Villiger do Brasil Claro Toro

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At the 2020 Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) in January, Villiger Cigars North America rolled out a new pair of cigars that both celebrates the brand’s new home in Brazil but also references the company’s history of more than 130 years.

Named do Brasil—which means of Brasil in Portuguese—both cigars are Brazilian puros, one a Claro version that uses a Connecticut shade varietal and a Maduro that uses Arapiraca tobacco. They are both made at a factory that shares the cigars’ name, located in the Bahia region of northern Brazil.

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“My family saw the value in Brazilian tobacco when they began Villiger Cigars as (a) very small operation in 1888,” said Heinrich Villiger, chairman of the board, in a press release. “Brazilian tobacco is unique, as its structure is very robust, which leads to strong aromas and flavours. Its distinct qualities can only be created in Bahia, Brazil. We look forward to sharing the Villiger do Brasil brand with the United States marketplace.”

Both lines received two vitolas, and both share the same dimensions and pricing:

  • Villiger do Brasil Claro/Maduro Robusto (5 x 50) — $9 (Box of 5, $45)
  • Villiger do Brasil Claro/Maduro Toro (6 x 50) — $9.50 (Box of 5, $47.50)

The cigars are offered in five-count boxes, or packs as might be more appropriate.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Villiger do Brasil Claro Toro
  • Country of Origin: Brazil
  • Factory: Villiger do Brasil
  • Wrapper: Brazil (Connecticut Shade)
  • Binder: Brazil
  • Filler: Brazil
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Box of 5, $47.50)
  • Release Date: March 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

In a way, the Villiger do Brasil Claro Toro could easily be mistaken for a typical Connecticut-wrapped cigar; the color is in the same part of the spectrum but a closer look reveals just a slightly different hue. The wrapper has a network of very fine but noticeable veins, which leads the eyes to find a few spots on the wrapper where the cuts aren’t as clean as they probably should be, and certainly more than I would expect to see coming from a premium cigar factory. It also appears to be a very thin wrapper judging by those cuts and how it responds when given a slight squeeze. The cigar is rolled firmly but I find a few softer areas, in one cigar it’s more like the upper half is very firm and the lower half has some give, whereas another cigar has more overall give than the others. My first impression of the aroma off the foot isn’t too far off from an old fashioned with a big ice cube, namely due to a cool smell accented by a bit of orange peel. There isn’t any liquor in the aroma, with deeper smells revealing a generic moist tobacco aroma, a touch of bread  and a bit of red chili pepper-based spiciness. The cold draw is very good in terms of airflow, with just a bit of resistance. The flavor is much more vibrant than the aroma, leading me to think of an English muffin with orange jam, finished off by the slightest amount of red chili pepper.

The Villiger do Brasil Claro Toro starts off quite flavorful and not too far off from what I picked up on the cold draw, though there is an underlying creaminess that gives it a unique spin. I’ve generally found good Brazilian tobacco to have a distinct combination of sweetness and spiciness, and in the early going that’s what I get here, with one sample marred by a bit of sourness on the finish. I hate to call it a flavor profile that you might find in Americanized Chinese food, but there are puffs where the comparison is fitting, though this is much better as it lacks the thick syrupy nature. Where the cigar really shines is through the retrohale, where the spiciness but in much more detail than the palate gets, which might be attributable to the fact that the sense of smell is much more acute than that of taste. Just after the first clump of ash drops and the burn line starts to eye the cigar’s second third, the profile gets much more familiar, and for lack of a better word, generic. There’s touches of black pepper with just a bit of red chili pepper heat, which continues to craft a profile that is fairly unique in the premium cigar space. Flavor is medium-full, body a bit behind that, and strength around medium, while the technical performance has been very good.

