In April, a new cigar company based in Florida by the name of Bat Brothers began shipping its inaugural release. Named Luna de Estelí, the line was released in only two vitolas at launch, both of which are made at Noel Rojas’ Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa factory in Nicaragua: a 6 x 60 Gordo ($8.75) and a 6 x 56 “semi-pressed” Toro Gordo ($8.50).
The Bat Brothers website has some more information on the brand:
What we are not: Unlike a lot of people in the industry, we do not have a family lineage spanning decades or centuries in tobacco growing or cigar manufacturing. Our family roots cannot be traced to Cuba’s well known tobacco growing regions or Havana’s famed factories.
What we are: Accomplished cigar smokers with over 50 years of collective smoking experience. It is a passion for the sheer enjoyment of a well made cigar and all that entails that has brought us to where we are today. Over the span of many years, we have cultivated life long friendships at all levels of the industry. From growers, manufacturers, distributors, retail brick and mortar operations, to fellow smokers – just like us. The fellowship that exists among cigar smokers is unique in that it knows no barriers and has no boundaries. It is precisely this last point that has inspired us to take our passion to the next level. Having travelled, experimented, consulted, and given this venture considerable thought over the last four years, we are happy to introduce our very own line of premium smokes.
The Luna de Estelí blend is composed of a binder from Estelí, Nicaragua and filler tobaccos from both Estelí and Jalapa, Nicaragua, all of which are covered by a four-year-old Mexican San Andrés negro wrapper.
- Cigar Reviewed: Luna de Estelí Toro Gordo
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Nicaragua (Estelí)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí & Jalapa)
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 56
- Vitola: Toro Gordo
- MSRP: $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
- Date Released: April 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Covered in a dark, espresso brown wrapper, the Luna de Estelí is smooth to the touch, but also features a few significant veins running down the length of the cigar. A soft box press is noticeable, and it is appropriately spongy when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong, sweet chocolate and earth, along with coffee, leather and barnyard, while the cold draw brings flavors of oak, leather, hay, nuts and a strong, indeterminate sweetness.
Starting out, the Luna de Esteli has some very obvious notes of anise, earth, butter, cedar, creamy almonds and yeasty bread. There is a very interesting sweetness on the finish from the start that reminds me of vanilla beans, along with some fairly aggressive black pepper on the retrohale and a touch of spice on my tongue. Both the draw and burn are excellent so far, and the smoke production is massive off of the foot, putting of billowing white clouds. The overall strength starts off with a bang, but slows down very quickly, and fails the reach the medium mark by the time the first third comes to a close.
The vanilla bean sweetness increases in the second third of the Luna de Estelí, easily becoming a main flavor in the profile, along with almonds and earth. Other notes of roasted steak, dark chocolate, bitter espresso and cedar flit in and out, while the black pepper on the retrohale has calmed down considerably. The spice on my tongue from the first third is long gone by the halfway point, but the smoke production remains high, and both the burn and draw continue to impress. The strength has increased by the end of the second third, easily hitting a solid medium, but the blend seems content to stay there for the foreseeable future.
The final third of the Luna de Estelí sees a shift in the sweetness that is present on the retrohale, morphing from a vanilla bean note to more of a raison sweetness that combines nicely with the slightly reduced black pepper note. Earth, almonds and dark cocoa are easily the dominant flavors, but I also taste anise, cumin, oak, leather and mocha coffee at certain points. The smoke production has receded a bit from its high in the second third, and the construction remains excellent until the end of the stick. The strength stalls out slightly higher than medium, and I put the nub down with a bit more than an inch left.
- Luna de Esteli translates from Spanish to Moon of Esteli.
- The first third of the cigar was easily the best for all three samples, not only in terms of the profile, but also the balance. That is not to say that the cigar fell apart after that—it did not—but there was noticeable difference for me.
- Interestingly, Noel Rojas also produces the Guayacan Sabor de Esteli, which translates to the taste of Estelí.
- The first thing I thought of when I saw the logo on the cigar band was the logo for the original Karate Kid movie, which just proves how old I am getting.
- Construction on all three samples was quite good, although the burn line was never razor sharp at any point.
- I really loved the semi-box press that was featured on the Toro Gordo vitola, and at no point did I actually feel like I had a 56 ring gauge cigar in my mouth.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged just under two hours.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
Other than the story that we published pertaining to the launch, I had no knowledge of the Bat Brothers, their cigars or their history before doing this review. To say I was impressed with their first release is an understatement: the blend is complex and rich, with the San Andrés wrapper giving it a wonderful sweetness throughout that really sets it off. In addition, the strength is well integrated, and the overall construction was quite good for the majority of the smoking experience. It is not the best cigar I have smoked this year by a long shot, but it is one of the best inaugural releases by a brand new company I have smoked in a long time.