Just as spring was getting underway this year, ACE Prime shipped a trio of new vitolas for its Luciano The Dreamer line to retailers.
The Luciano The Dreamer line, which debuted in August 2020, has a blend that uses an Ecuadorian Havana-seed wrapper and a Nicaraguan binder, with the fillers coming from Nicaragua and Peru. It is produced at Tabacalera Pichardo in Nicaragua and is named for Luciano Meirelles, a co-founder of ACE Prime as well as its master blender and president.
When it was first released, the Luciano The Dreamer was only available in a 7 1/2 x 38 lancero vitola, but it now has some thicker vitolas:
- Luciano The Dreamer Hermoso No. 4 (5 x 48) — $12 (Box of 15, $180)
- Luciano The Dreamer Toro de Lux (6 7/8 x 50) — $12.50 (Box of 15, $187.50)
- Luciano The Dreamer Belicoso (5 1/2 x 52) — $12.95 (Box of 15, $194.25)
A fifth size, a 6 1/2 x 38 short lancero, was added in late 2021 as an exclusive release for CigarClub.com.
News of the new sizes came alongside another interesting expansion for the Luciano The Dreamer, which is that there were plans for a wine being released under The Dreamer name. The wine was produced by Spanish winemaker Mas Igneus, a company in which Luciano Meirelles is a partner. It debuted in Europe in mid-February and is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in mid-June.
- Cigar Reviewed: Luciano The Dreamer Belicoso
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua and Peru
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Belicoso
- MSRP: $12.95 (Box of 15, $194.25)
- Release Date: March 2022
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
I’m impressed by how oily the wrappers feel on my fingertips, both in general and because there is no cellophane on the cigars, which would seem to make that oiliness more prone to evaporating. That lack of cellophane can also lead to an increase of damage and it seems like each of the three samples I have has a bit; one cigar’s damage is on the foot, another’s damage is just beneath the band, and the third’s damage is near the head. The cigars have a bit of give to them, just enough that they just reach the mark of what I would call firm. They don’t feel soft or underfilled, but as the average cigar has become quite a bit firmer, these stand out a bit. Beyond that, they look rolled well, with the point of the belicoso cleanly constructed. The foot offers an interesting aroma that is mild, damp, slightly sweet and either earthy or woody depending on the sample and seemingly the sniff. Sometimes it makes me think of fresh potting soil but with a cherry cobbler accent, other times it is more like lumber that has been out in the rain. Pepper is mild and sporadic across the three samples. Regardless of the specific combination of aromas, the overall smell is both approachable and enjoyable. The cold draw is equally mild, though the flavor profile is different: it’s softer and a bit less defined, reminding me of the center of a plain muffin at first. I could make the case for some sweetness but it is almost incidental, and like the cold draw, there’s very little—if any—pepper to be had. All three samples are smooth and easy in terms of airflow.
The Luciano The Dreamer Belicoso opens up with a slightly damp and oily profile, making me think of that muffin sensation from the cold draw. For not offering much if any pepper before being lit, the Luciano The Dreamer Belicoso picks some up in the first inch, both on the palate and through the nose. Because it takes a bit to show up on the taste buds, it makes me think there isn’t any to be found, but a retrohale quickly proves me wrong, surprising me with a good hit of black pepper. While the first third isn’t loaded with a list of flavors, it does introduce the blend to the palate without issue, develops a bit, and keeps everything in order and balanced for a handoff to the next section. A retrohale at the end of this section suggests that the profile may be drying out just a bit, as it now lacks the oiliness and dampness of earlier. Flavor is medium, body is medium, and strength is mild. Construction is good with no issues as far as combustion, draw, smoke production or the burn line.
My suspicions about the profile drying out a bit are starting to come true, as the flavor is being nudged forward by dry earth and pepper, the latter of which provides an extended tingle on my taste buds. It is still a fairly rich and dense profile, and I get some flavors that suggest a bit of chocolate brownie beginning to emerge, though the sweetness is very tempered. In one sample where the chocolate isn’t as prevalent, the change results in a bit of light earthiness combined with graham cracker, though the sweetness’ contribution is still fairly minor. There’s a bit of the oiliness from earlier returning to the profile, along with some creaminess, both of which give the core flavors some space and softening the profile just a bit to stay very palate friendly. Some combustion issues at the end of this section suggest that the cigar might need a quicker puffing rate or might be holding onto some excess moisture, either way, I find myself needing to relight the first two samples. Smoke production is plentiful and the ash is strong, but the burn line can go askew at times. Flavor is approaching medium-full, body is medium-full, and strength has climbed up to medium-plus, enough to just start being felt.
The final third of the Luciano The Dreamer Belicoso starts off with a much more vibrant and robust profile, with the black pepper taking a more dominant role in the profile. This is by far the most notable shift I’ve felt from the cigar, as it seems to dive right into earthiness that quickly dominates the profile. There’s a bit of spent charcoal grill and some black pepper as well, the latter a bit more potent than it has been to this point. Where the cigar struggles is with combustion, seemingly due to some excess moisture in its second half, as the need for relights doesn’t help the profile, seemingly making it that much heavier on the palate. While I try and avoid dryboxing cigars, the first two samples forced my hand in this situation and I’m glad I did from both a combustion and flavor profile perspective. That’s not to say that dryboxing fixes all the woes, as the burn line gets askew and jagged, but it’s not enough to reach for my lighter. Beyond that, the pepper continues to build and is not kind to my eyes when the smoke hits them. The flavor begins to move away from the heavy earth, swapping it for an equally vibrant woodiness that is dry and saturates my taste buds. This new flavor finds its way towards the back of the throat, almost triggering a swallowing response, similar to tasting but not drinking a sip of wine or a spirit. With the sample that got some dryboxing, the flavor gets hot and sharp in the final inch, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to right the ship, and that’s before taking into account a busted wrapper and jagged burn line. Flavor is full, body is medium-full, and strength is medium-plus if maybe a bit more. Construction and combustion are problematic, though the issues can be worked through with patience and persistence to get a full smoke out of the cigar.
- I really can’t say enough about how impressive the textures of the wrappers are; they are definitely a standout aspect of the cigar.
- While I love the oiliness of the wrappers, I am concerned about their suppleness and durability, particularly since the cigars don’t come in cellophane. I hope I just had an isolated issue with the wrappers and that it’s not a widespread issue.
- Update (May 16, 2022) — After this review was published, Luciano Meirelles of ACE Prime told halfwheel that the cigars should have come in cellophane. However, we are certain that the cigars we purchased from an authorized ACE Prime retailer did not come in cellophane. As of now, we do not have an explanation for why they did not come in cellophane.
- Thankfully, none of the small issues with the wrapper turned into big issues.
- As of right now, this cigar is right on the border of meriting a bit of dry boxing. While I was leaning towards not doing so here, I changed my mind after the second sample really struggled with combustion. I don’t like to dry box a cigar if I can at all avoid it, and in this case I was hopeful I could just increase my puffing rate and work through those problematic spots. While it seemed to be fairly isolated to the second third of the cigar, I just couldn’t work through it so I decided to give the third sample some time without humidity.
- Cigars like this create a challenge when it comes to evaluating construction as it depends what you put under that header. For instance, does a split wrapper constitute a construction issue, even if it doesn’t seemingly impact how the cigar burns? How much does one deduct for a damp second half that hinders combustion, even though the cigar seems to draw just fine?
- I haven’t had a chance to smoke the other new vitolas for the Luciano The Dreamer, so I can’t compare them to the belicoso.
- Given the build-up of strength in the final third, I was really expecting more of a nicotine kick after finishing the cigar, but that wasn’t the case in two of the samples. There is some sensation from it, but it is relatively mild, at least by my standard. One sample did hit me with a decent nicotine hit, enough to have me grab some white sugar to counteract the effect.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the Luciano The Dreamer Belicoso.
The Luciano The Dreamer Belicoso starts off on a good note and builds throughout the first half before hitting an interesting wall created out of combustion issues that quickly jars the flavor out of its enjoyable state. I can't quite tell if the flavor change that comes along in the second half is part of the blend, a byproduct of the combustion issues, or some combination of the two, but after three samples consistently did the same thing identifying the cause doesn't rectify the problem. It's an unfortunate finish for an otherwise enjoyable cigar that seemed to have a good amount to offer the palate, but ultimately gets remembered for the things it did wrong rather than the things it did right. Hopefully this is an isolated incident as I'd really like to recommend this blend, and that whatever is causing the issue gets resolved.