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03
Apr

Origin : CubaHoyo de Monterrey
Format : Robusto
Size : 124mm (5″) x 50
Hand-Made
Cosecha : 2012
Price : £55 / $ 65 each
More info about purchasing Hoyo de Monterrey cigars…

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 4.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 5 out of 6 stars
strength : 2 out of 6 stars

In 2003, Habanos S.A., introduced the Reserva concept by launching the Cohiba Seleccion Reserva box. Specially selected tobacco aged for a minimum of three years before being used to roll the reserva cigars. Also the tobacco is coming from a single crop. In the case of the Epicure N.2 Reserva all tobacco come from 2012.

Tasting

As soon as I lit the cigar I was very excited from the beautiful blue smoke it created and the wonderful aroma you could enjoy in the room.
The first few puffs are very impressive. Expressing a serious cigar. Even though I tell everyone dont judge the cigar in the first few puffs, these ones were so good that I just hoped it continues this way. The vanilla touch and creaminess were predominant during that short part.
It clearly is richer and stronger than your regular epicure N.2. I have always enjoyed the regular production of epicure N.2. A cigar I would choose when I couldn’t set my mind on what to smoke tonight. Therefore I was very excited abut this release.
The density of smoke is very high, which allow a wonderful texture to linger on the palate.
I love the aroma being developed, reminding of coffee being slowly roasted.
The first part was very balanced. Light strength cigar, great balance. no acidity nor bitterness and this great vanilla flavour profile all throughout. The sweet coconut feeling was reminding us of the complexity this cigar could express with some age.

The second part could be resumed this way: So much flavours, so much texture, yet so soft and delicate. It is great to see how light strength cigar develops such a rich and complex blend.
Unfortunately the cigar started to burn funnily. It is a shame as I am sure this affects the flavours as the blend doesn’t burn properly. thankfully it stabilise without the help of a lighter and the cigar expression becomes much more balanced and enjoyable as before. The aroma is just great. A true scent.

As I said I like the epicure n2 current production and was expecting a good one but this is so much richer and intense than I could expect.

The cigar becomes stronger towards the end but a great creaminess stays on the palate. The flavours are more vegetal and a bit green, reminding you the cigar just came out on the market it still has a lot more to show. Even though it was rolled in 2015 with 2012 tobacco.

Cigar Review – Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No.2 Reserva

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29
Mar

Origin : CubaQuai d'Orsay
Format : Reyes
Size : 4 1/3″ x 40 ring gauge (110mm x 15.87mm)
Ring : 40
Hand-Made
Price :~ € 7.50 / $ 9.80-

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 3 out of 6 stars

The Quai d’Orsay Secreto Cubano, an exclusive French regional edition (‘Exclusivo Francia’) for France’s national Cuban cigar marque, is a wonderful, exciting small stick offering a dramatic and pleasing progression of taste, superb draw and construction, and extraordinary good value in a Cuban small cigar. It’s amongst the very finest short-&-slender Cuban sticks out there.

Cuban small cigar aficionados will immediate recognise the vitola, identical to that of the Cohiba Secretos Maduro & Trinidad Reyes sticks, and this Quai d’Orsay matches those cigars every bit in interest, despite the modest (in France) pricing. With limited production of 10,000 boxes of 10 cigars, a premium for these superb stogies is well-deserved, if you are not able to be in Paris traversing the streets visiting several Habanos shops in order to locate them.

The Quai d’Orsay brand history is unique, as it is a Cuban brand created at the request of another national government, an early 1970s idea of later Président of France Valéry Giscaird d’Estaing from when he was French Minister of Finance. The notion was to create a Cuban cigar of subtlety, delicacy and sophistication to match that of French cuisine, a cigar that itself would be part of French culture.

The Quai d’Orsay in Paris on the Seine River, is the location of the French foreign ministry, and in French ‘Quai d’Orsay’ is essentially a synonym for the French foreign office and diplomatic service, a name that, for French speakers, hints of international glamour and refinement. There has been an effort recently to re-vitalise the brand, with new standard vitolas and a series of special editions, of which the Secreto Cubano is the newest release, and this cigar succeeds in advancing that agenda.

Habanos classifies Quai d’Orsay as a ‘light’ flavour strength brand, but this should not be taken as meaning ‘weak’ or ‘un-interesting’ – the rich Hoyo de Monterrey brand is ‘light’ as well. ‘Light’ here essentially means ‘subtle’, tho indeed Hoyo or Quai d’Orsay sticks are never overpowering.

Wrappers on these Secretos Cubanos are not top-level pretty, but of good colour, and the soft-firm balance to the touch seems perfect. As newly-released cigars, the aroma at the foot was a bit leathery immediately out of the factory box, but after a couple of days mellowing in a small humidor it was more of a scent of hay and sweetness. There was also a bit of leather in the pre-draw after punching, but that was the last I noticed of it. Pre-draw also had a small touch of spice with a large dose of hay, which marked the first third.

