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Four Shades of Arandoza

Four Shades of Arandoza 1(Article compiled by Jeff Slatton)

As you probably know by now, my wife and I covered the 2015 ICPCR in New Orleans last summer. For me, it was a real eye opener. The last show I had attended was the 2007 ‘final RTDA’ in Houston. So there were quite a few new and different things at the ICPCR for me to see and report on.

One of these was the Arandoza line of cigars. White, Blue, Red and Defcon are the marques in the range. What follows is a compilation of reviews, by me and others, of the four lines.

Arandoza White Label Robusto (reviewed by jefslat)

This cigar had a dark, rich wrapper with a couple of veins, and a very smooth aroma of tobacco from both wrapper and foot. After an easy clip, the pre-light draw was even, but only gave hints of the aroma of the wrapper. Easily lit, the cigar showed flavors more in tune with the wrapper aroma than the pre-light draw had. There was ample smoke with some initial spice. The cigar started out as fairly light-bodied overall, with impressive flavors. Some sweetness developed as the cigar progressed, adding to the light spiciness.

The cigar had a very smooth and slightly oily feel to the touch – very nice on the fingers and lips. This one would make a very pleasant morning smoke, as it is light-bodied with very interesting flavors.

The mottled gray ash held on firm – speaking well of the construction of the cigar – and did not fall until about the halfway point. The cigar also had a nice slow burn to allow maximum enjoyment. Deep draws accentuated the flavors without being the cigar becoming overwhelming in strength. There was now some unevenness to the burn, but not enough to be a problem. As the cigar progressed, I considered classifying it closer to medium-bodied, based on the continuing quality of the flavors. I still think, however, that it would be an excellent choice for a morning smoke.

About an inch and a half in, a creaminess developed that added to the sweetness and spice for a very impressive flavor combination. The wrapper began to run a bit at about the three quarter mark, and the draw became hot. At this point, I put the cigar down. Not quite a nubber, but very close.

Construction – 5

Body – 3.5
Volume of smoke – 5
Flavors – 5

This cigar is yet another example of excellence from Arandoza. I give it a solid 4/5. Joe Bob says check it out.

Four Shades of Arandoza 2 FotorArandoza Blue (reviewed by bigw and Christofori)

The stick is medium brown, with minimal veins and no soft spots. The cold draw yields tastes of tobacco and leather, and seems to be not too tight or loose.

First third: I get a pepper zing on the back end, with hints of leather and nuts. The burn is straight as an arrow, and the ash is white and tight. I am getting ample and thick smoke. The head has split a bit, but this doesn't affect the smoke experience.

Halfway: I’m still getting that pepper bite with hints of leather and nuts. I rate this one so far at medium to full, but not too powerful. The burn is a little crooked now, but the ash is still tight and holding on. The split in the head has not worsened. The smoke volume has increased, and I’ve tapped the ash after the halfway point as a precaution.

Final third: The pepper has subsided. I’m still getting some wood and earthiness, with the smoke lingering in my mouth. The burn is OK, though I needed to touchup. But it’s nothing major. The flavors are enjoyable, and not overly complex.

Prelight – 9

Light – 9
Construction – 8
Flavor – 9
Power – 7.

A solid 8.4 overall, and well enjoyed.

***

Pre Burn:

The cigar had a couple of veins – one the full length and a second partial one. The color was mid-brown – darker than a Connecticut wrapper, but not as dark as the Maduro's I've smoked. The feel was consistent from end to end – a smooth feel with a slight give. The foot was solidly dense, and the cap was nice and clean.

I took a good toke off the foot, and got strong leather with a touch of cedar. I then cut the cap and took a draw. There was leather, wood and a hint of pepper.

The Burn:

1:30 – I toasted the foot and lit the cigar. It lit cleanly and evenly, and a flush of pepper and leather filled my mouth. The smoke had a wonderful creamy mouth feel and held well in the mouth, the flavor lingered many minutes. The first 1/3rd continued to give pepper, leather and some light nutty tones. There was an over-taste of cedar in the top of my mouth.

1:45 – The burn became a little uneven. I rotated the uneven section to the bottom, but that was not enough to counteract the unevenness. So I touched it up and continued.
1:50 – The grayish white ash that had been holding together well blew away in a gust of wind. The nuttiness reminded me of beech wood, or one of the other light tasting woods. (I almost thought of hazelnut, but it was not fully a hazelnut flavor.)
1:58 – The cigar needed a second touch up. The wrapper along the glue line was not burning as consistently as the filler or the binder, though the draw remained good. And there was no bits of filler in the cap. The density remained solid into the second 1/3rd.
2:06 – The cigar was still peppery, but reduced in intensity, the leather coming to the fore. The mouth feel was maintaining its creamy nature, but now with soft leather overtones.
2:12 – I had to touch it up again. The filler and binder still burned consistently. But where there were two or more layers of the wrapper, the cigar did not burn evenly.
2:18 – The pepper increased again, the leather and nuttiness holding.
2:26 – The ash, which had been holding well, blew away in a gust of wind. This would have been a good day to fly a kite! Into the last 1/3rd, the burn had evened out. The cap was still in good shape, as was the rest of the construction. Plenty of smoke was being produced, and the mouth feel was good.
2:40 – The length of the wrapper had remained consistent for the last 5 minutes or so. I suspected that the filler was burning faster than the wrapper.
2:48 – The ash fell, exposing the tunneling that I had suspected was happening. The cigar was almost out, so I nubbed it at this time.

