Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Weekend Cigar: Santa Rosa Toro

By Gary Korb

One of the best things about being in the premium cigar business is you get to try most of the new cigars before they hit the stands. Such was the case this past weekend when I got an unexpected glimpse at the newly blended and repackaged Santa Rosa cigar selection. Gone is the old familiar black label with the rose in the middle. Instead, the folks at Altadis U.S.A. glammed it up with a more upscale-looking gold and yellow-embossed band circumscribed by tiny roses.

Santa Rosa has always been a very good, value-priced Honduran cigar, yet somewhat underrated, because it's one of those cigars that's better-known to those who've discovered it more by word-of-mouth than by marketing.

The new Santa Rosa cigars, which I was assured will be arriving in stores shortly, are still made in Honduras (now at La Flor de Copan) with a richer tasting blend consisting of Honduran and Nicaraguan longfiller, Honduran binder, and an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper. The wrapper on my Toro sample was very attractive (complemented nicely by the new band), well-rolled, and the cigar itself was packed firmly. The pre-lit draw was just right; the cigar toasted up nice and evenly, and burned well, too.

The first few draws were surprisingly spicy (not your father's Santa Rosa) but given a quarter of an inch or so, the cigar rounded out to a well-balanced, mild to medium-bodied smoke dominated by a toasty-nutty flavor with just an undercurrent of spiciness - and it remained consistent from that point on, too.

For those of you who've been missing their old Santa Rosas, or never smoked the former blend, I think you're going to be very impressed with the new model. They're even keeping the price reasonable, averaging from $3.60 - $4.20 SRP in six sizes, plus a 6" x 48 Tubo at $4.50.

Good job. See 'ya soon!

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