So, when down at last week’s Encuentros Partagas, I and a number of other Canadian bloggers, vendors, and passionate consumers got to participate in an invite pre-release tasting panel of the “new” 2014 Edicion Regional for Canada, the La Flor de Cano Siboney. I say “new” in that it’s the 2014 RE, yet it still hasn’t been released to market (expected release date to the Canadian market, per Havana House personnel there at the event, puts the release date somewhere in the January-February 2015 timeframe).
A few weeks before we went down for this event, I was able to get teed up with Damarys and Roger from Havana House (the official Habanos distributor in Canada), and they were generous in their invite details and planning in letting myself and a number of other Canadian travellers to participate in this event. No matter the outcome of the cigar tasting, Roger and others there were generous hosts, and we had a great roundtable discussion on some various points that afternoon. It was nice to see a number of the other ladies and gents there that day, including seeing Jose Lugo again after a number of years (formerly with Havana House in Canada).
But for the cigar – it wasn’t a good day…
Our tasting took place in the Piano Bar room at Club Habana, in the Miramar area west of Havana. I’ve gone to Club Habana before but mostly for shopping trips to the LCDH store there to see Jorge and load up on Monsdales, or to have a beach-side lunch with the international menagerie of trouble-makers. But for this private tasting event, the Piano Bar room made for a great setting – ornate carvings and artwork throughout, giant Caribbean full-frame throw-open windows, and a beachfront view. The tasting setting could not have been in a more tranquil and wonderful setting.
The day itself was the exact opposite however. Prior to the tasting event, while at a great lunch at a new-to-many-of-us paladar in the Playa neighbourhood, the torrential rains had begun. It became an exercise in Cuban perseverance to obtain a private cab to the function, with the weather what it was, with the driver not even having a clue what or where Club Habana was, and with me and my travellers having to explain to him in our poor and broken Spanish (due to him not speaking a lick of English). Then the amazing feat of 1950’s vehicles maneuvering through flooded streets truly began – driving in those conditions, never before have I felt such an urge to put on a seatbelt in vehicles that just simply don’t often have them.
These conditions, super rainy, humid and damp, actually began a number of days previous to the tasting. It was an incredibly constant and rainy couple of days, and with the cigars barely a month-and-a-half young, no doubt led to the tasting being what it was, unfortunately.
This was obviously the first of these, and one of only a very few handfuls of LFDC cigars I’ve even smoked. I don’t really have a “brand profile” for these in mind, so I’d like to think it was as neutral of a one-up tasting for this cigar that I was able to do, without this being a fully-blind tasting.
Reviewed Cigar: La Flor de Cano Siboney, 2014 RE Canada
Box Date: Sep 2014
Factory / Manufacture Code: OEP (we were informed that these cigars were rolled at the old Montero factory.)
Packaging: 25-box, semi-boite natural box, numbered boxes (box # 0000 of 2000)
Price per cigar: Expected Canadian retail price quoted to be in the $18-$19 per stick range
Length: 4 3/8″, or 110 mm
Ring Gauge: 42
Format: Minutos / shortened petit corona
Weight: Unknown (felt extremely light for the size)
Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light: I was handed my sample by Roger of Havana House, and was also given a tasting sheet, and we were off to the races. This particular had a somewhat rustic-looking wrapper. Nice, mild Colorado colour tones, but missing what I like to see with this tone of wrapper – it was lacking a good sheen of oily richness. Overall though, the cigar itself was actually quite beautiful for how small it was.
This cigar was a very firm cigar. The cigar, for it’s size and light weight, was extremely firm with a well-packed foot. After clipping the head, taking some cold draws, and gaspingly, not in a good way, the draw was incredibly easy for how tight and firm the cigar itself was. All of us at the tasting were somewhat taken aback by this. Raisin flavours at cold.
Opening Impressions: After a lighting up and initial draws, the opening had an easy burn and draw. Very light wispy smoke. Not viscous in it’s consistency on the palate at all. Sour tinge. Wrapper didn’t want to get going. Touch up with the torch a bit, and keep on carrying on.
First Third: Into the first third, the story continued along, unfortunately. Thin smoke. Big, giant, gaping expanses of smokey mouthfuls when pulled on, but faint wispy smoke. As one of the other gents stated, “much ado about nothing”. Sour raisins. Some white peppery notes in the background. Very flat finish on the palate.
Looking for something to be hopeful there, we were all unfortunately getting very similar hits of one main element – sour raisins. A bold, strong flavour, but with no underlying complexity or “goodness” about it, and something that just landed flat on the palate without a carrying-tune of accompanying flavours or viscous, creamy smoke. Not what any of us were hoping for or expecting.
A few relights / touch-ups, but the burn was quite nice overall – wasn’t actually burning like it was a “wet” cigar.
