Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cigar Review: Saint Luis Rey Serie A

First of all, I love how bad the Saint Luis Rey bands are. Just by appearance you can tell that they don't put a lot of time in to the bands and packaging, but who cares? Those who know of the brand love the brand, and love it for what it is. To me it is an affordable cigar that shows the rich qualities that I love in a Habano, and shows qualities of Partagas, Bolivar and Montecristo in some way or the other. This particular smoke that I am reviewing is from 2007 and the bands and box were horribly awesome. The cigar itself is beautiful, but the bands in general do not emphasize the quality of the cigar. There are currently three vitolas in the brand and I believe the Serie A is the most consistent. Yes, the Double Corona can be sublime, but it is in the Serie A that we see the amazing qualities of this old and wonderful brand.

Saint Luis Rey is a brand that came about in the 20th Century, and can be traced to around 1940. There is no specific origin for the name, but it is said that the name came about in honor of the book The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. All tobacco in the blend comes from two regions, Vuelta Abajo and Semi Vuelta, and the cigars are long filler smokes made by hand in Habana, Cuba. They are classified as a Local Brand and most production is probably coming out of El Rey del Mundo Factory. The Serie A is a true corona gorda and measures 143 mm (5.6") and has a 46 ring gauge. The cigar has a beautiful Colorado coloring to the wrapper and it is rolled wonderfully. There are a few small veins present on the wrapper, but the coloring is just gorgeous. It is very smooth in texture and there is a faint bit of oils present to touch. The aroma is that classic Saint Luis Rey aroma, and it is smoky with a nice bit of spices, rich earth and stone fruit. I am getting a tight draw with the cigar, but the flavors I am picking up right now are that of pepper and cherries.

The first third opens up wonderfully and I am getting some straight rich earth and manure like flavors. It is accompanied by some damp wood and tobacco notes, and it is then followed with some semi sweet stone fruit flavors. I am getting a bit of pepper, spice and smoky characteristics on the finish, and this is a classic smoke. The draw is a little firm, it has been with the box, but I love how it concentrates the smoke being produced. To me the cigar is smoking at a solid medium body level and the strength is right there as well. This is a cigar I could smoke at anytime of day and smoke back to back. The construction on the cigar is top notch as well and it is producing a nice burn line with a beautiful ash on the end that is holding on firmly. Overall, this is a great smoke and I do not see why this does not get a lot of attention on the worldwide market.

I am in the second third of the cigar now and it is showing a nice continuation from the first third. There are still those stone fruit and rich earth qualities to the cigar, and it to be honest it is richer and stronger in this third. I would say the smoky and tobacco notes are more present, and it has softened the stone fruit notes. I am still getting those pepper and spice notes as well, and this is a solid flavorful cigar. The body and strength are remaining at that medium level, but it is rich and filling. I still could smoke this cigar at anytime of day, but I can see some saying this is an evening smoke. The construction is very similar to the first third in this third and it is showing that even burn line, solid charcoal colored ash and slightly firm draw. So far this is a solid cigar and really a tasty Saint Luis Rey. I go back in forth between the Saint Luis Rey and Juan Lopez as my everyday corona gorda, but it really comes down to the mood I am in.

When I get into the final third I find that the cigar shows a little bit more transitioning and and it is now rich and earthy while showing some bits of leather notes. There are some solid tobacco qualities present as well, and I can pick up a  lot of spice and pepper notes now as well. There are still some stone fruit notes present but they are not as noticeable as they have been thus far. I would say the body and strength of the cigar are finishing at a medium full level and it is in this third that I would smoke this cigar in the afternoon or evening. Before, it is a cigar I could smoke at anytime, but now it is more of an evening smoke. The construction has been top notch from beginning to end and with that is a lovely dark charcoal ash that holds on firmly. The final draw to the cigar is slightly firm, but it is cool and more importantly flavorful. This is truly a great cigar that has a balanced and flavorful finish.

The Saint Luis Rey brand is a brand that is limited to three vitolas and of the three this is the most consistent. I feel that the Double Corona is the most inconsistent of the three and you will either end up with an amazing double corona or a boring double corona, but the corona gorda is pretty consistent in delivering some great flavors while showing some terrific body and strength level. If you have not reached out for this brand and love brands like Bolivar and Partagas, then you will be a fan of this brand and find a lot of enjoyment with the vitolas offered. The Serie A is a cigar that is flavorful with a nice bit of body and strength, and is a cigar that is enjoyable from beginning to end. They really benefit with age and I think that in three years they begin to open up and show what the cigar has to offer. If you want them to rock, age them for five plus years and then they will truly explode. This is a cigar that is affordable and a terrific everyday smoke.

Young Rating: 87-89

With Age Rating: 89-91