Origin : Cuba
Format : Conservas
Size : 140 x 18 mm (5 1/2 x 44)
Price : £6.79 (UK) / ~$2.5 (online)
More info about purchasing Jose L. Piedra cigars...
Today we have a guest review by Chris, an aficionado from the UK who runs a YouTube channel called CigarHub Cigar Reviews. Enjoy!
I have seen very many cigars that are essentially fighting value for money, and this is probably my favourite contender to date. The budget features of this cigar seem be done in such a way that they almost have rustic characteristics, and they still deliver fully on the experience. Many, many nights I have paired this cigar with a cheeky glass of port or a nice rum and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, while paying peanuts.
Appearance and construction :
The first thing you can think of upon seeing the Jose L. Piedra Conservas is something along the lines of “budget.” Personally I may be a little biased but when I see one, I think “this is a real cigar,” not some fancy premium cigar where you’re relying on them to look presentable and be well constructed, without any care for the actual tastes that we all care about. If I was focusing on the wrapper, the only very positive things I could say about it is that it feels like a solid enough wrapper and good seams – they are also very oily, they glow bright when you take a picture of one with the flash on, but the signs of a bad quality leaf are there. Lots of little sun spots, slight shading differences between cigars of the same packs, veins all over, possibly even some noticeable cracks seen across a few. If you took my stance of they look like amazing real cigars, then I’d rate them very high, but if you’re focusing on the various things to consider alone without expecting a premium cigar at the price, it’s in the low to mid range.
Getting straight to the point, the aroma from this cigar is fantastic. Not a sweet Cohiba, but a stronger more seasoned earthy scent. Hint of peat, but the taste is something you also want to know. Dry puffs fortify the earthiness flavour and show a draw with a large airflow. You can definitely taste some richness in the cigar that should suit a wide market.
A few squeezes down the cigar reveal that the wrapper is a little thin, but the filler throughout is very even.
Smoking experience :
Straight off the bat, it hit me that I must have been smoking a Monte 4, it felt like the same cigar. To start, it’s all completely light. Almost a chewy nutty taste with slight hints of a woody taste. It feels like there’s supposed to be a decent amount of earthiness in there too – as a whole I think the cigar has all these powerful flavours but isn’t pushing them in any way at all, creating a very flavourful and pleasant light cigar. The aftertaste seems to be a slightly musty tasting peat of some sorts, rather sweet, and decent pleasant. I think this is what reminds me of a Montecristo 4, and why it goes so great with a glass of port! Ten minutes in and you can see by now, barely any progress down the cigar, long ways to go. Burn a little off, but nothing tragic at this point.
The burn, absolutely fantastic on all I’ve had, but they are rough wrappers, please don’t take this as gospel. Decent amounts of nuttiness 20 minutes in, feels like possibly the earthiness is kicking up a tiny bit of a spice, but it’s all flavour – it's not pushed into a stronger cigar, right on the light bodied line. While burn isn’t much of a problem, I’d still suggest tapping off the ash in small increments, although it falls off pretty easily. This whole cigar is a silky smooth intake.
55 minutes in, still lots left to go, as I’ve experienced with all, up until near the end the flavours are very consistent. A tad more spice developing as you get through, but still relatively light bodied.
Finishing at an hour and ten minutes, again a quick smoke, and partially my fault for having to run a quick errand and letting it die out to relight (which was painless and resumed right where I left off), I reckon this is a nice enjoyable hour and 15-30 minute smoke, depending on your smoking speed. However I do feel like this cigar requires a decent puff rate to keep it going. Flavours all to the end were light, pretty sweet, nutty, woody, and earthiness which developed a slow spice which was still only noticeable on the tongue by the end.
In my mind this is a near perfect cigar. The flavours are fantastic but only if you enjoy lighter smokes or prefer something to smoke and enjoy while doing something else, it won’t be something you can sit and enjoy on its own though. Due to the high price of UK cigars I need to explain that this is a very good value cigar for the size, and it’s a little under two thirds of the price of a Monte 4, great alternative if that’s a cigar you love – it’s certainly one of my favourites. This cigar has taken place as one of my favourite dailies, and it’s extremely enjoyable for the price.
NOTE: The ones I have tested have been in humidors since 2014, approximately two years before this review. I have read of many cases of these really requiring a decent amount of humidor time before maturing to a good, smokeable level, recommended anywhere between 6 to 18 months.