Villiger La Libertad – Guest Cigar Review
Here at Casas Fumando we are always open to guest reviews, and this most recent guest review has come to use from Jeff Oda in Seattle. Jeff has been a long time reader and probably the most active reader/commenter on our site for some time. Over the last few years Jeremy and I have had contact contact with the guy, traded sticks, and even pulled off a few beer trades. Recently he popped up in a guest review of the cigar that I created when I was in Nicaragua at the Drew Estate Cigar Safari last year and then again with an excellent review of Nomad’s Vagabond, one of EO Brands 601 Green Label, and also La Gloria Cubana’s Rabito de Cochino . Please show him some love! – Tony
I hope that everyone had a great and relaxing Labor Day weekend. Tony told me that he was planning on doing nothing, and it seems that he stuck to his word by not posting a review on Monday. Haha, just kidding, man. You no doubt deserved that time to yourself!
The Swiss tobacco concern Villiger Stokkebye is probably best known for their machine rolled, dry cured cigarellos, such as the Export. At least that was my primary exposure to them until I got a hold of a couple of their handmade La Libertads. The La Libertad line has been a popular and highly regarded cigar in Europe for a while now, but was only introduced into the U.S. in 2010. The American version is a totally different blend than what has been available in Europe, though. While the European La Libertad is made in Honduras from Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos, the U.S. blend is comprised of Dominican and Nicaraguan ligeros wrapped in a Peruvian grown Nicaraguan seed binder, and Peruvian grown Habano seed wrapper. It was the Peruvian part of the blend that really intrigued me, as some of my favorite cigars incorporate Peruvian tobacco into their blends. Cigars such as La Aurora’s Guillermo Leon, CyB from Joya de Nicaragua, Maldonado Dynasty’s The Mogul, and the recently released MBombay all utilize Peruvian grown tobaccos in their blends.
La Libertad comes in six sizes:
Short Perfecto – 5.25×54
Robusto – 5×52
Box Pressed Torpedo – 5.5×52
Grand Robusto – 5×56
Massivo – 6×60
Churchill – 6.5×50
So let’s see how well this very affordable stick fares…
Wrapper: Peruvian grown Habano seed
Binder: Peruvian grown Nicaraguan seed
Filler: Ligero from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua
Size: Robusto, 5×52
Smoking time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Pairing: Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin Ale
The Villiger La Libertad is not the prettiest of cigars, but it’ll do. It sports a medium yellowish brown wrapper that is smooth to the touch and is well packed. There are several medium sized veins in evidence, and the wrapper culminates in a rather uneven double cap. The aroma of the wrapper displays a bit of sour and vegetal notes with a very slight barnyard. The scent off the foot is primarily tobacco with a bit of spice. The cut reveals a snug draw with tobacco, sweet spice, some lightly earthy grass, and some peppery zing.
Despite the initial snug draw, La Libertad produces a good amount of smoke and opens with a mix of white and red pepper, grass, faint, citrus, and sweet spice on the tongue. The retrohale has a sharp wasabi-like sinus sting to it, along with cedar and pepper. I do not recommend a heavy retrohale with this one, at least in the first third. The burn has started out unevenly, and the brownish gray ash is fairly flaky and is a bit crumbly. I had to do a correction at 1” in, as the burn had gone off by ¾”. A little farther in, citrus, cinnamon, and a bit of toast have emerged alongside the cedar and pepper, giving a nice complexity. The ash voluntarily and unexpectedly fell off into my ashtray at a little less than 1” before I could get a photo. At the end of the first third, the pepper has faded on the palate, but continues to be a presence on the finish of the retrohale. Unfortunately, the ash continues to flake and crumble, and the burn has again gone crooked on me.
The cinnamon has backed off and has been replaced by more of a nutmeg and coriander type of spice. Cedar is still at the core, but has been joined by earthiness, while the citrus has dissipated. The uneven burn has self-corrected, but ash continues to flower and flake. This is certainly not the tidiest smoke I have ever had, and if I were smoking this indoors, I would be a little annoyed with it. Just after the halfway point, some sweetness returns, along with some light leather notes and the wavy burn.
Down to the wire
The last third starts out with my second correction to the burn and the flavors have become earthier and rather smoky – not charred, more like smoldering hardwood – but a quick purge suppresses those flavors and brings back the sweetness and cedar, while the pepper makes a comeback. This continues until, with about 1-1/4” left, the cigar becomes a little too warm and the flavors begin to wash out, prompting me to put it to rest. I experienced just a little bit of a nicotine hit, but it was nothing that was out of the norm.
The Villiger La Libertad carries some rather unique flavors that may not have quite come through in my review, as I admit that the link between my palate and brain is probably not sophisticated enough to describe the nuances of the experience, but anyone interested in what Peruvian tobacco can bring to the table would do well to pick up on a couple of these to see what it has to offer. The one I had smoked previously actually had a much better burn – although it was still not ideal – and exhibited a bit more creamy smoothness and even some floral spice. The burn didn’t really surprise me, considering that it is mostly comprised of ligero leaves. The price is certainly more than reasonable for the quality and uniqueness of the blend, if you can put up with the flaky ash. I will definitely grab a few more to have on hand.
I decided to pair this cigar with the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale by Seattle brewery Elysian. Although I’m not big on fruit/vegetable flavored beers, this is not one of those dessert type, super sweet and heavy Imperial pumpkin beers. I felt that the nuanced pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices infused into this lightly sweet and slightly sour 5.9% ABV brew would match up well with the citrus and spice of the La Libertad. They did indeed, although the malty IPA I matched it with previously also went quite well with it.