For the last year or so, a relatively small Dominican cigar maker has been making plans to launch its two cigar lines in the United States, and in March, it released its first batch of cigars stateside.
Flor y Nata SRL made its “official” U.S. debut at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, sharing space with Luis Sánchez’s Cuban Tradition Cigar Group, as he had been helping the young company with orders, logistics and other things in preparation for its stateside launch. Joan Manuel Rodriguez showed off his two lines, Flor y Nata and Noxio, both of which are Dominican puros and have been available in the Dominican Republic since 2013.
The Noxio line uses a Dominican negrito Canca wrapper, a Dominicana criollo 98 binder and Dominican criollo 98 and habano 2020 in the filler. There are three sizes currently available, Robusto (5 1/4 x 52, $8.49), Toro (6 x 56, $8.49) and Doble Toro (6 x 60, $8.99), with a fourth vitola, a Churchill (7 x 52, $9.99), limited to select stores. Each cigar gets a year of rest before being released. It’s also a limited production release, with only 25,000 cigars produced each year.
It gets its name from a term that Rodriguez and his team use to describe “the bonding relation of a cigar master crafting expressions and feelings in a cigar,” adding that it is where the line gets its slogan of “modern tobacconist art.”
If that slogan sounds familiar, it should, as the company has changed its name to Modern Tobacconist Art, LLC from Noxio Cigars, LLC as it grows its presence in the United States. Rodriguez also recently relocated to the U.S. to oversee distribution, with the goal of being in 25 stores by year’s end.
- Cigar Reviewed: Noxio Robusto
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: n/a
- Wrapper: Dominican Republic Negrito Canca
- Binder: Dominican Republic Criollo 98
- Filler: Dominican Republic Criollo 98 & Habano 2020
- Length: 5 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $8.49 (Boxes of 20, $169.99)
- Release Date: March 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Noxio is dressed in a milk chocolate brown wrapper with a fairly standard vein structure that is laid fairly well on the cigar; a few gaps along the seam lines keep it from laying perfectly flat but it’s not a major issue. The cap is a bit more generous than I’ve seen, but again it’s not a concern. It’s a very firm, downright hard cigar, with absolutely no give without a squeeze that would run the risk of cracking the wrapper. The foot offers an interesting profile, with a combination of dry wood, a bit of chocolate sweetness and touches of coffee bean and pepper that resonate and seem familiar, yet don’t lead me right to the place from which I know that smell. The cold draw is relaxed but not loose, with a leading note of vanilla bean that shifts into dry soil.
For not showing any signs of pepper before being lit, the Noxio offers a good amount of it once it burns, far from overpowering but certainly enough to be noticeable to both the nose and palate. The base flavors of the smoke are almost unmistakably Dominican, with a bit of wood and sandy earth as the foundation, and the occasional touch of sweet cream mixed in but never dominant. The smoke is also surprisingly smooth at points, though it never completely sheds the bit of a peppery edge that it has. The burn in the first inch or so is quite impressive, razor sharp and easy to get a decent amount of smoke, with a tight ash made of several shades of gray. Once that first clump of ash is gone, the pepper begins to retreat a bit and the cigar settles into a medium-bodied profile with a mix of mellower versions of what has been offered previously.
The second third of the Noxio Robusto doesn’t see much in the way of changes, and becomes almost a session cigar instead of one packed with flavor changes or outright strength. That begins to change when the midpoint appears on the burn line’s horizon, as the pepper returns a bit and the cigar picks up a bit more terroir, picking up subtle notes of minerals that lighten the flavor while giving it a distinct profile. The final puffs of the second third set a new high mark for pepper, which drives the cigar into medium-full territory without overdoing anything. The technical performance of the cigar remains nearly flawless, with a sharp and even burn line, relatively sturdy ash, decent smoke production and no relights or touchups needed.
It’s become clear that the Noxio’s transitions are going to be subtle as I dutifully go along puffing into the final third without noticing too much of a change, only to have some newfound strength begin to hit me about an inch into this section. It’s not a gut punch, but rather a steadily increasing amount of nicotine getting into my system and slowly ratcheting up the strength the cigar imparts. It’s a much slower burning section of the cigar, and at a few points among the three samples I did need to give the cigar a quick relight. The cigar finishes with just the slightest bit of roughness as the heat works against the pepper and begins overloading the palate. That said, the Noxio can get smoked down to about an inch in length before it’s time to put it to rest
- Noxio is made at the same unnamed factory in Tamboril, Dominican Republic, that makes the Chogüí brand.
- For the sake of specificity, Noxio was released in the U.S. in March 2016, but was launched in the Dominican Republic on Oct. 1, 2014. There were also a pair of launch events held in August 2014 in the D.R.
- The company recommends its cigars be stored at lower relative humidities for optimal smoking, telling halfwheel that 58-60 percent relative humidity is ideal.
- I’m a bit disappointed that there isn’t a corona in the Noxio blend, which means that there is nothing smaller than a 52 ring gauge. I would certainly be interested in comparing that size against the thicker vitolas.
- While it was never enough to merit dryboxing, the final third of the cigar is by far the slowest to burn, and is the most likely portion where you’ll need to relight the cigar.
- The consistency of not just flavors but strength and progression between samples was almost identical, more so than many cigars in recent memory.
- The box date of these cigars was Feb. 2, 2014.
- The company’s other line, Flor y Nata, translates as flower and cream, though Rodriguez said the more appropriate translation is creme de la creme or cream of the crop.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Modern Tobacco Art, LLC, maker of the Noxio brand.
I can’t say that I have ever referred to a cigar as a session cigar, but that’s exactly what the first two thirds of the Noxio Robusto had me thinking of it before the final third stepped up the pepper and strength. While the blend doesn’t offer the deepest or most complex set of flavors, there is something very appealing about having a cigar that offers solid, consistent flavors that fall right in line with whatever it is you might be doing at the moment. Noxio might not be an attention grabber from your palate’s perspective until the final third, but it’s still a complete cigar worth trying if it crosses your path.