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Don Diego on Steroids

Richard Carleton Hacker

Don Diego was the first of the non-Havana “Cuban-sounding” cigars created to fill the gap left by the 1962 embargo. Initially it was made in the Canary Islands and was extremely mild. In recent times it has been made in the Dominican Republic, and while popular, it has always remained a mild cigar—until now.

The Don Diego Fuerte —which means “strong” in Spanish—is being made with an entirely different blend by a different cigar maker and in a different country. Consequently, other than its name, this new cigar has nothing in common with the Don Diego your grandfather may have smoked. Even the band is bolder than before.

Hand rolled in Condega, Nicaragua, by Omar Ortez, the Don Diego Fuerte sports a dark and luxuriously oily Ecuadoran Cubano wrapper, with a Nicaraguan binder, and a filler blended with Dominican and Nicaraguan leaf. Aged a minimum of 13 weeks, the aroma is heady and the flavor is like coffee-soaked leather. But like a high-performance engine, it takes a few minutes for the full throttle of this cigar to kick in. In addition to a  5½ x 44 corona, four others are offered: Churchill, belicoso, toro, and robusto—all of which are 54 ring gauge, which enhances their full flavor. This is indeed a cigar that would go well with a glass of Baker’s small-batch bourbon. ($5–$6.50) (www.altadisusa.com)

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