The Felix Assouline Cigar Company is one that I find very interesting. They are a boutique cigar company that truly cares about the product they put their name on. Not only do they own a factory in Esteli, Nicaragua where the cigars are rolled and aged, but they also build their own boxes and do all their own packaging. Felix Assouline is not a stranger to the cigar industry as he began on the retail side of things in 1997 then opened his own factory in Danli, Honduras in 2004. Assouline sold in 2007 and took a break from the business to have some family time, but it didn’t take long for him to come back.
Today I smoked a Havana Sunrise Reserve from the line. The HSR comes in five vitolas that are all box pressed. The vitolas offered are: the Ray at 44×5.5, the Prelude at 52×4.75, the Blaze at 56×6, the Brilliance(belicoso) at 54×6.5, and the Beacon at 56×6.5. The make up of the cigars are a Habano Criollo ’98 wrapper over an Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. As stated above all vitolas are box pressed but not an extreme press.
I chose the 54×6.5 Brilliance belicoso. The cigar has a very attractive wrapper with a slight reddish hue. The pre-light inspection found the cigar to be fairly firm with no soft spots and no irregularities found. The foot gave a cocoa hint on the nose with earthy tobacco flavors from the pre-light draw. I clipped the cigar with a straight cut and used a soft flame lighter to toast and light the cigar.
The first third began with that cocoa note that was notice on the foot although it faded quickly to give a very pleasant flavor of toasted cashews. I noticed just a slight pepper spice quality but not to the extent that others have stated. Toward the end of the first third I began to pick up just a bit of coffee notes, very mild coffee. Through the first third the burn was excellent and the ash held and was very compacted and tight, the draw was perfect.
Into the second third the cigar began to give off a mellow cedar flavor that was smooth and slightly sweet. The toasty nut flavors continued but the cedar fell off to become a molasses sweetness that blended well with the other flavors that were present. The cigar was still burning very well at this point with just the right amount of smoke and still a sharp burn. I tapped the ash off at about the 2â€ point so I didn’t ruin a shirt but the cigar quickly began forming another white ash that was still just at firm.
As the final third progressed I began getting a stronger coffee note and a slight bitterness. The peppery finish came back and was more pronounced this time around. Toward the end of the last third the cigar did become a bit harsh and I set it down with about an inch left, really not a bad job in my opinion.
Overall I think this is a great cigar to start your day with, it was a nice medium strength cigar with a lot of body and flavor. I believe that as this cigar ages it will become more complex with a great finish. The burn and construction were both A+, I had no relights or touch ups in the nearly hour and a half of smoking. I would recommend this cigar to any level of smoker from novice to veteran. I think this cigar is a great one to keep stocked in the humidor so I suggest keeping a 5er on hand.