Appearance (0-20): Right off the bat youre thinking, “is that a Padron 2000”? Nope. But the simple brown and white label sure does look like it doesn’t it? The cigar’s outside layer is an inviting piece of tobacco that hardly shows any seam at all. Minor thin veins on the outside aren’t a detriment at all. This looks rich and simple, although brand differentiation may be something of an issue.
Construction (0-20): The Cubao here is expertly packed. Upon cutting, there was almost no excess debris. There were no flaws in the way the tobacco itself was layered, and it shows throughout the smoke. The ash held for about an inch and a half at each clip, allowing me to enjoy while keeping the smoke nice and cool. An even burn is yet another thing to add to the positives list, but the one knock is that the draw was slightly loose.
Strength (0-20): What I expected was something in the medium range. I was pleasantly surprised when I began smoking this and realized just how heavy it is. There is a nice and heavy nicotine punch that will knock you on your ass if you aren’t paying attention.
Flavor (0-20): Immediately upon lighting you get a wave of pure pepper. There are some earthy tones in the background but pepper really does take center stage. As the cigar continues, the pepper remains a force but fades slightly (it fades from outright taste to instead be a kick to the nose), letting in some other tastes: coffee, wood, and a bit more of the earthy tone. To the end, this one gave me a lot of treats and had some underlying flavors that really made you work to find them. This exhibits some amazing complexity for a cigar that has such a strong pepper presence.
Value (0-20): I think this particular cigar is actually appropriately priced. Actually given the complexity, I would veer closer to the side of this being a bargain.
Additional Notes: Paired with water at Cigars International.
Overall (0-100): While this isn’t the most complex cigar… or the most peppery… or the most anything really – it sure as hell works well together. Flavors mingle in quite nicely but power and pepper highlight a really solid stick. I absolutely plan on enjoying more of these to smoke, even though the appearance might not scream “smoke me!”.