While the Felipe Gregorio brand turned 30 years old in 2020, it wouldn’t be until the spring of 2021 that the company got to celebrate the way many companies do with their anniversaries, by releasing a new cigar. That cigar is Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP, a limited edition that offers not just highly decorative packaging, but some very aged tobacco.
The cigar’s blend is most notable for its filler, a 22-year-old crop of Honduran habano 98 Copan Ruinas that dates back to 1998. It’s not only notable for its age, but because it was the last crop harvested before Hurricane Mitch, the deadliest hurricane in the history of Central America.
“It washed away topsoils from this region, making it so that the taste profile of this ‘terroir’ has forever disappeared,” said Philip Wynne, the owner of Felipe Gregorio, adding that the tobacco used in this cigar simply can never be reproduced.
The filler isn’t the only vintage tobacco used in the blend, as the binder is a 10-year-old pelo de oro leaf grown in Costa Rica. The wrapper is an Ecuadorian habano rosado wrapper that does not come with an age statement. The blend came about as Wynne sought to incorporate “essential elements from my journey in the cigar world” over the last three decades.
It is offered in a single 5 x 54 vitola, what the company calls a wide robusto. As might be expected from a cigar with such aged tobacco, this isn’t a cheap cigar, as each stick has an MSRP of $40. It is offered in jars of 25 cigars, with production limited to just 300 jars, a total of 7,500 cigars. The cigars were produced at Tabacalera Real S.A. in the Dominican Republic.
- Cigar Reviewed: Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Tabacalera Real S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano Rosado)
- Binder: Costa Rica (Pelo de Oro)
- Filler: Honduras (Habano 98 Copan Ruinas)
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Gordo
- MSRP: $40 (Jar of 25, $1,000)
- Release Date: April 2021
- Number of Cigars Released: 300 Jars of 25 Cigars (7,500 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The first thing I notice about the Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP is the alignment of the two bands; more specifically, how much the secondary band is off-center so that the celebratory aspect takes some work to see. The wrapper leaf is a well-tanned shade of brown, a bit nutty with some oiliness and a decent vein structure. While most cigars have become firmer in how they are rolled, this one is a bit softer without feeling underfilled, showing a firm sponginess. Visually, the cigar looks very good, finished off by a petite fan tail on the cap that reminds me of the tip of a small flathead screwdriver. The foot of the cigar is quite impressive, sweet at first sniff but quickly stopping any thoughts that this is a sweet cigar. The next few sniffs remind me a bit of the pastry portion of a breakfast buffet, mixing doughy breads, pastries, berries, cereals and a bit of creaminess with touches of light pepper and light woodiness. The cold draw has a first flavor of a warm, doughy pretzel that leads into more creaminess, an impressively thick flavor at that. It finishes with a bit of toast, giving the lingering flavor a dry, toasty sensation with no pepper or outright sweetness.
The Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP starts off with a sourdough toast note that really tingles the taste buds, though can also stray just a bit too far into the sour part of sourdough. It’s a fairly vibrant start, though the cigar also feels like it’s being pulled towards being a mellower, milder cigar by some of its softer base notes of creaminess and a sweet cereal flavor, a la Frosted Flakes. There’s a good white pepper through the nose for when you want a bit more vibrance and direct stimulation from the smoke, yet it is remarkably refined and smooth. It feels a bit of a short-sell to call the beginning of this Felipe Gregorio familiar, even though it is at times. Yet it is also an interesting spin on it, much like some artful tailoring of a dress shirt. There are definitely samples and puffs when the Ecuadorian habano wrapper seems to shine brighter by way of more dry wood and a bit more black pepper, and while I generally like that profile I’m inclined to say the cigar is a bit better when it is on the mellower end of the spectrum. Construction thus far has been very good, particularly in smoke production. The flavor checks in at medium, body is medium-plus, and strength is just a tick shy of medium but interestingly noticeable.
