While redux reviews are most often about how a cigar has changed in the months or years since it was originally smoked, it would be an oversight not to mention that it’s been an eventful eight months for the man behind the cigar as well.
The Leccia Luchador was announced in late February of 2014 as the third line to come from Sam Leccia, following the launch of his White and Black lines. With its Mexican themed artwork and the use of a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, it would fittingly debut on May 5, Cinco de Mayo, though shipments to other retailers began a week earlier on April 28.
Leccia described the cigar as being able to quickly go from sweet to spicy thanks to “a plethora of fine tobaccos,” a nod to the comedy movie The Three Amigos. While the Luchador is not a one-off cigar, that didn’t stop Leccia and his team from having some fun with the names of the vitolas. The line debuted in (and remains available in) four sizes:
- Leccia Tobacco Luchador El Hombre – 5 x 54
- Leccia Tobacco Luchador El Castigo – 6 x 60
- Leccia Tobacco Luchador El Guapo – 6 x 50
- Leccia Tobacco Luchador Loco Perfecto – 6 x 58
Of course, the cigar is only part of the story, as since the Luchador was released, the company who was handling distribution of Leccia Tobacco products was sold. On Sept. 11, 2014, it was announced that General Cigar Co. would be acquiring the Toraño brands. At the time it was unclear about what would be happening with Leccia and his brands, though less than a week later Leccia announced that he too would be heading to General, and in particular joining up with Michael Giannini and Foundry Tobacco Co.
Here’s what I said about the Leccia Luchador Hombre cigar when I reviewed it in April 2014:
I am an unabashed fan of Mexican San Andrés leaves, particularly in their natural form when they seem to show the unique flavors that the soil of the region offers. The Leccia Luchador does a commendable job showing off the flavors that have become synonymous with the region and should be familiar and appealing to those who already like them, as well as a solid example of what they can offer for those not familiar with San Andrés tobacco. Top it off with some powerful ligero that shows its strength without getting out of balance and you have a complex cigar that seems to offer some of the best characteristics of all its component tobaccos. A commendable, full bodied offering to Sam Leccia’s portfolio.
This cigar was eligible for the halfwheel top 25 list, but ended up not making it. Given that my colleagues were all smoking it for their rankings for the list, I saw it as a good opportunity to revisit the Luchador.
- Cigar Reviewed: Leccia Luchador Hombre
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: American Caribbean Tobacco S.A.
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Ecuadorian Habano
- Filler: Pennsylvania Ligero, Honduras Ligero (Jamastran), Nicaragua (Ometepe)
- Size: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- MSRP: $8.10 (Boxes of 21, $170.10)
- Release Date: May 5, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Redux: 1
While I said the toothiness of the wrapper was the thing that stuck out most about the Leccia Luchador in my original review, I found that now it is the band. The eyes seem to be almost glowing, and I find myself much more intrigued by the intricate details that I saw the first time and the ones that I neglected to mention, such as the tobacco leaves on sides of the mask. The wrapper is still almost perfectly San Andrés: earthy, toothy, small veins and textured in the fingers. It’s a well-rolled cigar with uniform firmness from head to toe and a cleanly applied cap. There still isn’t much in the way of pepper on the pre-light aroma or cold draw and what I’m getting after eight months of rest in the humidor is much the same as what the cigar initially offered: a dry, woody aroma off the foot with touches of sweetness and baking spice on the cold draw.
I’m greeted with a tart cherry sweetness immediately upon lighting the cigar that quickly steps aside in favor of the earth note for which San Andrés is known, only to reappear in the aroma a few puffs later. There’s a good amount of pepper in the nose on retrohales early on as the Luchador wastes no time getting down to business, but much like Leccia promised, begins this dance of sweet and spicy that adds complexity and intrigue to the cigar. The bright white ash that emerges as the burn line progresses is an eye-catcher, holding off for more than an inch before finally succumbing. It’s a fairly quick burning cigar though I’m as responsible for that as the cigar is, as the flavor has me coming back a bit more rapidly than I might otherwise. While the Luchador doesn’t lack in flavor, it doesn’t seem to want to try and overpower the palate with strength, excelling in the technical skills of blending. While the cigar has yet to go full-bore spicy or sweet on me yet, when it finds the midpoint of the two it sings and hits both the palate and nose with a phenomenal combination of flavor, aroma, complexity and balance.
The tangy sweetness dissipates in the second half of the Leccia Luchador, a loss in terms of complexity but a gain for fans of the taste of San Andrés tobacco as the wrapper leaf is given the spotlight for a good number of puffs that take the cigar into its final third. It’s a bit drier than I would like, and after having the thick and syrupy sweetness coating my tongue for the first half, its absence is easily noticed and missed. That said, there is plenty of terroir to be found in the flavor that is offered, with chalk and clay coming into the mix that give the front of the tongue plenty to deal with. Just as it did originally, the Luchador reaches into its bag of tricks and pulls out a big hit of ligero and pepper to deliver the knock out blow to all of the senses, a strong shot that brings this rematch to its final bell.
Mexican San Andrés isn't a universally appealing tobacco, although I'd venture to say that no tobacco is. But in the Leccia Luchador, Sam Leccia manages to show off both its ability to be blended with other tobaccos and its ability to stand almost entirely on its own, with a first half that is sweet, tangy and spicy and a second half that is earthy and rough in just the right way, with a bold hit of pepper as its finishing move. While it flew a bit under the radar in 2014, I have no hesitation in saying it was one of the best cigars of the year and hopefully one that sticks around on retailers shelves for some time.