PDR Cigars

Abe Flores, Tamboril, Dominican Republic

La Palina Lancero

Years ago, when I was still working for the biggest independent cigar distributer in The Netherlands a few of the brands we distributed asked us to look into La Palina, so we reached out to Courtney Smith who was their VP of Sales back then but has moved on to Cornelius & Anthony since then (a good move in my opinion, both for Courtney and for Cornelius & Anthony). To cut a long story short, we decided to give two La Palina lines a try run.


Courtney came to Intertabac and flew into Amsterdam a few days early. I picked her up and she gave my employer a box of the La Palina Classic Lancero to sample, yet my employer hates lanceros and is the only cigar smoker at the office so when I saw that box at the office a few months later, with just one cigar missing, I asked if I could have it. These cigars are made at PDR on the Dominican Republic with a Brazilian wrapper, a binder from Ecuador and filler from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.


The wrapper is smooth, very smooth for a Brazilian wrapper which usually are darker and rougher than this one. Its shiny because of the oils in the leaf yet the cigar feels a bit like sandpaper. The ring is simple, off white with black letters with golden outlines, just saying La Palina classic in an old fashioned font. The cigar feels well constructed, no hard of soft spots, and the cap is decent. The cigar has a nice stable aroma, manure, some acidity and hay.


I used a flat cut to decap the cigar. The cold draw is great, cedar and spicy. After lighting I taste sweet and savory spices. After half an inch I taste cedar with pepper. Then I suddenly taste a nasty bitter flavor that I recognize, the cigar is bleeding and that after just an inch. An easy fix, just cut off some of the head, but still. After I fixed the cigar I taste some sweetness, cedar and some hay. Halfway I taste a sharp cedar, just cedar. The last inch gets a little stronger but still the same flavor.


The draw is good. The light colored ash is dense and firm. The smoke is quite thick and white. The burn is quite straight. There isn’t much evolution, which is rare for a lancero. This cigar is medium bodied at most, mild to medium flavored. And the smoke time is less than ninety minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No

Score: 86
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El Criollito Half Corona

Abe Flores created this blend as a European release, and if the FDA gets their way and their proposed policy on cigars doesn’t get overthrown by the senate and the house of representatives that will be something we will see a lot more, European releases. Even though I’m European and think it’s cool that there are some cigars that we can get that aren’t available in the USA instead of the other way around, I would hate to see that happen.


The El Criollito line is made out of a lot of Criollo tobacco, hence the name. Criollo 98 from the Dominican and Nicaragua as a filler, a Mexican San Andres binder and an Ecuadorian rosado criollo wrapper make this four vitola line. I smoked the 3 1/2 x50 Half Corona, a gift from Abe himself, but there is also a 5×54 Robusto, a 6×60 Double Magnum and a 7×70 Sentenial.


The smooth and oily wrapper has a mild reddish glow over the coffee colored wrapper. The cigar looks good and feels good although the triple cap isn’t glued straight. The ring is simple and small, brown with golden outlines and white letters El Criollito A. Flores. The aroma is very strong, it reminds me of horses that just came back from a run.


I cut the cigar the cleanest cut ever, literally just taking the cap off. I taste a slight salty and spicy cold draw, which has the perfect amount of resistance. I taste coffee with salt. The flavors are bolder and stronger than expected. After a few puffs I also taste nutmeg and cinnamon. The coffee disappears and I now taste a mild salt with wood. The flavor gets a little citrus halfway, with the wood and salt. The final third is stronger, with a lot of added pepper.


The draw is great. The light gray smoke could be a little thicker and more voluminous. The light gray ash is firm. The burn is straight as an arrow. The cigar is medium full bodied and flavored. The smoke time is fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes.

Score: 91
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, El Criollito, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Flores y Rodiguez 10th Anniversary Figurado

Ten years after Abe Flores and the Rodriguez brothers went into business together and started PDR it was time to release an anniversary cigar and so they created this ‘Reserva Limitada’ line in four vitolas: Robusto, Figurado, Wide Churchill and Gran Toro. For this review I am smoking the 6 1/2×52 figurado that I have had in my humidor for approximately three years.


The cigars are made from tobacco from three different countries. The filler is an aged Nicaraguan piloto cubano, with at least 7 years of age on it. The binder comes from the Dominican Republic and is a Dominican Olor while the wrapper is an Ecuadorian Habano.


This shape makes the cigar look special, somehow figurados make a cigar seem cooler, mor fancy. Add a mind shiny, smooth wrapper and it just rises your expectations. As for the ring, I have said that to Abe on many occasions, the PDR and Flores y Rodriguez cigars are good enough to stand on their own and not having to copy Cuban rings yet Abe Flores did it again, he copied the old green and white Ramon Allones ring, the one that was in place before the make-over by Habano and the secondary ring with the gold and black has a reminiscence with the Cuban limitada ring too, just slightly different. The rings are pretty and well printed, yet not unique. The construction feels and looks great. The cigar has a strong aroma of hay with some spice to it


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is good. I taste raw tobacco and pepper. After lighting I taste coffee and earthy flavors. After an inch the cigar is wood with herbs and a little pepper. Halfway I taste wood with a faint vanilla and some acidity to balance it out. The aftertaste is peppery and I taste a very faint milk chocolate too. The final third starts peppery with some wood as a base for the pepper. An icing sugar sweetness joins the spicy wood and the red pepper.


The draw is great. The smoke is medium thick and full, with a perfect white color. The light gray ash has nice dark rings and is firm. The burn is straight. This cigar is medium bodied and medium to full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a pleasant cigar that I will smoke every now and then.

Score: 90
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Flores y Rodriguez Cabinet Selección Maduro Robusto

Just as the Habano Cabinet Selección, the maduro version of this Cabinet Seleccion all comes from the same tobacco seed originally cultivated in the Vuelta Abajo region of Cuba but now grown on the Dominican Republic, and that makes this cigar a Dominican Puro too, something that was said to be impossible before Arturo Fuente managed to grow wrappers for their Opus X on the island.


The wrapper on the maduro version is of course darker, but also thicker because it has had more sun hours and opportunities to grow. There is more natural sugar in the leaf because of the extra sunlight so I expect this cigar to be a little bit sweeter but it can’t be a one on one comparison with the Habano since I’m smoking a different vitola for this review, the 5×52 Magicos.


The first thing I notice when I get the cigar from the cellophane is that the wrapper is thicker and more leather like than the velvet wrapper on the Habano. The veins are thicker and this cigar looks more manly. The rings are exactly the same. The cigar has a nice aroma of dark chocolate, quite strong.


I punched the cigar, I taste raw tobacco, a little cocoa and pepper with a great draw. I lit the cigar with a torch because my soft flame ran out of gas. I taste coffee with some chocolate bitter sweetness. The coffee disappears but the chocolate gets stronger. Halfway I taste spicy fresh Wood with still a hint of dark chocolate. The final third is woody and peppery with a little bittersweet flavor on the background.


The draw is flawless and the smoke is white, thick and voluminous. The salt and pepper colored ash looks good. It’s very firm and the burn is straight. This is a medium full bodied and flavored cigar. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yes I like this one more than the Habano.

Score: 91

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Flores y Rodriguez Cabinet Selection Habano Canonazo

In 2012 PDR Cigars introduced another Dominican puro during the IPCPR trade show and it was this Flores y Rodriguez Habano Cabinet Selection. The name Flores y Rodriguez comes from Abe Flores and his partners, the Rodriguez brothers and together they are responsible for the brand.


All the tobacco used in this cigar comes from the one Cuban seed from the Vuelta Abajo region, the best tobacco region of Cuba, that was brought to the Dominican Republic to be cultivated. And this cigar is the result, Cigar Journal rated it a 95 point cigar. I smoked the 6 3/4×58 Canonazo, the other vitolas in the series are a 5×52 Magicos, a 6×52 Genios and a 6 1/2×52 Unicos (Belicoso)


The milky brown chocolate wrapper has a few veins and feels like velvet. The cigar feels well constructed and the triple cap is placed nicely. The ring is simple, a classic shape with a oval on the front the outlines are gold, the sides are blue and white vertical stripes and the face of the ring is burgundy with white letters and a golden crest on a blue background. The medium strong aroma reminds me of horses.


I used a guillotine cutter to decap the cigar. The cold draw is good, spicy and peppery. After lighting I taste spicy and herbal cedar and toast with some pepper in the aftertaste. After half and inch I taste toast with cinnamon and sweetness, caramel like. After an inch I taste French toast with a little sugar. After an inch I taste a mild wood and cinnamon flavor. Halfway it’s toasty with a mild peanut butter flavor, surprising but nice. After that I taste toast with sugar and a little nutmeg. Near the end the cigar is sweet but with a nice peppery aftertaste.


