In 2010, George Rodriguez (Owner of Rodrigo Cigars) traveled to Santiago in the Dominican Republic on a mission of discovery.
Once I arrived in Santiago I really didn’t know where to start, but there I was, fresh off the plane, blindly asking anyone from the concierge, the waiters and the old timers playing dominoes about ‘cigarros,’ and ‘puros’ and where to I might go to learn more.
While everybody was helpful, all he found were the well-known factories with their guided tours, the IKEA’s of the cigar world. They weren’t enough for George. He wanted to speak to a true maestro, have a hands on experience and learn from him one on one.
During a trek through the dusty streets he eventually ran into an old man on a scooter who pointed him in the right direction. George walked a ways down the road as directed by the old man and ran into William Ventura, smoking a cigar outside of his relatively new Tabacalera. William Ventura was a master blender for Davidoff for many years. George had found his Maestro. At least, that’s how the tale goes. The mantra around CM is Every Cigar Has a Story and without George’s jaunt through the Dominican, there would be no Habano Clasico.
The Habano Clasico is the first blend to come from the partnership of George Rodriguez and William Ventura. It features an Ecuadorian Habano/Sumatra Hybrid wrapper and fillers and binder from the Dominican.
Country of Manufacture: Dominican Republic
Rolled: Tabacalera Ventura
Size: 7 x 38 Lancero
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano/Sumatra Hybrid
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
MSRP: Approx. $7.60
Sample: provided by Rodrigo Cigars
Quantity smoked: 3
Age: 1 Month in Humidor
Pre-light the construction seems adequate, but there are a few soft spots. The wrapper varies slightly in color from sample to sample and even varies up and down the cigar itself. Otherwise the seams are tight, and there are some protruding veins which give things a natural rustic feel. Everything is topped off with a nice little pig-tail cap. The cold draw has a perfect resistance, which is reassuring because a cigar of this ring gauge needs to be just right (each sample was quite good in this regard). Off the wrapper I smelled a general barnyard while the foot produced a chocolate and manure combination. The cold draw brought more of that same chocolaty note with some red pepper.
Immediately I am hit with cream, chocolate and black pepper on the palate with a larger helping of pepper on the retro-hale. Undertones of herbals and mulling spice accentuate the intensely rich profile. The smoke is fairly dense with a texture between creamy and chewy. My mouth begins to water profusely a 1/4″ in, to the point where I have to spit. At the same time, some of that pepper makes its way to the back of my throat, so there is definitely a bit of pop to this lancero. The chocolate begins to shade downwards as I close in on the second third and nutmeg separates itself from the mulling spice, becoming the dominant flavor. Hints of coffee and a faint wood come through as undertones. Construction is on-point with a solid ash, excellent combustion and an even burn. The body is medium plus to full while the strength is at medium.
The pepper begins to level out, only tickling the sinus on the otherwise creamy retro-hale. As the cigar moves to the half the chocolate continues to dip further underneath the nutmeg while almond begins to manifest itself as an undertone alongside the intermittent wood and coffee. Earth shows its face as I near the final third. While the Rodrigo Classic left my mouth oozing with saliva in the first third, here it turns slightly more mouth-drying, which was a welcome change as it was becoming a bit much. Flavors are rich and full, linger on the finish. I continued to get a nice thick and creamy smoke throughout this third.
The Rodrigo Classic takes on an oily, almost petrol like quality in this third. The slight wood becomes a more pronounced smoky charcoal characteristic as earth slowly paints over the chocolate. All of the sweetness is offset by an almost coffee-like acidity, which is a surprisingly pleasant pair. Nutmeg still remains the most prominent flavor in the profile, but there is much less separation with the lesser flavors. The cigar does tend to get hot near the end but that’s almost always the case with a lancero. I got copious amounts of thick smoke, with a touch of brown to its coloration. Flavors are full. The Rodrigo does finish with some strength but it’s by no means powerhouse; probably sits somewhere around medium to medium plus.
While it isn’t typically dark like a maduro I was surprised by how much chocolate I was getting. It mixed nicely with the nutmeg and transitioned to earth in the final third. It’s basically a straight mix between a Marquee and Coal Miner. Initially, I gave this a Coal Miner but changed my mind shortly after posting due to its relatively Cuban-esque profile. I just didn’t see it comparing with some of the other cigars we’ve placed in the Coal Miner Class.
Unlike some of my more inconstant experiences with cigars coming out of Tabacalera Ventura, the Rodrigo Habano Clasico Lancero was very dependable sample to sample. Each provided a similar profile with full flavors, nice burn and quality construction. The chocolate and nutmeg were a killer combination and there was plenty on stand-by to keep things interesting; a steady pepper and woodsy/coffee/nutty undertones. In the end, the Rodrigo Habano Clasico provided the trifecta of full flavor, complexity and balance I so often crave, a truly III. Satisfying cigar.
- Does Tabacalera Ventura sound familiar? If it does it’s probably because you’ve heard the name when reading about Caldwell Cigar Co. who also has their cigars rolled at the up and coming factory. Every release from the factory we’ve reviewed has been given a IV. Pleasant or higher on our quality scale.
- Recently, Matt reviewed Rodrigo’s latest release, the Rodrigo Corona Project Vol. I. He gave it a IV. Pleasant on our quality scale and a Coal Miner in our class system.
- Last year, I (Josh) reviewed the Rodrigo La Fortaleza Cinco 5 giving it a II. Memorable quality rating and classified it a Dynamite. That cigar ended up landing on our Favorites of 2013 list.
- Matt reviewed another cigar in the Rodrigo portfolio last year, the Botique Blend G5. He gave the cigar a III. Satisfying rating and a Marquee classification.