Cigar Review – SCDLH La Fuerza, Mar 2014 “EML” box code; Final Score – 90

SCDLH is a bit of a sweet-tooth favourite of mine.  I find they just hit the spot nicely every now and again.  To me, they have that nice dark and sweet touch, similar to a Ramon Allones (but without the boldness and mongrel that I love in that brand), or even similar to well-aged Por Laranaga with their caramel tinge.

As I described in my last review about the SCDLH Oficios LCDH release, San Cristobal De La Habana is a very recent brand in the Habanos S.A. portfolio, only being born in 1999, and made to commemorate Christopher Columbus, using the original name for Havana itself.  Also, the unique little historical part (which I love when it comes to Cuba and Cuban cigars) is that all of the brand’s main cigars are named after the old forts that guard the harbour entrance into Havana – El Morro, La Fuerza, La Punta, and El Principe.  I always try to have a nice quality box of La Fuerza around, as the gorditos / robusto extra format works just so well with so many blends, and is one that both enthusiasts and relative newbies alike all can smoke without too much concern for smoking styles or techniques.

This particular box is a brand new and gorgeous one that I found on my Nov 2014 Havana trip, and was able to snag it up when box browsing at the LCDH shop at the Partagas factory.  A couple of us snagged some gorgeous boxes of these, and that hectic afternoon also included being able to help Hamlet Jaime Paredes pick through some stellar boxes of Sir Winnies for other travelling companions and store customers as well.

After trying a few fresh in Cuba on that trip, as well as gifting a few out, this particular cigar I smoked way back in December, specifically for this review.  Unfortunately, it’s another one that got lost in the shuffle and I simply neglected to get published prior to now.

Reviewed Cigar:  San Cristobal De La Habana La Fuerza

Box Date:  Mar 2014

Factory / Manufacture Code:  EML

Packaging:  25-count dressed box

Price per cigar:  $212.50 CUC (Partagas LCDH in Havana, Cuba)

Length:  5 5/8″, or 141 mm

Ring Gauge:  50

Format:  Gorditos / Robusto extra

Weight:  12 grams / 0.4 oz

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This was from a really dark, oily, and pungent box that I picked up in Havana in November.  The pictures don’t do it justice.  Thin, supple, marbled in colours and oily (two favourite characteristics of mine to see), with very strong “barnyard” aromas.  Love it.

This particular stick had good construction and weight to it.  The cap and wrapper were perfect looking, and the bunch on the foot was just wonderful – though it seemed to be a slight bit too open (I like to see lots of tobacco there), it was just the right firmness, and the colour lapping between the different tobacco types was present, with no one-sidedness apparent.

After cutting the cigar and tasting at cold….CRAP!!!!  A wind tunnel at cold!  But the cigar felt good in construction, with no hollow / soft spots, yet it was just a complete breeze moving through it on the cold draw.  However, a massive and definitive flavour at cold of gingerbread (what I always love to see in my SCDLH’s), so this one was getting lit anyways – well worth the test.

Opening Impressions:  Boom.  Warm gingerbread cookies and rich, dense, toasted tobacco.  Awesome.  A bit firmer on the draw once lit, and not off-putting anymore.  Quite a copious amount of smoke when puffed.

First Third:  Into the first third, the experience was pretty damn good.  The gingerbread and tobacco flavours were there in rich heapings.  Some wet leather coming into the fold.

The smoke progression and burn on this was great.  For such a damn young cigar, and being made with such rich and oily tobacco, I was having no burn problems.  I made one small cosmetic touch-up with my torch in the first third, but throughout the whole first half of the cigar, the burn was relatively sharp and even.

Second Third:  Into the second third, I noticed that the ash, while holding on in decent clumps, was fairly flaky.  Almost like the wrapper and binder leaf, once burnt, was “peeling” away from the inner core tobacco, almost like petals on a flower begin to open up and spread out.  It wasn’t a detriment to the smoke, but it was curious with how this ash was holding minimally like that.

The core gingerbread and rich tobacco tones continued to build in intensity.  Some dark old leather coming in there, joined by a bit of wet hay perhaps.  Some ginger root tucked on the fringes.

Final Third:  Into the final third, a little bit of change from the building stature of this cigar.  Some of the flavours, notably the gingerbread and leather, receded.  Coming to the forefront instead was a strong peppery tone.  The draw began to firm right up, and a completely wonky and “canoeing” burn began to occur.  A heavy touch-up relight to solve this, and it continued with the peppery tinge, with a bit of an anise root coming into play, and perhaps with some bland dark chocolate.  The pepper hint really put the other flavours in the background.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  Even though this cigar wasn’t the most well-behaved and had some notable draw and burn issues, it was still pretty damn good.

The gingerbread and leather hits were there in spades.  Amazing overall flavour profile, and was just bold enough.  Hell, this cigar was only 9 months old, fresh from a Cuba trip, and this was the worst-performing one out of that box that I’ve had so far, to the best of my recollection.  And – I was still satisfied with this smoke.  To me, that’s a big thing on a cigar’s onus there – that it leaves you satisfied.  That it was time well spent.  And, all things considered, even the negatives of this one particular stick, it definitely was.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the box holds in store for me, as this stick’s brethren get more and more aging time under their belts.

Final Score:  90

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 8 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  December 15th, 2014; lit up at 9:20 pm, done at 10:28 pm

Paired Beverage:  Havana Club Anejo 7 Anos and Coke

Last Meal:  Big Smoke artisan burger, 4:20 pm

Smoking Conditions:  In the hot tub, 6 degrees Celsius and 93% RH outside, with a 16 kph breeze.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.

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