Not that long ago, it seemed like My Father Cigars was putting out store exclusives at an astonishing rate; most of them ended up in the company’s Flor de Las Antillas line, but there was one special release in the El Centurion line created for just three stores: Federal Cigar in New Hampshire, Atlantic Cigar in Pennsylvania and Casa de Montecristo in Illinois. All three are well known for being prominent retailers both in their respective areas as well as online, and all three have close relationships with My Father Cigars, frequently hosting the García family for events and having a number of store exclusive sizes from the company.
While I won’t get into the full history of the El Centurion line here since you can read it in the original review if you are so inclined, it is worth noting that this line is one of, if not the line that put José “Don Pepín” García on the cigar industry map. Released at the 2007 RTDA trade show—an event now known as the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show—the just 850 boxes of three sizes, all 20 to a box, were released and quickly snapped up by retailers. Said to be the personal blend of Pepín himself, he noted that it tasted like old Cohibas and had a distinct and special aromatic quality.
The cigars disappeared for several years before a very similar looking cigar started showing up at My Father events, the My Father S Special. Finally, in March 2013, the company announced that the El Centurion name would return to cigar shelves with four vitolas to debut that May. For long-time fans of Pepín, this was incredible news and fulfilled the hopes of having a classic and highly sought-after cigar return.
Here’s what I said about the El Centurion Toria when I reviewed it in December 2013:
I recently smoked the El Centurion Robusto—which scored well on halfwheel back in May—and I remember being impressed by how balanced it was, with the blend having enough room to breathe and still show off all its strong points. In the case of the El Centurion Toria, I wonder if the smaller ring gauge is constricting things too much, as while I got the bulk of the same notes that I did in the robusto, they all seemed sharper and more pronounced, almost being too big for the format of the cigar and having nowhere to spill over to except the nose and taste buds. This site has been guilty of clamoring for blends to be produced in smaller ring gauges, and while most of the time the results are favorable, in this case, and for my palate, they’re not. I’d rather give the El Centurion blend a few extra ring gauges in which to operate, because when it does, the blend truly shines.
- Cigar Reviewed: El Centurion Toria
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sun Grown Criollo ‘98
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua (Criollo, Corojo Habano & Sancti Spiritus)
- Size: 5 5/8 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 20, $160)
- Date Released: Nov. 1, 2013
- Number of Cigars Released: 600 Boxes of 20 Cigars (12,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Redux: 1
I love the toothy, chocolate brown wrapper on the El Centurion Toria; it offers both a good looking cigar as well as one that delivers some nice texture to the fingers. It’s impeccably rolled and the seam lines almost disappear at points, with just a few small veins that barely stand out. It’s a very firm cigar, almost so firm as to describe it as hard, and there isn’t much wiggle room to merit an honest squeeze. From the foot I get the same sweet meat aroma I remember from this blend, though the two flavors have certainly come together since I last smoked this cigar and they are now almost perfectly intertwined. The cold draw is fairly firm and has the sweetness, though with more of a cedar note, as the original notes of dark chocolate, espresso and pepper are largely gone.
The first thing I can tell about the El Centurion Toria is how much time has helped the pepper settle down; what was originally a lip-tingling cigar is now much more subdued, focusing on subtle sweetness with a little bit of spice on the palate and a good bit of pepper in the nose. It’s an easy and approachable start that gives time to get acquainted before the real show starts, which now happens with the ash about three-quarters of an inch in and a wonderful, smoky aroma wafts from the cigar. It starts as a warm cake donut impression, before quickly becoming much more complex and showing notes of cedar, a bit of grilled meats and just the right amount of pepper to liven it all up. The technical performance has been fine, and while smoke doesn’t billow out of the cigar in the early goings, it is more than plentiful by the conclusion of the first third. All the flavors are coming together much more harmoniously than they were when the cigars were new; what I described as bold wood and pepper are much more subdued and don’t fight for attention or the spotlight, which in turn clears the way for a bit of chalk and earth to emerge at the midpoint.
There is a definite shift that happens in the El Centurion Toria right around the midpoint; what had been a fairly subtle and complex now sings with a bright chalk note and sharper pepper, which is much more forward both on the palate and in the nose, making retrohales a bit more challenging but also a good bit more fulfilling. I don’t find the sweetness returning much in the second half of the cigar, though it does dry out a bit as it did when I first smoked it. The draw and burn line remain very impressive if not about as perfect as one could ask for, with good ash and smoke production. Interesting though I find the cigar giving me a bit of acidic espresso bitterness in the final two inches, something I definitely did not get when I first smoked this cigar. The aroma continues to be fantastic and continues to surprise me with its pleasing complexity as the cigar rests in the ashtray. The bitterness fades fairly quickly and lets the cigar get back on track to an enjoyable finish.
One of my complaints about the El Centurion Toria when I smoked it in December 2013 was that it felt like the smaller ring gauge was making the cigar too sharp at points and not giving the blend enough room to breathe, let along come together. Time has certainly made up for the constraints that the smaller vitola seemed to place on the blend when it was younger and has put the Toria vitola back on par with the other vitola in the El Centurion line while also allowing its own unique and enjoyable characteristics to shine through.