Since its debut in 2003, La Flor Dominicana’s Double Ligero line has been home to some of the company’s more unique vitolas – including Litto Gomez’s signature Chisel vitola, the 2011 release of the 8 1/2 x 60 Digger, and today’s cigar, the A.
A somewhat traditional format that is seeing a bit of a resurgence, the A is an imposing stick measuring 9 x 47 – a long smoking experience that would intimidate most cigar smokers, regardless of if they knew what Double Ligero meant or could do to them. It’s the longest cigar of the line, which contains twelve regular production vitolas:
- A — 9 x 47
- Chisel – 6 x 54
- Chisel Gorda – 5 1/2 x 48
- Chiselito – 5 x 48
- Churchill Especiales – 7 x 48
- Digger — 8 1/2 x 60
- DL 654 – 6 x 54
- DL 452 – 4 x 52
- DL 660 – 4 5/8 x 60
- DL 600 – 5 1/4 x 52
- DL 700 – 6 1/2 x 60
- Lancero — 7 1/2 x 39
Interestingly, the newly-redesigned LFD website doesn’t mention the Digger, the A, or the 7 1/2 x 39 Lancero, which Charlie reviewed last year. Antonio Gomez of La Flor Dominicana says that the A is still a regular production cigar, although he didn’t elaborate as to why it isn’t mentioned on the company’s website.
Like the other uniquely shaped La Flor Dominicana offerings, it requires a specially skilled roller to create such a long cigar that is consistent and burns without problems. Gomez compares it to the Salomones, Mysterios and Diademas as far as the difficulty level.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s light this stick up.
Cigar Reviewed: La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Oscuro Natural A
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Tabacalera La Flor S.A.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Size: 9 Inches
Ring Gauge: 47
Vitola: Gran Corona
MSRP: $16.00 (Boxes of 10, $160.00)
Date Released: 2007
Number of Cigars Released: Regular production
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The A vitola in any cigar always carries a bit of an imposing nature, but this dark, oily, shiny La Flor Dominicana just heaps it on, and that’s before the friendly reminder of Double Ligero gets factored into the equation. The wrapper, while loaded with veins, is still gorgeous and soft to the touch with a fair amount of give when squeezed. There’s some faint, yet fairly potent, spice on the pre-light aroma, masked by a bit of saucy teriyaki-like glaze, but without the overt sweetness. Air flows freely on the cold draw, with some muted flavors but an underlying note of spice.
The first third begins of the A begins odd. While it would make sense that this would be a pepper bomb from start to finish, such is not the case. Whether the blend has been tweaked to provide a milder start, or whether the flavor just doesn’t travel well over the length of the cigar, it’s an underwhelming beginning. Not only is the La Flor a big cigar, it’s slow burning through the first third, taking half an hour to get through the first inch. Nine inches is a fair amount of distance to move air, especially at the more casual force with which a cigar is drawn upon. There are points at which the thick white smoke lumbers off of the cigar, taking its sweet time to dissipate into the night. A few hints of spice start to enter the equation, tagging along with a woody note that starts to give the cigar a bit more backbone.
By the second third a problem becomes apparent: burn issues. Maybe it’s the oils, maybe the cigar is retaining too much humidity, but it starts going out in the transition to the second third. Despite this issue, the Double Ligero A really starts to take off around the mid-point: subtle but noticeable increases in pepper and body that signal a departure from the earlier notes that had taken on a bit of a chalky undertone. One thing that becomes increasingly noticeable is the slight color change that happens as the cigar heats up – the oily, dark brown Ecuadorian wrapper lightens up to a caramel brown color, and while I’ve seen this before, the contrast here is striking. Burn issues continue to hamper the cigar in the transition to the final third, which is making me think that this cigar needed some dry boxing before smoking.
