In December 2014, Pinar Del Rio shipped a new exclusive blend to Tampa, Fla.-based Thompson Cigars. Named Dark Harvest Maduro 2012, 6 x 52 toro was initially limited to a 5,000 cigar order, but it is now an on-going release produced as needed.

Blend-wise, the Dark Harvest Maduro 2012 is covered in a San Andrés wrapper from Mexico, with internal tobacco that includes a binder from the Jalapa region of Nicaragua and fillers from Condesa, Nicaragua and Pennsylvania. Each cigar carries an MSRP of $8.75, with boxes of 10 selling for $87.50.

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres Box 1 copy

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres Box 2

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres Box 3

“Myself, Bryan Bird (Director of Ecommerce Merchandising), Abe Flores, and Abe’s master roller worked on this project together until all four of us agreed on the same blend,” wrote Chris Szeglowski, Thompson Cigars director of catalog merchandising, in and email to halfwheel. “Our goal was to create a premium line using high grade tobaccos, opposed to just a value priced private label.”

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres & Connecticut

In September, PDR and Thompson launched another version of the cigar named the Dark Harvest CT, which incorporates the same internal tobaccos as the Dark Harvest Maduro, but replaces the San Andrés wrapper with a a Connecticut cover leaf from Ecuador.

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andrés
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: PDR Cigars
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua, U.S.A.
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $8.75 (Boxes of 10, $87.50)
  • Date Released: December 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

Appropriately enough, the first thing you notice about the cigar is the close-to-black and rough-to-the-touch wrapper that covers it, along with the gold accents that cover the bands. There are quite a few bumps running up and down the length of the cigar, but almost no evidence of oil at all. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong earth, leather, manure, barnyard and hay, while the cold draw brings flavors of anise, leather, dank earth, black pepper and a slight indeterminate sweetness.

Starting out, the cigar features a very dominant combination of gritty earth and hay, interspersed with other notes of baker’s spices, toast, leather and coffee. There is a bit of a dark fruit sweetness that comes and goes on the retrohale, but it is very light through the first third, and does not seem to want to get any stronger as of yet. I am noticing some aggressive black pepper that is present on both the palate and the retrohale, along with a touch of spice on my tongue. Construction-wise, the draw is a bit tighter than I like, but still easily smokable, and the burn is razor sharp so far, while the smoke production is slightly above average. The overall strength easily comes close to the medium mark by the end of the first third, and while it is not increasing by leaps and bounds, I can tell it is not done yet.

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres 2

Unfortunately, the Dark Harvest 2012 San Andrés continues the trend of the first third, with earth, earth and more earth as the dominant flavor, along with lesser notes of hay, coffee, dark chocolate, anise and leather. The dark fruit sweetness has increased a bit by the halfway point, reminding me somewhat of plums, but it is still confined to the retrohale and is still not strong enough to do more than mention. The draw has loosened up nicely, and while the burn has started to waver a bit, it is not even close to needing to be corrected. As expected, the strength has increased, but not much, and hits a solid medium by the end of the second third.

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres 3

The fruity sweetness morphs a bit around the start of the final third of the Dark Harvest 2012 San Andrés, but it is still not near strong enough to do more than dent the overwhelming earth and hay flavor combination that has become the hallmark of this blend. There are other notes of coffee beans, leather, toast, oak and dark cocoa, but they are underneath the main flavors, and relegated mostly to the retrohale, where they combine with a slight black pepper that is also present. The burn and draw remain quite good, and the smoke production continues to be at above average levels. Strength-wise, the Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andrés does manage to extend beyond the medium mark, but just barely, and I put the cool to the touch nub down with a little less than an inch left..

Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andres 4

Final Notes

  • According to Szeglowski, there will be a Dark Harvest 2013 edition released “early next year.”
  • Earlier this week, PDR Cigars announced that  Frankie Santos had joined the company as its new marketing director.
  • There was a tight draw on one sample, but the other two were very good that regard, and while I had to touch up the burn a couple of times on each, it never got to be a big problem.
  • As mentioned above, the San Andrés version of this blend has an extremely dark wrapper, almost black.
  • Having said that, I love the how the combination of the gold, white and glossy black bands stand out against the aforementioned dark wrapper.
  • Back in March, Viaje Cigars announced it was moving production of some its lines to the PDR Cigars factory in the Dominican Republic.
  • Patrick Lagreid covered the PDR booth at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, and you can see the post here.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 40 minutes.
  • The cigars smoked for this review sent to halfwheel by Thompson Cigar.
  • If you wold like to purchase any of the Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 cigars, the only place you can get them is Thompson Cigars.
76 Overall Score

While there are certainly other flavors present in the Pinar Del Rio Dark Harvest 2012 San Andrés, the overriding note is a gritty earth and hay mixture that gets quite monotonous after the first third. In fact, the combination is so dominant that there is virtually no nuance throughout the rest of the profile of the cigar. While there is a nice sweetness present in the blend, it is not strong enough to prevent it being overpowered by the aforementioned dominant flavors, something that surprised me a bit considering the San Andrés wrapper that it is wrapped with. Having said that, other than one sample that featured a slightly tighter draw than I like, the construction overall was excellent, and I had absolutely no problems with the burn on any of the cigars I smoked. In the end, a very linear cigar that just did not have the complexity or nuance that I enjoy in a blend.

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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.