October 13, 2013

Azan White Label Robusto (4 7/8 x 50)

Video review HERE.
Roberto Pelayo Duran began his life’s work in his homeland of Havana, Cuba where tobacco grabbed a hold of him, and never let go. Supervising the production of cigar manufacturing in Cuba was only the beginning as he later went on to assemble and manage distribution of all Cuban cigar brands for Asia and Canada for The Pacific Cigar Company Ltd. After various high level positions in the tobacco industry Roberto’s new venture gives him the platform to introduce a brand of cigars that offer the same quality, construction, and detail which he exceeded from those he supervised while in Cuba.
One interesting thing about the Azan brand is it was the only Cuban brand made by Chinese immigrants.
Kwan Ben Sen and his two brothers migrate from China to Havana, Cuba, to eventually settle in Manicaragua, the center of Cuba.
Kwan adopts the Cuban name: Domingo Azan and he is soon known by Cubans as the ‘Chinese from Manicaragua’. Together with his sons and nephews he starts to produce hand made cigars. The cigars become very well known in the region, using long filler tobacco leaves from Hoyo de Manicaragua, which is considered one of the top tobacco region in Cuba.
Luck is on Mr Azan’s side, he wins the national lottery. He invests the money into building a state-of-the-art cigarette factory. It soon becomes the main source of local employment and the biggest infrastructure in the region. The factory’s high quality products conquer the region rapidly.
Post 1961
After the Cuban Revolution in 1959 the former Azan factory becomes part of the state runned “Empresa de Tabaco Torcido Villa Clara, Manicaragua”. They produce high quality Cuban cigars for export. The town museum, across the street from the factory, features many items from the cigar factory including cigar and cigarettes packages and advertising materials.
Year of the Dragon. The come-back of the only Cuban cigar brand with Chinese roots.
Wrapper:    High quality Cuban seed Corojo, grades 5 & 6 from Ecuador
Filler:         Especially selected leaf from Jalapa, Esteli in Nicaragua and a special leaf from Matafina, Brazil
Binder:       Nicaragua
The cigar has a nice feel in the hand. It has a nice density.

The test draw after cutting the cap was effortless. The initial flavors were lots of dry oak with some sort of sweetness. After a minute or two the cigar transitioned into a sweet cedar with some creamy overtones, dry oak, and pepper at a 6 to 7 rating. The cigar is burning very evenly at this point.

About 1/2 inch in the cigar has settled down into one of  sweet cedar, somewhat bitter grapefruit citrus, oak notes, earth, and black pepper. The finish is a sweet cream with some lingering pepper. The cigar is medium bodied. The cigar continues to burn fairly evenly.

At the 1 1/2 inch point I had to touch up the cigar. I hate to do this as I am a firm believer in letting the cigar self correct. In this case I decided to touch it up and you can see this in the picture. The flavors have changed a little. You now have a rich, sweet cedar and nutmeg combination, dry oak, and coffee. The earthiness is now giving more of a coffee flavor with a touch of earth. The cigar is still medium bodied. The finish is a more sweeter cream with plenty of lingering pepper. You can feel it on your palate.

At the band the cedar notes are continuing but the nutmeg has tailed off. The oak notes are now charred and have really elevated. The coffee notes continue to hold the base. The flavors in this cigar are making numerous small changes frequently. At times I get a fruity plum flavor but it comes and goes. I would still call the cigar medium bodied.

With only about 1 1/2 inches left the cigar has moved to the medium to full bodied point. The flavors are unchanged for the most part. Again, the flavors make micro changes all the time. This makes the cigar interesting. The finish is unchanged but the finish is very good!

The cigar ended with a nice sweet, slightly rich cedar with some cream notes. I have not noticed the cream notes since the beginning of the cigar. The oak notes are still prominent and the coffee continues to hold the base. The pepper elevated to at least a 7. The finish remained unchanged and was a highlight of the cigar. The numerous changes in this cigar kept it interesting. I would call this a complex cigar. Roberto Duran has done a good job with this cigar and it is well worth trying.

Score: 91

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