In 2023, Emilio Cigars would release its second installment of the Emilio Audiophile. Emilio is one of the four brands distributed by Oveja Negra Cigars and produced at Fabrica Oveja Negra. The Audiophile debuted as a limited edition cigar at the 2022 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show. Today, we take a closer look at the Emilio Audiophile Robusto from the 2023 release.
To better understand Emilio Audiophile, it is worth looking at the history and current positioning of the brand.
Some Background on Emilio Cigars
One of the more interesting stories of covering the world of boutique cigars has been Emilio Cigars. Emilio Cigars is a brand owned by Scott Zucca. About 12 years ago, Emilio Cigars built up quite a following through its brand developer, Gary Griffith, and some savvy social media promotion. The brand would team with leading cigar manufacturers and quickly build a following. Along the way, Emilio built up a distribution network called House of Emilio, which peaked in 2013. As fast as Emilio built a following, it came crashing down. By 2015, Griffith had retired, and by early 2016, House of Emilio was down to three brands.
After Griffith’s retirement, the brand attempted to bring in a younger brand manager, but this move wasn’t very successful. Things changed in 2016. House of Emilio was now known as Boutiques Unified, and the reorganized company would bring in Black Label Trading Company (BLTC) and Black Works Studio (BLK WKS) for distribution. Concurrently, this became a more strategic partnership. Brown’s Oveja Negra factory would now give Boutiques Unified companies an option for production.
Along the way, James Brown of BLTC/BLK WKS became more involved in the Emilio brand. Brown began reshaping Emilio and began transferring production to Oveja Negra. In addition, he gave the brand an identity – something it hadn’t had before. The identity was around sound and music. By 2019, Boutiques Unified had rebranded Oveja Negra Brands – and one of the brands in the Oveja Negra family brands was the Emilio brand.
The name “Audiophile” fits nicely with Emilio’s recently adopted brand identity around sound and music. I did not actually know what an audiophile was. It turns out it is a hi-fi enthusiast. As for the cigar, it was meant to be a bolder expression of a blend compared to the current Emilio offerings.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
EMILIO AUDIOPHILE ROBUSTO 2023 CIGAR REVIEW
Blend and Origin
The Emilio Audiophile utilizes wrapper and binder leaves from Ecuador over a blend of all Nicaraguan filler tobaccos. The wrapper itself is a Maduro wrapper.
Wrapper: Ecuador Maduro
Binder: Ecuador Habano
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra
When Emilio Audiophile debuted in 2022, it was in one size – a 5 x 52 Robusto. 2023 sees the Robusto size return and two new Audiophile sizes: Short Robusto and Toro. Each of the three sizes is presented in 20-count boxes. Production numbers have not been disclosed. We are looking at the Robusto size from the 2023 release for this assessment.
Short Robusto: 4 1/4 x 48
Robusto: 5 x 52
Toro: 6 x 50
The Ecuadorian Habano Maduro wrapper of the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 had a milk chocolate color to it. The wrapper had a light sheen of oil on it. Upon closer examination, there was a very light sheen of oil on the surface of the wrapper. The Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 had some toothiness on the surface. There were some thin visible veins on the surface and some minimally vs some thin visible wrapper seams present.
I removed the cap of the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 with a straight cut. Once the cap was removed, it was time to commence with the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of chocolate, earth, and cedar notes. This was a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. At this point, it was time to toast up the foot of the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 and see what the smoking phase would deliver.
Picking up where the pre-light draw left off, there were more notes of chocolate, cedar, and earth as the smoking phase of the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 commenced. Nut and then cherry notes emerged and became a part of the flavor profile. The chocolate notes emerged primary early on. The cedar, earth, nut, and cherry notes settled in the background. Meanwhile, there was a layer of red pepper on the retro-hale.
During the second third of the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023, some natural tobacco notes mixed in with the chocolate in the forefront. By midway, the natural tobacco took over as the sole primary note. The chocolate settled in with the cedar, earth, nut, and cherry in the background. In addition, some red pepper notes also surfaced in the background. Both the cedar and red pepper notes increased in intensity.
The final third saw the natural tobacco notes remain the primary notes. The natural tobacco notes were countered by the cedar, red pepper, earth, and cherry notes. Most of the nut and chocolate notes found during the first two-thirds had nearly dissipated. The cedar and pepper notes were two of the more dominant background notes, but neither took over the flavor profile. As the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 came to a close, the cigar finished with a nub that was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Each of the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 samples started without requiring much maintenance. Toward the end of the first third, each cigar seemed prone to some slight meandering on the burn path. This resulted in more touch-ups being needed than I preferred. The resulting ash was a silver-gray color. The Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 didn’t have the firmest ash, but it didn’t have a loose or flaky ash either. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw to the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 was on the open side. I usually prefer a draw to have a touch of resistance to it. Ultimately, this was more of a personal preference, and the draw being on the open side had no adverse effects on the overall cigar experience.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, I assessed the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 to be medium for both attributes. There was a slight increase in the intensity of both attributes, but overall, the cigar really never got out of the upper range of medium on the spectrum for strength and body. The Emilio Audiophile was positioned as a bolder Emilio, but in my opinion, I still would put this in the medium range for strength and body.
When looking at strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other nicely, with neither attribute overpowering the other.
BANDING AND PACKAGING NOTES
One note on the bands and packaging -the 2023 edition is almost identical to the 2022 edition. The bands are quite contemporary looking. One side of the band features a head with a schematic of a record player (see thumbnail at the start of the assessment). The band’s other side has the text “audiophile” in a contemporary font.
The Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 boxes are sleek and modern looking. They also highlight the open head with the schematic record player inside it.
One of the unsung successes I’ve seen in the cigar industry is James Brown’s job with Emilio. Not only has he given the brand an identity, but he has done a great job delivering cigars that differ from the offerings under Black Label Trading Company and Black Works Studio.
As for the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023, this was a solid offering. The one negative is that this cigar didn’t deliver the boldness I expected. In my opinion, if the flavors were a little bolder or richer, this cigar would have probably been able to score higher than 89. Still, an 89 is not a poor score. It’s enough for me to say this is a cigar I would recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, the Emilio Audiophile Robusto 2023 is a cigar I would buy and smoke again. I look forward to trying the other sizes in this line.
Key Flavors: Chocolate, Natural Tobacco, Earth, Cedar, Cherry, Pepper
Burn: Very Good
Draw: Very Good
Complexity: Medium Plus
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop