Team Cigar Review: MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper

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Cigar Details: MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper

  • Vitola: Robusto
  • Length: 5″
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: La Zona
  • Blender: Hector Alfonso
  • Price: $8.25
  • Release Date: February 2019
  • Source: Developing Palates

Aaron-Loomis

 Aaron Loomis

Seth Geise

 Seth Geise

 John McTavish

Jiunn-Liu

 Jiunn Liu

Pre-light Experience

The wrapper color is a swirl of medium browns. There are a couple of well pressed veins present that carry a lighter color around them. The seams are smooth and hardly detectable. The head is finished off with a well applied triple cap and has a deep hole in the center where the plastic was inserted that connected to another cigar to form the hand gripper design. There was a long sleeve that is light beige with grey hatch marks that looks like gripping tape on the handles of the device that slides off to reveal the black band that carries the line name. The aroma from the wrapper is almost non-existent other than a very faint wood. The foot aroma reminds me of bran flakes. The pre-light draw brings milk chocolate along with a mild cayenne pepper.

Pre-light Experience

The MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper has a solid dark Natural coloring to it and is smooth in texture with some veins throughout that are medium in size. The cigar is firm and has an aroma of tobacco, spices and dry earth on the wrapper. The foot is delivering similar aromas of spices and earth with some leather and sour fruit notes.

Pre-light Experience

The MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper has a large band covering about 85% of the cigar, with patterns of crossed lines with a gray background. Removing the larger band reveals a band underneath indicating ‘Hand Gripper’ in white, with a black background, with a brown / yellow fist grabbing the name of the cigar. The cigar initially comes attached to another cigar like the hand gripper exercise tool. Nosing the wrapper, I’m able to smell aged cedar and light leather. In the foot, light raisin and sweet tobacco.

Pre-light Experience

The MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper has a near Colorado Red wrapper especially noticeable in direct sunlight. Veins are well pressed, seams tight, bunch feels a bit loosely packed and finished off with a well applied triple cap. Aromas from the wrapper give cedar and hay. Aromas from the foot tell black pepper and dried nuts. Cold draw tells namely hay and cedar.

First Third

The cigar begins with a general wood note and cayenne pepper. At a half inch in, a light cream joins the profile. At an inch in, the cream has morphed to mustiness as the pepper has mellowed. The wood is still up front. The retrohale carries the same profile. As the third comes to a close, the spice is very faint while the musty wood is at the forefront. The strength in this third was slightly below medium.

First Third

The first third begins by delivering some peppery spice notes and with that is some leather and herbal qualities. There are not an abundance of flavors, and it lacks in complexity and depth. The strength and body are right between medium-full and full, and I find the strength to be the focus of the cigar rather than the flavors.

First Third

The first third begins with a blast of leather and pepper at medium-full intensity. The retrohale is baking spices, sweetness, pepper and then sweet leather. Quite a complex retrohale to start off with. That leather carries through into the post draw with a medium length finish. At the 15 minute mark, there’s chocolate as a background flavor, as the sweetness builds in intensity. By the 40 minute mark, the pepper has backed off to medium intensity, and the post draw leather has reduced as well to a light plus. I would already describe this cigar as medium-full in strength before the halfway point of the first third. In the bottom half of the first third the sweetness has reached medium-full at the beginning of the palate, followed by baking spices, and finishing with earth.

First Third

The first third has a profile that is fairly dominated by black pepper. Other than that, I also get cedar and burning paper. Retrohaling deepens the black pepper giving my nostrils a sharp sting followed by dried nuts. The finish is comprised of burning paper and cedar. Strength is medium-full and body is medium.

Second Third

The second third continues with the musty wood and slight spice. At three quarters of an inch in, the spice has transitioned to black pepper. The retrohale is musty wood. At an inch in, the finish carries a heaviness on my tongue. As the third comes to a close, the profile remains musty wood with a light black pepper. The strength has increased to be right at medium.

Second Third

I am in the second third of the cigar now and finding it to be delivering some wood, leather and dry earth notes. There are some strong spice notes present as well and it has a sour fruit finish which is not enjoyable. I would classify the cigar as being medium-full to full in strength and body, and like before, the cigar is lacking in enjoyable flavors.

Second Third

The sweetness backs off to medium strength, with the earth falling off almost entirely. Dry cedar settles in as the second third establishes itself. No other flavor evolution through the middle third.

Second Third

Not much has changed in the second third aside from the finish. The finish along with the burning paper and cedar also has the black pepper spice sitting on the rear palate towards the back of my throat. Overall though, still medium plus strength, medium body profile with black pepper, cedar and burning paper mixture.

Final Third

As the final third begins, a vegetal note joins the musty wood as the pepper has dropped out. At a half inch in, the mustiness has picked up quite a bit. The retrohale carries the musty wood along with the vegetal note. The cigar finishes out with this same profile. The strength in this third bumped up to slightly above medium.

