Wrapper: Pennsylvania Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Honduran Jamastran (Habano Seed)
Filler: Nicaraguan Ometepe (Habano Criollo 98), Nicaraguan Jalapa (Habano Corojo 99), Nicaraguan Esteli (Habano Criollo 98)
Vitola: Toro ( 6 x 50)
Brand: Tobacconist University
Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A. 
CigarNoise Price Range: $8 – $10
Availability: Limited (20,000 cigars split between three vitolas)
Source: IPCPR 2016

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf – Pre-Light

Today I reach into the review box looking for something different, something to pique my interest.  The Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf cigar fits the bill.  How could I not be interested in a cigar born of a project pioneered by A.J. Fernandez?  The R&D Cigars project is hoping to “Educate your mind and your palate,” a statement printed on their bands.

At first glance, this cigar appears somewhat rustic looking with a moderately dark, slightly toothy wrapper.  Upon closer inspection I see some small tears and holes in the wrapper itself.  None of the defects are so agregious I am concerned they will cause issues during smoking, but they are obvious.  The small pigtail cap appears to be expertly applied and the cigar is firmly rolled.

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf Review

I draw deeply against the wrapper, smelling mild notes of cocoa and hay.  From the foot, spice, hay and cocoa combine, creating a well balanced medley.  Removing the cap with a straight cut, the cold draw, while a bit tighter than I’d prefer, is comprised of hay, mild tobacco, spice and cocoa. I love broadleaf and I love much of what A.J. Fernandez is involved with regarding cigars so my anticipation and expectations are elevated.

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf – First Third

Cocoa, Cedar, Leather, Cashew, Espresso, Mild Black Pepper

At nearly the same moment I place my torch on the table, my palate is covered with rich smoke, distinct with a dark cocoa flavor that’s joined by cedar, leather, and a mild black pepper finish.  Providing just a bit of tingle on the tongue, the black pepper isn’t overpowering and shouldn’t discourage even a new cigar smoker.  Interestingly, while the cold draw required a little work to pull air through the stick, it has a perfect draw once lit.

With one inch of ash hanging from the end, strong espresso flavors become apparent and finish with a nutty, cashew note.  It’s an interesting and welcome shift in complexity but has me curious about the flavor change so early in the cigar.

Unfortunately, the middle of the first third brings a rather unpleasant change with the profile falling quite flat.  Mild hints of cedar and leather remain but all the other flavors disperse, succumbing to plain tobacco flavor.

In the mechanics field, this cigar is doing well.  The burn is wavy, but is very sharp at the char line.  I am also impressed with a long, solid ash still clinging onto the cigar as I approach the middle third of the smoke.

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf – Middle Third

Cocoa, Cedar, Cream, Spice, Espresso, Leather, Salty Mineral

Ash finally gives way to gravity, falling as one solid piece into the ashtray to commemorate this segment.  Suddenly, cocoa returns in earnest with a nice sweet note.  Cream and spice round out the main profile but leave room for enjoyable nuances in the finish.  Soft leather notes appear in and out of the the smoke on my palate and finish with a salty mineral note.  I’m sure you probably feel the same way I do about any mineral flavors in a cigar, but with the sweetness of the cocoa, this salty addition provides balance to the profile as a whole.

The burn is beginning to falter in this third, requiring a touch-up to get things moving in the right direction.  This is the first such correction required by the R&D stick.  Draw remains easy and adds a reliable feeling to the experience.

One thing I really enjoy in a cigar is lots of smoke production and this cigar is all aces on this point!  Whether I am taking notes with the cigar in my mouth or letting it sit in the rest, smoke pours from the end, assuring me it is ready to go at a moments notice.

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf – Final Third

Nuts, Leather, Charred Wood, Salty Mineral, Bitter Chocolate

A subdued profile begins to emerge during the early stages of the final third.  Cocoa, cedar and cream are replaced with nuts, leather and charred wood flavors.  My enjoyment of the middle third is turning to a fading memory quickly.  The salty mineral facet returns, joined by bitter chocolate in finish.  The salty and bitter aspects clash and throw the balance far from where I hoped this cigar would end.

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf

In addition to the radical flavor changes, smoke becomes light and void of substance.  The burn is erratic, attempting to run on one side as I lift my torch to whip it into shape.

The final stage of the R&D Broadleaf is struggling to hold my interest.  The flavors just aren’t living up to the experience from the first and middle third sections of the cigar.  I hold on as long as I can, truly hoping for a miracle comeback, but is just isn’t in the cards.

Tobacconist University R&D Broadleaf

Review 0
8.4 Reviewer
Cigar Noise Network 0 (0 votes)
Pros

Near Perfect Draw

Relatively Complex First Two Thrirds

Cons

Flavors Flat In Middle Of 1st Third

Profile Struggled In Final Third

Burn Consistently Wavy; Required Corrections

Summary
The R&D Broadleaf flavor profile flattened in the first third and truly struggled in the final third. The middle of the cigar provided the only bright spot, becoming complex and well balanced in all aspects. This not only affected the flavor score but the enjoyment and value as well. I don't want to settle for one third of a cigar performing well. Regarding mechanics, smoke production was good for the most part but became thin and inconsequential towards the end. The burn was consistently wavy and required two corrections to stay on course. I really wanted the cigar to finish with a crescendo but it just never happened.
Value
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Flavor
Enjoyment
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Ted

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