Last September, General Cigar Co. began shipping a new blend under its Diesel brand that once again featured AJ Fernandez’s influence in a number of aspects of its creation. Named Diesel Estelí Puro, not only was the cigar blended entirely of Nicaraguan tobaccos grown on AJ Fernandez’s farms in the Estelí region of Nicaragua but it was also rolled at the Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. factory in Estelí.
“Estelí Puro represents the future of Diesel in that the story of the blend is told by the tobacco itself,” said Justin Andrews, business development manager of Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s (STG) North American Branded and Rest of World divisions, in a press release at the time. “With Estelí Puro, we made a collection that is completely unique in its bold flavor profile, yet has many of the attributes that have made the other Diesel expressions a cigar of choice among dyed-in-the-wool smokers. This is a cigar that demands the smoker’s full attention with deep and balanced flavor, a strong presentation and an attractive price point.”
There were three different vitolas of the Diesel Estelí Puro offered when it debuted in September 2020, all packaged in boxes of 20:
- Diesel Estelí Puro Robusto (5 1/4 x 54)
- Diesel Estelí Puro Toro (6 x 54)
- Diesel Estelí Puro Gigante (6 x 60)
Here is what I said in my original review back a little more than a year ago:
As part of my research when reviewing this cigar, I tried to find other cigars that were blended exclusively with tobacco grown in the Estelí region and came up empty. (Editor’s Note: The Tatuaje La Vérité is another example.) Although that obviously does not mean there have not been any released before, the Diesel Estelí Puro may provide a good example of why they are so rare: while the blend is not exactly lacking in the flavor department, those flavors come at a price, specifically an overt, sometimes overwhelming strength that becomes impossible to ignore in the final third. With that said, the first two thirds are quite enjoyable, featuring a profile full of cedar, nuts and cinnamon notes as well as increasing milk chocolate sweetness and fleeting flavors of both mint and vegetal. People looking for strong blends will fall in love with this cigar, but for me, the balance in the final third was compromised by the strength that never seemed to even out, leading me to believe it is one of those cigars that will truly benefit from some age to mellow out the blend and bring a bit more balance to the overall experience.
- Cigar Reviewed: Diesel Estelí Puro Robusto
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Nicaragua
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 5 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $8.99 (Box of 20, $179.80)
- Release Date: Sept. 1, 2020
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
This Diesel Estelí Purowas purchased at the same time as the original review samples, so it is no surprise when removing the cedar wrap reveals a milk chocolate brown wrapper that features both plenties of tooth and oil as the original cigars did. However, there are not nearly as many overt veins on the newest cigar and it is also a bit harder when squeezed compared to the first time around. The aroma from the wrapper includes notes of strong cinnamon, apple juice, cedar, earth and hay, while the foot brings sweet herbs, orange peel citrus, espresso beans, cedar and generic nuts. Finally, after a straight cut the draw brings flavors of baker’s spices, cinnamon, citrus, leather, cedar, black pepper and plenty of spice.
That aforementioned spice inundates my tongue the moment I light the foot of the Diesel, while a sharp coffee bean bitterness quickly morphs into top flavors of powdery cocoa nibs and gritty earth. Those flavors are followed by secondary notes of leather, cedar, hay, cardboard, bread, apple skin and a slight lemongrass, while the finish does feature a bit of espresso bitterness at times. The retrohale includes both black pepper and generic vanilla sweetness, and while there is quite a bit of spice already, the note actually seems to be increasing even more as the first half comes to a close. Flavor comes in at a solid medium, body is medium-plus and the strength ends the first third just over the medium mark, but still increasing noticeably.
The second half of the Diesel Estelí Puro is in many ways just an extension of the first half: flavors of cocoa nibs and gritty earth still easily top the profile—although there is more of the latter than the former at this point—while there is also about the same amount of black pepper and vanilla sweetness on the retrohale. Additional notes of leather, hay, generic nuts, cedar, coffee beans and slight citrus flit in and out at various points as well. However, the big changes are the nearly shocking increase in the amount of spice on my tongue and the huge uptick in strength, both of which begin to negatively affect the balance just after the final third starts. Flavor ends up just at medium-plus, body ends up at full and the strength easily hits the full mark and stays there until I put the nub down with a bit less than an inch remaining.
Construction-wise, the Diesel Estelí Puro performs very well, with an amazing draw after a simple straight cut and burn line that only needs attention from my lighter once during its one hour and 22 minute smoke time. In addition, there is plenty of dense, off-white smoke, and while I did notice some of the same issues with flaky ash, it was nowhere near as problematic as the first time around.
After finishing my original review of the Diesel Estelí Puro, the cigar was immediately added to a list that I should redux at some point down the line, mostly to see if a bit of age would tame some of the overwhelming strength in the final third as well as the large amounts of spice and black pepper, all of which did a good job drowning out some of the nuanced flavors in the profile during the original review. Unfortunately, a year later, not much has changed: while the somewhat different core flavors and sweetness on the retrohale seem to shine through a bit more, there is still too much spice, too much pepper and the strength remains aggressive in the final third for me to enjoy the cigar all the way through.
Original Score (October 2020)
Redux Score (November 2021)