As the tidal wave of buzz about new releases for the IPCPR 2012 trade show was steadily building, La Flor Dominicana released, somewhat quietly, a new take on the Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 4, an oscuro version.
Oscuro, which simply means dark, is a word in the cigar industry that doesn’t have the same buzz or awareness that maduro, which means ripe, does—and for good reason: it’s a labor intensive process that simply isn’t done as much in the cigar industry. A quick search of some of the larger online retailers produced three to five times the number of results for maduro than for oscuro.
There is a lot that goes into getting an oscuro wrapper, but the basics involve taking leaves from the top of the plant that have been exposed to a significant amount of sun and as a result have begun the curing process while still on the plant. The curing process is generally shorter and less intense than for maduro—but leaves destined for oscuro status are aged for significant amounts of time which further darkens them, sometimes to the point of being nearly black. In the case of the Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 4 Oscuro, Gomez moistens the leaves and squeezes the veins to the point where they break, releasing the leaf’s oils to naturally darken the leaf.
The other important reason this release was relatively quiet was the limited availability. Only 100 cabinets were made for the entire country, with one La Flor Dominicana representative saying that the allotment was around 12 cabinets per region/representative.
Here’s a look at the now five members of the Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch series (from top to bottom):
- Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 1 (7 x 52) – 2006 — 200 Cabinets of 105 Cigars (21,000 Total Cigars)
- Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 2 (6 1/2 x 54) – 2007 — 285 Cabinets of 105 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
- Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 3 (6 3/4 x 52) – 2010 — 285 Cabinets of 105 Cigars (30,000+ Total Cigars)
- Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 4 (7 x 52) – November 2011 — 250 Cabinets of 105 Cigars (26,250 Total Cigars)
- Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 4 Oscuro (7 x 52) – June 29, 2012 — 100 Cabinets of 105 Cigars (10,500 Total Cigars)
Short of a little sticker on the front of the cabinet, there is nothing to distinguish the boxes from one another, and there’s nothing on the band to distinguish the original from the Oscuro. Given the darkness of the original Small Batch No. 4’s wrapper, the difference is subtle but certainly noticeable.
- Cigar Reviewed: Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 4 Oscuro
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera La Flor S.A.
- Wrapper: Domincian Pelo de Oro (La Canela 2006)
- Binder: Dominican (La Canela 2006)
- Filler: Dominican (La Canela 2006)
- Size: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
MSRP: $19. (Cabinets of 105, $1,995)
Release Date: June 29, 2012
Number of Cigars Released: 100 Cabinets of 105 Cigars (10,500 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
As you can see, the Oscuro is a bit darker than its counterpart. The first thing that caught my attention was the sweetness from the pre-light aroma: it’s thick and loaded with a fruit note that is reminiscent of a great pie–the first cigar was cherry, the second cigar was lighter and had more of an apricot or peach note, while the third had a warm apple note. The cold draw, at least on the first cigar, is surprisingly firm with a bit of meatiness coming through. The second and third had a much easier cold draw, though flavors were fairly mild.
Once lit, the draw of the La Flor Dominicana Small Batch 4 Oscuro is fine—allaying any fears I had of having to suffer through a cigar with the draw of a frozen milkshake. The first third is marked by a complex, spicy flavor profile with some dry jerky and a healthy dose of pepper that isn’t as upfront as it is lingering—unless you retrohale, of course. There is some sneaky strength in this cigar—not an in-your-face pepper bomb on the palate, but it’s clear by the end of the first third that this might knock me back a bit. The ash is good, but not terribly strong, falling off without prompting just shy of an inch, though the burn line is sharp.
Moving to the second third, that bit of fruit note that was present on the pre-light aroma and in the first third has disappeared as the overall flavor profile keeps becoming more concentrated. I think of making a reduction as the best comparison to the way the flavors change–boiling a mixture down to make a set of flavors more intense. At the midpoint of the third cigar, the smoke has become downright incredible – with that concentrated fruit note, sweet wood and just a bit of meat. It’s like the chef’s selection at a five-star restaurant has just been brought to my table.
