Bite Size Review: Guillermo León Family Reserve
For those not familiar with Guillermo León, the lion’s head on the label should tip you off. La Aurora, baby. Only the oldest operating cigar factory in the Dominican Republic. La Aurora was founded by Eduardo León Jimenes in 1903 and 2 generations later his grandson, Guillermo León Herbert, is now the standard-bearer. The lion icon on the band is representative of the original “lying lion” designed for the first La Aurora cigar bands incorporated back in the 1920s. Why a lion? Well, the name León is Spanish for ‘lion.’ The León family has been very shrewd in business over the decades from signing production agreements with the likes of Altria and Phillip Morris to diversifying their interests by developing their own successful line of beers and rum. Oh yeah, it also helps that they produce some of the best cigars in the world over 50 of which have been rated “outstanding” (90-94) by Cigar Aficionado alone. Of course, included in this list is the Guillermo León Belicoso featured here which took home a 93 rating shortly after its release in 2011.
Developed by Guillermo himself, his namesake stogy is also his own personal, favored blend. The unique 5-country blend was intended to be a stronger smoke than what La Aurora was used to producing, so definitely on the higher end of the strength scale. The oily, whiskey-colored wrapper is semi-veiny and the roll is high quality, with a great tapered cap treatment, solid firmness throughout and almost invisible seams. The draw is excellent and the key aromas include chocolate, dark fruit and cedar. The initial impressions are simply fantastic – Rich and creamy with notes of toasted nuts, black pepper swirling within a lush leathery profile. There are hints of anise and coffee on the retro and a tasty baked bread finish. Complexity is simply off the charts. Combustion is good and the burn is razor-sharp for the first 1″ or so but begins to falter. Even so, it only required one touch-up. Holds a tight 1″ ash without issue. Offers multiple transitions of earth and wood profiles and a consistent sweetness lingers to balance out the “lion’s roar” strength. Minor combustion issues aside, this sweetheart had my full attention up until about the final 2″ where she threw in the towel and became harsh. Nonetheless, this sub-$9 Belicoso is a go-to for many reasons. You won’t be disappointed! – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: This blend features a unique characteristic: a double binder, one for strength (Dominican corojo) and the other for sweetness (Cameroon).
- Profile: Full
- Vitola: Belicoso
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.25″ / 52
- Purchased: Online retailer
- Origin: Dominican Republic
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian HVA Habano
- Binder: Dominican, Cameroon
- Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, Peruvian, Brazilian
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Xikar Exec. II
- Price paid: $8.75
- Age: 5 months
Build: Excellent; uniform firmness; nice roll and cap
- Shaft – Chocolate
- Foot – Cocoa powder; hay; dark cherries
- Cold Draw – Chocolate; cedar
- Initial: Leather profile with notes of toasted nuts, black pepper and cream; baked bread finish; anise and coffee on retro.
- Transition: Maple wood profile but notes of leather, coffee and anise persist; finish becomes toasty; buttery inhale; pervasive sweetness.
- Transition: Earthy/wood profile with chocolate notes and light caramel finish; cedar and dark fruit; becomes more savory and tangy.
Touch ups: 1
Combustion: Excellent, becomes uneven at time but recovers
Weaknesses: Irregular burn; becomes harsh in final third
Recommend: 1 – Go-to
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer
- Smoke a banana instead