In 2006, Felipe Gregorio introduced its Pelo de Oro line in four vitolas, with a blend consisting of a Costa Rican wrapper, seven-year-old Nicaraguan filler tobacco and a binder from the Dominican Republic.

Reintroduced at the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in Las Vegas, the new incarnation of the Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro changed the blend to Costa Rican tobacco that includes pelo de oro—a Spanish term for “golden hair”—grown from Cuban ancestral seeds. The tobacco is grown in the Cordillera Central of Costa Rica, which sits at about 3,000 feet above sea level which, according to the company, allows them to grow in a pesticide free sun grown environment with no fear of damage from insects.

The Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro is being sold in five different vitolas:

  • Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Churchill Pesado (7 x 55) — $14 (Boxes of 25, $350)
  • Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Piramide (6 1/2 x 52) — $12 (Boxes of 25, $300)
  • Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Corona (6 x 44) — $8 (Boxes of 25, $200)
  • Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Robusto Gordo (5 x 52) — $8 (Boxes of 25, $200)
  • Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Stubby (4 x 55) — $7 (Boxes of 25, $175)

Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Corona 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Corona
  • Country of Origin: Costa Rica
  • Factory: Tres Tierras Factory
  • Wrapper: Costa Rica
  • Binder: Costa Rica
  • Filler: Costa Rica
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 44
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 25, $200)
  • Release Date: October 2014
  • Number of Cigars to be Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Covered in a pale gold wrapper that is parchment smooth to the touch and sans any oil at all, the cigar has quite a few veins running up and down its length. It is a bit harder than I would like when squeezed, with very little give. Aroma coming from the wrapper is a combination of strong aged cedar, nuts, hay and barnyard, while the cold draw bring flavors of very old wood and slightly sweet nuts.

Starting out the first third, the cigar starts out with somewhat contradictory flavors of wet newspaper, old flowers, aged wood and dark coffee, along with just a tad bit of sweetness. There is a noticeable bitterness on the finish that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime fast, and just a little white pepper on the retrohale.The draw is extremely tight, albeit smokable, but the burn is excellent through the first third. Smoke production is a bit thinner than normal, while the overall strength barely makes it out of the mild category by the end of the first third.

Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Corona 2

Unfortunately, the second third of the Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro does not fair much better than the first, with the same wet newspaper flavor dominant, along with tobacco, old wood, coffee and a bit of leather. The bitterness on the finish has actually increased noticeably, almost to the point that I want to put the cigar down, but I am able to push through, and the note comes off its high and starts to recede a bit after the halfway point. The slight sweetness I tasted from the first third is still present, but is still not strong enough to make any impact on the profile, while the pepper on the retrohale is long gone. Construction-wise, the draw is still way too tight for my liking, but the burn is still managing to be the high point of the cigar, with nary a touch-up needed as of yet. The strength is still very much on the mild side, but rising, and I could perhaps see it hitting medium if it continues down the path it is on.

Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Corona 3

The final third of the Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro continues the path of the previous two thirds, with the same unbalanced, bitterness on the finish, along with a dominant bitter wet newspaper that I have come to expect from this blend at this point. There are other flavors that flit in and out, mostly tobacco, coffee and aged wood, but they do nothing to help the profile at all. The draw continues the trend of being too tight for my tastes, and the burn continues the trend of being excellent, while the smoke production has actually increased slightly before the end of the cigar. The sweetness that has been present throughout the first two thirds has finally disappeared completely, and contrary to what I thought before, the strength stalls out before hitting the medium mark, ending just slightly above the point middle between medium and mild.

Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro Corona 4

Final Notes

  • The cigars for this review were smoked in September 2014.
  • Felipe Gregorio is also releasing a Pelo de Oro in the 4 x 55 Stubby vitola that replaces the Costa Rican natural wrapper with a maduro one that is also from Costa Rica.
  • All three of the samples I smoked were noticeably tight, albeit smokable, but the burn was excellent on each cigar throughout the cigar.
  • The bands used for this release are extremely metallic, and striking in a “Look at me!” sort of way.
  • This is the second blend Felipe Gregorio released at IPCPR, as the company’s Power line is also returning after a seven-year hiatus.
  • All of the tobacco for Felipe Gregorio cigars goes through “triple fermentation,”with the cigars undergoing three rounds of inspection and getting a triple cap, part of what the company calls its “333 rule.”
  • The production of pelo de oro tobacco has been banned in Cuba, mostly due to its propensity to become infested with blue mold.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Felipe Gregorio Cigars.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged just over one hour and 10 minutes.
70 Overall Score

I am not sure what I expected from my first Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro cigar, but the tight, bitter, unbalanced, wet newspaper tasting profile that I got was not high on my list. While the burn was excellent on all of my samples, it turned out to be the single positive in a long list of issues for this cigar, some of which are insurmountable if you want to actually enjoy the smoking experience. As it stands now, I can't even come close to recommending the Felipe Gregorio Pelo de Oro, even to try, at least in this vitola. 

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.