If you just walk by the PDR Cigars booth this year, it looks like pretty much like any other year: there are cigars on display, the back panels still say PDR Cigars, Abe Flores is still running the company, and so on. But talk to Flores for a few minutes and you realize that he’s pivoting his company a bit, starting with the name.

It’s still PDR Cigars, but instead of being an abbreviation for Pinar del Río, the westernmost province of Cuba that is known for growing tobacco for the country’s premium cigar production, PDR now stands for Puros Dominican Republic, a nod to the country where the company’s factory and operations are located. Flores said that the inspiration for the change came as he traveled throughout Europe and realized the impact that the Dominican Republic as a whole was having on the cigar industry.

It’s also the basis for a number of changes that Flores has made to his blends, swapping out some filler tobaccos—generally Nicaraguan-grown leaves—with the same varietal grown in the Dominican Republic, a change that might not have a drastic impact on the flavor of the cigar, but one that better aligns with the company’s updated name.

In the process of updating the blends, Flores decided to update the packaging of the lines as well, most notably by continuing to add the foot band that has become an increasing part of the company’s presentation. Not only does it provide added visual recognition, it helps protect the cigars a bit more in places where cellophane is not an accepted part of cigar presentation. He also enlisted the help of Alsack Printing, who had previously produced cigar bands and recently opened a paper wrap box factory. The confluence of that facility opening and the supply chain disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic further spurred on the changes. The lines that have already gotten the redesign were on display at the show, with the rest of the portfolio already in the works.

El Criollito

You’ll see this sentence repeated a few times as the general formula is the same, but Abe Flores gave his El Criolito brand a reworking, updating the packaging and the blend as noted above; gone is the Nicaraguan tobacco that was in the filler of the previous version, replaced by more Dominican tobacco.

  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Criollo 98)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Criollo 98) & Mexico (San Andrés)
  • El Criollito Club (4 1/4 x 30) — $2.40 (Box of 50, $120.46; Tin of 5, $12)
  • El Criollito Purito (4 x 32) — $3.32 (Box of 24, $79.88; Tin of 6, $19.92)
  • El Criollito Perla (3 3/4 x 42) — $4.17 (Box of 24, $100.18)
  • El Criollito Half Corona (3 1/2 x 50) — $5.38 (Box of 24, $129.32; Tin of 5, $26.94)
  • El Criollito Short Gordo (4 1/4 x 58) — $5.89 (Box of 24, $141.50)
  • El Criollito Robusto (5 x 54) — $7.16 (Box of 24, $171.92)
  • El Criollito Double Magnum (6 x 60) — $8.81 (Box of 24, $211.50)
  • El Criollito Setenta (7 x 70) — $9.19 (Box of 24, $220.60)

Production: Regular Production

Release Date: July 2021

El Trovador Rosado and Maduro

Gone is the some of the Nicaraguan tobacco used for the filler, replaced with Dominican corojo, with a mix of seco and viso in the filler. It is now a 50-50 mix of Nicaraguan and Dominican leaves.

The wrappers remain the same, as changing those out would have meant too much of a change in the blend, one that Flores wouldn’t have likely been able to replicate by using Dominican-grown tobacco. The boxes also get a more complete look by way of the paper wrapping mentioned above.

  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Rosado) or Mexico (San Andrés Maduro)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua and Dominican Republic (Corojo)
  • El Trovador Petit Belicoso (4 1/2 x 50) — $9.82 (Box of 24, $235.84)
  • El Trovador Robusto (5 x 52) — $9.94 (Box of 24, $238.64)
  • El Trovador Corona Gorda (6 x 46) — $11.09 (Box of 24, $100.18)
  • El Trovador Gran Toro (6 x 54) — $11.21 (Box of 24, $269.08)

Production: Regular Production

Release Date: July 2021

Update (Sept. 15, 2021) — Flores clarified to halfwheel that he only changed part of the filler, after having initially said both the binder and filler were going to be made from Dominican tobacco.

PDR 1878 Roast Cafe – Dark, Medium and Natural Roast

Say it with me now, there’s more Dominican tobacco in the filler, replacing the Nicaraguan-grown leaf in the Dark and Natural Roasts. Like the other blends, the wrappers remain the same, meaning Brazilian maduro for the Dark Roast, Ecuadorian Sun Grown for the Medium Roast and Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade for the Natural Roast.

  • PDR 1878 Roast Cafe Corona (5 1/4 x 44) — $6.11 (Box of 20, $122.22)
  • PDR 1878 Roast Cafe Robusto (5 x 52) — $7.19 (Box of 20, $143.96)
  • PDR 1878 Roast Cafe Corona Gorda (6 x 46) — $7.61 (Box of 20, $152.32)

Production: Regular Production

Shipping Date: July 2021

PDR Flores y Rodriguez 10th Anniversary Reserva Limitada

Another subtle change to the blend, with the Nicaraguan habano from that country’s Jalapa region being replaced by Dominican-grown habano.

  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (7-Year-Old Piloto Cubano Seco and Ligero, Habano)
  • PDR Flores y Rodriguez 10th Anniversary Reserva Limitada Robusto (5 x 52) — $11.41 (Box of 24, $273.86)
  • PDR Flores y Rodriguez 10th Anniversary Reserva Limitada Wide Churchill (5 1/8 x 58) — $12.67 (Box of 24, $304.30)
  • PDR Flores y Rodriguez 10th Anniversary Reserva Limitada Grand Toro (6 x 54) — $13.94 (Box of 24, $334.72)
  • PDR Flores y Rodriguez 10th Anniversary Reserva Limitada Figurado (6 1/2 x 52) — $15.21 (Box of 24, $365.14)

Production: Regular Production

Release Date: July 2021

Drew Estate is the sponsor of halfwheel's coverage of the 2021 PCA Convention & Trade Show

Patrick Lagreid

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.