Earlier this year, La Flor Dominicana announced the release of a cigar commemorating Litto and Ines Gomez’s 20 years in the cigar business, the La Flor Dominicana 1994. But before we go any further, it’s worth clarifying that this cigar, while released under the La Flor Dominicana name, isn’t the La Flor Dominicana 20th anniversary cigar. That release, should it ever be developed, wouldn’t be applicable until 2016; more on that in a moment.
In 1993, Litto Gomez owned a jewelry store in Miami’s North Beach neighborhood called Pekin’s. As the store was getting ready to close for the day, two men came into the shop and proceeded to gag and bind the hands of Gomez and his jeweler and make off with some $400,000 in jewelry. The pair were never caught, and while Gomez rarely speaks of that day, when he does it is with gratitude as it was what turned him to the cigar business. It was that life-changing moment that inspired Gomez to enter the cigar business, and in 1994, he and his wife Ines, along with some investors, launched a Dominican-made line of cigars called Los Libertadores.
It was a quick growth for the brand, making 150,000 cigars in 1994 before ramping up to nearly three million in 1996. But the business partners didn’t share Gomez’s vision for creating high-quality cigars for the premium cigar market, instead wanting a focus on higher volume. The Los Libertadores project would soon be over, and Gomez would create the brand he is known for today. In 1996, La Flor Dominicana was formally launched, using the Los Libertadores blend as the basis for the LFD Premium Line.
In 1997, La Flor Dominicana began growing its own tobacco with the acquisition of the La Canela farm in the Dominican Republic. Since that time the company has produced a number of well-received lines under the La Flor Dominicana name, as well as the Coronado by La Flor and LG Litto Gomez Diez lines. In addition, Litto has started to pass the torch to his son Tony, who has blended and released the La Flor Dominicana Chapter One and Capitulo II, but don’t think that Litto is done yet by any means.
There are four regular production sizes being released in the 1994 line, all four of which were on display at the 2014 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show last month.
- La Flor Dominicana 1994 Conga (5 x 52) — $7.50 (Boxes of 20, $150.00)
- La Flor Dominicana 1994 Aldaba (6 x 58) — $8.30 (Boxes of 20, $166.00)
- La Flor Dominicana 1994 Rumba (6 1/2 x 52) — $7.80 (Boxes of 20, $156.00)
- La Flor Dominicana 1994 Mambo (7 x 54) — $8.20 (Boxes of 20, $164.00)
In addition, there will be a limited edition La Flor Dominicana 1994 Beer Stein, which refers to both the packaging as well as the 6 x 54 vitola packed inside. The 1994 Beer Stein is limited to 5,000 units of 20, and is scheduled to arrive in stores in September, with a still to be announced price. It was not on hand at last month’s trade show.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Flor Dominicana 1994 Mambo
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Flor
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: Dominican Republic (La Canela)
- Filler: Dominican Republic (La Canela)
- Size: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Churchill Gordo
- MSRP: $8.20 (Boxes of 20, $164.00)
- Release Date: Late August, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The first thing that catches my eye about the La Flor Dominicana 1994 Mambo, other than its size, is its band. It feels like a mix of both old and new, with the classic tobacco flower image set on top of the current La Flor Dominicana script and color scheme, with the LFD logo on either side of the flower. The wrapper is a darker shade of brown that has a few red notes to it, with small veins and not much in the way of oily sheen or toothiness. The seam lines are clean and the cigar looks well constructed, a bit on the firm side and with one sample having a cap that isn’t the cleanest I’ve ever seen, and almost seems to be a bit under the expected level from such an established company. The pre-light aroma has a distinct note of soil, a bit reminiscent of what you might experience in a plant nursery or barn, with just a touch of sweetness and hardly any pepper present. The cold draw is well tuned, showing a bit heavier profile with some damp tree bark, oatmeal and a touch of brown sugar, and yet again no significant spice or pepper.
