Havana Trip, Feb-Mar 2015: Cigars Smoked (Part 1 of 3)…

Yup.  I smoked some cigars in Havana last month.  Surprise, surprise.  As always, some good, some bad.  Rather than trying to do one of my gawd-awful full-rundown reviews on all of them, here’s some brief rundowns, particulars, and photos…

1.  Trinidad Vigias.  Oct 2014 “APU” coded, priced at $32.50 CAD per stick (at LCDH Toronto).  Smoked one of these, first-off once I disembarked the plane at the airport, but actually one that was bought at home at the LCDH Toronto.  This was nice.  Smoked it with a Bucanero, and both actually made me get honestly distracted, not lock my phone, and HONESTLY take the below inadvertent-but-lovely-picture of a fellow traveller of the female and blonde variety (too bad her and her girlfriend were going to another locale for the week, LOL!)

This cigar had strong flavours, very fresh (obviously).  Strong hits of black tea and hay.  Light, almost lemony fruitiness to it.  VERY reminiscent of the Trini Robustos T (still PISSED that H S.A. chose to discontinue those).

But this impressed me very much.  While I wish it was more a robusto or a corona gorda, and the shorter-and-fatter trend isn’t my happy-place, this stick still performed well for me.  I picked up a couple of these at LCDH in Toronto, and smoking this one, picked up a 12-box of these while down in Havana.  I’m going to delve into them over the next two to six months, and then go from there on a decision to load up on them or not.

2.  Monsdale customs.  I smoked most of the way through a bundle of these just on this particular trip.  I actually brought down one from Nov 2012 as well as one from Nov 2014, and then I got a couple bundles of fresh ones on this trip too.  Even though the wrappers on the Nov 2014 ones were fairly fugly, and even though the fresh ones from this trip look better but still not quite as chocolate-like and gorgeous as those from Nov 2012, they all still tasted spot on.

Flavours of creamy elegance.  Simple, slowly building flavours of fresh, light leather tones, rich and pure half-and-half coffee creamer or unsweetened liquid whipping cream, slight honeyed and white pepper tones, and clean and rich toasted tobacco.  I’ve never had one of these yet that have been plugged or had an overall bad burn or bad experience, though I admittedly did have one on this trip that had tunnels and hollow spots in the first inch or so that led to a wonky burn and slightly off flavours, but that hit it’s full stride shortly after.

These are so consistent, and such a fabulous value, at only $5 CUC’s per.  Currently, my favourite custom that I pick up out of Cuba, and such a wonderful format and presentation, in that it’s a closed-foot and pigtail-capped lonsdale.  Jorgito does lovely cigars.  And even if there were a few ugly ones, there were some where the wrappers were gloriously dark and oil-laden too, as that last picture shows.

3.  Romeo y Julieta Piramides Anejados.  Wow – crap.  I smoked two of these, gifted in generosity, but not worthwhile of the experience.  Both with Sep 2008 “TEB” box codes (interesting – a code that I have a fair bit of Montecristo stock in, but no RyJ; yes, to me, this further adds fuel to the fire that is the speculation that H S.A. simply swapped brand bands, essentially, between RyJ Churchills and Monte No. 2’s).

Slight black licorice tones, tongue-tingling, maybe some slight coffee and leather aspects there (but it’s a struggle to find it – maybe I was just hoping too hard).  Nothing else in the frame of normal and pleasurable flavours.  Boring.  Pitched my first one when only about halfway through, the second one smoked a day or two later, and only smoked through the first inch before pitching.  Will avoid.

4.  Partagas Seleccion Privada EL 2014.  Nov 2014 “ARG” coded, and priced at $12.50 CUC’s for a stick, and sold in 10-boxes.  These are quite wonderful.  I’ve somewhat turned away from Partagas in recent years, aside from aged D4’s or 898’s.  But these were nice.  Smoked a couple of these, with various beverages over the week.  Lots of smoke, dark pepper tones, spice, and Kona coffee perhaps (red cherry-bean tones).  Hints of dark old leather.  Bold in body (yet not an overpowering stick) and slightly sweet, without being overly chocolately like many EL’s are.

5.  Robusto largos custom rolls, from Jorgito at Club Habana.  Wonderful.  While these seem to need some time to age, and show some youthful harshness (compared to his Monsdales, which are always ready to smoke it seems), these show lots of promise – Gino, Nino, and a few others got to partake in these as well, and stated similar thoughts.

