In addition to outstanding appearance and uniformity, the feel of the cigar was firm and consistent the entire length
By J.V. Bolkan
León Jimenes Prestige Robusto
5 x 50
The oldest cigar manufacturer in the Dominican Republic (1903), León Jimenes is a well established international brand. Renowned for its extremely mild and extra-aged tobaccos, the brand’s sales had been somewhat flat, leading to the introduction of the Prestige line in 2011. The word “prestige” does not appear anywhere on the band, but neither does the venerable red and gold crest found on all other León Jimenes cigars. Instead, the band is black with the company name writ large in semi-cursive script.
The very first thing I noticed about the Prestige Robusto was just how pretty it is. The wrapper is very pale and flawless with hardly any vein in the leaf. The rolling is also absolutely precise—I was able to slide the fairly tight band on both samples from end to end without binding or hitting a loose spot. Despite knowing it was hand rolled, I couldn’t stop thinking that only a machine could make such a perfectly round, uniform cylinder. I actually laughed out loud when I cut the end off and the end cap popped off the snipped piece—it was virtually a perfect hollow half-globe of flawless tobacco.
In addition to outstanding appearance and uniformity, the feel of the cigar was firm and consistent the entire length. León Jimenes employs some extremely talented craftsmen in the hand rolling department. This became even more apparent as I put flame to the cigar. For a firm cigar, the draw was surprisingly open, in fact, a bit loose for my tastes. It seemed at times that the cigar almost anticipated my next puff.
There is nothing discreet about bringing this cigar to life. It produces copious amounts of almost pure white smoke with the lightest draw. With a massive cloud of smoke enveloping me, I struggled to find the center of the taste. It is an extremely mild cigar, despite the volume, I had trouble identifying anything beyond a mere hint of cedar. As I waited for more flavors to emerge, I did note that the cigar burned quite evenly. The ash was dense and reluctant to fall, even well past an inch in.
Nearly halfway through the second cigar a day after smoking the first, just past about two inches in, I began to finally detect a barely discernible and surprising bit of citrus peel mixed into the increasingly peppery taste. It didn’t last long, a few puffs and I was left wondering if I’d imagined it. It’s absolutely possible that I missed it in the first sample which served some charred taste at about the same point when I puffed perhaps too aggressively. Smoking a robust cigar can be a bit of a challenge. The relatively large ring size and short length make the configuration prone to overheating and thus the loss of subtlety. I was very careful to smoke the second cigar at a more leisurely pace.
I was left a bit disappointed and slightly bored with the cigar. I would definitely have preferred a tighter draw, it never really felt I could take a nice good puff because I would be enveloped in a deep fog halfway through the effort. The lack of power and any real nuanced flavor only made this more frustrating.
The León Jimenes Prestige Robusto will have its fans. The outstanding appearance will be enough for some. Others will enjoy the conspicuous cloud of smoke it is so easy to summon. There are even fans of extremely mild cigars whom could enjoy this cigar. It isn’t a bad choice for a smoke around a campfire with some boisterous conversation and some strong drink—all that smoke might keep mosquitoes away. It probably isn’t a good choice for even the best ventilated indoor space.
Rating: 83. Despite superb construction and a beautiful shade-grown light wrapper, this cigar lacks distinguishing flavor and is too mild for a robusto. A slightly loose draw and dense clouds of smoke combine to leave you unsatisfied and looking like a magician in the middle of a disappearance sequence.
Here’s a breakdown of how J.V. Bolkan rates the cigars he smokes:
90-100 – This range is for exceptional examples, for instance, to get a 95 in any category, a cigar would have to be the best I’ve had. A 100 would actually have to be the best I could imagine. These tend to be more expensive, but aren’t penalized unless the cost is out of line with other ultra-premium selections. These are the cigars in the place of honor in your humidor that you might think twice about before sharing.
80-89 – Very nice cigars that aren’t seriously flawed but are either undistinguished in general or somewhat less than ideal in a few categories. An example of an 85 might be a cigar that burns somewhat irregularly, but has a solid taste, or one that may appeal to a smaller segment of the market, with the thought being a truly great cigar would be appreciated by almost every cigar smoker. These are the cigars that fill the bulk of your humidor. You may “love” a particular 85-rated cigar, but understand that your friends may have other tastes.
Below 80 – Something has gone wrong and these aren’t cigars that impress. Sometimes it is poor handling and you get a cigar that has been dried out (or rehumidified, which sometimes is worse). Other times it is just a substandard product—maybe the filler and binder weren’t properly rolled and it is almost impossible to draw any smoke at all. Maybe the tobacco was improperly or incompletely aged. Eventually, we all come across a cigar that seriously disappoints. If is below 70, it really isn’t a “fine cigar” and probably shouldn’t have been rated.
Rating notes: I consider appearance and price as roughly equal components in the overall score. Both flavor and smoking experience (burn, draw, smoke, etc.) are essentially equal and more than twice as important as appearance and price.