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If there is one company that enjoys releasing high-priced cigars that aren’t parejos, it’s La Aurora. While belicosos, perfectos and salmones have fallen out of favor with many, the Dominican Republic’s oldest cigar manufacturer continues to roll them with no end in sight.

There’s the La Aurora Preferidos—one of the company’s most famous releases alongside the 100 Años—an iconic shape that comes in an iconic preferido-shaped tubo. Then there’s the La Aurora Puro Vintage, once the undisputed flagship release from the company, which appears to be getting yet another release shortly. And then there’s what the company showed off at last year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show: the Reserva Especial 2008.

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It largely came out of nowhere, a new series with no prior hints or specific lineage. The band is somewhat reminiscent of the original Puro Vintage and the concept is pretty similar: a singular limited edition release focused on a specific vintage crop. In this case, it’s the 2008 crop, which the company says was a historically good one in the Dominican Republic’s Cibao Valley.

As for the blend, there are a lot of tobaccos that aren’t from the Cibao Valley. Ecuadorian Sumatra tobacco is used for both the wrapper and binder, while the vintage Dominican tobaccos are used in the filler along with Brazilian and Nicaraguan tobacco.

It comes in a 6 1/4 x 52 belicoso size, packaged in metallic red boxes, themselves packaged inside a felt sleeve and cardboard box. The presentation is commanding, certainly leaving no question that this is not a cheap cigar. And it’s not, at $27, it’s the most expensive La Aurora I can think of to date.

  • Cigar Reviewed: La Aurora Reserva Especial 2008
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: La Aurora Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic (Cibao Valley) & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • MSRP: $27 (Boxes of 10, $270)
  • Release Date: Oct. 11, 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Ecuadorian Sumatra is quite dark and not the prettiest wrapper I’ve ever seen. However, the oils and color give me a sense that this will probably pack a fair amount of flavor, which is more important than the appearance. Aroma off said wrapper is earthy with a lot of barnyard and acidity, and yet, the foot smells nothing of the sort. In what is likely the starkest contrast between the two, the foot is sweet with lots of lavender, floral and coffee bean breaking through. The cold draw is similar to neither of those, with some gasoline-like flavors, walnuts and a bit of creaminess.

Given the contrasts in the pre-lighting experience, it should come of no surprise that the La Aurora Reserva Especial starts with nearly zero of the aforementioned flavors. There’s some nuttiness, but it’s joined by some sweet berries, a weird spice that I can’t quite place and some melon sweetness. The nuttiness continues into the main parts of the first third, joined by a generic earthiness, creaminess and some redwoods. Through the nose, there’s earthiness, orange peels, lemon, some harshness and a cheap pre-ground black pepper. The finish is woody with some freshly chopped bark, nuttiness and a bit of lemon. One cigar requires a touch-up and it’s pretty clear that the lighter will be needed shortly for the other two cigars, but smoke production and draw are good. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.

The second third of the Reserva Especial sees the nuttiness depart for the first time. By the midway point the earthiness has been joined by ketchup and some floral flavors. The latter two are struggling to keep up with the intensity of the earthiness and it doesn’t help that there’s some cedar sawdust, paper and a bit of the cheap black pepper right behind it, but there is some sweetness and it’s fairly distinct. The finish is earthy with coriander and ground black pepper. Touch-ups are needed across the board, both due to an uneven burn and smoke production. Flavor remains full, body picks up to full and the strength remains medium-plus, though slightly declining.

An acidic coffe emerges and quickly takes over for the earthiness, which along with the ketchup, lingers into the final third. They play second fiddle to the coffee, which at times also just tastes burnt. Through the nose, there’s earthiness, creaminess, maple syrup and some unsalted peanuts. On two samples, a berry-like sweetness also emerges, which is a nice reprieve for what has been nearly two and a half hours of earthiness and nuttiness. It finishes medium-full in flavor, medium-full in body and medium-plus in strength.

Final Notes

  • I’m genuinely confused why the company didn’t make this part of the Puro Vintage series, which is already established. I’m also fascinated to see what happens when La Aurora gets to the point of considering a Puro Vintage 2008, which would be the next one after the 2007 version, which was just teased.
  • While La Aurora has had success selling its lower-priced Time Capsule Series, the company has also added a lot of $20+ cigars of late.
  • Speaking of which, the packaging feels appropriate. It’s a noticeable step up from even typical high-end packaging.
  • And it’s not like they aren’t selling. We purchased Reserva Especials late last year to review but were only able to end up with two samples. It wasn’t until late that we saw any more available.
  • In fairness, selling 5,000 $27 cigars is not a lot for a company the size of La Aurora, but the sell-through seemed particularly quick.
  • La Aurora makes a rum and I think that’s the style of drink that would be ideal for pairing, as the cigar needs a bit of sweetness. I, of course, would recommend a Diplomático product.
  • While I would recommend cutting off a little and then making adjustments, I found the cigar performed best when it was cut a bit below where I would normally.
  • Construction definitely hurt the score as I couldn’t get through any of the cigars without out touch-ups in the final two thirds.
  • Miami Cigar & Co., La Aurora’s U.S. distributor, advertises on halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 25 minutes on average.
  • The cigars used for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsors Cigars.com and Serious Cigar carry the La Aurora Reserva Especial 2008.
89 Overall Score

This reminded me of some of the La Auroras of yesteryear. Before the attempt at Untamed, La Aurora produced medium-bodied, full-flavored cigars that were smooth and balanced. There were other things in the portfolio, but I started smoking the brand when 100 Años was on its way out and 107 Aniversario and Guillermo León—the cigar, not the person—were on their way in. This is very much that and that’s a good thing. The price tag is tough to swallow, but the end result is good, albeit not great.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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