A living, breathing moment, that’s how Tony Bellatto and Craig Rossi describe a cigar on their La Barba Cigars website. I don’t disagree with that statement. If you have been following boutique cigar lines for anytime in recent history then you are familiar with the La Barba brand founded in 2010. Like many boutique lines, the La Barba brand grew out of a passion for cigars. Tony and Craig met at a Havana House Cigar Lounge in Ohio shortly after Craig finished college and the brotherly bond never broke. In fact, Tony’s family owns the Havana House chain so Tony grew up in the cigar industry – it is in his DNA.
I met this dynamic duo at the 2017 IPCPR while I was sitting with the crew from Ambassador Cigars and Spirits. We talked a bit about La Barba. Tony was showing us the new band on the cigars, which is bolder than the original with gold leaf accent around the band, and a larger barber blade centered in the middle. That discussion led to the inevitable question – How did you come up with the name La Barba, since it is quite a unique name for a cigar brand?
Don’t Fear the Beard
As the story goes, once they decided to get into the production side of the business, they discussed names and were having difficultly deciding and agreeing. Then it hit them. As beard loving men, like so many of their peers at the time, they certainly wanted to appeal to the new millennial cigar smoker and right there they decided La Barba! The name stuck and the rest is history, as La Barba cigars have been a favorite brand of newly matured and successful men and women cigar lovers for the past 7 years.
The La Barba line up was built around two primary blends, Purple and Red. They also have two other blends, one is a collaboration with Caldwell cigars, known as the “Caldwell X La Barba One & Only” and then there is a blend called the “Siempre” which translates to “Always” in Spanish. The Siempre and is a nod to the great Dominican Leaf used in their cigars and a tribute to Tobacalera William Ventura who manufactures the line for them. The La Barba site proudly states:
“Although not every La Barba cigar is Dominican puro, the role of Dominican tobacco has been the central axis around which the blending process starts and ends. From the unique varietals to the location of the Ventura factory itself, these are Dominican cigars.”
Today we are pleased to bring you a review of the La Barba Purple cigar.
The La Barba Purple
The La Barba Purple was released in 2015 as a followup to the acclaimed La Barba Red. The blend is described as:
- Wrapper -HVA Ecuadorian ( Habana Vuelta Abajo)
- Binder – Dominican Corojo
- Filler -Corojo, HVA, Carbonell
I know you may ask, what is Carbonell leaf? Let’s just say it is a rare Dominican seed that is known as “the sweet leaf” and thus has a natural sweetness to it. It has been cultivated in small quantities for over a century and is one of those secret ingredients. Robert Caldwell from Caldwell cigars has used this in the their Last Czar so it is no surprise that Tony and Craig have also partnered with Caldwell to blend the Caldwell X La Barba One & Only.
The La Barba Purple is available in 4 vitolas and are packaged in 12-count boxes:
- Corona Gorda · 6.75 × 46 (MSRP $113.00/Box)
- Lancero · 7 × 40 (MSRP $107.00/Box)
- Magnum · 6 × 60 (MSRP $125.00/Box)
- Robusto · 5 × 50 (MSRP $119.00/Box)
The MSRP is from the JR Cigars Website.
The La Barba Purple is a slightly rugged cigar with some bumps and veins along the barrel. It has a nice tooth to the medium brown wrapper, a beautiful sheen, and a simple cap. There is a sweet, almost chocolate aroma off the foot. I am not getting much aroma along the barrel.
Once the cap is removed, the cold draw was open and offered notes of sweet fruit, earth, and pepper. The pepper grows as you dry puff it, especially on the lips. It passed the Stogie Press palm test with flying colors – no leaks.
Well it is certainly is an enticing start for the journey, so let’s put the flame to it and see how it performs.
For this review I sampled the La Barba Purple Robusto which I received for the purpose of doing a review.
Cigar Review Notes
- Buttery pepper and fruit on first puffs
- Thick creamy smoke
- Chocolate aroma
- Medium to dark ask on a thick char line to start
- Pepper fades quickly
- Sweet fruit is the predominant flavor – from the smoke to the to tip of my younger on the cut head
- Hint of spice joins the fruit in the first third
- Fruit becomes a bit more tangy towards the second third
- Ash holds long – once it fell a perfectly centered burn cone is revealed
- Spiced raisin appears in the second third
- White pepper fills out the profile
- Heavily oiled wrapper from the burn line to the head
- Butter nut enters in the final third embraced with an ever-present sweetness
- Medium Strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 15 minutes
Overall, the La Barba Purple was an outstanding cigar with excellent burn qualities and truly enticing flavors and aromas. This is an elegant cigar that can easily be enjoyed by newbies and experienced cigar smokers. The magic of the Carbonell leaf reveals itself in the core of sweetness.