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If you haven’t heard of the El Borracho line, don’t feel bad. The cigar comes from the up-and-coming Dapper Cigar Co., which operates out of Fresno, Calif. and is headed by Ian Reith.

While looking for a cigar that meets our redux requirements—at least six months since its initial review—this one seemed to jump out. Not only was the company at the recent Tobacco Plus Expo trade show, but its Cubo Sumatra Robusto placed finished in a very impressive 8th place on our Top 25 of 2019 list.

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This particular line is the 2018 follow-up to the original El Borracho line, which had been released the summer before. The wrapper comes from the Lancaster Leaf Co. in Connecticut, while the filler gets more Nicaraguan ligero to step up the blend’s overall strength. As for what’s under the wrapper, it’s tobacco grown by Oliva Tobacco Co. in Estelí, Jalapa and Condega that makes up the core, with an Oliva-grown habano rosado binder from Jalapa between that and the wrapper.

The line debuted in three sizes, all of which are made at Nicaragua American Cigars, S.A. (NACSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua under the supervision of the factory’s production manager, Raul Disla.

  • El Borracho Maduro Robusto (5 x 50) — $9.74 (Boxes of 16, $155.84)
  • El Borracho Maduro Edmundo (5 1/2 x 52) — $10.80 (Boxes of 16, $172.80; Humidors of 16, $198.80)
  • El Borracho Maduro Toro (6 x 54) — $12.16 (Boxes of 16, $194.56)

Additionally, the company released a limited edition presentation of the Edmundo, commissioning Fresno-based ceramic artist Hannah Desch to create the boxes and Héctor René Hinojosa of H.R.H. Artistic Marketing to hand-paint each of the 20 ceramic boxes in the Talavera style of Mexican art. Each of the 20 humidors are also individually numbered.

Here’s what I said about the El Borracho Maduro Robusto when I reviewed it in March 2019:

There is something promising and exciting when a blend gets tweaked, especially with the promise of a bit more strength and a fuller profile. However, the risks of getting too deep into those realms are real, and the El Borracho Maduro blend seems to be a prime example of how things can go awry when not done right. While I didn’t get much in the way of strength from the cigar, I did get plenty of flavors that weren’t balanced and were rough on the palate, particualrly at the start and in the final third, which ultimately leaves a less than favorable impression on the palate. Much like Charlie Minato noted in his review of the original El Borracho, there is too much harshness in this blend that holds it back from reaching its full potential and showing that either better tobacco procurement and processing or simply better blending is needed. The second third was consistently the best and shows the potential this cigar has, but the rough edges leave a lot to be desired and dealt with to get the blend’s all-too-fleeting better puffs.

  • Cigar Reviewed: El Borracho Maduro Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Nicaragua American Cigars S.A.
  • Wrapper: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
  • Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa Habano Rosado)
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí & Jalapa)
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $9.74 (Boxes of 16, $155.84)
  • Release Date: December 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

I’m a bit concerned by the firmness of the El Borracho Maduro Robusto when I take it out of the cellophane, as the cigar feels a bit softer than I would have expected. Visually, it looks good with no bumps or dips, and other than a stray glue mark and just a bit of mottling towards the foot, there is little to distract the eyes. The foot of the cigar is bright and smoky, simultaneously reminding me of a campfire and the inside of a cigar factory’s aging room thanks to a bit of wood shelving. There is some pepper as well, though hardly enough to be prominent. The cold draw is easy, just a tick on the loose side of the spectrum, with more of the same profile that my nose picked up, notably a bit of smoke and wood, though with some earthiness and a bit of beef jerky.

There is a remarkable consistency when it comes to the El Borracho Maduro Robusto’s pre-light aroma, cold draw and first puffs. There’s an overriding and very enjoyable smokiness that immediately gives the cigar character, and while it might not be for everyone, its meaty, campfire style sings on my palate. By the one-inch mark, there’s a bit more pepper and it feels like the profile is beginning to change, with the smokiness separating and becoming more dominant in the aroma. As smokiness departs from the flavor, a bit of chalk comes along lightening and brightening the flavor a bit, if by way of a flavor that struggles to be enjoyable as anything more than an accent. While I was concerned about the firmness of the cigar, the burn line is moving quickly enough to have me thinking that the cigar wasn’t damp or that it had other issues, as it takes about only 30 minutes to get near the midway point of the cigar. The technical performance has been solid, though I wouldn’t mind a bit more smoke. Everything sits right around the medium-plus mark, with flavor and strength seemingly ready to increase a tick in the second half.

There’s still some chalk in the profile as the El Borracho Maduro Robusto hits its second third, but it doesn’t stay around for long, giving the cigar a chance to explore the better parts of the added ligero, which are at their clearest just past the midway point. As well, there’s a bit more strength coming through here, and it’s from that point that some harshness begins to emerge, something I was optimistic had departed the cigar after reading my notes from the original review. There’s an unmistakable earthiness the begins to emerge near the start of the final third, adding a dry and rocky profile to the mix that has me reaching for some water. An odd bit of floral flavor comes into the equation with just under two inches to go, seemingly trying to pull the cigar away from the earth flavor that is dominating the profile, but in reality, just pulling the cigar in two different directions. The floral note ends up losing out to the earth, and that’s what carries the cigar to its conclusion just about an hour and 20 minutes after the cigar was lit, save for a bit of warm chocolate that comes along in the final inch to provide the first touch of sweetness that the cigar has offered. Thankfully the finish isn’t overly harsh, but it’s enough to have me eyeing some water to help wash off my tongue and rehydrate my mouth, which has become rather dry. The technical performance stays very solid with no problems of note, while the flavor wraps up at medium-plus, body at medium-plus, and strength hovering between medium-plus to medium-full.

88 Overall Score

To say I was optimistic that time had worked its magic as I smoked the first third would be fitting. Any thoughts of roughness or harshness, both of which I noted in my original review, seemed long gone and the cigar was appeared closer to delivering what I might have imagined was intended. That thought held until the second half, when the flavor suddenly dries out and removes whatever might have been softening the overall flavor. Dry, rocky earth comes out in spades, and if you enjoy that flavor, this cigar will be right in your wheelhouse, but for me it's a bit too much of an otherwise good thing. I must say that the construction was fantastic and there were no technical issues with which to contend. While the cigar has taken a step forward, it's not as big of one as I had hoped, leaving me thinking that this cigar could still be more than it is now; unfortunately as this was my last one from that batch I'm not sure I'll ever be able to find out just what it might become.

Original Score (March 2019)
83
Redux Score (February 2020)
88

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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