It may still be a bit premature to call it a trend, but in the last year or so the cigar industry has seen some fairly significant brands undergo a makeover. Oettinger Davidoff AG set the bar pretty high with Camacho in 2013, with other companies taking somewhat varied approaches to bringing new looks and offerings to the cigar consumer.
Earlier this year, La Aurora announced that it would be releasing a new cigar that would slingshot the 111–year-old Dominican cigar maker into a more modern look and flavor profile, showing that it could it could meet the requests of what was called the emerging modern cigar smoker. The cigar is Untamed, and could very well be the first step towards a new image for La Aurora.
The cigar features a much bolder and more aggressive look from the company, with the lion being given its most pronounced depiction to date. Its mouth is open to show four sharp and clearly predatory teeth with its eyes depicted in a blood-red color and the box bearing claw marks on several sides. As for the cigar, it is billed as the company’s strongest offering to date, though promised not to sacrifice flavor simply for the sake of strength.
“The goal was to show that La Aurora, still going strong after 111 years (and) understands the needs and preferences of the emerging modern cigar smokers,” said Jason Holly, who handles brand development for Miami Cigar & Co. and worked extensively with La Aurora on Untamed.
The announcement of Untamed’s pending arrival came fairly closely on the heels of Miami Cigar & Co., who distributes La Aurora, announcing a company makeover of its own in March. That move included revamping the company’s portfolio, launching the Nestor Miranda Collection, separating from La Sirena and discontinuing its Humo Jaguar line. The company also brought in Holly and his Viva Republica brand for distribution, with Holly not only working on brand development for both companies but also on account relationships.
As for La Aurora’s makeover, the company is focusing on four current offerings: La Aurora 107, Fernando León Family Reserve, Guillermo León Family Reserve and Preferidos. The León Jimenes line will continue to be sold in U.S., but at what is described as more simplified price points.
At this year’s IPCPR trade show, La Aurora showed off Untamed alongside a revamped Aurora 1495, which is now a catalog exclusive.
La Aurora Untamed is being released in five sizes, four of which come in 20–count boxes while the largest vitola gets a 16–count box.
- La Aurora Untamed Robusto — 5 x 50 — $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150)
- La Aurora Untamed Belicoso — 6 1/4 x 52 — $9 (Boxes of 20, $180)
- La Aurora Untamed Toro — 5 1/2 x 54 — $8.75 (Boxes of 20, $175)
- La Aurora Untamed Corona Gorda — 6 x 47 — $7.75 (Boxes of 20, $155)
- La Aurora Untamed Gran — 7 x 60 — $11 (Boxes of 16, $176)
Cigar Reviewed: La Aurora Untamed Robusto (Prerelease)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: E. León Jimenes Tabacalera
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Dominican Corojo
Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
Size: 5 Inches
Ring Gauge: 50
MSRP: $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150)
Release Date: September 2014
Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
It’s hard not to look the La Aurora Untamed’s bold and upfront appearance, both in color, choice of graphics, intensity of said graphics and use of both a standard band as well as a footband, as it’s certainly a departure from the majority of presentations in La Aurora’s portfolio. There is just the tiniest sliver of filler showing on the first cigar, something not found consistently from cigar to cigar and as such likely not an intended look. The wrapper is a gorgeous dark broadleaf with some fairly sizable veins and a matte finish, the little bit of glisten on the wrapper comes from a stray glue spot rather than an oily wrapper. The roll is a bit firm but very uniform, and for the most part the cigar shows no sign of roll issues, though the caps weren’t always perfectly applied and one cigar had its straight parejo line thrown off a bit by a pair of shallow dips. The pre-light aroma nearly stops me in my tracks because of how big, bold and complex it is, with milk chocolate, wet leather, coffee, barn wood and touches of pepper all coming together in fantastic form. The cold draw ranges from a touch loose to a touch firm and is unfortunately not as complex, but still has a very tasty mocha lead and some lingering pepper that suggest good things for the cigar.
The lion inside the La Aurora Untamed lets out a roar as soon as the cigar is lit, unleashing a mouthful of smoke and flavors that are pepper-driven but backed with a hearty meatiness that echoes the experience of taking the first bites out of a just presented steak. The first retrohale is much more forward with the pepper, presenting a sharp, crisp and clean hit in the nose, while the palate gets a more blunt sensation. Supporting flavors of coffee, earth and tree bark come along and play well with the peppery notes to create a hearty and full-bodied opening act. The intensity of the flavor begins to mellow—or possibly just becomes more familiar—by the time the burn line is almost an inch along, but the retrohales stay just as pepper-laden and are almost bound to catch you off guard with their strength. Subtle notes of nuts come in to take the flavor lead, though there’s no saltiness at all to be found, and the flavors subtly continue shifting and rebalancing into the second third with a lingering tingle from the pepper a reminder of the flavors that are now in the rearview mirror. The burn line stays fantastic with no issues getting as much smoke out of the Untamed as I want, with the cigar continuing to put off a small stream of smoke even while at rest. The ash is equally as commendable, holding on through the transition to the second third with average handling.
The second third begins with a flavor driven by peanuts and pepper, an interesting combination but one that is familiar and palatable, with the latter of the two also getting in the eyes more than it did in the first third. There is a noticeable dip in flavor intensity and strength, backing down to a level I would call medium-bodied with some kick from the pepper, but a good bit mellower from how the cigar started and lacking truly distinct notes. One thing that hasn’t regressed at all is the strength of the retrohale, still just as big and brash as it was earlier. Past the midpoint, the taste buds pick up a gradual return to strength and the big flavors offered earlier on in the Untamed, as chalk comes in as a transitional note that segues out of the nuts and back towards a heartier flavor, with the meaty weight of the smoke coming back soon thereafter. The burn line progresses a bit quickly, though it’s not flying by any means and I never feel like I’m being rushed through the cigar. Flavor wise, Untamed continues a steady build in flavor and pepper, adding incremental amounts with nearly every puff, not enough at any one point to catch your attention, but by the time the burn line is ready to head into the final third there you can easily tell that this has become a much stronger cigar. That gets coupled with a bit more oomph in the chest from the nicotine, setting the cigar up for what could be a full-bodied finish.
The building strength teased in the second third continues into the final third but seems to plateau fairly early, nudging back to being full bodied and certainly showing more aggressiveness on the finish. A touch of sourness comes into the equation, seemingly an echo of the chalk found earlier that brings about a new sensation on the tongue, replacing the tingle of pepper with its own sensation. There also seems to be a much more lingering aftertaste left by the Untamed, as I find myself with a bit of a charred sensation on my tongue when I put the cigar down for a few moments. The burn rate has slowed a touch as the draw seems to have tightened up ever so slightly; not impeded by any sense but the smoke feels a bit thicker getting through the cigar than it did earlier. A final uptick in strength comes along with less than two inches to go and guides the cigar until it is time to lay it to rest, leaving behind a bit of a rough note to process, and puffing too far down gave me more of a nicotine hit than I was expecting or in the mood for, leaving me a bit woozier than I would have liked.
- While I can’t say I wanted to grab another Untamed to smoke right away after finishing each of the cigars for this review, I did find myself wanting just a bit more of what was being offered in the best parts of the final third.
- The bit of filler showing on the foot of the first Untamed I smoked reminded me a bit of the Intemperance BA XXI Vanity I reviewed recently.
- I’m not sure if it’s a perception thing, but when a cigar such as this has both a good sized primary band and a footband, I tend to underestimate just how much cigar is actually there. Case in point, I thought the Untamed was much further along than it was prior to taking off the main band.
- One of the big parts of the La Aurora makeover was making sure that all of its products are price-protected, including the La Aurora 1495, which is a catalog-only cigar.
- León translates into lion. I went back to look for other images of lions on La Aurora’s bands, and they are generally much more docile depictions, such as this one on the La Aurora Preferidos Maduro Lancero I reviewed in October 2012.
- There is also the more slightly more noble looking lion on the La Aurora 100 Años and the more artistic presentation on the Guillermo León by La Aurora.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Miami Cigar & Co., La Aurora’s U.S. distributor
- Viva Republica advertises on halfwheel.
- Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar is a La Aurora retailer but has not yet listed the Untamed.
The word on the La Aurora Untamed was that it was going to be a chance for the company to show that it can put together a fuller bodied cigar without sacrificing flavor, and by and large they have done just that. Granted, the flavors are strong and fairly heavy, which in turn give the palate a bit of a workout, but they never get lost or overpowered until the absolute bitter end of the cigar. Rather, strength is a well played component in the overall profile of Untamed, something that stays perfectly in balance until the final puffs of the cigar and is a quick reminder that it is time to put the cigar down. Where Untamed leads the La Aurora brand remains to be seen, but the lion is certainly out of its cage and shows an enjoyable and interesting new side of the venerable La Aurora brand.