SIZE: 7" X 38
FACTORY: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.
WRAPPER: Honduran Connecticut
Lancero Sampler from Cigar Pimp
o Robusto - 5" x 50
o Toro - 6" x 50
o Gordo - 6" x 60
o Lancero - 7" x 38
RELEASE TYPE: Regular Production
ORIGINALLY RELEASED: October 2015
Mazos of 20;
CIGAR BACKGROUND INFO
- Leaf is Island Jim's latest creation. Who's Island Jim? Jim Robinson and he's awesome. He also owns Leaf & Bean cigar shop in Pittsburgh, PA.
- The story goes that Jim met up with Oscar Valladares during a tour of the Rocky Patel factory down in Honduras. Jim requested some sample cigars be blended / rolled by Oscar with a strange request - wrap the cigar in a tobacco leaf. Oscar was baffled since really all the cigars he rolled included a wrapper. Hilarity ensued and now we have the Leaf line.
- The other origin story may be more plausable. Jim had grabbed some test samples while down in Honduras and wanted a good way to protect them on his trip home. Why he didn't have a herfador? Who knows ... just go with it. Jim pulled a few raw tobacco leaves and wrapped his cigars in those. When he got home, not only were the cigars in great condition but the leaves had kept them nice and oily too. Less hilarity ensued and now we have the Leaf line.
- The loose cigar leaf serves many purposes. The first is practical - the leaf wrapping the cigar continues to coat it with the natural oils of the tobacco leaf. Much like cello, it offers great protection and breathability. Finally, it's golden marketing - the Leaf line stands out in a shops humidor and instantly generates a conversation and curiosity.
- Leaf by Oscar is available in four different blends - Connecticut, Maduro, Sumatra and Corojo. I'll be reviewing each in the coming days.
- Noel Rojas and Esteban Discla have also had a hand in blending the Leaf portfolio of stogies.
- Originally, Jorge Ahued of Stogies World Class asked Island Jim about developing a lancero for their ever growing collection of lancero shop exclusives. Jim happily obliged but only on the basis that it be available to shops beyond Stogies.
It goes without saying the branding on Leaf is phenomenal. Everything about it is simple and effective. From the raw leaf wrapping the cigar to the bands that encircle it, everything is organic and related back to the tobacco leaf itself. In theory you can even smoke through the band if you want since it's produced by printing on compressed tobacco stem leaves. I wasn't so inclined - something about smoking stems and ink didn't really seem like the path I wanted to go down.
As for the design itself - I adore it. Everything has a purpose and is thought out. It's effective on so many levels - it is organic, protective, well-branded, etc. Really this sets a whole new benchmark for other brands to aim for. Jim abandoned the idea of a colorful, decorative band for something unique and creative that stands out beyond any well-designed typical band. Hell, my current favorite band is Dapper's La Madrina and this really gives it a run for its money ... I just think they're running in opposite directions.
The first step to enjoying any Leaf cigar is stripping the stogie of its tobacco leaf cellophane imitation. One look at the effort that goes into the branding of all the Leaf cigars and it's not really a surprise that this lancero is expertly constructed. The light tan Connecticut wrapper encases the cigar with no raised portions or obvious flaws - aesthetic or otherwise. The veining is minimalized and, for the most part, any veins visible sit flat and are fairly hidden. The wrapper has more of a matte glean to it and isn't overly oily. This is surprising since the extra leaf wrapper is explicitly supposed to retain the cigar's natural oils while continually basting it with more.
A light squeeze of the stick yields a surprising amount of give. That said, there are a fewer hard spots throughout the cigar as well as a few softer areas - hopefully no burn or draw issues are immenent.
The cap really is a work of art - blending seamlessly into the body and punctuated by a small pigtail - such a great detail on this lancero. The foot doesn't give too much information beyond telling me that the Leaf lance looks well rolled and there aren't any chunks or voids present.
The aroma of the wrapper and foot are light and summery. There's some hay complimented by a nice balance of citrus.
The cold draw has a nice openness to it. The citrus tones are repeated as well as some light vanilla and herbal, tea-like qualities.
LIGHT & DRAW
Cutter: Ancient Palio Straight Lighter: ST Dupont Extreme Defi
The Leaf lancero lights up easily enough! Lately I've been on a v-cut kick, but with lanceros a straight-cut always seems more appropriate. The cigar lit evenly and easily with a good open draw that bring plenty of initial smoke and flavor. With the first late comes a blast of pepper that dissipates very quickly. As the flavors come into their own, there is a light peppery tone that backs up a smoother vanilla, citrus profile. All good stuff to start!
