At the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show, Emilio Cigars showcased the Emilio LJZ. The Emilio LJZ is the first cigar in the brand that pays homage to the Zucca family. Emilio Cigars and its associated distribution company Boutiques Unified is owned by Scott Zucca. For many years, Zucca has remained in the background of his operation, but over the past couple of years he has started to become more visible. The LJZ cigar pays tribute to Zucca’s grandfather Louis J. Zucca, who had founded the company LJ Zucca in 1947. LJ Zucca also is the company behind Emilio and Boutiques Unified. Today we take a closer look at the Emilio LJZ in the Robusto size.
The story of the Emilio brand has been one of the most interesting ones over the past seven years. Zucca is the owner of Delaware Cigars. Many have heard of Emilio through Gary Griffith, who managed the chain of stores and became the brand developer for the Emilio brand. Emilio as a brand grew rapidly, releasing many lines and SKUs and Griffith became the face of the brand. Simultaneously, Griffith grew a distribution arm known as House of Emilio. By the end of 2013, House of Emilio was handling distribution for nine companies. Things started to change after that as slowly several of the companies started to depart. In 2015, Griffith would retire from Emilio and House of Emilio.
With Griffith gone, House of Emilio went through some rebranding and changes. The name of House of Emilio was changed to Boutiques Unified. Today, Boutiques Unified distributes three companies: Emilio, Fred Rewey‘s Nomad Cigar Company, and James Brown‘s Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio. Over the past couple of years, one can make the case that Emilio has fallen into the background at Boutiques Unified. Last year, both Nomad and Emilio started working with James Brown’s factory, and the Emilio LJZ is one of those projects.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Emilio LJZ and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Emilio LJZ consists of an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and binder over Nicaraguan fillers.
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Binder: Ecuador Habano Seco
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Fabrica Oveja Negra)
The Emilio LJZ is available n two sizes. Each is packaged in 20-count boxes.
Robusto: 5 x 52
Toro: 6 x 50
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the Emilio LJZ had a medium brown color with a slight cinnamon tint to it. There was a light coating of oil on the surface. Overall, I had found this wrapper to be on the smooth side. The visible veins and visible wrapper seams were both on the thin side.
There are two bands on the Emilio LJZ. The primary band is black in color. The left side of the band has a black and white silhouette of a man. The right side of the band features a splash like pattern consisting of white on the left side and red on the right side. On the splash pattern is the Emilio brand logo. The band is also finished with red and white pinstriping across the top and bottom.
The secondary band sits on the footer and is also black in color. On the band is the text “LJZ” in large white font. This band is also finished with red and white pinstriping across the top and bottom.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Emilio LJZ Robusto, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap of the cigar. From that point, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of dusty earth, nut, mixed fruit, and a subtle note of cedar. Overall, I considered the pre-light draw of this cigar to be excellent. At this point, I removed the footer band of the Emilio LJZ, lit up the cigar and moved on to the smoking phase of this cigar.
The start of the Emilio LJZ Robusto began with a mix of white pepper, natural tobacco, mixed fruit, and dusty earth. As the LJZ Robusto moved through the first third, the dusty earth notes emerged in the forefront. Meanwhile, the natural tobacco, fruit, and white pepper notes became secondary. There was also an additional layer of white pepper on the retro-hale.
The second third of the Emilio LJZ Robusto saw a very similar pattern to the first third. The dusty earth notes remained primary. Before the midway point, the dusty earth actually seemed to gain more distance from the fruit, natural tobacco, and pepper notes in the background. Toward the latter part of the second third, there was an increase again in the fruit and natural tobacco sweetness.
By the last third, the white pepper notes increased. While the pepper notes surpassed the fruit and natural tobacco sweetness (which was also increasing), they never quite reached the dusty earth notes in the forefront. Toward the end of the smoking experience, the dusty earth notes remained in the forefront with the spices a close secondary note and still some sweetness present. This is the way the smoking experience of the LJZ Robusto came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature and firm to the touch.
Burn and Draw
Overall, I found the Emilio LJZ Robusto to be a well-constructed cigar and this was reflected nicely on the burn and draw. While there was a slight amount of unevenness on the burn, the LJZ Robusto maintained a straight burn path from start to finish. I didn’t find this cigar to require a large amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash had a light gray color. This was an ash that was tight and firm. Meanwhile, the burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.
The draw to the Emilio LJZ Robusto had a touch of resistance – which is something that I like. At the same time, I found this cigar to deliver an abundant layer of smoke from start to finish.
Strength and Body
From start to finish, I found the Emilio LJZ Robusto to be in the medium range for strength and body. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely – with neither attribute overshadowing the other. At the same time, while both remained medium, there were some slight variances in the intensity of strength and body. When the LJZ Robusto reached the second third, I actually found both the strength and body to slight decrease. It was during the final third when both attributes picked up again.
Based on some of the history with the Emilio brand, I think its fair to call the Emilio LJZ as a comeback. It’s been a while since we have had some excitement around Emilio, and the LJZ is certainly a step in the right direction. Partnering with a red hot factory “in the family” with James Brown’s Fabrica Oveja Negra was also a very good decision. While certainly Brown has garnered a reputation for excellent maduros with his Black Works Studio and Black Label Trading Company brands, the Emilio LJZ is a reminder that he can produce an excellent Habano, The LJZ Robusto wasn’t the most complex of cigars, but it did excel in the category that matters most – flavor. This is a cigar I would recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again and it’s worthy of picking up multiples for the humidor.
Key Flavors: Dusty Earth, Natural Tobacco, Fruit, White Pepper
Complexity: Low to Medium
Value: Buy Multiples
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted