Many years ago I wrote off cigars from the Philippines, as well as cigars with Indonesian wrappers. When I heard that the folks at Daughters & Ryan, famed for distributing pipe tobacco, RYO, shisha and e-liquids, were the exclusive US distributor for Philippine company Tabacalera Incorporada, I was skeptical. I looked over the portfolio and saw mostly blends of Indonesian and Philippine tobaccos. Still, keeping an open mind, and trusting that things have changed since the ’90s when I decided I didn’t like these tobaccos, I figured I’d try some of the offerings of this 130+ year old company. I was quite curious about the 1881 Perique Maduro, the Tabacalera Gran Reserva and the Don Juan Urquijo, so I smoked a few of them over the last couple days.
You know well enough by now what I went for first, I strive to be consistent. The 1881 Perique Maduro in the toro size was the blend that piqued my interest in giving this companies cigars a try. The cigar has a Dominican maduro wrapper, binder form the Philippines (from a 1997 crop), and the filler is 18% Perique from a farm in Louisiana owned by Daughters & Ryan and Philippine leaf. Perique is typically a pipe tobacco, it’s usually blended because it’s very strong, and has a distinctive flavor. This type of tobacco was being cultivated in Louisiana by the local Native American tribes when Europeans wandered into the area in the 1700s. The cigar was outstanding, I really enjoyed the heck out of it. That interesting Perique spice was a welcomed difference and made for a very interesting hour and a half or so. I’m not sure how to describe it except that there is a bit of a fruityness along with the rich sweetness of the maduro wrapper. Loved it in to toro, looking forward to trying it in other sizes ( it comes in the toro, torpedo and torpedito, robusto and short robusto). After enjoying this so much, my skepticism is fading.
Later in the evening I took a walk in the company of the dog and a Don Juan Urquijo Pyramid. Short tangent: I’m finding that my go-to sizes recently are the toro and torpedo or pyramid sizes, somewhere in the 6″-6½” x 50-54 range. I don’t know if these sizes best fit my attention span, or if I like to have that amount of time to relax with a cigar or what. I’m sure it’s time related, sometimes a robusto (of which I have a great many), just isn’t long enough…anyway, back to the cigar. The Don Juan Urquijo is a four country blend, it has what I consider to be an ugly colored Java wrapper, the Isabela binder from the Philippines, and fillers from the Philippines, Dominican Republic and Brazil. Going back to the wrapper color. When I see this wrapper color it’s a turn-off, it’s a babycrap kind of olive/brown that just doesn’t appeal to me. A few years ago Villiger made their 125th Anniversary with a similar colored wrapper and had the good sense to put it in a tube. However, this was one tasty cigar. It’s on the mild side, but loaded with complex flavors that were both creamy and spicy with a nice sweetness. Never judge a book by its cover. It was perfectly balanced, well made, and a delight to smoke. This would be a great cigar to have with coffee in the morning, but it was perfect after a nice dinner of leftovers from the previous day’s feast. I kinda regret being so hard on the wrapper color, it was so good. It would have been a shame to have passed this by on a tobacconist’s shelf. My preconceived notions continue to be dashed.
Yesterday I selected the final cigar of the three I had. There are seven lines now from this factory, with eleven new lines expected soon. (that’s my understanding, maybe there are four new lines coming to expand the selection to eleven?). Anyway, the last one was a robusto in the Gran Reserve line. This is the only size in this line, and it boasts a 16-year-old Brazilian wrapper, and twenty-two year old Isabela binder and filler from the Philippines. It’s amazing that they have tobacco this old, twenty years ago everyone was buying whatever tobacco they could and rolling cigars because there was a huge cigar boom. Tobacco was scarce, good cigars were scarce, it’s a wonder I stuck with the cigar hobby! Anyway, the Tabacalera Gran Reserva Robusto definitely tastes like well aged tobacco, with a core of sweet cedar flavors. It’s pretty obvious that a lot of care goes into the production of this cigar, as well as the others I smoked. There were occasions that I sat one down for ten minutes and it didn’t need a relight, and none of the three I smoked required any corrections. These are very nice cigars with a little something for everyone. As far as where to get them goes, They do have some available for sale on their website, and I suspect they will be available in brick and mortar retailers. As I said in the intro, Daughters & Ryan based in North Carolina are the US distributors. The aren’t a cheap date, but well worth the price.
Thanks to Mike Rubish, the National Sales Director at Daughters & Ryan for facilitating the sampling of Tabacalera Cigars from the Philippines! On another note, after Thanksgiving dinner was cleaned up and all the guests were gone, I walked off dinner with a Drew Estate Liga Privada Serie Unico L40 that was five years old (original release). It was a fantastic smoke! With that I think I’ve smoked all of the regular production Unicos and this might have been my favorite right behind the Feral Flying Pig. That’s all I have for today, until the next time,