Cigar Review: Summer 2020

by Steve Rowbottom

Alec & Bradley Gatekeeper Robusto
Dominican Republic               5.0” x 50                 Medium                95-Rated

I’ll start with this: I do not agree with Cigar Aficionado’s 91-point rating. As you can see above, I score it much higher. The dark, Ecuador wrapper is thick and chewy, offering a lovely spicy-sweetness to the leathery, oaky undertones produces by the Dominican and Nicaraguan tobaccos within. I find the cigar medium in strength but quite full-flavored, with a complexity that changes throughout the slow burn. Each Gatekeeper Robusto opens and ends with a blast of red pepper, bookending a smooth, balanced profile.

Ave Maria Lionheart Chancellor
Nicaragua                      5.9” x 60                      Full             94-Rated


I love the smooth, elegant profile Ave Maria delivers. I also love the bold, eventful flavors AJ Fernandez can create. Lionheart skillfully combines these two profiles inside a 60-ring Gordo that burns slow and true. I get a wealth of flavor, including coffee bean, sweet cedar, white pepper and black tobacco. At several times throughout the 60+ minute burn-time, I pick up some stone fruit nuances. All the while, the finish is long and zesty, with thick, aromatic smoke that adds to the experience.

Nica Libre x AGANORSA Robusto
Nicaragua             5.0” x 50               Mellow-Full                 94-Rated

This Nicaraguan puro puts Nicaraguan tobaccos on full display. The milk chocolate brown wrapper is smooth and oily, while the dark tobaccos beneath offer a pre-light aroma that’s both barnyard and pepper. Each Robusto I burn coats my taste buds with bitter cocoa and roasted coffee. The subtle yet long aftertaste dusts my palate with spicy notes and more cocoa. The velvety mouthfeel is enjoyable, to say the least, adding a layer of complexity that sets this cigar apart from other puros.

Padilla Single Batch: Barrel Proof Toro
Nicaragua                    6.0” x 54                       Medium-Full                         93-Rated

I’ve had a lot of Padilla cigars during my illustrious tenure as an avid cigar enthusiast, but few have burned quite like the Barrel Proof blend. The flavor profile is unique. A hearty core of flavors that are both smokey and sweet, with an oakiness that clings to the palate. The San Andres wrapper lends a dense earthiness, while the Ometepe long-fillers create a soothing strength that’s felt behind the eyes. This cigar is incredibly unique and ultimately satisfying.

Rocky Patel The Edge Barrel-Aged Toro
Honduras                     6.0” x 52                           Medium-Full                      95-Rated

Don’t judge me for rating two cigars with barrel in the name. As a beer lover, I’m sold on anything ‘barrel.’ I’m also sold on this new Edge variety. Full-bodied and full-flavored, much of the tobacco used to craft this Habano-wrapped Honduran have been aged in bourbon barrels. The result is an elegant display of powerful flavors, including sweet oak, charred oak, leather and earth. The finish is a peppery sweetness, almost like caramel. There’s a lot going on, but it’s balanced, and I enjoy it immensely.

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