The draw is good, as to be expected from a big ring cigar. The smoke is full, thick and white. The salt and pepper colored ash has nice rings. The ash is firm too. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored, well balanced and pleasant. Evolution is very good for a big ring cigar yet the flavors don’t pop. The burn is great, straight and slow. The smoke time is two and a half hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? The blend yes, this vitola maybe, the smaller ones for sure.

Score: 90
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Categories: 90, Dominican cigars, Flores y Rodriguez, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , , ,

Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut River Valley Azul Robusto

I’ve known Abe Flores for several years, since my previous employer started to distributing PDR cigars and every time Abe was in the country I would drive him around and do events with him. Actually, when I left my employer, which by the way wasn’t my choice, Abe was one of the few people from the industry that reached out to me. So I was happy to see Abe at Intertabac in Dortmund, which I went to visit even though I wasn’t in the industry anymore and Abe gave me a few cigars, including this one.


So I come home, select the cigars that I have gotten there and want to review in the months to come. One of these cigars was the Flores Y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve but with a blue ring and I couldn’t find any information on them online. Because I needed the information I reached out to Robbie Streitz on Facebook and his reply was that I’m very lucky to have gotten this cigar, since its a cigar that hasn’t been released yet (i’m writing this review late 2016, I work ahead) and will be released early 2017 in a very limited amount of 150 boxes and 250 jars of each size. The broadleaf rosado wrapper is beautiful, dark, oily, only one very thin vein with a beautiful triple cap and a great construction. The rings are quite simple, lets start with the blue cloth on the foot, just a piece of blue cloth to protect the cigar, then the 2nd ring, which is dark brown with a triple golden line, the middle one small white dots on both and in the middle of the cigar it says Connecticut Valley Reserve in golden lettering. The top band is a regular Flores y Rodriguez band with a golden logo in a golden dotted circle, white lettering and a golden outline. The blue used to fill the background is a vibrant medium dark blue and I must say, the printer did an awesome job as the gold and the blue really pop.


The cigar has a medium strong barnyard aroma with some ammonia and white pepper. I punched the cigar and notice that the wrapper is quite thick. The cold draw has the right amount of resistance and I taste raisin with a mild pepper in the aftertaste. I lit the cigar with my soft flame. I taste coffee with cinnamon and five spices. After a centimeter the cigar is a bit sour with wood and a mild bitterness at the back of my throat. In the front of my mouth it feels smoky.


After a third the cigar has a herbal and mild peppery flavor profile with a little bit of citrus and sweetness. Halfway it’s a cedar flavor with a little bit of pepper on the background. I also taste a mild cinnamon again. Slowly the citrus returns and gets stronger. The cinnamon gets a bit stronger and it’s mixed with nutmeg and citrus. Near the end I taste a strong nut flavor with some spice and citrus and a peppery aftertaste.


The smoke is thick, white and plentiful, just how I like it with a close to perfect draw. The ash is almost white, firm and beautifully layered. The burn is great, quite straight. The cigar is medium full to full bodied and full flavored, well balanced with a nice evolution. The smoke time is an hour and thirty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Since it’s such a limited release that will be impossible but maybe I get lucky.

Score: 93

93

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Flor de Selva Maduro Robusto

When I started working for my previous employer in 2011, my first real job in the cigar industry after blogging about cigars for years, we had a a good number of brands in our portfolio including Flor de Selva, but our portfolio grew and grew with more brands like Alec Bradley, Joya de Nicaragua, My Father, Tatuaje, PDR, Perdomo, A.J. Fernandez and thats when you have too many brands to focus on all of them and some will just be forgotten about. Flor de Selva was one of the brands that didn’t get any focus anymore and of course, if you don’t focus and pay attention to a brand it will die. That’s what happened with Flor de Selva for us. Then all of a sudden, after we already decided to discontinue, one of our small competitors started distributing Flor de Selva and I must admit, they did a good job since they revived the brand and it’s now seen in a lot of humidors in The Netherlands.


