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This summer, Royal Agio Cigars added a new line of value-priced cigars that pays tribute to the company’s home in the Dominican Republic, the city of San Pedro de Macorís. The city, which I know much more for its baseball lineage than its cigar heritage, is certainly not on the map of most cigar smokers.

But it is the home to the Royal Agio Cigar Factory.

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The San Pedro de Macorís line is made up of two blends: Brazil and Ecuador. Both cigars use a Dominican olor binder over Brazilian mata fina, Dominican piloto ligero and Dominican olor fillers and as the names would imply, either a Brazilian Arapiraca or Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper.

“We set out to craft a uniquely sophisticated, everyday premium cigar, one that would exceed cigar smoker expectations and rewrite the rules on the level of quality and distinctiveness one could expect at a reasonable price,” said Jaime Florez-Estrada, vp of marketing for Royal Agio, in a press release. “It was a tremendous challenge, as expected, requiring years of development with high-grade premium tobaccos to create these final blends.”

Both the Brazilian and Ecuadorian blends are offered in the same three sizes and at the same three price points:

  • San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Perla (4 1/8 x 40) — $4.75 (Boxes of 20, $90)
  • San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Corona (5 7/8 x 42) — $5 (Boxes of 20, $100)
  • San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto (5 1/8 x 52) — $5.50 (Boxes of 20, $110)

  • Cigar Reviewed: San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Royal Agio Cigar Factory
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor)
  • Filler: Brazil (Mata Fina) & Dominican Republic (Piloto Ligero, Olor)
  • Length: 5 1/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $5.50 (Boxes of 20, $110)
  • Release Date: August 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto wears a lightly tanned and slightly mottled wrapper, with some decent vein structure and enough thinness to show some of the tugs of the application process. There is a bit of give in the center of the first sample, but otherwise, the roll appears decent, with the second sample on the firm side and the third a bit softer with some variance towards the head. Each is capped well, albeit sometimes with a generous cap or one that has some jagged cuts on the topping piece of tobacco. The wrapper itself is quite mild and offers just a bit of white bread, while the foot has some sweetness that reminds me of strawberry fruit leather and a backing note of bread dough. The cold draw on the first sample is firm, almost tight, with flavors of cold, buttered bread and tortillas. The second and third are more ideal and repeat those flavors.

It’s a fairly neutral beginning that starts with a bit of sourness right out of the gate, with strength in the mild-plus range thanks to some pepper that appears in the first couple of puffs. I’m not sure that I would have immediately guessed this was an Ecuador-grown leaf based on the sourdough bread flavor, a trait that I generally find in and associate with Connecticut-grown leaves. There is some very light wood and pepper in the background that stay fairly even in terms of initial intensity, though the pepper—while fleeting—does leave more of an impact to the nose and tongue. The sourness doesn’t persist too far into the cigar, leaving a fairly mild and creamy smoke. After the first clump of thoroughly gray ash departs at just a bit over an inch in length, the cigar picks up some body and strength just ahead of the second third, with more creaminess contributing to a bigger mouth feel from the smoke. Other than a bit of flaky ash, the cigar has burned well so far.

The second third of the San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto continues the profile started in the first third, though with a bit more creaminess that helps to round out the profile. The specific type of creaminess is a bit harder to pin down; while it has the same kind of traits as the foam on a cappuccino, it has more density to it. While the three samples have been fairly consistent, a retrohale during the third sample shows me a much more refined pepper through the nose than I recall encountering previously, and may be the high point of all three samples. Across the midpoint, the cigar starts to take a good step forward in body and strength; it’s still medium or just a tick over as the pepper isn’t prominent and nicotine feels minimal, but it has become much more well rounded compared to how it started.

The final third of the San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto begins at the cigar’s fullest point yet, with a profile that is reminiscent of sticking my nose in a box of Cheerios, especially if there’s some of the cereal dust in the bottom. It’s still not the cleanest of profiles, as there is just a bit of sourness returning and the pepper feels a bit raw and underdeveloped on the palate, though it’s cleaner through the nose. The flavor profile and body now sit at medium-plus in flavor while the strength is medium-minus, though the intensity of the pepper might have you thinking that it’s stronger than it is. There’s not much that the cigar does below the neck, which I’m completely fine with given the strength of another cigar I recently reviewed. The final two inches see the profile get a bit rougher and more irritating to the back of the throat, and while I slow down my puffing rate, the cigar doesn’t want to let go of the harshness.

Final Notes:

  • As you might have noticed, the band indicates not just the brand, but the blend and the size, meaning a total of six different bands had to be produced for this launch, which is designed to be a value-oriented brand. I’m not as knowledgeable about the pricing of bands as I’d like to be, but this seems like an added, unnecessary cost to the project.
  • There’s about an inch of difference between the tip of the front of the band and back of the band, meaning there’s not enough heat to warm the glue to make removal easier by the time the front side is nearly burning. The paper also feels a bit thin, which in turn helps the glue saturate it, making it tougher to remove
  • Getting the band off the first cigar was a struggle, and it ended up taking off some of the wrapper with it and leading to a sizable split in the final third.
  • For some reason, the bands make me think of something a racing team would use.
  • The rooster head design on the band reminded me a bit of Cerveza Famosa, a Mexican beer that uses a similar design.
  • I can’t say I felt any lingering nicotine strength from the San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto; it’s one of the milder cigars I can recall smoking recently.
  • There are some obvious signs that this is a cigar geared towards those who smoke with their wallets first and then their palates, but the second third is on par with some of the better Ecuadorian Connecticuts and milder profile cigars I’ve had.
  • Getting the band off the first cigar was a struggle, and it ended up taking off some of the wrapper with it and leading to a sizable split in the final third.
  • This cigar also puts off a ton of smoke, especially in the second half.
  • While I haven’t had a chance to smoke the other sizes of the San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador, I did smoke the San Pedro de Macorís Brazil Robusto. Based off one sample that was smoked without as much of a critical palate, I found it to be the better of the two options as it was a bit more flavorful and didn’t come with the sourness. It’s not perfect; it doesn’t show the depth of Brazilian tobacco and has some spots that aren’t as smooth as I’d like, but I think it would be my preference.
  • The San Pedro de Macorís Brazil Robusto will be getting a more thorough review in the near future.
  • If you’re a baseball geek like me, there’s a book called The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macorís that I think is worth a read.
  • The Dominican Republic has produced an incredible list of professional ballplayers; among those who hail from San Pedro de Macorís are Alfonso Soriano, Rico Carty, George Bell, Joaquin Andujar, Juan Samuel, Robinson Canó, Johnny Cueto, Tony Fernandez, Sammy Sosa, Mariano Duncan, Fernando Tatís and José Valverde, to name just a few.
  • The city is also home to Estrellas Orientales, one of the six teams in LIDOM, the Dominican Republic’s professional baseball league.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Royal Agio Cigars, which advertises on halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 30 minutes on average
  • Site sponsors Cigars.com, Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar, Serious Cigars and Thompson Cigar carry the San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto.
86 Overall Score

While the San Pedro de Macorís Ecuador Robusto might not garner high praise for the reasons I’ve spelled about above, it should still get a bit. While there are parts of the cigar that really show a lack of refinement, the second third is quite enjoyable, easily and consistently the best part of each cigar. The construction and combustion were also quite good, as I never needed the lighter to touch up or relight the cigar, and the draw never felt labored or overly loose. While you could certainly find better cigars in this profile, for having a sub-$6 MSRP, you could certainly do a lot worse.

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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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