El Galan Doña Nieves Sentimiento
So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
Back in July, I reviewed the Doña Nieves by El Galan, which I found quite enjoyable (the review can be found here). In August, El Galan launched an extension to the line that honors brand owner Felix A. Mesa’s grandmother, the Doña Nieves Sentimiento. While the original line utilizes an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, the new extension comes wrapped in a Nicaraguan Jalapa Oscuro. All sizes of the Sentimiento are box-pressed, as opposed to just one of the three sizes in the original blend. The sizes are: Emocion 6 x 50, Aprecio 6 x 52, and Temura 6 x 54 Torpedo; with MSRPs running from $6.70 – $7.00 per cigar in boxes of 21. I picked up a handful of the Aprecios from the good folks at Cuenca Cigars, and while I was confused at the similarity in size of the Emocion and Aprecio, I was told by Ana Cuenca that she was assured that there is a discernible difference between the two. For now, I’ll just have to go by what the Aprecio shows me.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Jalapa Oscuro
Size: Aprecio 6 x 52 box-pressed
Smoking time: One hour, thirty minutes
Pairing: Anderson Valley Brother David’s Double Abbey-style Ale (ABV 9%)
The Doña Nieves Sentimiento is covered in a dark brown wrapper mottled with darker, nearly black, spots and a reddish cast to it. With fine to medium veins and a slight oily sheen, it has a hard feel to it with no soft spots. The band is basically the original Doña Nieves band with the addition of a “Sentimiento” designation below in dark yellow and blue. The aroma off of the wrapper is a sour, earthy barnyard, while the foot shows barnyard laced tobacco. The cap cuts easily, but it does a little unraveling and reveals a draw that is on the snug side. Spice and wood note show on the cold draw.
The Doña Nieves Sentimiento toasts up nicely and fives up a copious mouthful of medium-bodied smoke that shows earth, mesquite/hickory, and a meaty savoriness. There is a bit of cardboard mustiness on the retrohale, along with some sinus searing spiciness. The thick burn line has started out at a slant, and I have given it a quick correction to keep things on track. A semi-sweet floral spice has emerged, while the cardboard on the retrohale has vanished, much to my relief.
As the Doña Nieves Sentimiento pulls into the middle third, the pepper has stepped back and the wood has turned to more of an oak. The sweet spice has moved to the background, where it has been joined by a bit of bread. I am finding that this stick is requiring a bit of attention to keep the smoke volume up, which is causing me to smoke it a little hot. Despite that, the cigar has no harshness to it, and in fact, is settling in to a smoother texture as it inches its way toward medium-full with a bump in strength to medium. Toward the end of this section, light coffee notes and a faint caramel sweetness waft in and out to mingle with the bread notes on the finish and the burn has long ago evened itself out.
Entering the home stretch, the Doña Nieves Sentimiento has not exhibited much in the way of a change in flavors, other than the addition of a slight bit of char, but things continue to get even smoother, even as it perches itself at a solid medium-full with medium-plus strength. While I found myself having to babysit the Sentimiento in the second third to keep the burn going well, I have not had that problem since the middle of that portion. The pepper suddenly ramps up and pushes the remnants of sweetness back, and with a little over an inch left, I decide to put it down.
While I found the Doña Nieves Sentimiento to be an enjoyable smoke, I still prefer the original, which may be more of a reflection on my personal tastes. The Sentimiento is a well constructed cigar with solid, if not particularly complex flavors that transition well, and the price is certainly right. I suspect that more humidor time will bring out more in this cigar, and I intend to find out if that is true. It is still a cigar that I feel is worthy of picking up and trying out.
I hadn’t had this brew before, but I figured that an American version of a Belgian Abbey dubbel would be a good way to go with this cigar. Anderson Valley’s Brother David’s Double is an Abbey style ale that pours a clear mahogany red, and displays a medium bodied, slightly sweet entry with plum ad berry fruit (and surprisingly little banana) and a good amount of maltiness, finishing tangy and slightly bitter. It also hides its 9% alcohol well until it sneaks up from behind and hits you over the head when you least expect it. It paired very well with the Sentimiento, complementing the spice notes of the cigar, while adding an acidic backbone. Having said that, I would like to see how a bright tawny port would match up with this cigar.
– Jeff Oda