A few weeks ago, we previewed a cigar being made by the Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueno called “Leaf & Bean by Esteban”. The cigar is being made for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based retailer Jim Robinson’s Leaf & Bean shops. The Nica Sueno factory has gained a name as it is most noteworthy for producing cigars for RoMa Craft Tobac. The factory is jointly owned by RoMa Craft Tobac co-founder Skip Martin and blender Esteban Disla. It is Disla for whom the cigar is named for and for whom the cigar is named after. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Leaf & Bean by Esteban. I know it is the RoMa Craft Tobac cigars that have garnered much attention, but this one is not a cigar to be overlooked. Robinson has a winner on his hands as this is one special cigar.
The Leaf & Bean by Esteban is one of three cigar lines in Robinson’s Leaf and Bean series – joining the the Leaf & Bean by Oscar and the Leaf & Bean by Noel. The latter two are made by Oscar Valladares and Noel Rojas, both of whom are factory owners. Recently, Robinson explained the concept of the project on his Facebook page:
“Oscar, Noel, Esteban. Three of the most talented, passionate, energetic people that I know. They all own their own cigar factories. All three have one thing in common, they make a cigar for Leaf and Bean. My label has two lines, first line is LEAF & BEAN, second is “BY” this 2nd line is important it tells us what factory the cigar is coming from. This is a project that I undertook to bring great cigars on a personal level to my consumers with a local twist. I know these guys, have spent many hours in their homes, factories and watering holes. Anybody that knows me, knows that I spend as much time in Honduras and Nicaragua as I do at home. I am trying something new, trying to share their talent of blending and bringing home a unique cigar. I want to give each of these blenders an outlet to share with us a cigar that compliments their brands. I love these guys, they are the future leaders of our industry. When I asked them to make a blend for Leaf and Bean I left all decisions to them, I want their best, they are artist at work. I am so honored that all these guys have agreed to help me with this, I am just a little cigar shop in the middle of no where. We have in common, a passion for great cigars. These guys were picked because I know they already make great cigars and I want to give them an outlet to expand, to do something outside the box. Also I am maybe a little selfish, I recognize the talent and skills that they have and I know I am on the ground floor, OSCAR, ESTEBAN, NOEL.. all names of the future cigar world.
“NOEL, ESTEBAN, OSCAR! Three guys who have done it the hard way, now own their own cigar factories, three guys making cigars for them selves and others, three guys that are going places. I am proud to be associated with them.
“NOEL and ESTEBAN each own factories in Esteli. OSCAR has a factory in Danli.”
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Leaf & Bean by Esteban and see what it brings to the table:
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Jalapa Criollo/Corojo Hybrid (Nicaragua)
Filler: Esteli, Jalapa, and Condega (Nicaragua)
The Leaf & Bean by Esteban is available in one size – a 6 x 52 toro. It is packaged in ten count packs and 25 count bundles.
The Leaf & Bean by Esteban has a dark caramel colored wrapper. Depending on the lighting shines on it, you might see somewhat of a colorado red tint to it. The wrapper itself has a nice oily texture. There are some veins and some visible wrapper seams.
The wrapper band is a rustic styled one. It is off-white with the text “LEAF & BEAN By ESTEBAN” in a light grassy colored green. There are some adornments that almost have a faded maroon color to it. There is a story behind this band which Robinson also recently explained on his Facebook page.
“Leaf and Bean Label. Our label is made from the same plant that makes the Tequila that some of us like to drink, NOT ME! I like Rum. The label is a handmade paper product. Get it wet and pretty much its gone, so for you wet smokers. I dont see us using any other kind of label for the Leaf and Bean line of cigars. Paper is locally made in Honduras. The colors you see in label are the actual flowers in the plant (Agave). Paper is made in little shop, this little shop is the livelihood for many families in Danli, without it they would not be able to support their families. No, its not shiny, its not embossed, its made of love. This label represents a family being able to put food on table for their kids. I like it.”
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to my cigar experience with the Leaf & Bean by Esteban, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut. Once the cap was clipped, I proceeded with the pre-light draw ritual. The dry draw notes provided me a mix of floral sweet spice, chocolate, and cream. Overall, I considered this to be a solid pre-light draw from this cigar. At this point, I was ready to light up the Leaf & Bean by Esteban and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The start to the Leaf & Bean by Esteban provided a mix of red pepper, natural tobacco, and chocolate notes. After a few puffs a creamy note emerged. The chocolate and cream moved to the forefront while the red pepper settled in the background with some floral notes. Throughout the first third, the natural tobacco flavors meandered between the forefront and background providing some nice change-ups in the early stages. The retro-hale took a little while for me to pick up, but it seemed to deliver a nice light herbal spice that did not overwhelm my nasal passages.
By the second third, the natural tobacco moved into the forefront. It meshed very nicely with the cream notes. The chocolate notes moved into the background joining the red pepper.
At the start of the second half, the natural tobacco and cream notes continued to work well in harmony. I found the spice became more of a sweet-spice as opposed to the red pepper early on. The floral notes in the background were now replaced by earth notes.
In the last third, the sweet spice joined the natural tobacco and cream notes in the forefront. The earth notes were still in the background while the chocolate had dissipated. As the Leaf & Bean by Esteban came to a close, I found the flavors to remain flavorful and smooth. The resulting nub was slightly soft, but cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall I found the Leaf & Bean by Esteban to score very nicely when it came to its burn and draw. The burn line remained relatively straight from start to finish. There was an occasional meander, but nothing out of the ordinary – and it cigar did not require a large amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash was on the firm side with a salt and pepper color. The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
|Burn of the Leaf & Bean by Esteban|
The draw was outstanding. It was not too loose, yet not too tight. This made the Leaf & Bean by Esteban a real joy to smoke from start to finish.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength, the Leaf & Bean by Esteban starts out in the medium range. There is a slight increase in strength and by the last third, it creeps into the medium to full strength range. The strength was never overpowering and allowed the flavors to shine. The flavors have some nice weight on the pallet. I categorized this as medium to full-bodied throughout the smoking experience. When looking at strength versus body, I gave a slight edge to the body.
The Leaf & Bean by Esteban is a very impressive cigar. I thought this cigar not only produced very good flavors, but a sequence of flavors that complemented each other very well. There is also some nice complexity to this cigar. Nica Sueno is a factory on the rise, and this cigar is another great example of some solid work being produced. The Leaf & Bean project is also a very impressive one. Robinson is quick to give his blenders credit as it is their creation, but the vision to work with some rising stars in the industry makes this project that much more special. This is a cigar I could recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar easily worth a box split – and one that I could see moving into a regular cigar rotation.
Strength: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Last third)
Body: Medium to Full
Assessment: 3.5 – Box Split
Source: Samples provided by retailer (*)
Stogie Geeks Podcast: n/a
Stogie Feed: n/a
* Cigars for this assessment was provided by Leaf and Bean. The samples were received in order to provide feedback. Cigar Coop is appreciative for the samples, but in no way does this influence this write-up.