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19
Jun

MontecristoOrigin : Cuba
Size : 7“ (178mm) x 47
Format : Julieta No.2
Brand Strength : Medium to Full
Hand-Made
Price : $25 – $30
More info about purchasing Montecristo cigars…

Cigar rating
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

Introduction
The Montecristo Churchill Anejados is the second release of the linea Anejados. The Cigars released under this line are extra matured in the perfect humidity conditions of Cuba for a period of time between 5 to 8 years. This extra aging allow each part of the cigar to really melt together releasing the very full flavor potential of the tobacco leaves.


You can also read the great review of the Partagas Corona Gordas Anejados here!

Cigar Appearance
The Montecristo Anejados shows a double band, the traditional one plus a brown one which proudly said Anejados indicating the extra aging indeed. The size which I particularly like is elegant and its already a pleasure to old it in your hands. The color of the wrapper is Colorado and the quality of it is excellent with not many vein coming out and a crunchy feel which make me hope in a good draw.

Cigar Construction
The cigar is been rolled well, the cup was applied correctly facilitating the cutting procedure and the pre draw announce that is not going to be a tight one. During the smoke the ash was very compact and I almost went half way through before it went down, and when it did I could see the core of the cigar perfectly lit as I never had to use the lighter again.

Cigar Tasting

Like a first date, it is a shy beginning for the Montecristo Anejados, it felt quite light as a start but on the other side combustion and draw were really good. It shows since the beginning that the character of the stick is going to be woody with some spices hints, the classic Montecristo profile.
As we reach the second third the flavor intensity definitely picks up as the smoke gets warmer and denser, we can appreciate the lovely cedar and oak wood, vegetal notes with some cashew nuts feeling as well and a hint of spices occasionally.
Close to the end we can really appreciate the definition of the flavors, which are not changing much since the beginning, the only thing that evolves is the intensity of those, which is totally normal as the burning spot is always closer to our palate and the smoke is hotter; combustion and draw have been great during the entire stick.

Overall
The cigar was a bit lighter than expected, maybe because the extra aging which might have lower down the nicotine level, and make it smoother. It was very well constructed and I have to say that when a cigar doesn’t give any “inconvenient” is already half way to the success. Flavor wise the cigar didn’t show any complexity as the profile was the same from the beginning to the end, what I call a linear stick; but the definition of the flavors and aromas was good. This is a cigar which can be smoked anytime really, I enjoyed it with my coffee during the afternoon, and by the nature of it you can lit it and enjoy it without thinking about it too much.

Cuban Cigar Review – Montecristo Churchill Anejados

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04
Dec

Origin : CubaLa Gloria Cubana
Format : Palmitas – slender long panetela
Size : 6″ x 32 ring gauge (152mm x 12.70mm)
Ring : 32
Box Year : 2013
Hand-Made
Price : $13+
More info about purchasing Gloria Cubana cigars…

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

Introduction

A charming anachronism in today’s thicker cigar world, the Médaille d’Or No 4 from La Gloria Cubana, is an attractive slender stick offering some unique sweet taste notes amidst its tight draw, this 2013 aged-in-Cuba ‘añejados’ edition offering a particularly rich final third of flavour.

This cigar – ‘Cuban Glory Gold Medal No 4′ in English – is one of the last of a disappearing breed, the premium hand-made long slender panetela. One might categorise panetelas into two groups, the more substantial ones in 34 to 39 ring gauges, and the now-rarer ones like this here, the 33-ring-gauge-or-less ‘slenderellas’ (as a now-discontinued Rafael González stick was named).

Tasting

It is first of all a lovely cigar, with a fine wrapper pleasing to the eye and touch, as befits the higher price. The extra ‘aged habano’ gold band helps balance out the appearance of this longer stick too, given it is the full 6-inch classic ‘panetela extra’.

Pre-draw presents some pleasing caramel and spice notes. After lighting, one is immediately pleased with the distinctive and sweet La Gloria Cubana flavour palette, here starting with a sense of coffee and nuts, shortly to be complemented by some honey and light spice. Flavours are a bit subtle, it’s good not to be drinking anything too heavy along with the cigar.

