Sam Leccia from Leccia Tobacco is most recently known for his creation of the Leccia Black,Leccia White, and Luchidor cigars that came out last year. But Sam was also once the face behind the Oliva Nub and by most sources the co-creator of the Cain blend from the Oliva Cigar Co. Both the Nub and Cain have been very successful in the market. Leccia left the Oliva Cigar Company back in November of 2010 and ventured out on his own in May of 2011 with a fresh new cigar company bearing his name – the Sam Leccia Cigar Co. As part of his new introduction, Sam Leccia created a cigar and blend known as the “Debut” . News quickly followed that Sam was back in the business and cigar aficionados anticipated the release of the Debut. the only problem was, Leccia had a non-compete agreement with the Oliva Cigar Co which was still in force. The Oliva Cigar Co. quickly took Leccia and his new company, the Sam Leccia Cigar Co., to court and filed an injunction to stop the release of the Debut. Even worse, Leccia was banned from attending the annual Retail Cigar Convention that year.
The injunction held and although the Debut cigars were available and were to be offered at the convention the court prohibited it so it never got to the consumer. (See update at end of the article) Many consumers and industry players wondered how good this cigar would have been but since it was not available we never found out. Well four years later, I was sitting with a friend discussing cigars and he reached into his humidor and pulled out a beautiful 7×60 Leccia Debut. My eyes lit up and I asked “how did he come across this gem?” He said not to worry about the details but he would give it to me if I would do the one only review of it in Stogie Press. Well, how could I turn that down. Graciously accepting his offer I placed the Debut in my humidor for a week waiting for the opportune time to burn what may be the only available Debut out there. It was a hard decision, the Leccia Debut was an amazing cigar in look and pre-light aroma. It glistened from head to foot with an oily sheen from its four years of aging and had a sweet cocoa scent on the foot while the barrel smelled like walking into a bakery fresh with rolls and pastries. I don’t know what the Leccia Debut looked like or smelt like back in 2011, but today it was a beauty that was asking to be fired up.
I did not want to light this stick up, I wanted to let it rest another 4 years, but I made a promise to a great friend that I would burn it and review it; and that is what I am doing. A little research on the Leccia Debut revealed, through HalfWheel.com, that the blend was a mix of Nicaraguan, Honduran, Ecuadorian and Dominican tobaccos. and they were to be available in 3 vitoals:
- Double Robusto 5 x 60
- Double Churchill 7 x 60
- Figurado 6 1/4 x 52
I am sampling the Double Churchill.
As noted earlier the Leccia Debut wrapper was incredibly oily and shiny and the pre-light scents were to die for. The band of the Leccia Debut is black, red and gold with two, red eyed dragons, facing each other with the ancient symbol of life – the ankh – centered between them. I can only assume this represents Sam Leccia’s rebirth into the cigar industry and the dragons were there to protect it. There is a red circle with the word “Debut” emblazoned in it along with Sam’s Signature. Most interesting of all is the words “Sam Leccia Cigar Co.” at the bottom of the circle, since that is not the name of the company that introduced the Black, White, and Luchidor these past years. That would be Leccia Tobacco, perhaps the law suit killed the name too? What a shame. The rest of the band is simple in design with a ribbon of black diamonds running across it and the words Totalmente A Mano on the right side.
Well the moment of truth arrived and I clipped the cap. In the course of a couple of hours this prize will be nothing but a smoldering nub with only these words and photos as evidence of the find. A few dry draw puffs and I am greeted with a sensational spicy chocolate flavor. I have written about this flavor before and it compares to these Russian chocolates I got once that had pepper mixed in with the chocolate. A terrific combination for the palate. The pepper of the dry draw lingers a bit on the tongue and the draw itself is just perfect; not restricted but then again not wide open. There is barely any veins in the wrapper and the seams are tight and unnoticeable.
Using a cedar splint I toast the foot and take a few introduction puffs. To my delight the dry-draw pepper is not at all strong, the retro-hale is smooth and easy on the nostrils. There is an immediate nutty aroma. Wow this is beauty kicks in right out of the gate.
As I sit smoking the Leccia Debut, I think to myself – What is harder to get your hands on; the Leccia Debut or a Cuban cigar? I don’t have to tell you that answer do I?
There is a lip smacking, delightful sweetness, that is developing along with a slow perfect burn and a decent volume of rich creamy smoke. Examining the ash you can see that is a little toothy but quite tight.
Getting into the first inch there is a cherry flavor developing that mixes well with the earlier chocolate notes while the head is sweet and tasty itself. The Leccia Debut reminds me of a dark chocolate covered cherry with that sweet inner juice.
As it nears the end of the first third, a good 2 inches or so, the dry draw, bakery scent comes into the profile as a graham cracker flavor shows itself. As I puff away, the sounds of “Let it Be” comes on the radio and all I can think of is – “there will be an answer” and even though the Debut never made it to market, Sam did answer with a wonderful lineup of new flavorful cigars under his new company Leccia Tobacco
The flavors of the Leccia Debut have balanced nicely through the burn so far, It is an ultra smooth and flavorful cigar, medium in strength with full flavor and excellent smoke production.
Transitioning to the second third I sense a sweet espresso developing, like fine cafe cubano. A sweet and tasty dark coffee. Smoking and savoring the Leccia Deput slowly, resulted in the cigar going out and on the relight the ash fell. So sad, as I think this ash could have carried another inch or more as there was a thick char line on the burn. There is a citrus lemon peel flavor that compliments the espresso flavor and the aroma has shifted to more of a roasted walnut. Overall the burn has been impeccable so far. the oils glisten on the wrapper as the Debut slides through my fingers. The little niblets of tobacco I get off the head are even sweet. I don’t really chew tobacco but if it tasted this good I probably would have.
The flavors of espresso, chocolate and citrus along with the scent of roasting walnuts continued for most of the second third as did the new-found ash which fell just before the final third of the Leccia Debut. There is absolutely no bitterness in this cigar . It is pure delight. The remaining third brings with it a sprinkle of pepper and nut along with a toasted almond aroma that picked up near the final puffs.
As I said at the start of this article, if the Leccia Debut was allowed to be marketed, there is no doubt that this could have been the #1 cigar of the year. It was an awesome creation by one of the best and most creative minds in the industry. Thank goodness Sam eventually returned to the cigar world in 2013 with the his new company Leccia Tobacco and was able to provide us with 3 new blends before being acquired by General Tobacco.
UPDATE: In openness and honesty, I spoke with Sam Leccia after this article was posted and he wanted to make some clarifications to the article,. Sam noted that he was not forbidden to use “Sam Leccia Cigar Co” nor was the “debut” forbidden to be launched. He felt that it was better to create a new line under a new company name that would define the company as not just a cigar company thereby offering additional options to the consumer.
You can order one our top 25 cigars of 2014 – “The Luchador” here.
I think I speak for many of the Leccia fans out there when I say;
Sam, we look forward to what you bring us in the future as a master blender for General Cigar and we hope your creativity is allowed to flourish.
As I lay the Debut to its final rest, all I can say is thank you to my good friend for the cigar and thank you Sam Leccia for creating it. Maybe someday you can work a deal with Olivia to allow these fine stogies to be released.