I like smoking and reviewing expensive cigars as much as the next guy, but there’s something special about a deceptively good $2 cigar. That’s why I picked up an Occidental Reserve Robusto Natural for this week’s review. These modestly-priced sticks are made in Henke Kelner’s factory in the Dominican Republic with USA Connecticut wrapper and binder leaves and an entirely long-leaf Dominican filler blend. Seems like a pretty tall order for a $2.30 cigar, but to my surprise, this stogie delivered.
This stout robusto looked great—the wrapper was elastic enough to endure the firmness test without cracking, and had only one prominent vein. I thought this might interfere with the burn, but this cigar burned flawlessly from start to finish. The pre-light draw was mellow and grassy with a hint of pepper on the aftertaste.
After toasting the foot for a few seconds, this thing was ready to go. The draw, despite being a bit firm, delivered nicely-sized plumes of smoke with little effort. The first few puffs tasted like buttered toast with a little bit of pepper and some boozy sweetness on the finish.
Further into the smoke, the pepper got a little more intense, though the finish stayed very clean. The smoke also got a lot creamier with a little bit of mint on the draw, which reminded me of the Griffins Short Robusto. I’m not sure exactly what produces that mint note, but I get it more often with lighter-wrapped cigars than with darker ones.
As I neared the end of the cigar, which was still somewhat firm despite the heat from the cherry, the spice went a little beyond what I’d normally expect from a lighter-wrapped smoke. While this cigar never got hot or bitter, it started to burn a bit hot when there was around an inch left, so I set down the nub.
I have to say that for just over $2 per stick, this is one of the better cigars I’ve smoked. I didn’t get any of that bitter, prickly ammonia that I’ve gotten from other bundled stogies, particularly Connecticut-wrapped ones, and it stayed smooth all the way to the end. I’d recommend this to any smoker who wants more bang for his or her buck, and I definitely wouldn’t mind smoking a few more of these in the future.