Welcome to Miami. Or more specifically, welcome to 5 Vegas Miami. If you’re a regular around these parts, you’re probably quite familiar with that name. But here’s my big, ironic surprise: 5 Vegas Miami is now actually made in Miami….right here in the good ol’ USA. The blend is better yet the price remained the same, an inconceivable outcome considering the drastically different economics of making a cigar in America versus Nicaragua. Don’t take my word, the proof is within every box. Just prepare to be impressed.
The new and improved 5 Vegas Miami is handcrafted in Miami, USA at Gran Habano’s factory in Miami’s cigar center, Calle Ocho. Outdoing the original blend seemed impossible, but owner and master blender George Rico succeeded with ease. Utilizing a vintage, Cuban-seed blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers and an oily and golden brown Habano Ecuador wrapper, this Miami-made beauty delivers a quintessentially Cuban-esque profile that’s layered with notes of pepper, earth, nuts, and a toasty-sweet finish. It’s bold, but perfectly balanced and brimming with flavor. My advice: smoke it slow and take it all in. Legally, this might be as close as you’ll get to that island’s forbidden wares. Keeping all the jobs and business in the USA is just icing on the cake.
CIGARfest 2014. It literally happened a month ago. Amongst the madness, this fabled event was utilized by the fine folks at 5 Vegas as the official launch party for their new 5 Vegas Miami. I spent some time in the 5 Vegas booth at CIGARfest. I rubbed elbows with some of the attendees. I saw some instances of disappointment, as some attendees realized the latest 5 Vegas Limitada (TENTH) was not the featured cigar, as is the tradition with every CIGARfest. But I saw many of them return with wide, toothy grins only to dish out positive feedback on 5 Vegas Miami.
So what’s this cigar all about? First off, it’s back in Miami. Each size is carefully handmade by George Rico on ‘Calle Ocho’ (8th Street) in the cigar-making heart of Miami, Florida. The blend is impressive – a well-aged blend of bold Nicaraguan long-fillers skillfully combined inside a hearty Ecuador Habano wrapper. Aesthetically, every cigar is perfect. Golden brown in color, glistening with oils, and smooth to the touch. I’ve had a few dozen since CIGARfest, and must say, construction has been flawless. I’ve only had Toros, but each and every one has been jam-packed with tobacco, free from soft spots, sits heavy in the hand, and burns slowly and evenly with a perfect draw. Then again, you’d expect nothing less from George (aka Spider, aka Pitbull) Rico.
So what does made in America mean? Normally, either extremely high prices for superior, well-made cigars, or extremely low prices for short-fill yard burners. What Senor Rico has been able to do at G.R. Tabacaleras Co. Miami, with 5 Vegas Miami, is something of an anomaly. This small-batch creation is super-premium to the core, with a per-cigar-price that’s approachable, if not inviting. ‘Merca, where dreams come true.
I’ve already said each cigar performed extremely well when it came to construction, combustion, etc. What I’ve yet to discuss is the flavor. Will this cigar taste like the Cuban Montecristo No. 2 you think you had? Thankfully, no. America, let alone Miami, doesn’t do that. Blending does, and Mr. Rico is quite good at crafting expertly made morsels with a tasty (if not familiar) twang.
From memory, 5 Vegas Miami is rustic in nature, offering a smooth bouquet loaded with earth, white pepper, and raw tobacco. To confirm my memory, I lit another up about 5 minutes ago, and she’s just as expected. A rich and toasty opening, with an earthy finish and dusting of white pepper – with even more through the nose. A third of the way in the tobaccos are warm and the oils begin to run through the barrel of the cigar, releasing a big, toasty, somewhat zesty aroma, while hints of leather and peanut begin hitting the front and sides of my palate.
The middle third is just plain tasty. A well balanced bouquet of earth and leather with a touch of peanut followed by a long, toasty finish complemented by white pepper. In fact, if you enjoy some of Pepin’s earlier offerings, you will likely enjoy this cigar, especially if you’re looking for balanced flavor over spice and strength. Despite the powerful tobaccos at play, and the underlying complexity of the bouquet, at no point does this cigar overwhelm you, or force your taste buds to focus on one flavor. Instead, these flavors smother your taste buds and soothe them with each puff.
The final third is sweeter than normal. Not a sugary-sweetness, mind you, but a gentle sweetness on the lips and tip of the tongue, much like you’d receive from a well-fermented broadleaf maduro wrapper. This sweetness pairs perfectly with the toasty profile, and is one of the primary reasons I tend to light a second Miami shortly after my final puff. I wait for this sweetness, and it never fails to disappoint.
There it is. 5 Vegas Miami. Handmade in America and delivered to your door at third world prices. It ain’t Cuban. It doesn’t try to be Cuban. But it’s a damn good cigar that promises – and delivers – a delicious experience every time you pull one from the box or humidor. Guaranteed, by the Pitbull.