Looking at the cigars I had in my humidor and their initial review dates, I ran across something that I had initially reviewed just a little bit over three years ago: the Arandoza Red Label Toro. Owner Robert Arango stepped into the cigar market with the Arandoza brand in 2011, the Blue and then White Label lines hit the market, and by 2014 the Red label had joined them.

Arango didn’t sit around idle after the three core lines came out, continuing to expand with Defcon in 2015 and then celebrating his five year anniversary with a special cigar at the 2016 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show. It’s always great to see a smaller company grow, putting out one or two releases a year, slowly and smartly building their portfolio up to something with a wide range of cigars to appeal to many different consumers.

That’s why it was troubling to see Arango on the list of companies that weren’t going to appear at the 2017 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show.

While the reasons varied, more often than not it did seem to boil down to FDA regulations in one way or another. I don’t know the particular reason Arandoza wasn’t at the show, but either way it’s a shame to see a reduction of companies going to the show – regardless of if they had anything new or not.

But I digress. The Red Label Toro was a cigar I certainly enjoyed when it first came out, and I was excited to see what three years of rest had done to the bold profile. Here’s what I originally had to say about it:

Having never tried any of the other Arandoza cigars I was able to go into this review with a clean slate. Right away the Red Label blend blew me away with a very rich and bold profile. Unfortunately that bold profile faded somewhat throughout the cigar, though it did develop some new and enjoyable notes as well. The fairly consistent need to touch up the cigar got a little annoying, though babysitting it did allow for the profile to shine since the burn never really affected the flavors. These samples easily got me excited about the brand and make me want to seek out their other lines. As for the Red Label, they’ll be on my watch list once they start hitting the shelves after the tradeshow and I can recommend you do the same.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Arandoza Red Label Toro
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua Triple Ligero
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $7.80 (Boxes of 20, $156.00)
  • Release Date: July 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

The smooth, dark wrapper is certainly not what you expect with most Mexican San Andrés wrappers, looking much more refined than what is often referred to as a rustic look and feel. There is still a firmness to the cigar that I remember, though perhaps slightly less give than before. Sweet tobaccos, chocolate and spice still come off the wrapper in droves, while the cold draw is a little more subdued with a light sweetness and some cocoa.

The first third starts out with spice at the forefront, along with some nuts, earth and a touch of cocoa. It’s certainly sweet, but perhaps not as sweet as the cold draw would have suggested it would be. Moving into the second third the sweetness does increase though, with the cocoa shifting into more of a milk chocolate note that has pushed its way forward to sit alongside the spice. The nuttiness remains, while the earth has faded slightly in response to the increase of sweetness. Creamy cedar starts to develop in the background, adding to a pleasant and flavorful profile. As I get to the final third, the notes have started to meld together a little more – not necessarily in a muddled way, but more of an increase or decrease, putting them mostly at the same level. Chocolate, spice, cedar, earth and nuts all mix together well, with no one flavor being overly distinct. As it reaches the final inch, everything stays cool and smooth, allowing the cigar to finish in a dignified manner.

The first third starts out easily enough, with the burn line staying mostly even and a dense ash holding on easily to the inch mark. With a draw right in the middle of ideal and plenty of smoke produced with each draw, the Red Label Toro was doing just fine in the construction category. It wasn’t until almost the end of the second third that the burn finally went off course enough that I needed to give it a touch up. With that single touch up however, the rest of the cigar burned evenly enough that I was able to finish up the cigar without needing to use my lighter again.

89 Overall Score

Looking back at my original review of the Arandoza Red Labe Toro and comparing notes, I found the biggest difference was the strength of the cigar. Having noted several times that the strength was increasing and even making a bullet point about the strength in the Final Notes, I’d have to say it wasn’t even something that was on my radar this time around. The flavor however does seem to have developed a little, staying more consistent throughout the cigar instead of fading a little like it originally did. Perhaps the age evened everything out or this was just a slightly better sample, but either way it was enjoyable and a cigar that I certainly would like to smoke again.

Original Score (July 2014)
Redux Score (July 2017)

Brian Burt

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially, I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010, I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion.