Bite Size Review: PDR El Trovador
Every once in a while, you just have to take some chances. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? But, sometimes when you’re not looking for anything in particular, that’s when interesting things happen. I think Abe Flores might agree with me. The 43-year old Queens native (living briefly in the Dominican Republic) was about as close to cigars as the moon.
Like other master blenders, Tatuaje’s Pete Johnson and EPC Cigars’ Ernesto Carrillo, Abe’s first love was music and played cello and bass. Settling for a marketing degree, Abe rode the dot.com wave in and out of tech companies until the boom imploded. A chance opportunity doing web work for Tinder Box finally brought the two together. Abe says, ‘you’re welcome.’ From there, Abe began sowing the seeds for his next gig while working in the tobacco business in the Dominican Republic.
Abe showed his chops by working with legendary growers Blanco, Plasencia and Reyes and by focusing on using more Nicaraguan leaf. In fact, Abe attributes his breaks and success to Jochy Blanco, a man he also considers his mentor. Abe launched PDR (acronym for Pinar del Rio, an area in western Cuban where some of the most coveted tobacco is grown) in 2009 and found success making both his own blends, beginning with his popular PDR 1878, as well as contract and catalogue blends for brands like Villiger and La Palina. In 2014, Abe hit pay dirt with his A. Flores 1975 Serie Privada Capa Habano which Cigar Aficionado thought was pretty good, awarding him their #10 Cigar of the Year.
Abe launched his El Trovador (Rosado) blend in 2016 and followed that up with the Maduro the following year at IPCPR. While in Cuba, he was inspired by the name ‘el trovador’ which is the Spanish version of the French troubadour, referring to both the landmark West L.A. hotspot as well as the 13th century minstrels (no, they were not 90-pound men in satin tights skipping through the forest playing music and throwing glitter).
At first glance, the El Trovador’s oily San Andrés wrapper is almost as black as molasses. Soft to the touch, smooth and veiny, the girth is uniform and triple-seam cap is spot on. It looks to be more of a demi-press than full box press and the construction is solid. Maduro aromas abound featuring lots of chocolate, cocoa powder and pepper.
Initial impressions were exceptional highlighted by a silky-smooth profile of chocolate, leather and hints of anise followed by caramel intonations on the retro and a nutty finish that becomes toasty as you smoke. There is a maduro sweetness and savory character to the inhale. The complexity keeps peeling back surprise after surprise adding baking spice and maple wood hints to the retro.
Throughout the smoke there are hints of pepper, a light spice and a delightfully chewy texture. The El Trovador is rich throughout, well-balanced and mixes things up nicely through transitions of wood and earth with espresso nuances. Combustion is quite good save for one touch-up to correct an irregular burn. Honestly, I was a bit startled a first light as I was not expecting this level of flavor, complexity, balance and velvetiness.
I went from startled to happily amazed that the good vibes continued throughout the entire smoke. With the Powstanie Broadleaf resetting the bar, I thought for sure the El Trovador would break a string or two, but the enjoyment factor continued to redline. This relatively unheralded maduro won’t stay a secret for long and for less than 8 bucks, El Trovador won’t stay on shelves either. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: Abe’s contract work includes making cigars for La Palina, Viaje, Kristoff and Gurkha.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Gran Toro
- Length/ Ring Gauge: 6.0″ x 54
- Purchased: B&M
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
- Binder: [Double] Nicaraguan (Corojo)
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Cutter: Colibri V
- Lighter: Xikar Exec. II
- Price: $7.95
- Age: 6 mo.
- Box: 24
- Other Vitolas: Petit Belicoso [4.5″x50], Robusto [5″x52], Corona Gorda [6″x46]
Build: Soft and Smooth, oily, lightly toothy, veiny; uniform heft; triple cap; invisible seams; holds 1″ near-white ash.
- Shaft – Lots of chocolate; red pepper
- Foot – Cocoa powder
- Cold Draw – licorice; Redman chewing tobacco
- Initial: Leather, chcolate, hint of anise and maple wood; light spice w/hint of pepper; nutty finish becoming toasty; maduro sweetness and savory intonations on inhale; caramel and baking spice on retro; becomes woody into transition.
- Transition: Wood, leather, earth with espresso finish; light spice continues; rich and toasty with dark berries on retro.
- Transition: Earthy profile with dark roasted coffee and leather; finish still features lots of espresso; retro features earthiness with almond nuances; uptick in strength.
Touch ups: 1
Combustion: Very good overall; irregular burn prompted 1 correction
Recommend: 1. Go-to (boxworthy)
- Go-to (boxworthy)
- 3rd stringer (keep 1 on hand)
- Smoke a banana instead