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In the midst of the cigar boom, Bauza was a bargain hunter’s staple. For a while, at least, it wasn’t widely known to be an A. Fuente product. The happy result was that while others were throwing elbows in the walk-in to grab short-stocked, marked-up Hemingways and DCs, you could have all the Bauzas you wanted at MSRP.
Over time, I even found that I preferred Bauza to the Cameroon-clad Fuentes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t too far ahead of the hordes. Before long my size of choice, the 5.5″ x 55 Pyramid, was backordered at JR. Bummer.
Mostly out of nostalgia, I revisited these about four years ago. Amazingly, the price was unchanged — $100.00/box 25. They were not as I remembered them, however. I found them bland and grassy. Maybe my palate had outgrown them or they were just young. I laid them down and didn’t pay them much mind.
Now, after a long rest, I figure they’re as good as they’re likely to get.
So is the Bauza Pyramid still the value it was a decade ago?
They look as good as ever, with a nut brown Ecuadorian wrapper surrounding Dominican filler and binder. As one would expect from a 55 ring, the draw is full and easy from the start. Distinct clove notes lead to a surprisingly long, toasty finish. The clove recedes after a half inch, though it isn’t void of spice. There is a short, spicy zip on the front reminiscent of another Fuente family product, the Cuesta Rey Centro Fino Sungrown. Not enough to nudge it beyond medium-bodied, but enough to keep things interesting.
(For the true Fuente fanatic, I should also note that these taste similar to the Flor de Ybor City Sungrown, a bundle smoke available only through Tampa Sweethearts.)
The most satisfying feature of the Bauza Pyramid is the finish, which quickly develops a creamy character. It is warm and toasty with hints of nutmeg, vanilla, leather and, on the second half, nuts.
The favor doesn’t change much beyond the first couple of inches. If anything, it flattens out and becomes a little woody. Not bad at all, though the first half was more interesting. The draw and burn are excellent throughout.
CONCLUSION: The Bauza Pyramid hasn’t changed much in 10 years, but the market around it certainly has. Where this was a top-notch value in 1998, it now competes with a flood of great smokes at its price point. With age, it’s still a good, honest stick suited for early in the day — tasty and well built. But when measured against the field, the Bauza no longer stands out.