By now the idea of regional releases is nothing new; Habanos S.A. has been doing them since 2005 and numerous non-Cuban cigar manufacturers have released cigars for slices of the country or world, whether it be a state, region, or even two cigars made for different halves of the United States.
As the push to conquer the European market grows stronger amongst non-Cuban cigar makers, a good number of them have begun releasing projects just for their European customers, including My Father Cigars, who recently launched a new, limited production size of the Flor de Las Antillas line for Benelux, the region comprised of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
News of this new cigar surfaced in early September via Van Lookeren, the Amsterdam cigar retailer and quickly spread to a number of retailers in the region. A total of 300 boxes of 20 cigars were produced for Benelux, with 200 being designated strictly for the Netherlands, according to the post. My Father Cigars has remained very quiet on the release, and did not reply to several e-mails seeking comment about the project.
The tenth release in the Flor de Las Antillas line, the Benelux exclusive is a sizable cigar, with its 58 ring gauge the second thickest to be released in the line, trailing only the 6 x 60 toro grande made for Binny’s Beverage Depot in the summer of 2013. It’s also one of the few round cigars in the line, joining the short churchill made for Holt’s in June 2013 and the MAM-13 made for the southeastern U.S. in October of that same year.
- Flor de las Antillas Robusto (5 x 50) — March 16, 2012 — Regular Production
- Flor de las Antillas Belicoso (5 1/2 x 52) — May 9, 2012 — Regular Production
- Flor de las Antillas Toro (6 x 52) — March 16, 2012 — Regular Production
- Flor de las Antillas Toro Gordo (6 1/2 x 56) — May 9, 2012 — Regular Production
- Flor de las Antillas Lancero (7 1/2 x 38) — Up In Smoke Exclusive – June 8, 2013 — 400 Boxes/Bundles of 20 Cigars (8,000 Total Cigars)
- Flor de las Antillas Short Churchill (6 1/2 x 48) — Holt’s Pepín Mania Sampler III Exclusive — June 13, 2013 — 1,000 Samplers Containing One Cigar (1,000 Total Cigars)
- Flor de las Antillas Toro Grande (6 x 60) — Binny’s Beverage Depot Exclusive – June 26, 2013 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Flor de las Antillas DeSocio (5 3/4 x 54) — Alliance Cigar Exclusive — July 12, 2013 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Flor de las Antilas MAM-13 (6 x 48) — Southeastern Exclusive — Oct. 1, 2013 — 500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Flor de las Antillas Benelux (5 1/2 x 58) — Belgium, Luxembourg & Netherlands Exclusive — Sept. 5, 2014 — 300 Boxes of 20 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
It also is the first time the red foot band on the Flor de Las Antilles has had any text written on it.
- Cigar Reviewed: Flor de Las Antillas Benelux
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 58
- Vitola: Robusto Grande
- MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
- Date Released: Sept. 5, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 300 Boxes of 20 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
I find myself really liking the regal-looking maroon footband with BENELUX in gold and stylized to match the font on the band, even with the less than noble piece of tape holding the band together. However, when I slide that band off the first cigar, I’m greeted by two cracks in the medium brown wrapper, both of which me have me concerned about its stability once lit. Beyond that, the first sample appears to be well rolled, with a bit of a jagged cut on the seam near the band, things that on their own wouldn’t be that big a deal but when put together are a bit off-putting. The roll quality feels good, firm and well filled but not hard, and were it not for the secondary band it looks like any other Flor de Las Antillas. Well, that and its girthy, parejo shape, the latter of which is more unfamiliar as there is a 56 ring gauge in the line, but even still this feels bigger than it should. The cold draw is surprisingly open on the first sample, offering little resistance as air passes through, while the second is much firmer. Both deliver a touch of pepper as part of a fairly neutral note of wheat bread. It’s almost equally as neutral off the foot, though the aroma is more complex with some dry wood and dry pretzel notes and just a faint hint of pepper.
