Island Lifestyle Importers LLC is a company run by Rick Louis and Ryan Frailing. The company has the distinction of being the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of Tommy Bahama branded accessories. In 2016, the company sought to create a line of premium cigars to complement its line of accessories, and thus the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve line was born. The Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve has three blends in its collection: Connecticut, Maduro, and Sungrown. Recently I’ve had an opportunity to smoke the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown in the Toro size. Island Lifestyle Importers has done an incredible job at delivering high quality accessories into the market. As for the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro, this is a fantastic offering and one that demonstrates the company’s commitment to premium cigars is right up their with its accessories.
In terms of making its cigars, Island Lifestyle Importers is not disclosing the factory. The company has invested significant time in the development of these blends, and as a result the company wants the cigars to stand on their own two feet. The company felt by taking this approach, it would not be viewed as a cigar that some factory made and had a band slapped on it – which in this case, it is not.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro
The Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown is a 100% Nicaraguan puro. It contains tobaccos aged five years.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Sungrown
Country of Origin: Not Disclosed
Currently the company is showcasing its 6 x 54 Toro offering for all three of its blends. The company also had Robusto, Churchill, Torpedo, Gordo, and Corona Gorda sizes that will be more widespread available in the future.
Each of the three Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Toros are packaged in 25 count ceramic jars.
The wrapper of the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro had a rich colorado red color to it. There was a light coating of oil on the surface of the wrapper. There were a few prominent visible veins. Meanwhile the hue of the wrapper does a nice job at minimizing the effect of visible wrapper seams.
The band is highlighted by a tropical image on the center of the band. Above and below the image is an orange background with a “chain link” design. Above the image and sitting on that background is the text “ISLAND” in white font. Meanwhile below the image on the orange chain-link background is the text “LIFESTYLE” – also in white font. The lower portion of the band has a solid orange background with the text “Aged Reserve” in gold cursive font. The left and right center of the band have a black background protruding from the tropical image. Sitting on the black background are the text “Premium” and “Handmade” – both in white cursive font. Finally the band is finished with black and gold trim.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of cedar, natural tobacco sweetness, and a touch of baker’s spice. Overall I considered this cigar to have a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
Out of the gate, Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro started with notes of natural tobacco and cedar. In particular, I found the natural tobacco delivered a nice sweetness to the tongue. At the same time there were some touches of black pepper, citrus, and baker’s spice in the background. On the retro-hale, there was an additional layer of black pepper and cedar through the nasal passages. During the first third, the cedar slowly diminished and toward the latter part of this part of the smoke, the natural tobacco became the primary / dominant note.
The second third of the smoking experience saw the natural tobacco sweetness diminish and a bready note emerge. By the end of this stage, the bready notes moved into the forefront while the natural tobacco sweetness joined the citrus, pepper, and baker’s spice as complementary notes in background. During this stage, I also detected a touch of nut in the background.
The last third of the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro saw a slight increase in the cedar and pepper spice, but the bready notes still remained in the forefront. The citrus, nut, and baker’s spice were also present, but more subtle. This is the way the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Overall I found the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro to be a well-constructed cigar and this reflected nicely when it came to how it scored on the burn and draw. The burn performed quite well – maintaining a straight burn path with only a slight amount of jaggedness on the burn line itself. This jaggedness didn’t warrant any additional touch-ups. The resulting ash had a classic salt and pepper color. This was a firm ash that came off the cigar in clean chunks. Meanwhile the burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro was open, but not loose. This made for a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, I found the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve Sungrown Toro to be in the medium range. I didn’t see much variance in strength level during the smoking experience. As for the body, I found the Sungrown Toro to start out with enough depth to be medium to full. The body held at this level during the early stages. Surprisingly, I found the body to diminish and by the second third, the Sungrown Toro dialed back to medium-bodied – where it remained for the duration of the smoking experience.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body to have a slight edge early on. By the second third, I found there was a nice equilibrium between the strength and body for the duration of the smoking experience.
While I loved the jar presentation and banding of all of the Island Lifestyle Aged Reserve cigars, there was a little bit of skepticism on my part. This skepticism had nothing to do with the cigars, but the fact that accessory companies moving into the cigar manufacturing side have typically not been something that has worked out either blend-wise or business-wise. The good news is that I have been proved wrong with Island Lifestyle. I found the Sungrown Toro to be an excellent cigar with very nice flavor and enough complexity to hold my interest. It also is a blend where the flavors balance very nicely. I also believe having a good blend along with a sound go to market strategy is why Island Lifestyle’s will be successful in the manufacturing space.
This is a cigar I would recommend to either a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would easily smoke again – and it’s worthy of a box / jar split.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Bread, Black Pepper, Nut
Complexity: Medium to High
Body: Medium to Full (1st Third), Medium (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split
Source: Island Lifestyle Importers
Brand Reference: Island Lifestyle Importers
I found the flavor notes as you described. However, I found the strength never above medium and perhaps nudging mild. I also found the burn a bit jagged with several relights. All in all I think it may be a bit over priced. However, it was enjoyable.