Twenty years ago this year, a husband and wife settled into the Dominican Republic with the goal of establishing themselves in the cigar industry. That couple is Litto and Ines Gomez, and the result of their efforts is La Flor Dominicana.
An important detail that should be made clear is that the 1994 is not a celebration of twenty years of La Flor Dominicana (LFD wasn’t created until 1996), but rather it is a celebration of twenty years of Litto and Ines’ time in the cigar business. This is an interesting distinction, as it opens the door for a release celebrating the twenty years of La Flor Dominicana in 2016.
The two years between the Gomez’s entry into the cigar business and the founding of La Flor Dominicana was spent with a company called Los Libertadores. Litto and his wife founded the company, with the help of several investors, and quickly grew to an output of three million cigars per year by 1996. Unfortunately, the Gomez’s soon found themselves at a crossroads with their investors. Litto desired to keep the emphasis on producing high quality and consistent products, while his investors were more concerned with pushing out volume.
With that, La Flor Dominicana was born; formally launching in late 1996. An interesting tidbit – La Flor’s first offerings, known as the Premium Line, were more or less a continuation of the original Los Libertadores blend. Soon thereafter, the Gomez’s opened up the door for exponentially more creative freedom when the company acquired the La Canela farm in the Dominican Republic in 1997. Owning their own farm gave Litto and his wife much tighter control over the entire cultivation process.
The 1994 uses a Mexican San Andres wrapper over a Dominican binder and filler grown on the company’s La Canela farms. Four sizes are currently offered: 5 x 52 Conga, 6 x 58 Aldaba, 6 1/2 x 52 Rumba, and 7 x 54 Mambo. All sizes are being produced in 20 count boxes, and are regular production releases.
A fifth size, a 6 x 54, will be available in the limited edition La Flor Dominicana 1994 Beer Stein (pictured above) that was originally supposed to hit shelves in late September, but is now slated to arrive in the first week of December. The 6 x 54 version of the 1994 found in the Beer Stein uses a maduro version of the existing 1994’s Mexican San Andres wrapper. The Beer Steins will come in 20 count boxes. 3,000 Beer Steins will be released initially, although the company says it is able to make up to 7,000 additional Beer Steins if there is demand.
- Cigar : La Flor Dominicana 1994 Rumba
- Manufacturer : La Flor Dominicana
- Factory : Tabacalera La Flor
- Size : 6 1/2 x 52 Rumba
- Wrapper : Mexican San Andres
- Binder : Dominican (La Canela)
- Filler : Dominican (La Canela)
- MSRP : $7.80
- Production : Ongoing
- Cigars Smoked for Review : 3
Appearance and Pre-Light Aroma:
It occurs to me as I write this that I have become jaded to the wrappers often used on La Flor Dominicana’s offerings. It’s difficult to mentally separate LFD from the imagery of raw, oily jet black tobacco leaf found on the oscuro versions of cigars like the Double Ligero. As such, it’s tempting to describe the 1994’s color as being light, when in reality it’s actually a rich dark chocolate brown with a red wine hue. Little in the way of veins, and smooth seams throughout. As for tooth – the 1994’s wrapper is covered in thick tooth from top to bottom, giving the 1994 an exceedingly coarse feel.
Then there is the band – a stunning merger of the classic LFD flower band and the version currently found on LFD’s. Everything – the design, color scheme, proportions, contrast – all of it; absolutely beautiful.
A thick whiff through the nose strikes you with two things, one of them being just how heavy the profile is, the other just how deep the profile is. Examining the foot’s aroma further, a healthy sweetness is picked up in the top end, consisting of a mixture of deep blueberry, cocoa powder and brown sugar notes, with a softer raisin-sweetness becoming discernible with a bit more attention. On the other end of the spectrum you’ll find light soil notes and an overall earthy taste. The dry draw is much the same, albeit with a couple of tweaks. Brown sugar is slightly more prominent, and I pick up a pinch of what may be cinnamon. Finally, you’ll find the presence of damp earth flavor, although it is difficult to articulate beyond that.
