If there’s one event you don’t want to try to attach your company’s name to without proper authorization, it’s the Super Bowl. The NFL is notoriously protective of that name, making sure that only those who have paid for the privilege of using the name are doing so. But that doesn’t mean other companies aren’t celebrating the “Big Game” in their own ways.
That includes the cigar industry, and in specific, La Flor Dominicana, which in 2015 launched a series of limited edition cigars that feature a football design on them and are only released in the state where the game is being played.
- La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition (5 3/4 x 60) — 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2016 (5 5/8 x 54) — n/a
- La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2017 (6 1/2 x 52/60) — 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
- La Flor Dominicana Special Football Edition 2018 (6 1/2 x 52/60) — n/a
- La Flor Dominicana Special Football Edition 2019 (6 1/2 x 58) — n/a
- La Flor Dominicana Special Football Edition 2020 (6 1/2 x 58) — n/a
For the 2020 edition, the cigar headed to retailers in Florida, as the game was played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. It’s a beefy toro gordo, measuring 6 1/2 x 58 and sporting the signature football design cut from tobacco, while a contrasting head and a swirl emanating from the foot add a few more design flourishes.
As for the blend, it features an Ecuadorian habano wrapper with maduro accents, while the binder and fillers come from the Dominican Republic. It’s priced at $17 per cigar and offered in 10-count boxes, with production quantities not disclosed. Like all La Flor Dominicana cigars, it is produced at Tabacalera La Flor S.A.
- Cigar Reviewed: La Flor Dominicana Special Football Edition 2020
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Flor S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano & Maduro)
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Length: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 58
- Vitola: Toro Gordo
- MSRP: $17 (Box of 10, $170)
- Release Date: January 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Undisclosed
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I don’t know what I was expecting size-wise from the La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2020 before I pulled it out for this review, but it is much bigger than I was anticipating, sort of like someone telling you you’re going to be meeting a pro football player and you start thinking cornerback or wide receiver and end up in front of an offensive lineman. Other than its size, the cigar’s added-on designs are certainly eye-catching; the football is the most noticeable and having worked with tobacco a bit during my visits to factories, I’m amazed at the precision of the shape. The cap is fairly self-explanatory, while the swirl originating at the foot has its own artistic sensibility. The cigar is rolled evenly and firmly, with a lot of texture to be found when squeezed due to the veins and a slightly oily, glossy wrapper. The foot offers a light aroma that reminds me of unpopped popcorn kernels and a bit of white bread and rolls, though the latter in only a broad sense. There isn’t much pepper or overt sweetness, which leaves the smell a bit singular if still enjoyable. The cold draw is incredibly tight on the first cigar, as the head feels like it may have been overfilled and I might need to clip a bit more off or excavate some of the tobacco. There is still some air movement so I’m hopeful those options won’t be necessary, while other samples don’t have the same issue. There’s a bit of graham cracker and creaminess here, and as such a bit more sweetness, but the flavor isn’t too far off from the aroma. Pepper shows up after a few seconds, more from the wrapper being in contact with the mouth than via the airflow.
Once lit, the first sample still has me a bit concerned about airflow, but there’s enough smoke generated to defer any additional maintenance to the head of the cigar, while the other two samples show no issues. The flavor opens with a bit of white pepper, a good bit of toast, and a side of dry wood, the combination of which leads to a good bit of dry mouth in the early goings. There’s also a fairly lingering tingle on the lips, a somewhat strange sensation given its intensity. When it’s not in full-mouth drying mode, the cigar has a bit of mixed nuts and cake donut, both of which dry out the mouth but in a more subtle manner and without the urgency of the other flavors. The first retrohale is equally as dry, and while the pepper and overall profile are similar to what the flavor offers, it doesn’t seem to have the same drying effect. As the burn line progresses through the first inch, a bit of creaminess joins the mix, and the cigar sets in at medium-full in terms of flavor but medium in body and strength. After the first clump of ash drops off, there’s a bit of a metallic taste beginning to emerge, which carries the cigar into its next section. It’s not overpowering; rather it feels like the seasoning in a dish is off, but when combined with what has become a drier smoke, doesn’t steer the cigar in a better direction.
