We keep hearing about how bad Cuban tobacco crops have been lately, but there’s no evidence of that here. The wrapper on the Don José is a gorgeous, uniform dark chocolate color that’s dripping with oils. Construction is above average, with relatively little variation from sample to sample. The pre-light aroma is lovely, with notes of hay and antique shop wood but lacking any pungency. Nothing so far says this cigar is overly young or crying out for age.
Supposedly, these are tough to come by. Retailers are prohibited from shipping them out of Italy, but under threat of what specific punishment we don’t know. With 4,000 numbered boxes of 25 flooding a relatively small market, it’s not surprising we had little trouble laying our hands on some. (We won’t divulge the retailer or any other specifics just in case The Man takes this whole ‘exclusive’ thing a lot more seriously than he should.)
These are no bargain, by the way. MSRP is €375 per box, or about $420 US as of this writing. That’s about $17 each for those of you as bad at math as we are. Except due to taxes and currency conversion, we actually paid a hair less than $600 for the box. That's painful.
We might wait and see what happens with these before contemplating a large purchase, since the last La Escepción sat on the shelves and ended up being discounted after a bit, though the market’s somewhat unjustifiably cool reception perhaps had more to do with the panatela format than the cigar itself.
The La Escepción Don José is indeed an excellent cigar—one of the best regional editions we’ve smoked, and something we’d love to see in regular production. We wouldn’t necessarily stretch our budgets to afford these, since they aren’t twice as enjoyable as a lot of regular production robustos. But if you can afford them easily and are in the market for a rich, bracing but refined robusto, these fit the bill perfectly.
Very well rolled with a gorgeous, oily wrapper. Refined pre-light aromas of antique wood. Delicious, complex flavors ranging from perfume to whisky-like. But wow...expensive.