My first premium cigar was a Hoyo De Monterrey Exacalibur #3, purchased in a shop in a large mall just north of Chicago the summer after I graduated high school. I was going in blind, and had no idea what I was looking for, but the light wrapper (I would later learn it was called a Connecticut leaf) and name I vaguely recognized seemed inviting. Smoking that cigar was an experience entirely different than the convenience store tubos...
I stuck with lighter wrappers for a long while, as many novice smokers do, before learning more and branching out to Cameroon and Maduro wrappers. In recent years, I can probably count on one hand the number of Connecticut wrapped cigars I have smoked. My palate has changed, and I much prefer rich full-bodied smoke and hearty spice in my everyday cigars. But even as our palates change, it's useful to go back and revisit some of the flavor profiles we enjoyed when we were first starting out. It was with this perspective that I lit up a new Perla del Mar, and was reminded what a great a mild cigar can be.
The Perla Del Mar is available in four sizes, from the stubby Perla P, at 3 3/4"x56 to the TG, which is the obligatory 6x60. For this review, I smoked the 6 3/4"x54 Perla G, all the sizes are priced from $5 to $7.
The Perla Del Mar, uses a blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos for its binder and filler, and a smooth Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. There is a softness and subtlety that comes through in the pre-light draws, and the cigar gives a firmer draw than one would expect for how it seems to be packed.
The initial draws of the cigar reveal a slight grassy quality, which I often find off-putting in milder cigars, but this quickly smooths out to reveal a slightly nutty character with a pronounced creaminess underlying it.
It was about an inch into the cigar when I realized that the volume and richness of the smoke it was producing was more in line with some the super-premium maduro cigars we carry. One of my main objections to Connecticut wrappers is that the body of the smoke tends to be a bit on the lighter side, but the Perla del Mar was producing rich, round, satisfying mouthfuls of smoke with each puff. If you like showing off for your friends by blowing smoke rings, this cigar will fit the bill nicely.
The flavor remained consistent throughout the cigar, and even though it didn't have any of the spiciness that usually keeps my interest in a cigar it had a complexity and nuance that kept me looking forward to the next puff. It was a just providing a smooth, consistent, creamy smoke delivered in copious amounts.
Surpassing even the flavor, though, is the construction. The burn was perfect, producing a crisp, white ash that didn't flake or crack in the least. Each time I tapped off the ash, there was a razor-perfect edge to the cigar, with binder and filler burning perfectly in sync. Cigars three times as expensive rarely have a burn so consistent.
I would go so far as to say that the Perla del Mar has been my favorite new cigar so far this year, which, for someone who usually smokes full bodied cigars, is saying something. I would recommend it without hesitation to someone new to cigars, as I was when I picked out that Exacilbur, or to someone who has a refined palate and likes more full-bodied cigars. It's just another example of what you can find when you step outside your comfort zone.