Swag Limitado 99 Pre-Release

In my motto – “it’s all about the cigars – the smoke, the craft, and the people”, it really is the people that make the cigar industry the best industry in the world.  Over the past few months, I’ve gotten to meet some great people.  Fabian Barrantes, Director/VP of Marketing of Oliveros Cigars is one of those great guys.  I got to “know” Fabian through the social networking channels, but it was great when I finally got to meet him in person.   Earlier this year, Fabian put some news out of a new limited edition blend being released under the Swag Cigars brand.  Fabian and I conversed a little on twitter and he did tell me he would bring one of these to Charlotte for Outland Cigars‘ Oliveros event.   True to his word, Fabian came into town a sample of the Swag Limitado 99.   Normally, I won’t write reviews on a pre-release cigar because I want to respect the manufacturer.  If they are OK with me publishing it – I certainly will do it.  Well I have to thank Fabian and his team at Oliveros Cigars, because they hav allowed me to talk about this upcoming cigar.

The Swag Limitado 99 is a variation of the wonderful core Swag Cigars blend.  The story goes that a 1999 bale of rare tobacco was uncovered and the decision was made to incorporate that tobacco into the filler into the current Swag blend.  The Habano Dominicano wrapper appears darker on the Limitado 99 than the current Swag, but Fabian explained it is still Habano – just a different crop.  

The plan was for a limited amount of boxes to be made (about 2000 according to the original statement made back in February).   The plan is to make this edition available to select retailers later this year.

The pictures in this post show a lancero version of this cigar.   For the pre-release version of the Limitado 99, lanceros were the vitola chosen to be rolled.   The plan remains (as was mentioned last month), that a cigar will be released in a bigger ring gauge vitola.    It is importnt to know the different size can change some things in this review, but this gives a feel of what to expect.  Now onto the details of my smoking experience.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

The lancero vitola looked beautiful.   I carefully placed a straight cut into the cap and performed my prelight draw on the cigar.  I admit, there are times I need to really think about the flavor notes on a pre-light draw.  In this case, it took me a few minutes, but I think I narrowed it to coffee and wood.  It was then on to lighting the foot of my cigar and engaging in the full smoking experience.

Flavor Profile

The initial notes from the smoke surprised me a bit with some hints of black pepper.   It wasn’t an overwhelming pepper blast, but one to provide just the right amount of spice.   I also continued to get some of the nice coffee notes that I got on the pre-light draw.

As the initial part of the smoke progressed, the spice transitioned from pepper to more of a nutmeg spice flavor.  This was a subtle but nice transition.  Meanwhile the coffee notes continued to get richer.  There were times, I thought I had some hints of bittersweet chocolate, but the coffee and nutmeg notes were the ones that I felt were prominent. 

As the smoke reached the halfway point, the coffee notes had begun to diminish.  I was also picking up some cinnamon sweetness that balanced the nutmeg spices just right.   As the cigar reached the last third, the coffee and cinnamon notes had begun to fade and the spices picked up.   I felt the nutmeg spices actually transitioned back to the pepper notes I had at the beginning of the cigar.   The cigar gave me a terrific nub – it was cool and firm with no harsh flavors.

A final note, things could change with this flavor profile when the larger vitola goes to market.  The good news is this provides a great sample about what to expect.

Burn and Draw

One reason why I am hesitant to review a pre-release cigar is because I recognize this could very well be work in progress.  However, I have to give credit to Oliveros here because I had a terrific burn and draw.   There were a couple of people that sampled this cigar that did require touch-ups on their burn, but the majority of the people had excellent burns.   The burn rate and burn temperature seemed ideal.   This obviously reflected on the draw.

Razor Sharp Burn of my Swag Cigars Limitado 99

Now it is important to know that since the final version will be a different vitola that this could change things.  The good news is that Swag is definitely going in the right direction in terms of how the construction is being done.

Strength and Body

The Swag Limitado 99 is one of those cigars that you don’t feel the strength until after you smoke it.  This is definitely a full strength cigar – it does have some kick to it.  

The body of this cigar gives some nice rich flavor notes.  Overall, I put it on the higher end of the medium to full range for body.   My disclaimer is again this could change somewhat when the larger ring gauge is releasd

Final Thoughts

I am a fan of the Swag Series.  I ranked that as my #19 Cigar for 2010, so I believe in what Oliveros has done with this brand.   The good news is I liked the Swag Limitado 99 even better.   The feedback from the other folks who tried this cigar was positive as well.    It definitely has me excited about wanting to purchase this cigar when its released.  Keep an eye out for this release as it is going to make some noise.  Thank you Fabian for sharing this with us here.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Full
Body: Medium to Full