There is nothing like a strong first impression, and the La Flor Dominicana 1994 makes one as soon as the flame hits the foot of the fan, with big notes of fresh beef jerky and earth almost exploding into the air, enhanced by a touch of thick brown sugar sweetness and just a pinch of pepper. The flavor of the first puffs is much more peppery than I would have expected, keeping the earth note while the beef jerky note doesn’t transfer to the palate quite as much. While it’s a fairly intense start, those notes quickly back off and leave a remnant of the strength and aroma, though what is left is very enjoyable as it leaves a slight residual both in the nose and on the tongue. Lighter notes of pepper are found on a retrohale, while the palate gets a complex flavor offering that has notes of cedar, leather, turkey and just a touch of pepper. While the first third of the LFD 1994 hasn’t been overpowering as far as strength, it hasn’t skimped at all on flavor and aroma, both of which have been very enjoyable. With the first clump of ash falling at about an inch in length, the flavor and aroma pivot and pick up a more peppery profile that brings the strength level up while also waking up the senses a bit. While the La Flor Dominicana 1994 has yet to cross into the territory of being truly full-bodied, there has certainly been a steady uptick in strength over the transition from the first to second third. The profile has dried out just a touch, and while I have yet to taste what I have become accustomed to from Mexican San Andrés tobacco, notes of it begin to show in this portion of the cigar. With each puff the strength of the cigar seems to increase, and when I turn the swamp cooler off for a bit, the smoke that was being blown back towards me has a chance to sit in the ambient night air and further show its strength. Notes of earth and pepper-based strength continue to shape the cigar and take it to a noticeably different place than where it was for the majority of the first half, with the strength levels now falling much more in line with what I assume many people would associate with LFD. The cigar has performed beautifully through the first half; while not a smoke producing factory it has never lacked in terms of quantity, and the burn line is sharp and even. With the final third approaching fairly quickly, the strength level takes just a bit of a step backwards, allowing the terroir of the San Andrés leaf to shine through to its most distinctive level yet. There is yet another turn in store as what would be described as the rougher parts of the San Andrés flavor suddenly stand down and the smoke becomes softer and a bit chewier in the mouth, giving both a flavor and texture change to the La Flor Dominicana 1994. The strength hasn’t quite ramped back up by the time the band comes off, and while it still has a good amount of kick, it is much more measured now, almost to the point of being a touch restrained. There’s a touch of baking spices that start to come along and provide a cinnamon-like character, while a bit of sweetness seems to making an attempt to creep past the core notes of pepper, only to quickly lose that battle as the tongue gets a peppery tingle in the final inches. The retrohale has picked up a note of chalk in addition to the pepper, a bit of a shock to the senses but once that dies down, invites another attempt at passing some smoke through the nose. Like many LFDs I’ve smoked, the last few inches of the 1994 seem to take their own sweet time in burning, never going out and making the finish about as long as you want it to be without getting harsh or overly hot. Final Notes
- I’m a bit torn on the band and in some ways, the entire presentation of the 1994 line. The wood boxes are almost surprisingly plain given the festive nature of the release, while the band does an admirable job capturing images both old and new from the company. I’m certainly not asking for Swarovski crystals and three sets of bands, but there would seem to be a middle ground more fitting for this release.
- That said, I do have a bit of a jones for the Beer Stein that will be coming out in September. I’m not exactly sure what I would do with it if I were to end up buying one—I’m not even sure I would use it for beverages.
- The Beer Stein falls almost on par in the desirability department with the Casa de Tabaco that was released with the Air Bender Maduro in 2011.
- Brooks Whittington and I visited the La Flor Dominicana booth at the IPCPR trade show this year; you can read about it here and see the company’s other new releases, Capitulo II, the newest batch of Salomones, and the Digger ashtray.
- The La Flor Dominicana website lists the company’s start date as 1996, which is technically true, though it does create a bit of incongruency with the 1994 date used on this cigar.
- I am interested to see if there is a cigar released in 2016 for the 20th anniversary of La Flor Dominicana.
- La Flor Dominicana is said to be putting out a pair of stainless steel and carbon fiber cigar scissors later this year, though a sample was not on display at the trade show and has yet to be shown off by the company.
- Litto Gomez was part of our HALFWHEEL X series in June. In that video, he says he will never make another mild cigar.
- In October 2012, I reviewed the La Flor Dominicana Oro Natural No. 6, which was the first real nod to the company’s beginnings.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 15 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were provided by La Flor Dominicana at the 2014 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show.
- Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar carries La Flor Dominicana, but has not yet listed the 1994 on its website.
To put it simply, wow. The La Flor Dominicana 1994 Mambo is downright impressive from start to finish, and a fitting cigar for the company's 20th anniversary celebration. The first half is all about flavor: big notes out of the gate that have the tires screeching before the cigar embarks on a long and flavorful journey that provides the perfect amounts of flavor complexity and signature strength. It could very well be the most complex and enjoyable cigar I can think of being made by La Flor Dominicana, topping even the beloved Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 4 Oscuro. I can only wait to try these in the other vitolas to see how they compare, as well as revisiting them once they have some age on them to let the complexity further develop,