The course of the smoke is intriguing with a number of change-ups, and it behooved me to pay attention as some nice tastes – like a briefly strong cocoa phase – are glimpsed only quickly. Initial draw brings out smiles and a chuckle, as it is immediately clear this is a cigar greater than its modest price. Rich full taste, burning hay toasting in the farmyard, a bit of sweetness, with an overall flavour density that belies the image of a ‘light’ cigar. Lots of little glimmerings, touches of pepper, cedar or mahogany, sweetness coming and going, the toasty hay sense varying often.

The middle third typically sees a big shift, to an as-if different but still very enjoyable cigar. Here there tends to be less hay and more of various kinds of woodiness, along with some exciting but brief very sweet spots of near-chocolate. A sophisticated dried-fruit bitterness often begins to set in, making one think of the bitter (in the positive sense) apertifs so often served and enjoyed in Europe.

In the final third the flavour palette shifts yet again, with the apertif-type high-quality fruit-seed bitterness often continuing, now matched with some satisfying nuttiness, and some episodic returns of the toasting hay and various kinds of woodiness. As with the also ‘light’ Hoyos, one can go fairly deep into the nub here without things getting too unpleasant.

The draw is a wonder in small Cuban cigar terms, with no problems at all, no need to bring out a cigar-piercing tool. And yet the burn is extremely measured and slow, tho not quite even, and I usually had to re-light, perhaps because this stick gets me so contemplative I lose track of the pauses between puffs. Ash was sometimes missing the pointiness and was a bit crumbly, the counterpoint to the excellent variety of tastes.

There is some extra headiness here versus some other Cuban ‘light’ cigars such as the Fonseca, and this little Secreto Cubano actually seemed a shade stronger than Hoyos, but never more than ‘medium’ even at the tail end.

With a lot of rich flavour experience in a nice, slow-burning, and thus for me well over a half-hour smoke, I was feeling the greatness of this slender small Cuban for its wonderful in-France price. The more expensive Trinidad Reyes is even more sophisticated in its subtleties, and the even more pricey Cohiba Secreto Maduro has its unique flavour and kick, but this new Secreto vitola from Quai d’Orsay gets the prize in the value sweepstakes for slender small Cuban sticks. Now I just need to take that train back to Paris and find a few more boxes.

Cigar Review – Quai D’Orsay Secretos Cubanos Exclusive Francia

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28
Mar

Origin : HondurasRocky Patel
Format : Lanceros
Size : 7 1/2″ x 38 ring gauge (190mm x 15.08mm)
Origin : Honduras
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 11.00 / $ 13.50each
More info about purchasing Rocky Patel Sun Grown…

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 2 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 2 out of 6 stars

The Rocky Patel Twentieth Anniversary Natural Lancero, is a well-rolled, easy-smoking long panetela, offering some interesting cycling of flavours as it starts, but in this sample tending toward incipient harshness and some dryness on the palate, as well as some flavour loss in the finish.

A mostly Honduran cigar with some Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler, this is a regular production stick, tho launched in 2015 with its ‘XX – Twentieth’ band, to commemorate Rocky Patel’s 20th anniversary in the cigar business. Rocky Patel’s 10th and 15th anniversary cigar marques remain active in the line-up as well. The word ‘Natural’ on the band on the cigar’s foot, is to distinguish from the company’s separate Twentieth Anniversary Maduro cigar line with different vitolas.

In the early 1990s Rocky Patel had been an entertainment lawyer amid the glamour of southern California USA, but caught the cigar bug and started the family cigar business, first as Indian Tabac and now under his own name.

Rocky Patel is today a noted, often-praised brand, especially in the USA market, its headquarters in Florida there. Along with his younger brother and cousin, Rocky Patel’s key people include Hamlet Paredes, a former star cigar roller for Cuba’s Partagás, who used to tour the world for Habanos giving cigar-rolling exhibitions.

Rocky Patel deserves credit for meeting the special challenge of successfully rolling this premium ultra-long panetela vitola, requiring special skills beyond that of the ordinary torcedor. And also for boldly putting this stick on offer, whilst other companies cancel some of their slender long cigars, e.g., Davidoff having recently cancelled its 3000 (33 x 178mm), its No 1 (39 x 190), and its Millenium Lancero (40 x 184).

Tasting

Handling this stick it was a little too soft below the band, a hint of the flavour loss I would experience in the final third. Mostly nice-looking, tho a touch of vein and a too-contrasting cigar cap, but with a premium pigtail on the top.

Initial aroma at the smoking end was that of fruit pie, or a warm breakfast tart, which indeed turned out to be some of the flavours in the cigar. First inhale was rather nice, a touch of sweetness, and some sense of dimensionality tickling the front of the nose and the back of the palate.

