For the better part of the last year, word around Guayacan has been one name—Sabor de Estelí.
It’s a tribute to Estelí, the capital of Nicaragua’s cigarmaking and likely the city producing the most cigars in the world at this moment in time.
There are two different lines, separated by wrapper—the Natural uses an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, while the Maduro uses Mexican San Andrés—and shape—the Maduro is box-pressed, the Natural is round. Inside is a blend of visos and ligeros from Estelí. As far as geography of a tobacco plant that means it only uses tobaccos from the higher parts of the plant, forgoing seco—middle to lower—and volado, a lower priming.
Three sizes are made in both lines: Gordo (6 x 60, $9.50), Robusto (5 x 50, $8) and Toro (6 x 52, $8.50). In addition, a 500 box run of 6 1/2 x 42 Coronas has been made in the Natural blend. The cigars differ from the regular line in that the Corona has a covered foot, pigtail and is sold in 10-count boxes as opposed to 20-count boxes.
Guayacan debuted the line at the 2014 IPCPR convention and trade show, alongside the new Guayacan Maduro and a couple extensions to the regular Guayacan line. The new lines began shipping in late July.
- Cigar Reviewed: Sabor de Estelí by Noel Rojas Corona
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Aromas de Jalapa
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 42
- Vitola: Lonsdale
- MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 10, $125)
- Date Released: July 28, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 6
It’s a much different look than the rest of the line, although I’m not sure the pigtail and covered foot are the cause. The Corona is significantly thinner than the rest of the line and that really sets it apart. From the relatively dark Ecuadorian wrapper is a salted cocoa, not a true dark chocolate, but not sweet, along with roasted notes, Chipotle-style pinto beans and a touch of harshness. There’s a variety of other things that lead me to believe this might have been rolled in a taco truck—roasted beans, some cayenne and a bit of cocoa notes on the foot. From the cold draw, there’s more floral notes, cocoa and some earthiness on a somewhat open draw.
It’s been a while since I’ve smoked a smaller ring gauge cigar that burns this quick. A big cedar kicks off the Sabor de Estelí while an intense hot red pepper hits the back of the throat for a few seconds, waking up a ton of senses. Citrus, sweet meatiness and mouthwatering roasted flavors all make it somewhere in the finish. Amongst other peculiar construction notes is the ash, which is about as flimsy as I’ve seen, falling off only a few puffs into the cigar. The citrus flavor remains in the nose joined by a roasted pork flavor—the evolution of the sweet meatiness and less defined roasted flavors from the start. A butter-based creaminess works its way into the finish, along with some harshness. Strength is medium, not making much adjustment throughout the first inch or two.
If you were hoping for a southern-themed dinner, Noel Rojas’s latest creation serves up some unique red apple flavors, cornbread and the aforementioned pork at the halfway mark. All of the notes are delicate, yet extremely eel positioned. The Sabor de Estelí Corona transitions around the halfway mark with lemongrass, cedar and cocoa enter the mix. While the apple note remains as somewhat of an afterthought, the creaminess and pork notes disappear. Ash is still not great, but other than that I don’t have any issues with the Guayacan’s construction.
As for the final third, things get much saltier and much earthier. The delicate bread and meaty notes disappear, although there’s a fair bit of sweetness that is still in play. Things are not as complex, not as balanced and the harshness that was around here and there in the earlier parts becomes a lot more noticeable. Eventually, retrohales become too overpowering, leading me to believe it’s time to put the cigar down.
- Patrick Lagreid wrote about the use of geographic-specific names while the wrapper does not come from that region in our IPCPR recap, Another Week in Paradise (Nevada).
- On that same notes, Rojas’s factory is called Aromas de Jalapa, but it’s actually located in Estelí, which is not in the Jalapa region at all.
- I think the Sabor de Estelí Corona needs time, although the Sabor de Estelí Maduro, which is a bit sweeter in my opinion, is ready to be smoked.
- Sabor de Estelí translates to the taste of Estelí.
- There’s a ton of work that’s gone into the band, including various elements from Estelí, like the city’s iconic Cathedral, which is on the top right corner.
- Speaking of the band, it’s one of the few that has no interest in standing up straight for our normal final third shot.
- I’m not sure what the explanation is regarding the price difference in the Sabor de Estelí Corona versus the rest of the line. A 6 1/2 x 42 parejo should not be that much more challenging to roll compared to the rest of size. In addition, the amount of tobacco in the cigar doesn’t justify it, as the 6 x 60 is $2.50 cheaper than the Corona. While the 10-count boxes will increase the price to some degree, it doesn’t explain why the Corona is 50 percent more expensive than the Robusto.
- Strength is medium, while the body is a bit all over the place, medium at the start, full at times and oftentimes medium-full.
- Guayacan is distributed by House of Emilio.
- Cigars for this review were provided to halfwheel by Guayacan at the 2014 IPCPR convention and trade show.
- If I awarded records for speed of smoking, this would be at the top of the list. The cigar wanted to be smoked at a very quick pace, something quite unique given the ring gauge and its ability to never turn uniquely harsh due to the smoking speed. Final smoking time was a quick one hour and five minutes.
Noel Rojas has a swagger about him that is very unique. In a world in which egos become too inflated, Rojas’s self-confidence is actually enjoyable, really appreciable actually. There’s still a fair bit of humility, but there’s also a belief in the cigars that he creates at his factory. That fact that he operates a factory might help make his swagger palatable. As for Sabor de Estelí, I think the Maduro is ready to be smoked now, the Natural across the three sizes I smoked all exhibits the need for more time in my opinion. While there’s a ton of unique and developed flavor, there’s also some easily-identifiable unfinished characteristics. Even the week that went by when smoking samples showed major improvement, and I think even more will come with time. For now, the first two thirds make a very strong impression, the final third is simply not as nuanced and not as deep as far as flavor. Whatever the case, Noel Rojas can make very good cigars.