El Artista Buffalo Ten Natural Toro

Ask any true cigar (whiskey, wine, etc) aficionado what one prominent piece of advice might they bestow to novice smokers and I think most would suggest to not overlook everyday cigars, start with the classics and don’t be in such a rush to jump to the fine and rare stuff as it’s vital to understand why connoisseurs esteem something so favorably in the first place. Many of our cultural influences, social media in particular, have a way of pushing this sentiment aside and instead favors an intense association to the expense and exclusivity of cigars, rewarding only those who influence through a false sense of class, wealth and style. If you had the money for that Ferrari, would you still buy the Mustang?

Unfortunately, some of us still reason the oxymoron of ‘if costs more, then it must be better.’ I can assure you this is absolutely false. And in this time of lockdowns, volatile markets and shrinking incomes, perhaps this is an ideal time to seek out more value as there are no shortage of cigar makers equally struggling to put cigars into our hands. The Rodriguez family and El Artista Cigars is doing just that. Their well-received 2019 release, Buffalo Ten Maduro, which uses 6 different tobaccos yet is priced at a paltry $4.50, helped to build a trophy case of some impressive ratings. In 2020, in spite of COVID-19, more good news was on the way.

It was reported that Ram Rodriguez wanted a strong follow-up with a natural wrapper, but insisted on a new blend, rather than a retread based on the B10 Maduro. In September of 2020, Buffalo Ten Natural began shipping to retailers. Sporting a soft box press and only a $0.50 bump in price, like its Maduro sibling, the Natural is available in only a single Toro vitola (6”x50). The B10 Natural is swathed in an Ecuadorian Habano leaf which cradles a Sumatran binder and a trio of filler leaves from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and the US.

The box press of our toro is more of an oval and while visually unremarkable overall, B10’s golden brown, almost peanut-shelled hued exterior is eye catching. The roll appears seamless helped along by lots of veins to distract the eye. There’s just a hint of oil providing a nice sheen and the body is neither hard nor spongy – just right. The cap appears decent until I make my cut, which then begins to unravel, but a handy little bottle of gomma solved that issue. The rich chocolate brownie aromas from the habano wrapper had me looking for a glass of milk and the cold draw is near effortless.

Our B10 comes out swinging with a spicy, toasty core underpinning lush notes of graham cracker and toasted oats on the draw. The flavor palette slowly unveils intonations of light caramel followed by black pepper, oak and cocoa preceding a toasty finish of graham cracker and cacao. Although the texture has some rough edges, the addition of baking spice notes to the draw and retro provides an added dimension of balance to a bold, medium-full bodied profile. Transitions are anchored by a nutty nucleus with profiles from bold charred wood, chocolate and cedar to a lighter palette of roasted chestnuts, coffee and dark chocolate.

While the ash is very weak, seeming to tumble at random, overall performance is excellent highlighted by great smoke production, a welcoming draw and above average combustion (single touch-up). The level of complexity for a $5 cigar was pleasantly surprising and frankly, really good. Naturally, complexity trails off, but taken together, the B10 Natural’s flavor wheel and balance makes it a very satisfying, enjoyable smoke. Thanks to their blending touch, and vertical integration, El Artista takes a sledgehammer to the idea that inexpensive cigars can’t check all the boxes and over deliver. – In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: Boxworthy

Did you Know: The “Ten” in the brand’s name refers to the original idea that El Artista would bundle the cigars in packs of 10, but even after finally deciding to bundle the cigars in packs of 5 the decision was made to keep the name as is.

  • Profile: Medium-Full
  • Vitola: Toro
  • Length / Ring: 6.0″ x 50
  • Purchased: Direct
  • Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Sumatran
  • Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, & US
  • Production: Tabacalera El Artista
  • Blade: Xikar xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$5.00 [Pkg. of 5 $22]
  • Humidor Age: 7 wks.
  • Box: Pkg. 5
  • Other Vitolas: N/A

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 1:20
Draw
: Open
Construction: Soft box press; veiny; light oil; not hard, not spongy; seamless; decent cap; peanut shell hue; weak ash – struggles to hold any appreciable length.
Aromas:

  • WrapperRich chocolate brownie
  • Foot – More chocolate
  • Cold Draw – N/A

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Spicy and toasty foundation; rich graham cracker and toasted oats on draw; equally rich finish of graham cracker and cacao notes; bold intonations of oak, black pepper and coca on retro with subtle hints of caramel; adds some baking spices to retro prior to transition; some rough edges; medium-full body.
  • Transition: More nutty persona; tangy cedar draw; robust retro notes of charred wood and chocolate; full-bodied finish of black pepper and leather; maintains moderate level of spice; dense notes of espresso on palate; more spice in nose.
  • Transition: Nutty core remains; savory notes of roasted chestnuts on draw and retro; long, bold finish of dark roast coffee; the initial toasty nature makes an encore; body lightens with softer intonations of cedar and dark chocolate.

Complexity: Very good
Balance: Excellent
Touch ups1
Combustion: Excellent
Weaknesses: Loose cap leaf; weak ash prone to tumbling.
Recommendation: Boxworthy

Recommendation scale:

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

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