Moving into the final third, some terroir starts to show, as one cigar showed a chalky note, dropping the fruity sweetness for an airy, dare I say dusty texture in the mouth. There are points where the pepper starts to creep back out after being largely absent, particularly once the burn line crosses the midpoint of the cigar. A distinct change to a dry flavor profile signals another change in the final third, but as soon as that could be noted, a big hit of dry black pepper comes along and recharges the palate. The cigar burns all the way down to the nub with no extra heat or harshness.
- I can’t remember any La Flor Dominicana or Litto Gomez cigar that I rushed through. All of their cigars have a combination of slow-burning tobacco and a flavor that forces you to slow down a bit, and the LG Small Batch No. 4 Oscuro is no exception.
- One retailer who sent out an e-mail announcing the arrival of these cigars suggested smoking the original LG Small Batch No. 4 followed by the Oscuro to see the differences that the process can make. Great idea! I just don’t know if I’d have the stomach for it.
- I did smoke an original LG Small Batch No. 4, and there are some notable similarities between the two. The pre-light aroma is sweet wood and didn’t have the fruit note, while the cigar itself tended to be a bit more one-dimensional, with a dry lingering spice and wood note that really dominated the palate.
- I’ve often mentioned that I’m not a big fan of putting maduro wrappers on cigars originally released with a natural wrapper. However, if the flavor changed for the better as it did here, I’d be singing a different tune.
- This isn’t the only cigar that La Flor Dominicana has used an Oscuro wrapper on: there’s the Colorado Oscuro, the Double Ligero Oscuro (reviewed in Lancero. Torpedo and ‘A’ vitolas), the Litto Gomez Diez Chisel Puro Oscuro, the Ligero Cabinet Oscuro Natural and the Mysterio Oscuro, to name a few.
- In his review of the Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 4, Charlie said that it’s one of the more overlooked cigar lines on the market. The Oscuro version will seemingly reinforce that notion.
- Pelo de Oro translates into golden hair. I find this intersting because other than what’s on the band, nothing about this cigar makes me think of gold.
- As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing on the bands to differentiate one from the other. If you pick up a few of each, I’d recommend labeling them so you can remember which one is which. The band does tell you that it’s a Small Batch No. 4, however.
- It seems not that long ago that a 7 x 56 cigar would be considered huge. With 6 x 60s, 7 x 70s and other large shapes becoming common, the LG Small Batch No. 4 doesn’t seem like such a physical standout.
- It’s worth noting that that the first cigar smoked was particularly dry, likely the result of a cross country trek from Miami to Phoenix. While usually not a problem in the colder months, in July it does present a few challenges to keep the wrappers supple and oily.
- A side gripe—I wish there was a way to ship cigars with better humidification and temperature control. These really seemed to take a blow during shipping, and it’s unfortunate if you want to be able to smoke one right when they arrive at the store. A few days in the humidor remedied this, and thankfully these seem like durable wrappers.
- Final smoking time is about two hours and 15 minutes.
- As of right now, Casa de Montecristo (630.834.7777) is the only site sponsor to receive the Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch No. 4 Oscuro.
If you've smoked the Litto Gomez Small Batch No. 4, you have a general idea of what this cigar is about, but you're also missing a tremendous amount. The extra oil and sweetness the Oscuro process adds is a winner—and makes this the choice between the two, at least for my palate. It's not a cheap, overbearing sweetness; rather it is a thick, rich sweetness that fills in the rougher spots of the Dominican binder and filler and adds a level of complexity that you probably didn't realize the cigar needed until you actually got to try it. The technical performance is darn-near flawless, and the limited availability of these make them that much more desirable. Yes, it is a $19 cigar, but for those occasions when you have the time and peace of mind to enjoy it—it's well worth the extra coin.