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Staff Reviews

Bella Cuba Shade Churchill Staff Review

Grant T. Thompson's picture

Grant T.

On the review docket for today is a delicious cigar called Bella Cuba Shade in a traditional 7 x 50 Churchill. Back before I began perusing the colossal warehouse aisles where Holt’s stores an immense inventory of fine cigars at the lowest prices known to man, I wondered if my burgeoning obsession with premium handmades would lead to financial ruin. When buying a few singles here and there at full boat from my local smokeshop proved unsustainable, my full-blown search for budget-friendly specimens like Bella Cuba began. And, boy, am I ever glad I found them.

Previously, I’ve reviewed the original Bella Cuba, blended with a Sumatra wrapper, and I happily bestowed a 91-point rating upon it. Let’s see how well its butterscotch-hued, Connecticut Shade brethren fares in another illuminating assessment from yours truly. Because it’s early in the morning, I’ve decided to pair Bella Cuba Shade with a blast of blonde roast espresso from the vintage Nespresso machine perched on my kitchen counter like a tired, old buzzard waiting for prey to fall in its lap.

I’ve chosen a particularly oily Churchill from my desktop humidor. Stripped from the cellophane, Bella Cuba Shade reveals a minimal vein structure and extraordinary attention to its assembly with a seamless cap. Bella Cuba cigars are handmade in the Dominican Republic and prudently packaged in 20-count bundles with – you guessed it – a fair-skinned maiden clad in 1800s-era apparel on the band.

Bella Cuba Shade is a Cuban-sandwich cigar, meaning the Dominican tobaccos that fill out the inside consist of long and short-fillers, which keeps the cost down. Even with my lofty expectations tempered, I’m flabbergasted by the cigar’s $1.94 price tag. The Churchill possesses a surprising density and weight for a Cuban-sandwich blend which balances like an acrobat between my fingers.  

Once the cap is excised, a near-perfect draw rewards the palate with rich and regal notes of cedar, leather, and sweet alfalfa hay as I take a few cold puffs before lighting up. With a quick flick of my trusty soft-flame Djeep, effortless streams of creamy smoke disperse across my palate and into the nasal cavity. Lovely notes of cedar and caramel capture my attention. How is Bella Cuba Shade possibly a budget smoke? Its buttery flavor lingers on the palate with pure elegance while voluminous clouds of smoke flow toward the ceiling tiles.

After about thirty minutes, the cigar’s sweet spot reveals pleasant notes of bittersweet cocoa, nuts, and cashew butter. The profile proves flawless as I sip on my frothy double shot of Nespresso – a heavenly pairing indeed. Bella Cuba burns at an even and consistent pace, and, even though the ash is flaky at times, I can get it to hang on in coveted one-inch increments. A flaking ash is common on a Cuban-sandwich cigar.

The Churchill overheats a bit after forty-five minutes, but the flavor becomes tangy and sweet with an agreeable spice. I stagger my puffing cadence to let the cigar cool between draws but continue smoking it just shy of an hour, when I let it peacefully expire in my ashtray. A nice, easygoing aftertaste settles across my palate as my grin expands.

Bella Cuba Shade is less intense than the peppery, knee-buckling blends I typically prefer, but you can’t underestimate its smooth, enticing taste and, most of all, the price. When you need a creamy bundle of breakfast cigars, Bella Cuba Shade is better than bacon. Why go belly up overpaying for the basic smokes you need to get your day going? Add a bundle of these Dominican dandies to your coolerdor today. I bet you’ll set your alarm early to smoke one.

Until next time, long ashes to you!


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