Origin : Cuba
Format : Nacionales
Size : 134 x 16 mm (5 1/4 x 42)
Box code : STA NOV 09
Price : ~$1 each in Cuba / ~$5 each in Canada
More info about purchasing Jose L. Piedra cigars...
The favourite cheap cigar – most cigar smokers have one. If you are one of the elite few who have the luxury of always smoking premium cigars then this review might not be for you. For me my favourite cheap smoke brings memories of summer days and nights spent on the beach drinking and enjoying cigars. For others it's poker night, the fishing trip, cottage, etc. I’m particularly excited about this review because as it happens Jose L. Piedra is my favourite brand of cheap smoke. So during my trip to Cuba I made sure to pick up a bundle to bring home.
These cigars look rough. They are veiny, miscoloured, sun spotted and inconsistent. One of the redeeming qualities of this bundle is most of the sticks have a decent amount of oil on the medium-brown wrapper. This cigar certainly won’t win any beauty awards however I was impressed that the filler is distributed evenly throughout.
The construction of the Nacionales is actually decent. The cigar lights easily and has a nice draw. The ash is not very strong – I had to ash it about every half inch. The poor ash strength is another reason I like these at the beach since it doesn’t matter if it falls unexpectedly. The burn is uneven and needed to be evened out twice, but the cigar feels solid when you are holding it which lends well for those hazy nights when dropping sometimes occurs. The wrapper also doesn’t unroll which is a good quality for a cheap cigar.
The Nacionales is nice and earthy which is one of my favourite qualities of Jose Piedras. It’s a real salt of the earth cigar and when I’m smoking it I feel like I could be out working the fields, cultivating the land or something else hearty like that. It should probably be noted that these are things that I am definitely not capable of doing but it is a nice to sort of feel like you could. At about halfway in, the cigar gives some powdered cocoa flavour. Past that there is no real evolution of flavour. They are fairly 1-dimensional and if you are really paying attention you may pick up some light floral notes on the finish. Medium bodied, they are not the most flavourful but it should be expected that these cigars will not make the occasion. Instead they help contribute to the experience by adding the familiar flavours reminiscent of long days and nights. Towards the end the cigar becomes a bit harsh, however after a day of beer and scotch it normally becomes a knuckle burner for me.
At $5 dollars a smoke these are not a bad deal. You can definitely find machine rolled cigars for less than that but for the price they are not a bad bargain for cigars in Canada. In addition to that if you can pick them up in Cuba and bring them back then they are dirt cheap. Another great thing about them is if you know someone going to Cuba and you want cigars brought back, you aren’t taking a large gamble handing them 30 bucks.
Overall Rating :
This cigar probably isn’t going to win any awards for outstanding quality or flavour. It is not by any means an outstanding smoke and it doesn’t claim to be more than it is. It’s a down to earth cigar that’s great when you are just hanging around with buds. It’s for those times when you’re hanging around the fire, poker table, cabin, fishing boat, whatever. As the day turns to night, one cigar becomes two, then three, four, etc. Sometimes towards the early morning when most people have left and only the die-hards remain you go to your special cabinet and break out something with more depth for your closest friends. By then, the Nacionales have spent the day warming up your palate perfectly. Or other times you are perfectly content to stay with them. The Jose Piedras aren’t going to make the night but they are familiar enough that they add that extra nuance. Then in the winter time or when spring is coming you light one up by yourself and you remember last summer at the beach, table, or cottage and you sit and anticipate what the next time will bring. Everybody has the cheap cigar that they prefer. You may like this one, you may not. Give it a try and see what you think. I find these cigars pair well with pretty much everything. I especially like them with a nice crafted beer, particularly with a good ale.
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