Zino Platinum kicked off May with the announcement of its latest limited edition cigar and the return of an artist team who made quite a splash at the 2012 IPCPR trade show with their live work.

For the Zino Platinum LE 2013, the brand reunited with New York based urban artists UR New York, who they paired with on their 10th anniversary release, the Zino Platinum Ten. UR New York is comprised of a pair of artists, Brooklyn based Mike Baca, aka 2ESAE, and Fernando Romero aka SKI. For the Zino Platinum LE 2013 release, the pair created a set of four unique box designs featuring aspects of New York lifestyle: fashion, music, food and mixology. The collection is said to celebrate the “four pillars of self-expression in the greatest city of the world for challenging the status quo and disruptive innovation.”

The four box designs are like this:

  • Fashion –  The Thread of the City
  • Music –  The Pulse of the City
  • Food –  The Flavor of the City
  • Mixology –  The Spirit of the City

While the Zino Platinum LE 2013 is being presented in four unique boxes, the cigars inside are the same, though each features a unique secondary band that corresponds with the design on the box. There is also a unique vista inside each box that tells a bit more of the story. Here is a look inside The Flavor of the City:

Zino Platinum

The Zino Platinum LE 2013 seems to be a milestone for the brand, as Scott Kolesaire, Zino Platinum Brand Manager, said in the press release announcing the cigar that “this special collector’s edition perfectly illustrates what Zino Platinum represents, self-expression. New York is a city that inspires self-expression like no other and we are thrilled to pay homage with this limited edition cigar to the pioneers that continue to disrupt the status quo.“

Zino Platinum LE 2013 The Make of New York 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Zino Platinum LE 2013 “The Make of New York”
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: O.K. Cigars
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Rojiza
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor/Piloto)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (San Vicente Viso, Piloto Viso, Criollo Viso & San Vicente Viso)
  • Size: 6 1/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 53
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $16.00 (Boxes of 10, $160)
  • Date Released: May 15, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

The gold band on the Zino Platinum LE 2013 is an aesthetic win, helping to differentiate this limited edition line from the rest Zino Platinum’s regular offerings and continuing a bit of a trend, as the company used blue and silver bands on last year’s 10th Anniversary cigars. The secondary “The Pulse of New York” is a nice touch, though given that the cigar is one blend despite four different names and designs, it seems a bit counterintuitive to differentiate one from the other via a secondary band. The wrapper is soft to the touch but the cigar doesn’t offer much give. The medium brown wrapper has just a bit of sheen, no toothiness and just a few very small veins. Because of the small foot, it’s harder to pick up a complete pre-light aroma, though there are some faint notes of chocolate chip cookies that I picked up. As may be expected, the cold draw is very firm, due to a fairly small head and an even smaller foot. The air flow is strained and flavors are minimal, though there is a slight orange sweetness coming through.

The initial puffs of the first third are slightly strained with minimal smoke, though it is fairly fragrant with a good bit of campfire and spice hitting the nose. While I love the Zino Platinum LE 2013’s Perfecto shape, getting an even light on the foot can be a challenge, but once it has shown itself to be lit evenly on all sides, the burn line progresses evenly. The draw opens up fairly quickly and you can see and feel the smoke production increasing along with it, while the flavors shift ever so gradually with the changing ring gauge. With the thoughts of getting an even burn going and the tight draw at the beginning now a thing of the past, the wood and earth notes begin to command attention, as the cigar seems to be doing just fine from a technical aspect. After the first clump of ash drops off, there’s a significant increase in pepper both on the tongue and in the nose.

Zino Platinum LE 2013 The Make of New York 2

The second third of the Zino Platinum LE 2013 sees a steady increase in the wood notes, and the richness increases as well, moving from dry wood to a bit an aroma found in wood with some moisture in it and then to almost fresh and bright cedar. Cinnamon notes peak out as well, though they are fairly tame compared to what I’ve found in other cigars. The smoke production has tapered off just a bit, a surprise given it is at its largest ring gauge and the draw seems to be as open as it’s going to get. The flavor has shifted to a more earthy leading note with the wood playing a supporting role. Pepper is still present, and the close of the second third is marked by an uptick in its role – not overpowering by any sense for the seasoned cigar smoker, but enough to catch and keep your attention as the final third begins.

Zino Platinum LE 2013 The Make of New York 3

What has been an fairly enjoyable flavor journey of earth, wood and pepper up to this point starts to take a bad turn in the final third, as the Zino Platinum LE 2013 starts to get a bit harsh in the back of the throat, with flavor replaced by irritation. The final third seems to become preoccupied with this dance between pepper and harshness, with harshness winning more rounds and leaving an increasing amount to be desired about the cigar’s final inches. An off-putting sourness comes into the equation as well, a party crasher in the truest sense of the word that throws a wrench into the very enjoyable flavor progression that has occurred to this point. The final puffs do an admirable job in trying to salvage things though, as the harshness by and large dissipates, leaving an enjoyable albeit all-too-brief earthy and coffee bean finish as the cigar’s ring gauge shrinks back down.

Zino Platinum LE 2013 The Make of New York 4

Final Notes:

  • Seeing all four boxes in person, it was tough to pick a clear favorite, and really three stood out, with The Flavor of the City, representing food, being my least favorite, just because it felt a bit distant. Because of its use of various shades of blue, The Thread of the City, which represents fashion, was a standout. Ultimately though, I’d say The Pulse of New York, which captures the music of New York, was my favorite, but I wouldn’t say I’d be disappointed to receive any of them.
  • The rapid opening up of the draw is both a relief and an interesting process. For the first inch or so, every puff gets easier and easier and the smoke gets more and more plentiful.
  • Every so often we grumble about the lack of blend information that manufacturers provide. This is a case where Zino Platinum provided much more than the standard level of information, particularly in distinguishing the four types of filler leaves used.
  • I can’t help but wonder how much the artwork and packaging affected the final cost of this cigar.
  • At the 2012 IPCPR trade show, Zino Platinum introduced their mobile lounge, a tricked out Mercedes Sprinter 2500 EXT. In August, they announced a nationwide tour featuring the vehicle. The Zino Platinum hit the road again for an eight-week promotional tour following the launch of the Zino Platinum LE 2013.
  • I know that cigar companies are always struggling with ways to create narratives for their brands, but I’ve never associated Zino Platinum with a “maverick spirit.” Maybe it’s just where and how I’ve seen Zino Platinum displayed, or that I know they’re part of the Davidoff family, but I just don’t think of the urban lifestyle when it comes to this brand.
  • The Zino Platinum website has some good videos of the UR New York team doing their thing.
  • I’m hoping to see the UR New York team at the IPCPR trade show again this year. They were certainly fun to watch last year.
  • Davidoff is a site sponsor of halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time is about one hour and 50 minutes.
  • We purchased our cigars from site sponsor Cigar King (1.800.669.7167), who still has the cigars in stock. Atlantic Cigar (800.887.7877) also list the cigars in stock. Famous Smoke Shop, Mike’s Cigars and Superior Cigars all carry Zino, but don’t list The Make of New York on their websites.
85 Overall Score

The first two thirds of the Zino Platinum LE 2013 really lured me in and had me believing this could be a very good, albeit not truly special or complex cigar. The harshness that was found in the final third ended up costing the cigar a few points and left a somewhat negative impression in my mind. The first two thirds are certainly enjoyable, and I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't try it again down the road, but for now, it's a good cigar that has a flawed final third that fumbles what seemed like a pretty easy run to the end zone for an easy score.

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Patrick Lagreid

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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.