Buffalo Ten Double Bill: Clash of El Artista’s high plains heavy weights?
It isn’t unusual to hear about great cigars from sisters and brothers of the leaf around the world, only to lament that they aren’t available in the UK. The Buffalo Ten Maduro and Natural by El Artista were two such cigars. When Boutique Smokes announced in October 2022 that they were bringing these much talked about cigars to the UK market, there was a palpable buzz – but would they live up to the hype and acclaim they had garnered from cigar aficionados around the world?
Having never smoked either the Buffalo Ten Natural or Maduro before, I thought that it would be interesting to try them in quick succession and compare them (almost) side by side. In the last showdown review I did, I started with the claro so this time I decided to start with the Maduro…
Buffalo Ten Maduro
There were a couple of things that immediately set the El Artista’s Buffalo Ten Maduro apart from other box pressed maduro cigars. The first was the comparative lightness of the wrapper, especially when it was sat next to the Natural. The other thing was just how flat the cigar was. It turns out that this shape came about as a result of a happy accident.
When originally blending the Buffalo Ten Maduro, something was a little off with the flavour. In a last ditch effort to save the blend, Ram Rodriguez decided to take half a leaf out of the filler and box press the cigar and see what happened. Whoever was sent to get the moulds accidentally picked up one for a smaller ring gauge, but rather than return and get the correct one, the decision was made to work with the one in hand and see what happened. The result is the rectangular cigar that ended up making it’s way to the shelves.
But I digress from talking about the actual cigar. The wrapper itself felt a bit toothy and the cigar felt well packed and firm from head to foot, with aromas of cocoa and cream seeping from the foot. I went with my v-cutter and was delighted to find an easy draw filled with more cocoa, whilst the maduro wrapper left a sweet oiliness on my lips.
Once lit, I was treated to a meaty cocoa note with a lovely amount of mulling spice on the opening draws. From the outset, the smoke had a creamy texture and taste to it. Before long, the warming spices had separated out into notes of cumin and ginger.
The middle third of the cigar introduced me to a different set of flavours. Overall it was more mellow but still retained the smoothness of flavour. The meatiness from the first couple of draws returned along with walnuts and a strongly brewed cup of tea occasionally coming to the fore. Even though the smoke was thick and voluminous, the Buffalo Ten Maduro wasn’t as sweet or heavy as most of the maduro cigars I’ve smoked over the years. Indeed it was a very pleasant surprise.
When I eventually smoked my way into the final third of the Buffalo Ten Maduro, I finally started to get hints at the flavour profile that I would more closely associate with a maduro cigar. Dark spices and a sweet oiliness started to manifest along with a weighty peat note that reminded me of a peated whisky. This was definitely a different cigar to the one that I expected to smoke but that was very much to it’s advantage as I am now eyeing up a five pack of this great cigar.
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Buffalo Ten Maduro Cigar Details
Buffalo Ten Maduro Review Summary
This was not the cigar I was expecting to smoke before I lit it up, and that isn’t in any way of detriment. If you have been put off by maduro cigars in the past then why not try this, I’m definitely glad I did.
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Buffalo Ten Natural
The Natural was also a bit of a surprise. With exactly the same vitola, right down to the flat box pressed shape, at a first glance I would have said that the wrapper looked more maduro than natural. There were dark, oily spots on the wrapper which glistened in the light. Once again it was firmly packed, but with an easy draw. This time though aromas of ginger accompanied the cocoa whilst coffee, pepper and cassia came through on the cold draw. Again I went for a v-cut and set about lighting up.
My first impressions of the Buffalo Ten Natural once lit was that the flavour profile was much darker and earthier than it’s Ecuadorian Habano wrapper might suggest. The coffee and cassia were present as well as leather, chestnut mushrooms and a 90% cocoa note. Within minutes of lighting up, oils started to bubble out through the wrapper.
As was the case with the Maduro, when I got to the middle third of the Buffalo Ten Natural the flavour profile changed. The flavour lightened up to something more akin to other natural cigars. The coffee from the cold draw returned but as a lighter roasted blend. This was accompanied by a tart fruitiness with hints of vanilla and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. The smoke was a little less rich and voluminous than it’s Maduro counterpart, but it still had a creaminess to the texture.
My entry into the final third was heralded by another change in flavour. The balsamic flavour was still present, albeit subtly, whilst buttered toast and hazelnuts took the lead. By this time the smoke had got noticably thicker and more rich. It was also at this point that I noticed the dark wrapper was adding a hint of sweetness to the taste.
Towards the nub of the Buffalo Ten Natural it made a sharp return to the dark earthiness from its opening salvo. This time the cocoa was accompanied by black cardamom and a pinch of chilli. This made for a satisfying end to a cigar that was much more full bodied than I was expected before I lit up.
Of the two cigars I would say that the Natural was the fuller bodied stick. I would very happily smoke both of these cigars again, and I can absolutely understand the praise that El Artista has received for these cigars, along with their Puro Ambar.
Buffalo Ten Natural Cigar Details
Buffalo Ten Natural Review Summary
Once again, this was not the cigar I expected it to be. The darker wrapper and Indonesian Sumatran binder did give the natural a much fuller flavour more akin to a maduro. For me it was an exciting cigar to smoke.
ℹ Click here to read how I calculate my review scores