We never carried the Flor de Selva maduro, but the other distributer does so I got my hands on this Honduran made 4 3/4×50 robusto, made with a Honduran maduro wrapper, Brazilian Mata Fina binder and filler tobacco from Jamastran and Azacualpa that according to the Maya Selva website pairs well with Japanese whiskey. The cigar has a beautiful, dark and oily wrapper with a few minor veins and a beautiful constructed cap. The ring is actually a double ring, one where you usually find a ring and one on the foot. Now the one on the foot is different than the one displayed on the Maya Selva website, that one is white and fits the regular band, the one I got had a burgundy footboard with white letters saying Maya Selva Cigars in handwriting. The regular band is simple, white with green/gray lines, a picture of a goddess in the same color and Flor de Selva written on it. Its a thick quality paper so it doesn’t look cheap. The construction feels good.


Maybe it’s me, maybe i’m getting a head cold but I don’t smell much, only a little wood and a little soapy aroma. I straight cut the cigar and I taste a soapy but peppery flavor with a perfect draw. As usual I’m using a soft flame to light the cigar. Right from the get go I taste a full wooden flavor with a little bit of coffee. After a few puffs I also taste some sweetness as you can expect from Maduro leaf and the Brazilian binder. Soon the flavors are mildly bitter with some lime, the aftertaste is floral. Now I read the term floral often and never fully understood it in a cigar but now it does.


After a centimeter I taste soap like in the cold draw and with a bitter and mild peppery sensation in the back of my throat. The soap disappears and replaced by a little milk chocolate and the bitterness is now a sanding sensation on the back of my throat with a light licorice flavor. Halfway the cigar has a burnt wood flavor with cilantro, and I think that that’s where the soapy flavor comes from too, too much cilantro gives a soapy taste. There is also a little hint of vanilla. After two thirds I taste sweetness again and soon after some freshness too, on a bed of spicy green herbs and cedar. Near the end I also taste nuts, with sweetness, some pepper and a little bit of chocolate.


The smoke is thick and plentiful. The draw is perfect. The burn is frayed. The ash is gray with dark lines, the ash isn’t dense but still firm. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is and hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, even though there were some nice flavors in there and the finish was strong, the soapy flavor is not my cup of tea.

Score: 89

89
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Categories: 89, Flor de Selva, Honduran cigars, PDR Cigars | Tags: , , , ,

Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve Robusto

When you’ve been a cigar geek for some time you may recognize when certain manufacturers stepped their game up and it is a defining moment in the history of their company, raising them to another level. For Arturo Fuente that was the moment they released the Opus X, for Oliva it was the release of the Oliva Series V and later even an extra step up to the Series V Melanio and more recently you could really see and taste the development from the Garcia family when they released the My Father and My Father Le Bijou series. All of these lines were better, more refined and more expensive than what they previously did and it elevated their status in the industry and amongst cigar smokers. I have a feeling that this Flores y Rodriguez is that ‘stepping up the game’ cigar for Abe Flores from PDR Cigars.


For years PDR made good cigars, medium priced, good quality cigars but nothing extraordinary, nothing that could compete in the big leagues but early 2016 Abe released the Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve with completely other tobacco, well aged, in bolder packaging for a bolder price. After the initial release he even took the next step and released the cigars into beautiful jars and released a follow up line in the Flores y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve Azul. I got both this regular Connecticut Vally Reserve robusto and the Azul robusto from Abe at Intertabac 2016.


The 7 year old Connecticut broadleaf wrapper looks amazing, it is oily, shiny and dark with some marbling but no real veins. The construction feels great and the triple cap is placed straight but it quite big though. Not that I mind, I punch a cigar with this ring gauge of 52 anyway so I won’t have unravel issues anyway. The cigar has a red cloth footband, then a brown ring with two golden outlines on the top and botton of which the inner one has white dots. In the ring you read Connecticut Valley Reserve in golden letters. The top ring is round and red with golden outlines, a golden crest in the centre, then a golden circle around it, then a red circle with the name Flores y Rodriguez, Tamboril in white letters. The cider have white and red vertical stripes and the text handmade. I smell a mild aroma of barnyard and straw.


Like I said I punched the cigar. The cold draw is perfect and I taste some raisin, pepper and some spicy leather. I taste a pleasant coffee flavor after lighting the cigar with a soft flame. Slowly the flavors change to earthy flavors with some citrus and a little metallic flavor. Although the flavors are nice they evolve so slow it goes secretly and almost unnoticed. After a third I taste earthy flavors with some licorice, cocoa and nuts. Halfway I taste some chocolate too. After two thirds the cigar gets a sudden change of flavors, nuts, a little bit of pepper and a mix of herbal flavors. The flavors are dark, this is an autumn or winter kind of cigars. The pepper gets a little stronger and so does the earthiness.


