Cigar Review: New Cuba by Casa Fernandez

  • NewCuba_straightVitola: Robusto
  • 5” x 50 ring gauge 
  • $2.99
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

I cannot honestly remember the last time I reviewed what are normally call “bundle cigars.” Most come in bundles (think Quorum), some come in boxes (Fuente’s Curly Heads), but what they have in common is the fact that they use short filler tobacco (to save money) with some long and medium filler (to create a better structure) in a “Cuban sandwich” configuration. The cigars generally retail for $2 to $5 a stick and provide a smoking experience that ranges from adequate to completely trash.

I don’t smoke many bundle sticks simply because I haven’t found many that I would purchase a second time. I smoked Quorum early on when I started cigar smoking but I can’t stand the taste now. I never cared much for Curly Heads. Kings Cigars made a bundle that was amazing at one point, but were never able to replicate it on subsequent runs. General Cigar had a good thing with the “House Blend,” but it sounds like they won’t be continuing it. Recently our Casa Fernandez/Aganorsa Leaf rep had me try the New Cuba, though…and I was very pleasantly surprised.

The tray proclaims “Nicaragua is the New Cuba,” in case you were wondering about the name of the cigar. This is what the Aganorsa Leaf website has to say about the blend:

Just because you are on a tight budget doesn’t mean you cant smoke with dignity. New Cuba delivers a level of flavor unheard of for the price. Smoke these while mowing the lawn, fishing, or anytime you want to enjoy a smoke without worrying about your bank account.

New Cuba is available in 6 vitolas and is made 100% from Nicaraguan Aganorsa Leaf, with a Corojo wrapper leaf. They also make a Connecticut Shade version of the blend, which I have not tried. I have smoked several of these before I sat down with this review sample, which I purchased at Burns Tobacconist.

NewCuba_packagePrelight

The New Cuba comes in plastic packaging of 25 individually wrapped cigars. The outer appearance is adequate and functional. The band is nicer than many bundle-level sticks I’ve seen, but still you’re still not going to confuse it for anything other than a bundle-level stick. The wrapper leaf was a peanut butter brown with some mottling and color variation, along with some veininess. Along with a wrap job that isn’t going to win any awards, it’s clear that this is a $3 cigar, but it doesn’t look ugly or badly made.

The wrapper had an aroma of earth with a little cedar and hay. The foot had a richer earthiness with slight notes of espresso and cocoa powder.

I clipped the cigar with my Xikar Xi, although I normally council people to punch mixed filler cigars to avoid  getting too much tobacco left in your mouth. The cold draw was very easy and had notes of earth and cedar mostly.

Flavor

The New Cuba starts off with a heavy dry cedar flavor, backed up by a little earthiness and coffee bean, then you start to feel the heat of black pepper on the back of the palate. The retrohale was slightly cedary, too, but had a massive dose of pepper spice. Subsequent puffs revealed a slight sweetness in the blend…just a touch to balance the other notes. Complex? Yes, for a bundle stick. Sadly, the complexity doesn’t last long. By halfway through the first third, I was mainly getting cedar and more muted hints of earth and pepper…which still wasn’t bad.

The flavor profile of in the second third wasn’t as sharply “cedar” as much as more generic “wood.” There was still earth and pepper and not much else.

There were a few “off” notes during the last third…puffs where the cigar just plain didn’t taste good. But mostly it was a continuation of the wood, with earth and pepper fading a bit.

NewCuba_angleConstruction

The build quality was better than expected. The draw was good without being too loose, like many bundle stick. The ash held on a reasonable half inch or so. The burn line was very even.

Value

Excellent price and good flavor profile equals very good value.

Conclusions

Is New Cuba complex and amazing from end-to-end? No. But it’s still one of the best bundle cigars I’ve ever smoked and something I would gladly smoke when I was short of cash. I normally use it as a “going home cigar,” a cheap (or free) cigar I light up when I leave the shop at night for my hour-long drive home. For that purpose, it is actually quite good. I would also highly recommend it as a “yard-gar” or for when you’re fishing and don’t want to worry about dropping an expensive stick in the lake. Bottom line…it’s a good cigar that definitely outperforms its price point.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 1.5/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 3.5/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 8/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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