In 2014, Villiger Cigars North America released three brand new lines, one of which was the Cuellar Connecticut Krēmē, a “super creamy” blend made up of an Ecuadoran Connecticut wrapper over a Cuban-seed Dominican piloto ligero binder and a combination of filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic.
Fast forward to last month, when the company announced it would be shipping a follow-up to the Cuellar Connecticut Krēmē that comes in on the darker end of the spectrum. Named Cuellar Black Forest, the new blend gets its moniker from the Black Forest in Germany, which is said to have inspired numerous stories by the Brothers Grimm, including Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty.
“We very much look forward to releasing the Villiger Cuellar Black Forest, as it marries Caribbean artisan tobacco craftsmanship with German and Swiss folklore, culture and mysticism,” said Heinrich Villiger, chairman of the board for Villiger, in a press release. “Both our passion for tobacco and the Villiger culture are represented in this cigar.”
Blend-wise, the two Cuellar cigars are not the same as the new Black Forest incorporates a Mexican maduro wrapper over Dominican-grown tobaccos in both the binder and filler. It is being produced at Tabacalera Palma in the Dominican Republic and is sold in four different vitolas, all of which are packaged in 20-count boxes:
- Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Robusto (5 x 48) — $7.80 (Box of 20, $156)
- Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Toro Gordo (6 x 54) — $8 (Box of 20, $160)
- Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Churchill (7 x 50) — $8.20 (Box of 20, $164)
- Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Torpedo (6 1/4 x 52) — $8.40 (Box of 20, $168)
- Cigar Reviewed: Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Toro Gordo
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera Palma
- Wrapper: Mexico
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Toro Gordo
- MSRP: $8 (Box of 20, $160)
- Release Date: November 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While not exactly black to match the name—nor made of wood—the wrapper on the Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Toro Gordo is a dark espresso brown color that features plenty of veins, along with the slightest amount of noticeable oil. The box-press is noticeable without being distractingly obvious, and the cigar has some nice give to it when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of orange citrus, leather, earth, cocoa nibs and sweet barnyard while the cold draw brings almost shockingly distinct flavors of apple and cinnamon spiced tea, dark chocolate, leather, cedar and slight vanilla sweetness.
The Black Forest Toro Gordo starts off strong, with a blast of a wonderful combination of cinnamon, apple and dried tea leaves that seems to be pulled over almost directly from the cold draw. Those dominant flavors are followed closely by notes of freshly roasted coffee beans, earth, hay, dark chocolate and cedar, along with some significant black pepper on the retrohale. There is also a very distinct vanilla bean sweetness on the retrohale, while the finish is full of espresso bean bitterness. Construction-wise, there is no lack of smoke emanating from the foot, and while the draw is fantastic after a simple straight cut, the burn starts to waver enough that it has to be corrected fairly early on. In terms of strength, the Villiger easily hits a point closer to medium than mild by the end off the first third with no signs of giving up anytime soon.
Unfortunately, the second third of the Villiger Cuellar Black Forest is nowhere close to as enjoyable as the first, starting with the fact that the dominant combination of cinnamon, apple and dried tea leaves that was so enjoyable has morphed into a much more standard combination of leather and generic nuts interspersed with lesser flavors of cocoa nibs, cedar, earth and slight citrus. There is also a significant increase in the amount of bitterness on the finish, and while there is still some vanilla bean sweetness on the retrohale, it has decreased noticeably compared to the first third and is nowhere close enough to overcome the bitterness. While the draw is as good as ever, the burn has evened up nicely, and the smoke production continues to be well above average. As expected, the overall strength continues to increase, easily hitting a point just under the medium mark by the time the second third ends.
Although I was hoping for a turnaround in the final third of the Black Forest Toro Gordo, that was not to be, as the generic flavors of nuts and leather continue to dominate the profile, followed closely by notes of dark chocolate, coffee, cedar, hay and bread. There is almost quite a bit more espresso bitterness on the finish, and the situation is not helped by the lack of any significant sweetness, although there is some slight vanilla still present on the retrohale that is seemingly content to remain at current levels. In terms of construction, the burn once again starts to wander enough that I preemptively touch it up, while the draw remains excellent and the smoke production remains copious off of the foot. Finally, the overall strength has increased enough to make it just over the medium mark before stalling out by the time I put the nub down with about an inch left.
- In Germany, the Black Forest is known as the Schwarzwald, a place that I visited a number of times while I lived there as a child thanks to having a father in the military. While the countryside around the forest is light, colorful and airy, once you get into the actual forest, it quickly becomes apparent why some many stories have been written with it as a background. At certain times of the day, almost no light reaches to forest floor, turning it into a dark and forbidding place—or at least, that is how I remember it from when I was 10-years-old.
- The ash fell after the first 15 puffs with no warning on first sample, which is why the photograph of the first third above does not have the end of the cigar on it.
- For some reason, the fact that the secondary band reads “Black Forest” while being obviously green in color annoys me.
- Back in May, Villiger Cigars North America announced that it will not be attending this year’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, and while the company did not give a reason for its decision, it did say that it was directing its “efforts towards the Tobacco Plus Expo,” a trade show operated by Kretek International which will take place next month.
- The cigar smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Villiger Cigars North America. Villiger always creates special sampler boxes for reviewers, the Black Forest came in three-packs.
- Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 58 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Villiger Cuellar Black Forest cigars, site sponsor Famous Smoke Shop has them in stock now.
If our reviews consisted of rating cigars after only the cold draw and the first third, the Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Toro Gordo would be in contention for my cigar of the year. For that short time, the profile was rich, aggressive and insanely complex, with apple cinnamon, dried tea leaves and coffee beans on the palate along with some distinct vanilla bean sweetness on the retrohale that pulls everything together. Unfortunately, that first third is by far the best part of the cigar, as after that the profile begins a sharp decline from which it never recovers, highlighted by an increasingly aggressive bitterness on the finish. In addition, while the draw was excellent overall, the burn on each of the three samples had to be touched up multiple times. in the end, while there is quite a bit to like about the Villiger Cuellar Black Forest in the first third, if you stop smoking after that you won’t be missing much.