The burn line is essentially perfect to start - no wild deviations to worry about at this point. The first lengths of ash are quite white. Closer to the burn line it's a bit grey. At about 1/2-inch in, the ash is holding strong.
Smoke is plentiful off this skinny stogie. It really churns out plumes of white, great smelling smoke on each puff. Even while resting, it is never without a steady stream of white smoke trailing off the end.
> Vanilla, chai, cream
Lots of vanilla and chai tea-type flavors at the forefront of the Leaf CT lancero. While the sweeter, creamer flavors hit the palate up-front and linger after the fact, somewhere in the middle there is a tiny blast of black pepper again. It's not dominant but for a handful of seconds it's a pepper-loaded smoke.
The draw is a bit on the loose side but it's not a hindrance at this point. The open draw brings in plenty of smoke and flavor. I'd always take a slightly open draw to a slightly tight draw - it's effortless to smoke. The burn line continues to be a razor's edge - clean and sharp. No complaints or issues on the burn line at about an inch-and-a-half. Like my initial notes, the ash is still a chalky, white/grey. It's starting to splay slightly at the end but seems to be holding strong.
> Bread, pepper, dough
At roughly the midpoint, the Leaf CT has a little more pepper to it. There's pepper up-front and lingers for a bit on the palate. The sweet citrus, chai, cream flavors have shifted significantly to a more savory, bread-like profile. The new flavor profile has definite grainy, doughy taste with a nice compliment of pepper. I'm not a huge fan of overly peppery cigars, but this is well balanced and seems to work really well at this point in the experience.
The draw and burn have been stalwart and perfect. Nice open draw; tight crisp burn line - it's hard to ask for much more!
> Bread, citrus, wood
The flavors of the final third have shifted yet again. The pepper is still present but softened. The bread, doughy flavors are still present but there is a slight citrus, woody tone coming back into the picture. For a Connecticut, the Leaf by Oscar has really packed a ton of robust, interesting flavors.
The open draw has finally caught up with the lancero. In the final couple inches, the open draw is bringing just a little too much heat to the mouth. It's not terrible but I've really had to slow down and puff gently to avoid torching my tongue. The burn has never wavered - it's consistently been perfect.
I didn't have high expectations for the flavor profile on the Connecticut Leaf lancero - to me Connecticuts always seem to fall a bit flat flavorwise. With that in mind, I was very pleasantly surprised at the diversity of flavors present and the effortless transitioning of profiles. The entire experience kept my interest and was fantastically balanced.
The real thing for this lancero to hang its hat on - beyond the gimmicks - is the construction. The Leaf lancero burned absolutely perfectly. It never needed a relight, correction or any attention beyond just smoking it. It was a perfect experience from start to finish ... except for the final few puffs on the loose draw I noted above.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
👍 Flawless smoking experience
👍 Excellent flavors and balance
👎 Loose draw burned hot at end
👎 Expected a little more on the palate
Construction & Appearance ....... 0.63 / 0.80
Pre-Light Characteristics ............. 0.50 / 0.50
Lighting Process ............................. 0.50 / 0.50
Smoking Experience ..................... 6.09 / 7.70
Personal Enjoyment ....................... 0.42 / 0.50
lovin' the leaf.
Rating: 8.1 / 10.0
Island Jim & Oscar Valladares joined forces & nailed this stogie. The concept & execution of the Leaf by Oscar Connecticut is nothing short of perfect. Some of the flavors didn't quite match up as impressively as other cigars so most of the lancero's demerits in this review stem from only having an average to above-average flavor profile. If Connecticut & Honduran cigars are your thing, this is a home run - flat out. I definitely wouldn't hesitate to smoke another but probably won't be seeking them out. Given the excellent experience the CT brought, I am really looking forward to the other three blends - which hopefully deliver the same well-crafted cigar with a flavor profile more in tune with my personal palate.
MORE PICTURES FROM THE REVIEW:
HOW WE COMPARE:
I love reading other reviewers' thoughts on the cigars I'm smoking and reviewing. Here's how my review stacks up compared to some other, probably better reviews:
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Not much to go on from to compare/contrast to other reviewers. The Leaf by Oscar Connecticut is not a widely reviewed cigar - much less the harder to find lancero vitola! The couple of reviewers who gave it a rating averaged out to about a 7.5 - a little under my review of 8.1. I'd love to hear your thoughts - my opinion was that it earned its Burn1 rating but let me know how you feel below!