Debuting new products is one of the main points of the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, but Platinum Nova Cigars came out swinging in its first year with a list that included not only 10 regular production lines, but also two limited editions, a sampler and a $125 ashtray.

Although it is thought of by many as a “new brand,” Platinum Nova has been in existence since 2011 though it seems like the company says it wasn’t selling cigars until 2015. It currently is headed by two cigar retail veterans Leonor “Leo” Abzaradel and Aurelio “Ari” Riego. Though the two joined the company in 2019 and 2017 respectively.

That obviously raises the question of what the company has been doing up until this point, who founded and who owns it. Riego, the company’s president, declined to talk about the owner(s), but a quick Google search indicates that Amer Rustom has long been listed as the registered agent for the brand. Rustom owns a number of companies that use the word platinum in their names, including Platinum Group, LLC. Many of those same companies share an address with Platinum Nova.

What’s a bit odd about the ownership question is that the About Us page on the company’s website repeatedly refers to “our grandfather” as being the inspiration for the company’s products. It’s also somewhat weird given that the company’s website repeatedly makes claims of “Family-Owned and Operated.” All of that could be true, it’s just seems odd to tell that story and then not talk about the people behind it.

Also not entirely clear is where the cigars are made.

The company says they are produced in a factory in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Reigo told halfwheel that the factory has 10 pairs making cigars exclusively for Platinum Nova and that we should call it “Nova Cigar Factory.” For what it’s worth, the factory was being referred to as “Nova Cigars S.A.” at last year’s trade show.

That would line up with the following statement, again from the company’s website:

Our cigars use a long time aged ultra-premium tobacco from The Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. They are aged 10 to 15 years then the cigars are stored in our aging rooms for over 3 years before coming into the USA and European markets. Our cigars are made in our self-standing factory Nova Cigars S.A. in the Dominican Republic.

There are some inherent problems with this. Riego said the cigars for this particular release—which I promise I’m about to talk about—were rolled in 2017 and released in 2019, i.e. not three years.

Riego also told halfwheel that he wanted to keep the name of the factory a secret, which makes no sense unless the cigars are being made in a factory that isn’t owned by Platinum Nova.


As confusing as that might be, none of that really matters when it comes to evaluating the cigar I’m reviewing today.

The Platinum Nova Personal Reserve Leo X is a 5 3/4 x 50 robusto extra that features an Ecuadorian habano 2000 leaf covering an HVA binder from the Dominican Republic and filler tobaccos also sourced from the Dominican Republic. As the name implies, it’s a cigar that Abzaradel wanted to blend a cigar to commemorate her 10 years in the cigar business; and X stands for 10 in Roman numerals.

Each of the regular production cigars retails for $21.70, with boxes of 10 carrying a price of $217.

As of February, Sutliff Tobacco Co., a pipe tobacco company, is distributing Platinum Nova.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Nova Platinum Personal Reserve Leo X
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Undisclosed
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano 2000)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (HVA)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 5 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $21.70 (Box of 10, $217)
  • Release Date: August 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Covered in a milk chocolate brown wrapper, the Platinum Nova Personal Reserve Leo X is quite rough to the touch and features a number of large veins running up and down its length. In addition, there is a touch of oil visible and one of the samples had a large soft located just under the secondary band. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of generic nuts, manure, barnyard, earth, cedar and slight dark chocolate while the cold draw brings flavors of creamy cedar, earth, cinnamon, cocoa nibs, black pepper and a very light apple sweetness.

The Platinum Nova’s first third starts out with a combination of dominant flavors, specifically salty cashews and leather. Secondary flavors include cedar, cinnamon, earth and generic sweetness along with a bitter espresso note on the finish, while I am picking up some faint cherry sweetness and slight black pepper on the retrohale. Construction-wise, the burn is a bit wavy, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times almost out of the gate, but the draw is excellent after a straight cut and the smoke production is about average so far. In terms of strength, the Leo X starts out firmly in the mild zone and only increases a little by the end of the first third.

While a new flavor of toasted bread shows up on the retrohale during the second third of the Platinum Nova, the salty cashews and leather combination easily retain the top spot in the profile. Lesser flavors of espresso beans, creamy cedar, earth, dark chocolate and hay flit in and out as well, while the cherry sweetness and black pepper remained at about the same levels on the retrohale. Thankfully, the burn has improved noticeably and gives me no issues at all throughout the middle third, while the draw continues down its excellent path. Strength-wise, the Leo X increases enough to approach the medium mark by the halfway point but stalls out there, at least for a time.

There is not much change in the final third of the Platinum Nova compared to the second third: the same dominant flavors of salty cashews and leather, the same very light cherry sweetness and black pepper on the retrohale and pretty much the same secondary flavors of toast, bitter coffee beans, cedar, dark chocolate and hay. Thankfully, the similarity with the second third also includes the construction, meaning both the burn and the draw are trouble-free until the end of the cigar. Finally, the overall strength increases just enough compared to the second third to pass into medium by the time I put the nub down with about an inch left.

Final Notes

  • Much of the parts about the brand and its story were written by Charlie Minato in an effort to help make sense of something that is confusing. The rest of the review was written by Brooks Whittington.
  • Normally we wouldn’t turn a cigar review into a 30-minute research project where we point out things like this, but the problem for Platinum Nova is that it’s pretty much a new company to everyone and it showed up out of nowhere. So even if you tried to get a basic sense of the company’s history, it ends up raising more questions—many of which we asked—than answers.
  • Continuing the trend of “not all of these things make sense,” Abzaradel joined the company last year and these cigars were rolled in 2017. Now, she had some connections to the company prior to that, but it’s still a bit odd.
  • That same article also mentions that the company has been making cigars for 15 years. Perhaps that’s the case, but it’s really challenging to make sense of all of this.
  • Abzaradel, ceo of Platinum Nova, previously worked with Casa de Montecristo and Nat Sherman while Riego was most recently an inventory and purchasing manager for the Nat Sherman Townhouse in New York City.
  • I have to say, the light blue-green color used on both the boxes and bands is extremely distinctive, but for some reason looks out of place on a cigar to me.
  • While the ash is not flaky at all, it did tend to fall in small chunks at inopportune times, something to watch out for if you smoke over a computer or tablet.
  • Although all three of the samples had to be corrected at least once, I never felt like the burn was close to getting significantly out of control.
  • The first thing I thought of when I saw that the brand was named Nova was the Marvel superhero.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Platinum Nova.
  • Final smoking time averaged one hour and 21 minutes for all three samples.
84 Overall Score

I don’t mind saying that, being a new brand, I have never heard more than a passing mention of Platinum Nova before meeting Abzaradel and Riego late last year. What I found was a blend that was nicely balanced throughout and featured better than average construction, but did not have even close to the complexity or the number of flavors I would expect in a cigar that retails for nearly $22. In the end, although I can't recommend the Personal Reserve Leo X specifically, it won't stop me from trying any of the other blends in the Platinum Nova portfolio.

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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.