Prelight – 9
Light – 9
Construction – 7
Flavor – 8
Power – 7
Average of 8 

This cigar was a pleasant smoke from start to finish. Only the burn of the wrapper and the touch ups were needing attention.

Four Shades of Arandoza 3Arandoza Red Label (reviewed by TommyBB)

The Arandoza Red Label is a Maduro with Mexican San Andrés as its wrapper. One consistent attribute of every cigar I have smoked from the IPCPR show is lots and lots of smoke. This one is no different. We are living in a time when the art pf the cigar-maker is alive and well, bringing us well-constructed cigars that produce great quantities of smoke. Emma Viktorsson (Mrs. José Blanco), from Las Cumbres, insisted to me that she started with the San Andrés leaf as the binder leaf for her new Freyja cigar (article written on that, too) because it draws so well.

This Arandoza Red Label was not overly sweet for a Maduro. At the outset, and drawing on the cigar before lighting, I caught some pepper on my lips. Most of what I had previously sampled from the trade show had been a bit sweeter. But this was appealing.

The first few draws fared well, and provided a nice flavor that complemented my Virgil's Zero Cream Soda (sweetened with stevia). This was a nice match. The cigar was smoking generously at both the head and foot as I drew, and the flavor was a touch mellow – again, just right for my beverage. I daresay this one was putting out the most smoke of any of the cigars I’d had to that point – quite the accomplishment.

The pepper was tame, even early on in the cigar. This was, really and truly, a creamy smoke.

First update: I had to let it go out and then re-light. This was no fault of the cigar, as I had been asked to run an errand. Upon getting the cigar re-lit, the pepper tingle was now evident on my tongue – something that's not my favorite attribute. But many among our community do appreciate this characteristic. So if you’re in that club, it's got that for you. The flavor is still enjoyable. And so far, this was a dead-solid, medium-bodied cigar.

Second update: I was getting down to the band now, and the cigar had become a touch stronger. It was now evolving into an earthy cigar, with some oomph to it.

Four Shades of Arandoza 4

Arandoza Defcon (reviewed by jefslat and gui_tarzan)

The foot of the cigar showed a nice blend of tobaccos, with a good earthy aroma. The wrapper was nice, dark and smooth. The cigar had an easy pre-light draw, with some bitter flavors to the tongue. It cut nice and clean (with my Palio cutter). The cigar was a bit harsh at the light, but the harshness evened out fairly quickly. It burned very cleanly.

I paired this cigar with an Independence Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout, which turned out to be a bit full for this particular cigar – a creamy stout with a bit of a backbite, which is not what I generally expect from an oatmeal ale.

The flavor passed the initial harshness and settled down to a medium-full cigar – not as full as what I was expecting, but still very flavorful, and very similar to the Arandoza Red series (but with an Oscuro wrapper). The light gray ash was a bit flaky, and tended to drop flakes in my lap – just a bit messy. This remained a smooth smoking cigar; the strength built, as the cigar progressed, to a solid medium-full smoke

At the 1/3rd point, the cigar started to get hot, with the strength of the cigar building accordingly. I put the cigar down, just past the stage where 1/4 of the cigar was left, because it was too hot to draw and hold.

Overall impressions: The cigar wasn’t as full as I was expecting (not necessarily a bad thing), though it became more full-bodied as the cigar progressed. Still, it was an enjoyable cigar overall, and I’d give it 3.5/5.

***

Four Shades of Arandoza 5The cigar was well-constructed, with a medium draw. The pre-light aromas were intense and bold. I was looking forward to a complex experience. 

First light: There was adequate smoke with heavy tobacco flavors, though not much spice or pepper. The smoke from the foot had a very nice bouquet. I just wish it had the same result on the other end. Don't get me wrong. it was initially quite good – just not as complex as I had hoped. 

A third of the way through, the flavor built up to having a very strong body and a very rich taste. The burn was consistent. No touchups were needed. Toward the halfway point, the flavor didn't let up, and was very enjoyable. But it was still strong enough that one would need to have a good drink to pair with the cigar in order to take the edge off the taste. It was dark and heavy, not spicy, and certainly not complex, but good nonetheless. 

I don't know if I would purchase this cigar. It doesn't live up to its name. But if you're looking for a solid flavor with no other expectations, this one fits the bill.

________________________________________

Four cigars, four distinct profiles. Arandoza is definitely a brand worth looking for. The only question is, “Which cigar will it be?”

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