A while back, Altadis USA brought out a line of Dominican handmades that were smooth, creamy and well constructed at a very reasonable price, and they quickly became a best seller in our store. That cigar was Vega Fina, which I understand has done very well for Altadis in the European market. So when I heard that José Seijas, the master blender for Tabacalera de Garcia (Altadis’ Dominican factory) was going to do a limited edition version, I was interested to see what they had in mind.
The cigar only comes in a chunky 56 ring gauge robusto and features a smooth and almost veinless tawny colored Mexican San Andrés Criollo wrapper with Dominican binder and filler. The construction of this cigar features a combination I’ve come to expect and appreciate from Altadis—a firm cigar with a smooth and easy draw.
The pre-light aroma exhibits hay and barnyard elements—pretty much what I would expect—and the draw shows a toasty and grassy note. The initial few puffs deliver a nice little kick, but not the typical black pepper, but something a bit like a jalapeño’s sweet and spicy flavor. As that fades, a sweet wood flavor takes over, and develops into a oaky profile with an undertone of white pepper. During the first third of the cigar, the flavor doesn’t change as much as it intensifies, with the oakiness becoming clearly dominant, but the pepper never fades away.
My sample cigars burned very straight with no touch-ups needed, and there was plenty of smoke. During the second third, the flavor picked up an additional element- a deep, almost buttery tone that worked remarkably well to unify the flavors. The wood and pepper merged with this warm, smooth undercurrent to create a rich and tasty experience that is never overpowering.
As I reached the two-thirds point, the flavors become more unified, with a hint of herbal sweetness working its way into the mix. One precautionary note: As is true with most mild to medium premium cigars, caution should be used to keep the cigar cool. I took a couple of puffs too quickly, and a bit of a harsh chemical tone cropped up. I let the cigar cool down for a couple of minutes and the flavor returned to normal, so I knew that the problem was me, not the cigar.
This well-made stick never got hot, harsh or boring, and was, in my mind, a very good value for the dollar (MSRP around $6.50). Although I tend to like my stogies more spicy and robust, this is a cigar that I will definitely smoke again.
Their appearance is very good, with a wrapper that looks almost seamless, so I’ll give it a 12 out of 15 in the "looks" category. I really like a cigar that has a firmly cylindrical construction that allows for a free and easy draw, and this cigar does that very well. With its razor-sharp straight burn, I give it 33 out of 35 for construction. The only thing that isn’t stellar is that the flavor, though very good, isn’t particularly unique or intense, so it comes across as a very solid, but not particularly memorable smoke. The aroma is clean and elegant, so I’ll give the flavor/aroma a 42 out of 50 for an overall very respectable score of 87 out of 100; if you’ve paid attention to the way we rate cigars, (and, if you haven’t, have a look at Cigar Reviews Taken Seriously) you’ll know that 87 is a very good score. When you add in the fair pricing of this cigar, it represents an excellent value. I would definitely lay in some of these before they’re gone.
Overall rating: 87
5 x 56
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Criollo
Made in: Dominican Republic at Tabacalera de Garcia Ltd.
|Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of pipe tobaccos for Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe and www.pipesandcigars.com in Albany, NY. He has been a cigar smoker and pipe tobacco blender for over 30 years. Russ will be contributing articles in several areas starting with reviewing cigars that are the best bang for the buck – something we anticipate many readers will be interested in during these challenging economic times.|
[Editor’s Note 1: It was announced on January 26, 2012 that José Seijas would retire from Altadis effective immediately. Seijas is 61, and began working for Tabacalera de Garcia when he was 24. Seijas’s role will be filled by Javier Elmudesi, a 15-year veteran of Tabacalera de Garcia who will take the title of factory manager. Elmudesi will report to Antonio Gutierrez, operations director, cigar division, for Altadis parent company Imperial Tobacco PLC of the United Kingdom.]
[Editor’s Note 2: There’s seems to be several websites with incorrect information as to the contents of the Vega Fina Seijas 2011 Limited Edition Cigar. Some blogs and stores have mistakenly listed the contents of the regular Vega Fina cigars as the blend of the Seijas 2011 Limited Edition. However, it is not the same. The regular Vega Finas (that have the white and silver band with red lettering) have Dominican, Colombian, and Honduran tobaccos bound in an Indonesian TBN (shade-grown) binder, with Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. The Vega Fina Seijas 2011 Limited Edition has a Mexican San Andrés Criollo wrapper with Dominican binder and filler.]
More information here: Vega Fina Seijas 2011 Limited Edition Cigar
Here I (Kevin Godbee) am with the girl promoting the regular Vega Fina series –