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It was March 11, 2011 when an 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan, devastating enough on its own without being followed up by a tsunami that caused record amounts of damage and destruction.

A group of online cigar media, including Japanese native Mario Takeyama of Cigar Explorer were visiting La Aurora’s facilities in the Dominican Republic shortly after the earthquake happened and discussed the idea of what they could do to help. Guillermo León, President of La Aurora, decided that he needed to help and the idea for the Para Japón was born.

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From the ParaJapon.com website:

The voices and images of desperation have struck deeply in the hearts and souls of the Dominican people whom, for many decades, have built a close bond with Japan. La Aurora Cigar Factory has echoed the expressions of solidarity of its employees and suppliers, and is glad to announce the creation of a special edition cigar to help the humanitarian response to this disaster. “We are very pleased to lay our helping hand to our brothers of Japan by supporting the humanitarian assistance to this great nation,” says Guillermo Leon, President of La Aurora. “When hurricanes have struck the Dominican Republic, Japan was there for us,” Leon added. Proceeds from the sales of this cigar will be donated to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief fund through JAPAN TOBACCO IMEX CO. LTD.

I first smoked the Para Japón in June 2011 after receiving the box I purchased through the Para Japón website. Looking back on my notes from those first experiences, I noted that while the cigar wouldn’t likely go down in history as one of La Aurora’s best cigars, it was certainly one to pick up if you had the chance.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Para Japón by La Aurora
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: E. León Jimenes Tabacalera
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Brazil, Cameroon & The Dominican Republic
  • Length: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $10 (Boxes of 12, $120)
  • Release Date: April 29, 2011
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 12 Cigars (6,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Para Japón isn’t the best-looking cigar I’ve come across, with some veins and a cap that isn’t applied quite perfectly. The wrapper is a gorgeous shade of brown and the cigar feels very good in the hand despite a few rough spots. The Para Japón’s pre-light aroma is marked by pretzel dough and a bit of citrus tang, while the cold draw has a bready note and just the slightest bit of resistance.

A smooth, fairly creamy smoke starts off the first third, and while it coats the palate very nicely, when it got in my eyes it’s a different story, proving to be quite the irritant. A bit of woodiness starts to emerge, crafting a medium-bodied smoke whose flavors are present without overpowering and seem to show how the aged tobacco’s flavors have settled down to a more refined level.

In the second third, the aroma of the smoke starts to develop a more distinct character with a citrusy wood note that is very pleasing. The smoke stays incredibly smooth and leaves just a bit of tanginess on the tongue. A faint bit of leather starts to come through as the flavors seem to have mellowed just a bit.

A bit of complex spice develops in the final third that tingles the whole palate, although there seems to be a bit of bitterness that has crept into the equation. It stays fairly medium bodied, a bit dry, and overall enjoyable, with a bit of vanilla bean closing out the cigar.

Para Japón by La Aurora 4

Final Notes

  • I’ve been a fan of 10-15 count boxes of cigars for some time, and the Para Japón only reinforces my liking of this format. The Para Japón was originally slated to be released in 25-count boxes, but I’m glad they went with the smaller packaging.
  • The feel-good factor seems to have worn off a bit, which is a shame. The earthquake and tsunami happened less than a year ago yet at times feels like it happened much longer ago.
  • The cigar is listed as a “Sumo Robusto”, but it is, in fact, a typical 5 x 50 robusto vitola.
  • Given the bready, woody notes, I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was left with a bit of dry mouth, but I always find that to be a bit of a drawback.
  • The cigar performed well, never needing a touch-up or relight.
  • Final smoking time was just under one hour and 30 minutes.
  • If you are interested in purchasing some Para Japón by La Aurora, site sponsor Atlantic Cigar still has some that you can purchase here.
87 Overall Score

I really enjoyed the Para Japón the first few times I smoked it, praising the smooth, aged tobacco and successful delivery of a medium-bodied and flavorful smoke. While the smoke is still very smooth, the flavors seemed to have become just a bit more muted and require just a bit more attention to really enjoy them. I'm intrigued to see how these continue to age, and it wouldn't surprise me for these to get better as the flavors continue to evolve and meld together.

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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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