It's been months since my last review here; as I mentioned over in my blog section, I adopted a dog (a Chihuahua Terrier mix named Quark), and I no longer smoke inside, because he's a little cuddle monster and likes to sit right beside me as much as possible... I'm absolutely not going to expose him to all the cigar smoke to keep doing reviews as regularly as I was before. Now, doing a review means I actually need to get out to smoke, and thanks to the rainy season here in Hawaii, even getting enough time right outside my apartment to smoke without getting rained on has been next to impossible.
But I got to do it tonight, and I'm glad I did. Today being International Women's Day, I was excited to get a chance to smoke and review a stick produced by one of, if not the only female-owned cigar companies today, Miami-based Tres Lindas Cubanas, a small company started by twin sisters Yvette and Yvonne Rodriguez, of Afro-Cuban descent. I first learned of TLC cigars when I read about them a little over a year ago in the Miami Herald. I got my first order of these sticks shipped to me only a couple months ago, and it seemed only fitting to have my first TLC smoking experience today, to honor some bold, pioneering women taking on a male-dominated industry.
The name "Tres Lindas Cubanas" comes from an old folk song about three Cuban women; in fact, the line itself is just three blends, each honoring women of Cuban descent— the Connecticut-wrapper La Clarita, the Habano-wrapped La Mulata, and the Maduro-wrapped La Negrita. Being the Maduro-fiend that I am, I opted to go for the La Negrita first.
Cigar: Tres Lindas Cubanas La Negrita
Vitola: Torpedo (6 1/2” x 52)
Origin: Nicaragua (factory; business centered in Miami)
Rating (out of 10): 8.6
The band is a wide, but simple, design with the Tres Lindas Cubanas company logo on it, over a rich, dark chocolate colored oscuro maduro wrapper, with nearly invisible seams and a neat, pointed cap. The wrapper is slightly oily to the touch.
The La Negrita appears to be well-put together, with no visible cracks or tears, a neat cap, and no overly soft or firm spots.
The barrel gives of a soft muskiness and a hint of fruit, and I get a sweet chocolate aroma from the foot.
The cold draw is open and smooth, and gives me notes of fruit, cedar, and chocolate. Lighting it is a bit of a battle with the wind, which of course only dies down after I finally finish lighting it. Fortunately, the struggle does not appear to have created an uneven burn. Though not absolutely perfect, I'm impressed with how even the burn line actually is.
It's not long before the wrapper around the cap cracks and peels back, exposing the binder. It's possible that I didn't get as great a cut as I thought, given both the wind and the dark. But it's pretty disappointing either way.
The primary flavor profile as I smoke is one of cedar, with a very faint hint of spice hiding in the background. I think I detect some coffee creeping in; but I'm not certain.
There's a very nice note of buttered wheat toast on the retrohale. It's delicious.
About an inch down, I suddenly detected some spiced rum on the aroma, and very quickly thereafter it registered on the flavor, as well.
The ash dropped pretty quickly; possibly it's just loose right near the foot from the fierce battle I had to wage with the wind to get it lit.
There's a soft undertone of dark chocolate, and a dash of salt. Very nice.
As I continue smoking, the ash is actually pretty firm; more than likely it was, in fact, looser at the foot from all the lighting I had to do at the start.
The cedar profile mellows out rolling into the second third, and the spiced rum flavor comes to the front. It's a fantastic flavor that I don't often get from most cigars.
The damage near the cap is getting worse, and the whole cigar is threatening to unravel. I'm holding it together with my finger hooked around the barrel, hoping I can contain it for the remainder of the smoke.
A little spicier and salter near the halfway point, and I'm getting a subtle hint of fruit peeking in.
The fruit is becoming clearer as I smoke this one down; it's citrusy, like an orange zest with some salt to it.
The last third is definitely the spiciest. The spice continues to build, even as the cedar profile comes out to the front again.
Wow, there's a real fireworks show building up here; the spice is just lighting off all over the place, like red chili or jalapeno pepper. It's explosive and exciting.
There's a sweet and spicy aftertaste, like chili pepper and dark chocolate.
As the cigar nears the end, the spice gradually eases back down, for a smooth, tasty cedar and citrus end to the smoking experience.
Despite some very disappointing construction issues with this stick, the flavor of it was complex and exciting from start to finish. I was blown away by all the new things I was tasting on the smoke, and that fireworks display in the first half of the last third was just fantastic. This will most definitely not be the last of these that I order from TLC Cigars, because I'm willing to bet the construction problems on this one were an outlier, not the norm.