While I was beginning to fear the cigar might slide back into a run of the mill profile, the start of the second third snatches the Villiger do Brasil Claro Toro from that trap, introducing a new spiciness that is both sweet with citrus and tongue-tingling with red pepper. Retrohales are still quite good, though they can occasionally deliver a bit more red chili than I would prefer, leading to a bit of a stinging sensation in the nostrils. There’s a bit of sweet wood emerging in the base of the profile as the cigars gets through its midway point, with the profile of one cigar one of the most distinct that I can remember tasting in some time, and it’s quite enjoyable to boot. There’s just a bit of a sourdough note that begins to tag along, though it’s a bit more sour than I’d prefer, especially as someone who enjoys the bread style quite a bit. It’s also becoming quite clear that the cigar performs at its best when smoked slowly and allowed to rest a bit in between puffs, both to minimize any effects from heat but also to allow for the enjoyment of the aroma, which is quite pleasantly fragrant. The flavor sits at medium-full, body a tick below that and strength another tick below that. The technical performance is pretty solid so far, with only the occasionally askew burn line of note.  One of the things that I find varying from sample to sample among the three Villiger do Brasil Claro Toros that I smoked is how prevalent the sweet and spicy note remains in the profile. Suffice it to say that when it’s there the profile is better, but it varies between dropping almost completely and getting a bit too prevalent. The first cigar had the first happen, the second had the latter and the third fell somewhere in the middle, hanging on quite well until the start of the final third. There have been a few spots where the sweet and spicy note completely disappears from the cigar, and by this point the flavor that remains isn’t as good or even passable as it had been earlier on in the cigar. The earthiness has lost the richness it had earlier, and now sits awkwardly—and occasionally heavily—on the palate while a bit of heat intensifies it, though the intensity of this sensation does vary a bit.  After a bit of pepper tingles the tongue, there’s just a bit of the spiciness coming back into the profile in the final inch or so, but at this point it lacks the sweetness and slightly syrupy texture that it had earlier, meaning it doesn’t deliver all of its better aspects. It’s not the best of finishes for the cigar, but it doesn’t quite dash the higher points that the cigar had to offer.

Final Notes:

  • This would appear to be the first Brazilian-made cigar to be reviewed on halfwheel.
  • But this isn’t the first time we’ve reviewed a cigar that’s named the same thing as the factory where it’s made. There’s the TABSA cigar from AGANORSA Leaf, the Rocky Patel TAVICUSA and the Raíces Cubanas 1941 from Alec Bradley.
  • In the latest episode of Please Pick a Style and Stick With It, the press release for this cigar had references to Villiger do Brasil, while the cigar itself would appear to be Villiger Do Brasil based on the band.
  • I’d be interested to see some the wrapper leaves on their own to see how thin they are, as they feel very thin on the finished cigar.
  • These cigars did not like having their bands removed. The fragile wrapper was an issue in its own right, but the bands were incredibly tough to remove even when warm, and in one case it felt like it was glued to the wrapper.
  • For someone who doesn’t smoke a lot of Brazilian tobacco, I think the first few puffs of this cigar are critical in determining the reception for the rest of the cigar. They are just different enough from other cigars that it sets an interesting tone that I could see some shying away from due to the uniqueness.
  • While the Villiger do Brasil Claro Toro offers a good amount of flavor, I didn’t get much in the way of nicotine strength.
  • I was quite surprised by how long it took to smoke this cigar, though the slower smoking time definitely pays dividends.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Villiger Cigars North America.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 30 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Famous Smoke Shop carries the Villiger do Brasil Claro Toro.
88 Overall Score

If there is a phrase you don't hear everyday in the cigar world, it's Brazilian puro. As such, not only can I imagine a good number of people not knowing what this might taste like, but might be averse to trying it in the first place. What I will tell you is that you should definitely try it, first because it will expand your horizons and knowledge of cigars, but second, because when the cigar hits its high points, it is very enjoyable. There is a distinct flavor profile that comes out of this cigar that blends sweetness, a complex chili pepper spice, fragrant woods and some unique earth and terroir with impressive results. Where the problems come in is when those first elements fade out of the profile, as for my palate the earth isn't terribly enjoyable and the remnant black pepper becomes a bit grating. Even though this cigar may not be perfect, it offers more than enough of a unique and enjoyable experience to warrant grabbing a single or even a five-pack so you can get a couple of opportunities to dive into the offerings of this Brazilian puro.

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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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