Roberto Duran Azan White Premium Toro de Luxe
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.
This time around, I bring to you a review of another cigar by Roberto P. Duran Cigars, the Azan White Premium in the Toro de Luxe size. The weather here in Seattle has been pretty consistently crappy, with rain, rain with high winds, and more rain, with a scant few breaks in between. Although today’s weather was originally predicted to be rainy with a chance of snow, it has instead turned out to be sunny, but with strong and cold wind gusts, thus chasing me inside for this review.
Anyway, the Roberto Duran White Premium line of cigars was launched at the 2013 IPCPR trade show, but this year, they introduced a new size to the line, the 6 1/2×54 Toro de Luxe, priced at $9. The other sizes in the line include the Campana 5 1/2×52, Robusto Extra 5 1/2×52, and the Robusto 4 7/8x 50 and run between $6-$8.
The Azan name has an interesting background among old Cuban brands. Kwan Ben Sen and his two brothers migrated to Cuba from China in 1870 and adopted the name Azan. They started manufacturing cigars in 1928 and the company continued to do so until the revolution of 1959 when the government took possession of it. The Roberto Duran White Premium line under this name has an Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper surrounding a binder from Nicaragua, with a filler blend of Nicaraguan Jalapa and Estili and Brazilian Mata Fina.
I have previously reviewed the Neya from Roberto Duran – you can read my review here – and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was eager to give the White Premium a go.
I received these cigars for review from the good folks at Cuenca Cigars, although they don’t seem to have them listed online as of this writing.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa and Esteli, Brazilian Mata Fina
Size: Toro de Luxe 6 1/2×54
Smoking time: Two hours, ten minutes
Pairing: Deschutes Jubelale (6.7% ABV)
The Roberto Duran Azan White Premium comes draped in a fairly oily medium brown wrapper that shows some darker mottling, leading to a nicely applied double cap. The roll is very firm with no soft spots and is rather bumpy despite minimal veining. I rather like the simplicity of the band – a white background with gold and brown lettering and logo. The wrapper gives off a tangy scent on top of natural tobacco and light earth, while the foot shows some spicy tobacco and earth. A slight snip of the cap reveals a rather open draw showcasing light cedary tobacco.
Well, at least being inside allows for a nice leisurely toasting of the foot, and immediately, bright sweet cedar jumps out at me, joined by a bit of earth, rich tobacco, and a smoky umami savoriness that I can’t quite place. There is some pepper in the retrohale, but the cedar is really what is carrying the flavors so far, although not in an obnoxiously strong way. The burn line is a bit thick with just a slight waviness and is producing a pretty solid looking ash that lasts for a good inch. Earthiness soon steps forward and the sweet cedar and pepper have backed off to show smooth savory tobacco driven flavors in a medium bodied presentation.
As the Roberto Duran White Premium enters into the second portion of its length, some bread notes have come into play, along with some sweet spice lingering in the aftermath of the retrohale. The rich tobacco continues to be the main force along with the woodiness, and that lightly smoky savoriness remains in the background. Just past the halfway point, the cigar has gone out on me, and I’m forced to give it a re-light, something that wasn’t required of the two that I had previously smoked, but it’s off and running again, with no negative effects from the re-light. Pepper has re-emerged, and the breadiness has grown stronger, as the body has moved a bit beyond the medium point.
After an hour and forty minutes (!), I’m just getting into the final third of the Roberto Duran White Premium. The flavors have remained pretty much the same, but are getting a bit deeper, making the smoke very enjoyable. The strength has moved up to medium with just a bit of nicotine kick. The rich tobacco, cedar/oak, earth, bread, and light sweet spices continue to the smooth smoking and medium-plus bodied end, and despite suffering from a bit of exhaustion from the long smoke time, I’m having a hard time putting it down with an inch remaining.
While not the most transitionally complex smoke around, the Roberto Duran White Premium’s portfolio of flavors is certainly complex enough to be a thoroughly enjoyable smoke. Although I did have to re-light it once and give it a couple of quick touch-ups, that did not occur with the first two I smoked, so I would judge the construction and burn characteristics to be very good to excellent. The time it took me to smoke this one rather astounded me, so the $9 MSRP is a great value. I will certainly check out the other sizes in this blend, and recommend that those looking for a cigar in this range try out this line as well.
The Jubelale winter seasonal ale from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, OR is one that I’m sure to pick up each year as it comes out. This year’s version seems a bit thicker in the mouth than the ones that I’ve had in the past, and what the reddish brown color would indicate. Roasty malt on entry is backed by smoky coffee along with a bit of dark fruit and caramel. I loved the way that the smoky, roasty flavors reflected those in the White Premium, and the fruit and caramel intermingled nicely. I think that a strong ale or a malt-forward Imperial IPA would be a great match for the Roberto Duran White Premium cigar, as would a smooth Highland Single Malt Scotch or a deeply fruity red wine.