Review of Nica Libre Cigars
Another Bargain Cigar Worth GettingBy: Dr. Mitch Fadem
Recently I have been watching a number of cigar reviews by ‘vloggers’, YouTube video bloggers. They all have their own style, tempo and opinions on just about everything related to cigars. Well, so do we. My favorite vlogger is Rob the ‘Insomniac’ at ‘Should I Smoke This?’ (youtube.com/ShouldISmokeThis). He and I happen to agree on a lot of things like flavor and aroma, which are very intangible.
I am still pursuing my search for good cigars under $3.00, and happened to come across the Nica Libre line of cigars made by A.J. Fernandez. A.J. is the creator of the San Lotano line as well, which is also good, and I have yet to smoke one of his blends that I have not liked.
The Nica Libre was blended to go up against the Legendary Padron 64. WTF? Yes, and in the beginning even the band was very similar. Just based on the appearance, I would say they did a good job. All areas of construction were consistent, nice box press, right in the middle between firm and soft, easy pre-light draw and no visible flaws. So far, so good. I did my comparison at my local cigar shop The Tobacco Leaf (TL), Boca Park, Summerlin, Las Vegas. I decided not to spend the $15.00 price tag for the Padron nor did I take a photo. I really didn’t think it would be appropriate to take photos and not buy the cigar, besides, I was there for the monthly ‘smoke’. On the 15th of every month TL has a customer appreciation day. You can hang out at the lounge in their shop, watch TV, drink espresso (or what ever else you might want to bring with you) and smoke as many cigars as you can for $10.00. Unfortunately the 64 was not one of them, but they did have a great selection (this information I will save for another review). Okay, back to the Nica Libre.
I smoked a Churchill for the review, and have smoked a couple more sizes since then, and they are all consistent. This is a Nicaraguan cigar, filler and binder with a San Andreas wrapper. I already said the draw was good and it had a nice tobacco barn pre-light aroma as well. The cigar produced a nice smoke out-put right from the start. This is a creamy smooth cigar with hints of leather, dark coffee and black pepper. I liked it. I have no idea how it compares to a P64, but I did not see the point of buying one. This Nica Libre was smoking great at a fraction the cost.
The burn was even and slow and only became a little wavy on the second half, but I never had to fix the burn. The ash was good and fell off after 40 minutes. The torpedo smokes a bit faster and the robusto a bit slower, but all with the same flavor profile. After the ash came off, the smoke out-put got even better. At the midpoint of the cigar, I started picking up a dark chocolate flavor, you know, the 80 to 90% dark chocolate, and it really mellowed out the smoke. The pepper was still there, but only on the retro-hale. I usually do not do that, but it was a recommendation by Rob to do it if I never tried it before. At the 1 hour mark, the leather was totally gone but the dark coffee remained until the finish. The Churchill smoked for 90 minutes, and just below the band, black pepper and leather returned, but at that point I was ready to put this stick away. All in all, a really nice smoke.
How was the deal? A good value or not?
Cigars International, my go-to internet cigar store, is always running great specials and recently I saw a good deal on the Nica Libre. To make certain I was not going to waste my money, I consulted Rob (Insomniac) and asked his opinion. See, even I look to other reviewers before I purchase. Hey, being retired and living on a fixed income, I only have so much disposable funds available for cigars. I have to share those funds with my wife and her hobby, make-up. I think next year I will be claiming ‘Sephora’ as a dependent (for those of you that don’t know Sephora is one of the top retailers for cosmetics).
Here was the CI deal. I got four 5-pack samplers of all Nica Libre sizes for $49.95, and for an extra $1.00, I got a nice Moretti 4-torch lighter (a $25.00 value). CI always has specials like this to coax you into a purchase. So, subtract the $25 lighter from the total I paid, and now the 20 cigars were no longer $2.50 per stick. Now you are paying half that, and when you can get a good cigar like this for $1.25, it is always a good value. The lighter was great as well, and I would have been happy to pay the full price. I did not have a 4-torch lighter and wanted one.
The ‘BLUF’ – military acronym for ‘bottom line up front’