Cigar Review: LH Premium Cigars Claro Toro

Nick Syris, Master Blender and owner of LH Premium Cigars, sees his cigars as “Cuban bridges.” Coming from anyone else that statement might shock, but Nick has the bona fides to back that up. He has made countless trips to Cuba, learned how to blend tobacco in Cuba, and the Claro does very well in Europe where Cuban cigars are still top sellers. Having smoked the Claro, and more than my fair share of Cuban cigars, I’d have to say that I agree.

I am ashamed to admit this, but…LH Premium Cigars wasn’t even on my radar until recently. I was turned on to the brand by a friend at a local lounge, and he insisted that these cigars were the most “Cuban-esque” that he had smoked. So, I gave LH Premium Cigars a shot. Boy, am I glad I did! 

OVERVIEW

VITOLA:   Toro
SIZE:   5-1/2″ x 56

ORIGIN:   Costa Rica
FACTORY:   Tobacos de Costa Rica

WRAPPER:   Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
BINDER:   Nicaraguan
FILLER:   Peruvian, Nicaraguan, Dominican

STRENGTH:   Medium

SOURCE:   
Nick Syris

ENVIRONMENT

WHERE:   
By the pool

WHEN:   
May 4, 2021

DRINKS:   
Coffee

WEATHER:   
81° and 44% Humidity

WHAT’S ON:   
Water gently running 

PRODUCTION

RELEASE TYPE  Regular Production

ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE  2016

TOTAL PRODUCTION
Typical Box Size:     Boxes of 20
Production Totals:  Unknown

VITOLA BREAKDOWN
o  Toro  (5-1/2″ x 56)
Robusto (5″ x 52)
Gordo  (6″ x 60)
Lancero  (7-1/2″ x 42)
Petit Gordo  (4″ x 62)
Corona   (5-3/5″ x 44)
Churchill  (7″ x 48)

BAND DESIGN

The band is an elegant design that sports the LH Premium Cigars logo. According to Nick Syris, one of his favorite bands is the Fuente Fuente Opus X band. He wanted the band’s color scheme to be similar. One thing to note about the bands on his three core lines (Claro, Colorado, Maduro) is, they are identified by the color stripe near the bottom of the band. In this case, the Claro is denoted by the beige color stripe. 

PRE-LIGHT OBSERVATIONS

CONSTRUCTION
The Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade is smooth to the touch and is a gorgeous light brown color, slightly lighter than caramel. The closed foot seems to envelope the cigar The Claro only has a few visible veins and one  seam. The cap is expertly applied. The LH Premium Cigars Claro is a beautiful looking  cigar.

AROMA
Notes of cedar, tobacco, dark chocolate, and grass are easily found.

COLD DRAW
The cold draw reveals the same notes but with more sweetness and a hint of lightly toasted bread with just a touch butter.

SMOKING EXPERIENCE

LIGHT & DRAW
Cut:  Generic straight cutter
Fire:  Xikar Tacticat 1
The draw on the LH Premium Cigars Claro is perfect. It has just the right amount of resistance and is not too tight or too open. The light was as effortless as could be.

SMOKE
The smoke starts out light while still producing a satisfying amount. It isn’t a dry smoke, but it isn’t a creamy smoke, either. To start, the smoke is somewhere in the middle. 

FIRST THIRD
>> Toast, Butter, Maple Syrup

A light breeze makes lighting a bit of a challenge, but the burn line is sharp. A sweet nuttiness comes forward as red pepper jumps from the retrohale. The smoke is plentiful, but light and not creamy. The lightly toasted bread from the cold draw comes front and center, stealing the attention from the pepper. A sweet butter note accompanies it. I begin to taste maple syrup?! It is clear to my palate and confusing to my brain. How can this be? What witchcraft is this? It is subtle but it is there. It’s like smoking a stack of almost burnt pancakes, drenched in butter, and topped with a slightly sweet syrup. The savory notes of salt, nuts, and bread blend well with the creamy and buttery notes. The subtle sweetness accentuates it perfectly. The red pepper from the initial few retrohales has mellowed to black pepper. The ash is grey with a few streaks of black. The burn line is straight, despite the cool Georgia breeze. A spicy cedar note lingers on my tongue. The black pepper once found on the retrohale is gone, replaced with baking spices. Toasted wood begins to dominate the flavor profile, while the sweet and savory notes play supporting roles. A floral note begins its dance with the sweet and savory, adding its presence to the support of toasted wood. The Claro would be amazing paired with a good cup of coffee. I’m kicking myself for leaving my coffee at home.

