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Vegas Robaina Taste Test

Vegas Robaina Unicos

Reviewed by Don Hanes - February 2003

Cigar 1
A beautiful milk chocolate colored, lightly shiny wrapper, with few coarse veins. This enviting pyramid had a spongy, fresh feel, with soft spots present near the head. Overall it appeared to be expertly rolled, and very well made. It was of medium weight in hand, it possessed a good light, and open airy draw. My first flavor impression was very light,somewhat complex tabacco taste. After 1/2" smoked, I found more satisfying, meaty, medium overtones, with a dry cocoa aftertaste. This cigar had a good burn, which produced a light/med. grey very flaky ash. The smoke was of floral properties, and was not offensive. Slight flavor and strength burst at the half way point, which developed into some orange peel notes, as well as bitter sweet chocolate flavor. As I approached the finish the flavors started to sour, with a ever so slight,minty, tongue tingling bite. This cigar smoked for 1 1/2 hours. Overall not a great cuban cigar experience. I have had these before, and the Fonseca Bin 27 port that I pai red with it, seemed to overpower the cigar. There seemed to be a lack of ligero in this one. An any time of the day smoke, of light, slightly complex tabacco flavors.

Cigar 2
This was a beauty. A chocolate brown toothy wrapper, with some veins present. It had a greenish hue to the wrapper with slight oil on the surface. Some soft spots around the head, but overall very well made with a well packed, even roll. This sample was also very fresh, and spongy feel at the foot. The cut was fast and clean, indicating a well aged and humidified cigar. I paired this one with a fine tawny port made by Noval. Once lit it's burn became irregular, and took a little attention to get it to burn straight. The first flavor was light tabacco tastes, but complex and very aromatic. As the smoke progressed, it became very meaty, chewy, and thick. It had loads of light colored smoke, due to the very open draw, but exhibits a flaky but solid dark grey ash, with a slight tunneling effect. I noticed moldy/green tabacco flavors, at the 1/2 way point. The character of this cigar changed dramatically at this point. Flavors started to abound, such hints of cinnamon, and a light cocoa, with overtones of al lspice were all there. More of a medium to full body richness was present. I think it could have used a little more humidor time, as it also showed signs of roughness, that could perhaps mellow with time. The last 1/4 really grabs you unexpectedly, a real eye opener, flavor bursts, and loads of spicy tongue tingling notes. I had to put it down at about 1 1/2", the power, and spice were overwelming!

Overall view on this smoke, in a word, excellent. This reminds me of Vegas Rabainos I have smoked in the past!

Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro Reviewed by Joe P (March 2002)

I was pleasantly surprised to be selected as one this months taste testers. I eagerly opened my envelope containing 3 Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro's. This cigar is also known as the double corona. It measures 7 5/8 X 49. This is considered a mild cigar. All 3 cigars looked similar, dark in color, with a medium shine. They all seemed well constructed with a nice cap, smooth wrappers, and a firm feel. I promise not to use any descriptions that I have become so tired of reading in the leading cigar magazine. I haven't tasted leather, soil, or juniper berries. I'll keep it simple and to the point. As I took my notes, I broke down each cigar into 1/3's. I also double cut each cigar in an X pattern with a table-top V cutter.

Here goes: The 1st cigar was firm to the feel, with a hard spot near the cap. The draw was fine as I lit up, instantly I was distracted from lighting, by the rich aroma. The first 1/3 of this cigar was pleasant, with an even burn and a solid ash. The flavor was mild, yet rich and mature. As I entered the middle of this cigar I noticed a spicy aftertaste. I'm now at the half way point, 25 minutes have passed. My ashes were coming off in pieces at least 1 inch long. I set the cigar down for 7-8 minutes while I took some notes. When I put it back in my mouth, it was still lit, with an even burn. As I entered the final 1/3 the rich flavor slightly increased, and the draw slowed down. This cigar lasted 70 minutes and got more intense as time went on. This was a classic, a real smokers cigar, with a great finish. I think I could have reassembled the large pieces of ash and smoked it again. I do confess to smoking the 1" butt about an hour later for another 10 minutes of pleasure.

Cigar #2 - This cigar felt firm overall, but the foot was a bit loose. Upon lighting, the draw was quick. This cigar started with an uneven burn and a loose ash. It seemed to smoke faster. The rich mild flavor was present. After about 10 minutes the problems I was having straightened themselves out. The cigar now burned even, and the ash was solid. The spicy aftertaste was present, as a fantastic aroma lingered around the room. The draw was perfect, the flavor pleasantly intensified. 65 minutes later I was done.

Cigar #3 - This cigar had an even, firm feel throughout. The cigar lit up evenly but soon turned into a very uneven burn. The first ash was loose and broke apart. This fixed itself just like cigar #2 did. The middle of this cigar was heaven, medium, rich, flavor that intensified. Medium amount of smoke, pleasant aroma. Spicy aftertaste. Once again, this cigar seemed to slow down towards the end, still burning even, just slower. A great finish. 70 minutes long.

Recap - These cigars showed all the signs of quality. Great appearance, smooth wrapper, dark in color, semi-oily. They were firm in feel. Overall, the ash was firm and the cigar stayed lit, even when put down for a time. The fact that 2 of these cigars started out a little uneven then corrected themselves says quality construction. The taste and aroma was mature and rich, yet mild. Not strong or bitter. I also enjoyed the increase in flavor and spicy aftertaste as the time went on. I would highly recommend this cigar, it is complex. It's mild and manageable at first, then catches you by surprise with the finish. It has something everyone can appreciate, from beginner to aficionado.

Vegas Robaina Don Alejandro

Reviewed by Joe Gellman (25th October 2001)

First the man, then the cigar. In 1845 the Robaina family began producing tobacco. A little over 100 years later, Alejandro Robaina took control of the family business. The leaf grows on his personal hectare is stupendous. He grows coffee and cocoa beans for his personal use. He has divined, in the ambrosian sense, a method for growing superior plants. His efforts have paid off, handsomely.

While many may take the three hour drive from Havana to the Don's home, very few have been lucky enough to spend the better part of the day with him. The group I was with, in November 2000, did just that. We were taken on what can only be called The Grand Tour of his domain. The events that took place dazzled every one of us, MO included! The café cubana, made from his homegrown beans never seemed to stop flowing. The special cigars he had rolled for us went quickly, only to be replaced by more. I am certain MO has some photos of the event; I know one hangs in his abode, signed by the Don, with your truly clinking coffee cups while MO squats at the feet of the Master.

The DA is a double corona, measuring 193 x 20 (3/4 x 7 5/8). It is elegant to view, sensuous to the touch, and a delight to taste. But enough for the mundane.

Several reviewers of this vitola have differing reports to make about almost every aspect of the cigar, except for giving it the highest rating. As usual, I tend to differ with all that has been said except for the rating.

The wrapper is grown at the Don's farm to ensure perfection. The wrapper is a rich deep brown, silky to the touch, revealing a light oily sheen. Before lighting the cigar has a flattish indistinct flavor. The cigar is solid, no soft spots revealed, and is squarish as a result of the manner it is boxed.

There is a distinct flavor and aroma of fresh coffee when first lit. The flavor remains throughout the smoke, wavering from subtle to slightly pronounced. In no case does this one flavor take over the cigar. The draw is perfect, cool, and produces ample amounts of smoke. The aroma fills the room with wisps of burning winter wood with a hint of wet leather.

The cigar burns slow and even, producing a medium gray ash that adheres to the end until tapped off.

After about 10 minutes you will notice a slight ambrosian flavor which never overshadows yet blends well to make this a rich, medium bodied smoke. Hints of winter blossoms come to mind and, a friend sitting near me said he thought he smelled flowers; I said nothing.

After the first third of the cigar the flavors develop and what you tasted, first, just gets better. Most reviewers tried to write about this cigar while it was new to the market and did not do it justice. One writer said the last part of the cigar was hot and pasty. Another described the cigar as spicy. Both were wrong. Both were correct. When this cigar was first produced it was destined for aging before smoking. Without the development of the various leaves, with some age, this cigar is not worth smoking. Fortunately, the cigar is now aged before shipping and you will be more than pleased at your purchase. I kept a box for a year, smoking two cigars a month. After a dew months the cigar became one of the best in my humidor.

One warning: You must be prepared to spend some time with this friend. It does smoke slowly, giving you the most for your money. Thumbs up for the Don and his ability to forget with the hands of the Gods.

Vegas Robaina Famosos

Reviewed by Mark Dickenson (May 2001)

As a general rule, cigars with larger ring gauges tend to be fuller flavoured (there is normally more ligero and less volado in the blend), smoke more smoothly and slowly, and heat less fast than those with small ring gauges. They also tend to be better made than the smaller ones (which are the sizes recently qualified apprentices start on). Cigars with small ring gauges have little or no ligero in the blend. Large ring gauge cigars are almost always the preferred choice –if there is no hurry - of connoisseurs or experienced cigar smokers.

The Cigar Companion: The Connoisseur's Guide, 3rd Edition', Anwer Bati, Simon Chase'The Cigar Companion: The Connoisseur's Guide, 3rd Edition', Anwer Bati, Simon Chase.

As a Hermoso #4 the Vegas Robaina Famosos join the distinguished company of the H.Upmann Connoisseurs #1, Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme, Romeo Exhibition #4, and Saint Luis Rey Regios, some of my favourite smokes. Under the marque of Vegas Robaina, the Unicos are particularly recommended; in December of last year, C.GARS Ltd provided me with one that remains to this day the best single smoking experience of my life. Would this Hermoso live up to the promise of its predecessors in this vitola, and the excellence of it's stable?

It was pleasing to discover that all three of the samples for the Famosos had a loose band. You might be like myself and want to be rid of this distraction as soon as possible so that there is nothing between oneself and the smoke. The second step in preparing the cigar for smoking gave pleasant surprises also. Two of the cigars had the type of rounded cap that Jamaica's Macanudo have been advertising recently (see issue 5 of 'Cigar Style'). It makes for an easy and clean cut with more margins for error than the square shouldered brother does, as featured in the third sample. Thus two were cut with the usual guillotine and the last with a punch. All three Famosos were crowned with a generous sized cap sitting atop the cigar like and umbrella. This was most welcome so that even a clumsy deep cut into the cap would not threaten the wrapper security.

These cigars were gently box-pressed but not severely so, as can sometimes seem a crude attack on their natural shape. The Famosos provided a mostly unassuming pre-light scent, none at all for one of the samples and only a delicate fragrance from its siblings. All bore silky lustrous wrappers, one with an especially appealing oily sheen to the cap end. One has no hesitation in declaring the wrapper construction on all of these samples as an easy 9/10. However, it would have been nice to see a little more colour; my untrained eye puts the shade at somewhere between a Colorado and Colorado claro.

Each sample I found to be mostly kind on the nose, with no ammonia related harshness at all. My first smoking of a Famoso reminded at first of the classic tobacco flavour of a Punch, but then lifted with a sophisticated aspect that I would not normally attribute to that brand. Then I began to understand why, the flavour rushed towards the alcoholic complexity of a Saint Luis Rey, albeit rather more accessible. Unusually for myself, this smoke was more enjoyable on the palate than in the nose. My feeling was that I may not have helped the full enjoyment of the cigar by smoking in the morning because it was rather full in flavour, more suited to the evening. When this cigar was re-lit after the halfway point, it was in brutal form and I could not continue with it, which was disappointing.

