The follow up on a busy last half of the week, the token Canadian is chiming in with another review for our wonderful readers! To celebrate the warm weather we’ve been having I decided to reach into my Cuban humidor and see what I could find. I ended up pulling out a Jose L. Piedra Brevas, so let’s see what these are all about.
This particular stick was given to me by a friend that I used to work with. We still keep in touch and share a beer or a cigar now and then. He was introduced to this brand by one of the local cigar shops since it is one of the few fair priced Cubans you can buy that is also hand made. If you remember a little while back I reviewed the popular Guantanamera Cristales which is another budget Cuban brand, but it’s completely machine made. Feel free to take a read over that review before reading this one. You’ll notice a few key differences between the machine and hand made cigars.
Now a bit about the brand. Jose L. Piedra cigars grows their tobacco in the Vuelta Arriba region. The Piedra family originally comes from Spain and settled in Cuba back in the 1880’s. It wasn’t until the second generation that they began working in the tobacco business led by Jose Lamadrid Piedra. All of their cigars are made completely by hand and use short filler to help keep the prices reasonable.
Now there is some other interesting information on the brand as well. In 1990 the factory was temporarily shut down and did not start producing cigars again until 1996. After that time, most of the cigars were being machine made until about 2002 when the handmade process started again. So beware of someone trying to sell you really old versions of these cigars for expensive prices, they might be machine made stuff. Also, the white band you see here is on all post-2007 made cigars, before that it was a brown band. Now that’s enough chatter, let’s dive in!
Cigar: Jose L. Piedra
Drink: Cookies & Cream Coffee
Vitola: Brevas (5.2 x 42)
Price: About $2.20
Burn Time: ~1 Hour
• The Jose L. Piedra has a crazy rustic appearance to it with lots of veins and bumps as well as some discolorations here and there
• From cap to foot the whole cigar has a nice springy feel to it
• There does appear to be some small cracks in the wrapper, not sure if this is from when it was made or happened sometime in transit but the few that I’ve had did look similar here
• The triple cap has a pretty clean finish and is pretty much flat on top
• Even the foot looks to be well packed and cleanly cut
• The cut was extremely easy, the cap almost just fell off
• The foot lit up pretty easily and with no effort, leaving be with a pretty even amber
• The wrapper on this cigar is barely burning for some reason, it keeps burning under the wrapper and requiring me to touch it up, already twice in less than an inch
• The wrapper continues to cause me some burn issues here but luckily my re-lights have not been affecting the flavor
• Re-lights plagued this cigar right through to the very end
Smoke & Ash:
• Not a ton of smoke on this cigar, requiring me to take in an extra couple of draws each time
• Tapped off the first ash at less than half an inch, it looked pretty weak and flaky and didn’t want it to end up on my laptop
• The color of the ash is mostly dark grey and some black, nothing to pretty here
• Smoke volume picked up a bit somewhere past the halfway mark, I think one of the cracks on the wrapper was letting the air escape on the draws
• The ash stayed dark and flaky, I had to keep tapping it off around a half inch
• The smell on the wrapper is awesome, a very sweet coffee/cocoa mix
• From the foot, I’m getting the same awesome coffee and cocoa mix and now there’s a touch of cedar thrown in there
• The pre-light draw was full of sweet cedar
• Initial flavors here are mostly coffee and some cedar, I’m not getting any of the sweetness or cocoa I picked up on the wrapper
• The whole profile has been pretty mild so far with no spices at all
• Even on the retrohale I’m getting no bite, just a smooth coffee flavored finish
• The coffee flavors picked up a bit more around the halfway mark, making for a more interesting profile
• In the last half the coffee, cedar and sweetness remained as the main flavors and the body picked up a touch to near the medium mark
• The intensity of the coffee really started to shine through a bit more at this point
• There was no harshness or bitterness right down to the end
I hadn’t had a Jose L. Piedra in a while but I always remembered them being pretty mild and that has not changed. Even with a bunch of relights from the wrapper burn issues, the flavor didn’t really get very charred. Although that’s a bit of a plus, I also am not a big fan of a cigar that requires so much extra attention. The flavors were pretty low key, being mostly just coffee and cedar with a bit of sweetness thrown in here and there. I have to mentioned that the Jose L. Piedra is probably one of the cheapest handmade Cubans you can find so they do make a good introduction into that world. This is probably a good option to share with someone who’s not an experienced smoker as they will definitely be able to pick up on the mild flavors, it’s even good as a morning cigar with your coffee.
Cookies and Cream Coffee, how could I pass that up when I saw it in the store? Cookies and Cream anything is usually awesome! Unfortunately I don’t have the name with me, we put the grinds into a resealable container and threw out the package, but I do know it was a white bag with a picture of an Oreo cookie on the front. The coffee itself is pretty mild so I always double up the scoops and it pours out a very nice smelling coffee. Darn tasty and it paired very well with this mild Jose L. Piedra. I think it’s probably the best pairing for this cigar.