Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nica Libre

Nica Libre- Calling all Padron lovers! The Nica Libre seems to be a decent attempt at riding the coat-tails of the Padron 1964 series without the price. This cigar resembles the Padron 1964 from wrapper to band(label). If you're eye-sight is a little off, it wouldn't be hard to mistake the Nica Libre from a short distance. The cigar is wrapped with a San Andes Maduro, filled with long-leaf Nicaraguan tobacco and binded with Habano leaf. I've read rumors that the Nica Libre is manufactured near Padron headquarters and is made up of disgruntled ex-employees. Whatever the connection may be, at $6 a cigar, this could be a cigar with immense value.

Prelight- I have never heard of this cigar. The owner of a nice cigar shop in Bel Air, MD (Main-Street Cigar) recommended this cigar as we chatted in the humidor. It was my first time in the shop, so I had to grab it.
This cigar looks a lot like the Padron 1964. I've grabbed the Diplomatico size (7" with a 50 ring gauge) and it is a beauty of a box-press. The wrapper has some attractive veins and glistens with chocolately oils. The prelight draw has a little too much resistance. I trim the cigar back a bit more to see if that helps the draw ease up, but it does not. The flavor on the prelight is peppery with a hint of cherry. Time to smoke.

Sparking it- The cigar lights with ease, but the tough draw is bothering me before I begin. This is a long ass cigar, so I'm expecting it to loosen up as the stick disappears. The prelight flavors remain during the first part of the smoke. Smooth and peppery with hints of fruit. So far so $6 a stick (single cigar in a shop - cheaper by the box), you can't beat the flavor. It is a little too early to draw comparisons to the Padron.

Smoking it- As the cigar burns I have some burn issues. The draw is a pain in the ass and the cigar almost burns out on occasion. I have to reach for the lighter often. In contrast to the poor burn, the flavors and complexity of the cigar are great. The spice and cherry remain throughout, but the cigar starts to taste like oak through the middle and very spicy in the last third. When I pick a cigar, I'm always looking for complex, full flavors. This cigar has it.
Unfortunately, the stick burns like shit. I'm definitely going to pick some more of these up to see if I had gotten a bad stick because the flavor is so good. I wouldn't go as far to say that the Nica Libre is like a Padron 64, but it has some similar flavors. The construction on the cigar seems solid. The burn was pretty even overall, but I had issues with the cigar burning to a cone or noticing cold spots on the lit end of the stick.
I recommend this cigar to anyone that smokes the 64's and can't afford them, and to those who want to and can't afford them. I'm hoping my cigar was a shitty one and the rest of them burn like champs. The bouquet of flavors are enough to bring me back for more. Before you light up a Nica Libre, make sure you have some food in your stomach and at least an hour and half to kill. At 7", this isn't a short smoke.

Overall- B-

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What do you think? Am I on to something? Am I wrong? Or am I full of shit?