La Flor Dominicana’s 1994 is certainly not shy in its entrance, with a wallop of pepper, leather, minerals and a chalky texture. The bite on the front-end is a bit on the sharper side, but not enough to be classified as being unruly.
All of the initial characteristics remain, but the intensity of the initial barrage subsides quickly, roughly 1/8th of an inch in. With room to breath the profile begins to open up, with brown sugar quickly re-appearing in a rich fashion. The aforementioned mineral notes continue to be a core part of the profile, and the 1994 plays with a few trace notes of charred meat as well. Consistent with what you’d expect, the 1994 is thick and heavy through the nose.
The second third of the La Flor Dominicana sees a progressive increase in strength, firmly planting itself in the spectrum of full. We also see the emergence of several notes that complement the whole of the profile nicely. A buttered toast flavor with an oily mouthfeel becomes quickly apparent, and a strong presence of a tangy cedar note has come to fruition, lasting well into the finish. On the heavier side, dense notes of damp wood and savory charred beef saturate themselves deeply into the palate. There is still a subtle bit of brown sugar to sweeten things, but one needs to be paying some attention to notice it. The profile is less creamy, leaving strong notes of leather, black pepper, and minerals on the dryer side. There were a few instances instances where trace amounts of a potent cayenne pepper were picked up, mainly through a retrohale. Through the nose, things are similar to the first third, albeit with quite a bit more intensity, with the addition of a toasty floral flavor, cedar and noticeably more pepper. It’s enlivening.
The heavier earthy flavors are now the main emphasis of La Flor Dominicana’s 1994. The smoke is thick, dense, and most certainly full-bodied. Meaty would be a good word. Built upon a spicy base, strong notes of a slightly charred beef with a touch of salt to it, and a flavor that is distinctly turkey. Running at slightly lower intensity are savory notes of damp wood and cedar, although the real highlight is an earthy soil note with a pinch of sweetness to it at the tail end. From start to finish has there been the presence of leather and minerals, and the final third is no exception, with both of these characteristics now running at full-throttle. Retrohaling is far and above at its most intense, a bit of caution would be advised.
Burn and Construction:
Both categories leave little to be desired. The 1994’s construction is essentially rock solid – near seamless roll lines, nice feel, and an overall symmetrical appearance. It’s also quite sturdy, so you’re not likely to incur damage from the usual wear and tear of handling and transporting the cigar. While it’s not what I would call pretty in the conventional sense of the word, it does have a certain appeal in a bold and masculine sort of way.
As for the burn, it stays razor sharp from start to finish with little issue, but I would attribute one or two qualifiers to that statement. First, there is a lot of tobacco in La Flor Dominicana’s 1994 – the draw isn’t tight per se, but it does have a noticeably dense feel. Second, I initially had issues keeping it lit, but this was fixed quite literally 100% by a simple increase in smoking pace. I have a definitively slower than average smoking pace, so I imagine this won’t be an issue for most.
The first couple of times I smoked the La Flor Dominicana 1994 I found it enjoyable, but nothing to write home about. It wasn’t until I sat down with the 1994 and truly smoked it with full attention that things finally ‘clicked’. Once they did however… my god, what a profoundly good cigar. It’s bold and it’s brazen, it’s reserved and refined, it’s sophisticated and balanced – it’s everything it should be. It’s a rare instance where a blend feels entirely complete. In a sense, it’s a fitting cigar for a 20th anniversary – its completeness lends a feeling of closure to the first chapter of La Flor Dominicana, opening the door for the next chapter in La Flor Dominicana’s story.
- Burn : 9/10
- Construction : 9/10
- Flavor : 10/10
- Complexity : 9/10
- Balance : 9/10
- Overall Enthusiasm : 10/10
If you would like to try the La Flor Dominicana 1994 for yourself you can pick some up here.
A special thanks to our friends at halfwheel.com for the use of their image of the LFD 1994 Beer Stein.