Felipe Gregorio Dominicana
Boutique Cigars – Some are Worth the $$, but Go Slow
In my last review, I chose to smoke and write about the Gurkha Expedition, which I described as a “boutique” cigar. This is a term that may need some explanation, especially for those who are newer to the cigar smoking hobby. I have not found a consistent definition for the term.
An analogy helps to explain the concept: a “boutique” cigar is to cigars as “small batch” is to bourbon, or “single malt” is to scotch. For those of you who occasionally enjoy a good quality whiskey and know something about drinking these libations, you know what I’m talking about and you could probably skip the next paragraph. If you don’t, you may be missing out on some of the finer things in life or you may just have not been living much at all! Read on and pay attention.
In both whiskey and cigars, making a small batch enables the producer to spend the time to “care and nurture” it, and can ensure the product is made of the finest and possibly rarest ingredients – thus it is of very high quality.
The boutique cigar is often touted as being unique and better because the cigar maker is not encumbered by the need to find large batches of consistent quality tobacco to sustain a long-running, high-volume line. Instead, the boutique cigar maker can take advantage of a smaller, one-of-a-kind, stellar crop of leaf and make a “one of a kind” limited run cigar (that is, a small batch).
Of course economics does come into play. A small batch means limited supply and usually requires the cost to the consumer to be higher, and its “one of a kind” nature may drive increased demand.
My experience and guidance is this: Boutique brands provide a lot of variety and experiences, the majority being positive (for me). If you can get a good deal, have the curiosity, or do not have to be concerned with the higher price tag that most boutique brands command – you should try them. There are some real gems out there. However, I do submit that there are plenty of good mainstream, premium, hand-rolled cigars on the market that will not break the bank (a number of which have been reviewed and will continue to be reviewed on this site). The other option is to smoke some of the “entry-level” lines of a maker. As you discover a particular maker that you like, then smoke their more premium products. It has been said, “variety is the spice of life,” and so I am mixing it up as well.
Following up on last week’s Gurkha review, today I review another boutique cigar brand, Felipe Gregorio. In my opinion, the Felipe Gregorio Dominicana is at or near the entry-level cigar for this brand, as the Expedition is for Gurkha. So let’s get smokin’!
Felipe Gregorio Dominicana
Size: Toro 5.8 inches long, 46 ring gauge
Price: $5 to $6 range
Made by Felipe Gregorio in the Dominican Republic. It is reportedly the first time a Felipe Gregorio cigar was made outside of Honduras.
- Wrapper: Connecticut
- Filler: Havana-seed Nicaraguan grown
- Binder: Dominican Piloto Cubano
Just a simple smoke on the screened porch, no libation.
Look and feel
A nice wrapper, slightly veined, no sunspotting and smart looking; it is the lighter brown natural wrapper. The cigar boasted an excellent cap and apparent quality construction. The pre-lit draw left a distinct sweetness on the lips, reminiscent of a Baccarat cigar (the sweetness on the head of a Baccarat is a classic characteristic of a Baccarat, but I digress).
Aroma and Taste
The Felipe Gregorio Dominicana offered a copious amount of smoke for a cigar that was not that big around. It produced an excellent burn through the first third. A hint of sweetness stayed on the palate well into the cigar. There was a noticeable Nicaragua tobacco flavor – earthy and a little nutty in taste, but it seemed to come and go. One taste that was noticeably light and almost non-existent was the spiciness in this cigar. There was little to no peppery taste on the back of the throat, and some may like this flavor. I don’t especially go for a real spicy cigar, but a little of it would have complimented this smoke nicely.
By the end of the cigar, I was very impressed that the burn and smoke volume stayed perfect. In fact, the most admirable quality of this cigar was its burn. It was very even and never came close to going out, producing plenty of smoke to enjoy. This was a fairly mild cigar from a taste perspective and almost achieved a medium flavor at a point or two. In the strength department it did not blow you away with nicotine; in fact, the nicotine buzz was fairly light.
In the end, I’d have to say the Felipe Gregorio Dominicana was a good cigar, but it was just not my style. While I tend to like a more medium-flavored cigar, I could easily see other smokers raving about the Dominicana. For these reasons, it is a little tough to rate. Would I smoke it again? Yes. Would it break my heart if I didn’t? Not really.
I smoked this cigar within two weeks of purchase, and I’m wondering if I had aged it in the humidor for a few months if it would have picked up in flavor and complexity. My gut sense is yes, it would!
With its generally mild nature and excellent burn and construction, this would be a good cigar for any level of smoker, and should hold up well under various activities, even a round of golf.
RATING: 8.8 (on a scale of 1 to 10)
Thought fort the day:
"The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good." - Samuel Johnson
DISCLAIMER: At the risk of sounding too much like a TV commercial, I do want to sincerely state: This feature is NOT intended to advocate the smoking of cigars any more or any less than you already do, nor do I intend to influence the non-smoker to begin smoking cigars. Make no mistake about it; CIGAR SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.