Good afternoon everyone. With a dearth of reviews for the past month, I thought it was high time to get back in gear and roll a few out. So, expect several over the next 10 days or so. I’m beginning with the Toro y Leon Claro Historico, a cigar I am long overdue in reviewing. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a few of these in South Florida earlier in 2012, but with none of my local retailers carrying the line I had gone without until IPCPR. Andrei Iordachescu was kind enough to give me a couple of samples at the show, and I have subsequently found them at one of my haunts whenever I’m traveling down south. The Toro y Leon Claro line, from Tabacos Santandres, is a Nicaraguan puro and is available in 8 vitolas – Dorado (6X50), Prominente (7.75X50), Historico (7X48), Exclusivo (7X46), Elegancia (7.25X35), #4 (5X42), Famoso (5X52), and Prestancia (6.25X38). From the TabacosSantandres website, the Claro “is a mélange of carefully selected and extremely aged tobacco leaves from our fields in Esteli and Jalapa Valley in Nicaragua. Born from our best Cuban-seed long-filler and binder they are all draped in a rare Habano-seed “desflorado” wrapper. The plants require constant vigilance and when the flower buds are just getting ready to bloom they are cut off giving the tobacco an extra rich and smooth flavor, making this type of wrapper to be among the best and the most expensive available anywhere.“
For today’s review, I am smoking the Historico. It comes clothed in a uniform, lightly colored wrapper. Each of these that I have smoked has been blemish-free and very smooth to the touch. There are occasional but barely noticeable thin veins and little oiliness – the cigars are quite dry to the touch. After having smoked a dozen or more Toro y Leon cigars, I have noticed a pattern of impeccable construction. The (triple) cap in particular has been perfectly placed and applied in every case. I am sometimes persnickety and critical of construction issues, especially at the head of the cigar; I rarely enjoy a smoke if the cap is bothersome or tends to unravel. Without fail, the Toro y Leon has provided unfailing quality. The internal construction has been equally impressive, with never an issue with voids or overly dense areas. Today’s example is no exception, and presents a firm yet free draw. As for prelight aroma, the Historico wrapper carries a mild smell of tobacco and hay. The foot aroma is a bit more dark and sweet – a slightly more pungent hay or barnyard is brought to mind. The prelight draw is straightforward hay. On initial light, and for the first few minutes of smoking, the flavor is mild but does create a bit of peppery “zing” through the nose on retrohale. There is an overarching sweetness that binds the pepper to some wood and leather flavors. Likely due to the aforementioned diligence in construction, the burn is very even and well-behaved. No relights or even touchups to speak of. The ash is holding on around the one-inch mark when I inadvertently knock it off while retrieving it from the ashtray.
Going into the midsection of the cigar, the early pepper has faded quite a bit, but the flavors remain very consistent; wood and leather abound. The burn continues to perform admirably, still without so much as a touchup. The smoke becomes somewhat drying on the palate. I have noticed that sweet snacks or drinks do not pair so well with the Toro y Leon; I like to simply have a glass of water or plain, black coffee in hand with them. Throughout this portion of the smoke, no significant changes occur with the flavors. They remain bold but consistent. I would place the strength of the cigar well in medium territory.
Turning the corner into the final portion of the Toro y Leon, the finish seems to lengthen, which provides an enjoyable, slightly cedary spice that tends to linger on the palate. I am impressed by the smoke production of this line of cigars. It does not produce vast amounts of smoke while smoldering on the ashtray (à la the Drew Estates UnderCrown), but when drawn it creates tons of palate coating smoke. The burn continues with its earlier perfection, and both flavor and strength intensify in the final stretch.
Some folks constantly seek a cigar that will repeatedly present flavor changes throughout the smoke. While I can understand that search for “complexity,” I find it refreshing to find a cigar that simply provides pleasant flavors for the entire length of the stick. The Toro y Leon does just that. The range of flavors from one cigar to the next is quite consistent, and within an individual cigar very comfortable and dependable. I’d place both the flavor and strength of the Claro line firmly into medium territory (with a noteworthy intensification during the final third). In my opinion, it is bold enough to be entertaining and hold anyone’s interest – yet still approachable for a fledgling cigar enthusiast. I’d definitely recommend giving these a try if you can locate them at your local shop…and recommend them to your tobacconist if not.