Vitola Battle: Emilio Cigars LJZ LE 2021

The Emilio LJZ was originally released in 2017. The LJZ (standing for LJ Zucca, the tobacco distribution company founded by Emilio’s owner’s, Scott Zucca’s, grandfather) was created and released as a tribute to the company, employees, and the “hard work, character, and entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country great”. The regular production LJZ was released ahead of the merger between Emilio and Black Label Trading Co. that was announced in 2019. The LJZ had already been produced by Fabrica Oveja Negra upon initial release, but the merger saw Emilio become part of Oveja Negra Brands, joining Black Label Trading Company, Black Works Studio, and Dissident. 

The LJZ line saw its first limited edition in 2020. The limited edition is a barber pole utilizing a lighter shaded Nicaraguan (instead of Ecuadorian) Habano wrapper, but with the addition of a darker, Sun Grown Nicaraguan Habano wrapper. The limited edition also sees the addition of Dominican tobaccos in the filler. I had smoked the robusto size of the LJZ LE 2020 release and found it quite enjoyable, which made me interested in this year’s release of the limited edition. This year also saw the addition of a 6 ½ x 42 Lonsdale to the LJZ LE line.

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: Fabrica Oveja Negra

Wrapper: Nicaraguan (Habano & Sun Grown Habano)

Binder: Nicaraguan Habano

Filler: Dominican & Nicaraguan

Vitola: 6 x 50 Toro; 6 ½ x 42 Lonsdale

Price: $11.00 MSRP; $10.50 MSRP

Release Date: October 2021

Company Website: www.ovejanegracigars.com

Expectations

In general, based on the factory, blender, and previous year release, I expect a full flavor and body experience with more savory earth, spices, pepper, meatiness, and wood. I also distinctly remember a peanut butter note on the 2020 LJZ LE Robusto.

Toro - I expect this size to be a bit more nuanced and balanced than the Lonsdale in the flavors presented. Maybe there will be the addition of some sweeter notes or cocoa.

Lonsdale - I expect this size to be a bit more rich and robust overall, but with a more linear flavor profile.

Prelight Characteristics

It’s hard not to like a barber pole cigar, and I personally like barber poles that have more similar shades of wrappers. I’m not crazy about the band as it is a bit too abstract for me.

Toro - This cigar has a fairly rustic looking roll, but both wrappers look clean. This is a firm cigar and is medium in weight. It smells of Copenhagen Snuff (which is fine by me as it was my go to when I chewed) and a bit of sweet earth. The cold draw is like fruit flavored gummies.

Lonsdale - This cigar has a very firm pack. Like the Toro, it has a quite rustic looking roll with clean looking wrapper leaves. It smells of sweet tobacco and cedar. The cold draw is straight milk chocolate.

First Third

Toro - The first light is full body smoke with medium flavors of earthy spices, slightly tannic wood, and a bit of pepper. The retrohale is rich leather, a bit of sweetness, and slight pepper. The flavor is coming up to full quickly and is showing a bit of rich sweetness and cacao nibs, and the wood is more oaky. The burn is working a bit of a canoe an inch in but it corrects itself. Near the end of this third the flavors are basically the same, but there is a bit of a saline-like sensation on the finish of the draw and retrohale.  

Flavor - 2.5/4

Performance - 2.75/3

Experience - 2/3

Overall - 7.25/10

Lonsdale - The first light is full body and flavor with bursts of leather, cacao nibs, and pepper with an earthy, oily finish. The retrohale is quite peppery and full with some baking spices and decadent sweetness. Quickly it drops a lot of the leather and pepper and is left with a toastiness, some spices, a bit of tannins, and a very subtle sweetness. Halfway through the first third it’s got a bit of a metallic note. Closing out this third, the leather is back with some earth, cream, and spices. The draw and performance have been perfect.

Flavor - 2/4

Performance - 3/3

Experience - 1.5/3

Overall - 6.5/10

Second Third

Toro - The second third starts off with the addition of sweet cream to the profile, joining the earthy spices, oak, and pepper. The cacao nibs have dropped off. The retrohale is quite creamy with a bit of leather yet. I had to touch up a bit of a canoe nearing halfway. The retrohale is straight sweet cream and pepper. The draw has become creamy peanut butter, earth, and general wood. I was happy to get that peanut butter note again like last year’s release. That is not something I get often, but enjoy it when I do.

Flavor - 3.25/4

Performance - 2.25/3

Experience - 2.25/3

Overall - 7.75/10

Lonsdale - The second third starts out with more of the same except a bit of cream and nuts on the retrohale. The draw flavors, near halfway, are a bit mellower - down to medium. There’s still cream and spices but not much leather. Halfway sees a bit of a return of the toast and wood on the draw joining the cream and spices. This third ends with a bit more wood.

Flavor - 2.25/4

Performance - 3/3

Experience - 1.5/3

Overall - 6.75/10

Final Third

Toro - Early into this third there’s still some sweet cream but also some nice coffee flavors. The finish carries some earthiness and general wood. Approaching the band the sweet cream has dropped significantly. The primary note is more of a roasted peanut. The retrohale is a different type of nuttiness, a bit of wood, cream, and pepper. It almost started going out spontaneously, but I managed to save it and it’s back to normal. Into the band the cigar is like a nutty, bright, slightly acidic (in a good way) coffee, still with some wood and earth present on the finish. There’s a bit of strength appearing. Ending at an hour and 35 minutes, the flavors remained unchanged.

Flavor - 2.75/4

Performance - 2/3

Experience - 1.75/3

Overall - 6.5/10

Lonsdale - The flavor is back up to full and is still some cream, spices, earth, wood, and a bit of tannins again. The retrohale is tangy cream, pepper, and leather.  Hitting the band the pepper and wood picked up. The smoke is quite oily and the pepper has some heat to it. The retrohale is cream and nuts with a toastiness. Coming to a close at an hour and 20 minutes with a more earthy, woody, peppery profile with some cream. 

Flavor - 2/4

Performance - 3/3

Experience - 1.5/3

Overall - 6.5/10

Overall Experience

Both of these cigars were good, but the Toro was a standout for me. There were a lot of nice and unique flavors. They also always were transitioning quite often, but managed to be in great balance throughout. Had it had the perfect  performance of the Lonsdale, it would have likely broken into the 8s, which is a very good score for me. It did not perform poorly, I should clarify, and I will not hesitate to return to it. As for the Lonsdale, it had an enjoyable profile and I already mentioned the performance. I think that this cigar is approachable and it hit the mark for things I enjoy in a flavor profile, but did not do anything that stood out to me. It left me feeling satisfied and content, but did not seem to leave a lasting impression like the Toro.

Toro - 7.17/10

Lonsdale - 6.58/10

I was graciously gifted these two cigars by a friend. Try the cigars for yourself at Small Batch Cigars and let me know what you think! Use code “Whiskey” to get 10% off your entire order. Plus, sign up and begin earning 5% back in rewards points with each purchase.

Feel free to reach out to me with questions, concerns, criticisms, or just to talk at @guitarsandcigarsfarm on Instagram, or via email at trevor@whiskeyandwhitetails.com


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