Esteban Carreras Chupa Cabra Cigar Review
Wrapper: Habano Oscuro, Nicaragua
Size: 5 ½ x 54 - Robusto Grande
Factory: Tabacalera Carreras S.A.
There isn’t a ton of information out there about Esteban Carreras Cigars. With a little research, I was able to find out that Esteban Carreras is owned by a man named Craig Cunningham and the cigars are blended by a man named Gonzola Puente. They had a bit of a hit several years ago when the Esteban Carreras 10 Años cigar scored a 91 in Cigar Aficionado magazine. Other than that, they’ve been quietly expanding their portfolio and expanding into new markets. Part of this growth has included the Esteban Carreras Chupa Cabra, which was released in 2012. A maduro version of the Chupa Cabra was unveiled at the 2013 IPCPR trade show, but hasn’t shipped quite yet, though it will hit shelves soon (Atlantic Cigar will carry it, and you can check it out here).
For those unaware, the Chupacabra is a beastly animal in American folklore that is said to go around and suck the blood from farm animals. Every once in awhile, reports in the Latin world pop up showing animals that have been drained of their blood, often attributed to this mythical creature, great for terrifying children.
Perhaps to keep with the monster theme, the cigars are rolled with rough, closed feet and pigtail caps. The cigars are packed in boxes of 20 with loose tobacco leaves. The Chupa Cabra is a Nicaraguan puro with a Habano Oscuro wrapper. It has been released in 5 vitolas: the Corona (6 x 44), the Robusto Grande (5 1/2 x 54), the Siglo (6 x 54), the Sixty (6 x 60) and the Toro (6 x 50). I smoked the Robusto Grande for this review.
The two most noticeable features of the Chupa Cabra are the uncut foot and the pigtail cap. The pigtail is well-done, solidly wrapped and tucked away nicely. At the foot, the wrapper hangs over the cut bunch, and while it has a rougher look, is still fairly put together. The wrapper is a darker shade of brown and has a decent amount of oil, though is slightly rough, keeping with the overall theme of the cigar. Despite its rougher appearance, there isn’t much tooth or grain. The cigar feels well-packed when squeezed, but isn't hard.
The cigar smelled fairly mild with some sweetness, barnyard, and hints of fruit rind. The cold draw provided tastes of mild tobacco, sweetness, raisins and mild hints of a cocoa or coffee characteristic.
There was no spice on light and it was fairly sweet at the start with some nuttiness and caramel. Once the cigar got going milk chocolate flavors developed, with a little spice building. At this point, the cigar was mild to medium-bodied.
The middle of the cigar stayed medium-bodied with warm tobacco flavors. The chocolate was the dominant note, with other sweetness like caramel, orange peel, and a dried fruitiness adding complexity. The cigar increased a bit in strength settling at medium-bodied.
Going into the final third, the strength hovered around medium and was still full of the chocolatey goodness. A toasted characteristic developed with some licorice hints at the end. The smoke production was good and the draw throughout the cigar provided just enough pull.
I’ve smoked 3 Esteban Carreras cigars now and I’ve really liked each one. The first was a 10 Años about 5 years ago, when it was garnering comparisons to Padron. Then a few weeks ago I smoked a sample of the Cubano Real Semilla, which was also quite good. Now the Chupa Cabra.
I don’t know why this brand isn’t more well-known. Perhaps it is the fact that production numbers are lower, which allows them to maintain a higher quality in the true boutique fashion. Most cigar smokers are familiar with the trajectory many of our favorite boutique brands take when they increase production. There is always a chance that if Esteban Carreras was bigger or more popular, the cigars wouldn't be nearly as good.
As for the Chupa Cabra, the chocolate was the main feature of the profile, but it was balanced enough with hints of spice, nuts and several other characteristics. If the cigar had more spice, I would say it compares very well to a Padron, but the Chupa Cabra is still a great cigar in its own right.
Estimated smoking time: 1 hour
If you are interested in trying this cigar, you can order them from Atlantic Cigar here.