It’s often debated whether or not limited cigars are all they’re cracked up to be. The logic goes something like, “They’re limited because they’re using rare tobaccos, which are not grown on a large enough scale to be used in regular-production lines.” It makes some sense, even if the concept has been recycled to the point where it’s not always true.
In 2021, Aganorsa Leaf offered a different approach to the limited cigar narrative with the Aganorsa Leaf Rare Leaf Reserve. Instead of choosing between limited-edition tobaccos or regular availability, the company split the baby and offered limited-grade tobaccos on a regular(ish) basis. In part, this was made possible by the company’s massive agricultural operation throughout Nicaragua (typically considered one of the top two growers of premium Nicaraguan tobacco); i.e., when you have all the tobacco in the world (or Nicaragua) at your disposal, you’re able to set aside enough of the limited stuff for yourself to do some damage. But there’s also the more practical side of the equation, as Aganorsa made the cigars available exclusively to their top retail accounts, restricting distribution just enough to where the cigars feel limited yet attainable.
Aganorsa let the line breath for a year before returning earlier this year with the Rare Leaf Reserve Maduro. As has become expected from the company, the addition swapped the wrapper of the original for a Mexican San Andrés maduro leaf, being described as “the boldest expression of Aganorsa’s signature flavor to date.” Like the original, the cigars feature tobaccos from select lots on their best farms, including leaves harvested from the Jalapa and Estelí growing regions of Nicaragua, which are used throughout a double binder and filler recipe.
Click images below for full resolution
Rare Leaf Reserve Maduro Toro Breakdown
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Factory: Aganorsa Leaf (Nicaragua)
Production: Small Batch
Vitola: 6? × 54 (Toro)
Price: $14.00 (MSRP)
After being announced in April, the cigars shipped to retailers in May, arriving in three sizes. Notably, the lineup swapped the 6? x 60 Titan size of the original blend for a box-pressed belicoso.
Robusto: 5¼” x 52 | $13.50
Toro: 6? x 54 | $14.00
Belicoso (box-pressed): 6? x 52 | $14.50
The new blend also brought a new look for the line, which was ported over to the original Rare Leaf Reserve as well. This included a move away from the baseball-inspired “Aganorsa” font that was first seen on the Aganorsa Leaf Signature Selection (which has also now been replaced), as well as satin bands (as opposed to the thicker matte-finished bands first seen in 2021). The two Rare Leaf cigars are differentiated by black/gold bands for the Maduro and red/gold on the original blend.
In terms of the cigar itself, the Rare Leaf Reserve Maduro is on the lighter side of maduro in hue. It has a fine-grit tooth to its texture, beginning with a nice triple cap and working its way down with well-placed wrapper seams. It feels sturdy with a gentle squeeze, giving the impression of a medium-firm bunch density. On the nose, the wrapper offers mineral, musk, and leather. The foot leans toward aromas of dark fruits (like Fruit Roll-Ups), soil, and nutmeg—though none of these are especially aromatic. The pre-light draw is on the firm side, having flavors of earth, black pepper (which tingles the tongue for a good while after each non-lit puff), and an interesting pork rinds quality.
Click images below for full resolution
The toro starts off with a sharp black pepper blast, leaving mineral flavor through the finish. This only intensifies with added draws, being a good wakeup call to start the experience. However, the cigar begins to settle after a few minutes, pulling back on spice (though not necessarily on punchiness) with a good dose of fairly sweet Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts. There’s plenty of earth as well, though not in the overly dark and/or bitter way that maduros are sometimes associated with. It’s a sweet earth that doesn’t fatigue the palate, leading way to added notes of mocha and an occasional toffee-like finish.
Unfortunately, the draw is not much better than the pre-light experience, causing a bit more effort than I’d like (about 8.5/10 in terms of resistance). This translates to the smoke output with medium-light (which is better than the draw would have you believe) puffs of smoke on each draw. There is a nice sweetness on the tongue from the cut tobaccos themselves, being clean on the palate and seeming to hit the tongue on the tip, back, and sides—it’s a somewhat mouthwatering texture overall. The construction of the cigar excels, offering a straight burn and a densely packed medium-gray ash that’s not flaky, clinging on to the cigar for at least an inch and a half. Through the first third of the cigar, the profile is near full in flavor, medium in strength, and medium-full in body.
I find myself retrohaling more than usual with this smoke, allowing for virtually 100% retrohales on two or three repetitions at a time without overheating or becoming sharp. The profile is nicely balanced between dark and sweet, having loads of vanilla-chocolate qualities in addition to a solid backbone of back pepper and mineral. In addition to the sweetness, there’s a lingering cooled tingle on the tongue, sometimes coming across like chocolate menthol. And while the draw can cause for a thin smoke, there are bursts of texture-filled smoke as well, standing out with a deep mocha sweetness that really keeps you engaged.
The halfway mark sees a turn towards darker flavors, adding a little bitterness to the equation. Additionally, the draw seems to tighten its grip in this region, being a bit tiresome as you search for those gooey-sweet components of the cigar’s former self. Earth and black pepper begin to take back over, though the toro retains enough sweetness to feel cohesive, dangling a chocolate-covered coffee bean flavor on the finish like a carrot-and-stick reward. This portion sees the overall profile balance out, being medium-plus in flavor, medium-plus in strength, and medium-full in body.
The Rare Leaf Reserve Maduro amplifies its toastiness through the finale, bringing in charred oak, earth, black pepper, and burnt nutmeg. The cigar never gives up on sweetness, however, and an interesting root-like spice combines with sweet vanilla to create a root beer flavor that caught me off guard. While on the bitter side, the cigar never becomes harsh or rough, finishing with dark chocolate, earth, root, and touches of clove. It’s medium-plus in flavor, medium-full in strength, and medium-full in body through the final puffs.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Affirmative. While the draw is a bit firm and the experience isn’t quite as consistent between smoking samples as I’d like, the Rare Leaf Reserve Maduro still offers the chewy-sweet maduro goodness that (in my opinion) most enthusiasts crave. I’ve smoked all of the sizes, and I find that the toro and belicoso are about neck and neck, with the robusto lagging just a step behind.
Flavor: Near Full
Body: Medium / Full
Smoke Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Pairing Recommendation: Cuban espresso | Milk stout | Root beer | Bourbon (100–115 proof)
Purchase Recommendation: Box
Sweet and refreshing flavor is easy to loveHas some unique moments, with flavors of rich-textured mocha and root beerStays enjoyable to the end, not becoming harsh
Draw is on the firm side, especially in second halfA little inconsistent between samples
Originally posted on August 11, 2023 @ 6:17 am