Cigar Review “flashback” – Vegas Robaina XV Aniversario 2012 RE Canada, Sep 2012 “LAR” box code; Final Score – 90

So, I’ve got another review here, but it’s sort of a “flashback” review, in that its from a review that I did a while back, before this blog, and then saved the text as I wanted to see how the future evolved for this cigar.

Also, as I’m mentally, physically, and emotionally preparing for this November’s Partagas Encuentros festivities (dude, it’s a marathon week!!!), I’ve decided to repost this here, as my thoughts harken to the last trip.  I’ve got a couple of boxes of these VR 2012 RE’s, all with a Dic 2012 “LAR” code, and I’ve been thinking of them lately, so I figured posting this older review here prior to doing a new one soon will help with a bit of the hindsight aspect.

So, review’s below, with some minor editing notes, and a few small non-relevant deletions.

Enjoy…

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It’s actually been ages since I did a detailed review.  Aside from the blind tasting competitions, I think the last full-on review I did was from late 2011 or so.  And this was definitely one worth reviewing.

I enjoyed this on a visit to Montreal.  I was actually on a bit of a road trip, on my way back out here to Nova Scotia for work.  I made a stop into Toronto for one day and evening, getting together for a mini-herf with Frank, Art, Tom, and Mike, and we shared some great stories, great smokes, nice drinks, and good times like always.  A nice little planning / brain-storming session for the [then] upcoming 2013 Toronto MegaHerf III.  But, then I travelled through to Montreal, and while waiting for my travel-wife Simon to get done his shift at work, I made a nice little 4-hour or so pop-in to the LCDH in Montreal.  Simon prepared the introductions previously, and I had the chance to sit and talk a bit with Antonio Marsillo, the new manager of LCDH Montreal (Marc has recently retired, earlier last year, I believe).

So anyways, I tried this cigar during that visit.  It’s one that I was very interested in, as both Simon and Art had the chance to attend the pre-release tasting panel for this cigar when we were down in Havana, Cuba during the Partagas Festival.  [NOTE – Art’s awesome review on these, with mucho pictures, can be found here on his The Dirty Ashes blog, and Simon’s review can be found here on Cigar Inspector, though I also believe he has it posted to the LCDH Montreal blog too.]  They had the chance to sit and taste and discuss this cigar with some H S.A. higher-ups, as well as with Carlos Robaina (of whom, we visited him in his shop earlier that week).  Simon was actually invited to attend through/on behalf of the LCDH Montreal, and Art, similarly for LCDH Toronto.

Therefore, their reviews from November for this cigar definitely made me interested in it (and I took some pretty extensive notes and pictures with my iPhone), and I went into this review I did with some good hopes.  Plus, theirs was damn near wet fresh when they did their H S.A. tasting, and it had been a few months of sitting time for this cigar, so I was definitely interested to see where it was going.

Anywho…on to the review.

Reviewed Cigar:  Vegas Robaina XV Aniversario, 2012 RE Canada

Box Date:  Sep 2012

Factory / Manufacture Code:  LAR

Packaging:  10-box, standard dress box, numbered boxes

Price per cigar:  Never talk money… (well, you can see the Canadian retail price in the picture)

Length:  6 1/2″, or 164 mm

Ring Gauge:  54

Format:  Sublime / double robusto

Weight:  Don’t you know it isn’t polite to ask a fella this??

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This cigar was just flat-out nice.  It’s a big sublimes format.  This cigar (and for that matter, all the various ones that were in that retail box) just seemed to have impeccable construction, with no obtrusive veins at all that were noticeable.  The wrapper was thin and lush, with a very super-fine-grain tooth, but still with some nice mild oils that left a luxurious feeling in the hand (especially when combined with the size and weight of the cigar).  After clipping the head, and finding an interesting draw, I was getting hints of light, faint chocolate, and mildly faint Merlot wine at cold tasting.

Now, when I say “an interesting draw”, it’s because to me, it almost seemed wind-tunnel like at cold. It seemed to almost free flow, but then…

Opening Impressions:  After a lighting up and initial draws, the draw was just perfect when lit.  It somehow firmed up to have just the right amount of resistance, exhibiting just the perfect smoke volume once lit.  The body/density of the smoke, though, was almost a thin, lightly peppery smoke at the opening.  There was even almost a slightly salt & peppery tinge – almost tannic, something that sticks to your lips, drying them out but still keeping you wanting more (which was fine with me, as I had lots of cappuccino on hand that day).

