SIZE: 7" X 38
FACTORY: Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.
WRAPPER: Nicaraguan Jalapa Maduro
Lancero Sampler from Cigar Pimp
Three-Season Porch at Home
June 21, 2018 @ 1 PM
Starbucks' Blonde Roast
Muggy summer afternoon - 80 w. humidity
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.
- Some cool new stuff straight from Jim's mouth regarding the cigar bands on Leaf products - The bands themselves are made from tobacco leaves. They are pressed into paper by a shop in the same town the cigars are rolled. The factory employs single moms exclusively - so that's a cool feel good story. As far as costs go, these are actually fairly expensive to produce - with Jim buying each sheet for about 50-cents.
- The Leaf by Oscar line specifically started as Leaf & Bean's house cigar. Once it gained popularity, shops around the country began requesting it and after a bit of begging, Jim caved to begin generally distributing it.
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.
Leaf by Oscar's maduro is, at no surprise, the darkest wrapper offered. This Nicaraguan Jalapa maduro leaf is quite dark but certainly far from creeping into oscuro territory. The wrapper has a wonderful dark chocolate color with a great oily sheen to it. While veins aren't hard to locate they do tend to be small and blend in with relative ease. The seams on the cigar are virtually invisible and there are no soft/hard spots to be found. Of the three other Leaf by Oscar lanceros I've reviewed, this is by far the best looking.
Just like the other Leaf by Oscar lanceros, the maduro uses a triple cap with a nicely done pigtail at its peak. The cap is perfectly done - dropping into the body nicely with tight, not readily visible seams. The foot shows the blend well but is otherwise unremarkable. A nice blend of coloration - from dark brown to creamier tans at the center.
For a maduro, the aroma is fairly light. There is definitely some leather/cocoa on the wrapper and the foot dials up the intensity on the cocoa along with some coffee beans.
I went for a straight-cut on the lancero's pig-tailed cap. The cold draw is delicious - lots of dried dates/raisins, sweet chocolate and a little coffee as well. The draw itself has a nice resistance to it but seems ample.
LIGHT & DRAW
Cutter: Xikar Straight-Cut Lighter: ST Dupont Extreme Defi
The lancero lights up nice and even with a pop of pepper on the first few puffs. The peppery harshness continues but ushers in some vintage tobacco, sweet cream, vanilla and bit of coffee.
The draw is great - open with slight resistance to it. As the first half-inch or so burn down, the burn line is slightly wavery but all in all nice and clean. The medium grey ash stacked well but didn't hang on long - dropping about 1/2-inch into the smoke.
Smoke production on the Leaf Maduro is fairly light. While resting the smoke fades away almost entirely. While puffing, the cigar offers a moderate amount of smoke - rewarding but definitely not excessive.
> Pepper, raisin, bitter coffee
The flavors on the first third of this maduro are a little confusing. Most maduros hit you fast with a few easy to spot flavors - raisin, chocolate and coffee. The first length of the Leaf by Oscar maduro continue to be dominated by a heavy handed pepper spice. The raisin is easier to find between the pepper on the retrohale. In fact, the retrohale brings to mind a oatmeal raisin cookie where someone screwed up and added pepper. On the palate, besides the lingering black pepper, there is some dried stone fruit - like dried cherry. Cocoa and coffee are around but it's more on the bitter end of the spectrum than the sweet.
No complaints on the draw, which continues to open slightly as the cigar burns. The burn line is a non-issue - very crisp and clean. The maduro Leaf's ash is the weakest of the four. It's been able to hold on for about a 1/2 inch at a time before giving way to gravity. Laps beware ...
> Stone fruit, pepper, coffee
Around the halfway mark and the pepper has softened slightly. Strangely no other flavor has really popped out to dominate the palate. There is a definite soft, lightly sweetened stone fruit flavor - almost like a cherry jam. The coffee bitterness has smoothed out as well.
No changes to mention on the draw/burn/ash - all continue to perform as noted above.
> Pepper, roast pork
More pepper ... sigh. The last third starts with a blast of pepper yet again. It's not so much that I don't appreciate the pepper, it's just the pepper is so dominant on the forefront and lingers on the palate to the point I really can't appreciate the other flavors. To me, any flavor used - from cooking to cigars - should have a balance. There always needs to be a counter-flavor to help you appreciate the entire experience. So far, this maduro is just lacking that level of complexity. There is a little bit of roast pork / roasted vegetables coming into the mix - which does pair better with the pepper. Also, even with about three-inches to go the cigar has started burning quite hot - even with shallow puffing and long rests between. It's certainly not helping the experience.
The draw has stayed at just about the same level of resistance throughout the entire smoke. It's open but not too open - so I'm having a hard time blaming the hot burn on the draw. The burn line is this cigar's saving grace. Honestly, if it went out or started to require correction, I might just let it go and reach for something else. The ash got a little more rigid later in the cigar but still had trouble hanging on past about an inch or so. Throughout the smoke it has been a medium greyish-black.
A maduro laced with peppercorns? This was an intriguing cigar flavorwise. The pepper dominated the experience to the point that other flavors were muted. Definitely not the experience I'm looking for from a maduro at all. The brief moments were the spice subsided and the cocoa, vanilla, cream and stone fruit could get some traction were the highlights. The cigar was one note with nuanced other flavors temporarily entering and exiting quickly. In that regard, it completely lacked balance.
Like the other Leaf cigars, the lancero was expertly made technically. It burned perfectly with a great draw. No touch-ups or extra attention were ever even a consideration.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
👍 Perfectly crafted cigar
👍 Flawless smoking experience
👎 Pepper overload
👎 Lacked balance / complexity
Construction & Appearance ....... 0.60 / 0.80
Pre-Light Characteristics ............. 0.46 / 0.50
Lighting Process ............................. 0.47 / 0.50
Smoking Experience ..................... 4.53 / 7.70
Personal Enjoyment ....................... 0.25 / 0.50
Rating: 6.3 / 10.0
The lack of complexity and balance on the Leaf by Oscar madura lancero really frustrated me. The cigar's construction and burn are damn near flawless but the flavors just don't warrant a very high rating.
The lack of balance inhibited any complexity that could have been. For the excellent attention to craftmanship that went into rolling this cigar, it seems the blend fell by the wayside. Disappointing from what I had hoped would be the best of the Leaf by Oscar lanceros. I'm hoping these traits are limited to the few lanceros I smoked for this review and will certainly be eager to review the other vitolas in the maduro line.
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:
|Site||Vitola Reviewed||Rating||Normalized Rating||Link|
|Cigar Talk||Lancero||Not Rated||-||https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3sfTeqe_rc|
Everyone loves the Leaf by Oscar maduro! I could not find a single critical review of it and it makes me wonder if I got a run of duds? I smoked three stogies over a few days and each one was a carbon copy experience. My review may be overly harsh on the cigar but I feel comfortable standing behind it. I'll definitely continue to smoke these Leaf Maduros - especially the toro vitola - and probably try to update with a review sometime in the future.