Draw with these skinny sticks is always a bit tight, tho I have never had a Gloria Cubana that was truly plugged. With these, I do tend to use a cigar-piercing tool to ease the draw, so as to more easily take in the very pleasant flavours here. One does need to be attentive and ‘work’ these thin hand-made sticks a bit to keep them lit & to keep the smoke flowing as freely as one would like.

What’s very special in smoking this kind of slender panetela, is a curious sense that one can taste the inner structure, even how the tobacco leaves are ‘folded’ inside the wrapper. The wrapper is much more prominent with so much less filler volume, so the flavour balance strikes one bit differently when you are used to thicker sticks.

The middle third of this Médaille d’Or No 4, started with a bit of a cedar dominance at first, then the sweetness came back, with some delicious satisfying caramel hints. Working a bit to puff more, one can create some harshness. but it doesn’t seem the fault of the cigar itself.

The ash on this skinny stick doesn’t hold well, and tends to fall off in shorter chunks, sometimes after only a half-inch or so.

A few years of aging in this 2013 edition, has blended the flavours here well, and brought out the sweet notes a bit more. The aging benefits appear particularly strongly in the final third, where the flavours became much stronger and richer. There is cedar & sweet caramel & honey & light spice, and also some nice wood-fire aroma with nuttiness.

After those wonderful ‘glorious’ moments befitting the cigar, its thin frame caught up with it, and it became quite hard to keep the stick lit. Finally I had to give up approaching the nub, not because of harshness or bitterness but just because it was too much match-work.

The best comparison for a rival to this cigar, is the also-slender but shorter Cohiba Exquisitos, a hair under 5 inches (126mm) x 33 ring gauge. In general I would tilt toward the Exquisitos, for its easier draw and a richer, less delicate flavour, tho it doesn’t have the unique and pleasing sweet notes of the Gloria Cubana. In this aged 2013 version, however, the final third of the Médaille d’Or No 4 did rival the flavour richness of the Cohiba for some minutes.

However, I rather understand why these super-slender cigars are fading away. Tho partial to slender cigars myself, I don’t see a reason for cigars less than 34 ring gauge in fully hand-rolled sticks; anything thinner, and hand-rolled cigars are just a bit too ‘light’, and it often takes more work to enjoy them.

By contrast, the 30 to 33 ring gauges seem more well-suited to short-filler cigars, such as the quality Dutch machine-made stogies that use a Brazil-Cuban-Indonesian tobacco mix. In machine production, the slender format seems to give a better balance, whilst the machine process tends to guarantee an open, easy draw, whilst thicker machine cigars can be rougher or duller.

It’s curious to note how much less tobacco you burn with a thinner cigar; ring gauge is far more important than length for tobacco volume. If you use your high school math and calculate – and subtract a bit for the final inch and a half nub you might not smoke – you can see that a 6-inch (152mm), 32-ring-gauge cigar like this, burns about the same amount of tobacco as a Reyes vitola, 40 ring gauge and only 4 1/3 (110mm) inches long.

La Gloria Cubana is another one of a group of the lesser-known 27 Habanos brands, which only have 1 or 2 or 3 cigars left in production, which raises another interesting issue. According to legend, it was Zino Davidoff himself who persuaded Fidel Castro not to scrap the old traditional Cuban cigar brand names. That was certainly fine for marques such as Montecristo and Hoyo de Monterrey, but for the ‘marginal’ brands this is now a problem in a world where shops focus on the few ‘big brands’ and often don’t stock a La Gloria Cubana or Sancho Panza or Quai d’Orsay from Cuba.

We are thus in danger of losing some of the special flavour palettes amongst Cuban cigars. It might be time for Habanos s.a. to consolidate its ‘endangered species’ cigars into one or two new ‘Vintage Cuban’ brands. I’d like to see La Gloria Cubana re-do these sweet tobaccos in a slightly different format, maybe something like 36 ring gauge and 5 1/4″ (133mm).

