At last count, there were 22 brands in the Altadis U.S.A. portfolio. Two are quite big and almost instantly recognizable, Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. A few more are known either by their own merits or for sharing names with Cuban cigars: H. Upmann, Trinidad, Juan Lopez, Por Larrañaga, and Saint Luis Rey. The rest are smaller brands, some are bundle products, and then there is one that always sticks out for how well-known it is in Spain and Europe but not so much in the United States: VegaFina.
It’s certainly not for a lack of trying, mind you. Altadis U.S.A. has released a number of VegaFina lines into the U.S., including a core line, the somewhat stronger VegaFina Fortaleza 2, the VegaFina Sumum and VegaFina Nicaragua.
Meanwhile, Tabacalera S.L.U., part of Imperial Brands, plc the British tobacco conglomerate that also owns Altadis U.S.A. has launched numerous limited editions for the brand in other parts of the world. Next month, it will add another one, the VegaFina Robusto Extra PigTail Añejado 7 Años.
Image via Tabacalera S.L.U.
While the name may be a bit clunky, it does describe a good bit about this cigar. It is a robusto extra, or what many American cigar smokers would refer to as a toro. It does feature a pigtail cap, and some of the tobacco has been aged for seven years, specifically the Ecuadorian habano wrapper leaf. Underneath that leaf is an Indonesian binder and fillers from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, making it a blend shared with last year’s VegaFina Conde PigTail, although that didn’t have the aged wrapper.
This new cigar will begin arriving in Spain in May, followed by other markets in the coming months, although the U.S. won’t be one of them as it is not scheduled to receive it.
- Cigar Reviewed: VegaFina Robusto Extra PigTail Añejado 7 Años
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera de García
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Indonesia
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: €5.50 (Boxes of 20, €110)
- Release Date: May 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The cigar certainly lives up to the promise of having a pigtail cap, as each of the ones on the VegaFinas I smoked was quite long and curled into a small bun. It’s a well-rolled cigar that is firm and not inviting of too much of a squeeze given the relative fragility and thinness of the wrapper. That leaf is a familiar shade of Ecuadorian tobacco, well tanned and uniform in its color, offering a slight oiliness and texture to the fingers. It has a decent network of visible veins, generally one or two larger, thin veins that have a few smaller offshoots. The foot of the cigar offers a very distinct graham cracker note that is sweet and grainy with a bit of wheat, while individual samples add on floral and apple notes. The cold draw is a touch firm with a note of buttered wheat bread, blending the sweetness and oils of butter with cool whole grains.
Maybe it’s the power of suggestion, but there certainly is something about the first puffs of this VegaFina that suggest aged tobacco. There’s a good amount of pepper and a touch of cedar and lumberyard wood, but there is also a mellowness that you just don’t find with most off-the-shelf cigars, particularly in how soft the texture of the smoke is. The flavors are present but a bit softer and more inviting, something that is particularly noticeable in how the pepper interacts with the senses. As the ash builds to its first inch, a bit of subtle chalk enters the profile with favorable results, while the pepper shifts to be a bit lighter but still fairly potent, albeit in a more subdued way. I also get just a touch of harshness in one sample, as the pepper turns slightly rocky and charred. The cigar moves into its next third burning near flawlessly, with solid ash, decent smoke production and no issues with combustion. The flavor and body sit at medium, while the strength is quite mild.
The subdued pepper note that closed out the first third of the VegaFina Robusto Extra PigTail Añejado 7 Años gets rewritten by a healthy blast of pepper in the transition to the second third, as if the cigar felt compelled to show it still had plenty of vibrance and vitality. Just ahead of the midpoint, a combination of the pepper and a very subtle citrus sweetness wafts from the cigar as it rests, and it is one of the highlights of the cigar that would unfortunately be likely missed had I not been smoking the first sample on a quiet, near breezeless evening on my balcony. While this VegaFina hasn’t flexed its muscles by way of heaps of pepper or even an uptick in strength, it is becoming a bit more robust, as the soft smoke of the first third has been replaced by puffs that are a bit more rough. There is still minimal nicotine in the cigar through the second third, while the flavor and body flirt with medium-plus at times, never dropping below medium.
If there was any doubt as to whether or not this cigar has some peppery kick, it will be dashed at the start of the final third, as both the nose and palate get a hearty hit of white pepper. The VegaFina Robusto Extra PigTail Añejado 7 Años hasn’t been full of flavor changes and pivots, and the final third reduces that even further, though the final inch and a half delivers a gingerbread note that is an incredible finale, assuming you smoke the cigar down that far. The combination of sweetness, warmth and doughiness—not to mention familiarity—cap off a surprisingly impressive cigar.
- A search for pig tails on Google Images brought up more than I thought, as while images of the animal are plentiful, pig tails can also refer to a woman’s hairstyle, numerous food items, medical devices, audio and video cables, and a few other things not appropriate to mention here.
- The pricing mentioned above is for the Spanish market, and could vary in other places where it is released. As of April 24, the €5.50 pricing was US $5.99.
- While we don’t factor price into our reviews, this is one heck of a flavorful cigar for $6.
- I’m all for smoking in cigar lounges and amongst friends, but this is a great cigar for a smoke in solitude, when you can give it more of your attention and not have your senses contaminated with other people’s smoke.
- The wrapper leaf on this cigar is definitely thin and fragile, and somewhat coincidentally the first two samples had the same bit of wrapper issues as a small flap on the back of the cigar along the seam had become loose at some point. If you live in an area that is particularly hot or dry, be mindful about smoking these outdoors.
- Each of the samples had a point where it needed a relight, usually in the transition between the second and final thirds, which was the only technical issue with the cigar.
- If you really want to be proper, be sure to say siete años, not seven años.
- In addition to this cigar, the VegaFina Fortaleza Stalk Cut is hitting Spain and other international markets, but not the United States.
- The cigars for this review were provided by Tabacalera S.L.U. JR Cigar, which is also owned by Imperial Brands, plc, also advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes on average.
I usually reserve the word disappointed for reviews of bad cigars, but it's particularly applicable here because I'm extremely disappointed that this cigar isn't scheduled to come to U.S. shelves. The VegaFina Robusto Extra PigTail Añejado 7 Años offers so much of what I look for in cigars: subtlety, nuance, measured strength and pepper, along with above average combustion and technical performance. This blend asks for your attention and focus, and rewards it in spades both in flavor and aroma. A great cigar that I hope I'll be able to get more of before too long.