For me, there’s nothing quite like the experience of a good cigar. Whether its settling down after a long day to pause for a bit and take in the outdoors in solitude or smoke in great company, I’ve found that a cigar can be so much more than the sum of its components. Its the totality of the experience. Just like with whiskey and craft beer, everyone develops their own tastes and what they like. There’s a few known brands that always become a go-to, like Devil’s Backbone Ale and Padron, and then there’s the times you branch out- and Curivari’s Gloria de Leon was originally one of those for me and has now become a staple in my humidor.

I first got into smoking cigars on my first deployment. We had access to Cuban Cohibas and Montecristos on the larger FOBs and took every opportunity to scrounge as many up as we could before heading back to the Patrol Base. And even if we couldn’t get those, regular orders came in from places like JR’s and Cigars International. For us cigars became a form of escapism- a break, a bonding with your brothers you stood among, and a time to relax even for that brief moment in time. And often nowadays I’ll smoke a good cigar, reflecting on those times as among the best.

Curivari is a brand that’s nearly nonexistent in the market. Its one that a few serious smokers have heard of, but nearly no information is out there aside from where they’re grown and rolled, and the few reviews out there. Unlike some of the larger labels coming out of Nicaragua, Curivari doesn’t seem concerned about flash or flare, but more into a consistently great smoke. The label itself is reminiscent of the traditional Cuban labels you’ll find on Punch, H. Upmann and Partagas, and even states ‘semila cubana’, owing to their company’s Cuban roots, the rolling style, and the Cuban seed tobacco they grow.

The first thing that always stands out to me is the draw after the cut. Nothing is more irritating than a tight draw that feels like you’re working more for the smoke than you should be- its defeating the whole purpose. My very first Curivari had an impeccable draw. Open, but not loose, very similar to Cohiba. The flavors that presented themselves were very traditional; light spice, vanilla, cashew, earth and ginger. Very palatable and nothing off-putting or unexpected. If you’ve got a taste for Cubans, this one won’t let you down- no gimmicks here. The strength was true to its heritage as well, medium bodied and not one to kick you in the face like a breaching charge.

Working my way through it, the ash is nice and tight with a consistently even burn. It needed a couple of touch-ups on the burn about halfway through, but that’s pretty common. The flavor profile didn’t change much but the strength ramps up just a tad and its welcome. Interestingly, the cigar didn’t burn hot even when getting down to the nub- a testament to its excellent construction. This size, a Toro (6×48), is the perfect afternoon smoke for a little over an hour. A good amount of time to unplug for a bit and soak in the world around you.

Definitely a box-worthy smoke, and at the price ($55-60 for a box of ten or $6 individually), I think they’re a steal. I’ve certainly spent a lot more on far worse smokes, and I appreciate Curivari’s low key approach. This is not a cigar trying to reinvent the wheel- owing much to the label’s Cuban roots its a traditional smoke and it works well. Curivari’s Glria de Leon is definitely a sleeper brand and one you should consider picking up the next time you hit your local brick n’ mortar.