By the time the La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2020 gets into its second third, the dryness has reached the point of pervasiveness, or if nothing less, that it’s a defining characteristic in two of the three samples. The sensation is not far off from that of eating dry cereal or salted tortilla chips: the flavor is good but it does come at a cost. Meanwhile, the third sample is just beginning to get to that point, but it has been offering enough other flavors—mixed nuts and a bit of creaminess—that have prevented the dryness from reaching the same levels, though just ahead of the middle of the cigar it feels like it’s close to arriving. Around the midpoint, the white pepper in the retrohale settles down a bit, an appreciated change as it was flexing just a bit too much for my liking. It’s also around the midway point that I sense the profile beginning to change a bit; it’s still dry, but there is a bit of creaminess beginning to emerge. It’s not rich, sweet cream, but rather a homemade marshmallow spin that offers some relief but is still on the dry side of the spectrum. Where the cigar really does its work on the palate is with the white pepper, which is now almost exclusively on the finish, but still quite noticeable.
White pepper through the retrohale is back with force at the start of the final third, and the resurgence gets to the palate a few puffs later. I wish I could say that the La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2020 wasn’t still drying out my mouth with every puff, but such is not the case and my mouth feels about as dehydrated as it would were I working outside on a hot Phoenix summer day. The flavor profile is marked by toast, some crackers and a bit of dry wood, with primarily white pepper doing much of the tingling work but now coming across as integrated into the profile as opposed to its own distinctive component. The third sample I smoked is still the least intense in the mouth-drying department, though it’s not like it has completely aborted that mission. But while it’s not moving with the same intensity as its counterparts, it is delivering a more balanced selection of flavors, continuing with the nuttiness and now picking up more dry wood, which is able to stand out without the overt distraction of my mouth craving hydration. The technical performance has generally been very good across the board, though even with that it is still a cigar that takes a significant amount of time to smoke through, certainly on par with the amount of time it takes to get through the football game it celebrates.
- On the first sample, I was struck by how the band was misaligned from the tip of the football. That would seem to be a fairly easy thing to take care of, but as you can see in the pictures, it was off by a few degrees.
- It would be interesting to consider blending a cigar to pair with the foods and drinks served during a Super Bowl viewing party. It’s a wide range, I know, but the incredibly dry start of the cigar makes me think it would clash with what can be salty snacks while encouraging some increased beverage consumption.
- While it probably didn’t add a ton of points to the final score, the third sample at least changed my perception of the La Flor Dominicana Special Football Edition 2020. It wasn’t as dry and it didn’t take as long to smoke, two things I wasn’t looking forward to when lighting it.
- Given the size of the cigar, I’m surprised the ash didn’t hang on better, at least in the first sample. I generally think of thicker ring gauge cigars as having more durable ash, but it wasn’t necessarily the case here. It wasn’t inherently bad, but it wasn’t as good as I was expecting.
- The second sample was much better in the ash category, building up to the point where I was scared to hold it over my lap.
- On one sample I noticed that the edges of the football weren’t laying completely flat; not a huge detail but one of those things gets noticed just like a seam that has puckered up a bit.
- While this cigar is certainly a nod to football, Arturo Fuente made an OpusX in the shape of a small football, which Brooks Whittington reviewed in 2013.
- Espinosa Cigars also got in on the football-shaped cigar releases with The Big Game Cigars, a store exclusive for Smoke Inn in south Florida that was released in January 2020. It was a set of four football-shaped cigars designed to be smoked during the four quarters of the game.
- Meanwhile, this cigar felt like it was designed to be smoked throughout the entire game, and like the final minutes of a close game, it takes a good amount of time to get through the final third.
- I’m all for fun projects like this, and as a baseball fan, would love to see a set of seven cigars designed to be smoked while watching the World Series. It would be tough to do the geographic tie-in since the sites aren’t known until just days before, however.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was three hours and 15 minutes on average, though I could easily see this taking more than four hours to get through.
- Site sponsors Cigar Hustler and Corona Cigar Co. carry the La Flor Dominicana Football Special Edition 2020.
The big game calls for a big cigar, which the La Flor Dominicana Special Football Edition 2020 certainly is, and while it has its moments, the overriding drying of the mouth that it imparts overshadows almost all of them. It's rare that my biggest takeaway from a cigar is the physical reaction, and usually is done when a cigar has so much nicotine strength that it affects me physically. Thankfully this cigar doesn't suffer from that, though the net result isn't much better. If you're in the mood for a very large, long-smoking and cigar that is loaded with mouth-drying notes of toast, wood and nuts, this is certainly one worth checking out; just be sure you have a large beverage on hand as I'm positive you'll need it. For me, there are so many other La Flor Dominicana releases that don't come with the physical affects to choose from that I have a hard time envisioning myself returning to this cigar in the future.