El Sol Nicaraguan Primeros Maduro Reserve Parejo 5X
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As a cigar smoker, there’s a lot to like about living in the Tampa Bay area. You can walk down Ybor City’s 7th Avenue and see dozens of cigars you simply can’t get anywhere else. Every shop has a house brand. Some sell only their own wares. And many shopkeepers offer you a fresh, complimentary Cuban coffee before you’ve even made it to the walk-in. For the stogie-obsessed, it’s Disneyland.
One of the must-stops is El Sol Cigars. An Ybor City mainstay since 1929, El Sol is the oldest smoke shop in the city. It is operated by Bob Saitta, grandson of El Sol founder Guy Saitta. After decades of small-scale production in Ybor City, the company now owns factories in Nicaragua, the D.R., and Honduras. The Nicaraguan Maduro Reserve is a standout among many blends under the El Sol banner.
The Parejo 5X is an average looking 5″ x 50 robusto. The CT Broadleaf wrapper is toothy and dark, but a little dull.
It’s anything but dull upon lighting, however. This is a quick starter, flavorful up front with the spicy-sweet zip typical of the wrapper type. Mr. Saitta is cryptic about the content of his blends, but it’s impossible to miss the tangy, rich backbone of corojo in this one. The finish is long and woody. It will immediately remind you of the original release Padilla Obsidian, but with a little something extra.
After a half-inch, there are lip-smacking chocolate notes which intensify toward the halfway mark. The smoke is dense, chewy. I would characterize the first half as medium-strength, as pepper takes a back seat to sweet wood and chocolate. It’s not terrifically complex, but I love the profile. At this point, it also reminds me of a well-aged El Rey del Mundo maduro.
Just past halfway, the pepper begins a move to the forefront and eventually dominates the finish. Chocolate fades slightly to make way for earth. Meanwhile, the burn is as straight as any I’ve seen.
It gets stronger on the final third, but also loses a bit of its charm. Not enough to make you want to pitch it, mind you, but the last 10 minutes are an anti-climax after an excellent opening half-hour. It picks up astringent notes with an inch to go, signifying the end of the road.
CONCLUSION: If you enjoy a maduro on the sweet side, you’ll be impressed all the way around with the El Sol Nicaraguan Primeros Maduro Reserve. Burn and draw are first rate, the flavor is good (outstanding on the first half), and the value is excellent at $83.75/box (25), or $3.35/stick. When you’re in the neighborhood, this should be near the top of your list of must-try house brands.