As a final fun note on the world of panetelas, here a short two-minutes-plus video clip of 4 wonderful vintage television cigar commercials, classics from North America where Edie Adams sang the ‘Hey Big Spender!’ tune. Note in the first two clips which show 5 sophisticated gentlemen smoking stogies, the vitola format selected for them is, like the Gloria Cubana Médaille d’Or here, a 6-inch panetela. And the other two clips (click here) seem to be where I’d see other Cigar Inspector readers -

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – La Gloria Cuban Medaille d’Or No.4

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02
Aug

Origin : CubaPunch
Format : Coronas Gordas
Size : 143 x 46
Origin : Cuba
Hand-Made
Brand Strength : Medium
Price : ~$8-11 each
More info about purchasing Punch cigars…

Punch was created in 1844 by Don Manuel López of Juan Valle & Co, this makes it one of the oldest brand still in production.It was creating with an eye on the fast growing British market where a humorous magasine of the same name was in vogue at that time. Today most of Punch production is being rolled at la Corona Factory in Havana

Draw : 4.5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 3 out of 6 stars
Flavour : 4 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 3 out of 6 stars

Tasting Notes

Appearance
I decided to crack a Punch Punch from a 50 cabinet I have in the humidor since a while. The wrapper is colorado, soft and slightly shiny. Not as oily as I remembered but nothing to worry about. When filling the cigar I have a small doubt of being under-fil…

Tasting
The most striking notes are the sweetness flavours developed at the very beginning. I wasn’t expecting this from a Punch cigar.
Slowly the cigar opens up to other notes such as honey and vegetal feeling, more typical of the marca profile.
As the combustion goes, the wrapper shows a small sign of damage.
The second third turns out to be very creamy on the palate. The smoke density is very high but the ash pretty loose.
Towards the end the construction appears to be bad and the cigar struggle to burn properly.
The final third is grassy and earthy reminding of a Montecristo flavour profile.
All the way the cigar was light to medium and not medium as expected. Which makes it a very easy to enjoy cigar.
The finish is great sensation of aromates with hints of cloves and liquorish.

You might be interested in these articles too:

Cigar Review – Punch Punch (Cuban)

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15
Mar

Davidoff Chateau Margaux

DavidoffOrigin : Cuba
Format : Petit Corona
Size : 42 x 129 mm (~5 in)
Box date : 1989
Hand-Made
Price : 150 EUR / cigar

Before delving into the meat of this review, I must take the time to give an appreciative nod and a tip of the cap to Frederic of LCDH Knokke for dipping into his private stash to give me the opportunity to cross one of the few things remaining on my bucket list of things to accomplish before I leave this world— enjoying a technically and aesthetically perfect Cuban cigar. Originally released in 1969, this Davidoff remained un-banded until around 1980 and the line was completely discontinued in 1991, remaining amongst the best of the best during its entire release. One look and one glorious puff and you are hooked. Without qualification, this smoke was absolutely flawless in every respect. They just do not get any better than this.

Davidoff Chateau Margaux

Appearance : 5 out of 5 stars
Hand rolled in true Cuban style, this stick presented itself in a skin smooth dark brown wrapper with ZERO spines, ZERO “oiling”, ZERO blooms or mold spots, ZERO discoloration, ZERO visible flaws and a delightfully fresh aroma, especially given the cigar was almost 30 years old as of the writing of this review. From foot to head, this gem was a Marquis diamond. WOW!!

Davidoff Chateau Margaux

Construction : 5 out of 5 stars
This Davidoff had absolutely NO construction issues. None… Zip… Nada… PERIOD.

I took the trouble to light this smoke using the Puisais method of burning/lighting one end before cutting or puffing to burn off any impurities instead of sucking them into the body of the cigar, and the taste reward for the trouble was self-evident (more later). Davidoff Chateau Margaux was NOT stiff or tight, even considering its age. Lighting was effortless and there was absolutely ZERO constriction or resistance to the draw. Plumes of billowing white smoke followed, with a technically razor sharp PERFECT burn from one end to the other. No gopher holing, no canoeing, no inconsistencies or fluctuations in the burn from one end of the cigar to the other— ZERO—ZIP—NOTHING. Simply flawless.

Davidoff Chateau Margaux

Flavor : 5 out of 5 stars
The taste of this smoke was without equal in my 35-odd years of enjoying tobacco, even given the age of the stick. One would think after 30 years, the carcass of the cigar would be little more than dried out and tasteless crumbs. Not in this lifetime. The previous owner of this smoke took exquisite care to preserve the moisture, taste and integrity of the cigar, and the payoff at the end of the day was a 30 year old cigar that effortlessly packed just as much punch and flavor as any current day top tier Cuban smoke. The notes you pick up are only limited by your imagination.

Davidoff Chateau Margaux

Value : 5 out of 5 stars
You just cannot find this kind of quality at ANY cost. Bar none.