Quite smoky tho, at the beginning and at some later points. Draw was easy throughout, really too easy. Tho the cigar burned slowly, it was clearly delicate inside the stick, and harshness was induced too rapidly when you wanted a quick follow-up taste.

The first third had some nice, tho not strong flavours, and some interesting flavour cycling. There was toast, hay, bits of fruit and sweetness, the appealing fruit-pie-like combination, and for a while one was entertained not knowing what would be dominant in the next puff. Some cedar and woodiness entered a bit later too. But there was also the start of some dryness in the mouth, a hint of difficulties to come.

The second third continued the rolling flavours, but now with harsh moments starting to appear, a bit of a charcoal sense, along with the increasingly fading tastes. Purging helped – tho making quite a smoke-fest – and after a purge and a good pause, one could taste the fruit pie and other good tastes again a bit. It was a bit funny, just as I thought I was getting very displeased with the cigar, the flavour would come back.

The final third began with one of the cigar’s best bursts of flavours, but then they just faded away, and various purging and pausing efforts couldn’t quite bring the taste level back. The cigar grew flat and at points bitter or a bit harsh, with much dryness induced in the mouth, till I said farewell.

Another disappointment with the cigar is that it was really too mild, given what I would like to experience in smoking a long pricey stick for an hour. There was only slight strength to it, it was overall a mild Honduran, despite the Nicaraguan filler seeking to charge it up a bit.

What I wound up thinking about as I finished the cigar, is that it was an incompletely developed stick, despite the strong points in some of its tastes and easy draw. Rocky Patel is perhaps trying to do too much for a niche family company – their website cigar brand page lists no fewer than 47 Rocky Patel cigar marques from which to choose. Other USA-based cigar companies also sometimes have a high number of brands.

By way of comparison, Habanos has a total of 27 brands for all of Cuba, many of them ages old, and the Davidoff-named line has about 13 brands for its diversity.

Despite the sweet notes in the Rocky Patel XXth Lancero – an element which usually tends to win me over – I found myself thinking wistfully that, for the same price, I can have a Habanos La Gloria Cubana Médaille d’Or No 4 (32 x 152mm), with even more sweetness, and less downside despite the Cuban stick’s draw problems.

By way of a full 7-inch-plus Lancero, one can recommend at significantly greater price, from Cuba the great original Cohiba Lancero (38 x 190) or the Trinidad Fundadores (40 x 190). And a gem still out there in remaining stock at some of the Davidoff shops, tho discontinued, the Davidoff Millennium Lancero (40 x 184).

Cigar Review – Rocky Patel XXth Anniversary Lancero

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20
Mar

Origin : CubaPartagas
Format : Noblezas
Size : 138mm X 52
Hand-Made
Price : USD 17
More info about purchasing Partagas cigars…

Since 2000, Habana S.A has released every year an ‘Edicion Limitada’ cigar. These cigars used to wear an extra aged wrapper only until 2007. Until then every leafs in the cigar goes through the extra 2 years of aging. This allows the blend to be rounder and smoother.
Edicion Limitada cigars are very easy to recognise, they wear an extra black and gold band indicating the year of release.
For 2017 Cuba announced three new limitadas, the most famous of all of them is the Cohiba Talisman (you can read the review here), then the Punch Regios de Punch and the Partagas Series No.1.

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 3.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 4 out of 6 stars

Appearance

The cigar looks beautiful, dark wrapper very oily and silky. A true Edicion Limitada look. The touch is great and the cigar seems to be very well rolled.
The main brand band follows the alphabetical series of Partagas. Therefore we can read on the band “Series No.1″ just like for the Partagas serie D No.4.

tasting
As soon as I light the cigar, the density is smoke is rather high and it draws well. However the first flavour profile encountered isn’t your typical cuban characteristic. It almost doesn’t seems Cuban. I have a slight spiciness on the lips typical of Partagas but the flavours remind me of the the earthiness of Padron cigars. Not the rich grassy and earthiness Partagas would develop normally. But this is just the beginning…
after few minutes, the cigar starts to burn strangely. The draw is still fine but the flavours tends to drop on the palate. We are close to the end of the first part.
A slight bitterness on the back of the palate slowly develops but nothing alarming for a fresh cigar. The flavours remain very unusual for a Partagas. Blind tested I could have thought it is a Nicaraguan cigar. The aroma is beautiful and the intensity of smoke is very high and enjoyable.

The second half shows some changes and evolution. The blend shows its potential and now are smoking a Cuban profiled cigar. Just the construction reminds you you are smoking a cuban cigar, the burn is not good, result of a poor construction.
All throughout the second part there is a nice intensity expressing an earthiness and a woodiness. The flavours are lingering on the palate and herbal and vegetal notes are present in the blend.

The last third is very rich but also very harsh towards the end. Lots of ammonia present therefore it Hyde’s the woodiness and earthiness from before. This is because the cigar is still young and in few years it should be gone. The draw remain good but the burn not so much.

