A few years ago I was asked to join a tasting for the Belgian magazine El Gusto, that targets both the Dutch and the Belgian market. I accepted the invitation and drove to the beautiful old distillery of Rutte in Dordrecht, a town 20 minutes south of Rotterdam, where we were shown how the Rutte jenever was distilled and how they made their liquors (if you can find it: get their Cuban Coffee liquor, its amazing!) before we were divided into three groups, each group got three different, unbanded, cigars to review and one of them really confused us, it was a fantastic cigar but it none of us could identify where the cigar came from, it was clearly not a Cuban cigar but other than that we were lost. It turned out it was a Dominican private label, Puros de Hostos, made by the Reyes family for Gustavo de Hostos and the tobacco used was fermented four times instead of the regular two fermentations.
Now the cigar had no representation in The Netherlands so I took a few samples for my then employer to try and the international price list that was available. I told my employer about the cigars, calculated the prices on them and he immediately said “No, too expensive, unknown brand, not worth my time and effort” until I cut a cigar for him, lit it and made him smoke it, he was sold. Soon after we got the first shipment in and they sold like hot cakes even though it was an unknown brand (even up till now you hardly find information online) and the price was tough. But unfortunately after a year the sales dropped and the second shipment was of a lesser quality, still good though but not superb anymore. I liked hanging out with Gustavo de Hostos, a very jovial and energetic gentleman, proud to be Dominican and thats why all his lines are Dominican puros.
I still have a few 6 3/4×40 Puros de Hostos Comendador lancero cigars in my humidor and I’m lighting one to review today. As I said, the tobacco has been fermented four times, usually tobacco gets two fermentations, Habanos claims that they ferment the Cohiba tobacco three times but this tops it. The Habano criollo 98 wrapper is dark and oily but also rustic, it isn’t the smoothest cigar you have ever seen. The construction feels good and the cap with the tiny pigtail is placed perfectly. After all these years in my humidor, out of the box and without cellophane most of the aroma has disappeared and I only smell a faint barnyard aroma. The cigar comes with a regular and a foot band, both black & gold. The bottom ring is black with thick golden outlines, golden details and golden letters Comendador while the top ring is black with a thinner golden outline and the Puros de Hostos logo in golden letters. For such a small brand they made nice rings of a good quality.
Due to the small ring gauge punching the cigar is no option so I grabbed my xikar cutter. The cold draw is perfect with a mild raisin and stronger pepper flavor. Once lit with my Ronson varaflame I taste a nice, full coffee that lacks bitterness. After a few puffs I taste coffee with terroir, a little bit of nut and a hint of salt. There is also some wood, the flavors are all very balanced, the cigar has a unique profile. After an inch it’s terroir, vegetable flavors, wood, a little bit of salt, some citrus and a hint of cocoa sweetness. After a third the cocoa sweetness disappears and the citrus grows a little stronger. Halfway I taste nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, cedar and a little bit of lemon. After two thirds the flavors don’t change but they do intensify.
The smoke is thick and full. The ash is white, dense and firm. The burn is razor sharp. The cigar is medium bodied, medium full flavored and very balanced and subtle. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.
Would I buy this cigar again? I need to hunt down a box.