Tobacco is a tradition steeped in long family traditions, with secrets passed down for not just decades, but centuries. Amongst the legends of the world of cigars, stood Don Alejandro Robaina at the top of the Habanos world, widely regarded as the greatest of our time before he passed a few years ago. Enter Carlos Pereda Robaina, grandson to the master, and now the blender behind the Nicaraguan brand Elogio. It is no surprise that Alejandro’s kin is deeply rooted in the tobacco world, seeking to build upon their family tradition, as Carlos’ uncle Armando is involved in production as well. So for a guy like me, whom loves the Vegas Robaina brand and has a picture of Alejandro on my blog, I was very excited to try the Elogio brand as I had heard wonderful feedback from the community. For more information, visit the Elogio website.
Prelight: Dry draw had notes of honey, tea, cinnamon, and nuts. The wrapper is a deep chocolate brown that glistens in the light.
First Third: Had a bit or trouble lighting at first, which I think could be attributed to some construction I will explain later. Initial flavors really reminded me of dark hazelnuts, like the combination of chocolate and the nut in a Ferrero Rocher. Rich cocoa bean and coffee flavors mixed with the hazelnut, providing a well balanced beginning and excellent profile. The retrohale was smooth, but not adding much to the complexity. A lingering harshness arrived towards the end, but I think this was draw related. I swore the cigar reminded me of toffee and or butterscotch at times. So far, the blend was really displaying rich Nicaraguan tobacco flavors that seem to be sneaking into the market as of late.
Second Third: There was a bit of tunneling going on, which was affecting the draw and adding some bitterness. Slight pepper notes were arriving, and I had yet to detect the honey notes on the dry draw. The adverse affects of the tunneling took over, but the toffee and hazelnut flavors that seemed to dominate the overall profile really stood out. The finish provided a cappuccino type mix of the aforementioned flavors, lingering on my palate and entire tongue. Complexity may have dropped a bit at this point, but the dimensions are rather enjoyable.
Final Third: The cappuccino flavors were really taking over and one could describe this part of the cigar in many ways. My guess is reviewers relate this third in many flavors, as the complexity came back, and really melts several flavors into one. The toffee, hazelnuts, cocoa, and coffee undertones really shine in a broad mix that is undefined in individual characteristics; rather, a melting pot of joy on the palate. Unfortunately, the draw tightened again at the end and the cigar became bitter. The richness that made the beginning so wonderful had left, but positive impressions lingered on my mind.
Construction: It should be noted, that I had some issues with draw throughout the cigar. Tunneling was an issue, and it could easily be a bum smoke in the world of handmade cigars. Honestly, it was good enough with the issue, that I really enjoyed it, which is why I went forward with the review.
Final Thoughts: I see why many folks swear by this blend and love it. I believe the quality of tobacco used here is excellent, and that my experience might have improved with a better roller. The complexity really came in and out at times, so I will wait to reserve judgment until a later date. Would I buy it again? I definitely will be. I recommend this to mild-med fans like myself and to fans of bolder blends as a first cigar of the day. I think there is enough complexity to satisfy any palate. I was very impressed with the quality of finish and tobacco. Normally in this instance, I email the company first and let them know I had a construction issue, but honestly, this cigar was good enough I will seek it out again. I would say Carlos is continuing the tradition of his grandfather, and is one of the few Nicaraguan blenders out there that understands flavor before power. The Elogio family should be proud of this blend, and I must say, this is another fine example of what can be done with Nicaraguan tobacco if blended for balance and rich flavor. Slowly but surely, blenders like Carlos are changing my expectations of Nicaraguan tobacco. I will seek him out in the coming weeks as we near IPCPR.
Final Final Thoughts: For some reason, I feel compelled to write a second conclusion again that is a bit off topic and personal really. I am a big fan of Habanos, maybe a snob you could say, but really, I am very critical of finish and 70% of my collection is dedicated to the Island. In my opinion, most Non Cuban brands really do not come close to the complexity and finish I experience in Habanos, specifically aged. Over the years, I have always been a big fan of Dominican tobacco, and have an entire humidor dedicated to Henke Kelner, the other guy with a picture on my blog. I do not compare the two really, I enjoy both for different reasons, but Henke’s blends with comparable finish do cost more unfortunately. I really do not enjoy most Nicaraguan blends, and the spice and power that is normally blended with it. I tend to find metallic notes, heavy minerals, spice that blasts my palate, and harshness that sits on the back of my mouth. Accordingly, these notes or flavors cause what I call palate burn and inspire me to grab mouthwash before spirits. However, a significant portion of my top 12 last year were Nicaraguan blends (Ezra Zion and Curivari for example), and recently the Elogio and Regius, seem to be nothing like what my past expectations embodied. I am very excited for what seems to be coming out of Nicaragua, and I feel that Nicaragua may be able to start competing with Habanos in terms of balance, complexity, and finish. Don’t get me wrong, there is still a large majority of blends from Nicaragua I will never touch unless a review is involved, but as a reviewer and cigar geek, I am compelled to try everything once in the search for my new favorite blend like the Regius.
****So Carlos if you are reading this, kudos to you on a fantastic cigar my friend. You should be proud of this blend, and following in your grandfathers footsteps.****
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