Monday, March 22, 2010

My Weekend Cigar: La Flor Dominicana Air Bender


This has got to be one of the most frustrating cigar reviews I've ever written.

First of all, I received two La Flor Dominicana Air Bender cigars from a co-worker that attended the ProCigar Festival last month in the Dominican Republic. Secondly, I'm not sure if the Air Bender I reviewed was the "Guerrero" at 6¼" x 54, or the "Maestro" at 5½" x 52, because my sample measured 6" x 52 which is somewhere between both of them. The band only says "Air Bender," so I can't say exactly which model the cigar actually was. Whatever, the blend is the same and the sizes are so close, for the purposes of this review it probably doesn't matter that much. Finally, as a big fan of La Flor Dominicana cigars, I was expecting something a lot different than what I experienced. So, with that long-winded preface behind me, let's get to the cigar.

The appearance of the Air Bender was stunning. The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, which has been used on some other La Flor models, glistened with a dark, oily sheen. The all Dominican filler & binder tobaccos were perfectly packed from top to bottom. The cap clipped cleanly and the cold draw had a strong flavor of molasses with a little nutmeg in the mix.

Once lit, the smoke offered a redolent floral character, and the first few puffs had some peppery spice, but that faded quickly. The taste, however, was bittersweet with a spicy, caramel-like flavor squeaking in through the first inch. But as the cigar turned the corner into the second inch it faded to a bland, woody taste.

Time-out. I thought if I paired it with a sweet Port, that might help bring out some of the lost flavor. My friend Richard, who I smoked with on his deck yesterday, suggested Inniskillin Vidal Ice Wine 2006 from Canada. I enjoyed it immensely, but it really didn't help the cigar improve.

By the middle of the second act I couldn't help but notice that one of the best attributes of this cigar was the ash (see photo). It held on for almost three inches before hitting the deck. At this point I was getting a weak, spicy-cedary flavor with some nuttiness on the finish. The only sweetness at all was coming from the wine. In the meantime, I kept remarking to Richard that the cigar had no flavor.

Suffice it to say, I smoked the cigar down to about an inch; after all, I didn't want to give up, but by the end I was utterly nonplussed.

To be fair, before writing this review I researched some other reviews of these cigars to see if I was crazy. Most commented on the early spiciness of the Air Bender, the caramel notes, the nutty-woody flavors, particularly in the last act, etc. However, I found a Stogie.com video review of the Air Bender "Matatan" (5"x 50) by Brian Hewitt and Rich Meade. Sho'nuf, Brian and I had the exact same experience (I believe he called the cigar "wishy-washy"), while Rich found a lot more flavors in his sample.

So, the jury's out until I smoke the second one. In the meantime, if you've already partaken, please share your La Flor Dominicana Air Bender experience with me by leaving a comment.

~ Gary Korb

3 comments:

dmj said...

I had a much different experience with the Air Bender. I got notes of coffee, earth, and leather along with a great spiciness early on and some nicotine kick near the end.

My full review is here:
http://tinyurl.com/ye84v3m

Cigar Advisor said...

Thanks. I'll check it out, too.

jcollert said...

I just had my first Airbender (6x60 model) and I thought it was very nice. My mom, who was sitting with me outside in the yard, even remarked how good it smelled. She is not one to usually like the smell and usually sits upwind. It was full bodied and held its own all the way down to the nub. My suggestion is to try another one.