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During the 2012 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, La Aurora Cigars debuted a brand new line that was meant to commemorate the life and work of Fernando León, who was the head of La Aurora from the 1950s until he passed away in 2009. Named Fernando León Family Reserve—not to be confused with the Guillermo León Family Reserve, which was released in honor of Fernando’s son and current head of La Aurora—the line was first sold in five different vitolas.

However, the new cigar was said to be a rebrand of  the original Don Fernando cigar, which was made in a single size—a 5 9/16 x 42 corona, which was the cigar that was personally made for Fernando León. That cigar looked identical to its counterparts in the León Jimenes line with one slight exception: the boxes for the Don Fernando read, “HECHOS ESPECIALAMENTE PARA DON FERNANDO A.”

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Originally, the blend made specifically for Fernando León was wrapped in a Cameroon wrapper, but in his later years that was changed to a corojo leaf grown on one of the family’s farms located in the Dominican Republic. The rest of the blend consists of a Dominican binder and filler tobaccos from Brazil, the  Dominican Republic and Peru.

In 2014, La Aurora added a 6 x 58 Preferidos vitola to both lines of the Family Reserve series, an iconic perfecto shape rolled exclusively by La Aurora. Both of the cigars started shipping to retailers on Sept. 23, 2014 packaged in boxes of 20, with each cigar carrying a retail price of $11.

There have been seven vitolas in the Fernando León Family Reserva line:

  • Fernando León Family Reserve Corona (5 1/2 x 42)
  • Fernando León Family Reserve Robusto (5 x 50)
  • Fernando León Family Reserve Corona Gorda (6 x 47)
  • Fernando León Family Reserve Belicoso (6 1/4 x 52)
  • Fernando León Family Reserve Gran Toro (6 x 58)
  • Fernando León Box-Pressed (6 x 54)
  • Fernando León Family Reserve Preferidos (6 x 58)

Here is what I wrote about the Fernando León Family Reserve Preferidos a little more than six years ago:

While not the most complex of blends, I enjoyed the Fernando León Family Reserve Preferidos for what it is: a unique vitola in a medium-bodied profile that gave some interesting flavors along the way. The second third was easily the best, with a great combination of floral and popcorn that faded all too quickly. Honestly, I prefer the corona vitola in this blend out of the three sizes I have tried as I find the flavors to be noticeably more distinct in that size, but if you are looking for a longer smoke in an interesting vitola, the Preferidos will suffice.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Fernando León Family Reserve Preferidos
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: La Aurora Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic (Corojo)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic & Peru
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 58
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $11 (Box of 20, $222)
  • Release Date: September 23, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

“Visually unique” is a bit of an understated description for the Fernando León Family Reserve Preferidos, with its pointed cap, cut foot and a distinctive band in the middle of the cigar. Unlike the cigars smoked for my original review, this sample is covered in a pale brown wrapper that is silky smooth to the touch, along with quite a bit of mottling. The aroma from the wrapper is a combination of sweet almond paste, pound cake, baker’s spices, hay, earth and milk chocolate sweetness, while the cold draw brings flavors of sweet oak, leather tack, peanut shells, cocoa nibs and vanilla beans.

Starting out just after the foot is toasted, the profile of the Fernando León is awash in espresso bitterness as well as a surprising and not insignificant amount of spice on my tongue, the latter of which shows no signs of dissipating any time soon. The profile is dominated by a strong and distinct flavor of creamy cashews, while notes of aged oak, leather, anise, earth, freshly roasted coffee beans and slight citrus flit in and out in various amounts. In addition, the retrohale features a fondant sweetness that combines well with the slightly above average amount of black pepper that is also present. The second half is much the same as the first, including the same dominant cashew flavor, fondant sweetness cut with black pepper on the retrohale and plenty of tongue-tingling spice. There are a few notable changes, however, starting with the secondary flavors, which now include notes of straw, popcorn, pencil lead, sourdough bread, cocoa nibs and espresso, the latter of which also permeates the finish in the final third.

Construction-wise, the Fernando León gives me very few issues, with an excellent draw after a Dickman cut that results in the ideal amount of resistance for my tastes and a copious amount of smoke production that never lets up from the first puff to the last. The one issue I have is the burn, which becomes a bit problematic in the second third just before the halfway point, which prompts a couple of touchups in quick succession. Finally, the overall strength starts out relatively mild before ramping up a bit in the second third to end at a point just under medium by the time I put the nub down with a bit less than an inch left after one hour and 42 minutes of smoking time.

88 Overall Score

I absolutely love reviewing cigars after extended aging, if only because of just how different the profiles can become. Such is the case with the Fernando León Family Reserve Preferidos, which features very few similarities to what I tasted the first time around six years ago. What was once a blend dominated by creamy oak and mostly indeterminate sweetness with spice and pepper mostly relegated to the background is now a profile full of creamy cashews, fondant sweetness and a surprising amount of spice on my tongue that remains a major part of the profile for the entire stick. Throw in the excellent construction and you are left with a cigar that is not only more enjoyable than it was six years ago but also one that is almost completely different.

Original Score (September 2014)
86
Redux Score (October 2020)
88

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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.