Editor’s Note: It’s April Fool’s Day. As we have done in years past, here’s a serious review of a not so serious cigar.
At the 2016 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Miami Cigar & Co. introduced a brand new vitola in its La Aurora 1495 line, a series that pays tribute to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros which was founded in 1495 by Christopher Columbus.
Named La Stravaganza, the new vitola comes in at a whopping 20 x 80 and is sold in its own wooden coffin with a plexiglass front. In terms of blend, the cigar features the same six types of tobacco as the rest of the 1495 line, namely an Ecuadorian sumatra wrapper covering a mata fina binder from Brazil and filler tobacco from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru. Rolled at La Aurora in the Dominican Republic, the La Stravaganza is a limited but ongoing production and retails for $30 each, according to Jason Wood, vp of Miami Cigar & Co., which distributes La Aurora in the U.S.
“(The La Stravaganza was) made for the factory store as a novelty item for tourist(s), but people loved it so we brought it to the U.S.,” said Wood, in a text to halfwheel.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Aurora La Stravaganza
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: La Aurora Cigar Factory
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Binder: Brazilian Mata Fina
- Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Peru & Nicaragua
- Length: 20 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 80
- Vitola: La Stravaganza
- MSRP: $30 (Coffins of 1, $30)
- Release Date: July 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: Limited Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
There is no denying it, the La Stravaganza is massive when held in your hand, not only in length but also in girth. It feels a bit lighter than I would have expected by just looking at it, and reminds me of holding a large tree branch that fell down after a strong storm. The cigar is covered in a espresso brown wrapper that is a bit rough to the touch, and is rock hard when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of peanuts, sawdust, earth, coffee beans and pepper, while the cold draw brings somewhat restrained notes of cedar, leather, dark cocoa, cinnamon and creamy nuts.
As expected, the La Aurora La Stravaganza takes a while to get lit, about 30 seconds with a four touch model from Rocky Patel—and even after that, I am not getting any smoke into my mouth at all. The cigar is obviously burning, but flavors are muted so far, with a slight creamy peanut and leather combination leading the way, followed by much lesser notes of earth, tobacco, hay and cedar. There is some slight spice on my tongue as well as some black pepper on the retrohale, but neither are overly strong at this point. I am picking up a little indeterminate sweetness on the finish, and some salt on my lips as well. Even though I only took a small amount off of the cap, the draw is still quite a bit looser than I would have liked, but the burn is surprisingly straight for pretty much the entire first third. The overall strength is hard to judge since I am already starting to feel a bit sick due to trying to get smoke to come out of it, but I would peg it close to medium by the end of the first third.
Unfortunately, that is where things really start to go wrong. It has taken me almost six hours to get six inches in, and I still am not getting any smoke from the foot to actually make it through the La Aurora La Stravaganza to the cap. While I was hoping that smoke would eventually start to flow through, that just did not happen, and I was basically just cold drawing the cigar the entire time, no matter how hard I puffed on it. The burn stayed fairly straight considering that I was not actually smoking the cigar, rather blowing air out to keep it lit, and the draw remained quite loose, although there was enough resistance to fool me into thinking that I could eventually start to get smoke to come out.
At nearly seven hours, I decide to give up and call it quits.
- Our other April Fool’s Day reviews have been:
- It is a little interesting to be smoking a cigar whose box comes with a nail hook to nail up on a wall. My guess is I might very well be the first person to smoke this, or at least try.
- When we reviewed the My Father Baseball Bat and Pipe, there were many who believed those products shouldn’t have been reviewed because they were not intended to smoke. Our argument then, and our argument now is: any product that is sold, is fair game. If a consumer spends money for a cigar, no matter how ridiculous, it should be able to be evaluated as a cigar, not just a piece of art. The Baseball Bat, Pipe and Stravaganza are all offered for sale.
- I cannot explain how disconcerting and frustrating it is to not get any smoke at all out of the cap end, no matter how hard I puffed, especially when I could see the fact that there was plenty of smoke coming from the foot.
- My hands started shaking after only 3/4 inch from all of the force I was using to try and get some smoke all the way up to the cap, which was not a good sign.
- I learned my lesson from previous large cigars, and took only a small amount of the cap off to start. That actually still proved to be too much, but the draw was decent enough to notice some resistance.
- According to the scale at Elite Cigar Cafe, the Stravaganza weighed exactly 150 grams, or 5.3 ounces. This was in contrast to The Woody, which Patrick weighed at 3.8 ounces, and honestly, the Stravaganza felt closer to a pound to me when I held it in my hand.
- Interestingly, while the name on the website is La Stravaganza, both the band and box just say Stravaganza, sans the La.
- If you could not tell from the photos, the Stravaganza was extremely unwieldy for the entire time I was smoking it, leading multiple people to come up and tell me some variation of “That is bad ass!” or the like.
- Patrick Lagreid noted in his review of The Woody that he had similar draw issues until the cigar got down to a more reasonable length, like seven or inches. The big difference here is that it would have taken me about a day to smoke the cigar at the rate I was moving.
- The cigar smoked for this review was sent by Miami Cigar & Co., which advertises on halfwheel. For those wondering, we told Miami Cigar & Co. exactly what we intended on doing with this cigar, including why and when it would be reviewed.
- The final smoking time turned out to be six hours and 49 minutes, after which I had “smoked” almost exactly six inches of the cigar.
Editor’s Note: The score below is extremely low. It’s not so much an indictment of the flavor, but rather, the fact that the cigar could not be smoked, as such the cigar received zero points for both the second and final thirds. This is the same practice that we would use to evaluate a plugged cigar that could not be completed because of the draw.
Judging by the hook on the display box it is sold in, the Stravaganza is obviously meant to be a show piece, but as my reviews of the OpusX Football and Femur have proven, cigars like this can often be smoked, and thus the review today. The Stravaganza actually burned quite well for the time I was smoking it and while the flavors I was getting out of it were not overly complex, they were enjoyable enough to continue. The major problem was the fact that—despite the very small amount I cut off of the cap—I just could not get enough suction or pressure to draw the smoke the entire length of the cigar, which means I was basically just cold drawing the whole time I was smoking. Patrick’s review of The Woody shows that cigars this size can theoretically be smoked, I would not be averse to trying again to see if a second time would be any less frustrating.