Review: Pinar Del Río Habano Sun Grown Lancero
If Charlie “Ray” Stahl wants someone else to review PDRs, he’s probably going to need to do them himself. While our favorite Kentuckian is preparing his departure from the Bluegrass State Southern Ohio, I take on another Pinar Del Río Lancero. Much like the Pinar Del Río 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Madura Lancero that I reviewed earlier, I didn’t know anything about these until smoking a few, the results after the jump.
- Name: Pinar Del Río Habano Sun Grown Lancero
- Vitola: Lancero
- Size: 7 1/4 x 38
- Wrapper: Dominican Habano Sun Grow
- Binder: Dominican Criollo 98
- Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan
- Country: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera Don Leoncio
- MSRP: $7.00 (Boxes of 30, $210.00; most prices vastly below MSRP)
- Source: Gifts/Trades
- Time in Humidor: 3 Months
- Cut: Montecristo Signature Cutter
- Light: Colibri Boss II
- Beverage: Coke
- Smoking Time: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
I believe these are still made, although were part of the larger PDR make-over that occurred at last year’s IPCPR. Essentially Abe Flores reblended every cigar they were making. These were introduced in 2007 in boxes of thirty and are generally regarded as one of PDR’s better cigars. Like most PDR cigars, finding information about the cigar itself is a bit difficult, but the info above comes from the Pinar del Río cigars.
I hadn’t smoked a single Lancero from Tabacalera Don Leoncio until around December of last year. Since then I’ve had just under ten of various Lanceros from the Dominican factory, all of them have been amongst the poorest construction, all but a single one, noticeably underfilled. The Dominican Habano is a light dull mud shade with the obvious tans that go along with the “Sung Grown” wrappers. Veins are mild, but it’s a rough roll, so the overall quality of the wrapper looks a bit suspect. Aroma is a foul barnyard over coffee and earth; medium-full, clean and straight forward. Packaging these in bundles didn’t help, the foot on all four I’ve smoked has been noticeably rectangular. From the bottom, I get a significantly more pleasant barnyard, herbs and lots of pepper on a noticeably sour aroma.
Cutting is always an adventure, twice (including this time) the wrapper split. I rarely encounter this problem, so I’m not sure what to think, other than it probably wasn’t my fault. Aroma from the head is coffee, cherry, at times cola, barnyard and a noticeable spice that deepens the full aroma. Cold draw is consistently loose. Despite the massive construction issues, the Pinar del Río Lancero brings a wonderful coffee over a dry woods, nuts and herbs. There are faint hints of some green tobacco (although nowhere near problematic, it actually adds to the flavor profile) and spices on the full and lengthy flavor. Lighting produces notes of cedar, tobacco, toasty and bits of herbs. The first draw is a bit of a struggle, but once things get going it’s a beginning of woods transitioning into deep sweet cedar that immediately bitters into a deep wood finish. It’s medium-full and a bit harsh, but overall it’s complex and tasty, particularly the slightly long finish.
I manage to avoid any additional construction issues in the first third, which is admittedly a bit surprising. When not struggling over a shredded cap, it’s a beautiful natural tobacco accompanied by woods, brown sugar and touches of spice; medium-plus and always very clean. Nuts, cedar and a fainter spice making up the medium-plus and average length finish, which serves as a wonderful compliment to the initial flavor. Even sans construction issues, the draw is not great, it’s consistently loose and rough. Strength is mild, real mild actually; one of the many reasons I’m pretty sure after four years, these have begun to loose much of their former selves.
The middle portion sees the addition of a very sweet cocoa note, one of the great attributes of the wrapper. In addition, cedar and nuts are present for the spiceless medium-plus flavor. Finish is oak, nuts and coffee; distinctly medium in flavor and length. Wrapper issues aside, much of the rest of the cigar remains the same: bad draw, good smoke production outside, bad smoke amount to the mouth, mild in strength and an okayish burn. Aroma changes from a toasty note to a more oak like flavor. On the PDR Lanceros where the cap didn’t remove easily, the construction woes are obviously continuing to get worse.
On the construction-challenged renditions of the PDR Sun Grown Lancero, the final third isn’t really possible, as noted above. Flavor is cocoa and cedar with a bit of white pepper breaking through into the medium-plus flavor. The cocoa, which is nowhere near as sweet as the middle portion, continues into the finish accompanied by woods and earth. It’s medium-plus and about average and length. Most of the rest of the cigar is as it was in the earlier state, and with about an hour forty, I put the non-falling apart sticks down.
For the Novice
If you can find them, this is an extremely cheap Lancero, and incredibly mild in strength; both rarities. However, some part of me says recommending this to a new smoker isn’t a great idea. The Pinar del Río Sun Grown Habano represents a lot of what is wrong with Lanceros, particularly what happens when they aren’t given the premium attention to detail. When they aren’t falling apart (which from my limited tests says is a coin toss), these are good, especially for the price. However, a falling apart cigar is never a good one.
In the End
To be honest, I didn’t even bother to pick out the four visible stems that were present in the photographed cigar. Why? The PDR didn’t need any help falling apart and I’m convinced after the second stem the cigar would have been in pieces. I think that highlights the obvious concern with the PDR Habano Sun Grown Lancero. One set of notes has comments about the awful loose draw and its effect on smoke production; another fails to spotlight that, not because the problems aren’t present, but because there are far greater ones. There are a lot of areas of concern beyond the fact this cigar falls apart, chief among them, is the PDR Habano Sun Grown is past its prime. I’m inclined to believe that this cigar has begun to mild out quite a bit, although the flavor is quite good, with a noticeable lack of a pepper campaign throughout most of the cigar. Still, if given the opportunity to pick these up at the price many have ($2.50 a piece), I’d probably spring for a five-pack and roll the dice.
64. Good flavor, offensive construction from undoubtedly one of the least expensive Lanceros on the market, although I don’t think it was intended that way.