Cigar Review – Partagas Series No. 1 Edicion Limitada 2017

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19
Mar

Origin : CubaPartagas
Format : Short Delvalle
Size : 102mm X 50
Hand-Made
Price : NA – Pre release
More info about purchasing Partagas cigars…

During the XXth Habanos Festival held this month in Havana, Habanos S.A. introduced two new vitola to the Maduro line of Partagas. After the big success of the Partagas Maduro No1, here is a review of the Maduro No2, received during the gala diner of the festival.

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 5 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4.5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 5 out of 6 stars
strength : 5 out of 6 stars

Tasting

The wrapper is dark and shiny.
When holding the cigar, we feel its supple and sticky texture.
The module is quite compact and well filled in tobacco.
The head’s cut reveals a brown and earthy looking filler.
The spiciness of the first puff announces a cigar of character.
We observe a slow burnt, mainly due to the heavy gauge and the thick tobacco.
It results in a fat and greasy texture when the ember embraces the wrapper.
It quickly develops a light creaminess that balanced well with the deep Partagas flavor.
Strength wise, it slowly increases all along, beginning as medium and ending as full body.
In terms of flavors we clearly spot the usual earthiness mixed with some herbals (hay, black tea) and spicy tones (green pepper, black bean).

The whole impression is rounded by the extra ageing of the wrapper leaf, even tough it tends to disappear toward the end, leaving a harsh feeling on the top of the palate.
The aromas released combines fermented wood and roasted coffee beans through a thick smoke.
The draw got slightly obstructed and demands more efforts toward the end.
It leaves some spices on the lips and a long and pleasant aftertaste once ended.
That’s a true hair of the Linea Maduro which offers an alternative to the strong profile of the Marca to anyone willing to enjoy Partagas without the super-heavy body and the dry earthiness.
It may be recommended to age them a year or so, to let the blend of leaves harmonizes itself and consequently decrease the harsh feeling of the last third.
Within the current production, we could consider this vitola as a good alternative to the Montecristo Petit No.2 and the Bolivar Belicosos Finos.

Cigar Review -Partagas Maduro No2

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19
Mar

DavidoffOrigin : Dominican Republic
Format : Petit Panetela
Size : 4 1/8″ x 34 ring gauge (105mm x 13.49mm)
Origin : Dominican Republic
Hand-Finished mid-filler (long & short combination)
Price :P rice : ~ € 4.50 / $ 5.50
More info about purchasing Davidoff Nicaragua cigars…

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 3 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 4 out of 6 stars

Tasting

The Davidoff Escurio Primeros is a small, spicy, medium-strong cigar with a Brazil theme, offering interesting changes throughout the smoke, tho it is more spicy & leathery than Brasil-sweet, given its Ecuador wrapper over a Brasil Cubra binder and Brasil plus Dominican filler.

For me this is the best of Davidoff’s several Primeros offerings, tho I think it falls short of the Escurio promise to combine both spicy and sweet in its cigars. I love the Bahia Brasil sweet cigar wrappers, and am surprised Davidoff did not choose one of them to cover the spicy Brasil Cubra tobacco – a Cuban-seed Criollo – that forms this cigar’s binder and part of the filler.

A little more sweetness here and this could have been a stunning stick. There is some sweet Bahia Brasil Mata Fina tobacco in the filler but it doesn’t take a strong enough presence here.

The Escurio name means roughly ‘dark Rio’, combining the Portuguese word ‘escuro’ meaning ‘dark’ plus the shortened name of Rio de Janeiro, suggesting a lively night in that fabled city.

Should say a word here about the ‘hand-made’ label here for the Primeros and many other cigars. ‘Hand-finished’ is a more accurate label for these Primeros, the short-filler Habanos Cubans, and many other sticks. Today’s machines can rather nicely bunch even some long-filler tobacco, and place them inside a tobacco binder, with the ‘hand-made’ part being the torcedora applying the cigar wrapper and cap.

With the Primeros, there is both long and short-filler tobacco used to create them. So you not only have a traditional cigar cap you need to cut or punch, you also often have a burning cigar showing a nice pointy ash from its long-filler centre. If the tobaccos are well-chosen, you have a quality experience that can rival a modest (if not exceptional) fully hand-rolled cigar … tho the cigar is not really ‘hand-rolled’ as one might think of it.

Davidoff sells its Primeros in groups of 6 in metal tins, tho sometimes the Davidoff shops have a few out of the tins you can buy individually. The look and feel of the Escurio line is very elegant, and the Ecuadorian Havana seed wrapper chosen for these is a dark blackish one, quite suggestive of the similarly dark Brasil cigar wrappers that I wish Davidoff had used here.

Pre-draw is very spicy, along with some sweet and a sense of leather, the sweet part unfortunately less prominent in the actual smoke. After lighting up, you get an entertaining cycle of changing cigar tastes as the level of spiciness dials up and down. The evolution is very quick and keeps your attention.

