The subject of this week's blog is more than a mouthful. Though its 6 x 46 size is quite diminutive by today’s standards, the name is certainly quite a bit to get out at once. The extended name does tell you everything you need to know about this wonderful Nicaraguan puro. Straight Ligero means that all of the tobacco in this cigar comes from the top of the plant. This means that since the top of the plant receives the most sunlight and is harvested last, it is these corona leaves that contain the most intense flavors. Jalapa refers to the region in Nicaragua in which the tobacco is grown. Jalapa is well north of Esteli and Condega and lies just on the edge of Honduras.
I know what you are thinking. You are saying to yourself, “There is no way I am smoking a Nicaraguan Puro cigar made from nothing but the most intense leaves of the plant." Fortunately for those of you who don’t want to knock yourselves out or spend the next week tasting your cigar, this beauty hails from Jalapa. Jalapa is the northernmost tobacco region in Nicaragua and also provides the milder strains of tobacco. Now, don’t kid yourselves. This cigar is still a solid medium-bodied smoke but the region, known for its wonderful sun-grown wrapper leaves, makes this Oliva stick a wonderfully balanced cigar.
The thing I love most about this cigar is its soft and balanced pepper notes. There is no way that the same could be said for a cigar made of Esteli Ligero, but Jalapa makes this possible. It’s a delicious warm smoke that provided me with a pleasurable hour of relaxation.
I did smoke this cigar on a cold Florida night. Those of you who live above the Mason-Dixon Line, you will certainly find my definition of cold to be quite humorous. I know that here in the Sunshine State we only get a few days of winter each year, but 38 degrees is arctic conditions for this thin-blooded Florida boy. As I shivered and puffed away, it was the balanced flavors that kept me sitting on my back patio. There was mild cocoa, a hint of coffee and some rich earthy notes, but it was that perfectly muted pepper that kept me wanting more. It never edged toward the sweet side of the spice wheel which was fine with me. The construction of the cigar was perfect and though the wind blew quite briskly, the burn was even all the way through.
As the cigar approached the final third and my hands edged ever closer to full frostbite status, I reluctantly set it down. Well, I may be exaggerating about the frostbite, but I really hated to put this cigar down. Fortunately for me I have another one in my humidor and when things warm up I think I will enjoy it as a breakfast smoke. This would make for an excellent morning cigar if you are looking for something above the mild category. I also encourage all cigar smokers to give the Jalapa Ligero a try if for no other reason than its unique components. It proves that not all Nicaraguan cigars have to be nicotine-laced black pepper bombs. Just think of this one as a pepper firecracker.
Chris Gwaltney, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits regional manager and certified tobacconist
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