Founded in 1903, La Aurora is the first factory of the Dominican Republic. It has been owned by the Leon Family since its inception. Eventually the factory became a part of Grupo Leon, the largest company in the Dominican Republic with annual profits around 600 million dollars. In 2011, La Aurora was purchased outright by Guillermo Leon, a person I am lucky enough to call a friend and a mentor.
For me, my journey into the cigar industry began in 2010 when I was invited by site sponsor Miami Cigar & Company to tour the La Aurora factory. I sat on the deck of Camp David with Guillermo Leon drinking El Gato Grande (The Big Cat, which is Barcelo Rum & Sprite). At nearly 4am, we called it a night and Guillermo Leon said there would be no way that I would get up at for the 8am trip to the factory. I was the first one up that morning despite putting away multiple bottles with Guillermo. It was here we bonded and often on trips to NYC he would reach out to me to come have a cigar. At the time Jose Blanco was at the factory and I began to learn about tobacco, lessons that continued with Manuel Inoa.
Til this day, my most cherished relationships in the cigar industry are with Jason Wood (VP of Miami Cigar), Hector Paz (Director of Sales, Miami Cigar), Guillermo Leon (La Aurora), Manual Inoa (La Aurora), Jose Manual (La Aurora) and Jose Blanco (Currently of Senorial). Relationships that began because of that trip in 2010 and continue today.
Cigar: Guillermo Leon
Size: Preferidos (6 x 58)
Wrapper: Dominican (HVA)
Binder: Dual (Cameroon & Dominican Corojo)
Filler: Peru, Brazil, Nicaragua & Dominican Repbublic
The Look: The wrapper on the Guillermo Leon is a very dark Habano Vuelta Arriba (HVA), that is nearly flawless. There are a few veins, but none of them stand out to detract from the beauty of the wrapper which has a slight brindle effect. The size of the Guillermo Leon Preferidos is the signature of the La Aurora factory. In the hand the cigar firm, with a slight sponginess and no soft spots. The band of the cigar is red, silver and black and features the La Aurora lion and the signature of Guillermo Leon.
The Notes: The cold draw of the Guillermo Leon has a sweetness that reminds me of black cherry with a faint hint of grass in the background. The foot of the cigar has what I describe as that classic La Aurora nose, a scent that brings me to the factory floor in Santiago. Once the cigar is lit, the initial notes are that of caramel and earth.
As we smoke into the first third of the cigar the caramel moves into the background and the primary note of wood moves to the foreground. s the first third of the cigar comes to a close some complexity forms with notes of cinnamon and a faint caramel note experienced on the first light.
As we transition into the second third of the Guillermo Leon Preferidos the notes of wood move to the background as a cinnamon note moves more front and center with the addition of some nuts joining the mix. As the cigar breaches the half way point some notes of mesquite enter the mix.
As we enter the last third, there is an abundance of spice present of the bakers variety with subtle notes of wood, coffee and earth rounding things out as the Guillermo Leon Preferidos come to a close.
The Burn: The preferido is like a toss-up between a perfecto and a miniature salomon which I’ve had some issues with in the past in terms of burn and draw. The draw of the Guillermo Leon Preferidos was perfect with just the right amount of resistance. The burn started off fairly uneven but corrected itself on its own about 1 inch into cigar. I was tempted to touch it up, but I decided to roll the dice and it corrected itself. Once it corrected, the thick wrapper had a razor-sharp burn line. Smoke production was ample and not overwhelming and the ash was firm, but slightly flaky in the middle section of the stick.
The Finish: When the Guillermo Leon first came out it was a cigar I smoked fairly often. Once I started working for Miami Cigar & Company I began to burn out on them. Now 5 months removed from my 3 year stint in Miami, I now see why I enjoyed these cigars so much when they first came out. A complex smoke with an easily identifiable profile. The cigar was as I remembered it back when it was first released and it was nice to visit with an old friend.