You know, every now and then I find myself smoking a Connecticut wrapped cigar and saying to myself, “Damn, this is a one fine cigar!” Today was one of those days. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some pretty good blondes on the market, but then there are a few that really stand out. The Drew Estate Undercrown Shade, A. Flores 1975 Gran Reserva Desflorada, and Southern Draw Rose of Sharon are a few fine examples.
It has been a while since I wrote about Rodriguez Cigars, a small boutique cigar company nestled down in Key West, FL – a mere 90 miles from Cuba. Owned by Danny DiFabio, who assumed operations of the shop and factory when his beloved Grandfather passed away, he has maintained the shop as a destination stop for any cigar lover. It is the oldest shop on the island and has been offering hand rolled cigars since the doors opened in 1984.
The company’s Series 84 Maduro made the Stogie Press 2015 top 25 list – placing 10th. ….It also happens to be the most viewed cigar review on Stogie Press.
Just before the holidays, I ordered a sampler box of the best Rodriguez Cigars has and part of that sampler box was a cigar I have been wanting to enjoy and review. So today, I want to add the Rodriguez Cigars Reserva Privada to my list of memorable Connecticut cigars.
The Rodriguez Cigars Reserva Privada is a blend described by Danny as:
“A decadent assortment of filler tobacco combined with a 4 year aged Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper is a result of a unique and lavish cigar that is well-balanced with flawless craftsmanship. “
The full blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Connecticut (4-years aged)
- Binder – Nicaraguan
- Filler – Nicaraguan
The Rodriguez Cigars Reserva Privada is blended by Danny DiFabio and hand crafted with perfection by Tabacalera La Perla, a private branch facility where Danny hired long time friend Guillermo Pena to oversee his operation.
They are available in a few stores in the Florida Keys and of course the Rodriguez Cigars Shop in Key West. You can also order them through the company’s online store here.
The Rodriguez Cigars Reserva Privada are available in 4 different vitolas and come packaged in 25-count bundles, 25-count boxes, and also 5-count sampler boxes.
- Toro (6.5 x 54) – MSRP $169.00/bundle; $175.00/box; $46.00/5-pack
- Torpedo (6 x 52) – MSRP $164.00/bundle; $170.00/box; $45.00/5-pack
- Corona (6.5 x 48) – MSRP $159.00/bundle; $165.00/box; $44.00/5-pack
- Robusto (5 x 50) – MSRP $154.00/bundle; $160.00/box; $43.00/5-pack
For this review I sampled the Rodriguez Cigars Reserva Privada Robusto.
Let me start by saying, the Rodriguez Cigars Reserva Privada is pristinely gorgeous and expertly constructed. The golden tan wrapper glistens in the light, from the rich oily leaf. With barely any veins running along the barrel, the cigar is smooth as silk to the touch. It is crafted using the classic Cuban Entubado bunching method and finished with a perfectly applied triple cap.
Do I have your attention yet?
Running the cigar across the nose, my nasals are greeted with a naturally sweet barrel and a sweet baking spice with a hint of cocoa off the foot. Having met Danny a few times and touring his shop in Key West, I can tell you, no cigar in his shop is sold until it has been properly aged in his “aging room”. He personally samples the stock to know when they are ready for consumption.
The cigar is adorned with a single band using a red, white, and gold motif. Other than the colors, the band is the same that is used on all the premium cigars in the Rodriguez collection, with the company logo centered in the middle and “Rodriguez” printed across the top. The band is made using higher end white linen paper and is one of the best looking bands in the industry.
I used my double blade Xikar cutter to slice the cap, properly above the second line, and gave it a few cold draw puffs that were just prefect in restriction while offering notes of crushed red pepper lightly wrapped in an almost candy-like sweetness.
I am quite familiar with Danny’s craft and though I have never smoked the Reserva Privada, I knew from the pre-light this was going to be another Rodriguez gem. I proceeded to warm the foot using the soft flame of a cedar spill so as not to scorch the delicate wrapper. The initial puffs were just as pleasant as the cold draw enticing the palate with pepper and a buttery nut component.
Follow along as I continue my journey back to Key West with the Rodriguez Reserva Privada.
Cigar Review Notes
- Pepper and buttery nut notes to start
- Grassy notes quickly follow
- Light grey ash evolves resting solidly on a medium char line
- The butternut moves forward mixing with the grass and a hint of fruit
- Sweet floral aroma wafts off the foot pleasantly filling the air around me
- Vegetal notes begin to form
- Ash fell after a decent burn revealing a beautifully formed and centered burn cone
- Fantastic oiling is growing on the barrel
- Mild Connecticut bitterness midway
- Dry Cocoa notes break through to add to the pleasure joining nicely with the nut component
- Aroma is a bit more earthy with just a hint of floral near the end of the second third
- The burn is just slightly jagged but requires no assistance
- Moving into the final third I picked up a nuance of mint (I love this note)
- Bit more vegetal notes enter and light peppery spice finishes the journey at the nub
- Mild plus in strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 20 minutes to the nub!
Overall, I can not speak highly enough about Rodriguez Cigars and in this case the Reserva Privada. This cigar was what any mild cigar smoker would want, it was filled with flavorful transitions throughout the journey and demonstrated pristine construction qualities. There was just a mild jaggedness to the burn but nothing that caused any problem. The oils on the wrapper continued to develop throughout. I rate this a solid 96. This was such a well balanced cigar, and after smoking it, I think I may savor another some weekend morning, while enjoying a Bloody Mary. I think such a marriage with the vegetal notes that presented themselves in the profile will be perfect!
Point Deductions: (-1) Mild Jaggedness in Burn
Bonus Points: (+1) Lots of oil production