Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Retro-Smoke: Puros Indios No.1 Especiale

By Gary Korb

This is the first in a series of columns I've titled "Retro-Smoke." What's a retro-smoke? A retro-smoke is a cigar that I (or you, for that matter) have returned to after a very long hiatus; in some cases, years.

My debut retro-smoke is the Puros Indios No.1 Especiale, a traditional-sized, 7" x 48 Churchill. Introduced in 1995, Puros Indios cigars were one of the very first Honduran-made cigars I ever smoked, and they remain at the top of the Honduran heap for their consistently good construction, oily wrappers, and rich, earthy flavor.

I remember my first box of Puros Indios, too. I ordered a box of the No.4 Especiale because it had received a very high score in Cigar Aficionado magazine. From there, I went on to try several others in their main line, including the No.1, which I found particularly satisfying.

Ironically, except for the rare and potent Puros Indios Double Fuerte Special Edition, which features an Honduran Corojo wrapper, their cigars don't contain Honduran tobacco. The tobaccos, which consist of Sumatra-seed wrappers grown in Ecuador, fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Brazil, and an Ecuadorian binder, are blended by hand under the guidance of master blender, Don Rolando Reyes.

"I maintain the Cuban tradition of old in as much of what we do here as possible," Don Rolando said in a 2000 Smokeshop magazine interview. Whatever he does to create their unique flavor, he'll never say. All I can say is, it's one helluva recipe.

Somehow, as time went on and I began trying more cigars, I drifted away from the brand. I came into my recent No.1 Especiale a couple of weeks ago, when Puros Indios Marketing Director, Frank Santos handed me one at the Famous Smoke Shop B-B-Q Bash. I fired it up about a week ago and all those wonderful Puros Indios memories came rushing back. What I also like about the No.1 is it offers a cooler smoke due to its 7" length, and the 48 ring provides plenty of dark, earthy and sweet tobacco flavors with just the right amount of spice on the finish. All-in-all, a wonderfully well-balanced premium cigar that goes back in my favorites list. Thanks Frank!

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