Tabacalera Artista has been in the cigar industry since 1956 and mainly produces cigars for private labels. They produce about 6million cigars every year. As well as rolling cigars, they also wholesale tobacco to many companies each year. They have about 950 acres of tobacco grown on their farm each year. Recently, they decided to make a few blends to call their own: Exactus – “The most valuable reserve of Tabacalera El Artista.” The Exactus lines come in three different blends, the Classico, Maduro & Habano. I received a cigar of each blend from El Artista and am going to try out the Habano line.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Dominican wine fermented Criollo 98
Filler: Dominican Criollo 98
Cost: $3.20 (via box price from Cigarstix.com)*
5×54 – Robusto, 6×60 – Coloso, 6×50 – Toro, 6.5×53 – Torpedo, 7×50 Churchill. All come in boxes of 20 and 3pk samplers. They also released a “Super Coloso” at IPCPR Show that was a 90 ring gauge cigar that looked to be around 10″ or so.
The Ecaudorian Habano wrapper that covers this cigar has a dark tan shade of brown to it. There are a few veins here and there and tight rolled seems. No major hard or soft spots with a nice weight to it. Overall no construction issues to the cigar. The wrapper had a nice and strong hay or straw aroma to it. The foot had an even stronger similar hay/straw note as well. There was a very slight hint of a cinnamon spice aroma in the foot as well.
The band is not fancy, nor plain, more middle of the line when it comes to design. There are some scroll work and the “Exactus” name across the head band. The foot band of the cigar is no where near the looks of the head band. It is more simpler and reads: “Reserva de Gala’’ meaning saved for a special occasion.
A straight cut revealed the same hay/straw flavors as detected in the foot and wrapper aromas. They were not as potent as they were in the foot and wrapper aromas though. The cold draw was a little bit on the looser side of perfect, but not enough to cause any alarm to go off in my head.
The cigar produced a fair amount of smoke from the slightly loose draw. The draw was a tad bit lesser than perfect for me, but never created an issue with the performance of the cigar. The room note produced was not bad, nor good more or the less so-so. The off-white and gray ashes held for a good bit over the one inch mark from a fairly even burn line. There was a tunnel that appeared around the half way mark in the cigar. I understand the entubar rolling process can create such tunnels periodically. But I don’t think this was the case, although it could have been the case. Either way, the tunnel lasted the rest of the last half of the cigar, but never created an issue with the smoking of the cigar.
After I let the foot cool from the lighting process, I got notes of a wood and an odd twang associated with it. In the background of the smoke, I got hints here and there of a light coffee note. Later on into the cigar, the twang seemed to start dying off, which was good to me as I didn’t particularly care too much for the twang. Once this happened, a hint of a black pepper spice arose on the front half of the smoke with the wood. The coffee still lingered periodically on the latter half of the smoke. The coffee note reminded me of one of my favorite coffees; Sumatra. The coffee note wasn’t a key player in the smoke and was short lived on the finish, but I did like it more than the wood and pepper mix.
Going into the middle third of the cigar is when I noticed the void in the foot. But like I said previously, it didn’t seem to effect the smoke much if any. The twang of the wood is now non-existent and left the same key flavors (wood, coffee and slight black pepper) of the first third left to shine. Past the halfway point, the coffee flavor got a little bitter in a sense. It was not bitter enough to be much of an issue to me. Maybe this was caused by the tunnel, maybe it wasn’t.
The last third, the black pepper seemed to rise up in strength. But not enough to overpower the wood and coffee. I also started to notice some of the nuances of the wine fermented tobacco in the last inch or so. I am not a big wine fan, but I could taste some of the wine flavors in the smoke. This was certainly a differently interesting flavor to add to a cigar’s flavor. The last third was the most complex of the entire cigar. The single flavors were in and out almost with each draw. It was almost to the point to being too complex for my likings. The coffee note started lingering more on the finish of the cigar more than before. Eventually the coffee note got too bitter for my likings and laid the cigar down to rest with about an inch left.
Overall an upper medium bodied smoke with medium flavor strength. Would go nicely with a cup of coffee that is not too bold in strength or flavor. Had nice flavors with a surprise of the wine nuances in the smoke. Not too overpowering, or complex but did have some good amount of complexity.
*This cigar was provided to me, unsolicited, from El Artista Cigars, for this review. Many thanks to them for the opportunity to review this cigar!