It’s been awhile since I posted a cigar review and I decided it was high time to remedy that. My choice was the Don Lino Africa Duma (5 x 50), which comes with an interesting filler combination from Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
The first thing I noticed about this cigar was that I had a hell of a time cutting it. This is a stout little bugger. In fact, the cap popped off long before I managed to cut through the cigar. This could be a sign that my cutter is just getting dull, but the fact that the cap came off neatly actually impressed me. Too often the cap comes away along with part of the wrapper, but not in this case. I inspected the cap once it was off and found it as sturdy as the top of an acorn. The cigar roller had paid close attention to this little piece of craftsmanship.
After my odd fascination with the cap had subsided, I took a long smell of the unlit cigar. It smelled like a petting zoo, one of those places kids go to, you know, pet animals. It has been said that the more a cigar smells like manure, the better it will taste. I find this adage disturbing and not universally true, but I reserved judgment and began toasted the foot.
It lit nicely and the draw was exactly as I like it: not so tight that it makes your jaw hurt, but tight enough to lend a little resistance. The amount of smoke production was excellent, as well. I expect a decent amount smoke from my cigars – it makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something – and this stick delivered on quantity. Unfortunately, the smoke was also harsh, something I don’t particularly care for.
It took me a little bit to grasp the flavor. They weren’t subtle. In fact, they were quite strong, making them somewhat difficult to separate. Right away there was a bitter flavor, but beyond that I couldn’t quite pinpoint it. I finally figured out that it was a combination of coffee and dark chocolate, both contributing to the bitterness. These flavors played an interesting duet for maybe half an inch, when they were met with the taste of slightly damp wood or freshly fallen oak leaves. It dawned on me that I had inadvertently chosen the perfect fall cigar. Get one of these for Thanksgiving Day. It will go well after a heavy meal and if accompanied with a small glass of bourbon, straight and on the rocks. Scotch might work, as well, but may end up being too sophisticated a taste, depending on your brand. This cigar doesn’t have much finesse. I wouldn’t call it brutal, but it certainly makes a statement. Also, the slightly sweeter taste of bourbon would make a nice foil for the Don Lina Africa’s strength.
Halfway through the cigar, the burn remained good. Not razor sharp, but quite stable. The original flavors moderated somewhat and were replaced by traces of herb root, moss, and an oddly tasty version of orange peel. This is an extremely earthy cigar and remained true to its fall billing. In fact, when I closed my eyes to envision flavors, I kept seeing colors instead of images: brown, gold, orange, and rust. When I forced images to come, they consisted mainly of fall landscapes and harvested wheat fields. The taste was robustly rustic and I decided this would also be a good cigar to have around a campfire after a long day of hunting or hiking.
A little way into the final third, the burn ran off the tracks a little bit, but still wasn’t bad and required no correction. The flavors merged together into a strong musky taste and became a little too bitter. It’s natural for a cigar to become strong and bitter near the end, but I still had 1.5-2 inches to go and the closing bell seemed to arrive too soon.
All in all, the Don Lino Africa is a worthy addition to any humidor and gets a solid three out of four stars. If I rated anything by halves, it might rate 3.5. But I don’t, so it doesn’t.