Monday, May 19, 2008

Vibe Corojo Robusto
Size: 5 x 52
Tobacco: Nicaragua/Honduras
Price: $2.50

After reading good reviews online, I secured a 5-pack of these dark, loosely packed robustos on for $10.95, including shipping. I dryboxed them for a week, then dropped them in the humidor. I was not expecting much, to be honest; they seem to be marketed as an almost-but-not-quite-Rocky Patel off-brand. I have been pleasantly surprised though. The cigars have smooth, dark brown wrappers, with solid construction and problem-free burn. I've tasted distinct coffee flavors throughout the smoke, coupled with a loose draw and robust aroma. The slightly sweet flavor of corojo is there at times, although fleeting. Stronger than I expected, falls somewhere between medium-full. One became bitter at the 1" mark, so I had to let it go sooner than I wanted, but I've nubbed the others.

I investigated the ownership of this brand and it is complicated. The cigars are owned by United Tobacco, a company that up until 2005 was only involved in cigar distribution, not private branding. In 2005, United Tobacco decided to get into the blending/rolling business and hired Rocky Patel to make some cigars in Nestor Plasencia's Honduran factory, where Indian Tabac products are rolled. This partnership produced Vibe and REO, two lines sold under the trademark name "EO Premium Brands". These two lines were be a big hit initially, so United Tobacco approached Pepin Garcia a year later to see what he could do--and thus, 601 Serie cigars were born. 601 has become so popular (along with everything else Pepin makes) it has completely eclipsed the earlier brands. In fact, the United Tobacco web site is now dedicated exclusively to 601 Serie and does not mention Vibe or REO at all. I won't be surprised if Vibe disappears soon, as neither United Tobacco nor Rocky Patel seem interested in promoting it.

If that happens, it will be a shame because Vibe is an worthwhile, underrated $2 cigar.

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