There is something about reading a press release about bringing back the only Cuban tobacco company with Chinese ties. The story itself drew me in, as my good buddy Matt posted the release HERE Azan seemed to describe the type of blending I love, so I shot an email to the company to see where they are being distributed. Some three months later, I get a response, and they offered to send me some samples, to which I happily obliged. As their website states, the company started in the late twenties with Kwan Ben Sue, whom adopted the Cuban name Domingo Azan. Azan settled in Manicaragua, known for rich tobacco, and along with his sons and nephews started producing handmade cigars. As luck would have it, Azan won the lottery, and invested in a state of the art cigarette factory, and became a source of local employment; thus, conquering the region with product and labor. When the revolution took place, the government took over the factory accordingly and the brand was lost.
Enter Roberto Duran, a player in the Asia Pacific Cuban distributors and the great-grandaughter of Azan, Maria Isabel. Duran was a factory supervisor in Cuba as well, and also spent time with Dunhill as a consultant. Duran is supervising a small production factory in Esetli that employs 20 buncheros and rollers. Each person specializes in one size period, which allows Duran to control quality, and ensure each person becomes an absolute master at their craft. With this attention to detail, Duran and Azan look to recreate the perfection of their rich Cuban tradition. They control fermentation, along with aging all cigars before they leave the factory.
*****This is officially the coolest little pyramide I have ever seen*****
Wrapper: Cuban seed Corojo from Ecuador, grades 3 & 4, naturally medium dark-brown wrapper
Filler: A selection of the finest tobaccos from Jalapa and Esteli in Nicaragua
Binder: The finest Jalapa binder
Dry Draw: hints of honey
First Third: Right off the bat I detected the honey notes from the dry draw. I love it when the cigar delivers the same flavors and aromas of the draw. Walnuts were next, with an overall medium rich body. The retrohale had the perfect amount of kick, enough to awaken the senses without knocking you out. Once again, which happens for my palate when spice and nutty flavors combine on retro, I really got a nice liqueur burn as the flavors melted together post retro. My notes concluded with big taste, small cigar.
Second Third: The core flavors stayed the same, but the finish became noticeably longer. The walnut flavors really stood out on the finish to me, with added depth. The retro became very buttery, similar to notes I find in Dominican puro’s, but different. The draw was creamier with less body, and the culmination reminded me of a cookie from those big tins you see around Christmas time.
Final Third: The retro started adding a light citrus to the depth, mixing wonderfully with the nutty draw and creamy texture. The most dominant flavor throughout is the walnuts to me, with the retro providing the depth of the experience. Hands down, the Azan had one of the better retrohale’s I have experienced lately.
Construction: Top Notch
Final Thoughts: The Azan is the kind of cigar that would pique my interest in the brand based on a wonderful experience. It reminded me of my first Curivari, which I was not in love with, but then found several blends in the line I adore. The blending was top notch, as was the quality of tobacco, and obviously I burned my fingertips longing for one last puff. I immediately recommended this to the shop and my local shop. I cannot wait to try all the sizes in this line, and the rest of the blends as well. This is my style of blending, and this cigar will hit the modern smoker with full flavor and body. From a purely objective point of view, this was one of the better cigars I have smoked in recent times, and I loved the size. I would not be surprised to see an Azan blend in my Top List of 2014. I will be reviewing their other two blends in the near future as well.