PDR Weekend

Last year I picked up only a couple cigars from Pinar del Rio (PDR). Long story short, I wasn’t a fan. I found that they both had what I ended up calling the PDR-twang. To me it was kind of a tinny flavor that I was not fond of. One cigar had that flavor throughout (I kept smoking the whole time, waiting for it to go away) and the other brought on the metal flavor after about halfway through the cigar. I swore off PDR cigars for quite some time. Now that I’m working at The Stash, I figured I’d go ahead and give some of the PDR line another go.

I started with the ​PDR 1878 series. This line features four different wrappers–Ecuadorian Shade Grown Connecticut, Brazilian Arapirca Maduro, Dominican Habano Oscuro, and Dominican Habano. The fillers vary ever so slightly, as does the binder leaf. The PDR 1878 series are rolled in the Cuban “Entubar” style and feature good looking pig-tail caps. I selected the robusto size for all, and cut them all with a double V-cut. Most were also enjoyed on my way to-or-from work.


PDR 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Natural

PDR 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Natural

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Dominican Criollo 98
Filler: Dominican Criollo 98 & Nicaraguan Criollo 98

The Capa Natural really got me thinking that I was wrong about Pinar del Rio. While this was a mild bodied cigar, it certainly had a good amount of flavor. I got a lot of toast, nuts, and graham cracker-like flavors from the cigar, with a hint of molasses sweetness. The Capa Natural also had a good woody retrohale, that was not overpowering. This cigar smoked very easily and could be enjoyed with a morning coffee or an evening whiskey.


PDR 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Madura

PDR 1878 Cubano Especial Capa Madura


Wrapper: Brazilian Arapirca Maduro
Binder: Dominican Criollo 98
Filler: Dominican Criollo 98 & Nicaraguan Criollo 98

With the enjoyment I found in the Capa Natural, I was eager to continue with the PDR Weekend with the Capa Madura. If at all possible, smoke these two cigars at the same time, or one right after another to get a good idea of what the wrapper leaf can do to a cigar, as it is the only thing different between the two. The Capa Madura, like it’s brother above, is a mild bodied cigar, but with different flavors of leather and bitter coffee. It too had an underlying sweetness to it, but I thought it a bit more raisin-like instead of molasses. But a dreaded thing happened as I neared the first “Capa Madura” band–that PDR Twang returned. The metallic taste persisted and grew stronger and I discarded the cigar with less than two inches remaining.


PDR 1878 Reserva Dominica Capa Oscura

PDR 1878 Reserva Dominica Capa Oscura

Wrapper: Dominican Habano Oscuro
Binder: Dominican Habano
Filler: Dominican Corojo 98 & Dominican Corojo

You might have noticed the slight name change with the series at this point. The Capa Oscura and the Capa Habana (below) are both Dominican Puros. We also find a change in the binder leaf, which also presents a significant change in the cigar’s profile. The Capa Oscura is definitely a stronger cigar than the Capa Natural or Capa Madura above, but not overly so. It certainly shows that it is different though. The flavors I experienced with the Capa Oscura were like a blend of the previous two. Leather and nuts were the dominate flavors and it brought along its own cinnamon sweetness. Like the maduro, though, this cigar fell victim to the PDR Twang and I found myself unable to thoroughly enjoy the cigar. The first Pinar del Rio cigar I had, The Oscuro Capa Cubana No. 2, is the cigar that had the metal taste throughout. I’m starting to think at this point that it might have something to do with the darker wrappers PDR uses for their maduro and oscuro blends.


PDR 1878 Reserva Dominica Capa Habana

PDR 1878 Reserva Dominica Capa Habana

Wrapper: Dominican Habano
Binder: Dominican Habano
Filler: Dominican Criollo 98 & Dominican Corojo

Rounding out the PDR 1878 Series, I finished with the Capa Habana. This was an excellent cigar with flavors very different than the others. It was rich with spices and pepper. There was a still an underlying sweetness, this time along the lines of butterscotch. The retrohale was of cedar and complemented the cigar well. I found this to me much more enjoyable than the last two cigars, and, better yet, I was able to smoke this down to the nub, because that PDR Twang never surfaced.


All of the PDR 1878 cigars burned very well. The ash liked to hold on through each third of the cigar, and burned plenty straight-even when driving around with the window open. With the cigars retailing at under $6 each, I can easily suggest the Capa Natural or Capa Habana as a daily cigar without blowing out budgets. The metallic PDR-Twang that I taste with the maduro and oscuro wrappers, however, will keep those out of my humidor.

With a whole day left in the weekend, and two more Pinar del Rio blends on the shelves at work, I figured, hey, why not, and decided to add the Small Batch Maduro and Habano to the list.


Pinar del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano

Pinar del Rio Small Batch Reserve Habano

Wrapper: Cubra Habano Brazil
Binder: Dominican Criollo 98
Filler: Dominican Corojo & Nicaraguan Corojo

The Small Batch Reserve Habano turned out to be a great way to start the morning. Dark chocolate played the main flavor, and brought with it some cream and an underlying leather quality. This was a great tasty cigar, and the flavors intensified throughout. Towards the end, it became quite savory with a kitchen-spice quality. The Small Batch Reserve Habano is a slightly stronger cigar than the Capa Habana above, so it should be able to appease the person looking for a fuller flavored cigar, without being too overpowering for someone that likes something more in the medium range.


Pinar del Rio Small Batch Reserve Maduro

Pinar del Rio Small Batch Reserve Maduro

Wrapper: Ligero Maduro Cubra Habano Brazil
Binder: Dominican Criollo 98
Filler: Dominican Corojo & Nicaraguan Corojo

The PDR Small Batch Maduro was a nice change up from the previous maduro-no PDR-Twang! This maduro featured flavors of earth and wood with a dried-fruit sweetness. It was a great combination of flavors, and like the Small Batch Habano, the flavors got stronger as I came closer to finishing. It was also just a bit stronger than the Capa Madura, which I found quite appealing. Of course, it was also nice to find a dark-skinned PDR cigar that I could enjoy to the nub.


The Pinar del Rio Small Batch blends retail for just over $7. They are also a significantly different smoke than the 1878 blends, and would be something I’d be more inclined to smoke, especially later in the day.

In the end, I’d call the Capa Natural the easy any-day-any-time cigar and one that I will likely visit again and again. When it’s time for a flavor change, I’ll reach for the Capa Habana or one of the Small Batch Reserves. Those two were both great cigars that I’ll have no problem adding to my humidor again.

About the author

Isaac Miller is a stay at home dad, kayak fisherman and a cigar fiend.