You have no doubt noticed I’ve smoked a lot of cigars from George Rodriguez of Rodrigo Cigars! I think I stumbled on George about a year ago while looking for “Leaf by Oscar” lanceros. George usually has them in all 3 or 4 of their wrappers (I’ve bought bundles of the maduro, Corojo, and Sumatra) and he often has them at a generous discount. Indeed, his frequent discounts (and always free shipping on orders of $50 or more) have kept me coming back to his online store, and now besides the Leafs and several boxes of Padilla Reserva San Andres, I’ve been smoking his “house blends”. He did a clever thing sometime back, he sent me a free sampler of 5 of his experimental blends. One of those cigars was fantastic, one of the best I’ve ever smoked (see my review of the collection here), three were pretty good, and one not so much. None of those blends are in production, but the samples did tell me that George knows how to blend a good cigar.
The “Corona Project” is George’s top of the line production house blend. It comes at a top of the line retail price of $9.50/stick, but I got mine for $7.75 thanks to being on his mailing list and seeing one of those frequent discounts come along. I’ve also reviewed George’s Fortaleza Absoluto also good and retailing at around the $7 mark before any discount.
This is a classic corona, 6″x43 with a pigtail cap and closed foot. The filler is an all ligero blend of Dominican Criollo 98, Corojo, and HVA (Honduran maybe?). The binder is Sumatra Ecuador, and the wrapper a maduro broadleaf US Connecticut! Each cigar is aged for a year before release.
The cold aroma of the cigar is dominated by manure and barnyard, but there is something unusual here, a sort of smokey aroma I remember from unlit black Latakia pipe tobacco. I haven’t smoked a pipe in 30 years, but the aroma of that tobacco is very distinct and it came back to me immediately. Cold taste is a little salty with hay and flower notes. Construction seems great. I can trace the wrapper seam and there are some veins. The pack is firm and very even. This is not a super dense cigar but it isn’t lightly packed either.
On initial light the cigar is only mildly peppered. By the last couple of inches, the pepper is dominant, especially in the retrohale. Flavors flit in and out throughout the stick. There is a sweet woodiness, leather, hay from time to time, lots of roasted nut and sometimes a sweet mintiness. The retrohale is particularly rich in the nut aromas, sweet flowers, and some warm baking spices like nutmeg. Draw was perfect all the way along and never needs any correction. I did do a minor burn touch up once in a while, but I do that a lot anyway. Smoke output is great. I’ve smoked three of these now and they have all been consistent. I smoked each down to the last 1/2 inch with smoke time being about 80 minutes. This is a nice slow burning stick.
Is the stick worth a $9.50 retail price? Let me put it this way. If Illusione, Tatuaje, or Roma Craft released this same blend at this price I think they would have a big hit and we would all be raving about it. But competing with many other very fine cigars at this price point is going to be tough for a house blend. There are a lot of great cigars in the $9-$10 retail range that are much better known! George’s ace-in-the-hole are his frequent discounts, so as always I recommend getting on his mailing list and watching for those to come along.
I’ve paired this stick with coffee, a dark rum, and my Elijah Craig bourbon. All go very well.