As is typical with Davidoff, these sticks are a pleasant and fuss-free draw, the burn even. though slightly to the quick side, with ash holding well on some of these, well over an inch and sometimes with a nice point.

Much of the time spice and pepper is dominant, with the spice palette changing a bit too. Sometimes there is some sophsticated bitterness, as of dry fruit seeds, and there are glimpses of citrus here and there.

There is a certain amount of that characteristic Davidoff toasty flavour, which becomes more prominent in moments when the spice fades. There is also a certain amount of dryness that is a side characteristic of Brasil tobaccos, and overall in this cigar a frequent leathery sense, not too unpleasant but not something I seek.

The strength of the cigar comes and goes a bit too, tho there is an overall build-up, the cigar giving some rewards in terms of quality headiness despite the small size.

The sweetness is often there in a mild hint from the Brasil Mata Fina in the filler, but just not strongly enough for me.

The Escurio Primeros does offer a distinctive spicy and changing experience with a bit of kick from a short smoke, and at its price point it has some merit.

Cigar Review – Davidoff Escurio Primeros

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15
Mar

Format : Julieta No 6 señorita petit panetela
Size : 4 3/4″ x 33 ring gauge (120mm x 13.10mm)
Brand strength : Medium
Hand-Made
Cuba
Price : ~ € 5.00 / $ 6.15
More info about purchasing Romeo y Julieta cigars…

Draw : 4 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
Strength : 3 out of 6 stars

Tasting

The Julieta from Cuba’s storied Romeo y Julieta brand, is the true señorita petite cigar from Habanos, offering good construction, and some changing & at times sweet flavour interest, provided you puff lightly and don’t overheat this cigar’s small frame.

Sold in lipstick-red tin metal boxes of 5, the Julieta was introduced at the beginning of the 2010 decade, a more delicate counterpoint to the several ‘Romeo’ vitolas in the RyJ line-up. It is an elegant and lovely-looking small cigar, the Cuban perhaps most likely to catch a lady’s eye in a varied-stock humidor.

The Julieta turns out to be quite a nice stick to smoke, usually with some special moments of sweetness, along with some of the traditional RyJ rustic, outdoors, heather-and-meadow flavours & scents.

The catch here, tho, is that you really need to hold back on how strongly you puff this one. For most of us usually smoking sticks at least a little thicker, it’s a little too easy to puff more strongly or quickly, unfortunately turning the nice Julieta flavour profile into something harsher.

But it’s a well-made cigar and provides real value for money in a small Cuban. Tends to look very nice with its medium-colour just-oily-enough wrappers, and the Julietas usually burn evenly, with surprisingly fewer draw problems than one would expect from a thin Cuban stick like this, tho they do occur.

Usually a nice pre-draw after punching / cutting, sometimes with appealing coffee & caramel. The first third of the Julietas can be especially engaging, a little sweetness that is greatly pleasing, and some freshness, like a garden after a rain, with an airy, almost ‘menthol’ character.

The second third tends to be more of the traditional Romeo y Julieta flavour profile, garden, farm, heather and hay, tho not so much spice here, and a bit more strength, just fitting Habanos ‘medium’ designation. One thing nice is that these Julietas tend to avoid the overly grassy character that sometimes intrudes on the larger RyJ sticks.

With the final third, one is often rewarded with more of those very special sweet moments, even some cocoa, alternating with the outdoorsy sense, a bit of toastiness added at times. The sweet parts of this stick are delicate and light and briefer, the outdoors heather tends to be longer and fuller. But the cigar tends to stay quite interesting for a Cuban stick in this price range.

One really needs to puff gently throughout. Purging (exhaling thru the cigar) helps if you overheat, but above all a good pause, 45 seconds or a minute, and you can coax the flavour back with an intake that is more of a ‘sip’. The Julieta has refinement but is not as ‘solid’ of a cigar as the Cohiba Exquisitos in the same ring gauge (33 x 126mm) at more than double the price.

You can get some nice flavour in the Julieta, but even as a panetela guy myself, I find myself wishing for a little ‘more’ cigar than this petite one, and I would tend to choose the slightly larger & cheaper Romeo y Julieta Belvederes (39 ring gauge x 125mm) over the Julieta, even tho the Belvederes lacks some of the Julieta’s sweet and refined highlights.

For a couple I know who smoke cigars together sometimes, this RyJ Julieta is ‘her’ Cuban, which the gent ensures is always available in the humidor for her. She also enjoys pointing out that, in the charming Romeo & Juliet graphic on the Habanos red-and-white tin, as you see in the photo, Shakespeare’s lover Romeo is wearing white tights as he romances Juliet on the balcony … a Renaissance male fashion which she says might look good on men again.

