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Last year, Patoro brought its high-priced VA XO Salomones to the U.S. for the first time. The cigar had been sold in limited quantities in Europe since 2015, but like other Patoros, it had not yet made it stateside.

Patoro quickly sold out of its 2019 allotment of VA XO Salomones, though that statement probably sounds more impressive until it’s placed in context. Patoro only brought 60 boxes of the VA XO Salomones to the U.S., which makes sense given the size of the Patoro brand and the hefty $33 per cigar price tag.

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Earlier this year, Dr. Pablo Richard told halfwheel that the company would be selling a second vitola for the line in the U.S., the Patoro VA XO Extra Belicoso. It’s a 5 15/16 x 55 belicoso that is made entirely of Dominican tobacco that has been aged between 9-12 years.

There were only 100 boxes offered to the U.S. for 2020, split between 10 retailers who are Patoro Ambassador accounts.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Patoro VA XO Extra Belicoso
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: De Los Reyes
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 5 15/16 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 55
  • Vitola: Belicoso Extra
  • MSRP: $30 (Box of 30, $900)
  • Release Date: 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The wrapper of the Patoro VA XO is rather uniform in terms of color with one or two prominent veins. There are varying degrees of oil depending on the sample, but even the oiliest cigar is far from reflective. Of note, this isn’t the most normal belicoso tip, it tapers up in a uniform manner and then takes on a more aggressive angle towards the peak of the tip. Given that these cigars aren’t packed in cellophane and have spent well over a month out of the box, it’s not surprising that there isn’t much in the way of aroma from the wrapper. While I can’t get anything from the outside of the cigar, the foot has a bubble gum-like floral smell over a mild amount of wood aroma. It’s no more than medium and the flavors themselves aren’t that concentrated. The cold draw is medium-full with lots of floral flavors, a sharp white pepper strictly on the back of the throat and a touch of oatmeal.

It starts kind of like an old train, slowly working its way up to full power. The first puff produces just a bit of a floral flavor and nothing else. By the third puff, the cigar has gone from mild to medium-plus and has a lot more flavors. The first third settles on a rich mixture of pita bread, a rocky mineral flavor, leather and some lemon. Retrohales blast my palate with layers of floral flavors on top of some woods and creaminess. The finish has a corn tortilla flavor—a distinctively different type of bread than the main mouth flavor—over some straw, mixed nuts and some burnt flavors. Flavor settles at full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. Construction is fantastic.

The second third of the Patoro VA XO Extra Belicoso sees the rocky mineral flavor pick up quite a bit. This flavor is different from most of the mineral flavors that I pick up in cigars, reminding me more of the smell of marble being cut and lacking any touches of a metallic sensation. Behind that, there’s a bread flavor—much more akin to a French loaf than the pita and tortilla flavors from before—along with some saltiness and an underlying sweetness. Retrohales are like biting into a Southern-style biscuit followed by a touch of cinnamon. My only complaint about this flavor is that it’s just not as strong as the main flavor, so it’s not exactly like eating the first bite of a good biscuit. The finish is saltier than the mouth flavor with less of the rocky flavor, but more of the bread. For the first time since the start of the cigar there’s some pepper, just a faint hint on the finish. Flavor remains full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. Like before, construction on each cigar remains fantastic.

The first three-quarters of an inch of the final third is more or less an extension of the middle part. With about an inch left, it’s clear the cigar is in its final stage. The profile dials back a bit and the flavors change to a heavy dose of cedar with some black pepper to help accent it. I still get some of the bread flavors that have been there from the start, but the sweetness is all but gone. Retrohales have more of that nut mixture over some breads, unfortunately, the floral flavors are gone. The cigar finishes with salty grains and a lot of the rocky profile, though retrohaling adds an earthiness to the finish. Smoke production reduces a bit in the final inch, but I’m able to smoke the cigar down to the nub without even thinking about using the lighter.

Final Notes

  • The draw is a bit tight compared to most belicosos of this size. I suspect that most people will want to cut off a bit more than normal, though I’m fine with the slightly tight draw that a normal cut produced.
  • Other than the draw—which could be easily solved by cutting off just a bit more—the construction is impeccable. Smoke quickly or smoke slowly—it doesn’t matter. The Patoro doesn’t get hot, the ash is as even as can be, and smoke production is always there when you want it.
  • I imagine that you could take the band off of this cigar, add it to a blind tasting, and you would get a lot of people thinking this is a Cuban cigar.
  • I’m not sure I have ever smoked a cigar that is this size. Both the 5 15/16 inches and the 55 ring gauge are quite odd.
  • I’ve smoked quite a few different Patoros over the years, though I don’t think I’ve smoked half of the company’s portfolio. I’ve yet to smoke another cigar that is close to this good.
  • If you are wondering whether there could be a third vitola next year, there’s a VA XO Robusto that has not yet been offered in the U.S.
  • De Los Reyes, which produces this cigar for Patoro, advertises on halfwheel.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average, and I could have enjoyed another hour or so.
94 Overall Score

This is the best cigar I’ve been tasked with reviewing all year, at least amongst the cigars where I’m smoking three cigars for a review. Quite frankly, it’s not close. This is the best cigar I’ve smoked—in my limited experience—from Patoro. This is the best cigar I’ve smoked from the De Los Reyes factory. It’s a strong candidate for one of the 10 best cigars I’ve reviewed in the last five years. Most of the cigars that are able to achieve scores like this on halfwheel do it because they are super complex with tons of flavors and excellent construction. This sort of bucks the trend as the VA XO Extra Belicoso doesn't have a ton of individual flavors; rather, what flavors it has it delivers in incredible detail.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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