First Third:  Into the first third, the story began to change a bit.  The smoke started to develop a medium body, with medium-full flavours.  The smoke almost “thickened up”, which became very nice.  I was smoking a big, bold statement of a cigar, and the smoke was now letting you know it.  It was beginning to have…presence.  Some wet, fresh leather tones were coming into play.

Second Third:  Into the second third, the evolving continued.  Also, the ash had shown to have almost a wonderful pitted appearance of dark granite or porous limestone.  The ash was fairly firm, and holding on in inch-and-a-half chunks.  About halfway through the cigar, I switched over to sparkling water and some Havana Club 7 – the cappuccinos were making me wiry, and I needed both something stronger for my palate to pair up with this cigar, as well as the San Pellegrino to help continually clear my palate (which was on its third cigar out of this particular five-cigar day).

At the halfway mark, the salt and pepper tones were really backing off, but were being replaced by a light but very fragrant expresso hit.  Quite the voyage so far, this cigar was definitely keeping me more than interested.

Final Third:  Into the final third, I started to get metallic hits of harsh youthfulness.  Honestly, I was a bit surprised it took that long, for such a young and still fresh cigar (at this point, this cigar was still only 4 months old or so).  While smoking this last third, I noticed a very unique cut to the RE band (something that Simon later told me at supper he noticed down in Cuba too).  To the best of my knowledge or recollection, I haven’t seen this type of cut on these RE regional-designator bands before on any other RE release.

Also, in this third, I was starting to get a hard carbon tone added to the mix (almost like a pencil-lead sort of flavour).  Thankfully, this was only coming into the mix when I was getting close to nubbing it.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  I finished the cigar after a one-hour and forty-five minute joyride.  It was definitely an enjoyable cigar (considering an unfortunate complete-miss on a failure of a RASS I tried to smoke earlier that day).  This VR RE was a great performer overall, considering the format and age.  I’m not a huge fan of something this big and bold (I like my piramides and robustos, but I find that stuff over 50 ring gauge can be just too annoying to smoke sometimes).  But, like the Montecristo Sublimes, this blend just seems to work soooooo damn well in this format.  A VR sublime is a definite score it seems with this result.  It will be really great to see how these age and perform over time.

I’d say these are definitely box worthy, for at least one box in anyone’s humidor.  If you like VR (or the larger formats especially), this would be a good bet I’d think.  It was extremely enjoyable for me, and I’m not even a huge overall fan of VR, and I don’t have a lot of VR product in my humidor.  These were an absolutely solid 90 right now (at only 4 months old, with some harsh tones too!), very smokable right up front, and I think these have a perfect potential for an easy 94-96 with only 3 or 4 years aging time.

Final Score:  90

Total Smoking Time:  1 hr and 45 minutes

Paired Beverage:  Cappuccinos, then sparkling water and some Havana Club 7

Last Meal:  N/A

Date & Time Smoked:  January 31st, 2013; lit up at 3:45 pm, done at 5:30 pm

Smoking Conditions:  N/A

Thanks for reading my review. Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

It’s coming – the Partagas Encuentros…

So, after missing it last year unfortunately due to a work-related scheduling issue, I’m super psyched to be going back again for this year’s Partagas Encuentros festival (held the third week of every November).

And yay – the event schedule with pricing is now released finally.  Sounds great to have the opening dinner (the only main event that some choose to attend) at the “Plaza de Armas”, a gorgeous location for something like this…

To me, this event is the ying for the yang that is the main Habanos Festival (held every February), which has seemed to have gotten too commercial, too busy, too full of facades and not “real faces”, real hearts and minds there solely for the love of Cuban cigars and the friendships that are gained through and with them.  Granted, the Partagas Encuentros, and it’s related events can still be somewhat contrived and commercial – but cigars are a big business after all, and part of this event is catering to the gathering of business people that are part of bringing fine Habanos cigars to all of us.  The icing on the cake is this – this event simply helps to bring us all together; cigar distributors and merchants, collectors, smokers, cigar newcomers, torcedors, industry insiders, Cubans, Canadians, Brits and Das Germans, other various Euros, Yanks, and even unfortunately those crazy Aussies!!!

It’s a great time.  If you’ve even been on the fence about going to Cuba, and deciding on when to take the leap, these are the types of events to break the ice with.

I’m going yet again with a great core group of Canadian travel companions, and will no doubt be part of hijinks with the rest.

Let’s just hope I can get home in one piece afterwards!!!!

Cheers all.