In 2019, ACE Prime made one of the more impressive debuts in recent years at the annual IPCPR Trade Show. ACE Prime came on the scene launching three brands and a total of seven blends. ACE Prime is a company where the principal owners are Luciano Meirelles, Master Blender Don Eradio Pichardo, and former NBA player Tiago Splitter. The company gained some attention with its MXS brand, a collaboration done with Splitter and NBA Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins. Another brand that was released was Pichardo, named for co-founder Don Eradio Pichardo. Pichardo and Meirelles are also partners in their own factory, Tabacalera Pichardo. Today we explore one of the cigars under the Pichardo line – the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano.
2020 saw ACE Prime turn its attention to distribution. One of the key strategies ACE Prime had was the strategic partnership it formed with Crowned Heads. The Crowned Heads-ACE Prime Strategic Partnership includes several components. Under the alliance, ACE Prime Cigars will now exclusively be distributed by Crowned Heads Cigars. The two companies had already been working together as ACE Prime’s Tabacalera Pichardo is handling production for the Crowned Heads Juarez line, and more recently, Crowned Heads’ new Mil Días line will come from that factory. Finally, the two companies have launched a new monthly subscription program called BULB which is designed to support local retailers while providing members with exclusive content. The two companies have even joined forces on a weekly podcast and from the excellent chemistry between the hosts, it is clear the partnership is a step in the right direction. The important thing what this means is if your retailer is carrying Crowned Heads, they can also buy ACE Prime products from their sales representative and carry it in the store.
In addition to the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano, there is also a San Andres and Connecticut offering under the Pichardo Reserva Familiar line.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The blend of the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano features Habano tobacco for the wrapper and binder. The filler is a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos.
Fillers: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Tabacalera Pichardo
There is one point of confusion with the wrapper. The company website indicates the wrapper is Nicaraguan Habano, but the packaging says Habano Ecuador.
The Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano is currently offered in one size – a 6 x 52 Toro. The cigars are presented in 15-count boxes.
Toro: 6 x 52
The Habano wrapper of the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro had a roasted coffee bean color to it. There was a light sheen of oil on the surface. There was a mild amount of toothiness on the wrapper. There were some thin visible veins and some thin wrapper seams.
The Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano has two bands. The primary band is red with gold trim. On the center of the band is a gold shield with a dark-colored P on it. Below the shield is the text “PICHARDO” in gold font. To the left is the text “NICARAGUA” in white font while to the right is the text “ESTELI” in white font. The far right of the band has the text “LIGA PRIVADA” in white font in landscape mode. The remainder of the band has various gold design elements on it.
The secondary band surrounds the footer. It is gold with blue trim. On the gold background is the text “RESERVA FAMILIAR” in blue font.
Prior to lighting up the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro, a straight cut was used to remove the cap of the cigar. From that point, it was on to the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of cocoa, cedar, and dried fruit with a slight floral note. To me, this cigar delivered an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to remove the footer band, toast up the foot, and see what the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro would have in store during the smoking phase.
The Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro started out with notes of cocoa, cedar, raisin, earth, and black pepper. Early on the cocoa and raisin notes became primary with the earth, cedar, and pepper notes settling in the background. The raisin and cocoa notes alternated in intensity as to which note had the edge. As the cigar moved through the first third, there was a slight mineral component that emerged. Meanwhile, there was an extra layer of black pepper on the retro-hale.
By the second third of the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro, the cocoa and raisin continued to alternate in intensity. There was an increase in the secondary notes with the earth notes increasing at a faster rate. By the midway point, the earth notes displaced the raisin notes as one of the primary notes. Just past the midway point, the pepper notes increased in intensity at a higher rate.
The last third of the cigar saw the earth and cocoa notes remain in the forefront. The pepper notes were a close secondary note with the cedar and raisin notes a little further back, and the mineral component more distant. This is the way the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and slightly lukewarm in temperature.
The burn line of the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro did have some jaggedness from time to time. This resulted in more frequent touch-ups than average. Despite the jaggedness, the cigar did maintain a relatively straight burn path. The resulting ash was silvery-gray. This was an ash that was on the firmer side. The burn rate was ideal. As for the burn temperature, it was ideal, but toward the final stages, it did get a little lukewarm – indicating it was time to put out the cigar.
The draw of the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro had a touch of resistance – something that I prefer on a cigar. In the end, this was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
The Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro started out as a medium strength, medium-bodied cigar. Both the strength and body increased at a gradual rate. By the midway point, the cigar moved into medium to full-bodied territory and toward the final third, the cigar reached medium to full strength.
Throughout the smoking experience, the body maintained a slight edge over the strength.
There are times when I get raisin sweetness in the early stages of a cigar, it is an indication the cigar needs some more aging. This was not the case with the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro. This was a well-aged cigar that delivered a nice balance on the flavor profile combined with enough flavor variations and transitions to keep me interested. Last year, we recalibrated our scoring to make a score of 90 to be a standard of excellence. With a score of 91, the Pichardo Reserva Familiar Habano Toro exceeds the standard. This is a cigar that I would recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s a cigar I’d smoke again – and certainly buy multiples to keep in the humidor.
Key Flavors: Cocoa, Raisin, Earth, Black Pepper, Cedar, Mineral
Burn: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Final Third)
Body: Medium (1st Half), Medium to Full (Second Half)
Value: Buy Multiples
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop