Back at the 2015 IPCPR Trade Show, Las Cumbres Tabaco introduced their third cigar offering, the Señorial Maduro by José Blanco. José and his wife, Emma, founded the company back in 2014. New as the brand may be, José Blanco is old news in the cigar industry as a whole, being a long time master blender for several prestigious brands—most recently as Senior Vice President for Joya de Nicaragua and Sales Director for La Aurora. Blanco is also known for his tasting seminars, where he goes in-depth into the tobacco industry—from planting seeds, growing tobacco, and all the way to smoking a cigar the right way.

José Blanco has had a busy and lively career, but only recently as a credited blender. He spent most of his career climbing up the corporate ladder in sales, starting out at a Dominican rum maker. After a few years, he made it to the tobacco side of things by joining Presidente beer and Marlboro cigarettes. It took him nearly 30 years before he officially worked in the cigar industry when La Aurora hired him on as their sales manager. Quickly after that, Blanco acquired a taste and passion for blending cigars, which led to his big success in 2003—blending the 100 Años—a pinnacle for La Aurora. The cigars achieved several accolades at the time, gaining much-needed recognition for Blanco on the cigar blending side of the business.

Blanco moved from La Aurora to Joya de Nicaragua and eventually co-founded his own operation in 2014 with his wife, Emma Viktorsson. Together, they launched two lines in 2014, a third offering in 2015, and added new sizes to their catalogue in 2016. But big changes were in store for Las Cumbres Tabaco, as the FDA’s regulations on the cigar industry went into effect shortly after the 2016 IPCPR trade show. With an uncertainty regarding the impact of the FDA’s rumored costly submission process (suggested to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per blend), Blanco left Las Cumbres Tabaco only months after the IPCPR trade show, moving to a more secure position as senior vice president of EPC Cigar Co. Blanco retained a portion of ownership with Las Cumbres Tabaco, but Emma took over the majority—as she will now focus the brand outside the U.S.

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Señorial Maduro Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Dominican Piloto Cubano
  • Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano | Dominican Criollo ’98
  • Factory: Tabacalera Palma (Dominican Republic)
  • Production: Regular Release
  • Vitola: 5¾” × 46 “El Cuadro” (corona gorda)
  • Price: $7.50 (MSRP)

Las Cumbres Tabaco’s junior year in the industry fell short of their promised trio of new cigar lines—showcasing only new sizes of existing lines at the 2016 IPCPR show. One such line extension was “El Cuadro,” which introduced a heavily box-pressed edition to 2015’s Señorial Maduro line. The cigars come in the corona gorda range, using a 5¾” × 46 vitola.

Look/Feel

At first glance, the look of the Señorial Maduro definitely turned me off. It isn’t exactly an attractive look, nor one that stands out – it’s just sort of there. The tobacco and shape of the cigar is great, but the band simply looks dated and boring, and not in a classical or rustic way. The band has a lot going on, with a typical western theme. There’s the western town, with the cigar’s labels applied in three different fonts of the gold and black variety, finished off with an out-of-place Victorian England golden outer-lay.

As stated previously, however, the tobacco itself is very appealing. The San Andrés wrapper is beautiful and precise, with extremely clean box-pressed sides and minimal veins to be seen or felt anywhere. There is a slight tooth surrounding the wrapper and a very light white dust as well. The cap is not quite as graceful, with a few bumps and uneven layers, and the foot shows an average medium pack with an even, soft feel between the fingers.

Smoking Experience

The cap cuts off rather nicely, with minimal tobacco shavings. The draw proves on the loose side, cooling my tongue of tobacco and musty cedar aromas. The San Andrés maduro wrapper takes a good toasting to get lit properly, but once lit, lets off an absorbent amount of smoke output. The initial flavors are a very mild pepper and earth, and the smoke, as voluminous as it may be, feels very light and airy in the mouth—leading to a dissatisfying finish. The draw is definitely on the loose side, and as the burn develops, it seems to be harder and harder to keep the thick wrapper lit.

Deep into the first third, some much needed flavor finally opens up, although not as much as I would like. There is a deep and tasty tobacco core, surrounded by pepper, earth, and a little spice on the finish. The retrohale is very easy and adds a nice cream to the palate, both in texture and flavor, which definitely helps the overall feel to the smoke. The tobacco is burning fairly well thus far, with no touch-ups needed (yet). The mouthfeel the smoke leaves is still overall unsatisfactory, but I can tell it is getting better as it burns.



Señorial Maduro El Cuadro cigar smoking

The draw remains the same throughout the smoke—loose but manageable. Burning near the halfway point, however, the wrapper falls a bit behind on the burn and the cigar begins to tunnel. This causes the smoke to feel even worse, but an easy touch-up fixes things surprisingly quickly. The cigar begins to deepen through the second third, bringing the flavor and body to a solid medium. Tobacco, earth, cedar, and coffee make up the forefront of the palate, while softer notes of chocolate, licorice, cream, and spices reside on the finish and through the retrohale.

Finishing things up, the Señorial Maduro definitely gets better. I had no burn problems after the tunneling incident, and the smoke eventually came to a normal consistency that I approved of. The flavors didn’t change much, but did intensify along with the body and strength, rounding things out to a medium-plus to full—with the strength and body on the full side. The draw never tightened, and the ash never fell off before the 1 to 2 inch mark—not to mention a very slow burn.

Señorial Maduro El Cuadro cigar ash

Would I smoke this again?

Probably not. The Señorial Maduro is by no means a bad cigar, it simply didn’t do enough for my particular pallet—and there’s nothing wrong with that. For the price, there is a solid amount of complexity here that is hard to find in most maduros of its price range—but there are some drawbacks one has to weigh for themselves.

Maduro junky? You won’t be disappointed.

  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: sweet soda | light to medium roast coffee | water
  • Purchase Recommendation: single try

Señorial Maduro El Cuadro cigar nubbed

Señorial Maduro El Cuadro
José Blanco is the real deal. The man loves tobacco and everything to do with cigars, and he’s been pursuing his craft for over 50 years. No one is going to question his expertise—he is a critically acclaimed blender. That being said, I think his second Señorial release could have benefited from a little more care and attention. Then again, it’s extremely hard to say what went wrong with a cigar. It could have been my climate, the fact that I honestly don’t care for most cigars from the Dominican Republic, or maybe it was simply a bad cigar from and overall great batch. There is no way to tell. However, the Señorial Maduro didn’t quite do it for me. I’m very picky with most maduros, and when it comes to the flavor profile, the Señorial scored! Problem is, it didn’t stand out enough from the strength or overall body. And with a few burn problems and thin smoke, lacking development or transitions, and an overall distasteful design, the Señorial Maduro simply falls behind.
Appearance78%
Burn/Construction84%
Draw87%
Flavor89%
Complexity90%
Price/Value92%
Pros
  • Good complexity
  • Slow burn
Cons
  • Burn issues
  • Thin smoke
  • Weak flavor
87%Docile

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