The second third of the Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP beefs up the body of the smoke while softening out the flavors. Overall, it’s a bit less creamy with a touch of light chalk, while the bread and dough notes hold steady. One sample tastes like it has a particularly flavorful wrapper leaf as flavors of dried wood and black pepper take on a much greater role, and easily dash any thought that the cigar is built around aged tobacco. That pepper carries over to the retrohale as well; what was once a light, clean and punchy white pepper is now black pepper that scrapes the olfactory nerves a bit more, while creaminess comes along behind it to try and soothe the nostrils yet comes up a bit short. There’s more of the bread and dough flavor as the burn line reaches the midpoint; they lead the profile, followed by a building white pepper and a flavor that is somewhere between white toast and light, dry wood. The net effect is a lingering tingle throughout the mouth, not overpowering or bothersome, just noticeable. Construction is still great, with the burn line of only one of the three samples getting uneven enough to have me think of touching it up, though I don’t do so. Flavor is an impressively vibrant medium-plus, body is a lush medium-plus, while strength is still shy of medium.
The final third of the Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP starts with keeping many of the same flavors that the second third offered, but not long into it it becomes a bit fuller flavored with some black pepper and the emergence of a black coffee note, or at least a profile that has me thinking that this section would pair well with a cup of it. There’s still woodiness to the profile and one sample develops a light nuttiness, which when it appears springs the cigar into its most complex profile yet. There’s a bit of earth in the flavor, a flavor that has just a bit of a dark chocolate aspect, though that gets overshadowed by the other flavors. There is also some creaminess left to be found in the final inch, and when left to cool just a bit, the flavor hits an impressive level of complexity and balance that closes out the cigar on a very enjoyable, warm coffee drink note. My only real issue is that the pepper has a bit of bite on the edges of my tongue and occasionally in the back of my throat, while the profile can be a bit too smoky for my liking. Flavor finishes medium-plus, even medium-full at times, body is a thick medium-plus, with strength closer to medium. Construction is very good with a near-perfect draw and smoke production, and a generally even burn line.
- Going by my experience with these samples, I’d suggest waiting as long as possible to remove the bands. They are attached just snug enough and well-adhered that they could damage the wrapper when removing them. Let the heat of the core help you here and you’ll likely have a better result.
- I’m not sure what exactly it is, but I think cigar jars are one of the most elegant packaging formats out there.
- If you gave me this cigar completely blind and asked me whether or not it contained 10-plus year old tobacco, I don’t know if I’d be able to answer with confidence. That is due largely to the vibrance of the wrapper, which can take control of the blend at times. Both produce palate-friendly results, yet I think if you’re going to use such aged leaves, you’d want to give them as good of a chance to shine through as possible.
- The flavor profile journey of the Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP is one that I have tasted—and you likely have as well—from mellower cigars, starting fairly light and creamy and finishing with a bit more robust flavor. I’m not sure if this has just become the standard, but I find it interesting that more cigars don’t try and keep the lighter, mellower and often more complex and nuanced profile all the way through.
- We don’t typically recommend pairings for cigars, there are times we note when a profile might be a match for a certain beverage or seem in need of something to provide some contrast. In the case of the Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP, I would avoid drinking anything other than plain water or club soda so as not to overpower the flavors the cigar offers as they can be that good and nuanced that they deserve to be on your palate by themselves. I don’t think it’s worth the risk of missing the flavors this cigar has to offer, and that’s before taking its price into account.
- That said, I could also see this working with a number of beverage options as the overall profile seems like it could complement a number of beverages.
- As a reminder we don’t factor price into our scores or reviews; we believe that determining the value proposition of a cigar, and its affordability, is up to the individual.
- It’s been some time since I’d read of the factory Tabacalera Real S.A. in an article; in January 2015 I reviewed Headlines 1st Edition Page 3 that was made by the factory.
- There wasn’t much strength to be found from the Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP, which I am not surprised by given the age of the tobaccos.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hours and 45 minutes on average.
The Felipe Gregorio 30 Aniversario Don Felipe XLP is certainly an interesting cigar, both on paper and performance. It’s beyond rare to see a new cigar hit the market boasting tobaccos that are 22-years-old, let alone a leaf that is 10-years-old. There are definitely times when the flavor seems to reflect that age through rich creaminess, subtle sweetness and the kind of polish that only comes with proper aging. Yet at the same time this blend features an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, a leaf that is capable of forcing itself into the conversation, which it does on numerous occasions, sometimes to the profile’s benefit and other times where it would it would seem better to have it just listen to what the other tobaccos have to say. Each cigar has some shared high points, when the creaminess and bread dough are the primary note and getting accented by the pepper, wood, nuts and earth, while each has various low points due to too much earth, pepper or smoke. On the whole though, this is a very good cigar, one that is both easy to enjoy while also inviting the smoker to dive into its subtleties and nuances and rewarding those that choose to do so.