A few months ago I visited the Dominican-based Felipe Gregorio factory, owned by Philip Gregory Wynne (Felipe Gregorio is the spanglicized version of Philip Gregory). It had been 4 years since my last visit to this factory and I left impressed at the improvements in terms of consistency, thanks to ample inventory of quality tobacco and a beefed up production staff. I believe this guy has potential to become a star in the cigar world....something like a Rocky Patel circa 2001. Not because they are similar in personality or work style but because while he doesn't yet receive the attention or accolades among the wider consumer audience, he indeed is making some really solid blends and continually getting better - examples include Felipe Power, Pelo de Oro, and Petrus Reposado. Felipe's cigars also do great in the European market despite outrageous retail prices of $10+ per stick. In fact across the pond his blends rival Davdidoff and the best Cuba has to offer....at those prices one may wonder how he sleeps at night. Peacefully I presume, judging by his veritable French work day of 11am to 3pm (I kid, I kid).
But another of his blends caught my attention this last visit. It's called ‘Felipe Icon,’ an eye-catching little number set to be released soon. After smoking just one of these enjoyable Felipe Icon cigars, I instantly cursed all those crepe-snarfing Frenchmen and began badgering Philip to ship all Felipe Icon production to me instead of old Europe. After much resistance (and a half bottle of Grey Goose), Señor Wynne finally acceded to my demands and I am about to receive a gi-normous order of Felipe Icon any day.
‘Felipe Icon’ intrigued me for two reasons. First, its lovely boxes and bands grab the attention. The band depicts several of the world’s most memorable cigar icons - including Winston Churchill, Groucho Marx, Albert Einstein, and Mark Twain. Second, its wrapper....easily the prettiest leaf I saw during the entire Dominican trip. This wrapper is a triple-fermented Costa Rican wrapper from the top priming grown from a very special Vuelta Abajo seed. This dark, oily leaf cloaks a complex blend of vintage Nicaraguan and Dominican long-leaf tobaccos - coating the palate with rich, dense flavors. Its got a toasty opening, developing complex notes of coffee and chocolate. The dark wrapper delivers a silky smooth smoke and naturally sweet aftertaste that never gets hot or harsh. The smoke remains medium in body all the way through. Upon finishing you will be very tempted into having another immediately.