2014 was a rocking year for Sam Leccia. He just came off a killer 2013 and introduced the Luchador in 2014 which was met with rave reviews. No sooner could he do a ten count he was acquired by the General Cigar Co. We all wished him great success and were looking forward to what the resources at General would offer up for his future creations. So I met up with Sam at the IPCPR this year and we chatted a little about his latest creation the Luchador El Gringo.
This is an extension to the current Luchador line but this time he chosen to use a Nicaraguan oscuro wrapper, a Nicaraguan habano binder and Pennsylvanian and Nicaraguan ligero fillers
He has also chosen to create some new vitolas for the El Gringo and unlike the original Luchador he has named them after various wrestling moves:
- Chin Music 6 x 48
- Pile Driver 6 x 60
- Squared Circle 6 1/2 x 64 (pyramid square press)
- Frog Splash 4 1/2 x 70 (mat press)
Now these cigars should appear on shelves in few days but I got a few samples of the Frog Splash at the show and decided to review it in time for the September release. Each vitola in the El Gringo line will be available in 21 count boxes similar to his other releases with 3 rows of 7. The number 7 must be his lucky number so why change right? Sam told me that this time there is a cigar size for just about everyone. He has short ones, fat ones, skinny ones, and pyramids. As he was explaining this he handed me the El Gringo which is one of the craziest looking vitolas I have seen. He said it was “mouth friendly”, in other words it is a 70 ring gauge but pressed so it is wider than it is tall. It actually looks a lot like a 3 musketeers bar.
Examining the El Gringo Frog Splash the first thing that comes to mind is, how do you cut this thing. I chose to use a double blade cutter and gently slice off the center of the cap leaving about an 3/8 inch circle in the center of the cap. I suppose you could use a punch or even double punch it one on each side. The wrapper has the color of a medium roasted coffee bean, slightly darker than milk chocolate. There a few veins in the wrapper and it is smooth to the touch. For a short stick it is heavy in the hand. The band on the El Gringo is Classic Luchador but this time Sam has gone with a Red, White, and Blue color combination.
As I run the foot across my nose I pick up a heavy pepper scent, so much so that I let out a sneeze. Oh boy, this is going to be a nasal cleanser at the start for sure. Well the El Gringo has not intimidated me yet so it is time to light this stick on fire. Here comes the next observation, the El Gringo Frog Splash feels funny in the mouth, it is so wide it is like I am being stuffed with a Popsicle as it stretches the side of the mouth – definitely a different experience and one I would have to get used to. I toast it up, the El Gringo hits me with a throat punch early and leave a red pepper lingering on the tongue. The retro-hale is full of pepper too. Although this looks like a candy bar, the El Gringo knows how to fight for sure.
Once the initial pepper burst slows down you are greeted with a peppery nut flavor and then it smooths out with a delicate sweetness near the inch mark of the burn with a full volume of smoke production. The burn has just a slight wave at this point that begins to correct itself over the next few puffs. it has solid tight light grey ash. The nut component remains in the background with rich tobacco flavor on the forefront.
The wave picked up again and needed a touch up just before the band. The ash fell just after removing the band. The El Gringo seemed like it settled down when I started to notice the strength creeping up and a licorice note enter the profile. i guess it got a second wind. There is a leathery finish at this point and the draw has become very loose. Like I noted earlier, I may have to try some other cutting techniques. I welcome comments on this when you try it. I should have ask Sam what he thinks. Other than that burn was decent with a solid hot cone in the center.
The final third delivers a treat of sweet cocoa notes to finish just in case you had that chocolate bar on your mind.
Overall I enjoyed the El Gringo Frog Splash. It was a unique smoking experience but did have a few burn issues that could be the result of how I cut it. It is much different from the original Luchador. The flavor was fairly well-balanced and it had some nice transitions. I will keep the second sample in the humidor for a while to see how it ages.
Stogie Press thanks Sam Leccia and General Cigar for the El Gringo samples.
I am glad I didn’t have to wrestle Flex Armstrong for the samples as our friends over at Cigar Snob caught this video of Sam getting his butt kicked at the IPCPR.