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For its sophomore release, Danny Moya and Nelson Ruiz of MoyaRuiz Cigars returned to Erik Espinosa’s La Zona Cigar Factory and their love of games, this time using a poker term after borrowing from dominoes for their debut cigar, La Jugada.

The Rake, announced in April 2015, gets its name from the term for the fee taken by the card room for operating a poker game, Moya explained in a press release, adding “you gotta pay to play!”

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It’s billed as a fairly strong cigar, using a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan fillers, including four ligeros, two of which come from the Estelí region and two from Jalapa.

The Rake is being released in four sizes, two of which are round, Take (6 x 52, $10.95) and Vig (6 x 60, $11.75); while Fix (5 5/8 x 46, $9.50) and Cut (5 x 52, $10.25) are box-pressed. All of them continue the poker theme for the vitola names.

MoyaRuiz The Rake Cut 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: MoyaRuiz The Rake Cut
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $10.25 (Boxes of 20, $205)
  • Release Date: June 27, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

The Rake has an earthy, almost rustic looking wrapper with a dark, oily color to it, generally small veins and a bit of mottling. The box-press allows for a bit of give but it’s not a soft cigar, and the shape has held nicely since its production. The band is on the simple side, an industrial look of silver and several shades of gray that really doesn’t convey much about the cigar other than its name. In one sense I’m glad it doesn’t try to incorporate a poker theme, in another sense I’m wishing it offered some sort of clue as to its origins or the company that made it. Above that is the cap, one of the more puzzling parts of this cigar. As you’ll see in the notes, the cap on the first sample literally popped off; the second was fine and the third was sloppier than what should be coming from a factory like La Zona, though I can’t vouch for how it may have been handled between the rolero and me. From the foot I get an interesting aroma of dried wood and peach sweetness; it’s almost sharp in the nose but the sweetness manages to soften it out just enough. The cold draw is on the loose side on every sample as there’s almost nothing holding back the air flow, which carries with it a bit of thick but subtle cherry sweetness and a more subdued dry and toasty flavor, with the final sample having a bit more char to it.

Right out of the gate I’m greeted by ample amounts of smoke and a peppery undertone that doesn’t quite jump out and go right after the palate, but rather provides a strong suggestion as to what the cigar might hold in the coming inches. I’m getting a touch of the cherry sweetness in the background as well, incredibly subtle but something to latch onto as a contrast to the rapidly developing pepper, while dry notes of toast and wood begin to make their way to the forefront and bring just the slightest bit of sourness. Prior to getting my first retrohale in, the smoke has already showed it will give the nose a good amount to contend with just from the ambient smoke. Before long I find myself experiencing a lingering sensation at the top of the chest, a delayed physical sensation from the pepper that isn’t harsh but certainly a bit unfamiliar. The smoke production picks up quite noticeable in the first half inch as a dark gray, almost black ash starts to emerge and the flavor turns a bit heavier, with a more pronounced black pepper note  and the wood shifting away from its dry profile and towards a heavier, almost oaky profile. The first few retrohales also show a good amount of pepper, punchy—but not overpowering—and while it lingers a bit in the sinuses it also leaves behind an almost oily texture. After the initial build up, the flavors begin to settle down a bit as the second third approaches, offering a medium-bodied smoke that is a bit earthy with a solid tobacco core. While the cold draw was loose enough to be concerning, it hasn’t affected the first third of The Rake at all, as the cigar has burned well and I couldn’t find any points where it felt like there was too much airflow.

MoyaRuiz The Rake Cut 2

After a brief lull that includes the first clump of ash falling off, The Rake begins to build its flavor back, though at times it comes across as nondescript and more of an increase in body, until pepper begins to peek through both on the palate and in the nose via retrohales. I’m not getting much in the way of nicotine as the body and strength ramp up, with things moving from medium-plus to full by the midpoint. Remarkably, the cigar has stayed well-balanced without veering too far off in one direction for another. There’s a diminished sweetness at the midpoint, and while it provides a change in the profile I find myself wanting it back to provide a contrast to the more pepper-forward flavors I’m getting, as by the midpoint, the pepper has taken another step forward, particularly in the nose, as retrohales are much fuller and challenging than they were in the first third. By the time the second third is near its close, it’s clear that this is a full-bodied cigar that cold very well still have more left to deliver.

MoyaRuiz The Rake Cut 3

At the start of the final third, I’m greeted by some near eye-popping pepper from the ligero, and the cigar has kicked into a new deeper and richer flavor, with the pepper now feeling more at home amongst this new flavor background. While it is still the most noticeable part of the blend, it’s not quite as dominant as it had been earlier, and serves to further remind me that this is a very well balanced cigar. Additionally, it seems to be showing a bit of restraint, keeping the cigar from becoming an all-out beast on the palate. There’a bit of teriyaki sweetness here as well, a tangy note that swipes across the palate and brings back the duality of sweet and peppery that has helped the cigar excel. In the final two inches, the flavor hits a new high of strength and complexity, with a full-bodied smoke in the nose and a deep, hearty flavor on the palate that uses the sweetness and pepper to balance each other out almost perfectly. A little bit of heat comes in during the final inch to amp the closing notes up a bit though not adversely, closing out the cigar with a big, full-bodied finish.

MoyaRuiz The Rake Cut 4

Final Notes

  • The cigar was released on June 27, 2015 at Smoke Inn in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Shipping to retailers around the country began shortly after the show concluded.
  • The cap on the first sample literally popped off as I was taking it out of the cellophane.
  • As you can imagine, that presents a bit of a predicament, as the cap is attached to the wrapper, which wants to unravel and the cigar still needs to be cut to get proper airflow.
  • Not being a poker player, I wondered why this cigar was named after a garden tool, but as mentioned above, the name comes from the fee taken by the card room for operating a poker game.
  • That said, tell me I’ll be smoking a poker-themed cigar and I envision Las Vegas, a bright band with cards or poker chips on it and a fair amount of glitz. This showed none of those, and I’m grateful for it.
  • I would have loved to see MoyaRuiz Cigars use the backside of the band to promote its website or social media channels; it’s good space for a brand still building its audience to provide ways for the consumer to connect with it.
  • Brooks Whittington visited the MoyaRuiz Cigars booth at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
  • I found myself puffing on this a bit quicker after the first cigar; it’s not that it goes out, but the thicker, oilier ligero used in the cigar does provide a quicker drop off in smoke production when it’s not being puffed on.
  • MoyaRuiz has already announced its first limited edition, the Chinese Finger Trap.
  • La Jugada was originally known as Flor de Estelí, but renamed in November 2012 due to trademark rights for the name in Nicaragua.
  • The La Jugada line was home to an interesting release called the Nunchuck that featured two cigars connected together.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes on average. (1223p)
  • The cigars for this review were provided by MoyaRuiz Cigars.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar carries MoyaRuiz Cigars, but has not yet listed The Rake for sale.
91 Overall Score

I’m a bit wary when it comes to cigars whose backstory leads with how much ligero is in them; I have no problem with full-bodied blends, but in that category I generally find either a complete lack of balance and complexity, or I find a cigar like MoyaRuiz Cigars’ The Rake, which manages to be big and bold without being overpowering, boorish or simply boring with the ligero. I’m a bit concerned about the construction, as the cap issues were disconcerting and a trend towards an open draw isn’t one I want to continue. But for a cigar that leads with promises of a full body and tons of ligero, it shows a winning hand when time to turn the cards over.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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