Rafaeli’s Maduro

The Rafaeli’s Maduro cigar is a value-priced cigar that was launched by a Los Angeles diamond jeweler named David Rafaeli.   At Cigar Coop, we define a value-priced cigar as one that is under $4.00 in price.  One thing we do is assess a cigar on its merits and smoking experience alone.  We score a cigar exactly the same if it costs $2.00 or $20.00.  With the case of the Rafaeli’s lines, they are sold in boxes of 50 and a consumer can have a cigar from  $1.90 to $2.30 a cigar.   In the case of the Rafaeli’s Maduro, it was hard to ignore the price point, but I was amazed how this cigar smoked.  This cigar was a revelation of a very good regular rotation smoke.

The inspiration for the Rafeali’s Cigar line goes back to David Rafaeli’s experience in the jewelry business.  The story goes how he came across the Templar Diamond. While I don’t have background in the jewelry industry, I can sense this was something special.  The following text was taken from the Rafaeli’s web-site:

One day in late autumn, David Rafaeli, a diamond dealer in Los Angeles, was sorting through his latest acquisitions from Israel. To his amazement, one of the precious stones was like nothing he had ever seen. He focused his jeweler’s lens as closely as he could, and no matter how he tried to adjust it- the symbol was still there. It was a perfect unilateral cross, totally natural and magnificent! The beautiful cross was positioned exactly in the center of the diamond. Even more stunning was the fact that the cross is a replica of the symbol of the Templar Knights from the first crusade of 1096. The Templar Knights were entrusted with the mission of defending the Holy Land and protecting the Holy Grail, said to be the cup that contained the blood of Christ. The knights believed that anyone who drank from the Grail would have eternal life. To be the defenders of the Holy Land and keepers of the Grail was an immense responsibility indeed, but one that the knights gave their lives to fulfill. The Templars were instrumental to the successes of the Crusades, easily recognizable by their white mantels emblazoned with a unique stylized cross.

The story goes on to say how this discovery led to the inspiration for the cigar line:

David Rafaeli has been greatly affected by the discovery of the miracle diamond. He is dedicated to seeing that this gift is seen and experienced by as many people as possible. Thus, plans are being set in motion now to have the diamond placed on view around the world for the benefit of everyone.  To celebrate the Templar Diamond, David has produced a fine handmade boutique cigar that is now available!

Let’s take a closer look at the Rafaeli’s Maduro and see what the cigar is all about.
Blend Profile
The Rafael’s cigar line is offered in an Indonesian Sumatra (Natural) wrapper or Broadleaf Maduro option.  For this assessment, we will focus on the Broadleaf Maduro option.
The remainder of the blend is described as “Filled with the finest blend of Indonsesian, Cuban. and Dominican Seeds”
Vitolas Available
The Rafaeli’s Maduro and Sumatra option are offered in the same three sizes.  All three sizes are 50 ring gauge.
Robusto: 5 x 50
Toro: 6 x 50
Churchill: 6 3/4 x 50
For this cigar experience, I smoked the Churchill vitola. The Rafaeli’s Maduro Churchill has a very rustic look to it, but it also has a charm to it.  The cigar has a roasted coffee bean color to it.  The surface to the wrapper has a rough, toothy look to it.  The surface is more coarse and toothy in complexion. The wrapper veins are visible.  The dark color and veins actually hide the wrapper seams well.  
The cigars come pre-punched.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  If you read my assessments, you know I am a straight cut guy.  However, there really wasn’t an adverse effect on the pre-punching in terms of the cigar experience.
Pre-punched cap of Rafaeli’s Maduro
The band to the Rafaeli’s Maduro has primarily a red and black color scheme. The background is black in color.  The center of the band has a diamond representation in the middle surrounded by the eight point cross of the Templar Diamond.  Above the cross and diamond is the text “Rafaeli’s” in what I would categorize as a “medieval” font.  To the left of the front of the band is the text “HAND MADE” in a white font.  On the corresponding right side it says “DOM REP”.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
This cigar prep experience is a little different than most ones I have described here.  While I could have still opted for a straight cut, I decided to use the pre-punch that was provided into the cap of the Rafael’s Maduro Churchill.  This allowed me to immediately begin the pre-light draw.  The dry draw notes treated me to a mix of coffee and leather.  There were some complementary pepper notes and a little bit of sour cherry sweetness.  Overall, this was a satisfactory pre-light draw.  At this point, it was time to toast the foot and see what the cigar experience would bring to the table.
Flavor Profile
Overall, I found the Rafaeli’s Maduro to deliver a lot of qualities of a classic maduro smoke.  I didn’t pick up a lot of flavor transitions, but the cigar still offered a lot in nice flavors.
There was a nice bit of pepper on the start of the Rafaeli’s Maduro.  The pepper gave way to some notes of mocha.  The mocha notes settled in very smooth early on as the pepper receded into the background.  The mocha notes had some creamy qualities to it as well.
By the end of the first third, some natural maduro sweetness emerged. This had a nice mix of cherry and natural tobacco sweetness to it.  This joined the flavors of mocha and pepper.  I found the flavors to alternate as to which one was in the forefront.  This rotation of flavors continued right until the end. The close to the cigar never got overly spicy or harsh.  The resulting nub was outstanding – firm and cool.
Burn and Draw
The Rafaeli’s Maduro performed very well in terms of its burn and draw. In fact, the cigar actually scored very well with these attributes.  The burn line needed very little in the way of maintenance  to keep the burn line straight.   The resulting ash was a salt and pepper color with some flaking.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.  As for the draw, I found the punch worked quite well here.  It gave the draw a touch of resistance which I like.  The draw remained excellent from start to finish.
Strength and Body
From a nicotine profile, I found the Rafaeli’s Maduro to provide the right amount of strength.  For this cigar I assessed the strength to be medium to full.  There also was some nice depth to the flavor notes.  I didn’t find that the flavors reached full-bodied, but they still qualified as medium to full-bodied.  The strength and body had a nice equilibrium between the two attributes with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
Final Thoughts
This provided a real nice cigar experience.  Just like a high-priced cigar can sometimes score poorly, the converse can happen and a lower-priced cigar can sometimes score well.  I didn’t find Rafaeli’s Maduro to be the most complex cigar, nor do anything revolutionary from a flavor standpoint.  Instead, I found this cigar to deliver a solid cigar experience.  This cigar can appeal to the novice cigar enthusiast looking for something with a little more in terms of strength and body. Experienced cigar enthusiasts will appreciate some of the classic maduro qualities here.  This is a cigar I would definitely smoke again.
Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Low
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 89
Source: This cigar was provided by Rafaeli’s Cigars. This request was initiated by Rafaeli’s Cigars for the purpose of providing feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.