Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
If you are not familiar with Gran Habano, you are missing out. The company has all sorts of great blends on the market and I have always enjoyed them. When I first saw the Zulu Zulu, I must admit I was intrigued with the packaging. The artistic band is an eye catcher, and probably why I gravitated towards this cigar. George Rico and his family have been in the business since the 20’s, and opened up their own factory in Honduras in the late 90’s. This cigar is apparently his personal blend, and a limited run under the STK line by Gran Habano. Any time I hear about a cigar being a personal blend, I am always curious to see what ensues. These types of blends give the consumer a peak into the blending style of a company, and I find they tell the tale of one man’s palate and blending ability.
Dry Draw: Dried fruit, dry herbs, tealeaves
First Third: From the get go, the Zulu Zulu was a full-bodied powerhouse with some pepper stang on the retro. The herbal flavors from the dry draw were distant, as well as the tea leaves. No sweetness was present at all, which was odd given the fruitiness of the dry draw. There was definitely strong cedar and pepper burn in my nostrils, with a cocoa bean note mixing on my palate that reminded me of Nestle Quick cocoa powder. The cocoa note was most defined on the initial draw, but dissipated quickly into the pepper and cedar notes in the back of my mouth. As the initial third progressed, the fruit came out, along with a roasted nut flavor. Both these notes were very dry and complemented the power of the finish very well. In my opinion, there was a ton of flavor in the first third that could be described as bold.
Second Third: The dried fruit notes really pushed to the forefront of the profile, and the cocoa became a bit sweeter as well. The herbal and tealeaf notes were still lingering in the background, providing a unique aftertaste. The Zulu Zulu smoothed out tremendously without much flavor change. I was enjoying it so much, I stopped taking notes, as the flavors were consistent, and I wanted to savor the finish.
Final Third: The spice picked back up as I headed into the last leg of the Zulu. The sweetness left for what seemed like a short time, but returned. The power of the blend was taking over again, and my nostrils were on fire, while my lips were hot and tingly. Once I stopped retrohaling as much, the cocoa and sweetness of the dried fruit really stood out to me. The roasted nut flavors floated on the finish, and the herbal tea flavors really came out in the final third marking one last distinct change. The Zulu Zulu definitely ended on a high note.
Construction: No burn or draw issues, but it did look a bit rustic but very oily wrapper
Final Thoughts: This is a Nicaraguan cigar fan’s dream. All the power of Nicaragua tobacco can be experienced here with rich bold flavors that excite the palate. For my tastes, I would prefer this cigar after 2 years aging I think, as I lean towards mellower blends. My take on the power may be a bit more than a Nica smoker who is used to the strength of this region. The retro was so powerful, I had to stop for a bit and only draw. I think the cedar and pepper notes that dominate the profile will mellow over time and open up the entire flavor profile this blend has to offer. I have a gut feeling this will age like the original El Truinfador lanceros, and I will be kicking myself for not having more in my humi. I probably stopped taking notes in the second third, as I was hunting for deals on them. I know on their website it describes this blend as medium, I would say medium-full for a guy who likes Dominican Cigars and mild-medium stuff. I tip my hat to George Rico for such a great blend.