The Blanco family finally got the Prince Hall Cigars out to stores at the tail end of 2020. It was scheduled for release earlier, but a pesky pandemic held up production. Why it has taken me three years to review this cigar is, well, it took James three years to give me three of them. It’s more like two and a half, and I have been sitting on them for quite a while.
I was unfamiliar with the Blanco family and their line of cigars. Truthfully, if I see a cigar brand trading on a link to Free Masonry, I usually pass it by. Not because I am a conspiracy nut, but because I am myself a Free Mason, and where I was Raised, you don’t do that.
After researching the Blanco Cigars, I found that The Blancos are Free Masons, with David Blanco being a 5th generation Mason. Also, both he and his father, Cesar, are not only from my home state of Illinois, Chicago to be exact, via Cuba and Florida, they both were Commissioned Officers in the US Army, actually having served on active duty, one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan at the same time.
Enough of that. If you are interested in just who Prince Hall is, go to www.blancocigars.com and give that a read, or try Wikipedia for Prince Hall. No, he was not an actual prince, either the royal or the singer kind. But he was indeed a Prince of a man and worthy of knowing his story, which I could never do justice here.
SIZE: 5″ x 50
FACTORY: Plasencia Cigars S.A.
WRAPPER: Habano Maduro
Cigar Bunker Mile 474 on the Upper Mississippi River
30° outside, 68° inside
HOW MANY CIGARS SMOKED:
RELEASE TYPE Regular Release
ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE Who knows? Not Randy.
Typical Box Size: Bundles of 50 or 5 packs
Production Totals: Unknown
o Robusto (5″ x 50)
o Toro (6″ x 52)
o Gran Toro (6″ x 60)
o Gordo (7″ x 70)
The Prince Hall band, with its straightforward color combination of a black background with gold printing, gives it a simplistic appearance. It is anything but. Prince Hall is broadly spelled and surrounded by several masonic symbols. The number 87 is also prominently displayed. Only when you remove the band do you find a corresponding 17 on the opposite side. 1787 refers not to the founding of African Lodge No. 1 in the United States, which was founded in 1784, but Prince Hall’s petition, along with other free blacks, to the Massachusetts Legislature calling for the emancipation of all blacks. This, along with equality in education and all other walks of life, was a passion for Prince Hall.
The cigars looked a little “rough and ready,” to use some British slang. They were not the straightest cigars nor the most evenly rolled, with slight variations in ring gage here and there. The three I had were some of the firmest cigars I have ever smoked.
The pre-light aroma centered around the tobacco itself with some mustiness.
The cold draw mirrored the wrapper aroma, tobacco, and mustiness with some additional hints of leather.
LIGHT & DRAW
Cut: Straight Cut
Fire: ST Dupont soft flame
My first few puffs produced a robust black pepper taste, so much so that it lingered on my tongue after each exhale. This was only really experienced on one of the three cigars for this review, but it was strong enough to make a quick note about it here. The outlier did settle down after just over a quarter of an inch into the stick.
The Prince Hall produced a light and airy smoke. If some cigars have a creamy smoke, I would call this thin. It did carry the flavor to the palette well, providing the opportunity to tease out the tasting notes in each third.
>> Black Pepper, Burnt Leather, Oily Herbaceous Charred Wood
The smoke evens out after the first quarter of an inch or so. I do not believe I burnt the one cigar that was a bit spicy when I was lighting it, as I used a soft flame, but maybe. At the initial beginning of the third, I find this to be almost too peppery. This smoothes out as I get farther into the third; I find burnt leather, which seems to be fighting with a charred wood note. The cigar also has a herbaceous oiliness left on my tongue that I did not enjoy. There was a slight unevenness to the burn line but not enough to require a touch-up; the cigar stayed light even with some good resting periods in the ashtray. The ash developed a slight lean toward the end of the third, so I preemptively knocked the ash off. The ash was solid, and the cigar had an even dome of ember at the light end.
>> Leather, Charred Wood, Pepper, Dark Coffee
I found the transition to the second third easy and natural, with the flavors and body continuing to smooth out from the first third. The heavy pepper has lightened into a smooth leather and charred wood combination. There are light notes of a dark roasted coffee with a hint of not unpleasant bitterness on the retrohale. A light herbaceousness remains but without the oiliness. The burn line continued to be a bit wavy, but the ash held on and was firm until I broke it off.
>> Leather, Charred Wood, Pepper – Floral, Burnt Coffee
The final third finds the leather, charred wood, and pepper; continuing from the second third, the only change was that the herbaceous gave up to a more floral note. The ash became slightly fuzzy but still held on until I removed it. The waviness of the burn line straightened out a little bit.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
The Prince Hall started a little rough but settled down as we worked our way through the stick. The pepper, leather, charred wood herbaceous with undertones of dark roast coffee were complementary. While the notes were similar in each third, there was just enough change to keep one interested.
All the cigars I smoked for this review burned well and retained their ash. The burn line of each, while never perfect, was not too bad, given the differences in the diameter of the cigar throughout its length. I never had to touch up or relight any of the cigars.
0.60 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.40 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.50 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
6.50 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.35 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
A PRINCE OF A MAN, BUT MORE A SQUIRE OF A CIGAR.
As I wrote in the intro, I am always a little leery of someone who trades on their Masonic affiliation. After reading the Blanco family story, I am sure they are proud of their family’s affiliation with the Lodge, and I find it commendable that they chose to honor Princ Hall with his own cigar. They also have a cigar line that celebrates veterans. The Prince Hall and their Above and Beyond-Heros line give a portion of the proceeds to the respective charitable organizations.
I found the flavors of this cigar to be complementary throughout, although… The pepper, in the beginning, was way too much for my enjoyment, and the leather and charred wood were fighting each other during the second third. It was more of burnt leather, which was not the most enjoyable flavor until they sorted themselves out late into the second third. A few times during the cigar, I found an almost oily coating on my tongue that was pepper in the beginning and herbaceousness later in the second and third thirds.
Overall, I was not the biggest fan of this cigar. Even though the flavors to make it good were there, it was just not the right combination for my palette. I found it to not be complex but more confused at times with the flavor notes fighting for prominence and neither being able to win, leading to a muddled experience.
After all of that, this has put Blanco Cigars on my radar, and I will have to check out some of their other offerings, as the bones of a good cigar were there. It was just not executed well for me.