In the early parts of last year, Charlie discovered a trademark for La Dueña that was registered by Pete Johnson of Tatuaje. A month later, Janny García tweeted about smoking a La Dueña, at which Charlie Minato made the prediction that La Dueña, which translates into the owner, designating the female owner, was in fact a cigar made for Janny García.
A month later, Charlie and I saw Janny García and José Ortega at an event and asked her about the cigar. She acknowledged that the cigar was being made for her, blended by Pete Johnson, and was made to be a significantly lighter cigar than the typical My Father profile because Janny admitted that most of the cigars they make are too strong for her tastes.
The cigar is being blended by Pete Johnson, but the cigar will be distributed by My Father Cigars Inc. and is not part of Havana Cellars.
Here is a quote from Pete Johnson about the blend of the La Dueña:
Janny likes La Riqueza and I was trying to make it a little stronger than that. I say it’s a cigar for everyone but made for La Dueña. This is a cross between La Riqueza and La Casita Criollo. I wanted flavor over strength. Plus the aroma on these cigars is awesome.
When released, the La Dueñas will be banded and sold in 21 count boxes (three rows of seven cigars) topped with a giant La Dueña sticker across the lid. There will be four different vitolas at launch, two of which we know, two that we don’t as of yet. The two sizes we can confirm are:
- Petit Lancero — 6 x 42
- Petit Robusto — 4 1/2 x 52
Previously, Pete Johnson has mentioned a Belicosos Fino and Belicosos, but that could change between now and the launch. Prices for the line are still not set, but will most likely range from around $6.75 to $9.00. The line is expected to be released around the time of the IPCPR show in August.
Interestingly, 100 boxes of 10 prereleases of the Petit Robusto were made, but offered only 50 of them for sale at a single event, the 5th Annual No Joke Smoke Dinner “Célébration De La Fumée” event in Hawaii on April 1st. The other 50 Pete has been smoking with friends.
The 10 count boxes are prerelease versions of what will eventually be distributed and they look like this:
But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?
Cigar Reviewed: La Dueña Petit Robusto
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf & Nicaragua
Filler: Connecticut Broadleaf & Nicaragua
Size: 4 1/2 Inches
Ring Gauge: 52
Vitola: Petit Robusto
Date Released: April 1, 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 100 Boxes of 10 Cigars (1,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 5
- To my knowledge, this is the first time Pete Johnson has officially blended a cigar he didn’t distribute. The opposite has happened at least two times. Pete had no part in blending the Schrader or Para Ti lines of cigars, but his Havana Cellars company distributes both.
- According to Jon Huber of Four Kicks, Pete described the La Dueña blend as, “La Riqueza meets La Casita (Criolla).” I can definitely see the comparisons with both. In my opinion, after smoking both a La Riqueza and La Casita to compare all three cigars, the La Dueña shares more attributes with the La Casita in flavor profile, which is not surprising, considering that both use Connecticut Broadleaf for the wrapper, binder and in the filler, but less of the La Riqueza. However, the La Dueña is easily the lightest in strength of the three blends.
- In these specific samples at least, I really had to constantly tell myself to slow down, as it really gets a bit hot if I pull on it too fast. Two of the samples that I smoked also seemed a bit under filled, i.e. seemingly very light for the size, so that may have had something to do with it.
- The ash is a very light gray and hung on for about an inch before falling every time.
- I was actually a little shocked at how smooth the wrapper was compared to other releases with Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. While it is still rough, it is nowhere near as rough as any of the other cigars with the same wrapper.
- I see this release being somewhat like the La Crista Criolla in that the profile is going to knock some people’s socks off, while others are just not going to dig them.
- Once again the boxes above are not the production boxes. In addition, the cigars come in cellophane.
- Last year, Pete Johnson made it clear that he wanted to return focus to his regular production cigars. This started with two signatures releases being regular production, taking the legendary T110 blend and creating Fausto and making a Broadleaf puro in La Casita Criolla. If the La Dueña blend debuted four years ago as a limited edition, this surely would have become one of the more legendary Pete Johnson LEs alongside the likes of The Frank, Pork Tenderloin, Noella Reserva. I don’t think the cigar is on that level, at least not right now and in this format, but there is definitely an added value of a cigar being limited for the Tatuaje fans as brilliantly evidence by Fausto.
- Construction on all samples was excellent overall with a perfect draw on four out of five cigars. The burn had a tenancy to wander just a bit, but never bad enough that I had to correct it. Smoke production was excellent, but not overwhelming, producing a sweet wood aroma.
- I was a bit surprised at how little strength there was in this cigar. While I was not expecting a powerhouse of a blend, especially knowing who these were made for, I guess was expecting it to have a bit more then it does. While I am definitely not a fan of strength without flavors to back it up, I honestly think this blend would be well served if it was just a little stronger, say: a slightly stronger medium.
- I was only able to smoke the Petit Robusto vitola of this release and I have to say, I am really looking forward to how this blend will taste in the Petit Lancero format as I think the profile in general will be a bit more distinct.
- Final smoking time for all samples averaged about one hour and 10 minutes.
The La Dueña Petit Robusto is a gorgeous example with a slightly mottled dark brown espresso wrapper that is surprisingly smooth to the touch and has quite a few veins present. It seems a bit light when held for the size, but has the perfect amount of give when squeezed. The Connecticut Broadleaf smells very strongly of a wonderful barnyard, leather, espresso and sweet cedar.
The first third of the La Dueña starts out with a nice balance of black pepper, spice on the tongue, and flavors of leather, espresso, earth and wood. About 15 puffs in, there is a distinct note of raw sugar, like what you would put in coffee. It does not last long in the first third, but is definitely there and really adds complexity to the profile overall. The draw is a bit loose, and the burn is a bit wavy, but not bad enough for me to correct. Strength is a medium minus by the end of the first third, and does not seem to be going any higher.
Coming into the second third and the La Dueña loses quite a bit of the spice and pepper that was present in the first third, but brings in a nice general sweetness, as opposed to the raw sugar note from before, to go along with flavors of dark, slightly bitter chocolate, leather, and earth. Right around the halfway point, the profile shifts almost abruptly to a bit more of a creamy note and the gritty earthiness becomes the dominant note, easily outshining the rest of the flavors. Burn is still wavy, but not annoyingly so and the draw becomes perfect. Strength is not budging past the medium point and I don’t think that is going to change.
In the final third, the La Dueña continues the trend of dark bitter chocolate and creamy earth, but the sweetness that was present really ramps up in strength as well. Construction remains constant, as does the strength, and it ends at a solid medium; little changed from the beginning of the smoke. The spice also remained at a constant level from the second third, but the black pepper did see an increase, especially on the retrohale. It is a great way to end a cigar, although it does get a bit hot at the end probably because I smoked it a bit further down than I should have.
The Bottom Line: Because of our review schedule, I was able to smoke five samples of these over a period of about a week and each one I smoked got a little better then the last. Although this line has most of the classic flavors of Tatuaje profile, which isn’t shocking given the dominance of Connecticut Broadleaf in the blend, it is definitely its own blend, both flavor and strength wise. La Dueña is nicely balanced and the sweetness that was present, albeit in different forms, throughout the cigar was a welcome part of the profile and the flavors do shift noticeably between thirds. Strength-wise, this is a medium at best, and could easily be smoked as the first cigar of the day with a strong espresso, as I did. This is not the best, strongest or most complex cigar Pete has put out by any means, but it is very, very good. If you like the Connecticut Broadleaf sweet/earthy/gritty profile like I do, I predict you are going to love this cigar, especially if the prices that are being considered remain the same.
Final Score: 89