Prior to IPCPR, William Cooper of Cigar Coop proclaimed, “(Iconic Leaf) is a company and a cigar you are going to hear a lot more of in 2012.” And he was right, for a few reasons. First and foremost, Iconic Leaf was a company that was relatively unheard of up until Coop’s post.
Iconic Leaf Cigar Company’s website describes the brand as:
Iconic Leaf Cigar was founded by two very well known and well respected legends in the cigar industry. They have chosen to keep their identities private in a pursuit to make the very best premium boutique cigars that can be found anywhere in the world without the influence of their names.
The company is led by J.R. Domínguez, son of legendary cigar maker Jose Domínguez. He is a true visionary who brings energy, excitement and passion to everything he touches. Iconic’s first release is the RECLUSE and it was revealed at the 2012 IPCPR trade show in Orlando Florida. RECLUSE is be offered in ten sizes, three of which are sizes that have never been done before anywhere in the world, and they are now known as the Kanú, Iconic Leaf Cigar’s invention. All leaf in the RECLUSE goes through EIGHT fermentation cycles and is a collection of what is truly iconic leaf from around the world. The RECLUSE cigar selection is produced exclusively by Tabacalera Leyendas Cubanas and they are responsible for the Recluse Experience.
The RECLUSE cigar is comprised of the absolute finest of everything. From the seed that is sown, to the blend of the tobacco leaves that make up this masterpiece, to the painstaking fermentation. Under the watchful eye of the maestro, Don Jose Rafael in the Leyendas Cubanas factory, each cigar goes through a Club Med for cigars, if you will. Each leaf is hand selected from only the finest tobacco leaves of the harvest. From the Flavorful and smooth Brazilian Maduro wrapper and Cameroon binder, to the specifically selected Dominican leaf variations in the filler, these cigars are what we believe to be the finest in the world. Each and every leaf in the RECLUSE goes through EIGHT fermentation cycles. Why? Because Don Jose Rafael will not settle for mediocrity. Every RECLUSE is rolled in the old Cuban tradition of tubing which is taking each filler leaf and rolling it into a tube instead of folding it. Once all the filler leaves are each individually rolled into a tube shape, they are brought together and surrounded with the binder. This is time consuming but creates an effortless draw and an unparalleled smoking experience. We then box press each cigar to compress the leaf and reduce air space. This spot lights the flavors of the blend and creates a slower burn while delivering an exceptional draw. The RECLUSE line is offered in ten box pressed sizes.
Three of the ten sizes are shapes that have never been produced anywhere in the world. We invented them and they are amazing! Our cigars are blended for maximum flavor with such smoothness it might make one think; how did they do that? For over twenty years we have dreamed about a cigar like this. The stars have aligned and now it is a reality. We invite you to experience the RECLUSE for yourself and enjoy the Flavor, the passion, the excitement and all of the care that has gone into the making of this truly exceptional cigar.
And yes, there are ten sizes of the company’s debut Recluse:
- Belicoso (6 1/2 x 56)
- Corona (5 3/4 x 46)
- Excepcionales (7 1/2 x 56)
- Kanú #1 (6 x 54)
- Kanú #2 (7 x 52)
- Kanú #3 (8 x 58)
- Petite Corona (4 x 42)
- Robusto (5 x 52)
- Tarantula (6 x 60)
- Toro (6 1/4 x 50)
The other reason why Cooper’s prediction came to fruition were the glowing reviews from the blogosphere prior to IPCPR, which no doubt helped to build excitement.
And the particulars.
Cigar Reviewed: Iconic Leaf Recluse Toro
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Leyendas Cubanas
Wrapper: Brazilian Cubra
Filler: Dominican Republic
Size: 6 Inches
Ring Gauge: 52
MSRP: $6.80 (Boxes of 24, $163.20)
Release Date: October 19, 2012
Number of Cigars Released: Regular Release
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2
The glossy silver on black bands of the Recluse are really a rarity these days. While there are some reds on the Brazilian wrapper, the Cubra leaf is best described as dark with a few notable dark veins. Aroma from the wrapper is a pleasant mixture of barnyard and sweet cedars right above the medium-plus mark. Interestingly, the foot smells identical to a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino — really the only way I’m able to describe it. From the cold draw there is a sweeter syrup-like cocoa overwhelmed by a strong cedar note joined by some creaminess, fruits and dark tobacco. Despite this description, it’s quite a bit less sweet than you’d imagine.
