LEAF by Oscar Cigar Review

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Those of you who have not seen one of these cigars are in for a treat. Each stick is individually wrapped, not in plastic, but in tobacco leaf, “the LEAF’s” signature gimmick, and it’s a good one! The leaf (or leaves, there’s often two on my sticks) are pliable, moist, and protect the cigars. They smell great too. My 20 lanceros (7″x38) came in a tight bundle, not a box. The bundle wrapped (4×5) in their own cigar leaves bound with a soft and thick paper band of the same material that bands the individual leaf-wrappers and the cigars themselves. The whole effect from bound bundle to the cigar is much like a multi-wrapped Christmas present in our favorite kind of paper — cigar leaf! The binder and filler are Honduran, while the lanceros come in four wrappers, Honduran Connecticut, Nicaraguan Jalapa Maduro, Honduran Corojo or Ecuadorian Sumatra. My bundle is the last of these. Love that Sumatra wrapper!

After removing the outer wrapping leaves the cigar is knarly! There are lumps and bumps here and there a softer spot on some of the cigars but not all. A cigar gets no points off for being rough looking, I don’t mind. Tell the truth the rough look is appealing to me. Perhaps the filler has a texture that is hard to work with, or the roller (torcedor) is a person who who has not yet mastered the craft but is trying hard and stretching his skills to do so! I admire that person whomever she or he may be. A lancero is hard to roll. Rough looking or not, uneven packing has to ding a review on construction grounds, but I’ve smoked 8 of the 20 in the bundle and only three had noticable unevenness besides right at the foot where they were all a tad soft. But remember this was a bundle not a box. Harder to protect a bundle and lanceros are a bit delicate. Easy to imagine the feet getting a little too pressed in shipment.

The big construction points for come down to how the stick smokes. Of the 8 I’ve smoked one was pretty plugged and another other plugged up here and there throughout the smoke. Luckily I have a tool and both cigars were fixable. Yes, I boast a 7″ draw tool! The remaining 6 cigars, including the one I’m smoking now, had a perfect draw for me. Just a little more than the slight resistance I look for in a robusto or even a corona. Perfect “tightness” for a lancero. To me the draw, and whether a good draw stays consistent throughout the smoke, are the two most important “construction” features of any cigar. Next is how much smoke gets produced. All of these have been very good smoke producers. A nice creamy smoke too, not at all harsh.

Most of these sticks hit some point, some softer spot (noticible or not) and just went out. But lanceros are the easiest cigars to relight! This construction-related issue is not really a problem here. The burn-line stayed pretty even on all but the plugged sticks. Ash hangs around for about an inch. When the draw was good (6 out of 8 so far), it remained consistent throughout the smoke! That’s an accomplishment in a lancero! One more thing. The wrapper leaf did not split, crack, or unravel anywhere on any of the smokes so far, nor did they arrive damaged in any way though unprotected by a box. I suspect the moisture and cushining effect of the outer leaf-wrappers contributed something to this.

If the cigar smokes well (draw, smoke, etc) then the flavor is what makes or breaks it. These sticks are tasty. Roasted nut, brown sugar, sweet woodiness, maybe leather. There are other flavors I’m not quite identifying but they come and go. You catch a hit of flowers sometimes and nutmeg. Much of the flavor is in the retrohale, but this cigar has an easy nose. There doesn’t seem to be much pepper until the last two inches or so when it comes up on you. Of course much of this might be the result of my pairing experiments and so my rum adled brain!

Actually I’ve paired half of these with coffee in the morning. Everything works with coffee. These are on the mild side of mild-to-medium until the last third and so a great morning smoke. The other half I’ve paired with various rums of my present collection and the one that works best seems to be the Barbancourt 5 star, a light amber-colored rum whose mild sweetness and fruity but subtle profile seems to let the full range of cigar flavors shine through.

For me the cigar stays tasty all the way down to the last inch. Spices and sweet woodiness emerge here and there in the retrohale all the way down. It never gets stronger than medium, but being a long cigar it can still have an effect. It has enough flavor all the way along to be smokable any time of the day. A few seemed to smoke pretty fast for a lancero lasting just over an hour, but as I smoke more of them I see they go almost an hour and thirty, about average for a lancero for me. Every individual cigar has its own character. Physically speaking, the way they smoke, these vary more than most others I know, but everyone of them delivers the same smooth and sweet flavors. There is a lot here to recommend. Would I buy these again? This is my first venture into LEAF by Oscar because they normally are too expensive for me in my presently semi-retired state. But they are easily worth their standard prices and I won’t hesitate to snap up a deal on these when I see them.

Over-all construction grade: A-
Over-all flavor grade: A+

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