Every once in a while, we come across a cigar that on the surface looks pretty cut and dry, but upon a bit of digging opens a Pandora’s box.
Earlier this year, I received an email from Good Karma Cigar in Amarillo, Texas, which mentioned a cigar they were offering called the Flor de los Pedros. If it sounds similar to another cigar you’ve heard of, that shouldn’t be a surprise, and its name was chosen for a seemingly very intentional reason. The cigar is marketed as being made by My Father Cigars and is billed as “a Flor de las Antillas with a San Andrés Valley Maduro wrapper,” as you can see here:
As soon as I saw this, I made a few phone calls about the cigar and found out that there was already a good deal of controversy about it. As you’ll recall, My Father Cigars had just won Cigar Aficionado’s 2012 Cigar of the Year for the Flor de las Anitllas Toro, and buzz about that cigar and the company was at a fever pitch.
One of the phone calls I made was to Todd Dailey, owner of Good Karma Cigar, who told me about how he came across this particular stick when he obtained some samples of it late in 2011. Apparently there was a project that would involve making a maduro version of the Flor de las Antillas cigar using a San Andrés wrapper, and as soon as he smoked the samples, he fell in love with them.
Shortly after, in February 2012, My Father Cigars was discontinuing the Don Pepín Garcia Serie JJ Maduro, and Good Karma bought up all the remaining stock of Toros, nicknaming them Pedro’s Pearls de Don Pepín. He also inquired about the maduro-wrapped cigars he had been sampling and loving, and wanted to figure out how to get as many of them as he could.
Before continuing, it makes sense to explain why the name Pedro keeps showing up in this story. Pedro is the donkey mascot of Good Karma Cigar, often featured on their Facebook page and in their emails and marketing materials.
The Flor de los Pedros quietly arrived at Good Karma Cigar in September 2012 and little was said about them at the time, at least that I could find. In fact, they didn’t even show up on my radar until a general e-mail from the store to its mailing list landed in my inbox on May 30, 2013.
In May, we posted a story covering the details above, which led to My Father denying the details Dailey told us. In short, José Ortega, vp of sales for My Father Cigars Inc., told us that they indeed made the cigar and that it has a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, but beyond that he said he was unaware what the cigar was, other than that it was not in anyway associated with the Flor de las Antillas.
That post set off a firestorm of e-mails and phone calls about the cigar and how it was being marketed. According to Dailey, he was suddenly told that he was not to market it as a My Father Cigars product, being told that cigars that do not bear a My Father Cigars band should not be sold as such. Dailey told halfwheel that he picked the name and marketed the Flor de los Pedors as he did because that’s what he was told he was getting: a maduro version of the Flor de las Antillas. Suddenly it seemed, My Father Cigars wanted to distance themselves from this cigar after already having been available for almost nine months.
Dailey said that simply given that he was able to secure upwards of 7,000 cigars, he couldn’t imagine that he was smoking prototypes but that a real commitment was being made to a Flor de las Antillas Maduro. However, for a yet to be disclosed reason, the project suddenly fell off the radar. Dailey speculates that it was because the wrapper was either too limited and/or too expensive to source for a full release.
Dailey said he went so far as to deconstruct the cigars side by side to see if he could see similarities between the two. While the wrapper is the most noticeable difference, he also noticed more ligero in the Flor de los Pedros, and he is fairly certain that it comes from Estelí.
I recently reached out again to Ortega several times for more comment about the cigar, but he failed to return any of my e-mails.
After this review was published, Janny Garcia of My Father Cigars contacted me about the Flor de los Pedros and had this to say:
This cigar had absolutely nothing to do with Flor de las Antillas. We never considered making a Flor de las Antillas maduro, not even at this point, although if we would consider the idea it would be a nationwide distribution.
The cigar we sold to Mr. Dailey was a cigar we had in our inventory as a naked bundle. When my father and my brother worked on the blend for Flor de las Antillas they were very clear as to what they wanted from the blend. A maduro version of the cigar was never spoken about nor thought about, our focus was on the Flor de las Antillas as it is.
We don’t understand why Mr. Dailey was led to believe he was smoking a prototype for the Flor de las Antillas maduro. As I mentioned before the cigar had nothing to do with and does not even come close to the blend that was used for the Flor de las Antillas.In addition, Garcia said that the quantity that My Father sold Good Karma was less than is reported below but didn’t provide a specific quantity, though a request for that number has been made by halfwheel. (She estimated it to be about 5,000 cigars.)
After hearing from her, I contacted Todd Dailey of Good Karma Cigar, he said he concurs with Ms. Garcia in that he doesn’t know why he was led to believe that he was getting a maduro version of the Flor de las Antillas, either. That being said, he is still very happy with the cigar and his customer base is as well, and hopes that it becomes a regular production release.
The bundles of the Flor de los Pedros look like this:
Cigar Reviewed: Flor de los Pedros
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
Size: 5 1/4 Inches
Ring Gauge: 50
MSRP: $5.50 (Bundles of 20, $110.00)
Date Released: September 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 325 Bundles of 20 (6,500 Total Cigars)**
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
*As mentioned above, the blend is a controversy.
