Leaf By Oscar Sumatra
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.
By now, most cigars smokers are probably familiar with the Leaf by Oscar story. A collaboration between ‘Island Jim’ Robinson, owner of Pittsburgh based retailer Leaf and Bean, and cigar maker Oscar Valladares, this cigar comes wrapped in an outer leaf of tobacco in lieu of the usual cellophane. Leaf by Oscar comes in four wrapper options: Connecticut, Corojo, Maduro, and Sumatra. Each of the different wrapper lines come in four sizes: Toro 6 x 50, Double Toro 6 x 60, Robusto 5 x 50, and Lancero 7 x 38, although my understanding is that the latter two are less widely distributed. The exact MSRPs are a little difficult to track down, but seem to run between $8.50 – $10.50. The Leaf by Oscar is produced at Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co. in Danli, Honduras.
Being long intrigued by this cigar, I decided to pick up a couple of the Sumatra Toros from the good folks at Cuenca Cigars.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Size: Toro 6 x 50
Smoking time: One hour, thirty-five minutes
Pairing: Melvin 2X4 DIPA (ABV 9.9%)
It’s hard to imagine a more rustic presentation than what the Leaf by Oscar offers. The protective leaf wrap is rough and ragged, and if there were no band on it to differentiate between blends, one might be tempted to chuck into the trash and that would be a huge mistake. Speaking of the outer band, it is printed on handmade agave paper from a small shop in Danli and matches the rustic look very well.
Unwrapping the cigar tamale reveals a very thin and fragile yellowish tan wrapper, shiny with oils and with minimal veining and a firm pack. There is little in the way of a distinct aroma off the wrapper other than a very light barnyard/hay, while the foot shows a slight grassy tobacco with a bit of spice. After an easy clip of the cap, the cold draw shows surprisingly little flavor, just an extremely faint echoing of the foot aroma.
The Leaf by Oscar Sumatra has gotten off to a mild start, focusing on cedary tobacco with light earthiness. Those flavors are reflected in the retrohale, which also shows some grain and a bit of pepper. An inch in, the cedar has gained some sweetness, and my palate is hit by little bits of salt here and there. The burn had started out very even, and is now off just a bit, but not in any way posing a problem. The ash held on for just over an inch. Nearing the end of the first third, the Leaf Sumatra has dropped most of the pepper and turned smoother and almost creamy, with a sweet talc note at the end of the retrohale, finishing mild with no nicotine strength.
The start of the middle section of the Leaf by Oscar Sumatra sees the flavors taking themselves a notch up in intensity while maintaining the smooth feel. The pepper has made a comeback, not to a great degree, but enough to let you know it’s still there. The sweetness is also more noticeable, as the wood is now more of an oak than cedar. I should mention that the salt that I picked up in the first third has not been present since the latter part of that third. The Leaf Sumatra ends the second third at a low-medium body with still no trace of nicotine.
The final portion of the Leaf by Oscar Sumatra introduces a citrusy sweetness and a light char in back of the lightly oaky tobacco. The char quickly fades leaving a sweeter feel, and the pepper has all but exited the palate, but remains on the retrohale. Near the end, the sweetness dials back and the pepper once again shows on the palate. The Leaf Sumatra has smoked absolutely cool all the way down to the nub, showing just a little softness, finishing at medium body and mild strength.
The Leaf by Oscar Sumatra proved to be an enjoyable mild to medium cigar with great construction and smoking properties, and a moderate amount of complexity. It’s a cigar that I would prefer to smoke in the morning, or at least earlier in the day, and one that can be enjoyed by both novice and experienced smokers, although those who lean toward stronger smokes might find it a bit light for their tastes. I love the presentation of having the cigar wrapped in the outer leaf of tobacco, with the only drawback being that it will take up more space in one’s humidor. Does that outer leaf make a difference? Who knows? I can only say that I enjoyed the smoke, and that’s really all that matters. I look forward to trying the other blends in the Leaf by Oscar portfolio.
Although I keep saying that I find matching IPAs with cigars a big challenge, the 2X4 DIPA from Wyoming’s Melvin Brewing is one that I feel can pair up well with a large number of sticks. The large amount of maltiness and deep and sticky mouthfeel offsets the big hop presence well enough to go very well with medium-bodied cigars. It is really a big favorite of mine, so matching it with this cigar was a no-brainer for me. The Leaf by Oscar Sumatra is a cigar that will also pair nicely with a number of other styles of beers, such as a Belgian Tripel or Belgian-style IPA, German Weissbier, or good English ale. A lightly sweetened coffee would also be ideal.