Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hopefully, not the last Airbender. Review: La Flor Dominicana Airbender Maestro

The truth is, we’re all biased. It is hard to remain objective on anything especially when so many things can influence our opinions, thoughts, and decisions. That being said, I am not necessarily partial to one brand of cigars over the other…for the most part. All smugness aside, I’ll leave it with this: La Flor Dominicana will always be my first love when it comes to cigars.

I remember the first time I had a La Flor; Monday, December 9, 2002. As the first semester of my college career was coming to a close, it had been a rough one. I was adjusting to time away from the only home I had ever known, classes, time management, social obligations, girls, and life unexpected as it came. I walked into my local cigar spot, a place you can still find me 1-2 times a week, and the place was especially crowded for a Monday. “Damn,” I thought, I came here to study for my Biology final that was the next day, and I was not about to blow my first college final. As I made my way through the crowd a large and tall gentleman with a brown mustache touched me on the shoulder and asked, “Son, have you ever tried a La Flor Dominicana?” I replied simply, “No.” The gentleman proceeded to talk to me about Litto Gomez (the maker of La Flor), the mystique of the ligero tobacco leaf, and trying to convince me that this was the greatest smoke on earth. Mind you, I had recently graduated from Titan Phillies and Swishers to Romeo y Julietas, Partagas, and Macanudos. I thought I knew what a premier cigar was. I hadn’t even heard of Rocky Patel, Paul Garmirian, Camacho, or even Ashton at this point.

The guy was so dedicated to me not smoking any cigar but his, he gave me one for free. And what a cigar it was, a beautiful 6x56 Double Ligero Toro. That guy knew what he was talking about even if he was full of it. I smoked that stogie down to the nub and bought five La Flors to take back to my dorm. Standing was a feat, while walking was damn near impossible. That tobacco high had me floating. Ahh, was I ever that young?

Ever since that fateful day, I have followed the production of La Flor Dominicana.  In fact, if it weren't for these cigars I probably wouldn't be the cigar aficiando I am today or even love cigars as much as I do.  So, mom, if you want to blame somebody, ha!

Litto Gomez, along with his wife, Ines Lorenzo-Gomez, entered the industry in the mid-1990s.  After a few speedbumps, they buckled down and began investing their time with some of the best people in the business.  They built their business slowly, improving their product until they eventually had their own factory.  Backed by the old mantra of, "quality over quantity, they are now a major player in the world of cigars.

Gomez, who happens to be a huge fan of Kung Fu movies, named his latest creation after the story made famous by Japanese anime and the M. Night Shyamalan feature due for release this summer.  The Air Bender sports a Cuban-seed Ecuadorian Habano wrapper that is the same leaf that Gomez used on his 95-rated Solomon from 2009.  The binder and filler hail from, of course, the Dominican Republic. 

I selected the "Maestro" size for this review.  At five inches in length with a 52 gauge, it allowed me the perfect-sized sample of this new creation.

The wrapper and construction is nearly flawless with one visible seam along the side.  The dark brown color is gorgeous and solid with a pre-light smell of dark robust earth and lingering pepper.  The dry draw also has some pepper and leather.  I can tell this cigar is going to be a powerhouse before I even light it.  I use a guillotine cutter to clip the end off and light the foot with a match.

I was right.  The first few puffs are filled with power and strength.  The earthy flavored foundation is coated with spice, spice and oh yeah, I forgot...more spice. The aroma is not very pronounced, but has subtle hints of nutmeg and pepper.

As I continue to smoke, the ash begins to show its amazing solid light gray color.  The burn begins to even up a bit more and the draw pulls in just the right amount of smoke.  The aroma builds while the strength subsides.  This stogie has a great mouth-feel and a creaminess that coats the palate with the perfect amount of smoke.

As I approach the middle of the cigar, I notice that the creaminess has built up quite a bit with lingering notes of caramel and nutmeg.  The character of the cigar has developed quite the flavor profile.

Rich, sweet and strong has been the consistent characteristics of La Flor Dominicanas over the years and the Air Bender follows suit in its own unique way.  The creamy smoke, earthy core, and subtle sweet notes push the Airbender up the list of favorites and may be the most solid creation by Gomez yet.

This stogie finishes very well with almost no bitterness.  The lingering strength is only complimented with the subtle notes of caramel and nutmeg.  I chose an anejo rum as my complimentary beverage after a recommendation from another connosieur.  I think bourbon, scotch, port, stout beer, or french roast coffee would also be excellent compliments to the Airbender.

Gomez is quoted saying that the Airbender is "no sissy cigar."  I fully agree.  If you're a mild or even a medium cigar smoker, I urge to tread lightly.  However, if you are used to full-bodied stogies or want to venture out a bit, then I really recommend the Airbender.

My Ratings:

Appearance - 10

Pre-light taste- 9
Construction - 9
Draw - 9
Burn - 8
Aroma - 8
Flavor - 10
Balance - 9
Finish- 10

Total Rating: 9.1

Smoke on guys and gals and remember, there is nothing wrong with knowing you are the best.



1 comment:

  1. Bear,

    How can you not love a cigar named after a Kung-Fu movie? By the way, I am glad you left Phillies and Swishers and matriculated to the more cultured cigars. I am even happier still that you decided to blog about your expedition into the cultured world of fine cigars.


    Paul Hendrix