Out of all of the manufacturers who released new blends at this year’s IPCPR trade show, I have to say that Pete Johnson’s were the ones that peaked my interest the most. In particular, La Casita Criolla seemed like it could turn out to be one of this year’s best, and at the very least, most unique cigars, judging from the fact that it’s made entirely with Connecticut Broadleaf tobacco. This week my curiosity got the best of me, and I was lucky enough to snag a stick of the petite corona-sized La Casita Criolla H.C.B. for review.
The very first thing that caught my eye about this pint-sized cigar was that the wrapper was incredibly mottled and toothy and had some of the biggest veins I’d ever seen, especially for such a small size. At first glance, the roll seemed pretty rugged, and being the skeptic that I am, I expected this to cause some burn problems. Upon closer inspection, though, the construction was nothing less than you’d expect from one of Pete Johnson’s cigars. The stick was solid from head to foot, the triple cap was well-applied, and once I clipped it, the pre-light draw was very generous. Practically drooling from hints of cocoa, pepper, sweet cedar, and black coffee, I took out my torch and toasted away.
Right away, this cigar gave off surprisingly smooth smoke, especially considering the all-Connecticut Broadleaf blend. The first flavors I picked up were black pepper, woody sweetness, and a very faint hint of candied, black cherry sweetness. My concerns about the construction were quickly put to rest as this cigar not only lit incredibly easily, but burned straight-as-can-be right from the beginning.
About halfway through, the ash was still hanging on, and the flavors lingered around coffee and cocoa with a little bit of leather and burnt caramel on the retrohale. Not even a half inch further, the coffee and cocoa melded perfectly into the most screamingly recognizable mocha flavor I’d ever experienced. This, along with the creamy, clinging texture of the smoke, reminded me of coffee ice cream.
In the last third, the complexity of this rugged little cigar ramped up considerably. The coffee component of the mocha flavor drifted off, leaving behind a sweet, mellow milk chocolate note. This was complemented by a recognizable fruit sweetness, which was somewhere between blackberries and black cherries (I couldn’t really decide which). In the background was sweet cedar, leather, and a couple of other distinctly savory flavors I couldn’t really put my finger on. Right before I set down the 3/4” nub, I made note of the burn, which was still perfect.
If you were hesitant to try La Casita Criolla because of its all-Broadleaf blend, I can’t stress enough that this is not nearly as fearsome of a stogie as its blend lets on. Considering the strength that these leaves are known for, the cigar was amazingly smooth and mellow, with just the right amount of kick to pair it with a good brew (for this one, I’d recommend a mellower stout). I’ll eventually be picking up a few more of these, but before then, I’ll be reviewing Pete Johnson’s other 2011 IPCPR release, Fausto, in the near future, so keep an eye out for that one. In the meantime, get your hands on a few of these sticks and don’t fear the Broadleaf!