A while back the good people at Gran Habano cigars asked a few bloggers to take part in a cigar tasting on a new cigar that was coming out. They exploited our passion for cigars in a good way by soliciting us to help tweak the blend of the new Azteca that was due on the market. They listened to what we liked about the first batch and what was missing before putting forth this final effort. I am honored that they asked for my opinion and thank them for the opportunity.
According to an article over at Cigar Advisor, Azteca is the company’s first departure from the established Gran Habano flavor profile. According to the younger Rico, “There has never been a Gran Habano, until the Azteca. It is actually a double maduro, as both the San Andres wrapperand binder are extra-fermented naturally, without sweating or other artificial means. The long filler is Nicaraguan and Panamanian, and the first release of the Azteca has been aging since August, 2009. The three available sizes are: the 5-1/2″ x 52 Aguila (Eagle) Torpedo, the 6″ x 54 Jaguar, and the 6″ x 60 Puma. George Rico explains the “Rediscovery of Full Flavor,” by saying, “For years, cigar smokers have misinterpreted the desirability of ‘full body.’ Full body is only a measurement of strength. In reality the Flavor, not the body, is the measure of cigar satisfaction. Full-bodied cigars tend to be one-dimensional … often, the more power, the less flavor. It’s possible to smoke a strong cigar that lacks flavor, while many mild cigars are loaded with satisfying flavor … one shouldn’t confuse the two.”
Cigar: Gran Habano Azteca
Size: 6 x 54 (Jaguar)
Wrapper: San Andreas Maduro (Mexico)
Binder: San Andreas Maduro (Mexico)
Filler: Nicaragua & Panama
Appearance and Construction: In the photo you might notice a small wrapper defect, these took place during shipping. The Azteca features a wonderful looking oily Maduro wrapper with no veins that stand out. The stick has a nice weight to it with no soft spots and a well packed foot. The busy over-sized band features the word Azteca and some artwork that fits into the name of the stick. The back of the band features the names George Rico & Guillermo Rico all though the semior is hidden until you peel the band. The foot sports a secondary band that denotes the size (Jaguar) and as I have stated before I am a huge fan of the foot band.
Flavor & Notes: The prelight draw has a distinct taste to it that I would guess was a combination of the Mexican and Panamanian tobacco. There was a sweetness present almost bordering on berries from the cold draw while the foot offered up a subtle spice. Once lit the cigar offers up some chocolate notes that are bittersweet before slowly giving way to some wood and a touch of leather. As we move on to the second third of the cigar the bittersweet chocolate really begins to shine with secondary notes of coffee, wood, and spice. The final third of Gran Habano Azteca serves up notes of dark chocolate, wood and a slightly leather finish.
Smoking Characteristics: A lot of smoke, burned well, nice draw, firm ash. Wow, I can make these reviews a lot shorter if I chose. But seriously from the first spark to the last puff this cigar was a major league producer of smoke. The burn while it started off a little jagged was nice and even by the time I put the cigar down and the dark color ash held on for the first 3/4 of the cigar. Yes, you read that right, 4.5 inches before I decided to ash.
Conclusion: This cigar is classic old school maduro meets up with the new school maduro. The strength is there, the flavor is there, that maduro sweetness is there. An enjoyable cigar that is worthy of a purchase and so much better then the first draft that was sent out to me back in March.