Cigar Review: Casa Cuevas Habano La Mandarria (The Sledgehammer) – Rated 94

Back in February of 2019, the Casa Cuevas warehouse in Miami was broken into at night and robbed of all the cigars stored there. The thieves broke through the outside cinder block wall with sledgehammers and made away with a huge haul. Many in the industry were shocked and some even feared the Casa Cuevas family may not recover from the incident. Luis Cuevas Jr., President of Casa Cuevas Cigars saw it differently. It made him stronger and more determined to grow his brand, a brand that has been making cigars for many cigar companies for years and only recently started marketing their own brand.

Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria

At this years Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show, Luis and his team had their own booth and showcased a full portfolio of blends. All but one was originally planned for the show. After the robbery indecent, Luis decided to add one more cigar to the line up, and feature it front and center. That cigar was the Casa Cuevas Habano LA Mandarria, which translates into “The Sledgehammer”. It was Luis’ way of saying, you can’t push me out!

Boston Jimmie and Luis Cuevas Jr. and the PCA Trade Show

In the press release announcing the national release of the Mandarria, Casa Cuevas Cigars noted:

La Mandarria brand was born out of the unfortunate robbery which occurred in February 2019 at the Casa Cuevas Cigars distribution center in Miami. Burglars used sledgehammers to break in and steal over 25,000 of the Casa Cuevas brands which included the Casa Cuevas Limited Edition Flaco and Casa Cuevas core line of cigars. The Cuevas family made the decision to forge ahead and create a cigar that will mark the era where they faced and overcame adversity.

Luis Jr. further stated:

“La Mandarria is a testament to the values that my father taught me as a child. He was a fighter who optimized the American dream. As a small cigar company, the robbery was an obstacle, but nothing he hasn’t been able to deal with in his storied past. The Mandarria represents the principal tool used against us, but also represents the strength and will of my father.”

Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria

La Mandarria is the first full-bodied cigar and full strength cigar that Casa Cuevas offers and is expressed in a single 6 x 52 toro vitola finished with a pigtail cap and shaggy foot.

The La Mandarria blend is described as:

  • Wrapper – Ecuadoran Habano
  • Binder – Dominican Olor 
  • Filler – Nicaraguan and Dominican

La Mandarria comes packaged in 20-count boxes with production currently limited to 500 boxes. MSRP is set $12.00/cigar.

Pre-Light Examination

Every now and then I look at a cigar and just say ‘wow that is a true work of art’. The Casa Cuevas La Mandarria is just that. A gorgeous specimen of a cigar with a dark and oily, reddish brown, wrapper that is finished with a expertly applied pig tail cap. It has a shaggy foot, where the wrapper ends a half inch before the end of the cigar. Unlike some shaggy foot cigars, the press on this has kept it from fraying at the end.

Two bands adorn this cigar. The primary band is the same Casa Cuevas band used on their other Habano blend with the company name in gold printed on a red background. The secondary band is just below and declares this as “Edicion Limitada” noting it is a Limited Edition cigar. There is no other identifying marks on this that let you know is La Mandarria, other than the bar code sticker on the cellophane. You have to know it is La Mandarria by the pig tail cap and shaggy foot.

Running La Mandarria across the nose, I was greeted with an enticing baking spice aroma along the barrel and nuances of pepper and cocoa off the foot.

I was thinking about how to open the cap, I could just bite the pig tail off, old style but then I felt I should keep with consistency and do a straight cut like on all the cigars I review. The cold draw was spot on with a perfect restriction that allowed me to taste the pre-light notes of earth, mild sweetness, and gently growing pepper.

So far, the Casa Cuevas La Mandarria is turning out to be what I have come to expect from this company…Quality, Flavor, Aroma. It was time to stop dating this pretty gem and proceed to fire it up and burn her to ash. I used my double flame torch to gently warm the foot, bringing it to a even orange glow, and draw in the first puffs of smoke that graced the palate with dry fruit and pepper.

Cigar Review Notes

Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
  • Dry fruit and pepper off the first light
  • Thick creamy smoke right from the very first puff
  • Once the burn passes through the shaggy foot, coffee notes enter
  • This is a perfect example of how the wrapper impacts the flavor
  • Pleasant sweet nut aroma fills my nostrils
  • Texture of smoke is perfect for blowing smoke rings
  • A wave in the burn started as it got into the wrapper
  • Cedar notes joins the profile and start to grow nicely
  • Solid white ash resting on a medium char line (wave is showing signs of correcting)
  • Aroma shifts to a mild fruit note
  • A nuance of anise graces the palate moving into the second third
  • Fruit finds it way into the profile as dry fruit
  • Mouth watering citrus notes linger on the palate
  • Ash fell after long run with nicely formed and centered burn cone
  • Spice picks up along with the strength as it gets to the midway point
  • Spice and cedar progress as they do a tango on my palate down to the final
  • Natural Sweetness finishes the journey making me want to find another
  • Medium to Full in Strength
  • Total Smoking time was 1 hour and 45 minutes down to the nub

Overall, the Casa Cuevas La Mandarria was a spectacular cigar that represents every thing Casa Cuevas. I would certainly say this is a box worthy cigar, and with only 500 out there, they are going to sell fast. The flavors and aromas were always pleasant and never overpowering and remained balanced through the transitions and burn. From a construction perspective it performed quite well with just a slight wave that eventually corrected. I would be remiss if I did not note that once the original ash fell, the rest of the burn tended to drop small chunks of ash regularly through the burn. I rate this a 94.

Point Deductions: (-1) Mild Wave in Burn; (-2) Ash Falls Often in the second half

Bonus Point; (+1) Buy a Box

Casa Cuevas La Mandarria
Casa Cuevas La Mandarria