Monday, February 11, 2013

Isla del Sol

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sumatra
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Length: 7”
Ring: 50
Cost: $4.50

Appearance (0-20): There’s nothing fancy about the outside of the Isla del Sol, but there doesn’t have to be. It’s got a nice Sumatra wrapper and dual bands on it. At the top is a flaring sun in a gold etching, set on a brownish backdrop. The lettering is in white, allowing it to stand out from the seemingly blank slate of color. The bottom band contains the same colors with a different design. There are some noticeable veins, though most are smaller in nature.
Score: 17

Construction (0-20): The initial feel of the cigar made me a little concerned as the tobacco didn’t have that even edge that it needs. There were definitely pockets that felt a little light on the backing. Still, the outside was in good condition. Clipping the end revealed a lot of debris. Actually, there was way too much for the normal standard (which plagued me throughout the smoking experience too). Lighting up was simple and easy, and it held its ash fell for the first few inches, but subsequent ashings dwindled. As it hit the midway point, the cigar also burned super hot, to the point where I had to put it down and sometimes relight it to keep from burning my finger.
Score: 12

Strength (0-20):  Mild to medium. If this doesn’t hit it on the head, it’s just a hair off of what they were shooting for.
Score: 19

Flavor (0-20): Let me first say that I enjoy flavored / infused cigars. Drew Estate does a fantastic job on the Acid lines. This had an almost overpoweringly sweet taste to it though to begin with. As the stick progressed, some of the natural chocolatey tones came through and toned down the experience quite a bit. A bitter coffee flavor also mixes in, again putting the flavor back to where it needs to be.
Score: 15

Value (0-20): On the flavored / infused cigar scale, $4.50 for a Churchill really is a good price. Unfortunately the value proposition becomes a bit skewed when factoring in construction and flavor. I would rather invest a few bucks more for something more reliable.
Score: 14

Additional Notes: Paired with water in my garage.

Overall (0-100):  Before anyone questions my thoughts on this – I do like flavored / infused cigars. Not everyone does. But reviewing an infused cigar when you hate them normally… would be a travesty. So put that on the back burner. Secondly, I usually smoke a few of the cigar to ensure I am getting the same consistency with all of them. This particular review is actually a compilation of about 5 different instances of trying it. Each yielded similar results.

Typically, Drew Estate does a lot of things right. This one is a departure for the norm from them when it comes to their highest of standards when regarding their product. However, given some of the characteristics of it (cheaper, really sweet, etc) it could very well have some broad appeal to some of the novice cigar smokers who only have something occasionally. To most experienced cigar smokers though, this one would be mediocre at best.

That all being said – there are some major construction issues I ran into with the blend. I don’t think that has to do so much with the rollers, but more with the filler that is used. Such is the way things go sometimes. If that were the only flaw, I think I could have overlooked it somewhat in the value section. The unfortunate reality is the debris from the cut continues to be an issue, the sweetness is overpowering from the beginning, and the Isla del Sol burns too hot much of the time. Still, it has the hallmarks of a good infused cigar when you get past the initial sweet candy taste. It’s a shame that this one wasn’t toned down a bit from the get-go, but perhaps the true market direction was toward people looking for a cheap infused stick…

Score: 77

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