|Azan White Premium by Roberto Duran Cigars
The Azan White Premium is one of three blends that make up the Azan line of cigars by Roberto Duran Cigars. It was just prior to the IPCPR Trade Show when both the Azan line and the Roberto Duran Cigars company were announced. This was followed up by a launch at the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show where the cigars garnered some buzz among many in the cigar community. Azan has a historical significance as was once the name of an old line of cigars from Cuba. I have recently had an opportunity to try the Azan White Premium line. This was a very impressive blend and it validates the buzz this company received at the trade show.
Roberto Duran Cigars is founded by Roberto Pelayo Duran. Duran was originally from Cuba. Duran originally started out supervising cigar production in Cuba. He then went on to assemble and manage all Cuban cigar brands for The Pacific Cigar Company, Ltd. Recently, he was a consultant to Dunhill Cigars working on their global brand strategy. His company has a factory in Esteli, Nicaragua and also has a boutique wrapper plantation in Ecuador.
Last month we previewed the launch of Roberto Duran Cigars and got some more background on the Azan:
Duran describes the brand (Azan) as “one of the biggest kept secrets in the history of Cuban cigar brands”. The roots behind the Azan are most interesting. The company was actually founded by a group of Chinese immigrants back in 1928. Kwan Ben Sen (known as Domingo Azan) with his brothers started making handmade cigars in Manicaragua, Cuba (located in the province of Villa Clara). Azan utilized what Duran calls “traditional Oriental dedication and focus, and a strike of good fortune” to build the Cuban Azan brand. In terms of the relaunch of the Azan brand, Duran has Domingo Azan’s great granddaughter Maria Isabel Alvarez Azan as a part of the team.
Azan currently has two other lines – Burgundy and Maduro Natural. The White Premium line is described as the “premium cigar line” for the brand.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Azan White Premium line and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Azan White Premium features tobaccos from three countries:
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo (Grade 5 and 6)
Filler: Nicaraguan (Jalapa, Esteli), Brazilian Mata Fina
After the cigars are made, they are aged for a minimum of two months in a climate controlled cedar room known as “Escaparate” before being shipped out.
Currently the Azan White Premlum line is offered in three vitolas. The cigars are packaged ten per box.
Robusto: 4 7/8 x 50
Robusto Extra: 5 1/2 x 52
Campana: 5 1/2 x 52 (Belicoso)
For this cigar experience, I smoked the Azan White Premium Robusto Extra. The Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper has a medium brown color with some Colorado red blended in. The wrapper has a silky texture to it. There are some visible wrapper seams and some visible veins. There is also a distinctive cocoa aroma from the foot of the cigar.
As expected, the band to the Azan White Premium is a white colored band. It features the Azan logo that has the “Azan” name in a elegant gold script with a brown trim. There is a gold star with a brown leaf that sits above the script. There is gold trim around the band edges. On the lower right it says EST. CUBA 1938 in brown font (representing the origins of the brand name)
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoke of the Azan White Premium, I opted for my usual choice of a straight cut. After successfully clipping the cap, I moved on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw notes provided a mix of floral spice, pepper, and cocoa notes. Overall I considered this to be a very good pre-light draw experience. At this point, I was ready to light up my Azan White Premium and see what the smoking phase would deliver.
The start to the Azan White Premium had a short blast of pepper to start with. Once the pepper subsided some notes of cocoa entered the equation. This would then be followed by notes of caramel. The cocoa and pepper notes moved into the forefront. As the cigar progressed through the first half, the cocoa notes had a slight advantage. The caramel notes were more of a background note, but it gave the Azan White a nice sweetness There also was a bready component that was in the background. The pepper spice and cocoa notes also played a role on the retro-hale – creating a multi-dimensional effect.
In the second half, the pepper became the primary flavor and the cocoa receded. By the start of the final third, the cocoa and caramel sweetness had faded and was replaced by a more earthy flavor profile. The cigar had an earthy and peppery flavor profile going into the final stages. The resulting nub was slightly soft, but cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
The Azan White Premium scored very well when it came to the construction attributes of burn and draw. The burn line wasn’t razor sharp, but still held relatively straight from start to finish – requiring only a few touch-ups along the way. The resulting ash was firm with a salt and pepper color. There was some very minor flaking along the way, but nothing to adversely effect the smoking experience. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Azan White Label Premium
The draw to the Azan White Premium was very good. It wasn’t too loose, and wasn’t too tight. This made for an enjoyable smoking experience.
Strength and Body
I did not find the Azan White Premium to be the type of cigar that was going to overpower you. I assessed this cigar as being a classic medium strength smoke. The depth of the flavors was a very different story. The flavors almost had this intangible “heavy” quality to them. That is not meant to be a negative, but meant to say that the flavors are meaty and have some depth to them. I assessed the Azan White Premium as being a full-bodied smoke.
In terms of looking at strength versus body, I gave the body a clear cut edge with the Azan White Premium.
This is a very good initial effort by Roberto Duran Cigars. I believe this is a brand that will be on many retailer and consumer’s radar screens over the next few months. The cigars also consistently performed very well – a sign that this newcomer is taking construction very seriously. This is a cigar that delivers big and bold flavors without overpowering you with nicotine buzz. This is the type of cigar that I can recommend to the novice or experienced cigar enthusiast looking for a lot of flavor without the strength. As for myself, this is a cigar I would definitely smoke again.
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: The cigars for this assessment were provided by Roberto Duran Cigars. These samples were initiated by Roberto Duran Cigars in order to provide feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the sample, but in no way does this influence this review.