Villiger Talanga Toro
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. You guys should all be well aware of Jeff by now, but if you aren’t, 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, La Gloria Cubana’s Rabito de Cochino, Villiger’s La Libertad, Bonita Smoke Shop’s Time Warp Big Ben, Nomad C-276 Torpedo, L’Atelier Extension de la Racine ER13, Bodega Reunión Aperitivo and Digestivo by Bodega Premium Blends, Viva Republica Propaganda Disinformation, Toraño Vault D-042, and his most recent review of the Viaje Black 50/50. He’s been racking them in, and at this rate we should be considering making him a regular! Please show him some love! – Tony
Villiger, the Swiss cigar company, continues to turn out premium handmade cigars in addition to their machine-made cigars, and is making a strong push to get their products to a wider market in the U.S. The Talanga is one of the newer blends, coming out a couple of years ago. I reviewed the La Libertad last year, and liked it quite a bit, so I’ve been looking forward to trying out this Connecticut seed wrapped line.
The Talanga is made by Plasencia at their factory in Nicaragua, and consists of a Honduran wrapper, and binder and filler from Nicaragua. The retail prices range from $7.35 – $9.50 and come in six sizes:
Selecto Corona Gorda: 5×46
Double Robusto: 5.5×54
I was sent this particular Talanga by the folks at Famous Smoke Shop as a freebie with an order that I had placed a little while back, so this will be the first of the line that I will have smoked.
Wrapper: Honduran Talanga Connecticut seed
Binder: Nicaraguan Jalapa Seco Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan from Esteli, Condega, and Ometepe
Size: Toro 6×50
Price: $8.50 MSRP
Smoking time: One hour, thirty minutes
Pairing: Deschutes Red Chair Pale Ale – 6.2% ABV
The Villiger Talanga comes draped in a rich golden tan wrapper with a nice sheen to it. A few small veins are present, but do not stand out, and the wrap is virtually seamless, leading to a nicely appointed double cap. The white, gold, and red bands are fairly simple and elegant, giving a very nice presentation. This is a firmly packed stick, with little give when gently squeezed. The wrapper smells of grass, faint sour barnyard, and very light cedar. The foot gives off a scent of lightly earthy tobacco. Cutting the cap leads to a fairly snug draw, so I give it an additional snip, which alleviates the tightness somewhat. I can now taste a lightly sweet grassiness, earth, and tobacco.
The Talanga takes a good long toasting to get going, and the first puffs reveal a slightly sweet and bitter herbal spice along with a smooth cedar. The sweetness soon fades and the smoke takes on a dry, woody character. After an inch, the cedar is the primary flavor component, backed by some of the herbaceousness. It is so far mild and smooth, but not creamy, and just a tickle of pepper has shown up. The burn has been great so far; not razor sharp, but even, as I tap off the first ash at 1-3/4”.
As I enter the second third of the Villiger Talanga, the flavors have suddenly picked up, along with an added bit of pepper. The cedar and herbal notes continue to drive the flavor, but there is now a sweet bread note lurking in the background. The smoke has taken on a fuller, rounder texture, although it is still no more than a high mild. Nearing the halfway point, the pepper has been playing peekaboo, and the smoke has approached the creamy stage as the cigar continues to burn beautifully. It does churn out a pretty serious amount of resting smoke, though.
Into the final third of the Villiger Talanga, a slight bit of char has appeared, along with a touch of bitter coffee, but the wood remains the focal point of the flavors. Surprisingly, in the final inch and a half, the bitterness has dropped out, making it so much easier to take it down to the last ¾”.
I’m a little torn on this one. The construction of the Villiger Talanga is top notch, and it’s a terrific looking cigar. Once lit, I never had to even think about picking up my lighter, as it burned as well as you could ever want a cigar to burn. On the other hand, I found the flavors to be wanting just a bit. A little more of the sweetness and less of the bitterness would be greatly appreciated. Being that this was my only experience with the Talanga, and reading other reviews of it, I would have to believe that my experience was somewhat out of the norm. I do have a robusto sitting, so I’m looking forward to lighting that one up to see if the one I had was an aberration. I can certainly see what they were trying to do with this cigar, matching the Nicaraguan filler and binder with Connecticut smoothness and sweetness, and I think that I will also be picking up on the smaller ring gauges (especially the lancero) to see if the greater wrapper ratio would make a difference in the smoke. As always, trying to judge a cigar on a single experience can be misleading. I’ve had many a smoke that didn’t do it for me on the first try that I have come to really enjoy.
Not having had the Villiger Talanga before, I reached out to local Villiger rep Ed Ryan for a suggestion on what to pair with it, and he came back with pale ale, kolsch, or a wit. So pale ale it is!
The Red Chair Pale Ale by Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon is a late winter/early spring seasonal that I have come to look forward to each year. Smooth and malty with a clean finish, it goes down easily and is just plain enjoyable to drink. The maltiness of the Red Chair is a fine foil for the Talanga, although I’m thinking that a sweeter and fruitier Weissbier, such as the Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier that I paired with the Bonita Smoke Shop Time Warp Big Ben, might be an even better match. Of course, a sweetened coffee in the morning would also be a go-to pairing for this cigar.