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Sotolongo Hechicera corona prensada

Today, the Nubbit brothers are spellbound by Grace Sotolongo and her new Nicaraguan puro, the Hechicera.

Sotolongo Hechicera corona prensada cigar
Draw: The Hechicera is a new line being put out by Grace Sotolongo in association with Christian Eiroa of CLE. You may have heard of Grace before, as she was very active in social media for My Father Cigars for almost three years, until she left them and was quickly snatched up last year by Christian to start her own line in partnership with CLE.

Punch: I had the good fortune to speak with Christian Eiroa at a CLE/Asylum event here in town last week, and he made it clear that the blend is all Grace’s, and that he just provided the resources to enable her to make what she wanted.

We have been trying to arrange a brief internet interview with Grace Sotolongo to get additional color commentary to include in this review, but understandably, due to her intense traveling schedule to promote this new release we have been unable to coordinate it. So, in lieu of actual facts gleaned from an interview, we shall be making up some stuff to add interest to this report; but don’t worry, it will only be stuff that is probably true, anyway.

D: The name, Hechicera (Audio Pronunciation) translates as “the Enchantress”, a woman who is alluring with her charms. But enough of this chit-chat, for now. I have slipped a Hechicera from it’s cellophane and I am as drawn to it as I was to Grace when I met her at The Humidor East in Wichita a few weeks ago, so let’s go ahead and smoke this cigar.

This 5.5 x 44 cigar is a beautiful chocolate brown with a distinctive vein-work that contributes to its visual appeal. It has a texture of brown craft paper, somewhat toothy, and appears slightly oily. It’s a box-press, but not as angular as some. Cold-draw is straw and green-tea, and my lips are a little tingly just from the cold-draw drags. The drag is on the tight side using a small-bore punch. Grace says, to maintain freshness, these are rolled in the cool climate of Antarctica by Cubans wearing parkas.†

P: It is a very delicate wrapper. One that I purchased was damaged out of the box with a split in the wrapper near the head. It was a partial box, and the individual sticks could have been subjected to a drop or other inadvertent rough handling. I patched it with pectin and some wrapper salvaged from a nub of a previously smoked Hechicera. And this one had a chunk of wrapper pop off, too; but since it is near the head I don’t expect it to affect the flavor up to that point.

D: Lighting, my first impression is organic “brightness” on the attack, with the bulk of the character being green pepper or mild green chile. It generates a nice mouthful of smoke. I’m going to call “bay leaf” as the bright quality: it’s a little tingly, a little bitter, and very savory, but subtle in absolute taste. The green pepper is the dominant quality, I think. Grace says the pepper flavor is a result of cross-pollinating a tobacco plant with a chile plant.†

P: Initial impressions upon lighting, for me, are that it is mild and straight forward – mild mannered, save a faint green pepper finish – not quite harsh. A half-inch in and the flavor starts to develop with cream and a mild sandalwood. I could go with bay leaf, too. By the way, Ms. Sontolongo says she is scheduled to be a guest on Dancing With the Stars, next season.†

D: Interesting. I’m not getting cream, except, yes I do; there is a smoothing quality slipping in, which helps knock the edge off the flavors and harmonize them. There’s also some chamois, unless it is actually the same flavor component. That sandalwood is way out, though. But I do get a trace of yellow or white onion, lightly caramelized. This is the first time I’ve tasted onion, having smoked three previously.

P: Onion? Now who’s way out? I may just need a sip of Zaya rum, here…and a toke to follow. Mmm. Mmmmm…. That created a lovely sweetness on the draw – and the two subsequent draws, as well.

D: I’m enjoying a Muscato this evening. The sweetness easily washes away the bay leaf bitter, and augments the onion sweetness in the aftertaste. However, the sweetness is hard to overcome when returning to the cigar. Even so, it is not an unpleasant pairing.

About an inch in, my draw is tightening up. A purge-fusillade does not improve it, so I’m going to punch-up.

P: Oh, meaning use a bigger gauge punch? I’m getting a good inch on the ash, and the burn is delightfully straight and trouble free.

D: Moving into the middle, I’ve re-reamed with my larger-diameter punch several times to keep the draw at a comfortable tightness. The flavor here is stronger leather in the middle and finish, with bay leaf providing the attack, and the green pepper in the finish carrying over to the after taste. The flavor mellows some as I entered the middle, but begins returning to former levels as I continue the burn.

On one of my sticks, I had a very bad issue with liquid tar leaking from the cap; enough so that I didn’t finish the stick. After some research, I’ve learned that this is not an uncommon experience, and I would point out that two others plus today’s stick are trouble free.

P: Here in the last third leather is starting to dominate, being the first major change I’ve noticed in the flavor profile.

D: Agreed. Coming into the last third, first there’s a leather take-over, and then it is joined by a clean-burning hardwood – like oak. Grace says that she was trying for a rich, Corinthian leather flavor.† The finish-to-aftertaste is going sweeter. The overall effect is balancing on the head of a pin before turning cedar. Nice balance. Interesting. On one of the prior review sticks, following a purge-fusillade, the next draw had a very bright lemony flavor.

P: When I was able to spend a few, brief moments with her at a an event at The Tinderbox in Mesa, AZ a few weeks ago, the subject came up about the very nice and distinctive artwork for her bands and box. I commented how the likeness in the artwork resembled her, saying “coincidence?” She then put a finger to her cheek and, smiling, said, “I think not.” Charming. Just charming.

Grace Sontologo photo comparison with the Hechicera artwork

The same? You decide.


P: With an inch-and-a-half to go – flavors have blended, in a typical fashion, to an in-distinctive union indicating I’ve reached the end of smokability.

D: For me, that final blending is never quite fulfilled; I’ve enjoyed taking all of these (the tarry, the exception) down until the heat is unbearable.

Burn it or Spurn it?

Draw: The Sotolongo Hechicera is a mild-strength, medium-character cigar, with modest flavor complexity and no significant transitions: a consistent performer. Based on four sticks, watch for occasional burn issues, and the wrapper does seem fragile. I enjoyed smoking this stick for review, and I have other vitolas in the Hechicera line which I may tack onto this review later. This is a reliable cigar I will enjoy smoking when I don’t have to invest my attention to it.

Punch: It is always a joy to smoke a good-flavored, well-balanced cigar that isn’t shouting “hey, pay attention to me.” This Hechicera has a very consistent flavor profile throughout with just a slight intensifying of flavor as it progresses. It is generally mild, and would be good for a novice smoker who likes a little pepper.

†Unconfirmed “fact”.

Other related links which may be of interest:
A press release announcing this new line at Halfwheel.
A review by Two Guys and a Humidor.

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Comment (1)

  1. […] Definitely burn this! The Punch Signature reminds me of the Heichecera – a great smoke that you don’t have to worry about. A solid, rich, great tasting performer, […]

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