Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dunhill Signed Range (Nicaraguan)

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If you read my last review you know that there are two varieties of Dunhill Signed Range cigars. One was manufactured in the Dominican Republic (which is now discontinued but still being sold by retailers until supplies run out) and another is currently being manufactured in Esteli, Nicaragua. Doc of Stogie Fresh did a review of both cigars in his podcast in March of this year. It is definitely worth a listen. He mentioned the rarity of the wrapper leaf used in the Dominican version limited it's production and so British American Tobacco moved it's location to Nicaragua and changed it's blend completely.


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The Nicaraguan version of the Signed Range utilizes a darker wrapper than the Dominican. The color is an oily reddish brown with dark blotches all over. Unlike the smooth Dominican, this cigar has more prominent veins and feels slightly bumpy. Overall construction though is satisfactory. The cigar feels very firm and packed with tobacco. It's aroma was not as pungent as the Dominican but still smelled of nice sweet tobacco. Pre-light draw showed a fruity black tea flavor.


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I did have some concerns about a tight draw and sure enough that was the case. While not plugged, the draw was more difficult than what I would have liked. After lighting the cigar I noticed right away that the flavor was much fuller than the Dominican. This cigar was earthier with flavors of burnt coffee, caramel and warm spices. It had nice complexity. The firm draw forced me to take little sips of smoke which just enhanced the subtle flavor components. I noticed hints of dark chocolate, cinnamon and cedar in the early stages.


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In the second third, the cedar flavor was more pronounced. The cigar was very smooth and balanced with no trace of bitterness. I still tasted dark caramel and spices along with a hint of leather on the finish. Unfortunately, I also noticed that the wrapper was starting to lift up in several places. Luckily, it didn't unravel and I was able to smoke the entire cigar without any problem. It just looked a little ugly towards the end. It's definitely not what you would want to see in an eleven dollar cigar.


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The final third of the cigar was mostly a nice rich cedar and leather character along with some roasted nut flavor and a heavenly finish of molasses. I was also picking up more pepperiness in the last half of the cigar which was not offensive at all.


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Doc of Stogie Fresh also mentioned and I would agree as well, that a lot of cigar retailers get these two varieties of Signed Range mixed up. They may show pictures of one variety, yet actually name and sell the other one. In fact, the site that I ordered from actually listed both varieties yet they picked and shipped the wrong one to me. It really is best to call them before ordering to ensure that you get the one that you want. These cigars are not cheap, and you definitely want to make sure you get what you are paying for. The easiest way to identify them is by the cigar band. The Dominican version is a block print Dunhill name in all caps and the Nicaraguan is a cursive Dunhill name with a crest on top of the name and "since 1907" underneath the name.


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I would finally say that you really can't go wrong with either version. They are both complex smokes and they both taste fantastic to the point of wanting to nub them. The Nicaraguan starts out more fuller bodied while the Dominican takes time to develop into a more full bodied flavor. I would personally order more of both to keep in my humidor as a special smoke. Keep in mind that once the Dominican version sells out that's it. Since they both sell at a premium price, they should still be readily available in many locations.

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