Valentia Variety Sampler

This week Punch and Draw worked their way through the three-cigar Valentia Variety Sampler box.

This Valentia Variety Sampler Box consists of the folowing three offerings from Valentia Cigars.

Valentia Lucido 6 x 56, MSRP $10.75
Wrapper: Ecuador Desflorado
Filler: Santo Domingo Seco, Ligero Habano
Binder: Indonesia, Nicaragua
Jump to the Lucido summary [link]

Valentia Torpedo 6 x 52, MSRP $10.65
Wapper: Ecuador / Connecticut
Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic
Binder: Indonesia
Jump to the Torpedo summary [link]

Valentia San Andreas  6 x 56, MSRP $10.95
Wrapper: Negro San Andres Madura from Mexico.
Filler: ABAM Ligero Dominican Republic and Nicaragua VISO.
Binder: Peru VISO.

Draw: The back of the box says this last one is the Espanda, but they found out after the printing that that name was legally-encumbered so they changed the name to San Andreas. If these are anything like misprinted baseball pennants, these boxes could one day turn out to be very valuable.

Punch: If being wrong is a measure of value, then you must be one valuable hombre.

Valentia cigars can be found at select shops in NY, TX, CA, OK, FL, PA, OR, AZ, and UT.

Valentia Lucido

Valencia Lucido cigarPunch: The aroma comes across to me as musty honey, with emphasis on musty.

Draw: Agreed, and I’m relieved. These are nicely aged, and I was afraid maybe I had done something wrong. So, yes, sniff this stogie with confidence, and know that the scent is what it should be.

P: Lighting up I get monster bitterness on the attack but it fades quickly and lets the old leather and green chillies come through. The overall experience is not necessarily harsh but is, as I say, bitter. Once I mentally ascent to that I can find pleasure in the experience. Let’s see where this goes…

D: Wow. My cold draw is tight, and mildly musty and sweet. Initial flavor is, as you say, bitter, but the leather and green chile comes through quickly. The bitterness is kind of like licking a battery. Getting into the first third, the flavor is of pickled leather and green chiles. It is very smooth, and remains fairly tight. On my first toke after a rest, I get some toast.

P: Starting the second third, the bitterness is mostly gone allowing the pleasant tobacco flavors to be appreciated. It is at a mild-medium flavor intensity, and some subtle complexity is showing up. I’m getting mustiness on the finish, too.

D: The flavor, for me, is becoming broader? More complex. I get some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which dominate the attack, and also boost more garden flavors of onion, pepper, tomato (with the acid bitterness), peas, and nitrogen fertilizer. The leather is all but lost until the aftertaste.

P: I’m just past the middle and this just keeps getting better. It now has a sweeter and open character balancing out the old leather and green chile mustiness.

D: I’m not getting that – the sweetness. Otherwise, same here.

P: Starting the last third it is coming onto the pipe with vegetal complexity and the old leather is blended terrifically, while it is smoothing out – having lost most of the bitterness.

D: True, last third is becoming more intense, but for me it has lost its smoothness. The back of my throat is raw, not from pickling bitters but from the original battery buzz. It’s not in the flavor, though, just the aftertaste and back of my throat. The VOCs on the other hand…hmph. Tonight, at least, I’m just not jazzed with this finish.

Okay, change-up. I stuck with it, rinsed my throat with some coffee, and found everything that Punch described. I went ahead and nubbed it, even relighting after it went out – I had been struggling with too much heat, and then let it idle too long. But the relight continued to be worth it. Nice!

Burn it or Spurn it?

Punch: There certainly is burnability here. This is made from a variety of more unusual tobaccos and the flavor is resultantly distinctive. Starting with dominant bitters, it moved into a slightly sweet openness with old leather and must. It continued to develop in flavor intensity and complexity until, in the last third, it shifted to a sweet vegetal goodness for a brief time.

Draw: Burn it. Surprise finish to this otherwise mild and simple cigar. While I usually like surprise endings, the flavors of “before” and “after” are just such a weird combo, that I really don’t know what to think of it. Otherwise, this is a fine cigar. Great construction and burn, and each of the flavor portions were top notch with expectations of that portion. The finish really is something to try, even if the first two thirds are pretty tame.

Valentia Torpedo

Valentia Torpedo cigarPunch: You use the term “elephant pen” occasionally to describe the aroma of a cigar, and I’ve gotta say that this one fully meets that description. A fairly deep bevel cut gives me a medium-tight draw, but I’m not getting much flavor off of this cold draw except for a mild wintergreen. I really like the Valentia Torpedo band. It just pops for me with the gold and black on red.

Draw: That’s funny – I’m usually the elephant-pen fan… uh, anyway, but this time, I smell yeasty bread dough and aspirin. Maybe some clover or wheat straw.

P: Mmmm… that is a good start. I’m getting new leather, melon and cream, with a mild pepper in the sinuses – mild-medium flavor intensity at the moment. Let’s see how it warms up.

D: The draw is really tight, and gives up a yeasty flavor with a touch of mint, as Punch described. I am not satisfied with it’s tightness, but I’ve already trimmed on the bevel past the cap. Punch described the initial flavor well of new leather, melon and cream. For me the pepper is more of a mint.

P: At three-quarter inch in I think it has settled down enough to get a good read. Mostly new leather carrying a faintly sweet melon. Still mild-medium intensity at best, but it has calmed down overall from the initial light up complexity.

