|Affinity by Sindicato Cigar Group|
The Affinity is among three cigars launched by Sindicato Cigar Group. These cigars were showcased at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show. Sindicato was definitely a company many were keeping an eye on. The company was officially launched in March, 2013. The company was started by a group of 45 strong cigar retailers who are joining together on the manufacturing side of the business. Industry veteran Jim Colucci serves as their President and CEO. The Affinity fills a specific role in the Sindicato portfolio in that it offers a,premium cigar offering with a milder profile. I recently had an opportunity to smoke the Affinity, and found it to be a quality smoke for the cigar enthusiast that prefers a milder cigar.
Sindicato Cigar Group described what they feel is their unique positioning in a press release back in March. They emphasized the retailers strong connection to the consumer: “Consumers can trust that the collaboration of the country’s top cigar minds, who have listened to your words day in and day out, will create top quality brands based on the knowledge that those same consumers have provided.”
In terms of what they created with the Affinity, they opted to go with a premium milder cigar in terms of strength and body. There are two other offerings – the more fuller Hex and the bundle / value-priced Casa Bella. As we also reported a self-titled premium offering is in the works for later this year.
Let’s take a closer look at the Affinity and see how this smokes. I will then look back to see how well the cigar ties back to Sindicato’s mission statement. The cigars we smoked for this assessment were pre-release samples, therefore we will default to our “pre-review” format. This will allow us to share our thoughts and perspectives on this smoke. Once the cigar is released to released to retailers, we will revisit the cigar and provide an assessment rating and score.
The Affinity features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Seed wrapper and tobaccos from three countries:
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Seed
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan
The Affinity is being launched in six sizes. Each cigar will be packaged in boxes of 21. The price point is between $5.95 and $7.30 per cigar depending on the size. The Corona size will be square pressed while the rest are rounded.
Corona: 5 1/2 x 46 (SRP $5.95)
Robusto: 5 x 52 (SRP $6.50)
Toro: 6 x 54 (SRP $6.95)
Gran Toro: 6 x 60 (SRP $7.30)
Belicoso: 6 1/8 x 52 (SRP $7.30)
Churchill: 7 x 56 (SRP $7.30)
For this cigar assessment I went with the Belicoso vitola. The wrapper to the Affinity has a classic light brown color found on most Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade cigars. The cigar has a bit of a rugged look. It has a bumpy, but I would not say it has a toothy surface. There is an oily sheen on the surface as well. There are some visible veins. The wrapper seams were actually pretty well hidden on the samples I had.
The band of the Affinity has a white background with a dove-tail design at the top. The text ‘Affinity” is prominently displayed on the band. The letter “A” is in red while the rest of the text is black. There is also a silver ray-like design on the band as well. The Sindicato logo is on the back of the band.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my cigar experience of the Affinity Belicoso, I went with a straight cut – which pretty much is a default for most people when cutting a belicoso. It was then on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw was on the mild side as I detected notes of wood, cream, and a little bit of cedar. I didn’t find this the most exciting pre-light draw, but since we don’t factor the pre-light experience into the assessment (and because this is a pre-release review), there is no loss of points here. At this point, I was ready to light up the Affinity and see what the overall cigar experience would bring to the table.
The start to the Affinity provided some notes of pepper, cream, and a little bit of back end citrus. By about the five percent mark, the cream notes took over as a primary flavor. The pepper receded into the background joining the citrus notes. In addition some toast notes also surfaced in the background. The retro-hale, much like the flavors on the tongue was on the mild side. It actually took a little while for the retro-hale to develop. The retro-hale started out woody and took on some pepper spice qualities in the latter part of the smoke.
Meanwhile, the cream notes continued to dominate the first half of the smoke. The pepper notes migrated between the forefront and background several times. The citrus and toast notes were subtle in the first half – almost like a tertiary flavor.
In the second half of the Affinity, the toast notes joined the cream in the forefront. The pepper notes remained secondary. This is pretty much the way the cigar held for the remainder of the smoke. The cigar was pretty much smooth throughout the smoking experience – from start to finish. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and slightly soft.
Burn and Draw
If you have read many of my assessments, you know that I usually have a preference for a parejo over a figuardo. This is usually because I feel figuardos are more prone to burn and draw issues. However, the belicoso size of the Affinity performed extremely well as it scored well with both attributes.
The burn line remained relatively straight from start to finish. The resulting ash was firm. The ash started out white, but got more salt and pepper colored later on. There was only some minor flaking along the way. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
|Burn of the Affinity by Sindicato|
The draw was outstanding. It was not loose and not tight. I liked how the belicoso tip did not get soft throughout the smoking experience. In fact, it was tough to tell that I was actually smoking a belicoso.
Strength and Body
As mentioned up-front, this is a milder cigar – from both a strength and body perspective. From a strength perspective, this is going to be a cigar that falls into the mild strength spectrum range – not providing much in the way of a buzz. From a depth of flavors perspective, the flavors start out subtle – namely mild-bodied. The body does slowly increase and by the second half, I assessed them to be mild to medium-bodied. Overall, I give the body a slight edge over the strength on this cigar.
Overall I think the Affinity was a very nice cigar on the milder side. When you compare it against many milder smokes, it stands up very well. In terms of how the Affinity fulfills the mission statement of Sindicato with the retailers connecting with the customers, there are a couple of ways to look at this. If you look at the Affinity as a cigar that is going to satisfy the cigar enthusiast looking for small batch, exotic boutique blends, this is not going to be the cigar geared for that person. If you look at this cigar competing with such everyday staple smokes like Macanudo and Romeo y Julieta, then this is going to be where the Affinity’s sweet spot is. I do believe Sindicato went after the latter scenario I described. Overall this is a cigar that is great for the novice or casual enthusiast. Cigar enthusiasts who like milder smokes should enjoy this. As for myself, this is a cigar I can see having on occasion to fill the desire for a milder smoke.
Body: Mild (1st Half), Mild to Medium (2nd Half)
Source: The cigar for this assessment were provided by Sindicato Cigar Group. These samples were initiated by Sindicato Cigar Group. in order to provide feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.