January 8, 2013
Origin : Dominican Republic
Format : Toro
Size : 6 1/4 x 50
Wrapper : Brazilian Maduro
Filler : Dominican
Binder : Cameroon
Price : $7.80
Back in the Summer of last year I was sent a couple of pre-release cigars to review from Iconic Leaf Cigar Company, a relative newcomer to the cigar industry. The “Toro” cigar I was sent was actually quite enjoyable, something rare for a new name. Normally, based on my experience, new cigar companies are either dreadful out of the box or need a few years to turn an average cigar into one with promise. Very rarely does one come out of the gate with such promise. I was sincere in my rating of the cigar in giving it 4 stars out of 5 in my review back in August 2012.
A month and a half back I was sent a production version of the cigar, fully banded (the pre-release sample came unbanded) so I thought I would give it another try and update my review.
The original review is still up and should be checked out for a more in-depth commentary of the cigar itself. What follows are my additional comments on the Toro from Iconic Leaf.
When I wrote that review I commented on the construction of the cigar. I noted that the cigar had a very comfortable draw and the burn was exceptional. The smoke output was nice. I made a deduction for stem particles in the cigar as noted in the accompanying photographs in that review.
To their credit, the fine folks at Iconic Leaf left the following reply in the comments section.
“I would like to offer a few words. I would like to clarify something in regards to stem paticles and how they relate to the TRUE entubado method of rolling a cigar. Some have claimed to roll using entubado but in doing so they take the filler leaves and flatten them all together and then roll them all at once like a news paper and that is their version of entubado. True entubado is actually taking each filler leaf and tubing it individually which is what we do. It is very time consuming and you cannot make as many cigars which in turn increases labor cost. In order to roll using True entubado you need enough of a piece of filler to roll it into a tube. with some viso and almost all ligero, which are the smallest leaves on the plant except for the medio tiempo, you cannot do True entubado without using the whole leaf because it is too small to roll an adequate tube with only half.” – Don Jose Raphael
With that said, I now have a firmer understanding of the process and can forgive them for what I deemed to stem particles. While I don’t like seeing them (personal preference) I now understand why they are there. I doubt that it impacts the flavour at all. As such, I think it is only fair that my rating for the cigar’s construction be revised from a 4 out 5 to 4.25 out of 5.
Also, I have now had the pleasure of smoking a final release of the cigar. The flavour as described in my original review remained consistent, which is a good thing. As a cigar smoker, I like to have consistency in the flavour profiles of the cigars I smoke. I want to know what I am getting when I reach for a particular cigar out of the humidor.
I must be completely honest with this review and if there was one drawback with the banded cigars that were sent to me it was with the appearance of the cigar. For reasons I cannot explain, the production version of the cigars that were sent to me appeared to have more visible veins and the seams were also a tad more visible. Also, it would be advisable to pay a little more attention to the application of the cap as the samples recently received did not appear to be as meticulously applied as the first pre-release samples. The band on one of the two retail samples was wrinkled so a little more care in the “details” is advisable. This is important for a cigar company looking to gain the attention of cigar smokers who are a finicky bunch and usually tied to their favourite brands. Making a stunning cigar, one that smokers want to buy, that shines out from the multitude of different brands is important. I’m also not crazy about the band of the cigar. It looks a little too simple for my taste.
Admittedly these comments may come across as petty but like the food we eat, cigar smokers like to be impressed when they hold a cigar in their hand and these little flaws, while petty to some, are important to aficionados like myself. As such, I had no choice but to make a quarter deduction for the appearance of the cigar so my revised appearance rating for the production version of this cigar is 3.75 out of 5.
As far as the taste, arguably the most important aspect of any cigar review, I am pleased to report that the production sample was more balanced and as such earned an increase in rating to 4.25 out of 5 from the previous rating of 4. The spice that appeared to be overwhelming at times in the pre-release samples was not as powerful making the cigar more enjoyable. I noted in my last review that some of the cayenne-type spice at times masked the flavors of the cigar. I did not find any such issues with being overwhelmed by spice in these production samples and the flavors discussed in my last review were allowed to shine to the forefront more. Perhaps the additional rest had a little to do with the mellowing of this. Being quite young, I imagine that some of these more overpowering aspects will continue to mellow.
The overall rating of the cigar therefore increased to 4.06 out of 5 on my grading scale which is saying a lot because in my tastings, it still rated higher than the cigar of the year (Prensado Churchill) in the category that counts… flavor. The flavors associated with the Recluse Toro are quite enjoyable and deserve to be sampled by cigar lovers looking for something new and something different.
I give kudos to the Iconic Leaf Cigar Company. I really think they have something with the Recluse and I maintain my earlier statement that we can expect to hear some good things about this company in the future as more cigar smokers become exposed to their cigars. They must be commended with coming out of the gate with a very worthy cigar.
I was recently sent a couple of samples of their latest shape, something quite different and an invention of theirs, the “Kanú”. Watch out for this review at a later date once I have had a chance to let these cigars stabilize and rest for a little bit in my humidor.
Matthew, thank you for the feedback. It is greatly appreciated and I encourage as much discussion as possible.
You are absolutely correct. Cigar smoking is a subjective pleasure. We all have different palates and every cigar smoker has a preference in the flavor profiles that give them pleasure. I am never one to begrudge anyone for liking a cigar that I don’t or for hating one that I enjoyed. This difference of opinion in what we as smokers share is what makes the hobby and pleasure so fun. Imagine how boring it would be if every blend tasted the same.
But you have to understand that I’m not suggesting for one moment that a cigar be avoided because of appearance. My gosh, I’ve smoked some very enjoyable cigars that had some disgusting looking wrappers and which looked poorly rolled and packaged.
For the purpose of compiling a “review” though, it’s vital that I leave my comments and effectively provide a rating on the appearance of a cigar. “Appearance” is not the be all and end all of the cigar however, if we are to do a comprehensive review then we must evaluate it. Not doing so, in my view, leads to an incomplete review. We “see the cigar” before we ever light it and as such, appearance is a factor that needs to be included in any review. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.
Appearance is merely one aspect of the review and perhaps the least important one but it remains an aspect of the review that I cannot overlook.
I would never recommend avoiding a cigar simply because of the way it looks or its packaging. In fact, if I am not intending to review a cigar then I will probably not pay much attention to appearance at all. I trust you appreciate why I must evaluate appearance when conducting a full review.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.
January 8, 2013
I appreciate reading Iconic Leaf’s comments and your responsiveness.
While I do not disagree with your assessment of the toro’s appearance, I must disagree with your comment, “Admittedly these comments may come across as petty but like the food we eat, cigar smokers like to be impressed when they hold a cigar in their hand and these little flaws, while petty to some, are important to aficionados like myself.” Perhaps that is so in your cigar circle, but not with the numerous cigar enthusiasts I know. Your statement implies that you are more of an aficionado that those of use who view appearance to be of less important. Yes, I appreciate the impeccable packaging of the Behike, but it matters little to my brand loyalty. I’ve seen Gurkhas with perfect wrappers and elaborate bands, but never tasted one that could hold a candle to a simply adorned PSD2. While I appreciate your review as an attempt to quantifiably evaluate your cigar experience, one should never forget that this is a subjective pleasure.
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