Cigar Czars


Review of El Original Robusto Cigars

By: Gary Manelski

Key Largo is about an hour drive south from Miami, and is a great place to visit or spend a weekend. It is also the first of the Florida Keys that you will pass though while driving down the Overseas Highway (US 1) towards Key West. Whether staying in or passing through Key Largo, a visit to the Island Smoke Shop is a must. The store is located in a small shopping center right on US 1, on the west side of the street, about a half mile south of the Marriott resort. The Island Smoke Shop is the largest cigar store in the Florida Keys, and has one of the largest walk-in humidors in Florida. In addition to carrying a large selection of national brands, they are probably best known for one their house brands, El Original. In addition to the Island Smoke Shop in Key Largo, El Original cigars can also be purchased online at

El Original cigars come in six sizes and are available in Claro, Natural and Maduro wrappers. These cigars are made in the U.S. with tobaccos from Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador and Peru. The size selected for this review was the Robusto (5 x 50), which sells for $5.95 per single stick or $129.95 for a box of 25 cigars, regardless of which wrapper. I sampled three cigars for this review, one in each type of wrapper.

El Original Claro Robusto Cigar

The Claro version of the cigar was mild-to-medium bodied with a pleasant sweet and slightly sour tobacco taste that was not bitter, but balanced. The first half of the cigar had more flavor than the last half, which still was not half bad. This is not a very complex cigar which would be enjoyed most by newer cigar smokers. The cigar had a good draw, a relatively even burn, and held a medium-to-long ash. It took me 45 minutes to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining, without the need for any relights nor touch-ups. I rate it 3.25 points on a 5-point scale.

El Original Natural Robusto Cigar

The Natural version of the El Original cigar was closer to being medium bodied. The cigar was less sweet than the Claro, but had a nice mellow and natural tobacco flavor. This cigar also had a good draw and held and medium-to-long ash, and had an almost perfectly even burn. No relights nor touch-ups were needed during the 35 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to two inches remaining. The Natural is also suitable for newer cigar smokers, but can probably be enjoyed by most mainstream cigar smokers, too. I rate this one 3.5 points.

El Original Maduro Robusto Cigar

The Maduro version of the El Original cigar was medium-to-full bodied. The cigar began with a moderate peppery flavor that lasted five to ten minutes before transforming into an earthy flavor accented by some sweetness and spice. The cigar was well made and had a good draw, even burn, and held a medium-to-long ash. No relights nor touch-ups were needed, and it took me 45 minutes to smoke the cigar down to 1 inches remaining. I rate it a solid 4 points.

The Maduro version of the El Original cigar is the one that gets the most accolades, and would be the best choice for more seasoned cigar smokers. At less than $6 per cigar ($5.20 average box price per stick), it has to be one of the best values for a Maduro cigar that is made in the United States.


Island Smoke Shop
Key Largo, FL

El Original Cigars
Claro, Natural & Maduro