Beneluxor

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Cigar Review – Romeo Y Julieta Julieta

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14
Mar

DavidoffOrigin : Dominican Republic
Format : Petit Corona
Size : 4 1/2″ x 41 ring gauge (114 mm x 16.27 mm)
Ring Gauge : 41
Origin : Dominican Republic
Hand-Made
Price : ~ € 10.50 / $ 12.80each
More info about purchasing Davidoff Nicaragua cigars…

Draw : 6 out of 6 stars
Burn : 5 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 5 out of 6 stars
strength : 4 out of 6 stars

Tasting

The Winston Churchill Petit Corona, is a clear winner of a cigar for Davidoff, with excellent if not so variegated flavour, a great draw, good strength, and an unusual-for-Davidoff slow burn giving good value, one of the most satisfying and well-balanced short coronas out there.

This cigar, subtitled ‘The Artist’ in Davidoff’s Winston Churchill line-up, commemorating how ‘ol’ Winnie’ did landscape painting to relax, is made with an Ecuadorian wrapper, a Mexican binder, and a combination of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler. The blend is a clear hit for Davidoff in taste and aroma.

Kudos to Davidoff for introducing this short corona vitola into several of their lines. A few millimetres longer than the Cuban Minutos cigars, it is a pleasing vitola to the eye and for the impulse to have a short-medium smoke. Short sticks satisfy more in corona thickness, I find, whereas panetelas do better when longer.

Recognising how shorter cigars tend to roll a bit thinner, and longer ones get chubby, Davidoff has a nice habit of labelling their short coronas as 41 ring gauge, and the longer ones as 43, instead of the generic corona 42.

The Winston Churchill Petit Corona wrapper is soft to the touch but has a somewhat rough-hewn look which seems to fit the cigar’s namesake personality, here with a prominent bulging vein near the cigar’s foot. A lovely aroma as the cold cigar is held to the nose, hay and maybe a bit of molasses, a glimpse of how good the taste is going to be.

Pre-draw after punching brings out a bit of leather, tho not there much in the lit cigar’s flavour. Initial draw after lighting is quite delicious, a sense of toasted-grain richness that I don’t really have the words to describe, and that good taste is there throughout nearly all the cigar.

It’s said that the historical Winston Churchill often liked Cuban Romeo y Julietas, and to me this stick gives a better, enhanced version of that somewhat farm-and-nature, vegetal RyJ flavour palette. Here too there is hay and woodiness, but much less grassiness, along with some mild tinge of sweetness. There is a bit of spice at the beginning, and some occasional pepper and spice throughout, but that is the primary variation.

Which points to the cigar’s ‘problem’, in that tho the flavour and aroma are excellent and satisfying, there is a surprising lack of progression, tho the flavour is so good I didn’t care all that much. The first and second thirds were not all that different. The final third began with the toasty flavour fading and a bit of nuttiness coming forward, but then the stick’s habitual flavour returned, along with more spice than earlier.

The flavour is rich and strong enough that a Churchillian dram of fine whisky goes just great with the cigar.

A bit of harshness intruded at points, but a little purging (exhaling thru the cigar) quickly brought the flavour back to full freshness. Ash in the first half was a little flaky, not so pointed or elegant, a minor matter.

The strength of the cigar hit the spot, with increasing headiness in the last half. Davidoff’s website says this cigar is strength level 4 out of 5, but that seems overstated to me …I would say more 3 or 3.5 overall out of 5, or 4 of 6, with a somewhat mild start. Very satisfying in total.

The most striking thing about this cigar as a Davidoff, was the high-quality slow, even burn, like a high quality Cuban, this short stick lasting over a half hour for my slow-puffing self. Davidoff strives mightily to have an easy draw, leading to sticks that often burn too fast … but here the draw and burn are very well balanced, with just enough resistance in the draw, and the cigar lasts as long as you would hope.

Enjoyed the flavour and quality of the cigar so much, I wound up nursing the nub a bit ridiculously, finally saying good-bye with reluctance.
This is such a nice stick I will buy more of these, and I have tried a lot of short coronas. It’s true it’s a number of pesos more than some fine heady Cuban short coronas, like the Minutos from Ramón Allones or Bolivar … but the Winston Churchill is just such a thoroughgoing and fuss-free pleasure I will pull out the extra coins out for it.

Given the place of Winston Churchill (1874-1965) in recent history, and that he is still controversial to some regarding some of his war-time decisions, domestic policies in Britain, and actions in British overseas dominions, some people have questioned naming a cigar line for someone whose career is still a matter of impassioned debate.