The first third starts with a toasty cocoa that quickly is overtaken by a burnt cedar followed by fruits and some sweetness. While the draws on both samples I had varied noticeably — ranging from pretty open to a touch tight — the smoke production is light to begin with. After five minutes, the smoke production is nearing normal levels while the flavor profile settles to a bittersweet cocoa, grassiness, some earth and a touch of cedar. The body is full, although its smoothness masks a lot of its depth. Strength on the other hand isn’t far beyond medium.
Into the second third and the flavor of the Recluse Toro begins to bitter quite a bit with a significant increase in the earthiness and grassiness. Up front it’s a mixture of cedar and cocoa with some herbs and dark tobacco in the back. The shocking part is how bitter and earthy the profile has turned with sweetness completely evaporated by the midpoint. Smoke production has come out of nowhere and is now great, although the burn on one sample tunnels forcing a full relight.
By the final third of the Iconic Leaf the strength is medium-full with the body solidly in the full category. Flavor-wise, the cocoa turns sweet followed by earth, cedar and touches of leather and creaminess. A harshness joins a fading pepper note in the second third, both of which continue to linger at the back of the throat through the final third. While there is no tunneling, touch-ups remain as the draw of the Recluse Toro becomes more and more open.
- The standout quality is easy: the body. It’s incredibly full, although the smoothness and discrepancy regarding the actual strength of the cigar helps to mask the power.
- I had never heard of Jose Rafael, J.R. Domínguez or Leyendas Cubanas. Jose Domínguez, father of J.R. Domínguez, is responsible for the Victor Sinclair brand, which is a staple of Thompson’s and a few other catalogs.
- The Miami-based factory El Titan de Bronze and Berger & Argenti with the company’s Entubar line are two other companies that use the entubado rolling method as a major selling point. I wouldn’t really call tight draws, or even draw issues in general, a major issue in the mid-range and higher portion of the premium cigar industry. That being said, I’ve had plenty of entubado-rolled cigars tunnel, lack smoke production or have other construction issues.
- The secondary band says “OTG” which according to this tweet stands for “off the grid.”
- I enjoyed the dynamic between the sweet and bitter, although it was neither a quick nor dynamic transition. Much like the body, unless you were paying attention, it’s somewhat hard to pick up until you look at your notes.
- One of the two samples I had was tossed halfway through the cigar because it wouldn’t stay lit. The notes above are based solely on the other cigar, although the two started off the first few minutes pretty similar.
- You have to get credit to J.R. Dominguez, he said the cigars were going to be released in October, and they are getting released in October.
- Ten sizes is a lot, and while I enjoy the diversity, I’m not sure how the retailers reacted. It’s a lot of shelf space for a new brand.
- The cigars were sent to halfwheel by Iconic Leaf Cigar Company.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes.
The Bottom Line: It’s hard to evaluate both cigars as a whole, since one was barely smokeable and tossed out halfway through in frustration, so consider these thoughts, like the above, as indicative only of the second cigar. There are a few aspects of the Recluse that are unique for today’s cigar world, most notably the approach taken with the body. However, I wouldn’t describe the cigar as a whole as truly unique. There’s another cigar with a dark wrapper, interesting name and Cameroon binder that I oddly see myself drawing a lot of comparisons against the Recluse — CroMagnon. Sure, the strength levels are different, the flavor profiles are in totally different concentrations and the intention behind the cigar is presumably quite different, but love it or hate it, CroMagnon is truly different. The Recluse is a good cigar, and I’d pick up one here and there, but as of now, good does not equate to special.
Final Score: 84