When you talk about custom Cuban cigars and the many different rollers that craft them, one of the names you will hear with much prestige is Leopoldina Gutiérrez, otherwise known in the cigar world as “La China.” She is at the top of the bunch of Level 8 Rollers(i.e. the highest proficiently level you can reach) in today’s market. She is known for her Custom rolled Perfectos, Salomons and diademas, but will roll pretty much anything you request her to roll and will do it with perfection.
As most rollers do, La China travels all over the world rolling cigars for different cigar shops and private parties. La China’s home shop can be found in Havana Cuba at the world famous Partagás Factory and cigar shop located in Old Havana. The factory itself opened in 1845 by Jaime Partagás and is home to the La Casa del Habano Partagás. Today there are over 90 La casa Del Habanos all over the world but this is definitely the flagship store so to speak.
Here is a photo of the Partagás Factory:
And here is a video of La China bunching some cigars at the Factory in Havana:
Lets get into it shall we?
Cigar Reviewed: La China Pigtail Robusto (2010)
Country of Origin: Cuba
Size: 5 Inches
Ring Gauge: 50
Est. Price: $13-$15
Release Date: 2010
Number of Cigars Released: N/A
Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
Visually the La China Pigtail Robusto is very appealing. It has a light Colorado/Claro Shade Wrapper with a few minor veins and a seamless wrap. It has a gorgeous pigtail cap that sets it apart from other customs I have smoked recently and it has a firm pack to it. I must say the wrapper itself is one of the nicer ones I have seen. It has that smooth golden look to it, very nice.
This cigar has a ton of barnyard aroma, as well as a nice chocolate sweetness. The prelight draw is very mild, just a hint of cedar and tobacco.
Starting off in the First Third I am hit with a great amount of spice and pepper! It really took me by surprise. After about 10 puffs or so it mellowed out considerably. I started to get some nice chocolate notes and a lot of wood. There is still a good amount of pepper, mostly on the finish. There is an underlying sweetness I can’t quite put my finger on that balances it out nicely though. The finish is a bit dry.
Coming into the second third is when the cigar really starts to shine. The chocolate has disappeared but I am getting wonderful cedar note as well as a rush of an almond like nut flavor. The finish is full of pepper and a mushroom/vegetation like flavor and aroma. The finish isn’t as dry and is very long and fulfilling. I should add that there is a good amount of spice through the nose, way more than I would expect from a Cuban cigar but I am enjoying it.
Finishing up in the final third the cigar holds a steady course from the last. I am still getting a nice overall cedar flavor with a nuttiness and mushroom like note on the finish. The spice through the nose and the pepper on the tongue has pretty much left leaving only a hint of it. The cigar got a bit more toasty as it heated up but never got too hot and I was able to nub it quite easily.
I have to point out that upon cutting the head the entire cap came off and I was concerned the cigar was going to unravel, but it didn’t. Despite that the construction and appearance were top notch and the cigar had a Great draw and a great burn.
The spice and pepper in this stick surprised me a bit. It had much more than your average Cuban cigar and it actually impressed me as I tend to enjoy cigars with spice and pepper.
This cigar showed a lot of youth (it was rolled no more than 2-3 months ago!) but the flavors were there for sure. I think once this settles down a bit the flavors will shine even more.
Final smoking time was 1 hour 31 minutes.
The Bottom Line: This was an above average cigar, but it is nowhere near its peak. It seems to have a long way to go but when it reaches its pinnacle it will be a wonderful cigar worthy of a classic rating. It had a solid flavor profile and was an overall easy cigar to smoke. It also had some real strength to it and will most likely mellow perfectly as time goes by. This is one cigar I want to revisit in 5 years for sure but would have no problem smoking along the way.
Wow. With the mushroom/vegetable flavor, pepper and strength through the nose, your description actually reminds me of a Fuente Chateau series- not a profile I would ever expect from a Cuban custom. That said, in my experience, Cuban customs tend to be nothing if not surprising and varied.