George Rodriguez, owner of Rodrigo cigars and Brett had an event at Federal Cigar in Epping, NH. They had the pre release La Fortaleza available for purchase in bundles along with the other lines. According to George, this cigar is meant to be a full bodied cigar and not sacrifice complexity or flavor. The La Fortaleza will be available in 4 sizes:
“Absoluto” 5 1/8 x 43 $5.99 24 Count Box
“Forte” 5 1/2 x 50 $6.59 24 Count Box
“Cinco 5″ 6 x 56 $7.99 55 Count Box
“Elegante” 6 3/4 x 48 $8.29 24 Count Box
Initial Production Count: 7000 cigars between all 4 sizes
Estimated Release Date: First week of June 2012
Rodrigo La Fortaleza
Wrapper: Dominican Natural Oscuro
Size: 5 1/2 x 50
Days In Humidor: 7
Smoke Time: 1hr 35min
La Fortaleza has a milk chocolate wrapper that isn’t too toothy but has a nice oily sheen that shines very nicely in the Sun. The veins are seamless and the cigar has the right amount of give for a robusto. I didn’t notice any issues with the wrapper in regards to tears or holes and the pigtail on the head has a unique look. Not nearly as long as some of the other cigars out there but it almost looks like a small knot. The band is black and silver with white some in the background. Notice the band for the “Cinco 5″ size is entirely different. This was because the original band didn’t fit as nice as it does on the smaller sizers.
I made an extremely clean cut across the head which led me to believe there was a slight spacing between the cap and binder/filler. Since I make minimal cuts, this could be very well the case. The cold draw was average but would have liked it just a bit tighter. Even with a breeze, the cigar took the flame easily without much effort. The burn throughout the review was almost razor sharp but impressive considering the breeze blowing from right to left. The draw ended up to be very good and the smoke was plentiful. There was always a steady stream even with the cigar resting on the ash tray. The ash itself held very well without any flakiness lasting about an inch or so. Overall, I was very happy with the performance of the La Fortaleza in this category.
The aroma from the wrapper was of tobacco and cedar though after smoking the cigar, I can see how a bit of spice is there as well. However the notes on the foot are definitely stronger similar to oak and red chili pepper. In the initial few draws, there is amazing amount of chili pepper notes with an underlying sweetness. The spicy flavors are strong, but not yet to the point of overwhelming the subtles notes. In the first third, I can already say the cigar is full bodied already. The chili pepper is mixing in well with dark chocolate and nuts. The combination of the flavors is leaving a dry sensation in my mouth while the pepper just lingers until the next draw.
In the second third, the pepper takes a step back while a molasses like flavor and earthiness step forward. Halfway through the second section, the La Fortaleza “Forte” is hitting it’s stride well. One thing very impressive with this cigar is that there was not any bitter or harsh notes in the initial or first part. I bring this up now because I am pleasantly surprised with the flavors yet I’m not overwhelmed by the strength. In the first cigar that I smoked for this review, I tasted creamy notes along with leather though this one has more of a cedar flavor with a slight tartness. In the last third, the spice and pepper tone down a bit more but the strength is still present. With a little less than a inch to go and the Sun bearing down on me, I decided to put the cigar down.
- As George and Brett have stated, this is certainly a full bodied cigar. However, this is probably one of the more flavorful cigars when comparing to other cigars in this category from recent memory.
- This is a STRONG cigar. Certainly not for people who enjoy mild or the occasional medium bodied cigar. But, this cigar is fairly well balanced between the strength and flavor.
- According to George, this cigar is a dominican puro (wrapper/binder/filler all from D.R.). From my own personal experiences, I rarely get the flavors from D.R. that I tasted here. If I smoked the cigar without any background information, I would assumed this cigar was more in line with a Nicaraguan profile.
- The construction and burn were very good and positive aspect of the cigar review. I was certainly impressed as to how the cigar handled itself outdoors with a breeze.
- I think aging will help balance the cigar even more so. As with some of my favorite cigars, a year of rest on the La Fortaleza will make it tremendously more enjoyable and I can see the cigar gaining a point across the board.
- If you are an experienced smoker that enjoys full bodied cigars, I certainly think a five pack of these is warranted before considering a box. For me, I’m more of medium to medium/full bodied type of cigar smoker but I’m certainly happy having purchased a mixed bundle of the corona and robusto sizes.
- Federal Cigar in Epping, NH does have pre-release bundles available for purchase