This has been said before, but if there’s a phrase that seemingly defined the cigar industry in the 2010s, it’s what’s new?
It’s a question asked at seemingly every level of the industry, and this site as well as many others attempted to answer it on a daily basis with articles about new cigars, new factories, new tobacco varietals and so forth.
So when I read a bit of the backstory of this cigar, the Patoro VA XO Limited Edition Salomones, I was surprised to see that it’s actually not new. Though it is new to the U.S.
Dr. Pablo Richard of Patoro said that the Patoro VA XO Salomones was first introduced in Switzerland in 2015. After that, the cigar was released in Germany, Austria, France, Monaco, the BeNeLux region—Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg—followed by Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Russia. But it was not released to the U.S. until 2019.
Even when it was released at the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, it was to offered to select Patoro accounts due to the incredibly limited number that was made available, just 60 boxes of 30 cigars were made available, a run of 1,800 cigars.
It’s a sizable 7 x 58 salomones vitola made completely from Dominican tobacco that has been aged for 9-12 years before being rolled at the De Los Reyes factory in Santiago. Like the cigar, the price is sizable: $33 each or $990 for a full box.
For those that missed out on the cigar’s release in 2019, the company has said that there should be more available at the 2020 PCA Convention & Trade Show.
- Cigar Reviewed: Patoro VA XO Limited Edition Salomones
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: De Los Reyes
- Wrapper: Dominican Republic
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Length: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 58
- Vitola: Salomones
- MSRP: $33 (Box of 30, $990)
- Release Date: July 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: 60 Boxes of 30 Cigars (1,800 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Nothing says perfect cigar for the middle of January like a 7 x 58 salomones; thankfully I’m able to smoke it in decent temperatures and without the bite of winter felt elsewhere across the country, though the juxtaposition isn’t lost. The salomones vitola has enamored me for some time, going back to the La Flor Dominicana Salomones from the mid- to late 2000s, so I do enjoy seeing this shape in my humidor. At first glance, it’s a veiny leaf and the color on the first sample isn’t terribly even, as the lower third of the cigar is a few shades darker than the head. I’m not one to knock a cigar for its looks—I’ve heard numerous times that appearance and flavor are inversely related—but this is certainly a contrast to what might be considered the norms. Even with the prominent vein structure, it is well rolled, very firm when squeezed and finished well on both the head and foot, touches that don’t go unnoticed. The foot nipple-style foot provides for just a small amount of tobacco to be smelled, and I can’t say I get much from it. Familiar flavors of Barnum’s Animals crackers, peanut butter and barnyard come to mind, though they are mild at best. Even with the tapered foot and head, the cold draw moves air quite well, maybe almost too well in the first sample. Flavors are mild here as well, with a bit of cream and its related sweetness, a bit more of the animal cracker and suggestions at peanuts or mixed nuts, but no significant pepper.
I find it short-sighted to try and pigeon-hole the flavors of a certain country’s tobacco, but I must say that the first puffs of the Patoro VA XO Limited Edition Salomones are unmistakably Dominican. There’s a sweet, creamy base upon which white pepper, dry wood and just a bit of loaminess are stacked, smooth to the tongue but with just a bit of bite on the front of the tongue. White pepper is the lead on retrohales, with wood slotting in behind that. As the burn line works its way around the bulbous foot, the profile lightens up just a touch while a bit of dust and chalk enter the equation, with the flavor feeling in need of a recalibration as a result. Where the chalk is most noticeable and detrimental is on the finish, which now lingers and takes over the better flavors found on each puff. While it’s not the greatest combination, it does set the stage for the next transition as the two flavors yield to more dry wood, with just a bit of light, dry earth. White pepper gets back in the mix as the burn line approaches the second third, giving the cigar one of its brightest profiles yet. All of the technical aspects are very good so far.
The second third of the Patoro VA XO Limited Edition Salomones introduces a bit of marshmallow flavor to the mix, an interesting extension from the creaminess, white pepper and chalk that works quite well, though much like actual marshmallows, I can’t say I want tons of it. Around the midway point, the cigar steps up in body, filling out and bringing some more white pepper that gets the nose tingling on a retrohale, while the combination is appreciably more enjoyable. The draw is also better, and when considered on the whole, things have hit a high point as the second half of the cigar gets underway. It’s also not shy about evolving the profile, picking up a bit of light coffee that has me thinking of a latte or even a mocha at times, though the chocolate component is lacking. At the end of this portion, retrohales have gotten very nutty with bright white pepper, an interesting and enjoyable turn as the band comes off. The flavor gets a bit more robust here as more dry earth evolves, which turns the overall profile a touch drier and becoming slightly irritating to the back of the throat. Retrohales make an abrupt turn and pick up a peppermint aspect for a few moments before bringing back the black pepper. Flavor intensity is medium-plus, strength is medium at best, and the technical performance is very good.
While the Patoro VA XO Limited Edition Salomones climbed to a high point in the second third, it stumbles a bit as it gets into the final third. The sweet, creamy base has disappeared from the palate, and rushing into fill the void is a charred, dry and loamy earth, which is both startling and not terribly enjoyable. Thankfully it’s fairly tame in two samples, though it takes over the third, and it is by far the most aggressive that the cigar has been so far. It continues building, with wood taking over for the earth but staying charred and grating on the back of the tongue and palate, again to varying degrees but with consistency across the samples. A bit of sweet, syrupy cedar comes into the profile as the cigar approaches the finish line and it does a commendable job covering the rougher spots, which have largely subsided but haven’t completely departed from the profile. It finishes medium-plus in flavor and medium in strength, while maintaining an above average technical performance.
- The ash on this cigar builds to impressive lengths, and I didn’t really push the issue given my dislike for ash ending up anywhere besides the ashtray.
- In 2019, Patoro began self-distribution through the UPS Cigars Direct program.
- I can’t say I got much if any nicotine strength from the Patoro VA XO Limited Edition Salomones.
- Two of the three cigars had some issue with the wrapper; one split while smoking but didn’t cause any issues, while another cracked near the head when it was cut. It was annoying, but didn’t seem to cause any issues, either.
- De Los Reyes, which produces these cigars, advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was two hours and 35 minutes on average.
At the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, the Patoro VA XO Limited Edition Salomones was described as "the best horse in our stable," by Dr. Pablo Richard, a respectable and understandable claim to make for a cigar with a $33 price tag. While I'm hesitant to call this a perfect specimen, it is still quite good and shows some impressive depth and complexity, particualrly if you are looking for a cigar rich with Dominican flavors that have been mellowed but not tamed by age. There are some spots that still feel like they need some improvement: the area around the bulb of the foot as well as the transition from the second to the final third, but outside of those points, this is a very enjoyable cigar. The draw, burn and smoke production were all first-rate, and even with a few wrapper issues, the cigar never stumbled. While the price tag gives me a bit of pause, the overall impression is very good, and I certainly wouldn't hesitate in enjoying another of these cigars.