Things have definitely kicked into a higher gear when the final third rolls around, as the cigar is increasing the pepper component as it transitions to the flavor profile that most people would think of from La Flor Dominicana. It hits its peak right when it seems fitting to take the band off, lighting up the palate and the throat with ligero pepper and flavor, though it does offer a few points of respite that allow notes of seared steak to come through. If there was a payoff to be found in the A, it’s in this final third.
- I kept looking at this cigar like I’d look at a big intimidating ride at an amusement park – it just looks like an ass-kicker, and why in the world would I pay to go on it, or in this case, smoke it? But for a nine-inch long Double Ligero cigar from La Flor Dominicana, this is pretty tame save for the final third. While the advise on the LFD website is to “eat before you smoke ’em,” it certainly isn’t the gut-buster that some of their smaller ring gauge cigars are.
- The burn issues on these cigars really flummoxed me – being nearly four years old, I thought they would have rid themselves of any excess oils that would have impeded the burn. I don’t keep my cigars in an overly humidified environment either, usually around 65–67%, but for whatever reason, each one had troubles staying lit at different points.
- Every once in a while, I come across a cigar who puts out smoke that is enchanting to watch – this is one of those cigars.
- The A vitola has been making a comeback in the recent years with Drew Estate releasing an event-only two-pack of Liga Privada Único Serie cigars in the A vitola, and La Sirena adding an A at the 2011 IPCPR trade show. Tatuaje also offers an A in the Reserva line, as does Fuente in the OpusX, while Don Pepin Garcia has one in the Blue Label line.
- Fans of Cuban cigars can only find an A vitola in the Montecristo marca, where it’s also known as a Grand Corona.
- Despite several other manufacturers releasing A vitolas lately, Antonio Gomez of La Flor Dominicana says there are no plans for As in other LFD blends. He describes it as “more of a novelty” and “not a big seller,” adding that it’s “not a popular/practical size.”
- This is the most expensive offering in the Double Ligero line.
- The La Flor Dominicana Double Ligero Oscuro Natural A features the previous LFD band, with a flower in the center as opposed to the current band which features the LFD logo in script. That flower, according to Gomez, is the flower of the tobacco plant, which is generally pruned off to redirect energy to the leaves. However, the most desirable plants have their flowers left on, which in turn generates the seeds for future crops of plants.
- The official flower of the Dominican Republic (la flor nacional) is the Rose of Bayahibe. It was made official on July 12, 2011, and in 2014 the Central Bank will issue new paper money bearing the Bayahibe Rose, which happens to be a critically endangered species of plant due to habitat loss.
- The previous official flower of the Dominican Republic was the flower of the Caoba, or Mahogany tree, which earned the honor in 1957. However, there was confusion as to the official flower and the official tree because of this, so in July 2011, President Leonel Fernandez established separate designations, making the Rose of Bayahibe the official flower and the Caoba the official tree.
- For comparison, LFD’s recently released Digger measures 8 1/2 x 60, making it the big daddy of the line. Having smoked both, the Digger feels much, much bigger, though neither really blew my mind. Between the two, I’d take the A because of the smaller ring gauge.
- For those curious, this doesn’t come close to my favorite La Flor Dominicana, the first batch of the Salomon.
- Final smoking time is around three hours.
The Bottom Line: While I want to love the A vitola, it has too often left me disappointed because it feels like it takes so long to get to the good part – in this case the bold spicy notes that La Flor Dominicana has become known for. The final third of the cigar is where you find the strength, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’d be better off just grabbing a Double Ligero Chiselito or one of the smaller vitolas, as the first two thirds don’t offer enough to make you think you’re smoking a La Flor Dominicana. The progression is certainly enjoyable and educational, as the second half of the cigar provides a great case study in how flavors evolve and layer upon one another to create the final product, so if you have a couple hours to spend focusing on a cigar, this is a good one to do it with. The burn issues only compound the flavor issue, and ultimately make this a cigar for only the most patient cigar smokers wanting to experience a unique vitola.
Final Score: 80