Nelson Alfonso is widely known for his marketing genius by establishing some of the most iconic brand identities for companies such as Montecristo, Romeo & Julieta, and one of the most sought out Cuban cigars, the Cohiba Behike. However, not everyone has heard of his cigars. Under the Selected Tobacco S.A umbrella, Byron is one of the three cigar brands under his belt (the others are Atabey and Tabacos Bandolero).
The history of this cigar is quite fascinating:
“Byron was the original cigar line produced by Alfonso’s family in the mid-19th Century. It was named after a world-renowned English poet George Gordon Byron, also known as Lord Byron. By the end of the 19th century, the Alfonso family encountered some major financial distress and reluctantly sold the brand to a neighboring cigar manufacturer. After almost a century, Alfonso’s family was able to reclaim the Byron brand.”
You can visit the Selected Tobacco S.A website to get the full version and learn about his other two cigar brands, Atabey and Bandolero.
- Cigar Reviewed: Byron Reserva 5 Anos
- Wrapper: Undisclosed
- Binder: Undisclosed
- Filler: Undisclosed
- Size: Habaneros (6” x 56)
Appearance & Construction
The oily Colorado color wrapper shines pristinely under the warm light. It has no blemishes and just one small minor vein is visible. I run my fingers down the cigar and do not feel any soft spots. I can tell this cigar was rolled masterfully, as it takes me a while to find the seam of the wrapper.
Flavor & Smoke Characteristics
The wrapper gives off a scent of sweet vanilla, caramel, and cedarwood. I smell the foot and get tart dried cranberry, plum, and sawdust. After shaving off the cap, I taste oatmeal and cedar from the cold draw.
I take my first puff after lighting the cigar and am a bit disappointed as my tastebuds are bum-rushed with extreme bitterness in the smoke. Once my tastebuds acclimate a bit, I’m able to taste salty burnt peanut, dark leather, and red pepper spice that fades as soon as it hits the flat of my palate. There is an aftertaste of peanut skin, and just like peanut skin, it dries out my tongue. I retrohale the next puffs, and surprisingly it becomes quite floral with flavors of leather, tree branch, and baking spice that linger in my nasal passage.
Thankfully, the dark bitter flavors don’t last too long: by an inch in, the bitterness clears and I taste tree bark, light leather, apple, and a hint of spice at the back of my tongue. The retrohale remains the same so far.
I have to compliment the construction of this cigar. As I enter the second third: the burn line is even the whole time, and the white ash is undisturbed by random gusts of wind as it tunnels through the streets of New York City.
At this point, the Byron becomes very inviting with flavors of freshly baked bread, salted and buttered popcorn, sweet hay, peanut, and blond roast coffee beans. The combination of the flavors reminds me of cracker jacks without the caramel. The retrohale remains floral with almond, cedar, nutmeg, and red pepper spice.
The final third of the Byron is as enjoyable as the second third. I get a strong taste of butter popcorn alongside caramel, granola, cedar, and red pepper spice. As I take the last puff of retrohale, it transports me to a carnival with flavors of apple, marshmallow, cedar, light leather, and cinnamon spice.
The Byron is truly a sophisticated smoke. The overall flavors were flawlessly balanced, and the construction was superb. It was atypical for Byron to open up with such harshness. However, the flavors became delectable after surpassing the first inch of the cigar. What stood out to me the most was the subtle shift in the tasting notes every half an inch or so. Especially when the flavors evolved from buttered popcorn in the second third into cracker jacks during the final third. That being said, this can also be a challenge to review this cigar with the traditional standard of every third.