Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano

The Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano is one of two new blends in Pinar Del Rio’s new Small Batch Reserve line.   The Small Batch Reserve joins two other significant releases by Pinar Del Rio Cigars for 2012.  The other cigars are the Flores y Rodriguez Cabinet Seleccion and the upcoming A.Flores 1975 Serie Privada. Recently, Pinar Del Rio has moved into the new larger PDR Cigars factory in the town of Tamboril located in the Dominican Republic.  Since production has shifted to that factory, it has reflected positively in terms of the quality of the products – and this shows in the 2012 releases. In terms of the Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Habano, this is another very good cigar that has come out of this factory – and one worth trying to get if you can find it.

A few weeks ago, we assessed the other blend, the Small Batch Reseve Maduro.  Both the Small Batch Reserve Maduro and Small Batch Reserve Habano utilize a Brazilian Cubra Habano
wrapper.   Each of the two blends utilize the same binder and filler in
the blend. Each blend will be
available in four frontmarks and sold in boxes of 24.  Word is at this
time only 100 boxes of each size have been produced (for a total of
9,600 cigars for each blend).

Let’s break down the Small Batch Reserve Habano and analyze what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

In addition to the Brazilian Cubra wrapper, there is Dominican tobacco
in the binder (Criollo 98) and filler (Corojo).  The filler also
features Nicaraguan tobacco.  The binder and filler for the natural are
similar to the maduro.

Wrapper: Brazilian Cubra Habano
Binder: Dominican Criollo 98
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican Corojo

Vitolas Available

The four vitolas below apply to both the Habano and Maduro blends.

Toro: 6 x 54
Robusto: 5 x 52
Torpedo: 6 1/2 x 52
Churchill: 7 x 54

Appearance

For this assessment, we sampled the Toro vitola. The Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano Toro features a medium brown wrapper.  The wrapper has an oily sheen, but is bumpy to the touch.  There are wrapper seams and veins that are visible on the wrapper.  Overall, the wrapper had a very rustic feel to it and has a bit of a cubanesque look to it.

The band has a red background with gold lettering and design.  In
large gold font is the text “PINAR DEL RIO”.  Slightly below that text,
also in gold font is “SMALL BATCH RESERVE”.  Toward the left side, in
even a smaller gold font is “CUBRA HABANO” and to the right of the band
is the text “SVL CUBANO”.   On the very back of the band in gold cursive
font  (going sideways) is “Flores y Rodriguez” (referencing the company
owners), and the text “Handmade in the Dominican Republic”. 

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

For my smoking experience with the Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano I placed a straight cut into the cap.  I immediately proceeded to start the pre-light draw.  The dry draw notes provided a very interesting flavor.  I could not put my finger on the flavor, but I would put it along the lines of a “sweet spice”.  At this point, I was ready to fire up my Small Batch Reserve Habano and see what kind of flavor experience it would deliver.

Flavor Profile

Right out of the gate, there was a nice complexity in the flavor profile of the Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano.  I still detected sweet spice notes, but I was able to make this out to be more of a cedar profile.  There were also some pepper notes present, and I detected an interesting citrus note on the after-draw.  Shortly afterwards, I detected some graham cracker notes in the background.

Around the five percent mark, some flavor transitioned occurred – and these seemed to all happen around the same time.  The graham cracker notes moved to the forefront.   The cedar sweetness became more of a caramel sweetness and remained in the forefront.  The citrus and pepper notes became background flavors. This would be the flavor pattern that made up the first half of the smoking experience.

As the smoking experience of the Small Batch Reserve Habano entered the second half,  the caramel notes diminished. The pepper and citrus notes moved into the forefront.  It was around this time, the graham cracker notes transitioned to more of a traditional note.   The remaining sweetness from this cigar was now from the citrus.

In the last third, the pepper spice moved into the forefront.  The citrus flavor was the other primary note that remained.  There was some harshness at the close of the cigar.  The resulting nub was cool in temperature, but soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

This is the third blend I’ve had from the 2012 Pinar Del Rio releases, and one hint I have noticed is that these releases have each had a very good burn and draw.  The Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano had a straight burn from start to finish requiring minimal touchups.  The burn temperature was ideal. The burn rate was a little slow – and this did not have any adverse effects on the smoking experience.  As for the draw, it was excellent – making the Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano a pleasure to smoke.

Strength and Body

From a nicotine perspective, the Small batch Reserve Habano has just the right amount of pop.  The cigar starts out as a classic medium strength smoke, but by the second half, it progresses into medium to full territory.   The flavor notes had some nice depth to them.  The cigar starts out medium to full-bodied and by the second half, the notes have just enough depth to make this a full-bodied smoke.  When comparing the strength versus the body, I felt the body had a slight edge.  The cigar emphasized flavor, but still provided some nice strength.

Final Thoughts

An obvious question is which cigar was the better cigar – the Small Batch Reserve Habano or the Small Batch Reserve Maduro?  Both cigars had the same score, but it was the flavor and complexity of the Habano that gave that cigar an edge in my book.    The other thing was interesting is I thought the Habano was the stronger/more full cigar.    The one thing that hurt the Habano from scoring higher was some of the harsher notes that I got at the end of the smoke.  The complexity offered from this cigar is outstanding and can appeal to any cigar enthusiast.   I’d probably steer this cigar toward the experienced cigar enthusiast as it does have more strength and body. I’d encourage novice enthusiasts wanting something with a little more strength and a little more body to give this a try.  As for myself, I would smoke this cigar again.

Summary

Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellenr
Complexity: High
Strength:  Medium (Medium to Full in second half)
Body: Medium to Full (Full toward end)
Finish: Fair
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 91

Source: The cigar for this assessment was purchased from Butthead’s Tobacco Emporium in Danbury, Connecticut.