Redux: Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003

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For a brand and marca that has a good bit of history both for its Cuban and Dominican versions, Dunhill still seems to be one that isn’t on the radar of most cigar smokers. The name Dunhill dates back to 1907 when Alfred Dunhill opened a tobacco shop in London, and the first cigars bearing the Dunhill name appeared in 1980. A Cuban marca existed from 1982 to 1991, while in 1989 the Dunhill Aged line was started in the Dominican version by British American Tobacco and distributed by Consolidated Cigar Corp., which eventually became part of Altadis U.S.A.

In October 2010, when the Swedish Match/Scandinavian Tobacco was completed, Dunhill moved from Altadis U.S.A. to General, but it wasn’t until late in 2011 that production relocated from Altadis’ Tabacalera de Garcia factory in the Dominican Republic to General Cigar Dominicana. It was at the 2012 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show that General Cigar unveiled its addition to Dunhill’s Aged Reserva line, the Especial 2003.

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Built around Dominican filler tobacco from 2003, the cigar was said to use some of the oldest leaves to appear in the brand’s catalog. To further add to the aged appeal of the cigar, the cigars were stored in Spanish cedar-lined aging rooms at General Cigar Dominicana for a year before being released.

Here’s what I said about the Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003 just after it was released in December 2012:

The Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003 is a great showing of what aged and well-cared for tobacco can produce: a mild and delicate flavor profile that smokes incredibly well and delivers a classy, elegant smoke with a subtlety that requests your full attention for proper enjoyment. Does it leave a bit lacking for my palate, which tends to gravitate toward fuller-bodied cigars? Yes. Will it likely be overlooked by most readers of this site, either because of its mild strength and/or $15 price tag? Likely, which is a shame. Cigars like this should be in the repertoire of any serious cigar smoker, because while strength and big flavors tend to garner the most attention, there’s still a lot to be learned in the kind of subtlety that the Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003 offers.

 

  • Cigar Reviewed: Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: General Cigar Dominicana
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Shade Grown
  • Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Size: 5 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Robusto Grande
  • MSRP: $15.00 (Boxes of 10, $150.00)
  • Date Released: December 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (35,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

The Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003 has a wrapper that is classically elegant, and while some may find its lighter shade to be a sign of a mild cigar, I see it as a gorgeous hue that reminds me of butterscotch and the top of a cafe latte, just sun kissed enough to have a radiant glow. The firmness is uniform and the veins are fairly subtle, while the leaf itself is soft to the touch. The pre-light aroma is very subtle and offers just trace notes of cereal grain and syrupy sweetness, while the cold draw is just a touch looser than ideal but not problematic and holds many of the same saucy, tangy notes that I remember from the original, which I described as being reminiscent of Worcestershire sauce or a similar meat glaze.

Despite nearly a year of rest, time has not diminished the hearty beginning that the Dunhill Aged Reserva offers, with that Worcestershire sauce note as the standout early, providing a tongueful of flavor with just a touch of pepper. The oomph of the first half inch begins to steadily back off with a slightly drier flavor coming through with an increasing amount of white pepper, first shown on a retrohale before it steadily sets up camp among the taste buds. The ash holds on incredibly well for more than an inch, and with its departure comes a rush of cotton candy sweetness and a slightly lighter aroma from the ambient smoke. The smoke is incredibly smooth, gliding off the cigar and into the mouth with no harshness at all while delivering plenty of flavor and a good sprinkling of white pepper.

Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003

The second half of the Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003 leads with a touch drier note, with light wood, cereal grain—think dry Cheerios—and lingering white pepper coming together to create a mild yet engaging flavor profile. Make no mistake—this cigar is not going to overpower you with strength but rather will offer subtle yet distinctive notes for your palate to play with, at least through the first two thirds. Like I found when I first smoked these, the final third bring a very noticeable uptick in strength, primarily through a more pronounced pepper note that is as prevalent in the nose as it is in the mouth. I find myself having to slow my rate of puffing to almost half of what it was in the first two thirds to give the pepper ample time to dissipate and keep excess heat from adversely affecting the flavor profile. Notes of almond begin to emerge in the background and the sweetness has long become a thing of the past before the cigar takes an unfortunate turn into sourness that does not sit well on the palate or in the throat. It seems to pass fairly quickly, though lingering remnants will have you reaching for a beverage to cleanse the palate. The finish gets back on track, dialing the strength back a few notches and finishing fairly cleanly with fleeting hits of pepper creating the final takeaway.

87 Overall Score

With the exception of the brief yet intense note of sourness in the final third, the Dunhill Aged Reserva Especial 2003 is smoking fantastically right now, and given how it has evolved in the year it has been resting in my humidor, offers me a tremendous amount of hope that it will continue to develop and become even more complex with additional rest. I can't help but wonder how many times these have been glanced over in retail humidors either because of the shade of the wrapper or the price, which might seem hard to justify if you don't know the brand and the amount of time it has taken to create this aged cigar. If you can find some, definitely give them a try on a clean palate and with a clear head—you may just end up finding yourself at the register with a handful more to add to your collection.

Original Score (December 2012)
85
Redux Score (December 2013)
87

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

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.

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