One of my favorite folks I met at IPCPR was Enrique of 1502 cigars. Enrique was positioned right behind our booth, and we quickly became good friends over his rum, my whiskey, and the bloody Mary booth. We did several interviews with Enrique during the show (Lighting before cutting the Cap!), and he was always gracious and a great host. Needless to say, he gave me a few samples of the Ruby and Emerald to review. The Emerald never made it out of Vegas, but I did save one of the Ruby he gave me for this review.
Filler: Jalapa and Esteli
Dry Draw: cherry, honey, red pepper
First Third: The Ruby offered a well balanced beginning of cocoa, red pepper, cedar, and dried fruit. The retrohale provided the cherry note with red pepper and cedar. My exact note read, “retro is tits.” Honestly, the amount of body was a bit much for my tastes, and all of Enrique’s blends are too heavy for me, but hot damn the balance, depth, and power in the 1502 was perfect. At any time the draw was hitting my palate with sugar, cocoa, or cedar. When those notes combined with the retro post exhale, that is when the depth of the Ruby comes alive. Never too much of anything, but plenty of everything, that is what a great cigar does to your mind.
Second Third: The draw was still banging out the flavors, with creamy cocoa and coffee notes combining with the dried fruit, cedar, and pepper to kick the complexity up a notch. The main switch in profile was the body, as the fullness declined and the finish became clean and refined. My notes suggested, “depth is ridiculous.” The notes stayed similar as the first third really, but there were so many, my mind was playing flavor tennis with each one bouncing back and forth over my palate. There was a bit of a funky burn at this time, but it burned itself out with rotation.
Final Third: The coffee and cocoa flavors became much darker at this point, leaning towards dark cocoa and espresso flavors. The retrohale left a distinct sweetness that was the key to the balance of the blend with the darker draw notes. Underneath everything lied the pepper and cedar still, with the sweetness bringing the draw and retro together for a symphony of flavor. I did find a soft spot, which was the culprit of the weird burn, and took a touchup. That did not affect my notes though, and I sat back and enjoyed the final inch.
Construction: There was a soft spot that affected burn and required a significant touch up. It did not affect the flavor, but may have cut some time of the cigar. I must note the wrapper on the end of the foot as well, as Enrique employs his cigar lock technique, which protects the wrapper from cracking at the foot. It is an amazing touch, and should be noted, as no one takes the time to do this. Enrique explains it to Logan and I here: Rum, Caps, and 1502
Final Thoughts: I highly recommend the entire 1502 line to anyone whom is a fan of full-bodied spicy Nicaraguan cigars. Enrique is a master of this blending style in my opinion, but what sets his blends apart is balance. Plenty of cigars have tons of flavor or body, but balancing many flavors with distinction and depth is not easy. The 1502 Ruby provides tons of flavor, all balanced perfectly to jump in and out of your notepad, with body and finish to attract any smoker. It is not surprising to me that the Ruby is so highly regarded, as it really offers something for everyone, and is Enrique’s best blend in my opinion. I would recommend the 1502 Ruby to every cigar smoker as a must try, and if I owned a cigar shop, I would carry the entire line to recommend to the full-bodied smoker in mind. For mild-medium smokers like me, the Ruby is best served after dinner, or as a second-third cigar of the night as the body may jump out a bit at first. Pairing with a scotch or bourbon, or Flor de Cano as Enrique would suggest, will only add to the experience. Personally, I cannot wait to try his newest blend. Thanks again for the sample Enrique.