Sunday, January 13, 2008

Don Kiki Red Label Toro
Size: 6 x 52
Tobacco: Nicaraguan Puro
Price: $4 (retail), $1.80 (online)

Henry Kiki Berger is well known in the cigar industry for creating a completely vertically integrated company. He owns the tobacco fields, the rolling factories, and controls his own sales and distribution. In particular, his Don Kiki Brown and Cuban Crafters brands consistently get good reviews at sites like and I bought a bundle of Don Kiki Reds during a sale at Berger's site

Even though the Don Kiki Reds do not seem to get the same sort of praise and attention as his more expensive lines, Berger claimed in this May 2006 interview that it is his favorite cigar. But what caught my attention was snippet about the relationship between 5 Vegas and Red Label. Berger resurrected 5 Vegas (an old Cuban brand) in Esteli, Nicaragua in the 1990’s during the Cigar Boom. 5 Vegas was eventually moved to the La Aurora factory, but Kiki continues to sell his blend under the private label Don Kiki Red. (There is also a Green, a Brown , and a White in the line).

I've smoked about 20 of the 25 cigars in the bundle. They are all very ugly, with veiny, bumpy wrappers. They all share a nice peppery aroma. But in terms of flavor-- well, this cigar is consistently inconsistent. Some have been mild to the point of blandness, others have been very spicy and potent. Some have burned straight with a loose smoky draw; others have had burn problems. Some have had cracked wrappers. I've shared a few with friends, and their reactions (like mine) have ranged from "so-so" to "very good". I gave one friend two of them. After the second, he remarked: "That was very good, maybe because it didn't taste at all like the first one."

I've certainly enjoyed many of the cigars, but I would only expect this lack of consistency in a second. I doubt I'll purchase another bundle.

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