Cordoba & Morales Family Reserve

Cordoba & Morales

Origin : Nicaragua
Cordoba & Morales cigarsFormat : Torpedo
Size : 6 1/4 x 52
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Habano
Filler : Nicaragua (Blend of Tobacco from Estelí, Condega and Jalapa regions)
Binder : Nicaragua (Estelí region)
Hand-Made
Price : $8 MSRP

These cigars were sent to me by Córdoba & Morales Cigars LLC to review. They arrived as we were headed into winter so they have been in my humidor resting since November of last year. I want to thank them for sending me 3 samples to review. It’s always nice when I can smoke more than one so that I can ensure that I just didn’t catch a bad day or a bad cigar. It also helps in getting a feel for consistency.

The cigars are blended by brothers Azarias Mustafa Córdoba and Osniel Mustafa Córdoba from Pinar Del Rio Cuba whose family has been growing tobacco for generations. The name of the company takes on the last names of their grandmother Celestina Cordoba Morales from which the brothers learned much of what they know. They now manufacture their cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua using fillers from three different regions in Nicaragua... Estelí, Condega and Jalapa. Their binder is from Estelí and they use Ecuadorian habano wrapper for their Family Reserve.

Appearance : ★★★★★ (4.75)
The Cordoba & Morales looks really inviting. A nice oily sheen, some noticeable veins and tightly packed but visible seams. The band looks elegant, not over the top but very nice. The cigar comes in cellophane and none of my samples had any visual defects. The cap is very nicely applied and overall, apart from the somewhat rustic appearance, it looks quite good.

Cordoba & Morales

Construction : ★★★★☆
As noted, the cigar had visible veins with tight but visible seams however the burn was never affected. Pre-light draw appeared a bit too loose for me, offering no resistance and I thought it would present a problem on smoking. However, I was pleasantly relieved that none of these issues presented a problem on smoking. I was actually quite pleased with how the cigar smoked. It burned well, averaging an hour and 15 minutes.

Cordoba & Morales filler

The cigar held up well to the guillotine cut and the burn of the cigar was exceptional on all 3 samples. Only one of them needed a re-light but admittedly it was my fault for keeping it down too long while I got caught up making my notes.

The cigar's draw was a tad open with minimal to no resistance but like I said, presented no real problems. It burned at a nice rate with the burn remaining even throughout.

A concern was noted on one sample when I was able to grab a stem tip that was in the cigar and pulled it out with a leaf of approximately 2cm long. This does happen now and then but still warranted a deduction. The cigar was just a tad spongy to the touch and was a bit loosely packed.

The grey ash held up nice and firm on two of the 3 samples that I smoked. For whatever reason one of the samples tended to flake quite a bit. It held up for about an inch to an inch and a half before falling off on its own. This was consistent in all 3 samples. The burn was great on all 3 of the samples I smoked.

Flavor : ★★★★½ (4.25)
I might take heat in the comments section for this but this is perhaps one of the first non-Cuban cigars that I have had in quite a while that would probably have fooled me if I had done a blind, unbanded tasting. If you live in the USA and are unable to get your hands on any Cuban cigars, try to hunt down one of these to get “close” to what you would get in a decent Cuban cigar. While not quite “there”, believe me, they got the blend and flavors pretty darn close.

The Cordoba & Morales did have a loose pre-light draw with hints of earth and cedar. I was concerned that the loose draw would impact the cigar but to my pleasant surprise it did not. Still, I prefer my cigars to have a little more resistance to them. Its unlit aroma was mild and pleasing, a nice humidor aroma with an earthy and nutty foot. The cigar itself had a very inviting sweet tobacco scent.

Right off the bat on lighting the cigar I got some great full bodied flavour and tons of rich and creamy smoke output. There was some very noticeable and pleasant spice present with a nice salty residue on my lips.

The smoke output was outstanding and the black peppery finish was quite long but not overwhelming. The tobacco had a pleasant salt and peppery tingle on my lips which helped balance the sweeter texture of the smoke. Flavors in the first third were very enjoyable: sweet earthy notes with some sweet wood and mild hints of leather. I was impressed by the smoke output and its texture. The smoke was very rich and got a tad oilier as I finished the first third, leaving a nice residue on my tongue. The flavors stayed consistent for the entire first third of the cigar with the only difference being a noticeable decline in the amount of pepper as I neared the end of the first third. The smoke had a pleasant velvety texture to it with hints of creamy cocoa.

The second third offered much of the same flavors as the first third and they remained full bodied. I got nice sweet woodsy and leathery notes with some mild earthiness and occasional bursts of semi-sweet cocoa and coffee. The smoke output was still thick with a nice creamy, velvety texture. The finish was medium with primary hints of leather and a tingle of pepper on the finish. The flavor profile remained consistent and comparing my notes, I was impressed to see that the flavors were consistent in all 3 samples I smoked.

I was able to pick up some cedar and black pepper with occasional nuttiness and mild citrus as I approached the halfway mark. The finish got a tad longer. Primary flavors were still a sweet woodsy, leathery cigar with hints of semi-sweet chocolate and coffee. There was still some pepper on the finish and a pleasant salty balance on the lips.

As I passed the halfway mark, hints of toasted nuttiness and some unsweetened coffee flavors entered the picture. Because the first half of the cigar was on the sweeter side, the unsweetened notes are more detectable when they enter the picture. However, the cigar never got harsh or bitter and for the most part, the notes of unsweetened coffee or dark chocolate did not last long. The smoke was not as velvety at this stage, instead changing to a drier smoke with less residue on the palette. The cigar's finish was still peppery and long and it still had fantastic smoke output.

The second half of the cigar offered pretty much more of the same. There were no major flavor transitions to speak of. The cigar remained consistent and pretty much one dimensional. However, as I often note in my reviews, there’s nothing wrong with a one dimensional cigar so long as the flavors are pleasing and this cigar wins on that end.

As I approached the band I noted some increase in the nuttiness and earthy notes. There were some occasional hints of unsweetened chocolate and tea with some citrus notes in the final third. The smoke output remained thick and at times had some creamy and oily leather texture but for the most part was drier on the palate over the course of the second half of the cigar. The same was true in all three samples smoked.

The rest of the cigar remained leathery, earthy and woodsy with the same flavor hints as already described. Nothing more.

I started to get some bitterness with about an inch and a half remaining and that was where I decided to put the cigar to rest, not wanting to ruin an otherwise pleasurable experience. The smoke remained cool, never really becoming hot.

The Cordoba & Morales did become more earthy and "grassy" near the end but there was enough sweetness in the smoke to balance that. The cigar left quite an enjoyable residue on my lips and the flavors were nicely balanced throughout. By the end, the cigar’s finish was medium with leather notes on the front end of the palate and some bitter chocolate and mild pepper at the back end. This cigar’s strength can creep up on you and I would classify it as a medium to full strength cigar. You should definitely eat something before smoking it as the nicotine will catch up to you by the end.

Value : ★★★★☆
The MSRP for this cigar is $8.00. It is not carried by many retailers yet but those that do carry it are pretty much sticking to the MSRP. It can be difficult to find but I hope that it becomes more readily available as it really is a very flavourful cigar. It is reasonably priced for a torpedo but considering that I haven’t seen much advertisement for this brand I feel that they might be reaching a bit on price until they become better known. This of course is just my opinion. Getting people to pay $8.00 for a cigar that is perhaps not well known out there might be tough. Then again, I’m not familiar with their operating margins etc so this remains my opinion only.

Overall Rating : ★★★★½ (4.25)
This cigar looked good and tasted better. Like I said, this is one of the first non-Cuban cigars that I have smoked lately that actually reminded me of a Cuban cigar. If I were tasting it blind and unbanded, it would probably fool me. Having smoked cigars for approximately 20 years, I was really impressed with how close to a Cuban taste this non-Cuban cigar offered. Cordoba & Morales got this blend pretty close and have produced an above average cigar with a very enjoyable, yet predictable flavor profile. A little more complexity and depth would certainly improve this already enjoyable cigar.

What it lacks in complexity and depth it makes up for with the amount of flavor it packs. Granted the flavors never really change or develop while smoking the cigar, they do stay consistent and remain enjoyable for most of the smoke although they do tend to decline in intensity. It is a little on the sweeter side which makes any bitter parts that much more noticeable however the cigar never gets harsh.

The first of the 3 I had surprised me. I had never heard of this brand until I received their samples for review. I would highly recommend this cigar. If you live in the USA and are unable to get your hands on Cuban cigars, you’ve got to try this for yourself.

If I had any criticisms of the cigar is that I felt it was just a tad loosely packed and it could use just a bit more tobacco. This would improve the draw as well. Maybe it’s a personal preference thing but I like a tad more resistance in my draw. The flavors, while enjoyable, become predictable and at times I was left wanting a little more. The flavors do tend to subside as the cigar is smoked as does the spice. Other than that and the stem particle I encountered, the cigar offered a very enjoyable and tasty smoking experience with great flavors accompanied by rich and creamy smoke output.

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