Man I love this time of year. This is the time when all the companies are teasing new releases and I start drooling like a Pavlov dog over what may be coming out of the Domincan Republic, like anything made by a family named Kelner, and my favorite Nicaraguan blenders. That being said, given my love for the Regius brand and the rankings of Akhil’s blends on my Top 13 Cigars of 2013 last year, I was elated to find some packages in the mail this last week with upcoming releases from the Regius family. First up, is the Exclusivo USA blends, that are made by Regius, and distributed by Exlcusivo USA. Akhil told me, “I wanted to create a cigar with the traditional flavor profile, in more inventive modern sizes for the American market.” The whole idea of an American release is similar to the regional editions we see from Habanos SA and the Cuban Market. Kapacee went on to say, “For me, America is such a great country. There is so much innovation here, from the mobile phones we use every day, to the clothes we wear. Cigars are no different, and I wanted to be a part of that; provide the best of traditional flavors, complexity, and progression of taste with a new and exciting twist.” A release party is set later this week, and I will add details regarding the release in my next review as I obtain information. A formal press release will hit later this week as well. Samples were provided by Top Quality Cigars.
Each size is blended differently to accentuate the shape and tobaccos used. Blending started with the Fat Perfecto, which I reviewed here, and embodies the flying pig shapes that seem to be popular in the USA with the signature pigtail. From there, the next size blended was the box pressed perfecto, which started as a double closed cigar, to trap the ammonia and seal fermentation on both ends, while lowering strength to accentuate the flavor. During the blending process, instead of wet wrapping, a box press was employed, which helped release oxygen, and balanced out the flavors as the blend hit the aging rooms before production. The Gran Toro bears slight resemblance to the Behike 56, but with a flavor profile aimed between a Robaina and Siglo VI with a Nicaraguan twist. Finally, a lancero was done, but with a slightly larger ring to bring out the flavors of the Ometepe filler. I will be reviewing all sizes in the coming weeks as well, to see what differences I can detect in the blending profiles.
Pricing and sizes are as follows:
Fat Perfecto: 5 3/4x60x54 Boxes of 10 Retail $129.50
Lancero Extra: 7 1/2x40 Boxes of 15 Retail $194.25
Pressed Perfecto: 6 1/2x54 Boxes of 10 Retail $129.50
Toro Extra: 6 1/2x56 Boxes of 10 Retail $129.50
Wrapper: Jalapa Nicaragua
Binder: Condega Nicaragua
Filler: Ometepe and Nicaraguan
Dry Draw: honey, musk, spice on lingering on lips
First Third: USA! USA! USA! Yes, this is blended for the American palate, and immediately the Fat Perfecto delivers full flavor in your face. Hulk Hoganesque cinnamon and brown sugar on the draw, with caramel notes dripping on the tongue, encompassing a very full flavored draw. The retrohale burned a bit at first, adding slight spices to the profile, with a lighter finish that opened up as the perfecto tip progressed. Nutty flavors kicked in, moonwalking on my palate, adding to the depth as well. The spices through the nose calmed down a bit, with hints of coriander and a pine type flavor adding a distinct complexity. The body increased significantly as the Exclusivo USA progressed, with each flavor coming in and out of the draw, and a light pepper note kissing the lips. This was a regal opening for sure, and one that will attract American smokers.
Second Third: The balance between sweet and spicy took over, and became a bit richer then the initial third. The brown sugar sweetness was undeniable, with cinnamon rolling off the tongue like Keef riffs on heroin for Exile on Main Street. The spices leaned towards green Anaheim pepper and balanced very well. I never felt like the spice through the nose overpowered the blend, more led to a perfect harmony in the blending profile. This was a fine example of how to blend a spice into a cigar like the Habanos do, but without overpowering the palate, and complimenting the overall flavor. In my flavor notes, I likened the experience to good Thai food, not in the flavors per se, but a good Thai meal gives you depth without killing your senses.
Final Third: The Anaheim pepper finish became very distinct on my tongue at this point, and was still alive and well on the retro, with full brown sugar on the draw and the added dimension. The brown sugar and cinnamon became milder as I neared the end, and really reminded my palate of a snickerdoodle cookie. The cinnamon moved to the retrohale as well, and the retro became significantly smoother. This third had the most complexity and depth, with a tad creamier draw, and delicacy in nature. Very impressive change, and I did not expect the Fat Perfecto to get milder like it did and end with a creamy cinnamon finish.
Construction: I probably should have dry boxed it given it is rather fresh, but I had no issues. My gut just tells me I think with a little more time I might find more delicate flavors.
Final Thoughts: This will be a hit for the American Market. The size being a flying pig, blend, full flavor, and balance of spice will have a broad range of appeal. For a cigar that is aimed at the American market, I would say this is a direct hit. Granted, with his core line and Orchant, I think those appeal to a palate like mine, but may not hit the full bodied fans. This blend is much different in that regard. The Exlcusivo USA has the full flavor Akhil is known for in his blending style, but the body is much fuller, while encompassing the traditional finish and changes. There is spice throughout that changes in terms of flavor and how it this the palate from nose to draw. The spice never overpowers though, like a traditional Cuban in the San Cristobal or Robaina blending style. I cannot say if this is a box buy for me yet, as I want to try all the sizes before I determine which one I like the best. I will say, that with time, I would think the blend will only improve in complexity and balance. Right now, it is fantastic right off the truck, and offers a full flavored, medium-full body, and distinct changes with an excellent finish. My guess is this is the type of cigar that would make our consensus list, as I think Rob will freak out, and I think Matt will like it as well.
***Distribution will be handled for nationwide release by Exclusivo USA. You can reach them and find a list of retailers as they hit the market at their website for more information.***