Arandoza Cigars – Blue Label
First off, I want to thank everyone who entered the Screwpop Cigar Punch Giveaway (plus a few cigars). If you have not already signed up, you still have till 11:59 PM EST tonight, February 20th to enter the giveaway. Enter here. The winner will be announced within the week.
El Paso has been experiencing some wonderful weather as of late, so instead of being held up in my garage for this review, I ventured outdoors to give this Blue Label by Arandoza Cigars a test drive. The Blue Label is available in four vitolas: Robusto (5 by 52), Toro (6 by 52), Torpedo (6 by 52) and Trabuco (6 by 60). Arandoza Cigars’ website in under construction so not much additional information was available about the company or the cigar other than the excerpt below:
Arandoza Cigars, as a family owned and operated company, is founded in the belief that through hard work and dedication, applying our knowledge of tobacco and passion for cigars, we would bring to market, a product that would honor the tradition and history of the cigar industry and for those that enjoy them.
As a family we take great pride in the cigars we produce and in our approach to blending that bring a certain uniqueness that is Arandoza to the cigars we produce.
Although fairly new to the cigar industry, our Arandoza Cigars have quickly earned us great recognition amongst the cigar industry. Our cigar line is hand crafted in Estelli Nicaragua at “La Zona”. Most recently Arandoza Cigars launched our newest creation, a high end “Blue Label” consisting of a Nicaraguan binder and filler with a Habano Nicaraguan wrapper.
The Arandoza Cigars family believes that tradition begins with family and community. We pride ourselves in giving back to our community and helping other small businesses flourish and share in our success.
Samples Provided by Arandoza Cigars
Price: $6 – $7
Size: 5 by 52
Wrapper: Nicaraguan – Habano
Smoke Time: 1 hour
The Blue Label is a nice looking cigar. The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper is consistent in color with fine veins and a slight tooth. As I bring the foot of the cigar to my nose, I pick up on a strong raisin aroma. The wrapper gives off straight forward tobacco notes, earth, and an underlying sweetness, possibly the same raisin sweetness I got off the foot.
To the touch, the cigar feels firmly packed. There are no soft spots, but a few areas are rock solid. The cap, which appears to be a double cap, is neatly applied and clips clean with little effort. The draw resistance is on the high end of enjoyable, but if nothing changes this should not be an issue.
The smoke production is fantastic. I actually have to take a shallower draw to not choke on the smoke. The start of the Blue Label presents flavors of earth, leather, and pepper with a lingering spice on the palate. The flavors are very much in your face and sharp. Some butter notes begin to come forth and the smoke feels creamy on the palate. The finish is pungent with an acidic quality and my nasal passage is stinging from the spicy, peppery retrohale. A crack has formed in the wrapper about a half inch in that runs about an inch down. The burn line is a little edgy, but razor sharp, leaving behind a grey, flaky ash. The favors and strength at this point are medium/full.
The crack has worsened causing the wrapper on the Arandoza Cigars Blue Label to pull away from the binder. The butter flavor has become more significant with the earth and pepper still making up the core of the smoke. Also, some cedar, woodsy notes arrive bringing balance to the profile. I am feeling the effects of the nicotine but that could be more attributed to smoking before 9:00 AM on an empty stomach than the actual strength of the cigar. Due to the flakiness of the ash, I have been knocking it off every half inch to prevent any accidents. Putting an end to the second third, the burn has finally caught up and surpassed the crack in the wrapper.
Even with the prior cracking issues, I have yet to touch-up the cigar. It just keeps chugging along. There has not been much noticeable change in the profile other than a slight tartness. The pepper is still heavy on the retrohale. The finish is somewhat chocolaty but void of sweetness and the flavors are medium/full and strength is full. The large band pulls off easily. With just over an inch left, the smoke has become bitter and a tad harsh letting me know it is time to set the cigar down.
As is probably the case with most of our readers, I had not previously heard of this cigar. Coming from Erik Espinosa’s La Zona factory, I was excited to give this Blue Label by Arandoza Cigars a try. While the crack in the wrapper caused concern, the smoke production was great and no touch-ups were required. The profile is straight forward with earth and pepper being at the core. Maybe with some time, the sharpness of the flavors in the first third will round out a little more. Arandoza Cigars’ website lists a few retailers carrying their sticks. If you happen to live by one of the B&Ms or can find a couple online, give the Blue Label a whirl and let me know what you think.
Robert Arango, owner of Arandoza Cigars, was kind enough to provide two samples of the Blue Label. I smoked the other Blue Label at my indoor cigar lounge, also known as my garage. The construction on the second sample was exceptional, burn line razor sharp, and the ash held on for an inch plus. The profile was more rounded with added chocolate notes. While smoking outdoors is my preference, I believe it did have a negative impact on the Blue Label reviewed above. The breeze/wind may have caused the wrapper to crack and burn at too fast of a rate causing the harsh, sharp flavors. I am glad I smoked this other sample in a different environment because it provided a very enjoyable experience.