This edition’s highest scoring One-Timer cigars accentuate the originality of their respective Dominican manufacturers. Fuente’s Hemingway Short Story Maduro is the star sampling with a 92+ score. The short perfecto sports Fuente’s most recognizable presentation and smokes as good as it looks. A few months of humidor rest helped the broadleaf-wrapped Fuente shine.
Our second highest scoring stick also features complexity galore resulting from 3+ years of aging. Released in 2008, La Flor Dominicana’s Factory Press III features the fancy cigar crafting that fans of Litto Gomez products have come to expect. The stogie we tasted from the third installment in the FP3 line was coated in plume and smoked brilliantly. Getting the FP3′s extreme press to stay together (much less smoke well) must be a challenge. Our tasting proves that after bringing many unique format concepts to market successfully (i.e. the Chisel and El Jocko) LFD was up to the task.
The 90+ rated La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003 also deserves extra mention as a growing appreciation of Dominican super-premiums continues here at HLC world headquarters. We’ve put down several of these Solomons and each rated highly.
Fuente Hemingway Short Story Maduro
The Short Story vitola may be the most identifiable format in Fuente’s Hemingway series. Smallest in the line of perfectos, the seasonally released maduro Short Story presents well balanced flavors and good construction. No serious Fuente collection is complete without this distinctive small smoke. Rating: 92.2
La Flor Dominicana Factory Press III
Our La Flor Dominicana Factory Press III had 4+ years of age and tons of plume when we picked it up from a local B&M’s hidden stash of trays. The aged cigar’s flavors are rich with complexity and depth. Spice starts at nearly zero and builds to a near-extreme finish. Earth and expresso notes figure prominently but a wealth of unique flavors exude from this sharply pressed gordo. Rating: 92.1
La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003
The La Aurora Puro Vintage 2003 is a big, spongy stick that burns quick. Along with the similarly themed ’08 & ’09 La Verite churchills, this solomon has become a go-to stick when time allows for a larger smoke. The Puro Vintage flavor core features a dry sweetness identifiable in many Dominicans. A medium-mild strength profile facilitates big retrohales bursting with flavor and ample smoke. Body, strength and smoke density build throughout the length of this Solomon, producing a satisfying experience. Rating: 92.0
Padilla Signature 1932 Churchill
This is the best sample from a batch of Padilla Signature 1932 Churchills (with the new black and gold bands) recently added to the HLC collection. Nothing but the band design has reportedly changed with this cigar that appeared in our 2011 Cigars of the Year list. In addition to the top 10 overall appearance, this churchill also won best value honors. MSRP is on the high side, but deep discounts are easy to find online. Although we prefer the old band’s design, the new two-color “lion-head” presentation is fine. The Signature 1932 Churchill performs well with no touchups required after long pauses between puffs. Flavors are best described as savory Nicaraguan with herbal, peppery notes on the finish. Rating: 89.4
CAO OSA Sol Lot 50
This is an attractive robusto with an oily wrapper showing only minute veins. The robusto’s burn line is remarkably straight and thin. Except for the tight draw, all construction elements are exemplary. The mild, sweet flavor core is overwhelmed by sour notes too often. Rating: 85.8