Dona Flor cigars are the creation of Felix Menendez, son of one of the most famous cigar manufacturers of all time, Alonso Menendez. Alonso Menendez gained eternal fame as the creator of the Montecristo brand and majority owner of the H Upmann factory in Cuba in the days before the Castro revolution.
Felix Menendez settled in Brazil in the early 1970s. Choosing to locate near the fertile land of Recanavo (Bahia region) he founded a cigar making company with Brazilian partner Mario Amerino. Dona Flor and its sister brand Gabriela (named for characters created by the Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado) were created and are now the leading brands in Brazil.
These Brazilian puros (one of the only on the market) feature pure aged Mata Fina tobacco and are available in a sun-grown Maduro wrapper to yield a delectably smooth yet robust taste, or a Connecticut shade-grown wrapper for a more subtle, yielding flavour. The one i sampled was the maduro wrapper.
The visual test was satisfactory. A very dark maduro wrapper, with a bit of brittleness to it, and quite a number of prominent veins making it a bit bumpy and uneven. Not a very pretty cigar to behold. The pinch test reveals a nice firm body, but the wrapper itself isn’t very oily to the touch.
(Image lost) Fairly even burn – notice the veiny wrapper
The scent test reveals a very fragrant aroma — not overpowering like Torano Silvers, but perhaps a bit more subtle. Quite pleasing, straightforward tobacco aromas. Lighting it up takes but a moment; this was definitely one of the easier cigars to light and keep going evenly throughout. But problems occur from the onset of the first draw: its a bit too easy for my tastes. I’ve always preferred slightly firmer draws as i’ve found that loose drawing cigars, while produces a lot of smoke volume, tends to burn too fast and cool to be properly enjoyable. Perhaps this feature is a characteristic specifically engineered to cater for European tastes — Dona Flor is mainly found in Europe, especially Germany where machine made, loose drawing cigars are far more popular than their hand rolled cousins.
(Image lost) A bit of flowering in the tobacco
Taste wise, this cigar is a strange one — it starts off with very strong, bitter grainy dark chocolate tones, and finished up towards the second half with a large dose of peppery spice. A little bit too full-bodied for my tastes, but i can imagine this cigar would go very well with a strong black coffee or cognac to complement it. The other thing to note is that the nicotine punch in this cigar is considerable — by about half way through i was experiencing a significant buzz.
(Image lost) This cigar packs a very mean nicotine punch
Verdict: First time i’ve ever tried a Brazillian puros and i can’t say i’m disappointed — its a fragrant, complex cigar with a very full body. It isn’t pretty, nor does it burn very well, and the draw is quite loose. But it is an interesting cigar, very different from most of what i’m used to.