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Staff Reviews

Villiger Cuellar Black Forest Staff Review

Grant T. Thompson's picture

Grant T.

Villiger Cuellar Black Forest cigars don’t come in the typical blowout bin bundles I’m accustomed to reviewing. These premium smokes are actually packaged in boxes, but don’t get me wrong, they still go for a rock-solid bargain. I’ve already unloaded my unabridged praise of Villiger White Forest cigars in a previous review. Let’s take a walk on the dark side and find out how Villiger Black Forest stacks up in a 6-by-54 Toro Gordo. 

Villiger is a European maker of machine-made cigars, best known for its Villiger Export brand, but the company’s chairman, Heinrich Villiger, has focused on expanding his footprint in the premium handmade market in North America over the past two decades. Lucky for me, the fastest way for Villiger to achieve significant shelf space in our palatial Holt’s warehouse is by offering massive discounts that meet the stringent criteria of my monthly cigar budget. When you order Villiger from Holt’s, you’re guaranteed the lowest prices in the Western Hemisphere because we only buy it in the biggest possible quantities to maximize the discounts we pass on to the loyal legions of deal-seeking buzzards who shop with us, like yours truly.

Heinrich’s grandfather started the company in 1888, and although Villiger cigars have been around for over a century, they don’t have the recognition of big Cuban-legacy brands, like Montecristo or Romeo y Julieta, and they don’t have the small-batch appeal of Tatuaje or Foundation cigars. Nonetheless, the critics in Cigar Aficionado have bestowed a steady stream of accolades on Villger’s finest, including La Flor de Ynclan, La Vencedora, and the Cuellar Black Forest I’m smoking today. The blend debuted in 2019 and is named after the legendary Black Forest in Germany which is near Heinrich Villiger’s childhood home.

Black Forest is blended from an oily and toothy San Andrés wrapper and a meaty interior of premium Dominican long-filler tobaccos aged for a good amount of time. When I crack the seal on a new box, woody and earthy aroma mingles with the beard oil I dutifully brush into my facial hair every morning. I can practically smell the pine trees once I unsheathe a dark, alluring specimen from its cellophane.

After I clip the cap with my beloved Savoy guillotine cutter and spin the Toro Gordo between my lips, the cold draw is savory and peppery. My eyebrows twitch a bit when I start toasting the foot. Charry notes of leather and hickory leave a chalky aftertaste on my palate in the first minutes. The spice stings my nose hairs, and the flavor is somewhat abrasive in the beginning.

Black Forest settles down, though, once the binder, filler, and wrapper tobaccos fully ignite and reach an even burn. The draw is reliable as the cigar gets going with a stable flow of creamy, white smoke redolent of a campfire. The pepper kicks in throughout the middle. Black Forest is bold and balanced by a cocoa-like sweetness on the backend that tastes more like other great San Andrés cigars I’ve smoked before.

Hearty notes of hickory and spice persist with hints of coffee and cocoa, but the texture remains dry. My biggest sticking point with Villiger Black Forest is its palate-parching, charry taste. It’s not a bad smoke by any stretch, but I have to remind myself a whole box costs under a hundred bucks. That’s darn near yard ‘gar prices for a one-hundred percent premium long-filler blend. I feel better after considering price in my evaluation of Black Forest.

Once I peel off the cigar bands and power through the nub, I’m confident this is a cigar I can easily smoke while I’m running my chainsaw. The finish redeems the smoke with a chocolaty sweetness. As the ashes smolder in my giant Stinky ashtray, I’m knocking a few points off, for an 83-point score, for the temporary bitterness Villiger Cuellar Black Forest imparts. However, I’m convinced this budget-friendly gem from Villiger will still exceed your expectations when you toss a box in your coolerdor for a huge discount.

Until next time, long ashes to you!


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