The smoke is medium plus thick and full in volume. The draw is fantastic. The ash is salt and pepper colored and very firm. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The balance is great and the evolution very secretly until the final third. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? Yeah, this is a nice cigar that fit the colder months of the year.

Score: 90
90

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Gurkha Ghost Shadow

I have done a handful of Gurkha reviews and to be honest, most weren’t that impressive to me. I think the problem with the brand is that they don’t have DNA, their cigars are all made in different factories, the brand focusses on marketing and does crazy stuff with super expensive cigars dropped in super expensive alcohol and other marketing tricks. That doesn’t help the reputation of the brand amongst serious cigar smokers like me. But this Gurkja Ghost, I always thought that one was quite enjoyable, maybe because it’s made at PDR, a factory I like.


Now, even though most of the cigars are a miss, I can’t say the same about their sales manager Juan Lopez, I met him years ago in Miami in a cigar bar, the next day me and my friend went to the Gurkha office and that’s beautiful. From the outside its a boring office building, the first floor is just cubicles but then upstairs a beautiful lounge, like you’re back in 1800’s Asia, with a huge bar full of expensive liquor and a secret room where all the blends are kept. And Juan hooked us up with cigars, backpacks, knives and all sorts of cool items. So it was cool to see Juan at Intertabac this year, where he handed me a few cigars to smoke.


The wrapper is typical Brazilian arapiraca, a bit rough to look at with sturdy veins, not thick but sturdy. The color is dark and even though, so that makes up for it and the ring fits the wrapper. It is black and silver, with the Gurkha logo and scary lettering saying ghost. The ring is different than what you usually find in humidors. The construction is great, the triple cap is straight. The cigar has a strong earthy smell, earthy as if you’re walking in nature, early in the morning after a good rainfall.


I cut the cigar with a butterfly cutter from Xikar. The cold draw is good. I taste tobacco and some pepper. I taste a strong coffee after lighting the cigar with my soft flame lighter. A few puffs later I taste a mild acidic oak with cocoa bean. Halfway I taste a mild pepper with some lime and wood. A little later some honey sweetness shows up too. The final third I taste a nice, mildly sweet, wood with some spices, all balanced though. The flavors become very nice, wood, mocha, sugar, chocolate all in a creamy way.


The draw is great, the light ash has beautiful rings and it’s firm. The smoke is medium thick, medium full. The burn is close to perfect. I would call this cigar medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a pleasant cigar, not the best I had but enjoyable.

Score: 91
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A. Flores El Trovador

Abe Flores handed me this 4 1/2×50 Petit Belicoso of El Trovador when he was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago and to be honest, I had never heard of the cigar. That’s not strange because they haven’t been available on the Dutch market yet even though the cigars were released on the American market over a year ago. The translation of El Trovador is The troubadour which is fitting since Abe Flores used to be a professional bass player when he was younger.


Even though the cigar is made at the PDR factory on the Dominican Republic, there is not a shred of Dominican tobacco in this cigar. The filler is vintage Nicaraguan, the cigar spots a double Nicaraguan binder and the wrapper is from Ecuador. And for the artwork Abe found inspiration in Cuba again, since this is a upgraded and updated version of the Montecristo label. The sad part is, and I told Abe, that his cigars are good enough not to need copied Cuban rings.


The reddish yet dark Ecuadorian Rosado wrapper looks great on this box pressed cigar, you can see the veins in the wrapper but since they’ve been flattened the surface is smooth. The cigar is well rolled with a beautiful top and a simple, clear and well printed dark brown ring with golden details and white lettering. The aroma is strong and dark, charred wood like with a little barnyard aroma.


I cut the cigar, the cold draw is perfect, I taste tobacco and pepper.  After lighting I taste coffee and pepper. Soon it changes to leather with a tiny bit of dark chocolate. After a third I taste a carrot like flavor with pepper. Halfway I taste cedar with spices, pepper and a hint of cacao. I also get some floral notes.


The draw is perfect. The light colored ash is firm and dense. The smoke started out thin but turns thicker and filler quick. This cigar is medium bodied, medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour exactly.

Would I buy this cigar again? This is a nice short smoke, I would get more.

Score: 90
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