Sabor De Estelí is the latest effort from Noel Rojas of Guayacan Cigars and his Aromas de Jalapa factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. If you’ve had a Hermosa Cigar or a Guayacan, then you’ve smoked Noel’s stuff and know its quality. The name Sabor De Estelí translates to Taste of Estelí and is a tribute to the tobacco capital of Nicaragua. The band even features a young woman in traditional dress and a picturesque background of Nicaragua’s lush foliage.
The Sabor De Estelí comes in two different lines. The natural features an Ecuadorian habano wrapper while the version I’ll be reviewing is the Maduro which features a Mexican San Andrés. Other than the wrapper, what separates these two is the box-press of the maduro while the natural is a more traditional round shape. Blend wise, the Sabor De Estelí is a mixture of higher priming’s (Viso’s and Ligero’s) of the tobacco plant—all nicaraguan. Watch our interview with Noel from IPCPR 2014 to get a look at his entire line-up.
Country of Manufacture: Nicaragua
Rolled: Aromas de Jalapa
Quantity smoked: 1
Age: 3 Months
Size: 6×52 Box-Press
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Maduro
Activities Prior to Review: Did some work online, took pictures for review
Most Recent Food Eaten: Ate two tamales 45 mins prior. One green sauce and chicken, one red sauce and beef
Pairing: Aquafina bottled water
The box-pressed Sabor De Estelí Maduro is wrapped in an evenly colored San Andrés leaf peppered with small yet abundant tooth. The wrapper almost has the feel of extremely fine sand-paper and gives off a strong barnyard aroma. The foot looks evenly packed with no major stems showing and also provides some barnyard but it’s a littler more earthy and oaky smelling. After the clip, the draw had just the right amount of resistance and gave me notes of tamarindo, earth, oak and a slight pepper.
The first thing I usually notice about a cigar after lighting is the amount of pepper; lack thereof or an abundance. The Sabor De Estelí hits with a high-pitched pepper that tingles the tongue and almost brings a sneeze after a retro-hale. Often times, San Andrés wrapped cigars remind me of mexican chocolate. Typically, mexican chocolate is made with roasted and ground cacao nibs, sugar and cinnamon. Other spices such as nutmeg and allspice may be added, along with nuts and sometimes even chilies. That combination is almost exactly what I’m getting from the Sabor. There is a background citrus note that lingers on the finish but it isn’t front and center in the profile. The smoke is actually quite velvety but after a puff it leaves a slighty gritty texture on the palate. Creator, Noel Rojas, talked about how he uses all Viso and Ligero in the blend and if the strength is any indication, he wasn’t joking. While it’s not a powerhouse, I can feel a knot in my throat from the pepper and strength.
The Sabor De Estelí continues to kick out the pepper, but it has subsided, providing a creamier quality to the experience. Earth and a bit of charred oak begin to emerge, pairing nicely with the mexican chocolate and lingering citrus finish. The smoke output is solid and the burn-line has required no touch-ups whatsoever even though it is mildly erratic. Nearing the half a floral tone develops and can be smelled from the toasting foot. Body and strength are both around medium to medium-full.
Rounding the bend into the final third of the Sabor De Estelí Maduro a little bit of harshness begins to rear its head in the form of a scratchy throat and a slight souring of flavor. The profile is the same combination of mexican chocolate, charred oak and earth. The more balanced citrus finish of the second third goes a little too sour here and tends to overpower the other flavors. Construction was solid even to nub where it stayed reasonably cool and continued to produce voluminous smoke.
The first half of the Sabor De Estelí Maduro Toro really showed off the kind of quality coming from Tabacalera Aromas de Jalapa, unfortunately some harshness crept in by the final third and it fell a bit short of its potential. Complexity of the flavors in the profile was fairly solid and it was a well-blended, well-constructed cigar that simply needed a little more rest. Until the latter half, one of the more balanced and enjoyable San Andrés Maduro’s I’ve had this year and a cigar with a lot of aging potential.