I’m a bit surprised by the amount of pepper in the first puffs of the Flor de Las Antillas Benelux as it’s not something I generally equate with the line, and in this case harkens back to the “signature Pepín taste” that starts off with a big hit of pepper and spice. The cigar stays fairly peppery through the first half inch, which is also when my fears about wrapper construction begin to materialize as a good sized crack starts to emerge and appears headed straight for the backside of the band, with a barely audible cracking sound coming from the cigar every so often. It’s certainly not affecting the smoke production though, as each puff generates plenty of smoke from the girthy stick, and there’s absolutely no issues on the second stick. The pepper settles down on the tongue after an inch or so of burn and the flavor has now turned largely creamy on the palate, though retrohales are still pretty powerful and I don’t seem to be getting any of the sweetness I recall from other sizes of the Flor de Las Antillas. There are some issues with the burn line on the first sample as it hits a spot on the front of the cigar it can’t seem to get through but proceeds to move up the back of the stick, with ash beginning to flake off before the first clump falls off at just a bit more than an inch long. From there, the cigar settles into a creamy smoke with a soft mouth feel and fairly subdued flavors.
After a lull into the second third, big pepper notes come out of nowhere ahead of the midway point and literally induce tears due to the strength and unexpectedness. While it doesn’t happen at the same time, there’s also a noticeable increase in the nicotine strength, as the fairly tame first half quickly gets pushed to the past. As for the construction and wrapper issue on the first sample, it hasn’t been quite as much of a problem as I had feared as the cigar had stayed together despite not always being the most attractive at times due to the split. When I take the band off with the burn line approaching the final third, I’m greeted by another wrapper issue underneath it, as it takes a small piece off with it. While not correlated, the removal of the band also brings about an interesting and very enjoyable shift in flavor, as the cigar’s pepper and strength retreats just a bit but keeps the creaminess from the first third and is now much more dialed in, with notes of cream, wood and a touch of spice setting up a very promising final third.
The flavor of the Flor de Las Antillas Benelux takes on a character of a creamy cool coffee for a few puffs before the wood comes back with force and overtakes the other flavors, packing a dry and peppery punch that is sharp but enjoyable on the palate. Heat is also much more of a factor in this portion, as while there have been times where I would describe the smoke as a touch more than warm, now it comes across as downright hot, both in terms of temperature and a pepper sauce punch sensation. Each puff shows a bit of a shift in the flavor as the three main components of wood, pepper and creaminess fight back and forth for the lead approaching the finish line. If the cigar is kept cool enough to prevent the heat from being a factor, it can be smoked down as far as the fingers can hold it.
- The cigar retails for €7.50 in the Benelux region, which includes Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
- I found myself becoming increasingly annoyed by how flaky the ash was throughout the cigar, as a few pieces would blow off with nearly every puff, mostly ending up on me. The second cigar didn’t show this problem at all.
- Given that these cigars were transported to the Inter-tabac trade show and then back to the U.S. and then to me in Phoenix, I’m willing to be a bit more lenient on the wrapper issues on the first cigar since I can’t vouch for its provenance. As such, the second performed flawlessly, which leads me to think that the first cigar was an aberration.
- There are a lot of American exports I’m proud of, but big ring gauge cigars simply aren’t one of them.
- On the Cuban side of things, Benelux has received five Edición Regionals, with a sixth slated for this year, the Juan López Don Juan, the first for the region since 2010.
- Additionally, there have been a pair of releases just for the Belux region, as well as a pair just for the Netherlands, or as it is called in Spanish, Países Bajos.
- The distributor who handles My Father Cigars in the Benelux region also distributes Tatuaje, and as noted in Brooks Whittington’s review of the Tatuaje The Jekyl, the region is getting its own Unlucky 13 retailers and a unique presentation of the cigar.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by The Longfiller Company/J. van Horssen BV, the Dutch distributor of My Father Cigars.
Thankfully the big ring gauge of this cigar didn't kill all of the things I like about the Flor de Las Antillas line, though it did seem to make it harder for them to shine through. The sweetness was largely absent except for some hidden in the creaminess, while the pepper was more prevalent, especially in the second half when it commands the show. While not a fan of big ring gauges, I will say that the blend fortunately works in this size, managing to stay flavorful and show a good number of transitions, something I hope to get from any cigar I smoke.