Welcome to a story about one of the more confusing cigars launches of recent memory.
Last fall, shortly before InterTabac 2018, La Aurora announced that it would release a new line of cigars called the La Aurora 115th Anniversary. The company had a party in Dortmund, Germany to celebrate the cigar—and its 115th anniversary—and it announced that there would be three separate editions.
Except, it was rather challenging to understand what separated these three cigars besides the packaging. It was so confusing that Miami Cigar & Co., La Aurora’s U.S. distributor, didn’t say anything about the cigars until nearly six months later when it finally started shipping them. I was confused enough—and couldn’t get any explanations—that we also didn’t write about it.
But, now the confusion will come to an end, mostly.
There are two blends, one limited edition and one regular production. The limited edition cigars began shipping in March, while the regular production versions are slated for this summer.
There is a singular blend for the limited edition cigars, but it’s offered in two sizes: one sold in jars and another in boxes. As for the blend, it’s an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Dominican binder and Brazilian and Dominican fillers.
- La Aurora 115th Anniversary Limited Edition Belicoso (6 1/4 x 52) — $19 (Boxes of 15, $285) — 3,000 Boxes of 15 Cigars (45,000 Total Cigars)
- La Aurora 115th Anniversary Limited Edition Gran Toro (6 x 58) — $19 (Jars of 30, $570) — 800 Jars of 15 Cigars (12,000 Total Cigars)
The regular production version, meanwhile, uses an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Brazilian binder and fillers from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Aurora 115th Anniversary Limited Edition Gran Toro
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: La Aurora Cigar Factory
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Brazil & Dominican Republic
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 58
- Vitola: Gordo
- MSRP: $19 (Box of 15, $285)
- Release Date: March 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Boxes of 15 Cigars (45,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
If you look at the positioning of the bands on our samples versus the cigar in the box photo, you will notice that they are a lot lower on the cigar than the mock-ups. It’s somewhat abnormally low, though it’s not really apparent until I compare it to another cigar. Aroma off the wrapper has sweet cocoa and some potato chips, right around full. The foot has a mixture of oranges, mahogany, creaminess, espresso and apple cider—all of those flavors are mixed together evenly with none standing out. Once I take a cold draw of my first sample, I realize that the cigar is a 58 and not a 56 and there’s a noticeable mouthfeel difference. Flavor-wise, the cold draw has potato chips and walnuts, though when I make stronger pulls it’s more of an apple juice flavor.
Opening puffs deliver a creamy vanilla ice cream flavor, some generic woodiness and a meatiness that reminds me of a grilled pork chop. Retrohales produce a faint amount of black pepper, which then heads straight to the middle of the tongue and gets stronger on the finish. The first third of the La Aurora 115th Anniversary Gran Toro settles into a mixture of creaminess, vanilla and raspberry upfront. The finish is also creamy with some popcorn and a subtle clove flavor. Retrohales have creaminess with no vanilla, stone mustard and raspberry. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Construction is impeccable with nothing negative to report on any of the three cigars.
The core of the La Aurora is still creamy in the second third, but there’s now a generic nuttiness and some oak right behind it. Much like everything but the first few puffs of the cigar, there’s no real pepper to be had though there is a growing spice mixture at the back of my mouth plus some irritation on both the back and middle of my mouth. There’s more of a floral flavor, but it’s lacking the sweetness that is normally associated with it. Retrohales are extremely clean with orange peels, oatmeal, cocoa and a generic meatiness. On one sample, I pick up a sweeter floral flavor through the nose and cinnamon that reminds me of a good attempt at a Mexican hot chocolate-style stout. Flavor and body both get closer to full, while strength picks up to medium-full.
For the first time since I started, the creaminess is now overshadowed by another flavor. The most notable flavor is now oatmeal, though there’s also a bread flavor that is more intense than the fading creaminess. In addition, I pick up some stone flavors on two cigars. Retrohales have a pretzel flavor that intensifies on the finish with the back of my mouth tasting like I just tried to shove as much pretzel bread in my mouth as possible. Without the retrohales the finish has quite a bit of dry bread, but it lacks that pretzel characteristic. The flavor finishes full, body is just shy of full and strength remains medium-full. One sample needs a touch-up, but the other two were great from start to finish.
- I cannot stress to you how confusing La Aurora made this. I talked to multiple people who attended the dinner in Dortmund and they were all convinced, as was I at the time, that there were three different blends.
- Depending on where you look, this blend will be described in very different ways:
- A Dominican puro
- All Dominican except for some Brazilian in the filler
- Ecuadorian corojo wrapper, Dominican binder and Dominican and Brazilian fillers
- Some combination of the first and third options?
- And just as a reminder, there is a completely separate blend with the same name and similar packaging that is available in the exact same sizes.
- If all that wasn’t enough, this cigar launched in the U.S. in 2019, which is the 116th anniversary of La Aurora.
- The part that is challenging to explain is that La Aurora has a large media and branding team, and they knew what they were doing, as the cigars and packaging were done when they announced them. Additionally, It’s not like the Dominican Republic and Ecuador are synonyms.
- All of that aside, the cigar is really good, but also rather expensive. I find it even more interesting that the two limited editions are the same price, particularly considering that the belicoso should be a bit more challenging to roll and the jar has some semblance of being a more premium offering over what is otherwise a very nice box.
- If you are able to see the regular production and limited edition versions side by side, you’ll have no trouble figuring out which is which. The regular production version comes in a box that is noticeably as nice and the bands are different. Of note, the limited edition version has a band that designates it as such.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Miami Cigar & Co., which advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes.
- Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the La Aurora 115th Anniversary Limited Edition Gran Toro.
If you get the same cigar that I smoked—and that seems like a bigger if than it should be given the general confusion here—you will get a great cigar. For all of the head-scratching nonsense that was caused by the rollout of this line, the actual cigar itself is very good. It’s complex and balanced with a fuller profile than what it is typically found in a La Aurora cigar. At $19 you aren’t getting any sort of value, but that doesn’t take away from the cigar or the score. And while I might not have very much confidence of what the actual blend is, I do know that it is very good and I suppose that’s all that counts.