Late in 2018, I was up north for some family events and visits, one of which landed me Pittsburgh, PA. I took the opportunity while there to connect with my Stogie Press contributor, health coach and all around food nerd, Mike Bruce. Besides his love for cigars, Mike runs a website LifeStartsWithFood.com which you may want to check out if you are struggling with fad diets that don’t work. OK, enough of the selfish plug of my good friends.
When in Pittsburgh, as a cigar enthusiast, you need to visit Leaf and Bean Strip, Island Jim Robinson’s shop in downtown. That’s precisely what Mike and I did and you can read the shop review here. While there we picked up a collection of “Leaf By” cigars, one of which was the Leaf by Esteban. Now if you are familiar with the highly acclaimed and hot selling Leaf by Oscar, then you may want to expand your palate and check out the Leaf by Esteban, which is what Mike and I did yesterday afternoon on a video Facebook chat together. Today we present to you, our take on this cigar.
The Leaf by Esteban
Before I get into the review allow me to introduce you to the Leaf by Esteban. The cigar is the work of Master Blender Esteban Dislas who just so happens to be the Master Blender for RoMa Craft Tobac. Esteban is known for such blends as the CroMagnon, Intemperance and Aquiatane. Though originally created just for the Leaf and Bean Strip shop, Island Jim realized how good the blend was and expanded it to the wider marketplace.
These are limited edition cigars that come in a single 6 x 52 toro vitola. They come packaged in 20-count bundles and have an MSRP of $10.00 but I have seen them offered for sale at Atlantic Cigars for $180.00 a bundle.
The rich multi country and Nicaraguan regional blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder – Jalapa Criollo/Corojo Hybrid, Nicaragua
- Filler – Estelí, Jalapa, and Condega, Nicaragua
The Leaf by Esteban is hand crafted at Fabricas de Nica Sueño in Esteli, Nicaragua.
Both cigar samples for this review have been aging in mine and Mike’s humidors for 5 months so it was time to burn them to ash!
The Leaf by Esteban is a sightly rugged looking cigar with a medium brown wrapper that has a light grit to the touch. It is a veiny cigar and has a decent oily sheen on the wrapper and it is finished with a simple cap.
There is a single band that brands the cigar and uses the same concept as the Leaf by Oscar, in that it is made from recycled tobacco product so it can actually be smoke through if you so desire (we chose not to). The band is dark tan in color with with the phrase “Leaf by Esteban” printed in black ink.
The pre-light included a curing barn aroma along the barrel and rich cedar notes off the foot. I also picked up a touch of fruit and light baking spice on the foot also.
The fun begins with the cold draw. I did a straight cut and Mike used his punch to open the cap. There is a fruit note, subtle pepper, and something I could not place, but Mike noted mocha so we will go with that.
We both agreed this is ready to burn to ash so we ignited them up. We both used torch lighters to get the burn started. We both picked up a light white pepper note, but with Mike being the foodie he is, he also noted there was a pink peppercorn note also.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial notes of white pepper and pink peppercorn
- Sweetness enters quickly in the profile
- Toasted sugar lingers in the palate
- Light fruit nuance laying in the background
- Solid white ash forms resting on a medium to thick char line
- Slight wave develops
- Increased spice notes
- Burn starts to run off a bit and when the ash falls there was a an off centered burn cone
- Cedar notes break through
- Very smooth smoke is developing at the end of the first third as the spice begins to fade
- I picked up a pecan note and Mike described it as hazelnut – we both agree on a nut for sure
- Cream entering as it moves into the second third
- Buttery sweetness is filling the palate – Mike notes he loves this profile
- I noted i was still getting a light spice in the background
- Mike picked up a short lived chemical-like note
- Earthy aroma end of second third
- Oils are developing well on the wrapper with a fine blue smoke
- Coffee notes find their way in
- Mike is getting the light spice now, but described it as Cardamom
- Mike also picked up a hint of mocha
- We both agreed that a black peppery spice filled in the final third with a continued creamy finish
- There were no hot spots along the journey in both touch and smoke
- Medium to Full in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 10 minutes
Overall, Mike and I both agreed this is a definitely a second half cigar as that is where the flavor complexity really started to show. The first half was good but the second was spectacular in flavor. We also noted that the the burn in the first half was a bit wonky but after a mild touch-up the second half burned fine. This is certainly worth a fiver. We rate this a 92.
Point Deductions: (-1) Wavy Burn; (-1) Off Burn developed in first half; (-1) Mild Touch-up required; (-1) Off centered burn cone (-1) Short Lived Mineral/Chemical note
Bonus Points: Large Oiling above the Burn (+1)