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Size: Robusto, 5×50
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Price: Box of 20, $39.95
My buddy and blog partner Jed introduced me to Cu-Avana a year or so ago when he left me with one of the naturals. It sat for a while, appearing to be nothing spectacular, and one afternoon I grabbed it to unwind. My expectations were considerably low; when I thanked Jed for leaving the smoke he said no worries, it’s a cheapie. In price yes, but not in enjoyment. The natural immediately became my go-to value smoke and I’ve purchased several 5-packs since then. Today I fired up the maduro, which carries the same mild strength as the natural but with a bit more flavor.
Not the strongest point of the Cu-Avana, nor any two-buck stick for that matter. This was the biggest deduction in the review, which I knew going in. There were a few obtrusive veins and the weight of the stick seemed a bit hollow. The wrapper was oily but ridged with lots of bumps. The cap and the foot were not excellent, but not terrible either. Overall, the construction was decent with a nice, clean burgundy and gold label, which complemented the dark maduro wrapper nicely. There was a pleasant sweet smell from foot to top and the draw was perfect; the sweetness was evident in the draw with a surprising bit of spice.
The deductions here are for the rigidness, cap and foot construction, and the hollowness of the stick.
The maduro lit wonderfully with a couple matches and a perfect burn ring quickly formed. The draw created nice, thick smoke clouds and continued throughout the stick. About 2/3 through I did have to re-light, but that could have been blamed more on distractions from conversation than on the stick; the pre-light brought a bit of harshness, which quickly passed. The ash was very dark and unattractive, though fairly consistently colored with minute transitions in shade. The ash held through the first 1.5 inches before falling in my lap.
The deductions here are for the re-light, slightly loose ash, and unattractive coloring.
The flavor on the maduro was nice and sweet throughout; the first inch was a bit empty in flavor but it quickly moved into the sweetness. With most mild smokes, however, you loose a bit of complexity, and I would have loved to get some of the spice noted in the pre-light draw evident during the smoke—this would have been an excellent compliment to the sweetness. There is no real body or force to this smoke, just a clean, smooth, and mild smoke. The only transition came around the 2/3 mark, which presented a bit of harshness, which as I mentioned early, was likely due to the re-light and it quickly passed.
The deductions here are for lacking complexity.
In my opinion, this is the best stick you can buy for the money. I have enjoyed several of these and have not come across any issues whatsoever; a consistent stick. It is designed to be a mild smoke and therefore there is no room to complain at its lack of force. If looking for more oomph, Cu-Avana has recently released the full-bodied Intenso, which I have not tried. This is without a doubt box-worthy, especially when a box of 20 is the price of some 5-packs. Pick up a few today!