But one can look at this as similar to the way that, regardless of politics, people enjoy smoking Cuban stogies, and appreciate the iconic photos of Fidel and Ché smoking their sticks. Ultimately, with Fidel or Ché or Churchill, these were all intensely involved people who were changing the world, but also enjoying a few moments with their cigars, and that is something that transcends the politics of particular individuals who are famous smokers. Winston Churchill and Ché Guevara maybe never had a cigar and a drink together in this life, but perhaps in the next world they are doing just that.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Davidoff Winston Churchill Petit Corona

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21
Feb

Origin : CubaQuai d'Orsay
Format : Petit Robusto
Size : 110 mm x 50
Ring : 50
Hand-Made
Price :~ € 8.00 / $ 9.80-

Draw : 3 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 2 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 3 out of 6 stars
strength : 3 out of 6 stars

The new Quai d’Orsay No 50 Petit Robusto, is an attractive but quite un-even cigar, offering some pleasant patches of Hoyo de Monterrey type light flavour, unfortunately mixed with some dull segments that rather spoil its value for the premium hand-made tariff.

After having been very positively impressed by a box of the new Quai d’Orsay France Exclusive Secreto Cubano small sticks (40 x 110), I was motivated to sample this also new 50 ring gauge petit robusto of identical length from Quai d’Orsay. But I have the feeling they overall rushed to production with something for today’s robusto-centred cigar market, with a little too much insubstantial ‘filler’ to make a really good cigar.

It’s an appealing-looking stick in this length – a vitola shared with the Serie D No 5 Partagás – being I think perhaps perfect for a robusto, neither too stubby, nor too much given the added tobacco in the thicker vitola. The light tan wrapper has a lot of smooth surface that seems carefully selected, suggesting a mild and subtle smoke for which I was prepared, tho I wound up disappointed that at multiple points in the smoke including the beginning, there was just not much flavour there, even of the subtle kind.

Quai d’Orsay is a brand created at the initiative of French government officials back in the 1970s – the Quai d’Orsay in Paris being the physical location of France’s diplomatic service headquarters – with the idea of a marque offering sophistication and delicacy. The Quai d’Orsay classic corona (42 x 142), has long been favoured by some as fulfilling that goal, amidst the Habanos ‘light flavour strength’ brands alongside Hoyo de Monterrey.

At the start of this petit robusto, my initial complaint was that the band was fastened a bit too high – 2cm from the head instead of the usual 2.5cm or one inch. Like many smokers I tend to leave the band on until it is naturally loosened by the cigar heat well into the smoke, but here I unpeeled it quickly. Pre-draw here was a bit too mild and over-subtle, a sign of problems ahead.

Tho I was certainly prepared for a ‘mild and light’ cigar, this stick was overboard in that direction. Accompanied by only some nice French wine as befits the Quai d’Orsay concept, I was disappointed in the first minutes after lighting.
One aspect was that the initial draw was too tight, suprising me given the robusto thickness, tho this is a common experience with the more slender Cubans I usually smoke. A poke with a cigar tool, got things underway, but then the quest for flavour began. I am open to very subtle and gentle flavours, but here at first I really had to dig a bit to feel some sensations.

There were tiny hints of things, but at first the cigar was really without character, and I found myself wishing I had lit up one of my ol’ reliable Cuban short-filler José L. Piedra cheapies instead, not sophisticated but generally delivering some good taste in the modest package.

For the first ten minutes I struggled to find some deeper flavour here, tho I could detect very slight traces of cream and chestnut and woodiness. Later in the first third the flavour finally arrived, and it was good when it came – nice and woody and fairly full, a good bit of spice and some bite upon the tongue, rather like a Hoyo de Monterrey. Even some little bits of fruit taste. Flavours still subtle, but stronger, and very well balanced.

At the start of the middle third, flavour faded away again, and I was a bit too aware of just ‘smoking tobacco’, and I began organising some ice cream dessert to pass the time. Some quality bitter notes began to show up, and then the flavour came back again.

The final third began more strongly, and there were indeed some very fine moments of nuts, wood, cream and honey … but unfortunately this was only part of the time. Flavour faded in and out till it was time to say good-bye.

There was some decent headiness in the cigar from the thickness, tho given the flavour shortages it was not so satisfying. Burn was decently slow, tho given the lack of flavour at points I was wishing for faster progress. White-grey ash held on for more then 3cm at first, tho flat-faced, and it fell off more quickly toward the end. The rolling sense of flavour being there, and then being AWOL, was regrettable. My feeling is that despite the attractive looks, this will not be the shorter robusto people are seeking.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Quai D’Orsay No.50

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14
Feb

Can you believe that it’s already 2018? 2017 sure went by in a flash! Let’s take a look at some of the top stories from the industry this year.

Personnel Changes at Major Cigar Companies

Let’s start by talking about major personnel changes. There were quite a few staff changes at the top of major cigar companies this year.

For starters, in January, Drew Estate’s co-founder Jonathan Drew became the company’s president.

At Davidoff in August, Andreas Schmid and CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard both made their departures while Domenico Scala Beat Hauenstein took over as new chairmen for the company.

Meanwhile, Mark Pursell departed his role as CEO of IPCPR in September. In October, Janelle Rosenfeld left her post as VP of Marketing for Altadis U.S.A. Terence Reilly, National Sales Manager at Quesada, departed his company as well.

