The Merlion smelled of sweet tobacco and dried fruit. The dried fruit reminded me of dates.
The Merlion is a very well constructed cigar. There are no flaws on the cap or foot and the double band is gigantic. Fully 3/4s of the cigar is covered by the silver and crimson.
Loads of pepper on the first few puffs. The pepper does die down after a few minutes and then mixes in with leather and a very overpowering earthiness. At about the halfway mark the pepper falls to the same strength as the other flavors and a charcoal meat flavor adds to the mix. There was a a lot going on in the first and I didn't feel that it ever found the right balance.
If the first was defined by the pepper blast, the middle is defined by an earthy blast. The earthiness becomes quite acrid at the halfway point and I had to take significant breaks here to continue.
The last half of this cigar was a struggle for me to finish. I would say that the flavor wheel for this cigar is almost the complete opposite of what I typically enjoy.
The draw was super open, but never became an issue, although it does burn quite fast. I found myself taking light draws. Even with the light draws there was loads of smoke produced.
The Robusto singles typically go around $8-$9, 5-packs for around $40 and a box of 20 for $160. Flavor preferences aside, the pricing is about where I would expect it to be.
The Merlion buy La Sirena boasts 4 different long fillers. A Nicaraguan ligero, Dominican Corojo, Dominican Criollo '98 and a Brazilian Mata Fina. That is a lot of long-fillers to balance into one cigar, and there's a fine line between several instruments playing at once and an orchestra. Unfortunately for me the Merlion fell entirely outside of what I enjoy on the flavor wheel. Keep in mind that taste is highly subjective, and since the Merlion Robusto is quite affordable I highly recommend you pick one up and try it for yourself.