Cigar Review: Merlion by La Sirena

Cigar Review: Merlion by La Sirena

La Sirena Cigars
Country: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Ecuador (Corojo)
Binder: Brazil (Sumatra)
Filler: Brazil, Nicaragua and Dominican Republic
Size: 6″ x 58
Strength: medium
Price: $10.50 MSRP

Overall Rating: 8.8

The Merlion is a mythical creature with the head of a lion and body of a mermaid. It is a prominent symbol in heraldry and has deep roots in Singapore, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and Spain. La Sirena Cigars has always had a nautical theme, and the Merlion seems like the perfect symbol for the company; it is both beautiful and original.

Rolled at the La Aurora Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic, the Merlion is made up of six types of tobacco. An Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper and Brazilian Sumatran-seed binder surround Brazilian Bahia, Dominican Criollo, Dominican Corojo and Nicaraguan Ligero filler. This blend gives it just the right mix of strength and flavor that La Sirena has become known for. According to Arielle Ditkowich, the Merlion is a beautiful and complex medium bodied cigar that serves to compliment and strengthen the existing La Sirena line.

Pre-Light: La Sirena has become known for two things; the beauty of its owner and the beauty of rather large intricate bands. The Merlion sports a very shiny silver and purple band with a half-mermaid/half-lion creature on it that is really set off against the tan of the Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper.

La Sirena’s Merlion Gran Toro is a very good looking cigar. The wrapper is a consistent leathery brown color with a few medium sized veins. The pre-light draw is just a bit more firm than I would like, but it’s so tight as to constrict airflow.

Burn: Due to it’s large ring gauge, it is extremely important to thoroughly toast the foot of the Merlion Gran Toro in order have it burn evenly. The draw is a bit firm at first, but after an inch or so it opens up and becomes quite easy. From time to time the burn can be somewhat uneven, but the cigar corrects itself without any touch ups from my lighter.

Flavor: At the very start there is a strong oak and dried hay flavor that dies down somewhat, but is present throughout the La Sirena Merlion. As the oak begins to die down an earth and leather flavor is joined by hints of cedar and spice. The second third continues much as the first third with leather, oak. peanut, coffee beans and a slight sweetness being the noticeable characteristics. It’s in the second half of the Merlion that the complexity of flavor of the different tobacco used in this cigar really shines. Scottish oats, fresh cut hay and acorn make the final third an interesting mix of flavors as the strength of the cigar picks up.

Overall: The original La Sirena King Poseidon was one of my favorite cigars from the year it was released. With the Merlion, La Sirena created an impressive follow up to its first cigar. The burn can be slightly uneven at times, but the complexity of flavor makes up for that in my opinion.the original La Sirena cigar was more for full bodied smokers whereas the Merlion can please both medium and full bodied smokers, but it may still be a bit much for the beginner. All in all, the Merlion Gran Toro was a very good cigar. I’ve personally got a box sitting in my locker at my local cigar bar. I’m interested to see what is next for Arielle Ditkowich and La Sirena Cigars.

Pairing: My personal choice for pairing the with the Merlion is the Talisker Storm single malt scotch from the Isle of Skye. Interestingly, there is an image of a Merlion of the label of the Talisker Storm. Other scotch pairings that compliment the Merlion are the Compass Box Asyla, Compass Box Orangie, Tobermory 15, Glenmorangie 10 or Highland Park 12. The Camus VSOP or Camus Ile de Re cognacs are also very good compliments to this cigar.

Reviewed by Jonathan David (@JonDavid1210)