Overall Rating : 5 out of 5 stars
I can finally say with a straight face and conviction that I have found that “perfect” cigar. Another bucket list item checked off. Today is a GOOD day.

Enjoy!!!

You might be interested in these articles too:

Davidoff Chateau Margaux (Cuban)

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18
Nov

We finally finished processing the answers from our last week’s survey. Below you will find the community’s favorite Cuban cigars – first the brands, then the specific cigars.

The low score of Romeo y Juieta cigars may come as a surprise – not a single cigar in the top 15 (the Romeo y Julieta Short Churchill – the highest ranked cigar from the brand – is #18) and only the 8th spot in the brands rankings.

The #1 cigar’s lead is also quite surprising – we expected more competition for the first spot. 2nd and 3rd spots are where the competition was, and underdogs Ramon Allones Specially Selected and Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No. 2 almost made it to the top 3.

We hope you find these results interesting, feel free to share them with your friends and/or leave a comment below!

Favorite Cuban Cigars Inforgraphic

Favorite Cuban Cigars – Survey Results

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30
Jun

This year we’re as usual a bit late with the ‘best of’ Cuban list, sorry about that. On the bright side, this delay gave us a chance to smoke all of these cigars again in the beginning of 2015, which confirmed the ratings.

Like last year, the list is composed of cigars that we smoked in 2014 (with mostly recent box codes). Without further ado, here’s the list.

1. Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe

Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure de Luxe

Surprisingly, the Hoyo de Monterrey brand secures the #1 spot again! This time it’s a LCDH-exclusive release called “Epicure de Luxe”. It’s definitely the best Cuban cigar I smoked in 2014 and I finished my first box in January 2015. Planning to open my second box this fall!

2. H. Upmann Connossieur A

H. Upmann Connossieur A

The H. Upmann Connossieur A is another quite exclusive release which is available at La Casa del Habanos but also in Habanos Specialists shops around the world. Flavor-wise, this cigar is as good as it gets, if you like the delicate and balanced Cuban profile, you’ll be in for a treat. Overall there were a few construction issues (mainly burn) in these cigars though, otherwise they could have easily made it to the very top of this list!

3. Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto

Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robustos

Unfortunately, overall in 2014 I had way less time to dedicate to smoking than I wished, due to work and health issues. In this context, small cigars like Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto really shine and I’m fairly sure that this was my most smoked cigar in 2014. If properly aged, it packs everything Cuba has to offer in a rather small format.

4. Cohiba BHK 52

Cohiba BHK 52

Reliable, consistent, posh: the Cohiba BHK 52 is just as good as last year, and is a perfect special occasion smoke all-around. This is my first choice for informal meetings with business partners.

5. Vegas Robaina Famosos

Not really a mainstream cigar, the Vegas Robaina Famosos box that I kept in my humidor since 2012 gave me some very pleasant moments on the rare occasions I could enjoy a cigar indoors in winter.

What were the best Cuban cigars that you smoked recently?

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Best Cuban Cigars of 2014

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26
Mar

Can we now legally import Cuban cigars to the United States?

We have been getting a lot of questions lately from readers about the status of Cuban cigar imports. With the US finally normalizing relations with Cuba, restrictions are already beginning to loosen, although not too quickly. Here’s the skinny on bringing Cuban cigars into the country so that you know what you currently can and cannot do!

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

If you are authorized to travel to Cuba, you may purchase alcohol and tobacco products for personal use (not to re-sell) totaling up to $100 in value. That is a combined total. You may personally bring the alcohol and tobacco products back to the USA when you return to the country.

One thing you still cannot do legally is purchase Cuban tobacco or alcohol products online or in another country. So you cannot for example buy Cuban cigars in Nicaragua and then bring them back with you to America. But if you are visiting Cuba, you can buy up to $100 in Cuban cigars, and bring them back to the USA.

As for the future, hopefully restrictions will continue to loosen. In order for full trade to be restored, however, Cuba is requiring that the US return the base at Guantanamo Bay, stop broadcasting anti-Castro messages into Cuba, and also pay millions of dollars for damages due to the embargo. Odds are none of this will be happening any time soon. These are some pretty hefty demands. It is hard to say for sure that Cuba is serious about moving forward. So for now, keep purchases down to $100 or less while you are visiting the island. We will update you if there are any more changes—and we sure hope there will be.

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Can We Now Legally Import Cuban Cigars into the US?

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17
Mar

The Nic-Cuban hybrid…a dream or reality?

When President Obama announced he was opening talks with the Cuban government, cigar smokers across America rejoiced. After five decades of an embargo, there was finally hope that Cuban cigars would soon become available to consumers in the US. Would we finally be able to buy CCs without looking over our shoulders? Unfortunately, at this time, the terms of the negotiations indicate that legal Cuban cigars may be a long way off for Americans.

In order for full trade relations to happen, Cuba is demanding that:

  1. The US Naval base in Guantanamo Bay be returned to Cuba;
  2. The US stop broadcasting anti-Castro radio/TV into the island;
  3. The US pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for losses due to the embargo.

These demands illustrate that the Castro regime has no real interest in rapprochement with the US. Additionally, the Helms-Burton act of 1996 states the embargo can only be lifted by Congress. Under this act, Cuba must hold free elections, release political prisoners, guarantee worker’s rights, and allow freedom of the press. But the Castro brothers have as much revolutionary zeal as ever, and no interest in promoting democracy and privatization. Unless there is a regime change, the terms of Helms-Burton will never be met. And history has shown that only overt war can bring about such a change. No one wants that.

For negotiations to continue, Cuba needs to get serious. The demand for reparations is absurd, especially in light of assets stolen by Castro after the 1959 revolution. According to Fox News, an estimated $6 billion of property was seized from thousands of US citizens and businesses. It seems that Raul Castro has no real interest in doing business with the US.

What if?

To this cigar smoker, the end of the Cuban embargo seems distant indeed. But what if, through some bizarre circumstance, the embargo was to end in the near future? What impact would it have on the worldwide cigar market? Here are some scenarios to ponder…

Surge in US cigar sales

The novelty of being able to buy Cuban cigars in the US would be irresistible, not only for cigar smokers, but to the general public as well. Curious non-smokers will want to see what the fuss was all about. The public might flock to cigar stores to smoke their first cigar. This could make initial demand for CCs so great, that supplies will dwindle fast. This, in turn, would drive the prices up, making them less appealing to an experienced cigar smoker. We know the cigars we like, and what they should cost. Smoking a novelty simply doesn’t appeal to us. In this case, legal CCs won’t change the buying habits of those already passionate about their favorite cigar brands.

But how many first-time cigar buyers will actually become regular cigar smokers? My guess is that very few would actually enjoy the experience. Many will end up smoking fake CCs that taste awful, or are plugged. And even if they find a good Cohiba, paying $30+ for one cigar would probably make it a novelty purchase. Ultimately, once non-smokers have experienced their CC, they will tell everyone how great it was (even if they didn’t like it), and never smoke another. (Time and again I’ve heard non-smokers say they smoked a “Cuban”, and it was heavenly. The mystique of the “Cuban Cigar” is simply too powerful to resist.) So, I predict that, initially, cigar smoking in the US will jump once the embargo is lifted. Then after a few months, the numbers will fall back to what we’ve seen during the embargo years.

Supply and demand

Presently, the worldwide demand for Cuban cigars far outstrips the Island’s ability to produce consistent quality across all its brands. Add to that the world’s largest cigar-smoking nation, and an already thin system may get stretched to the breaking point. It’s been my experience that certain cigar vendors get better quality CCs than others. Also, the best vendors check their inventory for quality before sending out any boxes. This is one way they assure the consumer is getting quality Cuban cigars. But when local stores start selling Cuban cigars in the US, quality control will be difficult to maintain. Plus, the counterfeit cigar market will go wild. On a recent trip to Vancouver, I was amazed at how many cigar stores were there. From what I could tell, all but one was selling fake CCs. Only from experience was I able to tell the good from the bad. The fakes were everywhere. The US is fertile ground for this type of deception, particularly because we are unfamiliar with the product. It may take a while for things to settle, and for serious cigar smokers to find a source for good CCs. Until then, it could be a free-for-all.

Who will benefit the most?

Ultimately, the ones who will benefit the most from a lifted embargo are the non-Cuban cigar makers. With access to Cuban tobacco, they can add a new flavor element to their blends, one that had been forbidden for decades. Cuba has laws prohibiting export of its tobacco, but once that gets rescinded, the great cigar makers of Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and the US, will have access to some of the tastiest tobacco in the world. But the real boost in cigar flavor will come with the extra fermentation these great cigar makers will apply to their new tobacco. The best cigar makers never simply blend the tobaccos they buy. They ferment multiple times until they deem the tobacco ready for their brand. This is a stage missing from the Cuban cigar industry. With demand so high, the fermentation in Cuba gets short-thrift. It’s no wonder why CCs need to sit five years in storage to reach peak flavor potential. In the hands of caring cigar makers, Cuban tobacco can finally get its due. Blending perfectly fermented Cuban tobacco with the best tobaccos of other countries will yield cigars of unprecedented greatness.

The best CCs won’t be Cuban

Taking this one step further, I predict that the best CCs will not be made in Cuba. Once boutique cigar makers import Cuban tobacco, there will be cigar makers rolling sticks in the US (and elsewhere), made from 100% Cuban tobacco. And with the extra fermentation they will apply, these non-Cuban, Cuban cigars may surpass CCs in both flavor and construction.

There are many hurdles yet to overcome, and having diplomatic relations with Cuba is only the beginning. But in the end, we, the cigars smokers, will be the big winner when the embargo ends. How we will benefit is, at this point, only speculation. And at the current rate of negotiations, and the unwillingness of the Cuban government to bend, it’s hard to see when, or if, the embargo will truly ever end.

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Cuban Cigars in the United States? Don’t hold your breath.

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18
Aug

It’s true, we’re seriously late with this year’s lists. In the beginning, when we realized we missed the schedule, we were planning to just skip 2013 best of’s and start afresh in 2014. But given the number of emails we received asking us to publish the top 5, we had to reconsider our position. So here it is, our selection of best Cuban cigars of 2013.

The list is composed of cigars that we smoked in 2013 (the box codes are mostly recent, 2012-2013, with one exception). Most of them are not recent releases and we picked the cigars that showed the highest consistency throughout the year. The Montecristo No. 4, for example, didn’t make it to the list because it seriously lacked consistency both in terms of flavor and construction.

1. Hoyo de Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Limited Edition

Hoyo De Monterrey Grand Epicure 2013 Edición Limitada

This Hoyo de Monterrey seems to be a very successful edicion limitada. 2013 was a good vintage for LE’s, as I hear the Punch Serie d’Oro No. 2 also smokes very good at the moment (review coming soon). This is how DrFever describes the Hoyo Grand Epicure LE 2013:

It is a lush, rich, creamy and extremely flavorful smoke. Every puff offered something different. It was extremely complex and had incredible depth to the flavors. The blend was always changing featuring chocolate, coffee, sweet cedar, leather, caramel, vanilla and mild pepper with hints of orange peel and dried fruit.

2. Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2

Partagas Serie P No. 2 is the Cuban torpedo that had the highest grades in 2013. The competition is rude in this segment, since both H. Upmann No. 2 and Montecristo No. 2 received really good praise too.

3. Trinidad Robusto T

Trinidad Robusto T

I’ve smoked 6 of Trinidad Robusto T’s throughout 2013 and they have been very good: perfect balance, great complexity and no harshness at all. I still can’t understand why in the world would Habanos SA discontinue such a wonderful smoke. I also noticed that, surprisingly, the ones that I smoked this summer seemed somewhat less complex to me, perhaps there’s no use to age them further? I’m afraid it’s the last time they make it to the top 5.

4. Bolivar Coronas Gigantes

I’ve had multiple opportunities in 2013 to dedicate 100 minutes to this impressive churchill. A friend gifted me a box of these in 2009 and thankfully there were no construction issues so far. It’s a very special cigar to me because it was the very first cigar review on this blog, back in 2007. I guess it’s time to update it, stay tuned.

5. Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Ramon Allones Specially Selected

Well, I’m really sorry for being somewhat predictable but the RASS remains (at least for us) the most consistent regular production cigar. It’s the cigar I turn to, for the past 7 years, when I need something good and reliable.

What were the best Cuban cigars that you smoked in 2013? It’s probably not that easy to answer this question in July 2014, but still, give it a try in the comments area below.

