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La Jugada Habano & Prieto

La Jugada Habano Prieto 1Size of each cigar: 5 inches by 52 ring gauge (Robusto)

We’ve all heard it said, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Well, when it comes to cigars, that’s not totally the case. With premium cigars, it’s also what’s on the outside that counts. Experts say that even though it comprises the smallest portion of a cigar, the wrapper has the most influence on the flavor. With that in mind, Cigar Weekly assigned me to review two cigars sporting identical binders and fillers, but with different wrappers. This review will be my take on the difference the wrapper makes in the performance and taste of the La Jugada Habano Robusto and the La Jugada Prieto Robusto.

First, a little background. The La Jugada lines come from Moya Ruiz Cigars (Danny Moya and Nelson Ruiz), and are manufactured at the Espinosa La Zona facility in Esteli, Nicaragua. For your information, La Jugada is Spanish for 'the play'.

Both cigar blends use Nicaraguan fillers and an undisclosed binder. The difference in the two is that the Habano has an Ecuadorian Habano cover while the Prieto is wrapped in a San Andres Maduro leaf from Mexico. The line is composed of five different vitolas. This combination review is of the Robustos.

The La Jugada Habano Robusto was a medium-brown cigar with few veins and no flaws. There were no uneven or soft spots. The pre-light smell was sweetness and rotting leaves. I used a punch cut. My sample lit easily from a cedar splinter, and there was plenty of smoke from an easy draw. The ash was nearly white and flakey, yet sturdy. The cigar burned mostly evenly, and lasted fifty minutes. Construction was excellent.

La Jugada Habano Prieto 2

The first few puffs of the Habano were harsh, and the initial flavors were dominated by hot pepper. But the cigar did settle down quickly. The first third offered up pepper, leather, cedar and tea. The middle portion brought some nuttiness and a gin-like taste. Leather really lingered on my palate, as the finish was long and strong. I thought this was a medium to full-bodied stick with plenty of richness.

La Jugada Habano Prieto 3

The La Jugada Prieto Robusto appeared dark-brown, coarse and rustic. It too had a triple-seamed cap. It was uniform in sponginess from end to end. The cold smell was syrupy sweet and floral. Plug chewing tobacco came to mind. Again, I used a punch cut. Unlike the Habano, the Prieto (with its Maduro wrapper) was tough to light. And once alight, it produced a little less smoke than the Habano. The draw, once again, was easy. The burn was slow and a tad uneven, and it took a little effort to keep this one lit. These were minor issues that could be attributed to the difference in the wrappers. Overall, however, both cigars were well constructed. The Prieto Robusto lasted fifty-nine minutes.

La Jugada Habano Prieto 4

The La Jugada Prieto proved a smoother, sweeter, more balanced and even richer smoke than the Habano. It lacked the initial brashness of the Habano. There was less pepper, though leather, cedar and tea were still there. Leather was most prominent during the middle third. Over the course of the cigar, I also noticed dark chocolate notes. Again, as with the Habano, the finish was long and strong.

So, how did I rate the two cigars using the Cigar Weekly system? Let’s see...

La Jugada Habano Robusto:

Pre-light – 9
Light – 9
Draw – 9
Construction – 9
Flavor – 8
Power – 8.5
Average – 8.8

La Jugada Prieto Robusto:

Pre-light – 9
Light – 8
Draw – 9
Construction – 9
Flavor – 9
Power – 8.5
Average – 8.8

La Jugada Habano Prieto 5

I liked the pair, and thought both Robustos were above average. I’m comfortable recommending them. Though both cigars finished with the same rating, I’d have to give an edge to the Prieto, based on what I perceived as a superior flavor profile. As for what beverages these cigars might pair with, I’d suggest something strong – say rum neat. Both cigars boast a fairly high nicotine content – so fair warning.

On a personal note, since the cigars were identical except for the wrappers, I guess this proves that I’m a Maduro man. I always thought I preferred Habano.

This was the first time that I’d ever done a comparative review. I recommend every cigar enthusiast try that enjoyable experiment. And I’d have to agree with the experts. Every noticeable difference in these two cigars – from flavor to burn – was attributable to the wrappers.

The La Jugada Habano Robusto and La Jugada Prieto Robusto go for $8 a piece, give or take. The line is available in about half of the U.S., and on line, of course.