Tag Archives: Christopher Columbus

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.

Cigar Review – SCDLH Oficios LCDH Release, Dic 2005 “FJN” box code; Final Score – 86

I had a nice little experience smoking this cigar, even if the cigar itself wasn’t my favourite of recent times.  A co-worker of mine, she being also into cigars mildly on-and-off for years, had found a fairly local cigar retailer near our workplace, on a local native band’s reservation.  I’ve known of this retailer for some years now (being a company that many online international cigar enthusiasts purchase from), but did not realize it had a very decent private lounge with some extraordinary comfy leather seating.

So, one particular “long change” off (where we have a 24-hr period off of work, as we switch from days to our night shift), her, I, and another co-worker who occasionally enjoys cigars, we all went to this retailer to enjoy a couple of hours, tucked away enjoying our hobby away from the end-winter temperatures (though it was a decent enough and sunny day).  It was nice, as I was able to do some fairly decent window-shopping, and purchased a bunch more non-Cuban sticks to bring down as unique treats to Cuban friends during my Feb-Mar Havana trip (it’s something I like to do, as they’re generally unable to get stuff from off their own island like that).

Anywho, when we were perusing their walk-in for Cuban cigars, I came across these San Cristobal De La Habana sticks from their LCDH Release series.  SCDLH is a very recent brand in the Habanos S.A. portfolio, only being born in 1999, and made to commemorate Christopher Columbus, and using the original name for Havana itself.  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.  The La Casa Del Habano Release series, made somewhat exclusively for the chain of international stores selling Habanos cigars, was sort of brought about in 2004 to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the brand, when the El Morro was included into a commemorative special humidor release along with 3 new sticks -Oficios, Mercaderes, and Muralla.  These new three were re-released in 2006 until 2011 as a special LCDH Release series, in a special box and with a secondary LCDH band, with some of the original-release boxes of these coming out in late 2005, as this box of Oficios was.

These piqued my interest when I came across them due to the box date and relative nice condition of the cigars, lovely dark wrappers, and just as a nice change of pace for me (I really like the La Fuerza, and also keep a good stock now of La Punta, but these special one’s [LCDH sticks] haven’t just been on my hit list).

Reviewed Cigar:  San Cristobal De La Habana Oficios LCDH Release

Box Date:  Dic 2005

Factory / Manufacture Code:  FJN

Packaging:  25-count varnished natural box

Price per cigar:  $14.41 CDN (brick & mortar local retailer)

Length:  5 3/8″, or 135 mm

Ring Gauge:  43

Format:  Dalias cortas / Corona

Weight:  Didn’t weigh this particular stick

Construction/Appearance & Pre-Light:  This was a nice looking box.  The presentation on these in the darkly varnished “boite nature” boxes are a nice change from SCDLH’s generally blah looking light-yellow-and-white semi-dress boxes.  The box varnish is a pretty close match to the secondary LCDH bands on these sticks.

This cigar was pretty nice looking.  Fairly dark and marbled wrapper, light oils on the wrapper leaf, and with just a slight imperfection to the finishing of the triple-wrapped cap.  The construction and weight in hand was fairly nice, with the cigar being somewhat solid but without any overly hard spots.

After a cut and taste at cold, just one main hit – molasses, and loads of it.  Fingers crossed

Opening Impressions:  Definite tones of rich, aged tobacco.  Loads of smoke when puffed on, but only slight wisps on its own.  A bit more restrictive on the draw than I’d like once lit.

First Third:  Into the first third, the molasses sways ever so lightly in and out, mostly leaving just a rich tobacco tone.  Maybe a bit of hay and wet leather around the fringes.

I was having this with an XO brandy – can’t remember for the life of me what the brand of it was.  I’m not a huge brandy drinker, though I do like the occasional touch, especially around the Christmas holidays.  I grew up with a Dutch mother (and my wife loves that, as I “came trained” as she likes to say), and a typical goodie that we always had floating around the house over Christmastime was “brandy beans”.  Great little candies – a dark chocolate, banana-shaped “bean”, filled with a half teaspoon or so of brandy liquor inside.  So, as a pre-teen kid, I remember scamming the whole box on multiple occasions, and REALLY enjoying my Christmas holidays!

Second Third:  Into the second third, not much more really.  The molasses tones really waved back into the latter recesses of the aftertaste.  The rich tobacco tone was there, but it was ever so faint.

This was turning into a bit of a hot-air generating blah.

Final Third:  Into the final third, a little bit of redemption.  The hay and dark leather came back a bit, and a wet woody tone came into play, almost sweet but a bit mangy at the same time.

I noticed at about the mid-way point on the cigar, and it became really prominent in the last third, that my tongue was starting to get a tingle.  This cigar was becoming very tongue tingling, almost like a nicotine sting on the tongue, but without a heavy nicotine hit though.  Almost like that residual feeling on your tongue from some Novocaine at the dentist’s office.  Kinda weird.

Maybe some tinges of an anise flavour in there too?  Was that part of the tingling I was getting?  Hmmmm.

Finishing Comments / Overall Impression:  This cigar wasn’t overly complex.  I was hoping for something special, considering I do like the heavy molasses and leather I get from other SCDLH sticks.  This wasn’t overly complex, but also kind of showed some faint dark brown sugar tones right near the end.  The leather was there a bit, but it became over-ridden by a carbon / pencil lead finish in the last third too.

Nothing special.  Are these past their prime?  Was it the brandy overpowering the stick?  Was it another example of a cigar that didn’t draw too much attention for its flavours upon release, and now aged, has simply become an aged cigar with not much to offer?  I’m not sure – perhaps its a combination of all the above – as I didn’t delve into these on original release.

I’m sure there might be fans of these.  While a nice change, and the looks and such checked all the right boxes, the flavours just weren’t there for me.  Not a throwaway, though, so I may have to give another stick a try again in the future.

At the very least, good time spent in a nice spot with great co-workers.

Final Score:  86

Total Smoking Time:  1 hour and 18 minutes

Date & Time Smoked:  March 11th, 2015; lit up at 1:05 pm, done at 2:23 pm

Paired Beverage:  XO brandy

Last Meal:  McDonald’s Big Mac combo, 11:55 am

Smoking Conditions:  In an indoors lounge at a very comfy 20-something, and very well ventilated, but 6 degrees Celsius and 59% RH outside.

Thanks for reading my review.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Cheers all.