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Best Cuban Cigars of 2013

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06
Feb

Davidoff No. 1 (Cuban)

DavidoffOrigin : Cuba
Format : Laguito No. 1 (Long Panatela, also known as Lancero); 38 x 192 (7-½”)
Box date : December 1985 (NIUL)
Hand-Made
Price : To the extent they can be found, a Davidoff No. 1 will run around $100 per cigar. Note: Be cautious, there are numerous counterfeit Davidoff No. 1s claimed to be on the market. I’ve heard to be weary of the Davidoff band being “too white” to have had 30+ years of age.

Background

The Davidoff No.1 was part of the original line of Davidoff cigars introduced in 1969. Beginning in the mid 1980s, quality control became a concern to Davidoff. In 1987, Zino Davidoff condemned Cuban craftsmanship on French television. The rift between Zino and Cubatabaco escalated to the point where, in 1989, Zino publicly burned 130,000 of the Cuban-made Davidoff cigars that he had deemed of low quality and unfit to sell. Officially, the Cuban Davidoff line was discontinued in 1991.

Hecho en Cuba

This box was acquired new by my father, an infrequent cigar smoker, in the late 1980s. He died about ten years later and, in remembrance, I have taken to smoking one of these (or one of a small handful of other cigars that were his) on the anniversary of his passing. I think it has been three years since I last smoked one of these. This year I was out of town on that date, so I am smoking this a bit late. Obviously, this cigar has great significance for me, but I have no problem disassociating an objective review from a subjective occasion.

Appearance : 4.5 out of 5 stars
A darker shade of Claro, flat sheen, a few visible but not prominent veins. One dull green water spot is the only apparent flaw. Years of movement have flattened the pigtail to an unremarkable little knob, but the wrapper remains well intact. Upon cutting and dry puffing, a few flakes of the very thin wrapper peel off in my mouth. All the cigars in this box have shrunk in girth and the bands loosely slide off. Extremely white, dense ash.

Davidoff No. 1 from Cuba

Construction : 4.75 out of 5 stars (4.75)
Surprisingly firm pre-light draw, but perfect once lit. Excellent volume of smoke. Burn was razor sharp due to the thin wrapper. Required no touch-up. At first it smoked very quickly, but about halfway in the draw became a little resistant. Smoking time was a little under an hour and a half which is fairly quick considering my attempt to savor it. Perhaps the loss of oils simply made it burn quicker.

Davidoff No. 1 (Cuban)

Flavor : 3 out of 5 stars
Mild and past its peak, the cigar is simply (and pleasantly) old. Sweet, light tobacco. I’ve smoked numerous vintage cigars from the 1960s, 70s and 80s and most have unique characteristics even after they’ve peaks, but this is one of the cleanest tastes I’ve encountered. I have to really focus to define the flavors: mild hint of cedar, milk (far too light to be described as cream), perhaps a touch of grass, must, maybe vanilla… It all comes together to be a remarkably smooth cigar. It requires a significantly deep pull to get any depth of flavor; casual puffs reveal only mildness. The finish is too short – almost nonexistent. A few inches in, I detect green tea and a bit of leather. Some of the sweetness is gone. I poured a tiny glass of Macallan 18 to see if pairing would produce any new insights. It does not; this cigar can’t handle being paired with anything stronger than water. At the halfway point, the flavors are unchanged. There are no bad flavors here, but nothing that makes you want a box of these either.

Davidoff No. 1 from Cuba

Overall Rating : 3.5 out of 5 stars
Consensus opinion is that these have passed their peak and I would have to agree, though not as vehemently. I’ve read reviews that range from good to horrible. One reviewer described the flavors he noted as “sour leather” and “burnt cardboard”; whereas Charlie from Halfwheel stated, “one of the most offensive flavor profiles I have ever found in a cigar”. While I would be more than disappointed if I paid market price for the Davidoff No. 1, by no means is this a bad experience. Truly, this is one of the smoothest cigars I’ve ever had. It takes a diversity of experiences to allow one to appreciate the art of this indulgence, and I am better for having smoked this Davidoff. If you’ve been saving a Davidoff No. 1 for a special occasion, lower your expectations. This cigar would be best enjoyed in a cigar puff puff pass where the experience could be shared with good friends.

One last comment – I’ve had other Davidoff vitolas which I do not recall perceiving as past their peak, so don’t presume all Davidoffs will have the same taste results.

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Davidoff No. 1 (Cuban)

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