Thursday, July 17, 2008

Belinda Exquisito (Cedar Wrapped)
Size: 6 x 50
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatran
Filler: Dominican/Honduran
Price: $3.00

Belinda is an old Cuban brand that predates Castro and the US embargo. It may now be discontinued in Havana, but it still being made in Honduras by expatriate Estelo PadrĂ³n.

(Estelo is the brother of Jose Padron, who owns the Padron cigar company in Nicaragua. Apparently, the two brothers had a falling out decades ago, and Estelo went to work for Frank Llaneza as the master blender in his Honduran Villazon factory. Estelo is credited with many blends, including the non-cuban incarnation of Punch, Hoyo Excalibur, Sancho Panza, and El Rey del Mundo. Estelo prefers to keep a lower profile than the rest of his family. He doesn't grant interviews, saying "A cigarmaker belongs in his factory making cigars".)

The non-Cuban Belinda line does not appear to be very popular; there is not much information on the internet, nor many reviews in cigar blogs. Mine had some age on it; it came in a heavily yellowed cellophane wrapper. Despite a few minor nicks in the wrapper, it was in good condition. I removed the cedar wrap and discovered a strong, woody pre-light aroma.

The initial light was very flavorful, but the cigar quickly settled into a mild-medium taste with little finish. Very grassy, woody, and floral. It was somewhat overwhelmed by its accompinament: a smoky double shot of Talisker 18-yr single malt. The pair made for an enjoyable afternoon by the pool, but on its own merits, I would rate this a very average cigar. Something I may try again, but would decline to purchase. 5/10.

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