First of a couple cheap stick reviews. I'm a stay at home dad, so, while I've had a few premium cigars, more often than not the good sticks are just out of my budget.
The Duque is a cheap bundle stick available only through CI so far as I can tell. Their description says thus:
I picked up the robusto size (5x50) which came out to $.80 each. It comes in a 25 stick bundle, and you can currently get two-bundles for $40Duque is a decent everyday cheapie handmade. Made with Sumatra wrappers and Dominican long leaf fillers, Duque is mild in body and it sure beats a sharp stick in the eye.
Origin: Dominican Republic
Shapes: Churchill, Robusto, Toro, Torpedo
Since I have so many of these, I've been able to smoke more than a few of them. The are crazy inconsistent. For starters, here are a random sample of 5 sticks.
Check out that color variation. Part of the reason they're so cheap is that they must not have a QC person ratings sticks on color. Heck, even size and cap uniformity vary.
Speaking of the cap. These, at first glance, have rolled double or triple cap, oh, but look again. These cheapies have just a round cut of leaf glued onto the end. And poorly so.
I picked out one of the sticks and decided it was going to be the one to light up and do an actual review about. As I mentioned, I've smoked more than a few of these recently. The stick I chose had a slightly spongy soft head and foot. The head cut cleanly and I lit the cigar with my Hendrix FX3 Lighter.
I was met with good amount of smoke and flavors of leather and straw. But not any straw, wet straw. If you've ever had the "luxury," you'll know what I mean. Fortunately that wet straw flavor went away after a handful of puffs and turned, somehow, into some earthy flavor I couldn't quite put my finger on. The smoke aroma was that of tobacco, nothing special.
At the end of the first third, the flavor of the Duque became so mild as not to exist. This was a first for me. I could puff some good quantities of smoke, but it was really flavorless. At this point the burn was fairly uneven, but the ash was a pleasant white.
When the flavor returned there was a hint of pepper being carried by some bitterness. It was reminiscent of re-heated coffee. You know, that cup you begrudgingly tossed in the microwave so that you could finish it. That's the way this tasted.
As I neared the band, the earth tones picked up and the bitterness faded out.
I did not smoke this past the band. Burn time about 25 minutes.
Every one of these Duques has tasted somewhat different. I've had some great ones that tasted almost as if they were honey dipped. The first one tasted like I used my daughters diaper pail as a humidor and kept it wrapped in old moldy leather. Fortunately that never repeated itself.
Better than a stick in the eye?
Maybe. The jury is still out on that one.