A robusto with an extra inch to it, the presentation is similar to Monsdales, with a pigtail cap and a closed foot.  For the most part, the smoking experience from these was nice and smooth.  Light flavours of cedar and hay, some light whipping cream.  A slight vanilla fruitiness.  But they do still need to sit for a bit, and that tanginess needs to mellow out.

More to come…

Cheers all.

Havana Trip, Feb-Mar 2015: Special Humidors – “Cohiba Silver”…

So, when I was in Havana last month, I had the chance to go LCDH browsing.  I found some decent cigar stocks at various locations, and some interesting goodies, as outlined here.  Well, when I popped in to the LCDH shop at the Habana Libre hotel, I found two sets of special humidors available there.

Generally, various LCDH shops can get special “limited edition” humidors done, and these are sometimes specifically set out for display purposes for the Encuentros Partagas in November, but almost always for the Festival Habanos in February.  Not too many hotels/LCDH’s take part in these offerings that frequently, as they need time to get them done, cost issues, space to house them in-store, high-traffic needs for sales to make it a worthwhile venture, etc., etc.  However, along with the Partagas LCDH, the Habana Libre LCDH always seems to have something special in stock, and this February was no different.

Available there was the Omara Portuondo record player humidor – something that I actually neglected to take pictures of, but that Nino also did a write-up and gallery of it on his blog too.

But this thing in particular caught my eye, as it was like a little wine rack…

Thankfully, I was wiser than to let it catch my pocket book.

This humidor is the “Cohiba Silver”, which one of the staff members told me is “the most best [!!!!] way to showcase and properly store the most best [again!!!!] that Cuba has to offer”.  Well, while all that’s up for debate, what’s not for debate is that the seal on these was not the greatest at all, and this little humidor cabinet appears to be simply a showpiece – not an adequate long-term storage medium for cigars to be kept at proper RH.

While beautiful, it wasn’t $530 CUC’s beautiful.  That’s right – five HUNDRED and thirty cookies!  And as the pictures show – only for a lowly 10 cigars.

Fuck.  That.  Noise.

Add to it that the cigars are your choice of only two options, as far as it was explained to me – either 10 sticks of Cohiba Siglo VI, I believe it was, or the same amount of Cohiba Piramides Extra tubos.  That’s right, ladies and gents – only 10 cigars, normal regular production no less, and then a (albeit beautiful) small cabinet that only holds those 10 sticks, and doesn’t seal very well.

I mean, some of these releases, while expensive, are still quite nice and can be considered fairly good value, for what you’re getting in the overall picture of things.  But not this one.

Looks like they’re trying to milk it for all it’s worth, and one day the stone ain’t gonna have no more blood to let.

I was quite aghast when the staff member was telling me the specifics above.  Other than that, it’s a special edition of “only 100 humidors” (sure), with special numbering placards inside and outside of the little cabinets, with a special paper certificate as well, and even a specially marked outer shipping container.

I also noted that of the various stacks in the store, they almost all seemed to have little white paper stickers in the upper left-hand corner of the shipping boxes.  Yup – buyers’ names on there.  GREAT!!!!  So now anyone browsing through will know who bought what, and which rich-cats may have bought a dozen or more at once (all the better to know who to rob, my dear!)  When I was in there, there was actually a beautiful but shy, young asian lady who was working with the staff in organizing shipping arrangements for what sounded like it was her employer, whom had bought what I think was 6 or 7 of them.

Sorry, but while somewhat beautiful, the concept on these special humidor releases are getting crazier and crazier lately (save for that of the ones at Partagas last November, with the various artist-painted and varied-themes humidors holding Sir Winnies and Partagas Lusi’s, I think it was – but even those were horribly expensive, but yet somewhat justifiable too, given the rarity and uniqueness due to the one-of-a-kind artistic nature of them).

However, even though I choose not to partake in buying these (and really am not rich enough to afford to be that wilfully stupid in buying something like this), I still respect the artistic nature that goes into something like this.  Just wish the LCDH’s / Habanos S.A. weren’t milking it for all it was worth, or at least were spreading the wealth equally with the humidor manufacturers (given that the cigars aren’t worth much of the overall collectibility of these).

All that said, thought I’d share it here.

Cheers all.