Isaias Santana Diaz’s decision to enter the tobacco business was primarily motivated by the discovery of his great-grandfather’s diary. Born in Havana in 1973—and therefore exposed to cigar culture at an early age—Diaz left his home country as a teenager bound for Europe, finally settling down in Sweden. In 1990, Isaias found the diary and was enthralled by its entries, stating that, “my heart and soul were touched and I was transformed.”
In the late 19th century, Francisco Crossier—a winemaker in the fertile fields of France—had decided to sail across the rippling waters of the Atlantic Ocean to gather new seeds for his business. However, due to unintended consequence, he landed in Cuba. Crossier soon became enamored with the local tobacco he smoked in his pipe. Instead of returning home, Diaz’s great-grandfather remained in Cuba, using his agricultural talents to grow tobacco and sugar cane. He filled his diary with detailed descriptions of his experiences, declaring that “the Pinar del Rio Valley is a giant humidor all by itself.” After devouring the diary, Isaias attempted to roll his first cigar, immediately realizing the difficulty of the delicate process. He vowed to someday complete the legacy of Francisco Crossier by creating a great cigar.
Diaz left Europe in 1995 and settled in Miami, where he quickly obtained United States citizenship. Eventually, he established Pure Aroma Cigars, Inc. to import and distribute cigars from Costa Rica. In honor of his great-grandfather, he named his line of premium cigars D’Crossier. These boutique cigars soon began to garner critical acclaim among cigar enthusiasts, with the Selection No. 512, the L’Forte, the Golden Blend, and the Golden Blend Aged 10 Years receiving admirable ratings on Cigar Dojo.
At last year’s 2016 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, Isaias Santana Diaz introduced the second extension to the D’Crossier Diplomacy Series Presidential Collection. In naming this new line of cigars the Pennsylvania Avenue, Diaz stated that he is honoring the United States while also making a statement against the new FDA regulations. He said:
Smoking a cigar is about personal freedom, a choice to enjoy something that is familiar, generational and in my case handed down from my father to me. I am hopeful that our industry will be unscathed.
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D’Crossier Pennsylvania Avenue Breakdown
- Wrapper: Costa Rican Habano Criollo Especial
- Binder: Habano
- Filler: Brazil | Dominican Republic
- Factory: Pure Aroma Cigars S.A. (Costa Rica)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5⅞” × 54 “Tainos”
- Price: $12.00 (MSRP)
The D’Crossier Pennsylvania Avenue is the newest line extension to the company’s Diplomacy Series Presidential Collection, which was introduced in 2009. Those cigars were initially offered in the Presidential Four Pack, containing two “Mr. President” and two “Mr. Vice President” vitolas. The Pennsylvania Avenue is rolled in four sizes—the Gordito (4¼” x 52, $8.00 MSRP), the Wide Toro (5⅛” x 58, $11.90 MSRP), the Taino (5⅞” x 54, $12.00 MSRP), and the Robusto (4⅞” x 50, $9.00 MSRP). The cigars are vertically arranged in twelve-count, wooden boxes with a hinged lid.
Composed with a Habano Criollo Especial wrapper from Costa Rica, surrounding a Habano binder and long-leaf filler from Brazil and the Dominican Republic, the cigars were aged in D’Crossier’s custom-built aging warehouse in Hialeah Gardens, Florida for nineteen months prior to shipment.
The Pennsylvania Avenue Tainos is a rustic looking cigar with a short pig-tailed cap. Its Habano Criollo Especial wrapper is lumpy in a few areas and shows reasonably tight seams, a few keloidal scar veins, and pimply tooth. The color of the wrapper is a dark mixture of russet and taupe, with blotches of Charleston green scattered across the face. The foot of the cigar is cut at a slight angle and a medium amount of oiliness produces a superficial sheen in the noonday sun.
The cigar is encased with a large, embossed band printed in the colors of blue, red, and gold. The D’Crossier “DC” logo is located in the center of the band with “SINCE 2008” residing beneath in a minuscule typeface. Flanking the logo are horizontal shields containing the words “HAND MADE.” On the band’s bottom edge—which visually resembles a secondary band—“PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE” is printed in gold. The rear of the band contains the words “Diplomacy Series” lightly embossed in a cursive font. Fairly firmly packed from the foot to the cap—with one soft spot underneath the right side of the band—the wrapper aroma is a delicate combination of aged tobacco and light cedar, while the open foot smells of barnyard, dried earth, and lambskin.
After the cap of the Pennsylvania Avenue is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the initial cold draw is constricted. Flavors of earth, hardwoods, minerals, and natural tobacco immediately touch the palate, while a touch of spiciness formulates on the upper and lower lips.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft, double-flame lighter, the Pennsylvania Avenue begins with a dose of aged tobacco, clay, and pepper. These initial flavors are soon enhanced with notes of cedar, cocoa, and drip-brewed coffee—the combination culminating in a rather dry smoke. The draw of the Tainos is a bit tight, requiring strong puffs to generate an average amount of smoke output from the cap and the foot of the cigar. Nuanced aromas and flavors of assorted nuts and cream mingle together with the dominant notes, while light cedar and freshly-smashed black peppercorns are dominant on the almost tear-producing retrohale.
As the Pennsylvania Avenue enters into its second third, the strength settles into the medium-full range, while the body of the cigar increases in overall boldness. The primary aromas and flavors present in the first third of the Tainos continue to dominate the smoking experience, while the initial drip-brewed coffee note shifts toward a cup prepared in a French press. Additional, but subtle, flavors of pear and plum flirt in and out of the mix, adding a smidgen of complexity to the cigar. At this point, the draw begins to be less restrictive.
Room aroma is fantastic—bold and lush, filling every nook and cranny of the smoking den. The burn line is unruly, holding one inch of dark grey ash, highlighted with streaks of onyx between the stacks. After the ash suddenly falls to the floor, a substantial touch up is required. On the retrohale, the initial notes are replaced by charcoal, must, and “full-on” black pepper.
As it burns through its final third, the Pennsylvania Avenue Tainos loses practically all of its initial appeal and complexity. Aromas and flavors diminish to just natural tobacco and minerals, while an overall bitterness and sourness becomes predominant as the cigar approaches the final inch. The Tainos requires several more touch-ups during this stage, producing a smoking experience which ends on a harsh and unattractive note.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Probably not.” Normally, I would allow the cigars to accumulate some additional time in the humidor to see if they would become smoother. However, since the Pennsylvania Avenue was aged for nineteen months at the D’Crossier warehouse, I do not think that additional aging would help in any way.
- Smoking Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendations: Espresso with sugar, Harp, Old Fashioned cocktail, Manhattan cocktail, blended Scotch whiskey
- Purchase Recommendation: Try one or two
- Great Room Aroma
- Earthy Flavors
- Frequent Touch-Ups
- Limited Complexity
- Sour Finish