Bite Size Review: Herrera Estelí Miami

 

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” –  and here we are as we find ourselves on the doorstep of our next mulligan. If you’re unsure as to what a “mulligan” is, feel free to skip ahead or check out one of our first mulligans here to get an idea. They’re not required often, fortunately, and this time it wasn’t my fault.  It was early November last year, the day before my birthday. I was scheduled to shake down Willy Herrera’s Estelí Miami Pirimide Fino, a dark, rustic-looking $12 torpedo. After snapping the required shots, a cut and a light later, I was basking in the cigar’s initial silky profile. Then all hell broke loose.

 

After about 25 minutes of Zen-like bliss, I noticed a small runner developing. The small runner quickly turned into a full-blown canoe, burning down the length of the cigar on one side. While the exact cause was not apparent at first, it didn’t matter – the review was DOA. I might as well have taken my Colibri to the $12 invested. A little cranky now, I decided to poor myself some Macallan 15 and ride out the Miami to see if I could uncover the issue. I nursed the cursed torpedo along until I could coax it into a controllable burn. Then the ash told the tale.

 

It was clear that the majority of the binder/filler leaves were loosely rolled which shifted the bulk to one side, allowing the wrapper, with little else, to burn like a fuse up one side. I was disappointed, but because I was close to Nirvana in the first 25 or so minutes, I knew we had to give the Miami another shot. In doing our usual background work, the first thing that struck me was that reportedly, the Miami production cigars are rolled by Cuban “level 9 rollers.” Another headscratcher was that these were rolled at the venerable El Titan de Bronze, a factory from which I’ve smoked numerous cigars with nary an issue.

 

Looking over other reviews, a pattern emerged suggesting construction and consistency could be an issue. Well, every cigar maker experiences dips in quality from time to time, they are handmade afterall, right? Interestingly, the Miami is the first Herrera cigar to be crafted in the US. Originally launched in 2016 as a limited edition – you may have previously seen it cloaked in a red and gold band –  in only a single Corona vitola, it was expanded to 5 vitolas and was made a regular production cigar in late 2018. Only the band’s primary color was changed to black for regular production.

 

 

HEM1

 

 

Our Miami is decked out in a gingerbread-hued Oscuro wrapper with a more attractive torpedo execution this time around. Toothy and with minimal veins and visible seams, the Miami’s aromas are a mixed bag of barnyard and floral aromas from the skin and the all too familiar cocoa powder at the foot. As with most cigars with a tapered head, I use a shallow, ~3/8” Dickman cut which provided a solid open draw leaving a crisp raisinesque essence on the palate.

 

The moment of truth arrives as the Miami comes to life. I’ll say it again: the initial profile of this cigar is simply mesmerizing. The overall character is highlighted by a warm, toasty foundation complemented by a mélange of crème, black pepper, honey, hints of graham cracker and a dominance of caramel. There’s an underlying hint of almonds and the lush finish is rife with black coffee. Transitions are savory, spicy and full-bodied backed by a wood-dominant core along with a blend of espresso, sweet oats and chocolate. Much of the complexity and nuances can only be experienced by retrohaling.

 

Unlike our first outing, combustion this time around was aces – up until the last third when it did “helmet” requiring one correction. With about two inches remaining, the blend becomes harsh and dry, which was disappointing given the first two transitions were so good. Compared to our first outing, our Miami behaved well, provided lots of smoke and held a strong, light gray ash. Over twenty four dollars later, I’m not going to lie: I am still concerned about consistency issues and even more concerned that this is happening at El Titan de Bronze. Herrera hits it out of the park with the blend, but construction and consistency issues tarnish the value and enjoyment. – In Fumo Pax!

 

Recommendation: 5 Packer

 

Did you KnowThe Herrera Estelí Miami is the first of the Herrera Brand to be produced in the USA, at the El Titan de Bronze factory in Little Havana, Miami, – Willy Herrera’s Family Factory.

 

 

 
HEM2

 

 

 

 

  • Profile: Med-Full
  • Vitola: Piramide Fino
  • Length / Ring Gauge: 6.0″ x 54
  • Purchased: Online
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatran
  • Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
  • Blade: Xikar Xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price: $12.10 [Box $121.00]
  • Humidor Age: 1 mo.
  • Box: 10 [Lonsdale Deluxe, 20]
  • Other Vitolas: Robusto Grande [5″X50], Lonsdale Deluxe [6.5″X44], Toro Especial [6″X52], Short Corona Gorda [5.75″X48]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 1:27
Draw
: Open (3/8″ cut)
Construction: Gingerbread color; visible seams; toothy; minimal veins; matte texture; soft and spongy; nice torpedo execution; good smoke producer; holds strong 1″ ash.

Aromas:

  • WrapperBarnyard, floral essence
  • Foot – Cocoa powder
  • Cold Draw – Muted but raisinesque

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Lush, warm toasty core; retro dominated by caramel, creme, black pepper and graham cracker; long finish of toast and black coffee; underlying nuttiness; creamy texture; medium bodied; settles into more woody disposition and adds spice on the tongue.
  • Transition: Spicy, woody center; sweet oats on draw; oak, black pepper and caramel on retro; more black coffee in profile; finish smacks more of espresso with a chocolatey nuance; savory, more robust and intense.
  • Transition: Full bodied with earthy profile; dominant notes of espresso and toasted oats; becomes harsh with 2″ remaining.

Complexity: Excellent
Balance: Very good
Touch ups1
Combustion: Very Good
Weaknesses:   helmets badly in last transition; becomes dry and harsh with 2″ remaining
Recommendation: 5 Packer

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

 

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