The second of the sample Famosos, this time taken in the afternoon, was a rather different experience in the balance and type of flavours to the first. Shot through with hints of spice and followed by the always-pleasing floral sweetness of honey, one is perhaps reminded of the tart fruit flavour of a good red wine. Yet overall, the initial impression of a milder blend than the first was true throughout. This smoke continued to be soft rounded and mellow, indeed reminiscent of the Choix Supreme - at it's best! When re-lit, this sample developed a woody note that took on our own Joe Gellman's ingenious description, amber. Lovely, lovely amber!

The third cigar of the sample began like a puzzle waiting to be worked out. A complex and intriguing balance of familiar and tantalizingly obscure flavours led me to wonder where it was going to go. Indeed, the first indications were resoundingly positive creating the impression of a quality smoke, something one would be pleased to offer a dinner guest. The flavours of the cigar developed a creamy bent, mild but pleasing that grew to a more earthy robust style to the finish. Whilst the main body, and finish of the smoke did not quite exceed my early expectations, it remained pleasant throughout.

The ash is always of interest to the Havana fan. On a personal level, I am always delighted to see a dazzling white display of ash clashing with a maduro wrapper, yet one is often surprised to see a bleak dark gray product that has produced a most remarkable smoke. When I think about the great and poor smokes I have had and the ash associated with each I become increasingly of the opinion that ash indicates very little of significance. For example, the last cigar in this sample produced a powdery ash that crumbled rather than broke off. This is often taken to be a sign of a poor internal structure, but there was no question of that here at all. I was aware of absolutely no faults in the Torcedor's craftsmanship whatsoever, enjoying a perfect draw throughout. Particularly when I left the cigar to burn by itself for a moment, I returned to a cool smoke that was the perfect medium for the flavour. The second sample drew a little too easy to get a great volume of smoke, which was fine because I like to puff gently at a cigar and enjoy the aroma at my leisure.

My overall feeling about the Vegas Robaina Famosos is that the vitola has great promise. Famosos can comfortably hold a junior place among the Hermoso#4 family. A fan of the vitola like myself would be well advised to check back in on this vitola from time to time. Amongst the samples provided by C.GARS Ltd, all were perfectly matured and ready for smoking, yet one wonders if a seat in the humidor for a further couple of months might give a further touch of refinement to an enjoyable and solidly crafted cigar. If that little extra time did work a final polish on them they would be something for all lovers of Cuban to enthusiastically seek out and jealously appropriate for their own supplies.

Vegas Robaina Familiar

Reviewed by Peter Hunt (December 2000)

On first examining the cigar it was obvious that it was very well made, the wrapper was a nice even colour, light chocolate brown with a distinctive gold and brown band. The cigar felt firm along its length but not too firm, which suggested that it would be a fairly easy draw. I was not to be disappointed. No soft spots were evident so a nice even burn was anticipated. On cutting the cigar the cap came off nicely and in one piece and before lighting, the cigar did indeed have that easy draw which I look for. (No huffing and puffing on this one!) Once light the cigar immediately started to release some wonderful flavours and aromas, with lashings of creamy smoke. The initial flavours were, to my palate creamy, coffee with a hint of spice. The ash held well for over and inch with one or two veins nicely replicated in it before I felt compelled to to rest it in the ash tray, and I am happy to say that the cigar did burn very evenly throughout its length. Within about ten minutes I began to feel that delicious intoxication of a very good cigar, from then on the cigar just kept getting better. At no time was there any hint of harshness although I have no idea how old this cigar was, it was truly a sublime smoke. The cigar was nicely complimented by a cup of coffee and some unseasonably warm winter sunshine, smoked in my favourite spot on my patio at home in Kent.

Towards the end, the cigar began to release flavours that I can only describe as reminiscent of fennel seeds and a powerful flavour of fennel was left in the mouth. It was, all in all a delightful experience which lasted for a little over 45 minutes. I was able to smoke this one right down to the end, with only about 3/4 of an inch remaining. I would not hesitate to recommend these fine cigars to any of the cigar smoking community out there.