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Staff Reviews

Rosa Cuba Ortiz Y Laboy Staff Review

Grant T. Thompson's picture

Grant T.

Today I’m smoking Rosa Cuba in a 6.5-by-52 Toro called the Ortiz Y Laboy. If you’re not “in the know,” Rosa Cuba is an old-school bundle brand that blowout bin vultures have been circling for decades. It winds up in my rotation on occasion because I refuse to deflate my wallet or dial back my voracious cigar consumption when the needle on my coolerdor is hovering over the E.  

Rosa Cuba is universally adored as one of the best bundle cigars you can buy. It’s a bona fide yard ‘gar, and you can bet there are legions of curmudgeons – the ones who swear all cigars taste the same – that are sitting on troves of Rosa Cuba bundles as we speak. When you pluck a fresh batch of Rosa Cuba from the cheap seats in your local smokeshop, the first thing you’ll notice are the colorful but cheesy lo-rez cigar bands featuring a young maiden fanning herself before a tropical landscape. I feel like changing into a Hawaiian shirt every time I reach for a Rosa Cuba.

The lowdown is this: Rosa Cuba is a Cuban-sandwich cigar. That means there is a mix of short-filler and long-filler leaves underneath the cigar’s gingerbread-hued Ecuador Sumatra wrapper leaf. All the filler tobaccos are Nicaraguan, and Nicaragua, coincidentally, is where Rosa Cuba cigars are crafted. You’ve got five sizes to choose from, and the Ortiz Y Laboy that I’m smoking today is a classic Toro.

My thrifty instincts kick into overdrive the second I tear off the outer cello to pluck a fresh cigar from a new bundle. But don’t hold your breath if you’re expecting a crescendo of stupefying flavor and aroma. Rosa Cuba cigars are crafted to survive a ride on the lawn mower and provide respectable flavor, without going out, in the meantime. This isn’t a cigar you hand your boss hoping for a promotion.

As soon as I chop off the cap off with my trusty guillotine cutter and toast the foot, Rosa Cuba unloads an earthy amalgam of leather and fresh hay with hints of walnut. A few fleeting traces of cocoa powder lend sweetness to the taste, which is a nice surprise. Rosa Cuba isn’t really a cigar I’ll reach for deliberately so much as it is a brand necessitated by my budget. Therefore, it’s a plus when I’m reminded of the redemptive qualities these inexpensive boomsticks possess.

The construction is sound, too. After ten or fifteen minutes of puffing, nothing has impeded the draw, despite the short-filler tobaccos on the inside. Sure, the ash is a bit flaky, but that’s no deterrent. Most of the time I’m smoking a Rosa Cuba, it’s outside where a tidy ash isn’t my first concern. Peppery notes of cedar and caramel come into play, and I get hints of sawdust in my beak when I’m pushing the smoke out through my nostrils, but it’s nothing that causes alarm. I fully expect to get stung by a touch of spice when I’m only spending around $2 per smoke.

My only complaint is that I’m smoking a Rosa Cuba for a staff review. Fully focusing on the cigar’s flavor and aroma is an exercise in futility. Normally I’m raking leaves, shoveling snow, or doing something with my hands that steers my concentration away – at least enough so I can enjoy Rosa Cuba passively.

As I whittle the Toro down past the band, I’m glad to report I made it this far. The finish leaves a decent aftertaste of alfalfa and pencil shavings, but there’s just enough sweetness to keep it tolerable. Plus, if you drop one in the grass before you’re done smoking, it’s hardly a catastrophic affair.

In closing, if your palate’s in great shape and you’ve got high expectations, you may want to pass on Rosa Cuba. I wouldn’t want you to risk leaving a “So Disappointed!” caption in a product review. On the other hand, if you realize how little you’re spending, and you’re looking for a cigar to cover up the smell of turpentine when you’re done painting the porch, Rosa Cuba is a sensible investment.

I’ve reviewed other Cuban-sandwich standouts before, including Bella Cuba and Bella Cuba Shade, if you need more insight into cheap bundles. But you don’t have to take my expert opinion as the word of God. Add a 20-count bundle to your coolerdor today, and taste whether Rosa Cuba is one of the hottest Cuban sandwich cigars you can buy right now or not. If not, they’re great fodder for cigar-mooching pals.

Until next time, long ashes to you! 

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