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In the weeks before the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Fresno, Calif.-based Dapper Cigar Co. announced that it would be unveiling a maduro version to its El Borracho line, using a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper grown by Lancaster Leaf Co. The blend also gets more Nicaraguan ligero added to the filler to kick up the strength of the blend, with tobacco grown by Oliva Tobacco Co. in Estelí, Jalapa and Condega making up the core, and an Oliva-grown habano rosado binder from Jalapa holding the filler together.

The company released three sizes, all of which are box-pressed and made at Nicaragua American Cigars, S.A. (NACSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua under the supervision of the factory’s production manager, Raul Disla.

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  • 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)

The ceramic humidors for the Edmundo contain 16 cigars, with Fresno-based ceramic artist Hannah Desch creating the boxes and Héctor René Hinojosa of H.R.H. Artistic Marketing hand-painting each of the 20 boxes in the Talavera style of Mexican art. Each of the 20 humidors are also individually numbered.

 

There are also regular production 16-count boxes.

  • 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 Review: 3

Hand me this cigar and robusto wouldn’t be the first word to come to mind when naming its vitola; in the cellophane it felt like a corona or corona gorda, just shy of the 50 ring gauge mark that I typically hold as a minimum for robustos. The box press almost certainly plays a role in that impression, squaring off the cylinder quite well and making it feel rather slender in the fingers. The wrapper is a very dark brown shade of brown, reminiscent of both earth and chocolate at the same time. There are some very small veins but they blend into the leaf due to both size and just a bit of mottling that seems to mask them visually. Otherwise, the leaf looks sound, the seams are invisible and there’s nothing to distract from the cigar. As for the roll, it has the typical amount of give found on box-pressed cigars, though the core is still firm and doesn’t compress easily. The seams are clean and the fill feels consistent, with each cigar capped nicely to boot. The wrapper doesn’t offer much in the way of aroma, while the foot wants to be compared to chocolate covered cherries but doesn’t quite get all the way there. One sample also has a cold coffee note to it, almost a blended coffee drink but without overt sweetness, while the third eschews cherry sweetness for a warm, gooey chocolate chip note. The cold draw is easy and doesn’t offer much in the way of resistance, while the flavors are slightly sweet but muted. The syrup of chocolate covered cherries appears once again, albeit less concentrated than it was in the aroma, and in one sample I get a hint of maple syrup-saturated pancakes.

The first puffs of the first El Borracho Maduro Robusto I smoked aren’t nearly what I expected given the pre-light impressions; instead of sweetness the first and third samples are almost sour with an initial hit of chalk and complementing flavors that are hard to identify but have me reaching for some water to clean my palate. It’s not lingering, though in some ways I wish I had more time to deconstruct what has me thinking of minerals, metals and funky earth. It’s also not consistent from sample to sample—as the second sample had none of this sensation. The El Borracho Maduro sheds the chalk and begins working on an earth note, which seems promising, but the first impression has been made all the same. The tail end of the first third sees the cigar settle into a more familiar flavor profile, offering a mix of earth, some wood in the aroma, and a sprinkling of baking and milk chocolate in the aroma, almost like opening a bag of chocolate chips. The draw and burn have both been very good, with more smoke production than I would expect from a cigar of this size.

For as much as the cigar hinted at sweetness before being lit, it doesn’t seem to want to explore it much when the tobacco is combusting. The El Borracho Maduro dips its proverbial toe in the pool of sweetness—specifically the chocolate note that has been consistent—but never goes in fully, let alone into the deep end. The profile gets drier around the midway point, a subtle shift but one that has me thinking about how I could go for some water almost reflexively. Driving his shift is a peppery, earthy core that finishes with a very dry coffee note, and one that is almost a bit hot to boot. Once the burn line moves into the second half of the cigar, the profile shifts again and gets more rounded thanks to the chocolate note that has flirted with driving the flavor but has as of yet remained on the sidelines. The draw remains good and most importantly hasn’t loosened up any from where it was prior to the cigar being lit. Smoke production remains plentiful and the burn line is generally very even. 

The final third sees the El Borracho Maduro Robusto’s profile dry out a tick more while also bringing in a bit of pepper and dry wood, the first time that I’ve picked up enough of the former to make note of it in two of the three samples. My hopes for finding some rich maduro sweetness are still left to be completely fulfilled, though the flavors at this point are dense and enjoyable, almost packing the kind of concentration of a dense brownie. The distinctive earthy notes reemerge as the burn line crosses where the band would otherwise be, and for as much as I generally love flavors of terroir, it just doesn’t seem to work as well here. I’m inclined to say that it’s not even for being robust, it’s more for being rough when it’s at its most unrefined, and I’m beginning to worry that the change to a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper and the added ligero are throwing things out of balance. The last inch brings about a significant amount of bite from the cigar, with puffs suddenly biting down on the front of the tongue while irritating the back of the throat, a dual-alarm signal that it is time to put the cigar down. It is still burning quite well, with an even burn line, easy draw and plenty of smoke production.

Final Notes:

  • The band and logo definitely feel like a throwback to me with the interlocked letters, though it also could merit comparison to some of Crowned Heads’ designs.
  • You can read a more complete history of Dapper Cigar Co. in my review of the La Madrina Natural Robusto from February 2018.
  • At the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Dapper Cigar Co. also released the Siempre Sun Grown, the Cubo Sumatra, and a pair of cigars under the Cubana Cru name, which he partnered with Cigars Ltd., a Fresno retailer, in resurrecting and rebranding the line.
  • Charlie Minato reviewed the original blend of the El Borracho in the Edmundo vitola in March 2018.
  • I can’t say that there was a lot of nicotine strength from the El Borracho Maduro Robusto, though there is a lingering flavor from the final third that tends to stick around after the cigar has been laid to rest.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 25 minutes on average.
83 Overall Score

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.

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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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