Despite introducing themselves as a manufacturer of premium cigars in the U.S. only a decade ago, Villiger has quite an impressive history, dating back nearly as far as the world’s most reputable Cuban marcas. Jean Villiger, along with his wife Louise, started Villiger Söhne AG in their hometown of Pfeffikon, Switzerland in 1888. Over the next thirty years, the company rose to prominence in the European market, operating as a leading manufacturer of machine-made cigars.
In 1951, Heinrich Villiger (grandson of Jean and Louise) became the third generation Villiger to run the company. Heinrich took substantial steps to move the Villiger brand forward, such as establishing the company as the world’s largest private supplier of Cuban tobacco. Heinrich expanded the brand internationally and even became known outside the realm of cigars; establishing a Villiger Formula One racing team (winning their first race in 1977 under Alan Jones at the Austrian F1 circuit). Because of these efforts, Heinrich Villiger became known for his cosmopolitan charm—seen as somewhat of a “Most Interesting Man in the World” character.
After sixty-five years building the Villiger name, Heinrich appointed Robert Suter as the company’s new CEO in 2016. Heinrich stayed on as chairman of Villiger Söhne AG, working hand in hand with Master Blender Jose Matias Maragoto of the ABAM cigar factory to craft Villiger’s latest installment under their premium, Villiger Cigars brand—La Flor de Ynclan.
La Flor de Ynclan Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Indonesia
- Filler: Nicaraguan | Dominican
- Factory: ABAM Cigars, S.R.L. (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ x 52 | Torpedo
- Price: $12.00 (MSRP)
If La Flor de Ynclan sounds familiar, it’s because it’s not the company’s first attempt with the name. The cigars first debuted in 2005, reviving an old Cuban brand of the same name (which is pronounced “ēn·klahn,” meaning “The Flower of Ynclan,” a small town in Pravia, Spain and a somewhat common surname). But Heinrich was not satisfied with the blend and the brand has been in limbo ever since.
When La Flor de Ynclan was cancelled, a selection of the tobaccos were carefully set aside for aging and have now been brought back for the 2017 iteration. As he did in 2005, Heinrich once again partnered with Jose Matias Maragoto—a Cuban-born, Dominican craftsman that Heinrich first encountered in 1995—for production. For the past decade, Maragoto has been tweaking the La Flor de Ynclan (LFY) blend; waiting for the aging tobaccos to reach their full potential, while striking the desired ratio of tobacco components from the cigar’s diverse, four-country blend.
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La Flor de Ynclan showcases a new look for 2017. The cigars display a charcoal band with “VILLIGER” and the company’s premium cigar crest occupying the cigar’s main band. Below, there is a faux sub-band (attached to the main band) that designates the cigar “La Flor De Ynclan” against a cobalt blue background and red and chrome highlights. It’s a nice look that seamlessly fits in with the premium collection of Villiger cigars; though it isn’t going to be one to stand out in a humidor.
The cigar’s Ecuadorian wrapper is the first component to draw attention, perhaps more so than the cigar’s band. It’s a light and delicate, dusty appearance that almost has the look of plume (yeah, the powder-coated, “real” plume—not that splotchy stuff (mold) you find in social media photos). I don’t believe this was actually plume, but it gives a good idea of the dusty, almost bleached leather appearance of the unique looking wrapper. The overall construction takes a step backwards, showing slightly loose seams, a soft spot or two, and cracking sensation with a subtle squeeze. Despite having what looks to be a medium bunch, the exterior has a papier-mâché-like hardness to it, making for a light but solid feel.
The cigar has loads of interesting notes on the aroma; they are delicate but showcase sweet and funky notes (think Belgian ale) and light, tangy musk on the wrapper. The foot offers lots of orange citrus and more tangy qualities. The pre-light draw is medium, showing light and airy notes of paper and a touch of vanilla.
La Flor de Ynclan lights up with a zesty white pepper note through the retrohale. There is crushed vanilla candy on the finish and a tangy, orange citrus in the background. Unfortunately, the wrapper is quite thin and cracked at the head when cutting. This is ultimately a pro and con, as the thin wrapper seems to be one of the cigar’s prime ingredients (reminiscent of Bombay Tobak’s Gaaja), offering a delicate, yet complex profile thus far.
The smoking texture is on the dry side, showing a slightly under medium smoke output through a medium to medium-plus draw (nearly perfect). The profile is mild in strength, mild to medium in flavor, and mild to medium in body. After the cigar is allowed time to open up, additional flavors enter the fold, offering sweeter notes of vanilla and citrus that make for an orange creamsicle combination. Rounding out the first third, LFY amplifies the spice content from the cigar’s first few puffs, bringing a satisfying zing in the nostrils without being overly intense.
LFY shows signs of tunneling entering the second third and a quick touchup is required. This section of the cigar proves to be a bit stronger, amplifiying the profile to medium-plus in strength, medium in flavor, and an overall medium body. LFY is balanced and classic, showing a really nice sage nuance, joined by graham cracker sweetness.
The final portions of the smoking experience unexpectedly ramp up. Suddenly, there is no longer anything to hold the dithering spice from the cigar’s first two thirds back. Burning brush, sage, various Christmas-like spices, and an absolute onslaught of black pepper rush through the nostrils. This experience would surely be too intense for newcomers—though it is quite a thrill ride for the seasoned enthusiast and an unexpected twist for the cigar’s finale.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Yes and I’d be interested to try it in the two other sizes (5″ x 50 Robusto and 7″ x 48 Churchill) as well. This cigar could easily provide a satisfying morning smoking experience, although it may actually be overkill (i.e. too complex for the average, lackadaisical morning ‘gar). Late afternoon may be the perfect smoking time here, whetting the appetite before a light and fresh meal.
- Smoking Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes.
- Pairing Recommendation: Champagne, mojito, Chardonnay, oolong tea
- Purchase Recommendation: box split (12 cigars)
- Unique flavors
- Near-perfect draw
- Ramping of spice and strength in final third
- Thin wrapper (easily cracks)
- Two to three touhups