens between its toes like Godzilla.
The cigar has double bands, not one as I stated early in the review. I think that excessive masturbation when I was younger is coming home to roost. My eyesight sucks.
Man, oh man, we have liftoff. Now I’m convinced this blend was meant to have at least 6 months of humi time, not 2-3. I betcha’ a buck that this review would be different if I had waited. But the reviews that stated humidor time are about the same amount I gave the stick.
Even at full tilt, I can still see through one eye. Smoothness is the keyword for this blend. It creeps up on you slowly; but delivers the goods.
There have been zero construction or burn issues.
Sweetness arrives to my palate. It is a bit fruity, like Johnny. When we arrived at the sushi joint last night. I walked in 4 steps before Johnny. The gay seater asked if I had reservations. I told him yes and then Johnny appeared. I told the guy that John was my boyfriend and we’re ready to be seated. Nothing from the gay caballero. Just a hostile stare. I feel for people born without a sense of humor.
The cigar is now burning on all 6 cylinders. It is fucking great. Yeah, more humi time.
Highly complex with a cornucopia of nuance and subtleties. And I finally got my wish of balance between sweet and savory.
I now taste lots of interesting notes. Unfortunately, they run past my palate like they are late to catch their plane. But that’s good too. Keeping a smoker’s interest is 80% of the battle for a blender. Keep the customer wanting more in excited anticipation.
I sang Paul Simon’s “Keep the Customer Satisfied” while I lay on top of an Amsterdam hooker in the 70’s because she kept barking orders of what I could do and couldn’t do.
Light notes of black licorice, buttered sourdough toast, graham cracker, blackberries, heavy on the malt…and now a lime citrus note.
Here is what I find to be unusual based upon the leaf stats…normally there will be constants of chocolate, coffee, and serious creaminess. No chocolate, No coffee. Creaminess is faint. One doesn’t realize how accustomed we’ve become as one blend after another is released with those elements as the BIG flavors. And the sweetness takes a step back and I recognize it as a natural sweetness emanating from the choice of tobacco.
It is becoming quite a sophisticated smoke. The Casa Cuevas is turning out to be a sleeper. The changes are gradual as opposed to stark and sudden. You gotta’ pay attention when you smoke this baby.
Construction is exemplary. I mean, who doesn’t wonder if they fucked up with the humidity in their humidor when a cigar gets burn runs or seams disconnect? If you experience Catholic or Jewish guilt, you know what I mean.
And here is a cigar lying next to my other review sticks whose construction proves that the cigars I’ve reviewed that disintegrated while smoking was the fault of the manufacturer and his choice of rollers. Guilt be gone.
As the cigar is fully packed with care, it is a slow roll. I’ve now spent 75 minutes to get here. This cigar will be at least a 2+ hour commitment.
The blend increases the peace. It is gosh darn superb. I should come back in a few months and augment my review with how the cigar acts with several more months of humi time. I say that a lot, but almost never remember to do this. I’m sure it’s not my age.
Oh lawdy, lawdy…we have reached an orgasmic time in the life of this stick. Holy shit. I want to have the blender’s children.
I hear from a lot of readers who make comments. But as my catalog goes back 9 years, I get comments for cigars I reviewed in 2012, 2016, 2013, 2018, etc. I forgot why I brought this up. I’ll remember. Give me a few minutes.
This is one of the smoothest blends that reached full strength.
I’m having such a good time that the music I have playing in the background has been superfluous. The blend is so intense that it exacts all of my concentration on the experience.
If this cigar had more humidor time, it would have gotten a higher rating. No disrespect intended.
All is in harmony. A cigar like this starts my day off perfectly.
Aretha. “Chain of Fools.” What bass player doesn’t get a charge up his ass playing da’ funk with this tune?
I take a two-minute break to walk off the nicotine and discover Charlotte is up. I use those two minutes wisely and now I’m spent.
The char line is scientifically accurate. Nice.
With a few more months, this cigar would rate a few extra points.
The cigar’s complexity does not let up as I begin to close out on this review. Not a lick of harshness or bitterness.
An excellent cigar. I highly recommend you give it a try. Patience, my children, patience.
And now for something completely different:
One of my favorite Todd Hart stories is about the time we became the official blues band for the Arizona Hells Angels…
Todd’s main income was the music, so we played out a lot…3-5 times per week. Forcing me to go to work the next morning bleary eyed. I would drive like a maniac after gigs to get home, shower (smoking was OK back then in bars), try to calm down, and then sleep for a solid 2-1/2 hours before I had to be at work at 6am. Lovely.