That same month, Michael Giannini joined Ventura Cigar Co. as Creative Director. In November, Swisher International selected John Miller as President.

Miscellaneous Industry News

  • We lost several industry greats this year. Gilberto F. Oliva Sr. passed away at age 86 this December, as did José Orlando Padrón at age 91. This March, we also lost Avo Uvezian, who died just two days after his 91st birthday. While we lament the passing of these legendary men, their legacies will live on through their celebrated brands.
  • This year marked the 25th anniversary of Cigar Aficionado, the industry’s most prominent publication.
  • On a related note, Apple Inc. decided this year that it has a beef with cigars. The company decided to remove Cigar Aficionado’s popular Where to Smoke app from the App Store. Apple argued that the app was in violation of its TOS despite the fact that it does not promote or sell specific products.
  • Room101 branched out into spirits in November. The famous cigar brand now has its very own gin label.
  • Hurricane Irma took its toll on cigar companies in Florida in September. Many were forced to temporarily shut down their operations until the storm passed. Nonetheless, the industry was very generous with helping out the broader community in the wake of the storm. Both Tabacalera USA and a boutique cigar company called EPC Cigar Co. donated substantially to relief efforts.
  • A few companies made notable expansions this year. Casa de Montecristo has new locations in Arizona and Florida. Davidoff opened up a brand new Camacho Factory. La Flor Domincana expanded its Tamboril factory in the Dominican Republic.

Cuba

Now that we’ve gone over some general industry news, let’s talk a bit about developments concerning Cuba in 2017. Let me go over the timeline:

  • First, let’s put things in perspective. In 2016, 4 million tourists visited Cuba. The Ministry of Tourism in Cuba reported that was a jump in 13% over the prior year. It was also a record. Many of those travelers came from the USA. After Obama opened up relations with Cuba, there were finally flights scheduled between the US and Cuba on a regular basis again.
  • Early in 2017, a number of airlines decided to either restrict their flights to Cuba or end them altogether. These included American Airlines, Spirit, Frontier, JetBlue, and Silver Airways.
  • In June, Trump announced a new set of limits on trade and travel relations between Cuba and the US.
  • In September, unusual circumstances at the US embassy in Havana resulted in the State Department culling back personnel so that only emergency staff would remain on hand.
  • In November, yet more restrictions were announced by Trump’s administration. You can still transport cigars from Cuba to the United States, but you must “fit into the revised travel categories” in order to do so.

So while the doors are not totally closed, they are moving in that direction. It has once again become challenging to find flights to and from Cuba, and many hotels in Cuba no longer accept US citizens.

On top of that, you can only visit Cuba if you fit into one of the previously mentioned “travel categories.” These include:

  • Family visits
  • Government business
  • Journalism
  • Business-related travel
  • Education
  • Religious travel
  • Public performances
  • Support for the people of Cuba
  • Humanitarian ventures
  • Private foundations
  • Information-related imports and exports
  • Other select exports

So can you still take a flight to Cuba, get off and buy cigars, and return home with them? Sure, but you will need to have a legal excuse for your presence there.

On the Legal Front

The easiest way to go over legal highlights from 2017 is just to review them chronologically as well. Here’s the rundown of major events:

  • April saw the publication of a scientific research study in The New England Journal of Medicine. The FDA provided funding for the study, which demonstrated that kids are not smoking premium cigars. Yes, we all knew this—but the FDA didn’t, so this research is important.
  • Several states raised their legal smoking age to 21 years. This included New Jersey in July, and Maine and Oregon in August.
  • In August, it was announced that the cost of cigars in New York City is set to increase significantly.
  • There was some actual good news in September in the House of Representatives. An act called “Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act of 2018 (H.R. 3354)” would prohibit the FDA from regulating the premium cigar industry. It passed in the House, but still needs to pass in the Senate.
  • In October, International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers, the Cigar Association of America and the Cigar Rights of America all filed motions against the FDA concerning product labeling rules. The FDA filed back on October 24th. On December 15th, the case went to court, and is still awaiting a ruling. The case is titled, Cigar Association of America, et al. v. United States Food and Drug Administration.
  • Also in October, the FDA clarified that free samples of cigars are not completely banned. They simply cannot be given out until a customer purchases a cigar.
  • 29 Republican congressmen submitted a letter to Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in December. The letter requested that premium cigars be removed from the FDA’s regulatory sphere. There is also a relevant bill in Congress (Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017 (H.R. 564) which has garnered 133 bipartisan co-sponsors. It has yet to be passed by either the House or the Senate.

Now you are up-to-date on all the biggest events to shape the cigar industry through 2017. While there have been some losses on the legislative front, particularly with regards to Cuba, the industry overall has been strong. There are a lot of exciting cigar releases awaiting us in 2018, so it should be a great year ahead!

You might be interested in these articles too:

2017 in Review: Cigar Industry Highlights

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