D: Agreed. The intensity is down a little bit, but the complexity is about the same to me; it’s not overly complex. I’m still having trouble with too tight of a draw causing me to hot-box for flavor.

P: Here at the middle, the complexity is up. Some vegetals and some fluorocarbons. The intensity is up to medium-full, too. Very likable.

D: I’m not getting the intensity back. I agree with your assessment of the flavor. It is likable, but I feel like I’m not getting enough of it. Not enough smoke, not for the work I’m putting into the draw. Ash retention has been fair at about an inch. Burn line has been fairly straight. A long soft pull gives me a meaty, minty chamois on the attack, turning to veggies by the finish and fluorocarbons on the aftertaste (along with mint; does this appeal to the vape-users out there?). A hard pull gives up more melon, along with more starchy veggie, and the aftertaste is more melon. (Note: the “fluorocarbon” flavor is the same gas, maybe it’s formaldehyde, given off by ripe fruit; it is what gives them their particularly melony taste.) But, here, I’ve talked for a day and a half. Punch is probably ready with his last third notes…

P: How astute. And to think, you said all of that on a single breath of air. Near the nub, my simplified observation is that it has gotten mungy and dusty, but has been pretty good up until then.

D: Agreed. Mine has become a giant burnt-leather bomb…like eating a football. Granted, that’s pig leather, but are you really going to split a hair on this? Purging it brings a flavor of “toasted melon”, which is kinda weird, but still better tasting than a burning football. Also, the aftertaste is becoming slightly acrid.

Burn it or Spurn it?

Punch: Burn. This Valentia Torpedo has a lot of character and is not a wimpy Connecticut. It started off with new leather and melon and transitioned into a nicely complex vegetal body with some chemical twang. Overall it resided in the medium flavor intensity range, was nicely balanced and fairly smooth. I like this better than the Lucido.

Draw: Agree, again: burn it. I enjoyed the flavor character better than the Valentia Lucido, however I was not fond of the overly-tight draw, and the resulting lower intensity of flavor. Complexity, mild-medium; intensity, mild-medium; strength, none if any. Good burn qualities in a tight cigar. The flavor is a nice blend of meaty and fruity with a major transition at the last third, but enough subtlety throughout to keep my interest. My tongue is happy.

Valentia San Andreas

Valencia San Andreas cigarDraw: Chocolaty aroma, with a hint of manure. An oily maduro wrapper with a fine tooth. Visually exemplary construction, with a slight soft spot at the middle of an otherwise firm stick. Definitely a lot of tobacco stuffed in this Valentia San Andreas; it even took an extended period just to punch it.

Punch: Big punch equals medium draw. Cold draw is very distinctive … catfish stink bait comes to mind. That isn’t a pejorative term, as I happen to like that smell.

D: Yes, stink bait! Subtle, but there. Lighting up my initial tasting notes: smooth, toasty without being able to identify what is being toasted. Very mild.

P: Good observation. Right away the dominant flavor for me is cotton candy with a touch of green pepper. And yes, quite mild.

D: Getting further in, there’s green pepper – I’m going to say roasted green pepper: without the heat, just the savory flavor. And I’m still tasting your cotton candy.

P: Yes, the flavor is developing dramatically as you described. Nice. Still only mild-medium in intensity.

D: It continues to build. Now I’m in a whole roasted-pepper salad, with a variety of peppers. Low on heat, medium on spice, full of flavor complexity.

P: Yes. The story here is complexity leading to good interest maintaining flavor.

D: In the middle, there’s a tarry bitterness along with this pepper smorgasbord. This bitterness corresponds to the one soft spot. Burn has been fine after a few touchups on lighting (my bad).

P: I’m not getting bitterness yet. It seems to be staying pretty consistent.

D: Last third, very much the same. Flavor is taking a slight background and smoke is taking a foreground. Purging brings back a slight intensity of flavor, but the smokiness remains, adding an acrid note to the finish…and throughout, really. Not a showstopper, but not necessarily a welcome flavor.

P: For me the flavors have start to settle down to a blended profile which has lost the former high degree of complexity, but is still pleasant. The component flavors are still there but are a little more subtle. I haven’t noticed that acridity, though

D: I’m nubbing. Okay, I’m not nubbing, because when I put it down to type this, the San Andreas rolled off and under my foot, which I compressed when I moved to search for it. It’s now too wide open to hold a cherry. KHAN!!! KHAN!!!!

P: Yes, this is definitely smokeable to the nub.

Burn it or Spurn it?

Draw: Burn it. I think I prefer the torpedo just a sckotche more. Complex peppers and other garden flavors with a hint of natural sweetness. Complexity, medium; intensity, mild-medium; strength, mild plus. I’d like to smoke another just to finish it proper, but I’d also enjoy the first two thirds just as much.

Punch: Oh yeah, burn this one often. This Valentia San Andreas started out with cotton candy and green pepper and quickly expanded to a rich complex vegetal profile that was smooth and well balanced, grabbing and maintaining interest throughout. In retrospect I think it had some mild florals, too. It didn’t get past medium-full in flavor intensity and so did not get fatiguing. Near the end it blended just a bit but maintained a subtle complexity. By the time I finished it I was also feeling some nicotine. This was very good and I would say it justifies the $10.95 asking price.

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