Second Third: Into the second third, getting a fairly big nicotine hit. Continuing with the one-note sour raisin core. Tart, potent, and too much strength for the lack of depth. One gent said it very well – take the label off, and this seems like a cheap, power-bomb, non-Cuban cigar. Tangy coffee tinge sliding in and out ever so mildly.
At the start of the second third, I really tried to slow down my smoking of this cigar. Some tasters really noted that the cigar “seemed to burn itself”. My example didn’t seem too bad in that respect – I honestly wanted it to be done sooner, in that it was such a bold sourness and unfavourable tasting cigar. So, I did my damnedest to slow down my smoking it, to almost smoke it like a PL Montecarlos or a LGC MdO 1 or 3, etc., to try and “weaken” the flavour profile somewhat, and to make it more palatable.
Final Third: Further nope. Just couldn’t do it anymore. Had to set it down to die. Honestly, if not for the tasting / review, this thing would have been chucked into oblivion within the first 10 minutes or so, only into the beginning third. This cigar was simply too harsh, nicotine filled, and heavy-handed strong with a sour single-note song to play.
Finishing Comments / Overall Impression: This LFDC Siboney just either isn’t ready, or isn’t blended right.
Though I slowed my smoking rate for it right down, the 40-minutes it took me to go through the first two-thirds of this stick was a long voyage. It unfortunately wasn’t worth the time investment.
The sour raisin tones, non-Cuban twang, and other aspects of this made for a quite unpleasant cigar for us. As of now, this is a definite no-go, for me at least. Granted, I freakin’ hate trying to make a sure guess when a cigar doesn’t even have 6 months of age on them. However, when such a treat in Havana-cigar-smoking is smoking cigars with 6-weeks or less of age on them, such wet cigars like fresh-from-the-rolling-table customs, it’s also hard for me to think it’s 100% the cigar’s lack of performance. Maybe it just simply is not a good blend. As it currently sits, the blend, if that’s what it is, frankly sucks. I smoked quite a number of other sticks that week, with lots of age and none, and everything smoked how it should, wet and humid conditions or not.
I’ll give it another go in 6 months. For whatever reason, I just can’t completely write it off – most Canadian RE’s have been quite great, with some very well reputed (Boli Simones and B2’s, VR Anniversarios, etc.). I’m truly hoping that it was just a bad couple sticks that we (all) had, and is perhaps a too-fresh or too-wet thing, and not a bad-blend thing. So, I’ll try another one in 6 months or so.
As it currently stands, I gave it an 84 at the event, but upon further thought and re-reading my own review, it only maybe deserves an 82 – and I believe I’m being generous there. But honestly, if not for the overall strength of it, and hoping that it could perhaps develop into an 86-89 cigar in the future maybe, I indeed would have chucked it at the one-third point, and only given it a 76-80. Frankly, this cigar, blend improvement or not, does not have much of a future I’m guessing.
It’s a minutos. It’s going up against other minutos and perlas, such as Party Short, RASSC, Monte 5’s, SCDLH El Principe, Trini Reyes, etc. When you have that kind of a flavour variety, and for such reasonable prices, why in the hell would you pay the Canadian expected market prices of $18 to $19 a stick?! IF this cigar improves in either blend or performance in very short time, with this thing focused on those looking for a very short cigar for a quick little flavour bomb in colder-weather-months, it’s STILL going to be a hard sale unless that price point is changed. Hell, one of my favourites, the RA Extras EL 2011 retail for roughly $22 CDN a stick. With a special vintage-look band. And aged / special EL tobaccos being used. And a much larger smoke (probably about double the overall amount of tobacco used per stick). Why in the hell would anyone want to pay $18 to $19 a stick for this cigar, in normal boxes, with nothing special to offer, and seemingly with such a bad blend???
Gawd, fingers crossed, I’d love to see this succeed. Cigar smoking in Canada, much less the world, doesn’t need any more shots across the bow to dissuade any interested newfound smokers – tasting this cigar as a new smoker, you’d think all us cigar veterans are crazy.
I also want to stress that a bad review of the cigar does not reflect my opinion of the event itself, or of Havana House graciously hosting us all. We had a great time nonetheless, and Roger and the other Havana House and H S.A. personnel there also were courteous in doing a little sit-down to answer some of our various questions about the RE program and such. So, I truly hope that when I do a revisit of this cigar in six months’ time or so, I’m able to eat crow on this review, and it scores much better.
Final Score: 82
Total Smoking Time: 40 minutes
Date & Time Smoked: November 20th, 2014; lit up at 4:40 pm, done at 5:20 pm
Paired Beverage: Mojitos
Last Meal: “Tic-Tac Boquitas”, hamburger-bacon-and-onion and shrimp-and-blue-cheese bocazas, 2:10 pm
Smoking Conditions: Super humid, windy, rainy, 26 degrees Celsius, 92% RH
Thanks for reading my review. Hope you enjoyed it.