Final Third

I am in the final third of the cigar and the flavors, like before, are truly lacking. I am getting some leather flavors and with that are strong spices, earth and wood notes. There is a sour finish on the cigar and it really kills the flavors that are present but lacking. Like before, the strength and body are at a level between medium-full and full.

Final Third

Earth returns, bringing cedar with it during the transition to the final third. Sweetness combines with dry cedar as the last third settles in. No other flavor evolution through the final third.

Final Third

Unfortunate to say, the final third hasn’t changed all that much either. Medium plus strength, medium body, with flavors of black pepper, burning paper, cedar and dried nuts with the finish still having the black pepper lodged towards the back of my throat.

Burn

The burn was slightly wavy throughout. In the final third, the cigar struggled staying lit and required three re-lights.

Burn

Burn on the Hand Gripper was average, some rough spots here and there, but not a major problem. The cigar produced a nice dark charcoal colored ash and it held on well to the end.

Burn

The burn was slightly uneven through the first third. The wrapper struggled to combust at the end of the first third, requiring a touch-up. Another touch-up was required at the end of the second third. A split in the wrapper developed through the final third as the cigar was transitioning into the middle third. I don’t believe the split was a construction issue but was likely due to humidity swings in the smoking environment.

Burn

The only complaint I have was the quick burn time. It was probably due to the loose pack felt within the pre-light experience. Other than that, one quick touch-up, relatively even burn and cool burn.

Draw

The draw had just the right amount of resistance that I prefer.

Overall

The cigar began with wood and cayenne pepper. Some mustiness joined in fairly quickly. In the second third, the cayenne transitioned to black pepper and in the final third, the mustiness increased as a vegetal note joined in. Construction was pretty good until the final third when it struggled staying lit. This was the second Micro Blend Series that we’ve reviewed this year and it was another average cigar. The flavor profile started a bit unique, but it was nothing special. The burn issue in the final third caused the cigar to finish on a down note, and other than the packaging, I don’t think there is anything special about this cigar. Not something I’ll look at smoking more of.

Draw

The draw on the cigar was fairly decent and it was right between “normal” and slightly snug. To many it would be perfect, but to me it was fine. There was a lot of smoke produced with each draw, I will note that about the cigar.

Overall

This cigar lacked in complexity, depth and transitioning. It was truly disappointing and a poor blend in my opinion. The fact that this is a gimmicky cigar as well kills my overall view of the smoke and makes me wonder what they were trying to do with this smoke. If you are going to make a gimmicky cigar like this, make it good.

Draw

The draw is 1-1/2 notches towards resistant, but still in the very good zone.

Overall

I’ve heard the MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper referred to as being ‘gimmicky’. When it comes to MoyaRuiz, the packaging and style is completely in keeping with the unconventional style they’ve had for many years. I enjoyed the first third with it’s big, in your face flavors that didn’t seem to back off until the second third. Pepper, baking spices, sweetness, pepper, sweet leather, chocolate and earth all combine to take a stroll around the flavor map. Unfortunately, I didn’t find that the complexity present in the first third carried through to the middle and last thirds. Although I rated the cigar as average overall, the flavors were still enjoyable and the medium-full intensity was in my wheelhouse.

Draw

The draw was a bit too loose for my liking but still considered very good.

Overall

For the most part, I’m all for gimmicky cigars (such as this) but it needs to be backed by a good, flavorful experience. The MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper unfortunately was not a pleasant flavorful experience. The abundance of black pepper, especially on the finish, burning paper, cedar and subtle dried nuts led to an overall average experience. Not the best release by MoyaRuiz by a long shot. I just hope for a better future release.

Aaron
Seth
John
Jiunn
AveragePre
Light
AveragePre
Light
GoodPre
Light
Good
AverageFirst
Third
SubparFirst
Third
GoodFirst
Third
Average
AverageSecond
Third
SubparSecond
Third
AverageSecond
Third
Average
SubparFinal
Third
SubparFinal
Third
AverageFinal
Third
Average
SubparBurnAverageBurnVery GoodBurnVery Good
AmazingDrawGoodDrawVery GoodDrawVery Good
AverageOverallSubparOverallAverageOverallAverage

Aaron Loomis

SCORE

5.00

Cost/Point

$1.65

Scoring System

Seth Geise

SCORE

3.73

Cost/Point

$2.21

Scoring System

John McTavish

SCORE

5.85

Cost/Point

$1.41

Scoring System

Jiunn Liu

SCORE

5.50

Cost/Point

$1.50

Scoring System

Team Cigar Review: MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper
John McTavishTeam Cigar Review: MoyaRuiz Hand Gripper

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