To kick off 2017, Thompson Cigar Co., the well-known online and catalog retailer, announced that it would be selling its own exclusive size of Espinosa Premium Cigars’ Laranja Reserva, a 5 1/2 x 50 box-pressed robusto called Baixo.
Espinosa debuted the Laranja Reserva in 2014, with the line debuting 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). The cigar gets its name from the Portuguese word for orange, a color that is readily abundant on the cigar. If you’re wondering why a Portuguese word was picked for the name, it’s because it’s the language of Brazil, where the wrapper comes from, while the binder and fillers come from Nicaragua.
When the cigar was announced, Erik Espinosa said that he was aiming to release something different at the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
“We had started working with this orange Brazilian Laranja wrapper last year and we are very excited with the end result,” said Espinosa. “I have always liked the color orange and the positive energy associated with that color. It is the color of enthusiasm, creativity, determination and success, that’s what we are all about here.”
Since debuting the line, the company has added several new sizes, including the Caixa, a 6 1/2 x 48 Churchill and the first size to get its own name, which means box as a nod to the box-pressed shape. Additionally, the New York-based distributor Alliance Cigar received a 5 5/8 x 54 perfecto version called the DeSocio in January 2016.
- Cigar Reviewed: Laranja Reserva Baixo
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: La Zona Cigar Factory
- Wrapper: Brazil
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $11 (Boxes of 10, $110)
- Release Date: Jan. 12, 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Even though from a distance the Laranja Reserva Baixo may look like most cigars, a closer inspection reveals the subtle and intricate details of the Brazilian wrapper leaf, from its color and vein structure to the subtle texture of the leaf between the veins and its matte appearance. The bands certainly play up the orange hue of the wrapper, and if you put your hand over them to just focus on the leaf, it seems to be a bit more of a butterscotch hue. The foot offers remnants of a slightly sweet, slightly spicy sauce that has dried out but still is capable of reminding you of all it once offered, along with some mild notes of green apple and orange citrus. The cold draw is less dynamic and while not flat, leans more neutral by way of wheat bread and pretzel crust, with a very subtle sweetness in the background and just a bit of spicy tingle on the tongue. Air flow ranges from good to a bit loose in the three samples.
While the first puff or two of the Laranja Reserva Baixo is fairly mild, it’s only a matter of seconds before the next puffs start to deliver some spicy pepper on the front of half of the tongue, while the nose gets a steadily building amount of spice and pepper via retrohales and even from the ambient smoke. Each sample manifests this slightly differently, finding its own spot on the spectrum between black pepper and red chili pepper, generally balanced by a bit of orange citrus that provides both sweetness and a touch of acidity. By the time the burn line has reached the one inch mark, a good amount of that pepper has faded, leaving a slightly creamy and sweet base flavor that shows a hint of orange Creamsicle, but without any artificial flavoring to it and a pinch of lingering pepper that sits on the tongue after the smoke is blown from the mouth. With the first clump of ash gone, the smoke gets a bit fuller and heartier, almost taking on some sweet-and-sour chicken both in terms of flavor and mouthfeel, something that is aided by the increased smoke production, which now billows out of the cigar with every puff.
After a bit of a lull coming out of the first third, the Laranja Reserva Baixo is back with a vengeance as the spicy pepper gets to work on the tongue and nostrils, more so than it did earlier in the cigar. I’m becoming quite fond of the abundance of smoke that the Baixo is putting out, and the mouth feel is quite pleasing, with a bit of lingering pepper hanging around and coating the taste buds after each puff while some saucy sweetness takes up residence in the nose. The smoke starts to entertain a slightly doughy texture, with a bit of brown sugar helping shape the texture as well and adding a bit of sweetness as it gets across the midway point, but still allowing the cigar to stay fairly peppery and spicy even with this new evolution. The burn of the Laranja Reserva Baixo has been outstanding to this point.
With a fair amount of flavors to pick from given what it’s shown in the first two thirds, the Laranja Reserva Baixo goes back to pick up the pepper and spice for the start of the final third, slotting the cigar into medium-full to full in terms of flavor, while the body is still medium-plus but a bit behind the flavor. One sample picks up a sour lemon flavor, almost like I’ve tasted in some Americanized Chinese food, making it familiar but not fitting for this profile. It tastes like it has lost some of its complexity, going more for big flavor and strength than subtlety and nuance, two things that weren’t readily apparent earlier but now are noticeable due to their absence. The cigar closes with just a touch of heat and harshness that stings the back of the throat, though slowing my puffing rate helps mitigate that a bit.
- One of the subtle details I really like about the Laranja bands is the subtle embossing on the edges that gives it the appearance of having tooth, much like a wrapper leaf would.
- The wrapper on the first sample I smoked developed an unexpected crack heading into its final third, though it didn’t cause the cigar to unravel or adversely affect performance otherwise.
- Thompson Cigar Co. celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2015 and released a number of cigars as part of the festivities, including the Arturo Fuente Hemingway TCC 100th Anniversary, which I have both reviewed and reduxed.
- Google Translate offers a couple of meanings for baixo, including low and short. Given that is on par for the shortest cigar in the line, it seems to fit.
- Baixo is pronounced by-show, if you were curious.
- Like the Caixa, the Baixo comes in boxes of 10, while the rest of the line comes in boxes of 20.
- I didn’t notice this at first, but the orange foot ribbon is glued together, not held in place with tape as seems to be more commonly done.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Thompson Cigar Co.
- Final smoking time was one hours and 40 minutes on average.
- Thompson Cigar Co. is the only place to get the Laranja Reserva Baixo and the store currently has it in stock.
If there's one thing that I really like about the Laranja Reserva blend, it's that I find it to be different from the majority of what's on the market these days. While Brazilian tobacco isn't exclusive to this cigar, it's rare enough that it stands out, much in the way I find good Cameroon does. Its distinctive blend of sweet and spicy guides the cigar while still providing enough of an opening for the Nicaraguan fillers to contribute to the blend. I can't say that the Baixo is the best size in the line—and I readily admit I don't have a favorite size in this blend—but I can say that this is as good as any I've tried.