SECOND THIRD
>> Burnt Toast, Honey, Citrus

The maple syrup has lightened up to a bit of honey on a nicely buttered burnt toast. A bit of citrus adds to the combination. The ash is perfectly compact and not the least bit flaky. The burn line is straight. My lone critique is the dryness of the smoke. If the smoke were just a bit more creamy… How is this cigar not in every humidor? Cedar, spice, honey, and citrus are the dominant notes of the middle third. The LH Claro has my full attention. The salty and sweet notes have been the constant so far. The construction is also on point. The ash holds string, the draw is next to perfect, and the burn is resilient in the breeze. As I reach the halfway point of the Claro, the smoke becomes much more creamy and pleasant. White pepper is now on the retrohale. The Claro is shifting from sweet to savory. An almost toasted caramel is still there, but the woody and nutty notes are beginning to dominate. It’s a subtle transition that if you’re not paying attention to, you’ll miss. Subtle and complex. Nuanced and delicious.

FINAL THIRD
>> Campfire, Coffee, Baking Spices

The burn line is starting to waiver, just a bit. Campfire, salted roasted nuts, and a dark caramel are the dominant flavors. Root beer wasn’t a bad choice, but coffee would be ideal. The band slides off easily. There is a buttery tanginess to this third that is almost intoxicating. The smoke is still creamy and coats my mouth. The retrohale has a hint of pepper with baking spices. The tang is is intensifying. Butter, butter, butter!! The burn line is bit wavy as the flavors begin to intensify. Nothing bitter or acrid, but there is more if an earth and coffee note coming through. Strong black pepper smacks on the retrohale. Charred wood, strong black coffee, and baking spices slap my palate. What was a mild to medium profile has ramped up in this final third. It’s a little out of place, considering the first two thirds of this cigar, but it’s not overly confusing. The flavors have just ramped up.

RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS

FLAVOR PROGRESSION
The LH Premium Cigars Claro flavor progression has to be one of the best I’ve ever had. It is one of the most cohesive progressions I can think of. Each flavor flows into the next; always complimenting the previous flavors and never contradicting. The first two thirds builds on the previous without any stark changes. The final third is not so much a contradiction, but a ramping up of flavors. The Claro is what I would call a smooth transitioning cigar. The nuance and complexity of the flavor profile is on point.

BURN EXPERIENCE
The Claro required no touch-ups or re-lights. In fact, the burn line withstood the strong, afternoon breeze. At no point during my cigar experience with the Claro, was I disappointed with the burn line. It may not have always been razor sharp, but it was never overly wavy or burned wonky. 

RATING BREAKDOWN
0.78 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.49 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
7.30 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.50 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment

COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES

THE LH CIGARS CLARO NEEDS TO BE IN EVERY HUMIDOR.

The LH Premium Cigars Claro just might be the perfect morning cigar. Paired with a good cup of coffee, just enhances the LH Claro experience. The flavor progression is spot on. Starting with mild to medium flavors that are enhanced by the coffee, it serves as the perfect way to wake up while camping or just spending some time with your thoughts. The Claro really does bridge the gap between Cuban and non-Cuban cigars. It has a great Cubanesque profile, while still delivering some of the “oomph” that non-Cubans have. This needs to be in every enthusiasts and aficionados humidor as soon as possilbe. You will not be disappointed. 

SIMPLY STOGIES RATING:  9.57 / 10.0

2 comments on “Cigar Review: LH Premium Cigars Claro Toro

  1. Brendan Daley says:

    I must say that is one of the most comprehensive reviews I’ve ever read. Excellent detail, and your notes make it feel like I’m there smoking one with you.
    I hope you keep posting reviews, excellent work (if you could call that “work” lol). I look forward to reading more, and you’ve got me very interested in trying an LH Cigar. Cheers, Brendan.

    1. James says:

      I appreciate the kind words. Glad you enjoyed the review. You’ll enjoy smoking the Claro more!
      -James

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