While it may be tough to get a manufacturer to produce a store exclusive blend, it’s much simpler to get an exclusive size of an existing cigar, something that the industry has seen time and again as retailers look to offer something both unique and not available at a competitor, which often means not just the store down the street, but stores around the country and even the world.
In early April, Casa de Montecristo — Chicago announced that it would be getting its own size of Espinosa Cigars’ Laranja CDM Exclusive Toro. It’s not a particularly unique size, a 6 x 52 toro vitola that may be the least exciting size in the industry as it or similarly sized vitolas seem to be the de facto choice for single-size releases. In fact, this is a size that was one of the three originally released in the Laranja Reserva line, though the big difference in this release is that it is box-pressed as opposed to round.
As for the blend, the Laranja uses a Brazilian wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and Nicaraguan fillers, a blend that debuted in 2014. The line originally came in three sizes, Corona Gorda (5 5/8 x 46, $9.90), Robusto Extra (5 1/2 x 54, $10.50) and Toro (6 x 52, $10.90), but has since added the Caixa, a 6 1/2 x 48 box-pressed Churchill ($11.50) and the first size in the line to get its own name. A handful of store exclusive sizes have also been released.
The Laranja CDM Exclusive Toro limited to 85 boxes of 20 cigars. Pricing is set at $9 per cigar if a five-pack is purchased, or $8.45 per cigar if a box of 20 is purchased.
- Cigar Reviewed: Laranja CDM Exclusive Toro
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
- Wrapper: Brazil
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $9 (Boxes of 20, $169)
- Release Date: April 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: 85 Boxes of 20 Cigars (1,700 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Laranja CDM Exclusive Toro’s wrapper doesn’t seem quite as orange-hued as I remember it being from previous encounters, though it still has a distinct color that you just don’t see on many other cigars. The wrapper leaf has a very fine velvet texture and a few small veins, and it’s at those veins where the color tends to change just a bit, getting a shade darker or lighter. The box press is clean and almost squares the cigar off, though one sample is a bit more of an oval than the other two. The foot of the cigar has a thick and fairly complex pre-light aroma, with a bit of orange marmalade providing the sweetness and a base note that hints at pastry dough but with a bit of damp tree bark and wet cedar. The cold draw on all three samples is quite loose and air rushes through the body of the cigar, carrying notes of pencil shavings, tangy sauce a la General Tso’s, and a bit more of the wood and bark note.
One of the things I enjoy about the Laranja blend is that almost immediately upon lighting the cigar, you can taste that this is a unique blend, and the toro holds true to that experience. Once burning, the Laranja Reserva CDM Exclusive Toro starts out with a pepper-forward smoke that is somewhere between the brightness of white pepper and the heaviness of black, earthy pepper, while the flavor is rounded out by thin wood and dough, with a tangy sauce that is sweet and a touch spicy intertwined among it all. Through the first inch, the pepper begins to settle down a bit while remaining present through the nose, and the smoke’s texture gets a bit softer and more delicate, though doesn’t lose any of its fullness in the mouth. When the first clump of ash drops off, the draw isn’t loose enough to be a concern, and the flavor has hit a very palatable medium level of flavor and body, and a tick or two below that in terms of strength. White pepper begins to build back up in the nose as the cigar heads towards its second third, with plenty of smoke production and an even burn line.
While the pepper start building back up, the remaining flavors of the Laranja CDM Exclusive Toro begin to settle down a bit and the overall flavor takes up that of a stew; all the notes from the first third have simmered and blended together, with the result being less individuality from the flavors but a fairly hearty and complex smoke to enjoy. There can be just a bit of edge to the white pepper on retrohales, and while it isn’t a detractor or deterrent, it still gets noted as being a bit less than ideal. Similarly, certain components can get a bit out of balance in this section and detract from the enjoyable complexity of the cigar, though fortunately that only happened significantly in one sample. Flavor reaches a peak of fullness around the midway point, and on the handful of puffs where the black pepper gets re-introduced towards the end of the second third, it comes across a good bit fuller and stronger than I would actually peg it, which at this point is medium-plus to medium-full. Just as the burn line is getting a bit too close to the band, the profile hints that things are getting a touch stronger and showing no signs of weening off the complexity.
The Laranja Reserva CDM Exclusive Toro has shed pretty much any semblance of sweetness that it had in the first third and at the start of the final third gets fuller and more earthy, with pepper still driving a good bit of the flavor. The flavors begin to separate just a bit and stand more on their own, with a vibrant woodiness and macadamia nut hitting the front part of the tongue and leaving a lingering tingle, which gets amplified at times by the still present pepper. While the cigar doesn’t fall out of balance, there are a few spots after the band where it gets a bit too robust and rough, still palatable but noticeably less smooth than it had been in the first two thirds. In the final two inches a bit of the thick orange sweetness returns, taking the place of much of the pepper, while the aroma shifts to a thick smell of wood. The plentiful smoke also returns to being rather lush; it’s thick and full in the mouth and now has a slight oiliness to it that I can’t remember experiencing earlier in this cigar. While the burn rate slowed in the second half and stretched the smoking time farther than I was anticipating, I certainly don’t have much to complain about given how the cigar wraps up.
- I find it odd that this size is nearly $2 cheaper than the regular toro version, despite getting a box press.
- While there can be such thing as too much orange, Espinosa does a pretty good job toeing that line, even with the addition of an orange foot band. There is plenty of gold to be found on the primary band to balance things out quite well.
- The draw was never problematic on any of the samples, though there were a few times where it did feel just a touch loose for my liking.
- While they may get overlooked, I like the interlocked LZ and EC designs on the sides of the band, of La Zona and Espinosa Cigars, respectively.
- In March, I reviewed another store exclusive size of the Laranja line, the Laranja Reserva Baixo, a 5 1/2 x 50 box-pressed robusto made for Thompson Cigars.
- In July 2016, STOGIES World Class Cigars got its own exclusive Laranja Reserva, the aptly named Laranja H-Town.
- New York-based distributor Alliance Cigar received a 5 5/8 x 54 perfecto version called the DeSocio in January 2016.
- Unlike some of the other store exclusive sizes that come in 10-count boxes, the CDM Exclusive Toro comes in 20-count boxes.
- Casa de Montecristo – Chicago is an indepently-owned franchise store; it is not owned by Tabacalera USA, the parent of Altadis U.S.A.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 15 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- The only place to get the Laranja Reserva CDM Exclusive Toro is Casa de Montecristo in Chicago, though you can shop them online as well
Much like I said about the Laranja Reserva Baixo and all the sizes of this cigar that I have smoked, the one thing I really like about this blend is that it is different from so much that is on the market today. There is a sweet and spicy component to this cigar that I generally only find in cigars that used quality Cameroon tobacco, and even with a binder and filler that is all Nicaraguan, this tastes nothing like a typical Nicaraguan cigar. The near flawless performance of the draw and burn is simply an added bonus. Whether or not you pull the trigger on this particular size, this is a blend that should cross your palate at some point.