Mel Caribbean Corp. may not be well known in the U.S., but they are leading importer of Cuban and new world cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco accessories within Caribbean countries. Armando Diaz of Mel Caribbean Corp. has teamed up with Jochy Blanco of Tabacalera Palma to create their first cigar brand, Bella Dominicana, and make a push into the U.S. market.
Bella Dominicana utilizes tobaccos from Ecuador, Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua and is available in six vitolas: M (4 ⅞ by 46), E (5 by 52), L ( 6 ½ by 54), I (5 by 56), S (5 ¼ by 58), and A (6 by 60). The “M” and “E” frontmarks come packaged in 12 and 24 count boxes, while the “L”, “I”, “S”, and “A” are in 10 and 20 count boxes. Prices range from $7.00 for the 4 ⅞ by 46 up to $9.80 for 6 by 60.
The box and cigar presentation is spot on. The picture on both the box and band features two nymphs painting a “typical” Dominican sunset with farm scenes on either side of the band. Also, there is no shortage of gold coins on the box. A trend I have noticed as of late. Overall, the box and band are elegantly done and give me a sense of nostalgia.
Samples Provided by Mel Caribbean Corp.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Dominican Seco, Dominican Viso Criollo 98 and Nicaraguan Viso
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 10 Minutes
The Bella Dominicana is draped in a medium tan Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper leaf that has some small veins, scattered bumps, and a couple of color imperfections. The tan color does nothing to conceal any imperfections, but overall it is a fine looking cigar. On the wrapper, there is an aroma of dark red fruits, caramel sweetness, and a vinegar pungency.
Big notes of rich cedar paired with natural sweet tobacco notes and a hint of spice are on the foot of the cigar. The cigar is evenly filled until I make my way to the foot, which is somewhat squishy. Upon clipping through the neatly applied double cap, the dry draw delivers rich cedar, clove, raisin, red pepper, and burning gun powder. A medium spice is warming my mouth and leaving a spice sting on the lips.
Right off the bat, the Bella Dominicana opens with a heavy dosage of black pepper with some earth and rich, sweet woodsy notes are in the background. That unique burning gunpowder I picked up on in the pre-light is coming across on the finish, along with coffee and cocoa. Woodsy note gain ground and are at the front of the profile after an inch of smoking. A thick eyeliner burn is leaving behind a light grey ash.
Transitioning into the second third, an intriguing and enjoyable vegetal/earthy flavor has entered the profile, the sweet woodsy notes are gaining in richness, and the spice gains in intensity. While the burn is not nearly as thick as earlier, it continues to burn just about perfect.
The profile is developing into much heavier flavors with the gunpowder, earth, coffee, and cocoa. However, unlike the previous third, the sweetness has departed. The smoke remains rich and the smoke is developing into a much more chewy texture. Wrapping up the cigar, I am captivated by an apple cider sharpness paired with a cinnamon spice.
Bella Dominicana delivered medium/full flavors at the start and transitioned to more of medium smoke throughout the last two third. The strength behaved exactly opposite with reaching medium/full at the end. I would characterize the core of the smoke, or the most consistent flavor, as sweet, rich woodsy notes with no lack of complexity and change-ups and a fair amount of pepper spice. The 4 7/8 by 46 “M” vitola showcases the blend very well and performed exceptionally in the four samples smoked for this review.