In the last year or so, Cesar Cigars has been making a bit of a name for itself, earning a handful of awards for its Habano line while making its way into more than 100 humidors across the U.S.
The brand is the creation of Cesar Espinal, a third-generation tobacco grower who got his cigar-making start in San Diego before moving to the Dominican Republic to open his own factory. The company’s website details the journey:
Cesar Espinal had a dream in his youth. A third generation tobacco grower, Cesar was fifteen when he started working at his family’s farm in the Dominican Republic. He worked in the fields learning how to plant, cultivate and harvest tobacco. The Espinal family sold their yield to several of the most prominent cigar makers. In his late teens, Cesar started learning the art of making premium cigar from master blenders and rollers that came from the Dominican Republic.
With his family’s help, he opened a small factory in San Diego in 1996 called Cesar Cigars where he began producing hand rolled cigars for the locals and tourist trade. Cesar desired to perfect his skills of the trade, so in 2000 decided to move to the Dominican Republic and started honing his craft.
Driven by his passion, he took over the family farm in 2010, built a small factory near Santiago and began manufacturing cigars for several small retailers. By 2012, he moved his operation to Tamboril to continue expanding Cesar Cigars. The factory has grown to over 1,200 Acres for growing tobacco, and includes the box factory which produces packaging not only for Cesar Cigars as well as many other well-known Tabacaleras.
Cesar values life’s simple pleasures. An exceptional cigar using three year old wrapper and five year aged fillers, a great presentation and an affordable price. Cesar Cigars recently acquired additional property to expand and build a larger facility. Fabrica de Cesar will be completed by 2015.
The company offers a pair of lines, the aforementioned Habano and a maduro, which uses a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Dominican corojo binder and filler from the Dominican Republic and the United States.
The Habano has been the one that has garnered the majority of attention from the cigar world, and is the one that the company seems to be focusing on with a pair of new limited editions, this lancero and a 7 x 58 Salomon that is due out later in 2015.
Currently, both the Cesar Habano and Maduro are available in five sizes, a 5 1/2 x 52 Robusto, the 6 x 50 No. 3, a 6 x 54 Torpedo, a 6 x 60 Grand Toro and a 6 1/2 x 62 Grand Torpedo.
- Cigar Reviewed: Cesar Habano Lancero
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Fabrica de Cesar
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Dominican Republic Corojo
- Filler: Dominican Republic & United States
- Size: 7 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 39
- Vitola: Lancero
- MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 10, $100)
- Release Date: July 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,100 Boxes of 10 Cigars (11,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
The Cesar Habano Lancero is an interesting visual specimen, and the two samples had fairly different notes when it came to their appearance. The first had a good number of veins and visible seam lines that lead up to a bun of a cap, though it’s not the prettiest one I’ve ever seen and I want to find the end of it to try and retrace its path, but it is so tightly wound and dry that I can’t move it easily without breaking it, so I decide to let that remain a mystery. The second had hardly any veins, an almost invisible seam line and a much better constructed bun on top. Both appear to be fairly well rolled with just a few ebbs and flows from the otherwise straight parejo, and a texture that ranges between spongey and firm, sometimes in the same cigar. From the foot I get a fairly dry profile marked by peanuts, woods, and leather, with a touch of pepper in the mix but seeking it out too aggressively seems to have the same effect as it being there in the first place. The second cigar also had a sweet barnyard note that added to the complexity and made it that much more appealing. The cold draw is easy and a bit more complex and subtle, taking many of those same notes, blending them together and lettering the simmer and mesh, with the peanut he first to stand out.
I have a hard time placing the first notes of the Cesar Habano Lancero, but it is not for a lack of flavor; the cigar offers plenty of big, bright flavors that are almost a bit metallic out of the gate and on the front of the tongue, while a bit of wet chalk comes along with some minerals. The flavors in the second sample are much more subdued in the first, which clears the way for a bit of warm brown sugar, a great note that I can’t recall tasting in some time. Retrohales are much simpler to process as a bright, punchy white pepper is the most forward. The ash isn’t terribly strong, lasting just under an inch before crashing down, but when it does detach the flavors and aroma suddenly marry together for a complex dance between palate and nose, as the rich, spicy earth comes alive and steps into the spotlight on the tongue while the white pepper continues to be more than adequate in the nose, and a smoky, woody aroma begins to drift off the cigar, much like what I’d expect to find coming out of the smoker at a good barbecue place. It’s still a bit of a gruff cigar at times, and I could see myself getting a bit fatigued by it or some people finding it too much, but for now it works pretty well.
The burn line has been great so far; sharp and even with a decent if somewhat amount of smoke production and a beautifully stacked ash in its wake. The flavor fatigue I was fearing certainly hasn’t set in, and if anything I find myself gravitating towards what the Cesar Habano has to offer: a somewhat earthy, somewhat dry profile with varying amounts of pepper and in the case of the second sample, a bit of brown sugar sweetness that is very subtle but provides balance up until the midpoint, when it seems to largely disappear. There’s a brief lull where I get a faint sour citrus note before shifting to red chili pepper flakes in the buildup to the final third.
The red chili pepper flakes that begin the final third isn’t what I was expecting from the Cesar Habano Lancero, and creates a very different profile from where the cigar started. The second sample in particular showed this note much more clearly than the first, and it also took a turn to a sour chalk note in the final two inches, a rapid change and departure from where it seemed the profile was headed. Strength hasn’t been much of an issue to this point, and up until now the cigar has done a good job staying balanced and leaving an enjoyable finish on the palate. The cigar adds an incredibly sharp punch of white pepper in the final inch or so, waking up the nostrils and offering a firm parting shot before it is deposited in the ashtray.
- I’ve recently found myself talking with a number of people who don’t prefer Mexican San Andrés because of the earthy tones it presents. I tend to find the same thing with Ecuadorian habano; while I think they can be good, it takes a really solid blend behind the wrapper to balance out what I find to be a taste that can get to be too much for my palate.
- This is one of the better burning cigars I have smoked in recent memory, regardless of blend or vitola.
- The finish of the second cigar was so off track from the first cigar and where it seemed the profile was headed that it left me wondering just what was going on with the tobacco.
- A formal release date for the Cesar Habano Salomon has not yet been announced, other than to say that it will be released later in 2015. It will be limited to 1,000 boxes of five cigars, with a single stick price of $12.
- Final smoking time was just under two hours on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Cesar Cigars.
The Cesar Habano Lancero offers pretty much everything I can ask for, especially from a wrapper I'm not generally a fan of: balance, good flavors and solid construction. It's not as full bodied or flavored as other Ecuadorian habano wrapped cigars I have tried, which for my palate is a good thing as it lets the better flavors from the leaf and overall blend shine brighter while keeping what I find to be a more aggressive flavor to a minimum. This could certainly be a release that Cesar Cigars makes great strides with as it should have a lot of appeal to passionate lancero fans.