After garnering a successful, high-profile career with two cigar manufacturers, as a sales director with La Aurora and vice president with Joya de Nicaragua, José Blanco goes out on his own and creates Las Cumbres Tabaco based in the Dominican Republic earlier this year. This news created quite an anticipatory buzz in the industry, particularly after the success of the Joya de Nicaragua CyB line, created in collaboration with JdN's owner and president Dr. Alejandro Martínez Cuenca. With Señorial by José Blanco as the first cigar line from his solo venture - after 30 test blends and over 7 months of toil - "El Profesor" has come out of the gate with a true winner.
Señorial was officially launched on June 4, 2014. At the launch event in New York City, I picked up a handful of the Señorial Paco Robusto - from which I've smoked about 4 prior to this review. As we are all commonly judged from our first impressions, or from our very last activity, behavior, work, or project, it would be erroneous to have any predeterminations or expectations of any similarities to CyB (as I have discovered).
Señorial Paco Robusto is a beautiful maduro cigar adorned with a very pretty gold band, which is actually the original artwork created by the mother of Emma Viktorsson, Blanco's bride-to-be and head of marketing for Las Cumbres Tabaco. (The actual story behind the creation of this work is quite endearing and I could never do it justice by re-telling it.) The cigar has a silky smooth, very fine toothy wrapper (have to look closely for that) with tiny veins. The wrapper does not give off much of an aroma, but the foot provides an understated aroma of rich tobacco, as does the cold draw once the cap is clipped.
Before getting into the flavor profile, I want to take a moment to discuss the construction and burn of the Señorial Paco Robusto. I smoked 2 of these during the launch event and the need for multiple re-lights was a cause for slight disappointment. After smoking a few more during the days after, I've realized that my previous burn issues were likely related to neglect due to my socializing and photo ops during the event - I did more much more chatting than smoking! In fact, I have not noted any burn issues at all. Though the cigar does burn a bit unevenly, it corrects itself and becomes relatively even by the final third of the smoke without any intervention at all. The cigar is well constructed and produces a firm white ash that does not become very flaky.
Señorial Paco Robusto is on the high side of medium in terms of strength, but extra-full in body - the flavors are very savory and the smoke produces quite a "heavy" feel on the palate. This cigar appears to have been intentionally blended for the "retrohalers" - the true flavors are unlocked upon retrohaling and will not be truly appreciated unless done so accordingly. The smoke starts with a dominant cedar woodiness with a subtle spiciness that sits on the palate, enhanced by a nice balance of sweetness and bitterness. The sweetness/bitterness combination is tough to characterize, and I can only describe it like an apple - the experience akin to the bitterness of the skin combined with the sweetness of the flesh. The cedar woodiness transitions to more of a charred woody flavor during the second third of the smoke, and the spiciness remains constant. However, the sweetness begins to outweigh the bitterness. The flavors remain consistent through the final third, with the exception of a couple of notes that become evident on occasion which were challenging for me to discern. In addition, the flavors are pretty piquant during the first two-thirds of the smoke, but smooths to a more creamy texture as the smoke transitions to the final third. One of the cigars I smoked to a nub so small that I could no longer hold between my teeth, and it still produced a great deal of smoke and flavor, and burned cool as well. Total burn time about 1 hour, 25 minutes.
Señorial Paco Robusto is a truly excellent cigar with a great finish; however, I would only recommend for more experienced and seasoned aficionados. In my opinion, there are 2 reasons why I believe novice smokers are just not built for this smoke:
Though medium in strength as I mentioned previously, the fullness of the body may be too overpowering for novice smokers. I don't believe an inexperienced smoker would be able to handle the "meatiness" of this cigar - it's like feeding a porterhouse steak to a child, it's just too much for them to handle.
The true flavors of this cigar much better appreciated on retrohale, which I did with each and every draw. And since most novice smokers don't retrohale regularly, or even understand the value of retrohalation, it is unlikely that they will benefit from all that the cigar has to offer.
In addition to the Paco Robusto, Señorial by José Blanco is available in 4 other vitolas: Corona Gorda No.5 (5½" x 46); Toro Bravo (6" x 54); Le Grand (6" x 60); and Belicoso No.2 (6¼" x 52).