At this years TPE 2020 trade show, I met up with the JM Tobacco team and they introduced me to their line of cigars. The company’s story is told on their website as follows:
“A birthday gift from a 17 year old to his father, California jeweler John Mahroukian, led to the creation of Los Angeles-based JM Tobacco, Inc. Anto Mahroukian, president of JM Tobacco, delights in recounting the story. “It was my dad’s birthday in 1994,” Mahroukian recalls. “I bought him an expensive cigar. I don’t even remember what it was, but it cost about $20. He smoked it and he liked it. He asked how much I paid for it, and when I told him, he was shocked.”
John Mahroukian – the “JM” in the company’s name and on its cigar bands – saw an opportunity with cigars selling for such a premium. The elder Mahroukian owned a jewelry factory in the Dominican Republic and told his factory foreman to check out the local cigar factories and ship him some samples. “He found a factory that would make private label cigars for us and my father ordered 10,000 cigars at about a buck each,” Anto recounts. JM Tobacco was born…
Still, John Mahroukian wasn’t quite sure about his pending business venture. “We had a bunch of cigars, but no name and no band,” Anto says. “And my father was a daily cigar smoker. That’s why he’d say after he ordered the cigars that if we didn’t even sell one stick, he had enough cigars for the rest of his life at a dollar apiece.”
Almost 20 years later, it’s safe to say it was a wise investment.“
JM Tobacco had a full spectrum of cigars on display at the show, ranging from value priced, to flavored, to their premium, Española cigar. It is the latter I will be focusing on today.
The JM Tobacco Española comes in two blends – a Connecticut and a Maduro. These cigars were originally released to the market in 1996, so they are well inside the predicate date for FDA approval. Today’s review will focus on the Española Maduro.
The company describes the blend of the Española Maduro as:
- Wrapper: San Andres (Mexico)
- Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Filler: Dominican Olor Seco/Ligero
They are expressed in 4 different vitolas and come packaged in 10-count boxes:
- Robusto (5 x 50) MSRP $7.20
- Toro – (6 x 50) MSRP $8.00
- Churchill – (6.75 x 50) MSRP $8.80
- Belicoso – (6 x 52) MSRP $8.99
For this review, I sampled the JM Tobacco Española robusto, which I received from the company for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
The JM Tobacco Española maduro is highlighted by an oily, dark brown wrapper, that had a light tooth to it and a mild light marbling throughout the leaf. There were a few veins but nothing that would seem to be an issue. It had a decent weight in the hand, was well packed with no soft spots along the barrel, and was finished with a simple cap.
Two bands adorn the cigar, both use a black and gold motif. The primary band has a gold silhouette of the island of Hispaniola along with the name “Española ” printed in white across the top. The secondary band is just below and declares this as the “1996 Maduro”.
As I ran the cigar along my nose, I picked up a fresh and bright floral aroma along the barrel and the foot.
After slicing the cap straight with my double blade cutter, I took a few cold puffs that presented me with notes of sweetness and pepper. I liked the pre-light taste so I rolled it about a little more savoring the notes.
It was time to get the rest of the journey started, so I took my triple flame torch lighter and warmed the foot which took to the flame well and drew in the first puffs of smoke. Follow along as I turn this one to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- The early puffs were a tad harsh on the palate with a touch of pepper on the nose
- Full smoke volume was presented through an easy draw
- The harshness faded after a half inch of burn, giving way to a sweet cedar note
- Dry leather joined the profile with a slight bitterness on the finish
- A well formed white ash evolved on top of a crisp char line
- The air around me filled with a pleasant nut aroma
- The profile is nicely balanced at the midway point
- Notes of cocoa enter
- Ash drops with perfect burn cone
- Aroma shifts to more of a floral note
- Sweetness fills in the background with a emerging spice deep in the second third
- The spice increases through the final third
- It did burn hot to the touch in the final
- Medium in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 20 minutes
Overall, the JM Tobacco Española 1996 Maduro started a bit on the harsh side but once the burn got going, it presented its true self with a fine array of flavors and aromas that were well balanced by the midpoint of the journey. It was a well constructed cigar with no major flaws in the burn and even had a an excellent burn cone once the ash dropped. This is an easy box buy to add to your rotation. If you can’t find these at your local brick & mortar, they are available at bestcigarprices.com. I rate this one a 92.
Point Deductions: (-1) Harsh to Start; (-1) Slight Bitterness Early; (-1) Burned hot to the touch in the final
Bonus Points: (+1) Buy a Box