**Todd Dailey of Good Karma Cigar estimated he received between 6,000 and 7,000 Flor de los Pedros, though couldn’t confirm a specific number.
The Flor de los Pedros has a fairly dark brown wrapper with a matte finish due to a lack of oils. It has a good texture to it, generally smooth to the touch with minimal veins and a perfectly flat seam. Like the Flor de las Antillas, it is box-pressed and feels good in the hand, with a respectable amount of weight and no give. There is a distinct baked chocolate note on the foot, making me think of a chocolate cake donut or a slightly dry but still delicious brownie. In the background is a bit of dry, rich soil, but no spice or pepper, and a faint cherry note that showed up particularly noticeably in one cigar. There is a touch more spice on the cold draw and it presents itself as slightly sweet and spicy as the chocolate note reappears, with a draw that is very good, save for the first cigar smoked, though that might have been the result of not clipping quite enough of the cap off.
The first puffs of the Flor de los Pedros are big and peppery, really tingling the front of the tongue while giving the nose a solid amount soil and pepper. The consistency of the smoke is a bit thin and carries notes of earth, clay, chalk and brick for a very upfront start. By the time the burn line has moved just about half an inch in, some sweetness enters the equation along with a note of tree bark, a surprisingly enjoyable combination in this fervent first third of flavor. The ash is very tight and holds on pretty well, while smoke production is plentiful when puffed on but non-existent when the cigar is at rest. There are points in this section where the smoke borders on being sharp on the tongue thanks to some very upfront and strong black pepper notes, but never really gets annoying or unpleasant. The aroma of the smoke while at rest is also notably enjoyable: a bit peppery, a bit earthy, and no foul smoky smell at all.
The flavor stays full heading into the second third, though it has become a bit jagged, never really settling on the tongue but coming after it with a sharp, multi-faceted approach. The Flor de los Pedros becomes almost salty at points, seemingly a tag-along from the earth note that continues to dominate. Wood and forest become a bit more significant part of the equation before things begin to settle down past the midway point, at least from a pepper perspective. The flavors becomes less sharp and more well rounded as the smoke production remains very good and the burn line is sharp.
Spice and pepper creep back in slowly throughout the final third, with notes of dry earth coming along shortly after and creating a fairly dry flavor profile with that same front of the tongue tingle that was found at the outset. The final inches of the Flor de los Pedros get a bit hot for enjoyment as notes of burning wood start to come out and the smoke heats up on the tongue and mouth.
- This cigar brings up the issue of transparency in the cigar business, what consumers expect to know, what they feel they have a right to know and what manufacturers have a right to know.
- There are few winners in this situation, except for the fact that the cigar is enjoyable.
- Unbanded cigars like this are a great reason to always have some blank bands on hand, or at least a Post-It note. I can’t say I’d remember what this is if I found it in my humidor a few months from now.
- While I also love smoking unbanded cigars because it tends to remove a fair amount of band bias (assuming you don’t know what it is, of course), there was no way to do that with this cigar. Even without a band, the way the Flor de los Pedros was marketed brought the expectation levels up quite a bit.
- My Father has made a ton of actual Flor de las Antillas single store releases.
- In May, we reported news of another cigar that Good Karma was working on, the second edition of a stick called Donkey Droppings. That stick also has generated its share of controversy, as it was rumored to be made by Viaje at the Raíces Cubanas factory, a rumor that was denied by Andre Farkas of Viaje. This second release is being made at the Esteban Carreras factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, and is a collaboration between Dailey and Gonzalo Puentes, master blender for Esteban Carreras.
- I have a feeling this could be a lesson for both retailers and manufacturers when it comes to releasing certain unbanded cigars.
- Early in the summer of 2013, Altadis USA began releasing cigars under the header Cedar Room Collection, which are said to be first-run batches of cigars from their portfolio that have been set aside to age. There’s very little information about any particular cigar, other than what the wrapper is, though you will likely have to rely on your retailer to help you with that information.
- Some of these cigars used for this review were provided by Good Karma Cigar, halfwheel also bought an additional bundle.
- Final smoking time is about one hours and 25 minutes.
- The Flor de los Pedros is available exclusively from Good Karma Cigar, who you can reach at 806.373.8116. Be sure to tell them you heard about it on halfwheel. As you can imagine, when these are gone, they’re gone for good.
The Flor de los Pedros is a very enjoyable cigar, especially for a palate that enjoys fuller, peppery and earthy cigars. It is certainly much stronger than the Flor de las Antillas, and the additional ligero that Todd Dailey told me he thought was in there comes through loud and clear, as do the notes that have become synonymous with Mexican San Andrés tobacco. The only thing I could really ask for is a more well rounded cast of supporting flavors to add additional complexity and depth. There's not a lot of change from start to finish, so don't go into this cigar looking for subtleness, complexity and a significant amount of flavor shifts. However, when you take the flavor it does offer and factor in the price, this cigar is pretty much a no-brainer; the backstory and controversy about it only add to its appeal.