Santa Rosa Cigars (owned by Altadis) is one of those brands often relegated to the far corner of your tobacconist’s shelf. Made from Ecuadorian Connecticut Wrapper, Honduran binder, Honduran/Nicaraguan filler, and coming in a wide range of sizes, Santa Rosa cigars are made in the Flor de Copan factory in Honduras. Touted as a creamy, mild/medium cigar with a hint of spice, we sought to see whether Santa Rosa, as a budget brand, is worthy of your hard-earned dollar.
I picked up a few of the sancho panza size (4.75″ x 54) early in 2009, and after a year of relaxing, it was time for them to go up in smoke. These cigars are cleanly rolled, with no obvious imperfections or defects. The pre-light aroma is surprisingly spicy, suggesting its use as a pairing for equally spicy foods. The wrapper has a nice, tangy feel on the lips which continues through the length of the cigar, and the burn was even and consistent. While the cigar is definitely of mild to medium body, the flavours evolved nicely, starting quite spicy and ending closer to the nutty/woody spectrum. Throughout, the mouth feel is creamy with a slight dryness to the plentiful smoke. At the start of the last third, a strong bitterness started to emerge, lasting 5 minutes or so before fading as the cigar finished.
Overall, this is a cigar worth picking up at your local tobacconist, especially for its price point (under $5). Don’t hesitate to pair it with a spicy food for the first third — as you’re finishing your dish, the spiciness will fade out as the hazelnut and wood flavours settle in for the dessert course.