We had moved to Arizona in 1991 when California experienced a recession and construction went into the toilet. We stayed in Arizona until 2000 when I got a great job in the bay area of northern California.
I was working 3 jobs: my main gig as a construction project manager, my music gigs, and a contractor as a structural draftsman working out of my house. I was in my 40’s so I was healthy and fit, and while this was tiring, it kept my wallet filled and my stamina seemed unstoppable. Plus, it allowed my daughter and wife to steal from my wallet without abandon.
I played with Todd for a little over 2 years. We went through drummers like Spinal Tap. I believe one or two disappeared from spontaneous combustion. And one died choking on vomit…Not his.
Todd had a neighbor that was high up in the chain of the “board of directors” with the Hells Angels. He often came to see us play.
Soon thereafter, we were hired to play Hell’s Angels gigs. They loved us. But I didn’t love them. These were some nasty fellas. They scared the hell out of me. No pun intended.
Within a couple of months, we became the official Hells Angels band of Arizona. Just great. Something I always dreamed of.
They had moved into Arizona in the mid 90’s. Other outlaw biker clubs were given the opportunity to join or disappear.
This was truly an outlaw gang of thugs. Selling drugs and guns and making sure no one got in their way.
Now as you probably know, Arizona is the Wild West when it comes to guns. You can carry openly and you can carry concealed. A young kid can carry a gun as long as a parent is with them.
For the gigs, I always wore a Blues Brothers-type black coat. In the small of my back, I carried an IWB holster with a .45 caliber Glock 30. A subcompact. 13 +1 Rounds.
Whatever club we played, the Angels would take over the club for the night and the parking lot saw hundreds of bikes.
A coterie of Angels took turns guarding them…with guns in plain sight. It became horrifyingly apparent that none of these guys knew anything about guns. They just liked carrying them, looking badass. A lot of them wore the “Miami Vice” Don Johnson-type shoulder holster.
One night, during a break, I walked outside and began talking to a few of them; each with the Miami shoulder-holster-carry. I asked them to show me how they would draw the gun. And every one of them did it wrong.
If you pull the gun from the holster horizontally, you sweep the area in a partial arc as you bring the gun around towards your target. Not good.
Studies have shown that in an adrenaline situation, you pull the trigger 2.5 times before it is aimed at the target. So, sweeping the gun means you shoot innocent bystanders in that 90-degree circle sweep.
I showed them how to do it properly by pulling the gun out, immediately dropping the nose; first to the ground, then in a twisting motion, bring it up to the aiming position without sweeping it.
They all slapped me on the back and thanked me.
And then it hit me.
These guys are famous for drugs and gun running. There had to be at least one undercover ATF agent in the bunch. And he had just watched me show the Angels how to shoot their adversaries properly.
Christmas came around and we played their annual event in which they supposedly collected toys for disadvantaged kids. They rented an upscale restaurant in Scottsdale.
There was a huge box for the members to place their new toys. I looked into the box and there was nothing in there that cost more than $2. So much for taking the drive seriously.
I made the mistake of bringing along my wife, Charlotte, and our 12-year-old daughter, Katie. I don’t know what I was thinking. Stupid me…I thought it would be a semi-wholesome atmosphere with all the families there.
We came early to set up and do a sound check. I remember as huge hordes of bikes arrived shaking the ground with a rumble equal to 6.7 Godzillas wiping out thousands of Japanese civilians. Mothra picked up the pieces.
The kid started crying from the noise, holding on to my leg with dear life, and begged for us to leave. Great.
We had to sit through the entire meal and then the giving away of gifts through the use of lottery tickets bought by the folks arriving.
The MC had the foulest mouth I had ever heard. There were a ton of kids at the event; but this mattered not.
His language would have made Richard Pryor blush.
I don’t remember what we were paid, but it wasn’t enough.
This went on for well over an hour. We had now been in this place for hours and hours and all we wanted to do was play and get the hell out of there.
We sat at a table with 8 other Angels. I swear not a single one had an I.Q. over 40. And having teeth in their mouths was strictly optional.
We played a set and then took a break and oh my lord, they started doling out more gifts which sidelined us another hour.
It may have been the longest day in my musical career. Of course, the best part was all the biker chicks taking their tops off while we played in front of all the kids.
That was enough for Charlotte and she took the car and left for home; with the kid in tow.
We had a lot of Angels gigs booked but I just couldn’t do it anymore.
Shortly afterwards, I quit the band. Thankfully, Todd is doing great with his music and playing out all the time. He is a big hit in Australia and they treat him like a rock star whenever he travels there.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS