UPDATES:

I emailed Drew to ask about the shipping issues that were brought up in the comments, and this is what he wrote me back:

“While our shipping from Merida is $20, we are not charging for any Mercer PdR shipping (for orders of 5 cigars or more). We are asking customers to select “In-store Pick-up”, which is no cost. This is just for our accounting.”To Foe (re: Ash color):

Honestly, the ash IS that white…I was as surprised as you were, but there you go…you can see it in all of the photographs, and in different lighting (the photo for the Second Third shot was taken in the sun, while all the others were taken in the shade, and all were taken with natural light (i.e. no flash or any other light was used). Having said that, different monitors show different contrast and color, so it is possible you are seeing a lighter shade then what I am.

I have also received a few emails asking why I mentioned in the review that these are shipping from the U.S., as it could possibility bring more attention to the fact that there are some Cubans shipping from within the country. I asked Drew about me including it as well, and he is fine with it. The bottom line is that these are unbanded cigars, of undetermined origin, and even if they were intercepted, there is no way to prove where they came from.

 

For those of you that don’t know…

Last month, rumors started around the forums that there would be some custom rolled cuban cigars from the Pinar del Rio region in Cuba on the market, by a specific vendor. Just recently, it came to be known that vendor is Mercer Cigars in Merida, Mexico (www.MercerCigars.com).

 

They are (from left to right):

 

 

The VERY interesting thing to me about how Drew is selling these (and a damn good idea, IMHO) is that all three vitolas of these Mercer Custom PdRs are being shipped not from another country in, but from INSIDE the U.S.A. Because of this, there is very little chance that they will get picked up by anyone other then you (re: the crazy debacle in Chicago earlier this month).

 

You (i.e. the cigar smoking public) will most likely see a HUGE increase in the marketing and sale of these “Custom Cuban” cigars by various sites (for example, COH and PE both have their versions)…One of the main reasons is simple economics, as the profit margin on a Custom Rolled cuban cigar (no matter how good or bad it is) is quite a bit higher then on an RE or EL…Another main reason there is an increase in the sale of these cigars is that some vendors think that the number of Habanos Regional Editions (and to a lesser extent, the Limited Editions) are getting a bit out of hand, with very little differentiation between them, and Custom Rolled cigars are the “next big thing” for specific retailers…Custom Rolls are also easier to get into the U.S., since they are rarely banded…

 

_______________________________________________________________________

But enough of that, let’s get down to business, shall we?

 

  • Cigar Reviewed: Mercer PdR (Pinar del Rio) Custom Cuban
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
  • Wrapper: Cuba
  • Binder: Cuba
  • Filler: Cuba
  • Size: 6.75 inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Piramide
  • Est. Price: $15.00 each
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
  • Date Released: 2010
  • Box Code: NA
  • Packages available: Single, 5 pack, 25 Count Bundle

The cigar itself is an almost perfect looking specimen, with a dark brown wrapper that is quite smooth and almost dripping with oil…I do love the unfinished foot (always have) and the cigar is very firm when squeezed, just short of being hard…The Wrapper has an extremely strong Barnyard smell (which always seems to be stronger on custom cigars, at least to me, compared to regular release sticks) along with some hay and chocolate…It is extremely well rolled, in fact, so well rolled that I dropped it while photographing it from a height of about 3 feet, and it suffered no issues whatsoever…Predraw has quite a bit of spicy oak and hay…

_______________________________________________________________________

The First Third starts out with the perfect amount of spice, leather, earth and a bit of dark chocolate…not overly sweet, but there is some nice espresso and pepper on the retrohale as well…

 

The Second Third definatly has more of a sweet profile, but still keeps the flavors of chocolate, espresso, leather and hay…the spice that was present in the First Third has receeded the background at this point, but there is still enough there to effect the flavors…

The Ash is also EXTREMELY white, and well formed (as you can see from the photo below)…

The Final Third is basically a great combination of all of the flavors from the first 2 thirds…The profile also turns more spicy then sweet again, (especially on the retrohale) and I was able to easily nub it without getting any harshness at all…

_______________________________________________________________________

Final Notes:

  • I smoked samples of all three vitolas (Piramide, Sublime and Canonazos) and in my opinion, the Pyramide is the best overall example of the blend…It has a better ratio of spice, rich flavors and strenth, whereas the Sublime is a bit less complex (and has a bit less spice throughout) while the Canonazos is a bit TOO spicy and less complex…
  • The Smoke coming from the Piramide had a wonderful sweet leather note, but interestingly, there was quite a bit less (density wise) then the Sublime, which smoked like a freight train…
  • The Burn and Draw were PERFECTION on the Canonazos and Piramide, and close to it on the Sublime (the burn wavered just a bit, but nothing to get excited over)…Just wonderful construction on all three vitolas, making them a joy to smoke…
  • I think the spice and strength that are present in all three of the vitolas make them prime candidates to age…
  • While there was a nice Nicotine kick in the last third of the cigar (Piramide), I would not say this is the strongest cuban I have smoked…I would put it as a firm “Medium +” strength level (overall)…
  • If you want to purchase some of these cigars, Mercer Cigars is the exclusive online seller, and you can find the website HERE.
  • Final Smoking Time was 1 Hour and 35 minutes…

_______________________________________________________________________

The Bottom Line: I can honestly say that I would rather smoke one of these (or any number of other Custom Cubans) then 90% of the overwhelming number of Regional Editions that have been released (and they cost a bit less then most REs as well, on average)…These are a great example of how wonderful and rich a Custom Cuban can be…Throw in the fact that they are shipped from within the U.S.A (ESPECIALLY in these days) and these are almost a no brainer purchase, especially if you have always wanted to try an example of a Custom Cuban…I will be getting some more of these for sure, to enjoy now and to see how they age…

Final Score: 92

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.